Visiting South America and finding the blue-footed booby, one begins to think a group of giggling adolescents was summoned for name assignment duty on the continent.
“Let’s call this big pond Lake Titicaca“.
The 12 year old gang doubles over with laughter and snorts.
“That’s nothing! Over here this one will be Lake PooPo“.
Now the puberty driven hysteria is in full swing. They can no longer stand up they are laughing so hard. Rolling about on the ground they spy birds flying overhead. One, who can manage to speak between fits of giggles, calls out,
“Look! There are Boobies in the air!”
All right it didn’t happen that way, but even the most stone faced traveler will fight a slight curl of the lip as a guide begins speaking of these do not miss features of a trip to Ecuador and Peru.
How did the blue-footed booby get it’s name?
It is believed that early European explorers named six species of birds boobies after the Spanish word ‘bobo’ meaning stupid. To those who first saw the birds they appeared clumsy on land with their big webbed feet and for this they were labeled with the derogatory, giggle inducing, name.
What are the Booby’s blue feet used for?
The large blue webbed feet are used to cover the 1-3 eggs laid by the female booby. Both the male and female take part in the care of the eggs. On a side note the blue-footed booby is monogamous but has the potential to become bigamous. Sounds a bit like humans don’t you think?
Long before covering eggs, the blue feet are used for mating purposes. The male struts and holds up his blue feet to impress the female. The darker the blue of the feet, the more attractive the booby is to prospective girlfriends.
Gives a whole new meaning to the hokey pokey dance ” Put your right foot in , put your right foot out , put your right foot in and you shake it all about.”
Why are the feet of the booby blue?
One might think the bird has a permanent case of poor circulation, however with their habitat being on the eastern Pacific coast from California to the Galapagos Islands to Peru, frostbite is unlikely.
It is the blue-footed booby’s diet of fresh fish containing carotenoid pigments that causes the blue color of the feet. A less healthy booby will have a lighter blue tone to his or her feet. Darker feet mean more attractive boobies, which means healthier birds. No wonder Darwin loved studying these islands.
If the feet of the blue-footed booby weren’t alone interesting enough, to adapt to it’s diving for fish, the booby’s nostrils have permanently sealed and it now breaths out the sides of it’s beak. You never know when you might need that tidbit of trivia.
Have you seen fascinating birds in your travels?