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Handling Boobies--a tough job, but someone has to do it!!!

OK, OK, now that I have your attention--this story is not about those kind of boobies...but the Blue Footed kind...

First, a picture, and then the story...

 You regular readers will remember that the lot next door used to have a really ugly, old concrete home that had been wrecked by El Nino about 12 years ago--well, the new owners tore that down and have surrounded the lot with a typical natural stick fence...


Yesterday, as Rox and I were enjoying a really nice day on deck as we were eating lunch, I notice that a rather large bird is walking back and forth along the fence-line facing the water.


By the time we have finished munching, this bird has traversed the fence-line about three times--not good, in that he obviously can't get out by flying, and can't get food there, and will certainly get weaker and weaker if something isn't done.


So...off I go to see if I can help.  For one thing, I can walk right up to him, and he shows me absolutely no fear--a bad sign, usually.  When a bird is this docile, it usually means that he is  close to death by starvation or illness, and is too weak to resist.


As I walk with him, he keeps staring through the fence to the water, and seems to be looking for a hole the fence.  In addition, he has flapped his wings a couple of times, and they do not appear to be broken, a good sign, but then why hasn't he just flown away?


I have opened the double gates fronting the ocean, but now he seems to have gotten himself to the far corner, and is disoriented...so I get a long stick and try to guide him back to the opening.  I am surprised that he allows himself to be nudged along.  He lets me guide him almost to the opening, and then he sees the open gate, and sort of resists going further...and actually reverses his progress, so that I have to start over.


Before beginning again, I flatten the open gate completely against the fence, so the bird will not be frightened of it.  Then we begin again, and I am getting a sinking feeling that this will not end well.  At one time, he tries to bite my stick, and several times, he just sits down, and I have to wait a couple of minutes for him to allow himself to be prodded along again.


After about ten minutes, we finally arrive at the opening, and I sort of nudge him toward the water--this is fine with him, and he takes a running start, and just flies off at about two feet off the ground...turns left, and I watch as he continues at this altitude for about 500 yards, and out of visual range...


Rox is cheering and giving me thumbs up and high fives by now...so a really good feeling!!!


So, here is what I found out...this bird flies low...he was defeated by the high fence...so it was a good deed to get him to a spot where he can get airborne...

Also, in the Galapagos, they grow up with absolutely no fear of man...so that is the reason that he was so docile when I first walked up to him...


Next, he is a Blue Footed Booby, native of the Galapagos Islands--600 miles west of us...

Here is what Google said about him, and another picture from the Galapagos...


The Blue-footed Booby (Sula nebouxii excisa, piquero de patas azules) is most easily identified, as its name suggests, by its bright blue feet. It has brown upper plumage and white lower plumage, with wings being a slightly darker brown than the rest of the body. Juveniles are completely brown and receive their coloration after about one year.


Males are slightly smaller than females and perform an elaborate, intensely entertaining mating dance to attract their female partner. The male begins by lifting up his enormous clown-feet one-by-one, and then stops in a distinctive pose, beak raised skyward, announcing his manhood with a loud whistle, pointing out his tail, and opening his wings. This is accompanied by a love-offering of sticks and twigs. Females join in the mating dance, following the same movements, but respond with a guttural honk. Besides their distinguishing sounds, the females also have larger eye pupils.


Breeding can take place at any time of the year when the food supply is abundant. Up to three eggs are laid in a “guano ring,” or nested circle of booby dung. When food is scarce, the oldest sibling will push younger sibling(s) out of the guano ring in an act of “cainism.” This form of natural selection is effective, because young outside of the ring are refused care and ultimately perish.


The young take two to six years to mature, at which time they will return to their island birthplace to mate. Meanwhile, they travel among the islands feeding on fish, which are caught in a graceful plunge dive. Watching the boobies fish—either from the air or underwater—is a major highlight in the Galapagos.


Blue-footed boobies are best viewed in coastal waters at the visitor sites of Punta Suarez (Española), North Seymour, and Punta Pitt (San Cristóbal).


Well, we are hoping that our wandering boy will have a good story to tell the girls when he makes his way back to the Galapagos, and does his dance in the hopes in enticing a mate...


Some days really are diamonds...


Posted on Sun, November 9, 2008 at 01:11AM by Registered CommenterBob & Roxanne | CommentsPost a Comment

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