Conservation Status

Abbott's booby is listed as Critically Endangered, facing an extremely high risk of extinction, dying out. It lives only on Christmas Island, where it lost much of its habitat when nesting trees were cleared. The cape gannet is listed as Vulnerable, facing a high risk of extinction, because it has only six breeding colonies. The other gannets and boobies are not in danger of extinction, but many would be better off if their island habitats were protected.

FEATHER BUDDIES

Gannets depend on having smooth wing and tail feathers for their tricky flying, and they need well groomed feathers in order to stay warm in cold water. A gannet fixes its messed-up feathers by running them through its beak. But how can it smooth the feathers on top of its head? One solution is to scratch them with its feet. But during nesting time, gannets have a better solution. Pairs of gannets take turns smoothing the feathers on each other's heads. It is a great way to keep their feathers in shape, and it is also their way of saying, "We belong together."

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