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Masked Booby - Sula dactylatra

Characteristics
Range
Habitat
Diet
Life Cycle
Behavior

 Classification

 Phylum:
Chordata
 Class: Aves
 Order: Pelecaniformes
 Family: Sulidae
 Genus: Sula


Masked Booby

ICUN Redlist - World Status: Least ConcernLeast Concern
    Audio Credit: xeno-canto.org Robson Silva e Silva cc logo
  Characteristics

Masked BoobyThe masked booby is the largest of the booby family. It is a little under three feet in length and its wingspan is a little over five feet.

It has a white body; brownish-black wings and tail and a long, pointed orange-yellow bill. It has a black mask around its eyes and bill and large, gray webbed feet.
 

  Range
mapThe masked booby breeds in the Caribbean, across the Pacific Ocean, to Hawaii, Australia, and Indonesia. Occasionally, it can be found in the Gulf states of Louisiana, Texas and Florida. It winters in open ocean waters.
  Habitat
Masked BoobyThe masked booby lives on the open ocean. It only comes on land to breed and raise its young.
   Diet
The masked booby plunges head first into the ocean to catch flying fish and squid. It can dive from distances of over 90 feet.

  Life Cycle

Masked BoobyThe masked booby makes its nest in a shallow depression on the ground. It nests in large colonies. The female usually lays one to two eggs. Both parents incubate the eggs. They use their webbed feet to warm the eggs.

Masked BoobyThe eggs hatch in about 43 days. If there are two eggs, the first may hatch up to nine days before the second egg. The chicks fledge when they are a little over three months old. They will continue to be cared for by their parents for another one or two months. Males will mate with only one female.

  Behavior
Masked BoobyIf masked boobies lay two eggs,  usually only one hatches. In fact, masked booby eggs hatch only about 60 percent of the time. The second egg may be an "insurance egg" that raises the chances of at least one egg hatching. If the second egg hatches, the older chick will often force the younger chick out of the nest where it will more than likely die from heat or predators. The parents may even help the older chick by moving out of its way while it forces the younger chick out. While this may seem cruel, forcing the younger chick out increases the chances of survival of the older chick and in the long run the masked booby species because the parents are better able to care for one chick at a time.




 


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