Galapagos Islands birding

Galapagos frigate birdIn Ecuador the place for birding is the Galapagos Islands. Here, 600 miles from the continent of South America, birds have evolved in complete isolation. The number of endemic (native) species of birds and animals is high considering the relatively small size of the islands, and some islands hold different species than others.

One of the main reasons why Charles Darwin got fascinated with the Galapagos, were the birds that live on it. He found enough evidence to support the theory of evolution while studying these animals, specially the finches. The most attractive birds are the Blue Footed Boobies, the Waved Albatross the Flightless Cormorants and the world's smallest Penguins.

There are around 29 types of land birds in the islands and 70% are endemic while such birds as the lava gull, swallowtail gull, Galapagos penguin and the waved albatross are actually endemic and found no where else.

There are 19 main types of sea birds that proliferate the islands and many believe the birds were the first colonizing animals to populate these distant, remote lands.

The Española Island is residence for almost the entire world's population of the waved albatross, with its magnificent wing span of almost 10 ft (240cm). Around 12,000 pairs arrive in early April to breed and nest and leave in December. Courtship, a marvelous choreographed ritual lasting up to 20 minutes, reaches its peak in October with the new-found couple then waiting until the following year to breed.

Blue Footed Boobies (Sula nebousii excisa)

Galapagos blue footed boobiesThe Blue Footed Booby is a tropical seabird that lives in the Galapagos Islands, the Gulf of California, the west coast of Mexico and along the coast of Ecuador and northern Peru. It has beautiful blue webbed feet and is about the size of a goose.

They weigh between 3 and 4 pounds, with the female being larger than the male. They can live to be more than 17 years old. Blue-footed Boobies begin courtship with a prancing dance step.

Waved Albatross (Diomedea irrorata)

Galapagos waved albatrossAlbatrosses are majestic sea birds. With a wingspan of up to 3,5m the Wandering Albatross is one of the most spectacular sights for ocean travellers. The somewhat smaller Galapagos albatross is the only albatross within the tropics and nests almost uniquely on the Española Islands in the Galapagos Islands.

The Waved Albatross is not endemic to the Galapagos Islands, but this is an ideal place to see this magnificent bird - in both size and ability to soar across vast distances.

Flightless Cormorants (Sula nebousii excisa)

Galapagos flightless cormorantThe Galapagos flightless cormorant evolved in an isolated island environment that was free of predators. The birds had no need to fly and eventually became flightless. However, the Galapagos Islands have not remained free of predators, and, consequently, this cormorant is now one of the world’s rarest birds

Penguins (Sphenisicus mediculus)

Galapagos penguinThe Galapagos penguin is the most daring, because it actually lives on tropical islands just a bit south of the Ecuador. While all penguin species are only found in the Southern Hemisphere, the Galapagos penguin is the one that lives near the Equator. It is quite a wonder how the Galapagos penguin can survive a hot and humid climate, as its outfit is more suitable for a cold environment.

The Galapagos Penguins live in colonies feeding on small fish caught while swimming underwater.