Dating Advice from Galapagos Birds (or, When Charles Darwin Meets Cosmo)

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Last Updated on April 22, 2024 by Audrey Scott

I've been out of the dating game for exactly 12 years, so maybe I'm not the best person to write about how to snag a man. However, during our recent trip to the Galapagos Islands, I observed the behaviors of various birds and something struck me: their mating habits reminded me of those dating advice columns I used to read in Cosmo.

If memory serves, it's a cruel dating world out there. For those of you still in the game, take comfort that the animal kingdom knows no more forgiveness than our human one.

Were Charles Darwin to lead a voyage into the realm of dating advice, perhaps this is where he’d take us:

Blue Footed Booby Dance
Blue Footed Booby Dance

Note: We are not ornithologists. The information below comes from first-hand observations and the humorous, grain-of-salt commentary from Jorge, our guide in the Galapagos.

1. When your man brings gifts, be choosy.

The blue-footed booby female is. When a suitor brings her trinkets and twigs for the new nest, she inspects them. And if she doesn't like what she sees, she lets him know with a disapproving honk.

Don't accept just any old piece of flair. Inspect it. Make sure it's valuable and that your man had to search far and wide to obtain it.

2. It's perfectly acceptable to poop in his general direction if he brings inadequate gifts.

Iron-clad advice straight from the Galapagos. Blue-footed booby females will turn their backs on male suitors if they don’t like what they see in the way of gifts. And if the booby male gift-giving really falls flat, she'll turn her back, bend over and give a squirt of her own white paint.

Now I don't suggest going quite this far with your dissatisfaction, but you get the gist.

3. Make sure your man gets decked out.

The frigate bird male chooses a good bush and parks it. He primps, puffs out a red sac between his neck and chest, and struts his stuff to communicate his availability to the ladies flying by.

frigate bird  Galapagos Islands
Looking Good for the Ladies

Yes, that’s right — males know they need to look their best in order to attract the right attention. But women make the choice.

4. Look for the guy with the best dance moves.

The man on the islands with the best moves: the blue-footed booby. In front of an interested female, he flares his wings, whistles and does a little jig with his big blue feet. If his moves are good enough, the booby bachelor will find himself one step closer to being mated for the season.

Watch a Video of Blue Footed Booby and Waved Albatross Dancing

5. Use the numbers to your advantage.

Be selective. Blue-footed booby females are…because they know they are outnumbered by their male counterparts. They build demand and make the men work for their attention.

So, next time you are at a bar and it's all men (i.e., a sausage hang), know that like the blue-footed booby, you have an advantage.

6. When choosing a mate, consider his taste in architecture.

During mating season, female frigate birds fly overhead and consider not only the size of a potential mate’s red pouch, but also the quality of the home (or bush) he has chosen.

When evaluating the man, look closely at his nest.

7. Make sure your man can sing.

The blue footed booby sings (whistles, really) his way into his beloved's heart. Be certain your mate is confident enough to serenade you in public.

8. Keep the romance alive by dancing every day.

After you've paired up, keep the spark alive by taking a cue from the waved albatross. Make sure you dance — and cross beaks — every day. Watch the video above for a how-to.

Albatross Dance - Galapagos Islands
A little albatross dancing.

9. Make sure he's willing to share responsibilities.

Galapagos birds are remarkably egalitarian when it comes to sharing responsibilities between the sexes. Boobies, albatross, and frigates all divide time caring for the egg and newborn chicks.

Once you've chosen your guy, be clear about the responsibilities ahead. Is he willing to spend half the time warming the egg in the nest? Or taking care of the little one while you go out to fetch food?

10. Not everyone is monogamous.

In the bird kingdom, as in the human one, there are some birds that remain faithful and there are those who cannot help but choose someone new each season.

Figure out whether your man is more like a waved albatross (monogamous) or a nazca booby (a new mate every season). If you insist on straying, make sure you do so during the off season. Otherwise, everyone in the neighborhood will discover the indiscretion and next year's mating season could be awfully lonely.

Editor's Note (a.k.a, A Word From Dan): The editor will not entertain any personal questions regarding whether his behavior is more like that of a booby or that of an albatross.

About Audrey Scott
Audrey Scott is a writer, storyteller, speaker and tourism development consultant. She aims to help turn people's fears into curiosity and connection. She harbors an obsession for artichokes and can bake a devastating pan of brownies. You can keep up with her adventures on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. And you can learn more about her on the About Page and on LinkedIn.

21 thoughts on “Dating Advice from Galapagos Birds (or, When Charles Darwin Meets Cosmo)”

  1. Well, now we know that philandering is part of natural selection, right? Though, for all of our sakes, I am happy that we aren’t like the blue-footed booby and don’t poop in the others’ direction when we are dissatisfied with our partner.

  2. I think the more one observes birds and animals, the more one realizes that humans are still part of the animal kingdom 🙂

    @Shannon: Glad you enjoyed this twist on the Galapagos Islands! It was a natural fit.

    @Theresa: Dan has always been more of a bird person, but I could watch the Galapagos birds for hours. Even now, each time I view the video above of the albatross, I laugh out loud.

    @Akila: I’m also glad we’ve “evolved” to not pooping in the others’ general direction, but I do admire the straightforward communication of the female blue footed boobie. No passive aggressive behavior there!

    @Anne: I thought you might find this amusing, especially as you remember my dating days (and disasters) from high school and college.

    @Anil: Animals don’t mess around – they get their point across. There isn’t time to play games as the mating season is short 🙂

  3. That’s how wonderful God’s creation is! And if we look at it, birds too have been given by God the freedom to choose. I like their dancing and the beak snap! hahaha I find them very cute and entertaining.

  4. @Rezzie: Glad you liked it. We watched the video for the first time in a while the other day and couldn’t help but laugh — each of the three viewings.

  5. lol! The second tip is very funny! I couldn’t imagine my gf pooping at me when I don’t bring the right gift! Kidding aside, these birds are pretty amazing!

  6. @Vaun: We couldn’t really imagine that either 🙂 Amazing birds — with a few funny little behavioral features — indeed!

  7. @Audrey Scott: The tips are hilarious! I admire you for coming up with these tips.

    @Daniel Noll: You guys are brilliant! I like this Galapagos article and your interview with the panda! Really nice!

  8. I guess I have found my Galapagos! 🙂 My husband shares with the responsibility of raising our kids. He’s very hands on when it comes to taking care of them. And an added bonus, he definitely can sing! Guess I’m one lucky girl!

  9. That’s right… not every one is monogamous. 🙂 Guess I have to figure if the man im going to meet is a waved albatross or nazca booby. 🙂

  10. @Carisse: Glad you enjoyed these tips. It was fun to look at birds’ (and pandas’) behavior and find similarities with human behavior.

    @Mary Jane: I love that you added how your husband can sing. Sounds like a great arrangement you have!

    @Sabrina: Sometimes it’s a bit harder to figure out the “species” for humans. At least you know what you’re looking for – that makes it a bit easier 🙂

  11. Hi! I like this article about the Galapagos birds. I commend your writing, funny but full of great advices to live by. I’m happy to know that you were able to stop over to Singapore from India. I am fascinated by the two you, for travelling the world. I hope there will be more articles on the different countries that you will be visiting and of course, pictures and food! More power!

  12. You are blessed to have witnessed these wonderful creation of God. I envy you for spending 8 days at the Galapagos island :). But I am thankful that you have shared many wonderful pictures and these really amazing video of the Galapagos bird.

  13. 🙂 I have a long list of the traits that I would like to have in a man. Now, it even became a longer list with all those advices from the Galapagos birds! 🙂 Now… where can I find a man with a good singing voice, who has nice dance moves and a great looking nest? 🙂

  14. @Korby: Glad you enjoyed the article and thanks for your comment. We both couldn’t stop laughing at these birds, and all the advice and stories that surrounded them. So humor seemed to be the right approach. Thanks for all the compliments. We’ll keep the articles and experiences coming.

    @Jennifer: Oh no, another checklist for us men to live by and live up to.

    Good luck finding your man. When you do, give him the test…and let us know.

  15. Great analogies! I was able to see the Blue Footed Boobies sky pointing dance. It is truly incredible and reminds you of a local bar on Friday evening!




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