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Posts Tagged ‘Blue-footed booby’

“You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting – over and over announcing your place in the family of things.” – Mary Oliver

Red-foted booby — Wikimedia photo

And Yellow Feet, Too

            Nothing makes me feel more content than being out in nature. I want to be able to put a name to every wildflower, every tree, every bug, every rock formation and since living in the desert, every cactus that sits along the paths I walk or drive. Did you know there are over 1,500 species of cacti? Finally, I settled on learning to identify and name birds. North America only has about a 1,000 of them. Of course, that’s only about a tenth of the species world-wide.

A dancing blue-footed booby. — Wikimedia photo

I’ve managed, since 1999, which includes nine years of full-time travel across this country, to see a bit over half of them. And a bit of travel to distant lands has added about 200 more to my life list of birds.

The boobies, which are among the latter, are some of my favorite birds. And seeing them for the first time was magical.

The red-footed beauties came first. There were hundreds of them, and I gasped in delight as I watched them, from a walkway above a sheer cliff, circling in flight as they headed out to fish in the Pacific Ocean.

I was at a bird sanctuary on Rota Island, just 35 miles north of Guam, where I was visiting my daughter, Trish. She had treated me to a flight to the island after I had been so disappointed about the lack of birds on Guam. The birds there had been decimated by the brown tree snake, a non-native invader. On Rota, where there were none of these nasty snakes, birds were everywhere.

From my high perch, and lower down on the cliff than the red-footed nests, I spied a few brown boobies, whose feet are yellow. It was a grand day to remember.

Just as grand was the day I danced with a blue-footed booby, my favorite of the three boobies.

I saw hundreds of these birds when I cruised the Galapagos Islands in a 16-passenger catamaran. We had along an official guide, which let us visit places where larger groups were not allowed. It was a birder’s paradise, as here the birds had never experienced human predation, and so weren’t afraid of us.

A hooded mockingbird landed on my shoe one day.  And on another I was kissed by a baby seal as I stepped off a small raft and onto the island, The touch made me feel special, unlike the next lady onto the island. That same small seal decided to see if she tasted good.

The rule for us humans was we couldn’t touch the animals, but there was no rule about them touching us.

My dance with the blue-footed booby happened when I came across the large bird blocking my way along a narrow path. He lifted one-foot and then the other to show off his blue feet, which how the male boobies court females. I lifted one foot and then the other in response. We both repeated the motion several times until our guide came around the corner. Stop teasing the booby,” he said.

I skirted around the bird, and when I looked back he lifted one foot , and then the other and our eyes locked. I imagined that he was saying, “Thanks for the Dance.

Bean Pat: A Woman of Worth  https://tinyurl.com/y825f58s   Telling HerStories: The Broad View is sponsored by Story Circle Network, which is an organization that supports female writers. I’m a member and it is the best support I’ve ever had as a writer.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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Blue-footed booby ... Photo courtesy Wikimedia

The large white and brown bird with the blue feet didn’t recognize my right to the hiking path. Its home here in The Galapagos Islands, where man has not yet imposed his predatory nature, let it assume it was my equal.

I stopped about a foot away and was quickly mesmerized as the two of us, human and bird, stared eye-to-eye. My birding knowledge finally kicked in, however, and I identified the bird in front of me as a male blue-footed booby. The sex-distinguishing clue was that the pupil in its pale yellow eye was smaller than the pupil of the bird sitting on two eggs in a nest beside the path. I assumed the two birds were mates.

 As these birder thoughts filtered through my brain, the booby blocking my way lifted his right foot and gazed quizzically at me. I didn’t move. He put the right foot down and lifted his left foot and bobbed his head a few times. I smiled at him, and he repeated the maneuvers, the same ones I assumed he had used to woo his breeding female.

 When he lifted his left foot for the third time, I lifted my right foot in reply. For the next couple of minutes he and I continued this Hokey Pokey. It might have gone on longer except the rest of the tour group caught up.

 “Don’t tease the bird,” our guide said when he saw me.

“I’m not,” I replied. “He wanted to dance with me.”

 But since I could feel a thread of impatience coming from the people behind me, I moved off the path and started around the booby. We had been warned not to touch any of the Galapagos animals.

 The booby had no such compulsive restraint. He reached out and gave my leg a quick, non-threatening peck as I passed by him. It felt both like a good-bye handshake, and an invitation to “come back and dance with me.”

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