Red-footed Booby | Maui Ocean Center

Park Hours
9 AM - 5 PM

Park Hours 9 AM - 5 PM

Red-Footed Booby

The Red-footed booby is the smallest of six booby species, defined by their wedge-shaped tails, long and pointed wings, and sleek body shape. Red-footed boobies can range from all brown to all white (with white being most common in Hawai’i). Their bills are a distinctive blue and their name comes from their bright orange or red feet.


Red-footed boobies are found in warm seas around the world and Hawai’i boasts an estimated 8,000 to 9,000 breeding pairs.

Feeding and Habitat

While most boobies nest on cliffs or on the ground, Red-footed boobies are unique settlers in treetops. They’ll work together to build nests in shrubs or trees on islands and coasts.

They are pelagic feeders and spend most of their time hunting on the open ocean. Their hunting technique involves plunge dives—they’ll soar high above the water (between 13 to 26 feet), tuck their wings, and plummet headfirst at speeds of up to 80 miles per hour to catch prey at the surface. The red-footed booby typically dines on fish, including flying fish, mackerel scad, and anchovies. (If a squid comes close to the water’s surface, they won’t hesitate to snatch that too.) 

Conservation Efforts

Red-footed boobies still face challenges despite being listed in the category of Least Concern. Introduced predators like rats, cats, mongooses, and ants have historically threatened their chicks and eggs at nesting sites, but conservation efforts to protect existing nesting habitats (trees and shrubs) have begun to combat this (with some projects even aimed at re-establishing former breeding colonies.)

hawaiian Name


Scientific Name

Sula Sula


Least Concern



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