A new study says that when male blue-footed boobies take a yearlong break from sex, they get a brighter shade of blue in their feet the following year, which makes them more attractive to females.
Blue-footed boobies are best known for their bright blue webbed feet, which the males prominently display in courtship dance to attract females, reports The National Geographic News.
A new study shows that while attractiveness of the blue feet diminishes with age in males that reproduce each year, if males skip a breeding season and don't mate, they displayed a more attractive foot colour and had more green chroma.
Breeding for these tropical seabirds involves more than just the mating itself.
Boobies have a long period of biparental care, i.e., the males are active participants in raising their young. The eggs are incubated for 45 days, and chicks stay with their parents for a four-month rearing period.
Researchers from University of Vigo in Spain,and the National Autonomous University of Mexico studied more than a hundred male blue-footed boobies over a total of six months in 2004 and 2005 on Mexicos Isla Isabel, and measured their green chroma using a spectrophotometer.
They concluded that its likely the sabbaticals from reproducing offspring may allow the male boobies to physically recover and display brighter feet in their quest of finding a mate.
The study has been published in The Royal Society's Biology Letters.