name = Booby

image_caption = Blue-footed Booby displaying by raising a foot
image_width = 240px
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Aves
ordo = Pelecaniformes
familia = Sulidae
genus = "Sula"
genus_authority = Brisson, 1760
subdivision_ranks = Species
subdivision =
*"Sula nebouxii"
*"Sula variegata"
*"Sula dactylatra"
*"Sula granti"
*"Sula sula"
*"Sula leucogaster"For fossil species, see text

The boobies are part of the family Sulidae, a group of seabirds, and are closely related to gannets. The true boobies all belong to the genus "Sula".

These are large birds with long pointed wings and long bills. They hunt fish by diving from a height into the sea and pursuing their prey underwater. They have facial air sacs under their skin which cushion the impact with the water.

Boobies are colonial breeders on islands and coasts. They normally lay one or more chalky-blue eggs on the ground or sometimes in a tree nest.

Their name is possibly based on the Spanish slang term "bobo", meaning "dunce", as these tame birds had a habit of landing on-board sailing ships, where they were easily captured and eaten. Owing to this, boobies are often mentioned as having been caught and eaten by shipwrecked sailors, notably Captain Bligh of the "Bounty" and his loyalists during their famous voyage after being set adrift by Fletcher Christian and his mutineers.

ystematics and evolution

Five of the six extant Sulidae species called "boobies" are in the genus "Sula", while the three gannets are usually treated in the genus "Morus". Abbott's Booby was formerly included in "Sula" but is now placed in a monotypic genus "Papasula" which represents an ancient lineage perhaps closer to "Morus".cite journal
last = Friesen
first = V.L.
coauthors = Anderson, D. J., Steeves, T.E., Jones, H., Schreiber, E.A.
title = Molecular Support for Species Status of the Nazca Booby
journal = The Auk
volume = 119
issue = 3
pages = 820–826
publisher = Department of Biology, Queen's University
location = Kingston, Ontario
date = July 2006
url =
doi = 10.1642/0004-8038(2002)119 [0820:MSFSSO] 2.0.CO;2
id =
accessdate = 2008-06-17

Some authorities consider that all nine species should be considered congeneric, in "Sula". However, they are readily told apart by means of osteology, and the distinct lineages of gannets and boobies are known to have existed in such form since at least the Middle Miocene, c.15 mya (Olson 1985dn).

The fossil record of boobies is not as well documented as that of gannets; possible reasons could be that booby species were less numerous in the late Miocene to Pliocene when gannets had their highest diversity, or that due to the more tropical distribution of boobies, many fossil species have simply not been found yet as most localities are in continental North America or Europe.

* Blue-footed Booby, "Sula nebouxii"
* Peruvian Booby, "Sula variegata"
* Masked Booby, "Sula dactylatra"
** Tasman Booby, "Sula (dactylatra) tasmani" - possibly extinct (c.1790? [This form poses major problems. Initially, it was described as an extinct species, but it seems nowadays that these individuals merely represent the largest birds of the Tasman Sea Masked Booby which was separated as the subspecies "S. dactylatra fullagari". As "tasmani" had been described first, "fullagari" becomes a junior synonym if the extinct and the extant birds are considered to belong to the same taxon, which would thus be named "S. d. tasmani" ("fide" Holdaway & Anderson, 2001dn). If one assumes that the differences are not merely related to size, the extinct birds - which are certainly not a distinct species as initially believed - would be named "S. d. tasmani" ("fide" van Tets "et al.", 1988dn), and the extant subspecies would retain the name "fullagari". There is sufficient material for DNA analyses to settle this question.] )
* Nazca Booby, "Sula granti" (formerly "S. dactylatra granti")
* Red-footed Booby, "Sula sula"
* Brown Booby, "Sula leucogaster"

* "Sula humeralis" (fossil; Middle Pliocene)
* "Sula sulita" (fossil; Pisco Late Miocene of Peru)
* "Sula magna" (fossil; Pisco Late Miocene/Early Pliocene of Peru)

Placement of "Sula" ronzoni" (Early Oligocene of Ronzon, France) in this genus (and indeed in the Sulidae) is uncertain; it was initially described as a "Mergus" sea-duck, but this is incorrect. Later, it was proposed to be related to cormorants and the genus "Prophalacrocorax" was erected for it; this is erroneous (Olson 1985dn).


External links

*ARKive - [ images and movies of the Abbott's booby "(Papasula abbotti)"]
* [ Booby videos] on the Internet Bird Collection
* [ Sibling rivalry between Booby chicks] Video

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, / , , , (Sula bassana or fusca)

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Booby — Boo by (b[=oo] b[y^]), n.; pl. {Boobies} ( b[i^]z). [Sp. bobo dunce, idiot; cf. L. balbus stammering, E. barbarous.] [1913 Webster] 1. A dunce; a stupid fellow. [1913 Webster] 2. (Zo[ o]l.) (a) A swimming bird ({Sula fiber} or {Sula sula})… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • booby — 1590s, from Sp. bobo stupid person, slow bird (used of various ungainly seabirds), probably from L. balbus stammering (like barbarian, from an imitative root, Cf. Czech blblati to stammer, Skt. balbala karoti he stammers ). Booby prize is 1883,… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Booby — Boo by (b[=oo] b[y^]), a. Having the characteristics of a booby; stupid. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • booby — Ⅰ. booby [1] ► NOUN (pl. boobies) 1) informal a stupid person. 2) a large tropical seabird of the gannet family. ORIGIN probably from Spanish bobo, from Latin balbus stammering . Ⅱ. booby …   English terms dictionary

  • Booby — Booby, Insel, s. Bubi …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • booby — [bo͞o′bē] n. pl. boobies [prob. < Sp bobo, stupid < L balbus, stammering < IE echoic base * bal bal ] 1. a stupid or foolish person; nitwit 2. any of a genus (Sula, family Sulidae) of pelecaniform birds that dive and feed on fish of warm …   English World dictionary

  • booby —    A word for a fool which was introduced to English from Spanish (bobo=fool) at the beginning of the seventeenth century. A booby is the kind of man who would be caught out by a booby trap, but the term is often used jokingly, to imply mild… …   A dictionary of epithets and terms of address

  • booby — n. (pl. ies) 1 a stupid or childish person. 2 a small gannet of the genus Sula. Phrases and idioms: booby hatch esp. US sl. a mental hospital. booby prize a prize given to the least successful competitor in any contest. booby trap 1 a trap… …   Useful english dictionary

  • booby — booby1 boobyish, adj. /booh bee/, n., pl. boobies. 1. a stupid person; dunce. 2. a gannet of the genus Sula, having a bright bill, bright feet, or both: some are endangered. [1590 1600; earlier pooby, appar. b. poop to befool (now obs.) and BABY; …   Universalium

  • booby —    a mentally ill person    Literally, a fool. Usually in a phrase such as booby hatch or hutch, an institution for the insane:     A year later the bride was in the booby hatch. (Sohmer, 1988)     Check the booby hutches... for escapees.… …   How not to say what you mean: A dictionary of euphemisms

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