Vallarta & The Blue Footed Booby

The Blue-Footed Booby:  Did you know Puerto Vallarta is one of the few places in the world you can see the Blue-footed booby? Half of all Blue-footed boobies are found in the Galápagos Islands. The remainder is scattered along the Pacific Ocean coastline from Mexico to Peru, and Blue Footed Boobies seem to be very selective about their habitats. A midsize water bird, males are slightly smaller than females, both weighing from 3 to 5 pounds. Males are distinguishable by their bright blue feet, which figure largely in mating rituals. The male Blue-footed booby does a dance of sorts to attract his mate, lifting his feet as high as possible. The females are attracted to the density and brightness of color and the male Blue-footed booby’s personal choreography, which can be quite comical.

Besides the males’ blue feet, another trait that distinguishes the booby is their egg laying practice, which causes a lot of sibling rivalry in the nest, cause for great study. Not all eggs are laid at once, which results in different sized hatchlings, who all vie for the same meals and attention. This asynchronous hatching, which differs from other species whose incubation period doesn’t begin until all eggs have been laid, keeps male and female blue-footed busy and easy for bird watchers to spy on.

To see the Blue-footed booby in Puerto Vallarta, we suggest taking a panga (open skiff boat) from one of the small ports such as Mismaloya, Punta de Mita, or Sayulita. The rock formation Los Arcos in the south end of the bay is a sure spot for sighting these funny birds or for a longer trip, the Marieta Islands. You can snorkel there, too. Beautiful fish species abound in these waters; angel fish, clownfish (Nemo) and yellow tangs.

Visitors to Puerto Vallarta often ask how the Blue-footed booby got his name. The feet are a dead giveaway, but what about the booby part, which makes children and some affable adults laugh. The Spanish word bobo means clumsy, foolish, silly. Unrelated to the color of the bird’s feet, but still associated with these vibrant appendages, the name sticks because of the difficulty the booby finds when walking on solid ground. Imagine being an awkward dancer and being forced to find a romantic match by overcoming this disadvantage. We could learn much from the Blue-footed booby.

This bird is an amazing fisher with its long pointed beak and deep diving skills and is able to feed their hungry children with great skill and proficiency.

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