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7 birds you'll see in the Galapagos Islands

11.18.2014
Topic South American Travel

7 birds you'll see in the Galapagos Islands - Image

The Galapagos Islands became famous because of the unique variety of animals that live there - it's truly astounding.

Most people learned about the islands from Charles Darwin's "On the Origin of Species," the book that discussed his theory of natural selection and observations about evolution. Much of his research was based on a stint in the Galapagos, where he discovered endless examples of evolution by adaptation, GalapagosIslands.com explained.

Although he found similar species from island to island, Darwin noticed that they had evolved in ways that allowed them to survive in the tropical climate.

A distinct South America travel experience awaits you just off the coast of Ecuador, where you'll find these birds and more.

1. Galapagos finches or Darwin's finches
As one of the main focuses during Darwin's research on the islands, these finches are well-known. There are about 13 different species scattered across the Galapagos, but they may all look the same to tourists because they all evolved from the same species. However, if you look closely, you might be able to see the differences in beak sizes and shapes.

2. Blue-footed boobies
While they aren't the only boobies on the island, blue-footed boobies are the easiest for travellers to spot, according to Natural Habitat Adventures. These birds have bright blue feet that play an important role in mating. The males lift their feet, strut and flap their wings to demonstrate their romantic availability. Females know which male to choose based on who has the brightest feet, which represents good health, Mother Nature Network explained. Although blue-footed boobies live in other areas of the world, the Galapagos have the largest population.

3. Galapagos hawk

As the only bird of prey on the islands, the Galapagos hawk sits at the top of the food chain. However, this began to be problematic when the birds began attacking introduced farm animals, according to Mother Nature Network. As a result, farmers hunted the hawks until the population was greatly reduced. Galapagos hawks tend to eat small animals, the source continued, but they've been known to take larger animals like iguanas and baby tortoises from time to time.

4. Flightless cormorant
These cormorants are unique to the islands because, as the name would imply, they can't fly. They've evolved to have tiny wings and weigh much more than other species of cormorants. Unfortunately, introduced mammal species have brought the cormorant population down since the birds aren't able to fly away, Mother Nature Network stated.

5. Magnificent frigatebird
Like the blue-footed boobies, the magnificent frigatebirds use bright colors to attract their mates. Males have red throat pouches that expand and draw attention to them. If you want to see magnificent frigatebirds on your trip to the Galapagos, Natural Habitat Adventures recommended stopping by North Seymour Island.

6. Waved albatross
The waved albatross is the Galapagos' largest bird species and the only albatross that lives in the tropics, according to Mother Nature Network. Although they fly to other areas, the islands serve as the albatross breeding ground year after year, mainly on the island of Hood.

Albatross mate for life, and they make it known. The mating ritual involves the birds banging their beaks together, as if kissing, plus the occasional exclamation.

7. Galapagos penguin
People think penguins are cold-loving animals, but these little guys are the exception. Mother Nature Network explained that these are some of the smallest penguins in the world, as well as the northernmost. According to Natural Habitat Adventures, the Galapagos penguins are excellent snorkeling partners because it's amazing to see how agile and fast they are underwater.

Before you make a list of animals you hope to see on your trip, find out how to purchase the best travel insurance.