Poor boobies get no respect

I feel a little sorry for the brown booby.  In the first place, the name “booby” sounds a little disparaging, as if the bird might not be too bright.

Blue-footed boobies like this pair can occasionally be seen down towards Canyon Lake. (photo courtesy of Jerry Hall)

And that is unfair, since boobies are at least as intelligent as the emu, a very large bird which has a brain that weighs about as much as an AA battery.

But I digress, a brown booby was recently sighted in Williamson County and I have seen a blue-footed booby at Canyon Lake, so boobies do get around.

There are six booby species and they usually inhabit tropical islands.  It is rare to see one in our area.  These are large, goose-sized birds and have oval bodies, tapered tails and massive, pointed bills.  They have been described as “shaped like fat cigars.”

Named by early Spanish and Portugese sailors, who referred to it as a “bobo” or “stupid buffoon,” this bird dives from great heights in search of fish and has layers of air sacs beneath the skin to cushion it from the impact of the dive.

In closing, let me thank you for reading my column and wish you a most merry Christmas and a very happy New Year.

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