Galapagos, Part 3: Boobies (minds out of the gutter, please!)

I don’t know why but the reason I first wanted to visit the Galapagos Islands was to see blue-footed boobies.  They just seemed so whimsical, with their brilliant blue feet, silly faces, and odd mating dance.  Not only did I get to see them, I got to see them dance!  We were lucky enough to arrive right in the midst of mating season, so all the birds were displaying for their mates.

The folks who live on the Galapagos are well aware of the double entendre of their most famous birds.  Tee shirts like this one abound:

The birds were named by the Spanish.  Because they are kind of goofy, they called them “bobos” or clowns.  The British, in their usual fashion, corrupted the foreign word to boobies.

Here’s my favorite blue-footed booby, who looks a bit clown-like head on.  See the blue foot peeking out from under him/her?

Here are a couple of blue-footed boobies mid-mating dance:

And here are those unbelievably blue feet:

What I didn’t know is that there are other kinds of boobies too.  Here’s a red-footed booby:

Of course, he could just as easily be called a blue-beaked booby which would be nice alliteration. (Obviously whoever named the subspecies of boobies had no appreciation for the finer style points of the English language.)

Finally, here’s a Nazca booby standing on his/her nest (such as it is–they’re not much into nest-building, as you can see):

You see those snazzy white lines radiating out like rays from the sun?  I was wondering how and why the birds drew them around their nests (to attract a mate?  to stake out territory? to give the young directions?) when our guide explained that it’s Nazca booby poop; the nest sitter rotates its orientation on the nest so the poop gets ejected in different directions, causing the “artwork”.  Another illusion shattered.

After all that sitting and pooping, this is what hatches from a Nazca booby egg:

Only a mother could love this one, right?  However, they’re surprisingly endearing critters and endlessly curious.  The booby baby below wanted to taste our guide’s binoculars:

It was another delightful moment in our interaction with the local wildlife.  The baby boobies thought we were just as interesting as we thought they were.  Everyone was happy.


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