The dancing blue footed booby with beautiful blue feet

By in Animals

On the western coasts of Central and South America lives a fascinating bird with turquoise blue feet! It is the aptly-named blue-footed booby. Males of this magnificent bird species try to impress females by showing off their fabulous feet and stamping them on the ground in a dance-like fashion. Male boobies even make a whistle noise to further get the females attention.

Blue footed booby

A male and female blue footed booby during their courtship ritual.

Females are so magnetized by the blue colour of the males feet that the males with the bluest feet are the most attractive. Females like bright blue feet especially because the foot color depends on their food intake. Large amounts of fish make their feet brighter, while deprivation of nutrients makes them duller. Also males also prefer brighter blue feet because that indicates a healthier female.

Next to being attractive physical features, the boobies use their blue feet to cover their young and keep them warm.

Blue-footed boobies are exceptional divers and feed on schools of fish and squid. Folding their long wings back around their streamlined bodies they plunge into the water from high up in the air. They can even swim underwater to pursuit their prey.

Blue footed booby dancing

The blue-footed booby likes to dance!

Males and females fish differently. The smaller size and larger tail of the male enables the male to fish in shallower areas because its tail enables him to change direction. The larger size of females enables them to carry more food.

This fascinating marine bird comes only to land to breed and is, like other seabirds, very tame. Watch the video to see them performing their dance ritual.

  • Sanne

    haha super mooi dit!

  • Jonathan Rush

    What a great video of the courtship dance. Could we please put a link to it on our website?
    Jonathan Rush
    Acting Press Officer
    Galapagos Conservation Trust

  • Jolle Jolles

    Dear Jonathan Rush, What a great trust you have, raising awareness for the Galapagos islands! You may definitely put a link on your website. I am planning to write more blog posts about the wildlife of the galapagos in which I will also mention your conservation Trust so more people will know about it!
    Jolle Jolles

  • Bjørn Østman

    How is it known that “females like bright blue feet especially because the foot color depends on their food intake”? Only because of the following, or is there other evidence? “Large amounts of fish make their feet brighter, while deprivation of nutrients makes them duller.”

    • Jolle Jolles

      Dear Bjørn Østman,
      Thank you for your comment, good question. Researchers have investigated if the blue feet of the boobies are actually indicators of the mates condition. First of all, the experimenters deprived the males of food which resulted in the feet becoming duller in 48 h already, while they became brighter again when they were re-fed with fresh fish. The experimenters suggest that specific pigmentation levels reveal the immunological state of an individual, thus that foot colour is a rapid honest signal of current condition. Furthermore, by experimentally making the feet duller of the males, they found that females decreased the size of their eggs, indicating that blue-footed booby females are continuously evaluating their mates and can perform rapid adjustments of reproductive investment by using dynamic sexual traits.
      Hope this answers your questions. Read more about the research in this article.

  • saphiera

    is a booby a part of the ocean biome.

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