Booby Bird

The name Booby was said by Professor Skeat in his 19th Century Etymological Dictionary to be derived from the Spanish or Portuguese bobo - a fool, and that from the Latin balbus-stuttering or inarticulate, a name applied, most likely by seamen originally, to certain birds from their stupidity in alighting upon ships and allowing themselves to be easily taken by the hand.  Thus Purchas in his account of Davis's Second Voyage to India, in 1604-5, tells (Pilgrimes, I. bk. iii. p. 132) of "fowles called Pashara boues " - which correctly spelt would be Paxaros bobos - at the island of Fernando Norhona.

The Boobies (genus sula and Papasula, in the Sulidae family) are closely related to the GANNET (genus Morus in the Sulidae family), although the Booby differs in having no median stripe of bare skin down the front of the throat.  Also unlike the gannett, the booby almost invariably breeds upon trees instead of rocks, and is an inhabitant of warmer climates. One of them, the Masked Booby - also known as the Blue faced Booby -  Sula dactylatra, when adult has much of the aspect of a Gannet, but the  Red Footed Booby, which is the smallest of the boobies standing around 70 centimeters in height, is readily distinguishable by its red legs.  Similarly, the Brown Booby (Sula  leucogaster) can be distinguished by its upper plumage and neck of deep brown. These three are widely distributed within the tropics, and are in some places exceedingly abundant. Another species, the Peruvian Booby (Sula variegata), which seems to preserve throughout its life the spotted suit characteristic of the immature Northern Gannet (Sula bassana), has a much more limited range, being as yet only known from the coast of Peru, where it is one of the birds which contribute to the formation of guano.


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