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Masked Booby - Sula dactylatra



 Kingdom: Animalia
 Phylum: Chordata
 Class: Aves
 Order: Pelecaniformes
 Family: Sulidae
 Genus: Sula
ICUN Redlist - World Status: Least ConcernLeast Concern


Masked BoobyThe masked booby is the largest member of the booby family. It is a little under three feet in length and has a wingspan of around 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.


mapThe masked booby breeds in the Caribbean and across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii, Australia, and Indonesia. Occasionally, it is found in the Gulf states of Louisiana, Texas, and Florida. It winters in open ocean waters.


Masked BoobyThe masked booby lives on the open ocean. It only comes on land to breed and raise its young.


The masked booby plunges head first into the ocean to catch flying fish and squid.

Life Cycle

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

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 continue to be cared for by their parents for another one or two months. Males mate with only one female.


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 often forces the younger chick out of the nest where it more than likely will 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 for 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.

Audio Credit: xeno-canto.org Robson Silva e Silva cc logo