In Focus: red-footed booby
Boobies are fast, agile hunters, able to catch prey both in mid-air and in the water. Here, a juvenile red-footed booby homes in on its prey in the Outer Islands of the Seychelles. But taking a flying fish is no simple task – the hunter must time its dive precisely, to attack from behind as the fish surfaces. Even if it manages to grab its prey, it can’t swallow it straightaway, as the ‘wings’ might lodge in its throat. So, it must upend the fish by flicking it into the air, before gulping it down on the fly.
For adults with young in the nest, another challenge awaits – frigatebirds, who harass the boobies in order to make them regurgitate their fish. They do this by pulling at their tail feathers to dislodge the meal from their crop.
After fledging, red-footed boobies must learn to hunt on their own. On this occasion, the fish got away. Perhaps it was just practising, but this youngster will have to up its game.