In Fo­cus: red-footed booby

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Contents - Photo by Sue Forbes

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.

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