Blue-Footed Booby Birds Dance to Find a Mate


Like humans, the blue-footed booby, a Galapagos bird, is fussy when it comes to choosing a mate. While humans tend to judge potential partners by outward qualities, blue-footed boobies are attracted only to one main quality: the blueness of other birds’ feet.

The color of boobies’ feet is a purplish-blue. Researchers Alberto Velano from the University of Vigo in Spain and Roxana Torres from the National Autonomous University of Mexico suggest that this is due to the link between the birds’ foot color and health. They also suggest that this blue color is a result of the birds’ structural pigmentation components. In addition, boobies feed on fish containing carotenoids, a bright yellow pigment that modifies their foot color to a more desirable-looking turquoise.

Boobies’ unique movements are also a link to their strange name. These birds are called “boobies” because in Spanish, ‘bobo’ means clown and alludes to clumsy, dancing clowns in oversized shoes. Indeed, blue-footed boobies are amazing dancers. The female booby mimics the male’s clumsy dance moves. Her dance begins after the male leans over, spreads his wings, points his bill, and whistles like a toy flute. The male then repeats a routine where he clicks his bill, drops a pebble, and spears a twig. Then the female booby joyfully twists and moves in response.

These birds are interesting and sweet little creatures. Learning how the blue-footed boobies dance almost makes me want to be in their shoes.

[Source: The New York Times]

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