side view closeup of a white and brown bird with a blue beak
Closeup of a red-footed booby's blue beak © L. C. Gooch 2009

Animals We Protect

Red-Footed Booby

Sula sula

Meet the Red-Footed Booby

The red-footed booby is a large seabird of the booby family, Sulidae. As suggested by the name, adults always have red feet, but the color of the plumage varies—often gray and white. They are powerful and agile fliers, but they are clumsy in takeoffs and landings. Typically 25-30 inches and length and 30-40 ounces, the red-footed booby depends on a carnivorous diet. 

They are found widely in the tropics, and breed colonially in coastal regions, especially islands. Palmyra Atoll—a remote, protected island in the Pacific where The Nature Conservancy conducts research—is home to the world’s second largest nesting colony of red-footed boobies, with a population estimated at 6,250 pairs.

Protecting the Red-Footed Booby 

While not considered a species of concern, the red-footed boobies are still benefitting from TNC’s conservation efforts. Palmyra Atoll—where so many red-footed boobies live—is a national marine monument and that TNC and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service are protecting. The area is also being developed as a center for scientific study. What we can learn at Palmyra—about global climate change, coral reefs, marine restoration and invasive species—promises to inform conservation strategies for island ecosystems throughout the Pacific and around the world.

Discover what’s new at Palmyra Atoll.