Sula nebouxii

| 17 Comments

by Mike Zerella, University of Colorado

BF_Boobies.jpg

Sula nebouxii — Blue-Footed Booby, Galápagos Islands.

17 Comments

Nothing lifts the spirits quite like watching a pair of big boobies sitting pretty.

Some animals are compelling in their beauty, others in their ugliness. Of course those terms are highly subjective; I don’t find many animals too unpleasant to look at. The boobies I find attractive by virtue of being exotic to me: their wonderful blue feet and pale eyes.

wright said:

Some animals are compelling in their beauty, others in their ugliness. Of course those terms are highly subjective; I don’t find many animals too unpleasant to look at. The boobies I find attractive by virtue of being exotic to me: their wonderful blue feet and pale eyes.

Have you seen the red-footed booby?

Does anyone know of any hypotheses concerning the adaptive value of the blue feet?

…and by the way, their mating ritual is really spectacular as well. They do a beautifully choreographed song and dance number.

Mike Z said:

Does anyone know of any hypotheses concerning the adaptive value of the blue feet?

I would guess through sexual selection, the brightness of the feet being an indicator of the health of the individual.

Mike Z said:

Does anyone know of any hypotheses concerning the adaptive value of the blue feet?

Besides what Richard Simmmons said, the blue feet could be a form of species recognition to enable a blue-footed booby to tell each other apart from red-footed and masked boobies.

Sexual selection certainly makes sense, but I thought I’d ask just to be sure that wasn’t a more unusual reason for such an unusual characteristic. BTW, part of their mating dance involves slowly lifting up one foot at a time and stretching it out to the side–sort of like a slow-motion karate kick. Maybe that looks sexy.

The two birds pictured have different color feet - one a uniform pastel light blue, and the other a mottled purplish-blue. Is that a gender difference, or age, or what?

I’m pretty sure it’s gender. Just off frame to the left is the little baby booby. Not so little, actually. You can see its beak and a little bit of its downy feathers, apparently staring at mom’s (dad’s?) feet.

boobies do not have boobies, do these boobies belong to Pam Anderson?

Paul Burnett said:

The two birds pictured have different color feet - one a uniform pastel light blue, and the other a mottled purplish-blue. Is that a gender difference, or age, or what?

Or different “kinds”? ;-)

John said:

boobies do not have boobies, do these boobies belong to Pam Anderson?

No, but Pam Anderson does have blue feet (little known fact).

Wikipedia says their conservation status is “least concern.” Least concern? That can’t be right. The planet clearly has too few boobies on it.

The planet clearly has too few boobies on it.

Oh, can I resist giving the obvious punchline to that…

Yay, one of my favorite animals! Because their name sound risque, but they’re not.

megan said:

Yay, one of my favorite animals! Because their name sound risque, but they’re not.

I take it, then, you’ve never seen the finale to the various booby species’ mating dances, then?

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This page contains a single entry by Guest Contributor published on November 10, 2008 12:00 PM.

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