Volume 49, No. 1

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Multidecadal comparison of Red-footed Booby Sula sula diet at Ulupa'u Crater, O'ahu, Hawai'i


1Hawai'i Pacific University, Marine Science, 41-202 Kalanianaole Hwy, Waimanalo, HI 96795, USA *(
2Oikonos – Ecosystem Knowledge, P.O. Box 1918, Kailua, HI 96734, USA
3United States Geological Survey, Western Ecological Research Center, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA


DONAHUE, S.E., ADAMS J. & HYRENBACH, K.D. 2021. Multidecadal comparison of Red-footed Booby Sula sula diet at Ulupa'u Crater, O'ahu, Hawai'i. Marine Ornithology 49: 51 - 55

Received 24 June 2020, accepted 22 September 2020

Date Published: 2021/04/15
Date Online: 2021/02/20
Key words: Red-footed Booby, Sula sula, regurgitation, diet, Hawai'i, Purpleback Flying Squid, Sthenoteuthis oualaniensis


We describe the diet of Red-footed Boobies Sula sula nesting at Ulupaʻu Crater, Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi based on 106 regurgitations collected during 2014 and 2015. We also compare our results to a diet study at this colony five decades earlier. Both studies indicate that flying squid (Ommastrephidae) and flyingfish (Exocoetidae) are important prey for this population while provisioning chicks. In particular, Purpleback Flying Squid Sthenoteuthis oualaniensis occurred in the majority (> 70%) of the recent regurgitation samples, and their size (mantle length < 11 cm) indicates that they were mostly juveniles. Moreover, the size distribution of the squid prey varied by year, indicating inter-annual variability in the phenology of spawning and larval development. This study highlights the reliance of Red-footed Boobies on juveniles of this poorly-studied squid and underscores their value as biological samplers of epipelagic fish and squid within their foraging ranges. 


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