The Nazca Booby (Sula granti) is a highly pelagic species of the eastern Pacific and endemic breeder to the Nazca plate, hence the name. Formerly considered a subspecies of the more widespread Masked Booby, they were split based on physical, ecological and genetic differences.
This is a large and elegant species that usually nest in cliffs and steep slopes in remote islands and atolls. At sea, it feed by plunge-dives from various heights. As all the boobies and gannets, it has specialized reinforced skulls and air sacs at neck and shoulders to cushion the impact.
It is less prone than other boobies to follow ships; instead, they will circle the ship once to then follow its path. However, this behaviour is enough to get good chances for photos!
In Panama, it is rarely (if ever) seen from shore or inside the Panama Gulf. You need to venture out of the Continental Shelf to see this beautiful sea bird. For these, and many other reasons, is why wew chose the Nazca Booby as our Bird of the Month!
1. Ridgely R, Gwynne J. A Guide to the Birds of Panama. Princeton University Press 1989.
2. Angehr G, Dean R. The Birds of Panama. A Field Guide. Zona tropical 2010.