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Birds and Birding in the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands pack a serious punch when it comes to fascinating and unique bird species. This tiny collection of islands boasts 56 native bird species, with 45 of these are endemic, found only in the Galapagos. Sea birds, land birds, and shore birds, including migratory birds, are a huge reason for the importance of this location in the world of biodiversity, evolution, and conservation.

Whether you’re a devoted birder or a complete novice, learning a bit about the birds of the Galapagos Islands will enrich any traveler’s Galapagos experience. Here are just a few of our favorite Galapagos Islands birds.

Galapagos Penguin

The Galapagos Islands are the closest point to the equator in the world where you’ll find penguins living in the wild, by a long shot. The Humboldt Current that runs along the Pacific shores of South America keep the climate cold enough for these Galapagos Penguins, and they’re some of the most entertaining on the islands.

Get up close and personal with them on land, or really experience them in their element by snorkeling with them underwater.

The penguin’s existence in the Galapagos is delicate, and even the slightest temperature increase can seriously effect their breeding patterns – as evidenced by their significant drop in breeding during the temperature increases caused by El Nino in 1997-1998.

Blue-Footed Booby

Perhaps the most iconic Galapagos Bird, the blue-footed booby earns its name with bright, colorful feet that go on full display during a most entertaining courtship dance. These birds can be seen in the Galapagos year round, whether on land or diving for food into the sea not far from shore. They reach up to 3 feet in length and have narrow wings, traveling both in small colonies and on their own. You’re almost certain to spot a few of these on Hood Island and Seymour Island, there’s no mistaking them!.

Waved Albatross

This majestic Galapagos Bird has a wingspan reaching up to 8 feet! Averaging 2 to 3 feet in length and weighing in at up to 11 pounds, this is the big daddy of Galapagos birds. Although the waved albatross spends the maj