• 54 per cent of the voters chose the picture of the female blue-footed booby nesting on the bare ground with her hatchlings (middle).

The Galapagos Islands may be most renowned for giant tortoises and Darwin’s finches, but many who visit the isolated archipelago west of Ecuador are struck by the antics of the blue-footed boobies in the local colonies. Writer Marina Jimenez certainly was: she describes part of the seabird’s stomping mating-dance in her feature story in the fall 2016 issue of Canadian Geographic Travel.

But it wasn’t just brilliant blue feet and charisma that led the Canadian Geographic Travel team to put three images of blue-footed boobies up for the regular cover vote (we solicit feedback from thousands of followers to help us choose each new issue’s cover). The birds are, in their own right, an iconic Galapagos species — and crucial in the grand scheme of biodiversity in the islands.

A cover celebrating “Wonderful wildlife in the Galapagos” — and tied to a feature about the great challenges and successes of conservation in the increasingly popular destination — calls for a stunning and hopeful image. And our readers agreed: a full 54 per cent chose the picture of the female blue-footed booby nesting on the bare ground with her hatchlings. (The other 46 per cent of the votes was split about evenly between the other two options.)

For many readers, the family of boobies symbolized more than a single species, and showcased a critical moment in life more significant than all others. “The appeal of the nest and regeneration of a species is a positive aspect of nature that hopefully continues,” wrote one voter. “It depicts the rarity, beauty and fragility of life in the wild,” commented another.

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

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