- Sula dactylatra
L. 81 cm (32 in)
Ws. 158 cm (62 in)
Adult Masked Booby shows a white body, black tail, and black on wings that is limited to flight feathers (as seen from above and below) and the greater coverts on the upperside of the wing. Bill is yellow surrounded by black facial skin producing the mask. Legs vary from yellow to olive to dark grey depending on subspecies.
Immatures have brown upper body with brown head, similar to molting young Northern Gannets, but have a pale collar and white rump. Underside is white with black flight feathers and a dark bar in the middle of the underwing coverts. Bill is dusky and feet are grayish.
This species is found in the Caribbean, the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and parts of the Pacific Ocean as well as around the northern parts of Australia; mostly or exclusively tropical in its range.
A rare and local year round resident in the West Indies with a total breeding population estimated to between 500 and 1700 pairs. In the Caribbean, known breeding areas are southern Bahamas (probably not the last 100 years), Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Redonda in Antigua, and among the Grenadines; very rare elsewhere in the West Indies.
Photo by OzV
Location: Phillip Island, Norfolk Island, Australia
, September 2005.
Four subspecies are recognized:
- Sula dactylatra dactylatra) is found in the Caribbean and the south-west Atlantic Ocean
- melanops is found in the western Indian Ocean
- personata in the central and western Pacific
- fullagari in the northern Tasman Sea. A recent paper demonstrate that an extinct species (Tasman Booby) is synonymous with the latter subspecies, and due to naming conventions that fullagari should be replaced by tasmani.
Previously, the Nazca Booby (Sula granti) was considered a race of the Masked Booby.
It nests mostly on flat terrain including scrapes in sand and 2 eggs are laid. Colonial nesting on islands and cays is the rule.
- Clements, James F. 2007. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to October 2007. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. ISBN 9780801445019
- Abstract of the paper reporting identity of Tasman Booby with subspecies fullagari.
- Howell & Webb, 1995. A guide to the birds of Mexico and northern Central America. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198540124
- Pizzey, G. & Knight, F. 1997. Birds of Australia (Collins Field Guide). HarperCollins Publishers, London. ISBN 0-00-220132-1
- Raffaele et al. 1998. Birds of the West Indies. Christopher Helm, London. ISBN 0713649054
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