Sunday, June 15, 2014

Wildlife on the coast

The blue-footed booby (Sula nebouxii) is a marine bird in the family Sulidae, which includes ten species of long-winged seabirds. Blue-footed boobies belong to the genusSula, which comprises six species of boobies. It is easily recognizable by its distinctive bright blue feet, which is a sexually selected trait. Males display their feet in an elaborate mating ritual by lifting their feet up and down while strutting before the female. The female is slightly larger than the male and can measure up to 90 cm (36 in) long with a wingspan of up to 1.5 m (4.9 ft).

The natural breeding habitats of the blue-footed booby are the tropical and subtropical islands of the Pacific Ocean.  It can be found from the Gulf of California down along the western coasts of Central and South America down to Peru. Approximately one half of all breeding pairs nest on the Galápagos Islands. Its diet mainly consists of fish, which it obtains by diving and sometimes swimming underwater in search of its prey. While it sometimes hunts alone, the blue-footed booby mainly hunts in groups.

The name booby comes from the Spanish word bobo ("stupid", "fool", or "clown") because the blue-footed booby is, like other seabirds, clumsy on land. They are also regarded as foolish for their apparent fearlessness of humans.

Its most notable characteristic is its blue-colored feet, which can range in color from a pale turquoise to a deep aquamarine. Males and younger birds have lighter feet while females have darker feet. Its blue feet play a key role in courtship rituals and breeding, with the male visually displaying its feet to attract mates during the mating season. 

The above three pictures are of one we saw on our beach the other evening. Her feet are very dark blue, in the Wikipedia article it said their feet can be darker than normal if they are malnourished, and another blogger in San Clemente posted they were coming inland due to a shortage of their preferred fish. 

Isn't wildlife awesome in Ecuador! Stay tuned, you never know what we'll encounter next, the adventure continues!

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