these rare boobies.
Vic tried to explain to me that boobies are cigar-shaped birds,
tapered at the head and tail, with disproportionately large bills. He
said that they fly on stiff wings with strong wing beats. Boobies spend
most of their lives on the ocean, where they dive headlong into the water
after fish from heights of 80 feet. Gee, Vic can even make boobies sound
These silly looking birds got their names from the word bobo, which is
Spanish for clown. There are several species of boobies, but the ones
that figure in this story are the masked and blue-footed boobies.
The masked booby is a white bird with dark wings and a dark mask
around the bill. It breeds mainly in the Galapagos Islands, but a
subpopulation breeds on islands off the coast of Western Mexico. This
subpopulation resembles the recently named Nazca boobies, which for all
practical purposes are slight color variations of masked boobies that
breed on a particular island in the Pacific.
The main feature of the blue-footed booby is, appropriately enough,
blue feet. During courtship, the male displays his pretty feet to the
female in a rather comical fashion, holding up first one, then the other
to show them off. The birds build an elaborate nest while they are
courting, only to tear it up when it comes time to lay the eggs, which
are laid on bare ground. These birds are apparently not too bright.
A couple of weeks ago, a sick sub-adult masked booby was reported in
La Jolla. Someone said that a large wave swept the bird into the ocean.
When the booby was next seen, its foot was bleeding. Additional reports
said that the bird headed our way, apparently following fishing boats.
Now the plot thickens. We received a call from the Wetlands and
Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach a few days after the masked
booby was swept off the rock in La Jolla. Animal Control officers had
brought in an injured booby that they had captured at Corona del Mar.
Naturally, Vic assumed it was the same booby. But when he saw the bird at
the Care Center, he realized that it was a different bird. It didn't look