How are the blue-footed booby courtships dances?
One of the most charismatic, engaging and adorable animals you’ll see when you cruise the Galapagos islands is, without doubt, the blue-footed booby. This endemic creature is famed for the blue feet of its name. This is caused by the redirection of spare antioxidants into the feet, thus proving they are fit and a good mate.
However, it is not just the blueness of the feet that earns the blue-footed booby a mate. They also have to take part in an incredible dance ritual, the history of which has yet to be fully established. But we do know that it’s hilarious and very charming to watch. But just what are the steps of this dance routine and might we soon be seeing it on the dance floors of the world’s super clubs? And where will you see it when you cruise the Galapagos Islands? Here we explain the steps in sequence.
The first one of the steps is already an important one. The onus is all on the male of the species to make a good impression. They have to preen themselves, sort out their feathers and make sure they look slick enough to turn heads. Only the best-presented birds will get a mate.
When the smartened up males spot a female they like flying overhead, they will make a big display of pointing and thrusting everything they’ve got into the air. The beak, wings, and chest are all raised to the sky in the direction of any female that catches their eye. Then they whistle (or make a sound that sounds like whistling) in order to attract more attention.
If a female’s interest is aroused, the male will then make a big display of presenting her with a gift. This will usually be in the form of a stone or twig (lucky ladies) offered in his beak. It’s the booby equivalent of a bunch of flowers.
If the female is still interested, then here comes the really fun part of the dance. The male will show off his own unique two-step, padding both feet on the ground, in turn, wobbling back and forth and making a high pitch noise. If the female likes what she sees, she’ll join in with the dance, raising and stamping legs in turn.
This is where the dance gets slightly more intimate. The boobies get closer together and the female will allow the male to preen her with his beak. This is the male’s main weapon so this is a big sign of trust.
You can see this dance on a number of different islands when you cruise the Galapagos Islands. Onboard yachts such as the Galapagos Legend, at the right time of year, the boobies’ dance is quite a common site.