Masked Booby

Sula dactylatra




Boobies and Gannets (Sulidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:


Number of Eggs:

1 - 2

Incubation Days:

38 - 49

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

On ground.

Nest Material:

Lined with slight rim of pebbles.





Masked Booby: Large seabird with white body, black trailing edge on wings, pointed black tail. Head has black mask and long, pointed yellow bill. Legs and feet are yellow-gray. Sexes are similar. Female is larger. Juvenile has dark head, neck and upperparts, including upperwing and tail; lower neck and mantle white, forming hind collar; tips of scapulars light gray-brown, pale fringes on tips of lesser secondary coverts, blotch of dark brown extending to rear flanks and upper rear thigh, underwing coverts white.

Range and Habitat

Masked Booby: This species breeds in Bahamas and throughout the West Indies, and on other islands in tropical Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans. It is a rare visitor to coasts of Florida, Louisiana, and Texas, and in the Gulf Stream to the Carolinas. It is pelagic, only coming ashore during breeding season.

Breeding and Nesting

Masked Booby: These boobies nest colonially. One or two chalky white eggs are laid in a shallow ground depression surrounded by circle of pebbles or other debris. They do not have brood patches, so they incubate the eggs with their feet. Incubation ranges from 38 to 49 days and is carried out by both parents. The chick fledges in 109 to 151 days and is independent in one to two months.

Foraging and Feeding

Masked Booby: These boobies primarily eat fish and squid. They are pelagic, foraging over deep, warm ocean waters often hundreds of kilometers from the nearest land. They forage by plunge diving, sometimes from as high as 40 feet, to depths of six to ten feet underwater. They rarely perform shallow dives.


Masked Bobby: Species is silent at sea, but whistles at breeding colonies. Also emits reedy whistles, hisses, and quacks.

Similar Species

Masked Booby: Red-footed Booby is smaller, has white inner secondaries, pink-based blue bill, and red legs.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
Lesser secondary covertsX
The short feathers overlying the median secondary coverts on the top of the wing. They are located near the shoulder and can be seen as the first row of feathers on the bird’s wing. They are also called marginal coverts and are referred to as the shoulder.
The upper surface of the back and wings covered with shorter feathers.
Short feathers in the area where the bird’s back and wings join.
Secondary covertsX
The feathers that cover and protect the secondaries.
The pelagic is a type of bird whose habitat is on the open ocean rather than in a coastal region or on inland bodies of water (lakes, rivers). An example of a pelagic bird is the blacklegged kittiwake.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X