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Blue-footed Boobies

Ecuador is one of the countries with the greatest avifaunal diversity in the world, the peculiarity of it is the impressive concentration of birds in just 256,370 〖Km〗^2.
This makes it an ideal destination for birdwatching, as it is undoubtedly a spectacle to be able to observe these magnificent animals up close. Currently the country has about 1722 species of birds, many of them endemic to the country which means that they are only found in Ecuador, so here we bring you curiosities and information that if you are a bird lover you need to know about one of the most fascinating species of the country The Blue-footed Boobies.

It is an endemic species of the Galapagos Islands and is part of the Sulidae family of seabirds, so it is related to world-renowned species such as the Galapagos booby and the red-footed booby. Its scientific name is Sula nebouxii excisa and although it is endemic to Galapagos where more than half of the population resides, however it is also distributed on the Pacific coast between Mexico and Peru, according to the IUCN this impressive bird is in the category of minor conservation (LC) so we will have several more years to marvel at its peculiar charms.

The blue-footed booby lives an average of approximately 17 years, it is a carnivorous animal whose diet consists of sardines, anchovies, squid and others. Also, they have a considerable size of between 76 to 84 cm in length and 1.52 to 1.58 cm wingspan, weighing between 1 and 2 kg, this bird is also known by other names such as blue-footed booby, blue-footed booby or blue-footed booby.

Surely you are wondering where its peculiar name comes from, the answer is easy if you pay attention to its characteristic blue legs, although it is a more turquoise tone, that is where its common name in Spanish originates, in English it is derived from a somewhat funny feature, because you should know that this species is somewhat clumsy when it comes to walking, that is why it is known by the name of Blue-footed Booby, but although it may seem that its talent is not on land, in the water it is an expert, curiously enough, it is an excellent swimmer.

Another interesting fact about them is the size between the female and the male, since between them there is a slight difference in size, the female is larger and even has a larger pupil, as for songs the females emit a not very pleasant honk, while the males produce a beautiful whistle. Also, did you know that these fascinating birds can dive to a depth of 100 m? This is to reach their food, especially sardines, which are their favorite dish, without a doubt, watching them hunt is a true spectacle.

Pairing: courtship and selection
Blue-footed boobies are romantic by nature, usually when they choose a mate they will spend the rest of their lives together, which means they are monogamous. For mating these birds have a whole show, because their courtship ritual begins with the male giving her a branch or stone as a sign of construction of a nest then starts dancing around her with slow movements showing off his graceful blue legs, color that turns out to be a method of secual selection because the female will choose from her suitors the one with the brightest blue legs to procreate, in case of falling for these charms will give him the yes starting to make her nest.

Reproduction and offspring
Their breeding cycle takes place every 8 to 9 months and nesting occurs in large colonies throughout the year. In the Galapagos Islands this occurs on all islands except Santa Cruz, Genovesa, Marchena, Pinta, Darwin and Wolf. The incubation period lasts approximately 45 days, the females lay between 2 to 3 eggs and both parents are part of the incubation for this use their feet to have warm blood to provide heat to maintain an ideal temperature in the eggs.

Once the egg hatches, a featherless chick is born. As the days go by, it will be covered with adorable white and fluffy feathers, however, its legs will not have the characteristic blue color, since it appears in the egg, due to the fact that it is acquired through feeding.

Differences between males and females
You can differentiate between males and females by knowing how to identify small physical characteristics between the two.
Males: they are smaller than females, the color of their head is somewhat whiter and they have smaller pupils.
Females: they are somewhat larger than males, their head color is darker and their pupils are larger.

Although it is a species in a state of minor concern, studies reflect that its population has decreased notably, it is inferred that this is due to sudden changes in food availability. In Ecuador this authentic species resides mostly in the Galapagos Islands, however colonies are also found in the continental zone of the Ecuadorian coast on the beaches of provinces such as Manabí, captivating tourists with their presence.

They are somewhat territorial animals as they come to have conflicts either for territories or sometimes in pairs, the way to show imposing against the opponent is moving the beak with agility and speed up and down, stretching the neck to look as big as possible, both face each other in a duel until one of them loses and leaves the place in search of a weaker opponent.

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