Sunday, June 27, 2010

Blue Footed Boobies

I remember my dad in the 1970's showing me photos in Smithsonian Magazine of blue footed boobies, unique birds that lived in the Galapagos Islands.  I was probably first interested in going there way back then, but certainly as I learned about Darwin and read about the islands over the years, my interest grew.  The Galapagos Islands have been on my lifetime "must see" list for years, so I was very happy to get to see them this month.

I went with Natural Habitat Adventures, an eco-friendly nature travel company that I took a polar bear trip with last fall.  was once again happy with them.  I selected a newer catamaran with a max of 16 passengers, and my group had 12 people and 2 guides.  I was pleased with the trip and would go again....if there were not so many other places to see!

I saw the mating dance of the blue footed boobies.  The boobies pick up their feet and wave them at each other, give each other little sticks and stones, look away and back at each other, make cooing noises, and eventually, if all goes well, build a nest and raise a chick together.  The birds show no fear or concern for man, laying nests on the walking trail used regularly by tourists, dancing literally at your feet, and in some cases requiring one to walk around or step over them. 

The intensity of blue varies in their feet, but I noticed that the pairs seem to have feet the same intensity of color - faded blue attracts faded blue, deep blue attracts deep blue.  One interesting gender difference is that females have larger pupils in their eyes (noticeably) and males have smaller ones. (The close up is a male).

It was very cool, and very interesting, to see the boobies.  We saw them on several of the islands, but especially closely on one early morning walk on an island that contained a rookery.

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