July 16, 2024

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 A Guest Article by Karen Helland

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Blue Footed Boobies of the Galapagos Islands  

A trip to the Galapagos is a wonderful adventure.  So many things to see and do.  For one, the place is absolutely full of birds. A visit during the mating season is truly exceptional.   My journey in May, 2012 was one of those one-of-a-kind experiences.  It was mating season and the Blue Footed Boobies were actively doing their mating dance.

g birds 2Blue Footed Boobies are  rather interesting creatures – they are actually carnivorous marine birds.  Their name is intersting as well.  Not a reference to any anatomical features (go figure), it’s actually a derivation of the Spanish word Bobo, or clown.  They are noted for their blue feet – clown like perhaps?  More about this later.  Blue Footed Boobies form cooperative groups and dive into the water for food.  There can be so many diving at one time it can be quite hazardous, some get injured or even die in the chaotic confusion.

 

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The male is the smaller of the two birds, but usually has brighter feet than the female.  He shows off his feet to his potential mate by strutting around.  The deeper the blue color of his feet, the better chance he has of finding a mate.  The female is taller and her feet are blue also, but not as bright.

 

 

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The male will strut or dance around the female with its beak in the air, hissing and spreading out his wings and tail.  If the female is interested she will repeat the dance, but honking rather than hissing.  If she isn’t interested, she will just stand there without moving. If there are other males in the area they might approach the disinterested female to try their luck.  But they do so at their own peril.  The male already doing the courting will get really angry and chase the intrusive males away.  Blue Footed Boobies are monogomous and the male is not about to let another interfer with his lady friend.

g birds 5The next step in the mating dance is the “engagement” ring.  No expense is spared here!  The male holds a twig, yup-a mere twig, aloft and then places it in front of this chosen female.  Some say this signifies building a nest. But how do you know what a bird is thinking?  Maybe the lady just likes twigs!  Anyway,  the interested female will then reply by picking up the twig and placing it in front of the male.  Yes, Yes, Yes, — they are now a couple.  And with that they retreat into the night to mate.  No champagne or any kind of celebration.  Alas, that is the way of humans!

Chicks hatch from 2 or 3 eggs in about 45 days. The parents will stay with them for 2 months.  Both male and female take care of the nest and the young offspring. Co-parenting in the wild!

Observing this dance in The Galapagos was a special opportunity – nature at its best.  Up close and personal.  Of course this wasn’t excactly a private experience for the Blue Footed Boobies.  These birds had about 15 people watching, taking photos and walking among them.  But this male was on a mission and wasn’t going to be distracted.  It was a lesson in persistence.

 

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 Above Is The Imprint of A Galapagos T-Shirt – Rather Appropos of This Article!

I hope you have the opportunity to visit the Galapagos, it is a wonderful adventure.

Karen  Helland, World Traveler

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My thanks to Karen for her guest article.  Karen is an ardent traveler who recently returned from travels to South America.

 Karen Helland–Snapshot biography
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I am a retired elementary school library/media specialist who loves to travel.  I travel to visit my two sons, their wives and four grandchildren.  I have traveled throughout the United States.  I have traveled to every continent but two, with the greatest amount being in Europe.
I am originally from Connecticut and I have lived in Rhode Island and Wimbledon, England.   For the last 32 years I have resided in Columbia, South Carolina.
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Keep on Travelin’ ………………………….. And Enjoy the Adventure!
 
 
Dr. B, The Photo Trekker
 
Thanks again to Karen – well done.  If you have a topic, or would like to do a guest article – let me know!
 
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