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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Galapagos Grandure - Life in the Air

While we didn't get to see the flightless cormorants, we did see tons of other birds. Darwin's theory of evolution was primarily based on the adaptations of finches that he saw on the islands. (Or so our guide, Gabriel, told us.) There are 13 or 14 varieties of finches on the island and you need a degree in ornithology to figure out who's who.

Yellow Warbler

Mocking Bird - a cheeky fellow free loading off crumbs

My focus was on the Blue Footed Booby. I saw one on the coast a few years ago, but it was dead and had no head. I really wanted to see a live one and we lucked out, as it was mating season, so we got to see their goofy (yet strangely sweet) mating dance. The key components involve the male showing the female that he has clean feet, is parasite free (he does this by flashing his wings up) and can whistle a pretty tune.  His song sounds a little like a whistle that's missing the bead inside. 

Clean feet all round

It was also Albatross mating season, so we got to see their moves as well. This was more of a line dance, bow to your partner kind of thing that involved making a kissy-kissy head movement. The was some waddling and foot showing. I didn't realize that Albatrosses had eye brows, but they do - the males' being more prominent.

Kissy kissy!

The romance didn't end there. The Frigates were at the tail end of their mating season as well, so we got to see the males with their red throat pouches inflated and the females looked on, seemingly unimpressed.  

But the bounty doesn't end there. There are Mocking birds, Fly Catchers, Oyster Catchers, ducks (with babies!) and the sweet little Galapagos dove. 

Our Mocking Bird friend
Red Billed Oyster Catcher
Female Frigate on the lookout for a red necked hottie
Swallow Tailed Gull, nesting
Still looking...
Nazca Boobie (aka the brother killer)
Great Grey Heron
Galapagos Dove
On a side note, the Nazca Boobie has an interesting contingency plan for their offspring. They lay two eggs and nurture the first hatchling, while providing just enough food for the second to survive until they're sure the first will make it and then get the first hatchling to kill of its sibling. Pretty gruesome, right?

Did I forget to mention the flamingos? I think I did. Our guide, who has been doing his job for almost 30 years had never seen flamingos mating and we got to see the job getting done. (It was very fast and I missed the shot, only getting the last part, where the male flies away and the female is left wondering what the heck just happened.)

Gettin' lucky!
And then he's off...wham bam thank  you ma'am!

Of course, our pelican friends hung out with us everywhere. They cruised over our heads as we snorkeled,  fished off the pier and the bow of the ship and floated becomingly as the sun set.
Adult and juvenile enjoying the sun with us

I'll talk about penguins in the next installment, as they're amphibious. Stay tuned!


  1. You look pretty close to the birds, did you take pictures with your waterproof camera or another, I didn't think it had that high of a zoom.

    1. We used our other camera (Canon PowerShot) that has a really decent zoom (20x). The boobies didn't seem to be worried about our presence, they would waddle right in front of us as they used the path to do their dance.