When it comes to the blue-footed booby, magic lies in their feet, in their – unsurprisingly – bright blue feet! They are a comical looking seabird which have long, brown wings and white plumage as well as a blue bill.
When it comes to pairing up, it’s all about those feet and the bluer the better as it’s a hard colour for them to make so it’s an indication of how healthy the suitor is. To make sure the girl you’re wooing knows how blue your feet are, you will engage in a mating dance which is all about showing her your magic. Show your feet, bow long, wings out, give her a gift and show off your feet! If it’s going well, you might both dance; mirroring each other helps to form a partnership. Even though you no longer build nests out of twigs, you’ll then try to impress her with your nest building skills and may offer her pieces of nest building material. If all of this goes your way, you’ll continue your courtship display even after you’ve mated but be warned, your girl isn’t just yours – when you’re away, she’ll flirt with your neighbours.
About half of blue footed boobies have extra relationships but whilst sexual monogamy doesn’t seem important, they are socially monogamous and will raise their family together. Creating a successful family unit, in partnership, is more important to them than any extra marital affairs. This might be a call to consider your own views on social and sexual monogamy. They are not always united, for some people social monogamy might be more important than sexual monogamy but your feelings will be mingled with your feelings about sex and relationships. This is a good time to remind yourself that different people have different sex drives and different sexual interests and being in a great relationship with someone doesn’t mean that those will automatically match. Talk about what you consider to be cheating, talk to your partner(s) about your relationships and expectations.
Once they’ve mated, a female will lay her eggs in a shallow depression on flat ground and they like to have plenty of room between their nest and those of others in the colony. This makes me think of new parents and interfering relatives who all feel like they know best and who crowd in around the mum with no respect for her boundaries… They also surround their nesting area with guano, just to really get the message across. I’m not going to suggest you go that far, but if the blue footed booby has entered your life, it might be worth reinforcing your own boundaries.
As the female blue footed booby doesn’t have brooding patches like most birds, she’ll use her webbed feet to incubate her clutch. When they begin to hatch, she’ll support the eggs on top of her feet and the young will stay there for a month. Both parents will feed the chicks. It’s been discovered that the key to a long term relationship is the equal sharing of nest duties, year after year. Something I’m sure many women around the world would raise a glass to! In terms of breeding success, young seem to have the best chance in life when one parent is young and the older is old so if you’re looking for your own long term partner, maybe through the idea of ‘age appropriate’ out of the window! With the caveat that we should still abide by laws of consent and so on…
They are named, clearly, for their blue feet but the word booby comes from Spanish sailors who thought that the way they walked meant they were stupid or foolish. Despite their clumsiness on land, they are agile in the air and great underwater – judge someone by their skills in their preferred environment.
People don’t always think these birds are real, and certainly their feet can look photoshopped, additionally, the majority of the population is found in the Galapagos Islands – far from most people’s eyes. It is also probably because of this that I struggled to find much symbolism related to the blue footed booby. Generally, when I’m researching animals, I will at least find some cultural or symbolic meaning from their natural homeland, but I really struggled with this bird…
There is clearly importance in paying attention to foot health, to communicating through your body and in reflecting on your relationship models. They are confident and don’t let their comical walk bring them down and that is a lesson we all need reminding of from time to time. In fact what makes them seem odd and awkward is actually one of their greatest assets and one they have decided to make the most.
Apparently they are symbols of fearlessness but as their main predators are sharks, and humans, I wonder about this. It’s easy to be fearless when you’ve rarely needed to be afraid…
“The blue footed booby is also a symbol of creativity and dreaming. It might be time to take that dream and make it a reality. The booby is telling you to keep in touch with your creative side. Anything is possible, as long as you can imagine it. Use your creativity to make it happen.”
– Free Spirit Meg
As they are agile in water, an element which is associated with emotions, they are able to dive deep into their inner world and are comfortable at navigating their feelings. So often, so many of us push our feelings down or try to turn them off but that will backfire at some point. Instead, the booby suggests we get to know our feelings, we feel them and we let them go.
As I couldn’t find out very much about the blue-footed booby, I thought I’d turn briefly to the symbolism of the colour blue.
Blue is said to symbolise trust, loyalty and confidence – all aspects that we’ve seen, to different degrees, when we’ve looked at the booby. It is a calming colour that apparently slows down the human metabolism and it associated with cleanliness and purity.
“Blue represents both the sky and the sea, and is associated with open spaces, freedom, intuition, imagination, expansiveness, inspiration, and sensitivity. Blue also represents meanings of depth, trust, loyalty, sincerity, wisdom, confidence, stability, faith, heaven, and intelligence.”
– Bourn Creative
As there are so many different shades of blue, it can have contradictory meanings dependant on the specific colour. Light blues are associated with health, healing and tranquillity whereas dark blue is associated with knowledge, power and seriousness.