The Galapagos Islands are one of the most remarkable
wildlife sites in the world. Their 29 of the 58 resident
species are endemic.
This is where Charles Darwin formulated his theory of evolution by
studying 13 species of finches. Their position in the cold Humboldt current flowing
north from the Antarctic, and bringing nutrients to the surface, make
the surrounding waters rich in fish and plankton, and account for the
huge numbers of seabirds here, including, amazingly on the equator,
The Galapagos is truly a birder's paradise. While the
number of species is not as high as on the continents, the ability to
get very close to the birds and to see their behaviors in their natural
settings is what makes the Galapagos so special. According to the World Wildlife Fund, 80 percent of
the land birds are endemic, meaning they occur only here. The sea birds
have the least proportion of endemism, being able to fly away when
needed. Of the 15 species, 5 are endemic and these include the
flightless cormorant and the penguin.
The island of
Espanola is residence for almost the entire world's population of the waved albatross.
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. The bird most associated with
the Galapagos is the booby. There are 4 species, of which 3 are residents and the
blue-footed booby is the most famous.