Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Saturday, February 12, 2005

A Blue Footed Booby


Boobies belong to the family Sulidae, which also includes gannets. In the Galapagos, there are three boobies: the Nazca booby, the red-footed booby and the blue-footed booby. Despite the obvious color differences, the three boobies are very similar in body shape, with the Nazca booby being the largest and the blue-footed the smallest. They fly high above the ocean looking for schools of fish and squid. When prey is sighted they plunge headlong into the water in a swift, vertical drop.

Boobies nest in colonies but have a highly developed territorial sense. Courtship also involves display-an elaborate dance by the male in which the feet are raised alternately several times, followed by a gesture known as sky-pointing. The eggs, usually two in number, are laid on the ground in a rudimentary nest. Boobies get their name from their tameness and lack of fear of humans; they were easily killed by early mariners, who named them boobies to denote their presumed lack of intelligence.

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