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Masked Booby

ID Info
Silhouette SeabirdsSeabirds
Masked BoobySula dactylatra
  • ORDER: Suliformes
  • FAMILY: Sulidae

Basic Description

A magnificent seabird of tropical oceans, the Masked Booby looks like a Northern Gannet in disguise. These lanky seabirds are snowy white like gannets, but with a blackish “mask” of skin at the base of the bill, as well as more extensive black in the flight feathers. The name “booby” derives from the Spanish bobo (for "fool”), possibly because of their ungainly courtship dances. Like other boobies, they nest in large colonies and forage at sea, making spectacular plunges into the ocean to capture fish and squid.

More ID Info
image of range map for Masked Booby
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

Masked Boobies occur out at sea in most of the world’s tropical oceans. To see them near the United States, visit Florida’s Dry Tortugas islands (boat trips are available from Key West). You may also see other tropical seabirds such as Brown Booby, Brown and Black Noddies, and Sooty and Bridled Terns. Masked Boobies occasionally come as far north as the Gulf Stream waters off Hatteras, North Carolina, where you might see them during a pelagic birding trip.

Other Names

  • Piquero Enmascarado (Spanish)
  • Fou masqué (French)
  • Cool Facts