A lot of animals in the islands are astonishing to visitors. Some due to their tameness, others to their beauty and curiosity, but the one that strikes the most is the penguin. It is always a surprise to find them on black lava rock, surrounded by mangroves and cacti. The Galapagos penguin is unique for having adapted to live on the Equator and some have even been seen in the small part of the Galápagos Archipelago that is in the northern hemisphere.
There is no convoluted answer to explain the presence of unique Galapagos birds on the Galápagos Islands. Their wings brought them… However, even at this, there is a Galapagos puzzle. Sea birds, of course, are to be expected. There’s nothing strange about two species of frigatebirds; no jaw-dropping surprise to see terns, gulls, petrels, albatrosses… three species of boobies, sandpipers chasing the surf, even the spectacle of the tropicbird’s tail… That’s what ocean birdlife is all about. The land birds, on the other hand, quite a kaleidoscopic bunch indeed, seem almost handpicked by a United Colors of Benetton creative (it would certainly make for a wonderful ad): a rosy-pink flamingo, a stubby-eared owl, a pinkeyed dove, a regal chocolate-brown hawk, a slate-blue kingfisher, a sassy bright-scarlet flycatcher, a black-and-white mockingbird, and a bright yellow warbler… throw in the booby’s blue feet and… a penguin, why don’t you! Imagine such a scene gathered together against the white backboard of a photography studio.
Birdwatching is undoubtedly one of the inescapable activities of the Galapagos Islands. Unique Galapagos Birds, like all other wildlife, are so unabashed, visitors sometimes end up befriending a few. The mockingbirds at Española and the Galapagos Flycatcher are probably the most daft, fearing nothing as they pry in backpacks left on the beach or stand on unsuspecting shoulders.
The tameness in general allows for experiences unmatched anywhere else on our planet, where the marvels of watching avian courtship, breeding and nesting up close and personal are prime attractions, indeed. For some, the Blue-footed Booby steals the show, jiving about with clumsy bright azure webbedfeet and contorting its wings into perfect W’s in post-modern form. The Waved Albatross’s beak duel competes, as well, as one of the most spectacular natural performances around. Witnessing the frigatebird’s picture-perfect inflated scarlet throat pouch or catching the sight of a heron as it stalks its prey —and having the chance to film and photograph these rarities at no distance at all— has made the islands one of the most reputable getaways in the world for birdwatching, bird photography, bird research, or well … bird anything!
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