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Autochthonous Hawai'i

'Ā (Red footed booby) original

'Ā (Red footed booby) original

Regular price $150.00 USD
Regular price Sale price $150.00 USD
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Original 5.5"x7.25" illustration.

The red footed booby is one of three booby species most commonly found in Hawai’i (brown boobies and masked boobies being the other two, but occasionally others). Boobies, along with gannets, form the family Sulidae. Sulidae is one of four extant families in the order Suliformes, in which are also the Fregatidae (‘iwa birds).

Unlike the majority of birds, boobies have no brood patch; birds tend to have at least one featherless area of the belly when brooding eggs to ensure efficient heat transfer to the egg when incubating. Boobies, however, utilize their vascular, webbed feet to accomplish this. They gently cradle the egg on their feet. Hawaii’s other two ‘a species typically lay two eggs, while red foots lay one. For the faint of heart, this is great: in brown and masked boobies, two chicks hatch, but the first-hatched of the two is fed by the parents while the other is either pushed to the side to watch their sibling grow up, or killed by the older sibling.

The male red foot during breeding season is a sight to behold. When sighting a female, the male will advertise by sky-pointing with his bill and tail pointed up to form a V, while simultaneously uttering a low growl. During breeding season, the vibrancy of their bills and feet also increases.

One of my favorite sights to behold on Kure were red footed boobies perched up on trees and stumps with the night sky lit up in the background. No light pollution, just watching the constellations move behind them throughout the year. Although red footed boobies are considered by the IUCN to be a species of least concern, their global population is in decline. Like all other seabirds in Hawai’i, red footed boobies are threatened by the fishing industry, climate change and sea level rise, and habitat loss.

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