Blue-footed Booby Dance

For many, experiencing Galapagos boobies—a rather funny named bird—are a highlight of any trip to this enchanted archipelago. It may be because of their accessibility in large colonies that nest along the walking trails. More likely, though, it is their funny name, in conjunction with the equally humorous blue-footed booby “dance” that they perform during courtship, including vocals.

There are three species of boobies that nest on the Galapagos Islands: blue-footed, red-footed, and the masked. Of the trio, the blue-footed booby is the most commonly seen and perhaps the most popular. The blue webbed feet, face, and beak make for great photographs, particularly during the famous courtship dance. And they are not modest about their agenda. A zoom lens will do little to dissuade an active couple. Listen for the male’s whistle. But be forewarned, the booby dance is quite contagious!

As humorous as it may seem, the boobies’ courtship dance is serious business—although booby means clown, that refers to their big blue feet, the color of which represents health and strength, so it is a big part of both their costume and their courtship dance.

Blue-footed Booby Feet

The red-footed booby nests only on a couple of the smaller, more distant Galapagos Islands, and is therefore less observed by visitors (despite the fact that it’s actually more common than the blue-footed booby). And the largest, though least colorful of the three species is the masked booby, which is also common throughout the Galapagos Islands. A blackish, featherless “mask” surrounds its face and stands in contrast to the snow-white feathers on its body. The tips of its wings and tail are also black.

Red-footed Booby

© Jessica Cardelucci

Each of these three bird species has evolved to occupy a slightly different ecological niche within the Galapagos Islands ecosystem. All of them fish for food, but they do so in varying proximity to shore. The birds, with their sleek bodies and swift flight, are perfectly designed for dive-bombing schools of small fish.

If you want to see and learn more about this interesting bird, check out this Dance of the Blue-footed Booby video by PBS Nature:

When you are back on the deck of your privately chartered deluxe yacht after a great day of island hopping and wildlife viewing, it will be nearly inevitable that you and your newfound friends will have a blue-footed booby dance-off to see who can best mimic the silliest strut on the islands.

You can watch blue-footed boobies’ courtship dances on classic wildlife trips, photo adventures, active holidays and or family escapes in the Galapagos Islands.