Blue-footed Booby - Blue Feet, Deep Diver
The Blue-footed Booby is a curious bird with unique blue-colored, webbed feet that resides in the tropics, specifically in and around Ecuador. Although it is unknown where the name “Booby” originates, some conjecture it may come from the Spanish word for clown, “bobo”. They are around 32 in (81 cm) long, and weigh about 3 lb (1.5 kg), on average.
Of course, with feet like this bird has, it would be a waste to not use them! During breeding periods, males perform an elaborate dance for the female birds, taking large steps and flaunting their stylish (very blue!) equipment. If she is impressed enough, the birds will establish a breeding ground, and return to their chosen place every mating cycle. It may be that the females’ preference for blue feet has evolved the species to its current state of very blue feet.
Another unique attribute of this bird is its nostrils, which are permanently closed. As such, the bird must breathe through the corners of the mouth, which may seem like a disadvantage, at first. However, these closed nostrils make them excellent divers. Diving is very important for this creature, as it feeds strictly on marine life. Upon spotting its prey, it can take a nosedive from as high as 330 ft (100 m), hitting the water at speeds up to 60 mph (97 km/hr). Such efficiency rarely lends its target enough time to even make it back to the water’s surface before being gulped down! Incidentally, the only time the Blue-footed Booby uses land is during the breeding seasons.
When the Blue-footed Booby hunts, it usually travels in a group of 12 or more birds. When one of the birds in the group spots a school of fish in the water below, it will call out a signal to its fellows. In unison, the entire group will dive through the air and into the water, each bird snagging a fish of its own. One of the more interesting aspects of their hunting habits is the different roles the male and female birds can perform. With a smaller body but larger tail, the male can fish in shallow areas rather than just deep water. The female has a larger body, and as such, can carry more food than the male; in times of need for more nourishment, the female can use her higher carrying capacity to provide food for her young.