Sunday, 16 December 2012

Boobies Dive Bombing for Their Dinner

http://blog.galapagosecolodge.net/2012/07/espanola-island-punta-suarez_21.html
Ask any visitor to the Galapagos Islands what they loved about their trip and they are bound to tell you all about our fabulous Blue Footed Boobies. I mention them in many of my posts because we see them on every Island. Typically when I write about those funny, clown-like and fascinating inhabitants of the Galapagos Islands, I talk about their mating habits and their adorable and irresistible little chicks. Any one lucky enough to experience their mating dance will have a memory to last a lifetime. I show this ritual in my Espanola Post.

I'm often asked why these birds have blue feet. It's a particularly intriguing question because almost every Galapagos animal or bird species blends into the stark volcanic environment with its pallet a range of brown, beige, sepia, and black, interspersed with green scruffy plant life. How then did they end up with bright blue feet - and electrifying color in contrast to the earthy tones? The answer goes right back to the mating ritual. The males strut around displaying their feet to the females who, in turn, are attracted to that azure color. The bluer the better and more magnetic. The Boobies' feet serve the same purpose as the coloration of so many male birds, like cardinals or frigatebirds.

Blue Footed Boobie Tending to a Chick
Photo from Galapagos Conservancy
The Blue Footed Boobies also use their feet to protect their little chicks. The feet are webbed and actually are used to cover the chicks and protect them from the sun and heat.








Here are a few examples of our famous and delightful Boobies:

Boobie Close Up Showing Their Feathers That Give Them Buoyancy in the Water
Boobie Close Up Showing Their Feathers That Give Them Buoyancy in the Water
Boobies Kissing As Part of Their Mating Dance
Boobies Kissing As Part of Their Mating Dance
Blue Footed Boobie with Two Newborn Chicks
Blue Footed Boobie with Two Newborn Chicks photo from Creative Commons
Two Fluffy Boobie Chicks Setting Off On Their Own
Two Fluffy Boobie Chicks Setting Off On Their Own, photo from TheYoYoMan, Creative Commons
But there is more to boobies than their mating habits. For example - they have to eat. They typically eat small fish, and their keen eyes allow them to sight the fish in the water from as high as 80-100 feet above the ocean surface. They travel sometimes in large numbers and attack the little fish, such as anchovies, that serve as their main sustenance.

Blue Footed Boobies are wonderful divers. And their method of dive bombing for their dinner is as ritualized as their mating dance. Their wings and feathers, which provide buoyancy, fold back and give them a streamlined body. Then, they plunge. Every so often, we are lucky enough to see a group of Blue Footed Boobies at feeding time. They mass together and dive bomb for a delicious fish dinner. This is a spectacular sight. This video is from YouTube.



 Blue Footed Boobies - they really are a Galapagos Island favorite.

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