Nazca Booby

Of the six different species of boobies in the world, none have had such an identity crisis as the Nazca booby.

During his trip to the Galapagos Islands in 1897, the British banker, politician and zoologist Walter Rothschild identified the bird as the Peruvian booby (Sula variegata), which lives along the Peruvian coast. He later reclassified it as a new species, Sula granti, before deciding that it was in fact a subspecies of the masked booby, to which it bears many similarities.

It was only fairly recently, after mitochondrial DNA analyses, that the Nazca Booby was once again considered a species of its own — and not conspecific with the masked booby — and reverted back to its previous scientific name, Sula granti.

Of course, the Nazca booby was entirely uninterested in humanity’s obsession with classifying things. It was happy to hang out on the Galapagos Islands and Isla de la Plata in Ecuador, its two main habitats, hunting pilchards and breeding.

Like other species of booby, the Nazca booby engages in highly ritualized mating dances during which the male kicks things off by skypointing, stretching his beak up towards the sky to show off his neck. But unlike most species, the Nazca booby is an annual breeder. On the Galapagos, breeding times differ from one island to the next. On Genovesa, for example, they breed between August and November, while on Española the breeding season runs from November to February.

In terms of appearance, the Nazca booby is arguably the most elegant of all the Galapagos boobies. It is notable for its brilliant white plumage, pinkish-orange bill, and black flight feathers and mask. It also has very sensible grey feet, so avoids the clown-like comparisons often directed at its fellow islanders, the blue- and red-footed boobies.

Read more about the Nazca Booby at Galapagos Conservation Trust.

Other Galapagos Wildlife

American Flamingo / Blue-Footed Booby / Flightless Cormorant / Frigatebirds: Great and Magnificent / Galapagos Fur Seal / Galapagos Giant Tortoise / Galapagos Hawk / Galapagos Penguin / Galapagos Sea Lion / Land Iguana / Marine Iguana / Red-Footed Booby / Santa Fe Land Iguana / Waved Albatross

The Main Galapagos Islands and Visitor Sites

Baltra Island / Bartolomé Island / Chinese Hat Islet / Eden Islet / Española Island / Fernandina Island / Floreana Island / Genovesa Island / Isabela Island / Mosquera Islet / North Seymour Island / Rábida Island / San Cristóbal Island / Santa Cruz Island / Santa Fe Island / Santiago Island / South Plaza Island

Galapagos Travel Guide

Galapagos Tours & Cruises / Galapagos & Machu Picchu Tours / Galapagos & Amazon Tours / Galapagos FAQ / Galapagos Weather / Galapagos Accommodations / Top Galapagos Activities by Land or by Sea / Galapagos Wildlife Calendar / Galapagos Packing List / Galapagos Blog Posts / Galapagos Islands Map

Galapagos Cruise Ships

Galapagos Legend / Santa Cruz II / La Pinta / Isabela II / Coral I & II / Galapagos Sea Star Journey / Camila / Treasure of Galapagos / Galapagos Seaman Journey

Ecuador Travel Guide

Ecuador Tours & Travel / Ecuador FAQ / Ecuador Weather / Ecuador Accommodations / Ecuador Blog Posts

Top Ecuador Travel Destinations

Baños / Cuenca / Guayaquil / Otavalo / Quito / The Ecuadorian Amazon / The Galapagos Islands

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