The Most Complete Guide of Ecuador

Galapagos in May: Blue footed boobies’ mating season

Blue-footed Boobies  are in mating season during April and May, giving visitors the chance to see them do their fancy dance. During the booby-mating season, male Blue-footed Boobies do a fancy courtship dance with lots of hooting, honking and pointing their beaks skyward. This takes place on different times on different islands, but around March-May is a good time to see this particular spectacle. 

Blue-footed Bobbies are members of the Sudilae family, which includes 10 species of gannets and bobbies and which is considered part of a larger pelican order. These birds are the size of large seagulls. Female bobbies weigh 20-30% more than males. You can find blue footed boobies in most of the islands in the archipelago, at the shoreline and spot them all year round.  

Mating: A display of blue feet

During mating rituals, male birds show off their feet to prospective mates with a high-stepping strut. The bluer the feet, the more attractive the mate! Therefore, when mating season begins, the males start to walk in front of the female birds displaying their beautiful teal-blue feet. Boobies pull out ALL the stops when asking a lady to mate! First, they show their feet. Then, they bow low and give her a gift (usually a stick). After that, the male shows his feet again (because, wow, how blue!) and then, if chosen by the lady, the couple happily begins mating! While many boobies change mates from season to season, they are considered very faithful in the long term in comparison to other birds.  

Females: Are you blue enough for me?

The female birds are the fancy ones. Boobies are quite specific about finding the perfect partner, and one of the traits they fixate on is the relative blueness of the partner´s feet. The optimal color would be turquoise. 

Feeding and nesting

They also feed spectacularly, circling high over the water they spot the fish they will hunt, stopping midair before dropping head first onto their targets. They often hunt small fish in flocks, each hitting the water at 60 miles per hour. Their brain is protected by specialized air sacks in their skull.   

Blue-footed boobies prefer to nest in open spots: many Galápagos visitors have to walk around Boobies who imprudently set up their home right on the path of a trail! Boobies generally lay two eggs several days apart, leaving the elder chick with enormous advantage in terms of food provision and acquisition skills in comparison to the younger chick. Nevertheless, this sibling violence is provisional. Once they become teenagers, they are ready to focus on flaunting their blue feet and leave fighting for food behind!

Our Covers

The adorable blue footed boobies, emblematic animals of the Galapagos Islands, were featured in our May 2018 cover. Carolina Vallejo’s cover for edition N. 574 focused on their blue blue feet.

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