A Beautiful Bird “Abbott’s Booby”

Abbott’s Booby (Papasula abbotti) has a special breeding biology, behavior, and bone structure that distinguishes it from the six other species of booby. It is an endangered seabird, which includes gannets and boobies, of the sulid family. William Louis Abbott, who discovered it on Assumption Island in 1892, was named for this species. Smaller than gannets, it is a large booby and is placed within its own monotypical genus. In its own monotypic genus, Papasula, Abbott’s booby is distinct from the other six booby species. This endangered species was once widespread in the Indian and Pacific Oceans and is now confined to a breeding colony on Christmas Island, an Australian territory situated in the eastern Indian Ocean. The population is decreasing; much of its former habitat has traditionally been logged to make room for phosphate mining. Most of the booby forest area has been cleared for phosphate mining purposes. Wind instability, aquatic pollution, and overfishing, harvesting, and invasive tropical plants harm the species as well. The breeding season starts in June or July; when they are about 8 years old, they start breeding at a relatively old age and breed only once every two years. The largest of all booby species is Abbott’s booby, and it is adapted for long-distance flight. Individuals, from beak to tail, can reach 80 cm (31 in) and weigh around 1.5 kg (3.3 lb). Their breeding and roosting sites are confined to the western, middle, southern, and northern parts of the Australian territory of Christmas Island.

“Abbott’s Booby”

Abbott’s booby is distinguished by its black and white plumage from other sulids in the region; the only other bird with similar coloration and form is the masked booby, which has only a black-winged all-white body. In comparison to black eye bands, black wings and tails, and black flank markings, they have an off-white plumage. With black outer ends, their feet are blue and webbed. The Booby of Abbott is pelagic, spending most of their time in the open sea. In the tall rainforest, about 20-40 m above sea level, on Christmas Island, they roost and breed. By ‘plunge-diving’ into the water, they feed on squid and flying fish. Males have pale dim bills with a dark tip, while females have pink bills with a dark tip. Chicks have white down and a cape of dark scapular quills. Adolescent flying creatures have plumage like grown-ups, in contrast to different types of boobies. A solitary egg is laid per grip, ordinarily among May and July. Over a 57-day cycle, both parents take turns incubating the egg, which is considerably longer than for other members of the family Sulidae. As they may come into contact with Indonesian and Taiwanese fisheries, the birds may be specifically hunted or captured as bycatch in longline fishing. This was not known.