Masked Booby

Sula dactylatra

At 75 to 85 cm, this is the largest booby. It is easily recognised by its predominantly white body, except for the prominent black flight feathers and thin black face mask. The long, pointed bill is normally yellow (brighter in males) with a black base, although it can have a greenish or orange wash. The eyes are yellow in all except the subspecies S. d. tasmani (present on Lord Howe Island), which have dark yellowish-brown eyes. Young birds are brownish above and white below, with a white collar. It is found on marine islands and some coastal areas throughout Australia’s north, from Christmas island in the west to Norfolk Island in the east, and has been recorded breeding on around 35 islands and coral cays within the region (including Cocos (Keeling) Islands). Its global range extends throughout tropical marine waters of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans. Masked Boobies feed mainly on fish, but will also take cephalopods, and food is caught during spectacular plunging dives into the water, from heights of up to 100 m.