Red-Footed Booby

Red-footed boobies are a common sight in Palmyra. They are present in large numbers and often nest in the lowest branches of Pisonia grandis trees. The red-footed boobies we saw during our trip in early June were in a variety of stages of nesting. Some were making nests, while others were sitting on nests with eggs. We even saw one that was already rearing a young chick. Those that were not sitting on nests did flush upon hearing loud noises or close movement, but nesting Red-footed Boobies did not flush as easily.

One night during a heavy rain a few of us ran out from camp to the dock to make sure all lights were off and our equipment was put away. Upon our arrival, we found four or five red-footed and brown boobies very disoriented. As we approached, the boobies seemed confused about which way to fly. Some headed into the water, some flew straight towards us attracted by our flashlights, while others were too stunned to move. During heavy periods of rainfall on Palmyra, boobies are drawn in by any artificial sources of light. When this occurs they tend to crash into tents and people. This phenomenon has been termed "Booby Rain" on Palmyra. Scientists do not know why this happens.