The islands of Isabela and Española are among the top islands to visit in the Galapagos. Adding to their charm are the equally charming blue-footed boobies that inhabit said islands. These incredibly colorful and beautifully feathered members of our BIG15 list of iconic species are a delightful sight for all our guests. Their goofy waddle and cartoonish-looking eyes always make for an amusing spectacle to all those who come upon their territories in the Galapagos. Guests during this time of year are treated to a little something extra when it comes to this specific species of bird in the Galapagos, principally because blue-footed booby chicks are currently found on the islands of Isabela and Española!
Blue-footed Booby Chicks on Española Island
Regarded as many to be the “Grand Central Station” of wildlife in the Galapagos, Española tends to be recognized due to the large number of feathered creatures that inhabit the island. The visitor site of Punta Suarez here will astound many guests with the population of blue-footed boobies and their chicks, these of which are found not all that far from the shoreline once you follow the designated trail. It is up here where the birds tend to have their nests set up, and where they raise their babies with the unmistakable “guano ring.”
The guano ring is utilized by blue-footed boobies to help identify and “maintain” their chicks within a certain place. Acting more as a visual aid than anything else, the guano ring is more of a “fingerprint” to help parent boobies identify the their own territory where to find to find their chicks. The presence of the guano ring allows parents to designate resources to that ring and everything it holds, and that ring only.
Blue-footed Booby Chicks on Isabela Island
Often found along all the visitor sites that are encompassed on our Western Islands itinerary, the blue-footed booby is a common site on visitor sites such as Urbina Bay (the result of a massive uplift of seafloor), Punta Vicente Roca, Punta Espinosa and Tagus Cove. Blue-footed boobies are spread out throughout all these places, allowing visitors to get a glimpse of the upbringing of their blue-footed booby chicks.
These chicks tend to grow relatively fast, and after the third week will almost always have extremely identifiable features. Older chicks tend to be larger than the younger ones. Luckily, for the parents, instincts kick in around the fourth week – an instinct that keeps them from wandering outside of the guano ring.
Exposed skin makes the blue-footed booby chicks highly vulnerable to the elements, be it the heat or the cool, offshore breezes of the Galapagos. Up until the point when they start donning their down feathers, blue-footed booby parents will keep their chicks sandwiched between their breast and atop their own feet so as to protect them from the sun. Eventually, typically after the first couple of days after hatching, their down plumage will add to the adorablity of the blue-footed booby chicks, making for a cute spectacle for all guests that are lucky enough to come across them during their visit!