Although your journey with Aurora Expeditions may show you many unique creatures, it’s likely you’ll not have seen the likes of this one before.
On the western coasts of Central and South America, in the Gálapagos Islands, a strange bird bumbles around at certain times of the year. You’ll see him raise his large blue feet, strutting about in the hopes to impress a female. It’s a comical sight, hence why this bird is aptly named after the Spanish word, “bobo”, meaning silly, foolish or stupid. Say hello to the blue-footed booby.
More than just a bird
The Gálapagos Islands are home to around half of the breeding population of blue-footed boobies. They’ll nest on the small surrounding islands with rocky coasts.
Although the blue feet are the most striking feature of these birds, they’re rather fascinating birds to look at. The top of their heads are brown, whilst the rump and underbelly are white, with a black tail. The beak is also blue, with serrated edges to catch their prey easily. According to the Gálapagos Conservation Trust, the females are larger, with feet of a darker blue shade than their male counterparts.
It is their mating ritual which mostly contributes to their comical appearance on land. To find a suitable mate, a male booby will find a small stick or rock to present to his selected female as a sign of his interest. He will then raise his beak, tail and wing tips to the sky, serenading her with his soft whistles. Lastly, but most importantly, the male booby will strut around, raising his blue feet high in a courtship dance. Usually, the more vivid the blue of a booby’s feet, the more attractive he will be to potential mates.
Once the male finds a suitable lady booby to mate, they will stay together for life.
A female blue-footed booby will usually lay around one to three eggs at a time. They use their large webbed feet to cover and protect their eggs, keeping them warm. The male helps to find food after they have hatched, feeding his family regurgitated fish. Both parents partake in the upbringing of their brood, usually lasting around two months long.
Bird of the skies
Blue-footed boobies measure around 80-85 centimetres long, but their wingspans can reach up to 1.5 metres wide. Although they look clumsy and foolish on land, it’s another story when daybreak hits and they take to the skies.
After a night of rest, blue-footed boobies fly around in the sky, looking for food. When one spots a school of fish, usually sardines or tuna, they will signal to the other birds who all group together to hunt. A hungry flock of boobies can range up to 200 birds at a time!
When the boobies decide to dive, this is when they are at their most graceful. Their long wings fold against their small body, making a more streamlined shape as they enter the water headfirst. Blue-footed boobies can dive from as high as 24 metres above water, as stated by National Geographic. They are talented divers, and can even plunge into the water from a sitting position on the water’s surface.
In the wild, blue-footed boobies can live up to 17 years.
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- Sea kayaking in the Gálapagos
Spotting a booby
As blue-footed boobies only spend a significant amount of time on land when they are mating, that is the best chance for you to spot them. Our cruise sets off in October, so you’re likely to see baby boobies just after they’re born, as their parents care for them.
Hop on board the Isabela II and enjoy a nine-day adventure with the Galapagos Odyssey expedition. Your shore excursions will follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin himself, and you’ll get to intimately experience wildlife in its natural habitat.
For more information, reach out to our team today.