Last week, while I was in Hawaii visiting friends and family, I got to see one of my favorite things: boobies! A whole hillside of boobies! Those suckers were everywhere â€“ on the beach, on postcards, and flying through the air. Of course, I’m referring to the ornithological type of boobies, not the anthropological kind (although those are nice too). The word “booby” comes from the Spanish word “bobo,” meaning “stupid person,” which seems a bit unfair to these lovely birds. (As a side note, the round, squishy type of boobies have a different etymology that comes from the Latin for “little girl.” Weird, but less insulting, I think.)
There are several types of boobies â€“ Nazca, masked, red-footed, blue-footed â€“ and each has some unique mating behavior. In addition to being fascinating birds, I can endlessly entertain myself with “nice boobies” jokes.
The most interesting mating habits belong to the blue-footed boobies. They are the ultimate foot fetishists. A male will trot up to a female and provocatively lift his foot upward, exposing the bright blue sole. If she likes what she sees, she’ll get all flustered and point her beak and wings up to the sky. Apparently, the brighter the blue, the more excited the female. I always have this funny image of a human male doing this to seduce a human female, wearing bright blue diving fins, saying, “check this out” in a sleazy voice as he lifts his leg. Not sure how successful this would be in picking up women in a club, but it’d make you memorable.
Photos by Kate McCombs