A trip to The Galapagos Islands is guaranteed to make a birder out of anyone. The sheer numbers, and just plain strange features that isolation has brought upon these fabulous creatures would have been enough for us. Couple this with fact that we spent more effort backing away from them than trying to spot them – these birds have absolutely zero fear of humans – and we were instantly hooked!
WATCH: It’s not enough to see them, you have to hear them! And the sheer numbers will astound you.
Genovesa Island has been nicknamed “The Bird Island” and that moniker is certainly fitting. Considering the proliferation of the red-footed and Nazca varieties of boobies, booby island was likely the original idea for a nickname… someone must have thought better of that nomenclature.
There is a six-foot boundary rule for all animals on the islands. As humans, it was our duty to keep that distance.
A major highlight of our bird hike on Genovesa had to be when we spotted a Short-eared Owl eating a freshly captured Storm Petrel. These rare owls are diurnal, meaning they hunt during the day, and are the only owls known to exist that exhibit this behavior.
A zodiac ride along the cliffs of Genovesa Island beside the towering rocks afforded us intimate encounters with Red-billed Tropicbirds sporting their crazy-long tails.
Spotting one of Darwin’s famous finches, the guys that started the evolution craze, was especially exciting when hiking up to Darwin’s Lagoon. We got to see his house too.
We spied a Flightless Cormorant eating a Tiger Snake Eel. In the blink of an eye (but sadly, not of a camera lens) a pelican swooped down and, after a mighty tug-of-war, stole the cormorant’s prey and took it to the sky. Talk about wild kingdom!
In a huge stroke of luck (and thanks to the amazing eye of our guide) we caught a glimpse of the tiny, extremely elusive Vermillion Flycatcher on a hike up to the caldera of Volcán Sierra Negra.
Taking a dingy into Elizabeth Bay, we immediately came upon dozens of Galapagos penguins diving and frolicking beside us while hunting for their breakfast. These are the only penguins that live in the tropics.
Elizabeth Bay also provided our bird-watching missing link – the Blue-footed Boobie. Our trip would have felt incomplete without a sighting of this grade-school-giggle-inducing creature.
David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com
See the incredible work done at Giant Tortoise Breeding Center
Check out the landscape of The Galapagos
Cavort with Sea Lions!
The Underwater World of The Galapagos
Our tips for visiting The Galapagos Islands – including what to pack
YOUR TURN: Are The Galapagos Islands on your bucket list?