Kiritimati: Red-Footed Boobies

Motu Ngaontetaake is home to a very large colony of red-footed boobies, thousands of birds (there’s more boobies here than at a beach club in Ibiza – couldn’t help the pun). The birds make nests of twigs and dry grass in the tree branches and the hatched white fluffy chicks are fed by parents taking turns. They have white plumage with black wingtips and tail feathers. Adults have pale blue bills, while juveniles have darker bills and may have some brownish plumage. The red fine tail (streamers) is twice as long as the body. They eat mostly flying fish and squid and can dive from the air at heights up to 150 ft or 50 m. They swallow their prey before leaving the water, thus making it more difficult for frigatebirds to steal their catch. They lay a single egg and both parents take turns incubating it. The chicks are snow-white and adorable and the juveniles have a mottled black and white plumage.