When you think of the Galapagos Islands, visions of pristine beaches, unique wildlife, and unparalleled natural beauty likely come to mind. But did you know that these enchanting islands are
The Galapagos Islands are a true birdwatcher’s paradise. With countless species of birds inhabiting the islands, there is plenty to see and enjoy on many Galapagos tours. In this blog post, Expedition Ecuador sums up everything you need to know if you’re a birdwatcher lover, from the main islands you should visit, the best time to see certain species, and some important tips to consider.
If you’re a nature lover and are looking for a breathtaking experience, then birdwatching in the Galapagos islands is the perfect activity for you. Not only will you get to see incredible species of birds, but you’ll also be able to discover striking natural places. You will feel as if you’re part of a prestigious team doing a documentary on the most beautiful and unique birds in the world!
Let’s start with the main protagonist. Genovesa Island is also known as “The Island of the Birds” because of the large number of birds that nest in different parts of the island. Some of the amazing birds you’ll see here are puffball–chicks, storm petrels, Swallow–tailed gulls, lava herons, and more. Genovesa also has the largest colony of red-footed boobies in the archipelago, reaching more than 200,000 birds. While any time of the year is perfect to visit Galapagos, we recommend you plan your Galapagos tours for April or May if you want to have more chances to see these amazing species.
This island has great places to take beautiful pictures if you decide to go hiking a few meters from the nesting places of the variety of birds you can find. One of the best places is Prince Phillip’s Steps or El Barranco. This famous touristic site offers you a unique experience where you can see many birds as you walk along a rocky path with beautiful views.
Another paradise for birdwatchers is North Seymour Island. Here you will find many perfect places to see colonies of seabirds. The bird that gets all the gaze of visitors and locals is the frigate. Here you can find both Magnificent and Great Frigates nesting in bushes while inflating their red bags to attract females. The males inflate their stunning red throat pouches like balloons and open their wings to stand out and be chosen by one of the females that fly around. If you want to witness this, be sure to plan your Galapagos tours for June!
You can also see the playful blue-footed booby in their breeding season if you plan your trip for June and August. You won’t regret witnessing their amazing mating dance! To see these and other species you can explore the island by land taking gentle walks along one of its many trails. Check out our Galapagos Essentials tour here.
Isabela Island should also be on your travel bucket list if you want to see unique and beautiful birds like the Galapagos penguins. On the southern coast of the island, you can book many Galapagos tours and visit Puerto Villamil, a small port village with paradisiacal white sandy beaches, crystal clear turquoise waters, and many incredible animals. On the beaches, you can spot seabirds and on the boat trips, you will have the opportunity to see the beautiful Galapagos penguins. The best time to see them is in February, during this time the penguins migrate to Isabela Island after their nesting period.
If you go to the northern part of Puerto Villamil, you will find lagoons containing shallow wetlands and mangroves. This is also a perfect place for birdwatching. You can see flamingoes and a variety of migrant waders. Check out other things you can do on Isabela Island here.
Fernandina Island has a great diversity of wildlife mainly due to the waters surrounding the island. The incoming cold current brings nutrients and plankton, forming food sources for many marine species. These conditions are ideal to spot sea birds like Galapagos penguins and Flightless Cormorants.
The Flightless Cormorants initially flew to Galapagos, but over time they adapted to the environment and developed incredible abilities. Cormorants dive into the sea to look for fish, so they have evolved with strong hind legs for swimming. Because there are no natural predators in their environment, cormorants do not have the need to fly. The breeding season of this bird is between May and October. Do not miss the opportunity to see the amazing birds that do not fly!
It’s hard to believe that there are so many ideal places for birdwatching on the Galapagos Islands, so let’s end up with one more island you can’t miss! Española Island is home to the Española Mockingbird, the only endemic carnivorous bird on the island. Here you will also find the only nesting site of the Galapagos Waved Albatross. This beautiful endemic bird nests on the flat land of the island. Colonies return to Española each year between April and December to nest on the many cliffs they find. Here it’s also possible to see large colonies of boobies and other seabirds!
How to get the most out of your birdwatching experience in the Galapagos Islands
The best time to see birds is during the early morning hours, when they are most active. It is also important to dress appropriately for the weather and wear comfortable shoes. Be sure to bring along a good pair of binoculars and a bird identification book in case you spot rare species.
To get the most out of your birdwatching experience in the Galapagos Islands, make sure to visit different areas and take hikes. If you are looking for something challenging, try hiking up to the highlands. Always be respectful to the wildlife and stay away from nesting areas.
Tips for beginner birdwatchers in the Galapagos Islands
1. Plan your trip in advance. Make a plan and map out your route before you go – this will help you avoid getting lost and maximize your experience.
2. Pack the correct gear. Make sure you have all the necessary items for birdwatching, including binoculars, sunscreen, water bottles, snacks, and insect repellent if needed.
3. Be patient…and keep trying! Even if you don’t spot any birds immediately while out hiking or exploring on foot, don’t give up hope; chances are good that you’ll eventually encounter some beautiful animals while visiting these amazing islands.
To sum things up
This is just a taste of what the Galapagos Islands have to offer in terms of birdwatching. With countless species of birds on the islands, there is plenty to see and enjoy. So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip today!
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