Feb. 5, 2009
-- The Galapagos tortoise first bemused you as a child, its gargantuan size overshadowing your pet turtle Monty, the one you often cradled in tiny, sullied palms. The Galapagos penguins titillated you in later years, their presence along the equator a bizarre anomaly, like a direct refutal of natural law. And now, in your thirties, you find yourself gaping at yet another creature before you, a befuddling new discovery that somehow evaded your scrutiny all these years. Blue-footed, ostensibly clumsy, the Galapagos’s Blue-footed Booby sits perched before you, gazing inquisitively, as if your red California cap were as puzzling as those two little webbed appendages below it. The Blue-footed Booby, you muse- yet another creature comprising the Galapagos Islands’ bizarre yet utterly fascinating inventory of fauna.
Characterized by its long neck, relatively sharp bill, and bright, blue feet, the Blue-footed Booby is definitely a sight to be seen, even if bird watching isn’t exactly your idea of an enthralling pastime. Its subdued body, comprised of brown wings and a white chest, only enhances the vibrant sky-blue hue of its feet, which pop out against the earthy tones of the Galapagos’ terrain. Though not secluded to the Galapagos Islands, The Blue-Footed Booby, a notorious seabird, takes refuge in the seas of the Pacific Ocean, only landing ashore to rest at night and breed. The Galapagos Islands do, however, house about half of all breeding pairs of Blue-Footed Boobies, according to National Geographic.
Like its distinctively-
hued feet- large enough to shelter its eggs from harms way- the Booby’s name is equally amusing. Its origins rest in the Spanish word “bobo,” denoting “fool” or “clown,” a name which may seem both disparaging and unwarranted—
that is, until you witness the Booby’s infamous mating dance.
The Blue-Footed Booby’s mating ritual lets men flaunt the source of their pride- those trophy blue feet- which ultimately determine the male Booby’s fate with the ladies. As attraction directly corresponds with the Booby’s feet, those with the richest azure hue will likely eclipse the less-lustrous footed. Strutting before his potential mate, the male Booby raises one foot, and then the other, broadcasting his coveted attributes before a titillated female audience. Both the male and female lift their bills toward the sky; the male whistles and spreads his wings; and the female lowers her countenance beneath her plumy, brown wing.
The Blue-Footed Booby’s intriguing color, name, and mating ritual make the famed seabird an awesome spectacle, especially when visiting the famed Galapagos Islands. And for those who have been fortunate enough to observe other Galapagos charms- most notably the Galapagos tortoise, penguin, and even Darwin’s finches- then it is only naturally to top it all off with a confounding yet endearing foray with the Blue-Footed Booby.
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