The Galápagos Islands are nestled in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of the South American continent. All 19 islands, plus the surrounding marine reserves, are said to be a unique “living museum and showcase of evolution.”
The islands have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and come under the protection of Ecuador. Here, visitors can see a “melting pot” of marine species, due to the three ocean currents here. The islands were formed continuous volcanic and seismic activity, and along with their extreme isolation, this has led to unusual and often unique animal life in the area. It is said that the Galápagos Islands inspired Charles Darwin’s famous theory of revolution by national selection.
Click here to find information on how to access the islands, or scroll to read more about the fascinating bird species that have made this their home.
Finches of the Galápagos Islands
The Galápagos Islands are home to abundant and varied birdlife, including 13 different species of finches. It was these birds that initially caught the eye of Charles Darwin, as while all seem to have a common ancestor, each species varies in some way.
Darwin was equally fascinated by the mockingbirds on the islands. These are clever birds that have been known to ask humans for water, although experts discourage the practice. They are social birds and flock together in groups of up to 40 birds. These groups chase away any other birds trying to invade their territory. The islands also have their own unique species of owls, hawks and doves.
The blue-footed booby is a popular sea bird that fascinates most travelers due to- their quaint and humorous appearance. They are also renowned for their courtship dance during mating season, which involves plenty of honking and hooting. March is a good time to experience the blue-footed boobies’ mating season. Red-footed boobies and Nazca boobies can also be seen on the islands.
Another unique sea bird is the flightless cormorant, the only species of its kind that cannot take to the skies. These are among some of the world’s most rare birds and are part of an active conservation program. The best time to spot them is during their mating season, between July and October.
A more familiar bird is the beautiful pink greater flamingo, although these can only be seen in relatively small flocks at certain times of the year, due to their specific food requirements. If you are lucky during your visit, it is possible to see the birds nesting and breeding and to spot the young flamingos.
One of the most popular birds on the Galápagos Islands is the penguins. The Galápagos penguins are unique among the many species, as they were designed for much colder climes. However, they have adapted themselves to be able to live here at the Equator, which is no mean feat! Sometimes snorkelers get lucky and see the birds swimming and looking for food. While they waddle a bit on land, they are amazingly quick in the water.
Experience these bird species and more on a fascinating visit to the Galápagos Islands!