When visitors to the Galapagos Islands are asked what the major determining factor behind deciding to take their Galapagos Island tours was, ranking high among nearly all respondents was the chance to see the Galapagos birds. It may come as somewhat of a surprise to learn then that in fact the Galapagos Islands have a surprisingly small bird population - with only 58 resident species.
Nonetheless, of this relatively small number of resident species of Galapagos birds, over 29 different Galapagos birds' species are endemic to the islands (or their surrounding waters). What's more, it's the only place north of the equator where you'll have the chance to see a penguin!
So, if you're thinking of taking some time-out to go and do some bird-watching in the Galapagos Islands, make sure you keep a careful eye out for the following Galapagos birds endemic to the islands:
The islands boast three different kinds of species of the boobies - the red footed, blue footed and masked (Boobies). Of these three different species of Galapagos Islands boobies, the most commonly seen (in numbers) are the Galapagos blue footed boobies.
As well as being amazing fishing birds, diving from heights of over 8 meters to catch the fish below them, Galapagos Islands blue footed boobies are also famous for their colourful courtship dance. Overall, the blue footed boobies are often remarked upon as being one of the most attractive, interesting and fun of the Galapagos birds to see on Galapagos tours.
If you would like the chance to see one of the Galapagos Islands blue footed boobies, you need to make sure that you take a Galapagos tour that follows the coastline of any of the islands.
A large number of bird-watchers go on Galapagos Island tours just to see this bird. The Galapagos Islands cormorants are the only known flightless cormorant species in the world. It's commonly believed that the Galapagos Islands cormorants became flightless because they adapted to swimming so well they no longer needed to fly. An alternative view of the reason why the cormorants are flightless is because cormorants have no known predator on the islands - thus, they became too lazy to fly!
Whatever the reason may be, flightless cormorants are a very sought after bird species on any Galapagos Island tours and if you would like to see them you need to visit the most westerly coastline of Fernandina and Isabela islands, as this is the only place where they can be found.
No Galapagos Islands tour can be considered complete without seeing the Galapagos Islands finches - also known as the Darwin finches. You'll be pleased to know then that it shouldn't be too hard to locate and find one of the finches - they're all over the islands!
They're also one of the tamest of the Galapagos birds: it's possible to have them eating out of the palm of your hand before the day is out!
There are three different species of frigatebird on the Galapagos Islands - the great, the magnificent and the minor.
The magnificent frigatebird is often seen by visitors on Galapagos tours as being the biggest scoundrels because they don't like to catch fish themselves; preferring to steal the fish caught by smaller birds! To be fair to the magnificent frigatebird, however, due to its large wing-span this bird is unable submerge itself in the water to catch fish - so it kind of has to steal the fish off smaller birds.
What's more, the magnificent frigatebird is commonly believed to be one of the most spectacular birds on the Galapagos Islands during its mating time - when the male bird will inflate the large red sac under its beak, making it resemble a big red balloon, which it'll then emphasis by spreading, and frantically flapping, its wings.
The best time of year to see magnificent frigatebirds is during March-April, as this is the peak of their mating period. Also, you need to visit Geneovesa, San Cristobel or North Seymour islands if you want to make sure you get a good sighting.
Due to abundance of lizards, iguanas (especially young iguanas) and other reptiles on the Galapagos Islands, Galapagos hawks can be seen on nearly all of islands. Like all hawks, they're adept flyers and divers, with especially keen eyesight.
Living north of the equator, the Galapagos Islands penguin is commonly believed to be the most northerly species of penguin found anywhere in the world. At only 35 centimetres tall, they're also believed to be one of the smallest breeds of penguin found anywhere in the world.
If you want to see one of the penguins on any of the Galapagos tours, you'll need to make sure you travel to the cooler waters around Fernandina, Isabela and Bartolome islands. You'll also need to make sure you get up quite early; the penguins like to set off on their day's business between 5 and 7 a.m.