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The Clown Princes of the Galapagos

Taking its name from Bobo, Spanish for clown, three species of Booby make their home in the Galapagos Islands... the iconic Blue-footed Booby with its intricate and comical courtship display, the striking black and white Nazca Booby and the colorful Red-footed Booby.

Blue footed Boobies

Blue-footed Booby courtship

Bright blue feet must be the perfect shade of aqua to court the right female, but it doesn't end there.  Whistling, dancing and sky-pointing are just some of the body gestures necessary to get the female's attention.  Even then, a worthy female will have to be wooed with bits of twigs and sticks.  The female signals the winning suitor with a unique popping sound. The two then settle down and immediately start building a simple nest on the ground.  While Blue-footed Boobies can be seen throughout the entire Galapagos chain, you can best witness the courtship ritual during our western itinerary on North Seymour Island.

Red footed Boobies

Red-footed Booby on Genovesa

The most colorful of the species, a blue and pink face compliments their bright red feet. Red-footed courtship is a noisy affair. Loud squawking seems to be the winning way to get the ladies' attention.  Unlike their Blue-footed cousins, Red-footed Boobies' webbed feet are uniquely adapted to grasp the branches of trees and bushes where they build their rudimentary nests. They can be seen in large numbers nesting in Red Mangroves on Genovesa (Tower) Island during our eastern itinerary.  

Nazca Boobies

Nazca chick on Española

Once classified as the Masked Booby, the Nazca Booby is now considered it's own endemic species in the Galapagos.  Nazca Boobies have a unique but somewhat grizzly approach to survival of their single offspring, known as obligate siblicide. Two eggs are laid approximately a week apart. The first to hatch grows quickly during its first week. If it survives, it will eliminate the younger chick. If for any reason however the first chick does not survive, the second chick will take its place. Nazca Boobies can be seen during our eastern itinerary on Española (Hood) island.

 

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