Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Creature Feature: Blue-Footed Booby.

Ornithologists must have a ton of fun. Not only does their job consist of cataloging birds, which already sounds cool even if the birds in question are sparrows, but birds have all the silly names that get censored by forum mods. A friend and I have a running gag that talking a walk through the bird section at the Field Museum gets one some very good looks at tits, cocks, and boobies - all with a PG-13 rating.

No, you do not need to adjust your screen. That booby - yes, that is its name- really does have bright blue feet. The Blue-footed Booby (Sula nebouxii) is a seabird native to the tropical islands around Latin America, most notably the Galapagos. Like most seabirds, it eats various fish. It is not even remotely threatened - a miracle in those parts.

Unlike the word "manatee," the word "booby" has nothing to do with female naughty bits. Instead it may come from a Spanish word meaning "idiot," for the birds were notorious for landing on ships. There, they were easily captured and eaten. The most famous instance of this was on the Bounty, one of the most referenced sea voyages ever.

The booby's blue feet are used in the birds' exotic mating dance. The male raises his feet and displays his wings in order to earn the affection of his lifelong mate; soon the female copies him if she's interested. They have no mating season per se, so the boobies dance all year 'round. Sorry if that sounded dirty to you.

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