Warm waters meet cold waters, and penguins swim with flamingoes. It sounds like a dream, and it is. It is the Galapagos Islands. Here, where the volcanic land rose from the sea and at the confluence of the cold Humboldt stream and the warm El Nino currents, you will find a breathtaking array of birds, many of which exist no place else on earth. The Galapagos Islands have long been a bird watchers paradise, and in fact, Charles Darwin was fascinated by the endemic species and the adaptations they made to live on the unpredictable and often harsh climate of the Islands. You cannot help but be fascinated by these great birds, too.
Where should bird lovers go to see rare and exotic species? One could do quite well simply looking out the window of a Santa Cruz hotel (one of the few places visitors can lodge on the Islands), but by all means, go out and have an adventure. Genovesa Island, also called the bird island, is home to frigate birds, nocturnal swallow-tailed gulls, red-footed boobies, noddy terns, lava gulls, doves, Darwin finches, and a host of tropic birds the likes of which most people never see outside of an aviary.
Other species that you can spot around the Islands include the waved albatross, blue-footed booby, flightless cormorant (whose adaptation to the Islands included becoming powerful swimmers at the expense of their ability to fly), brown pelican, penguin, flamingo, great variety of finches and petrels, herons, egrets, ospreys, hawks, cuckoos, owls, warblers, and more. If youve been keeping a list of exotic birds to see in your lifetime, get ready to cross some of them off.
The birds of the Galapagos provide a rare treat for nature lovers, but many of the species are near-threatened, endangered, or severely endangered. Being aware of this and being cautious not to step off marked trails, stress or scare the wildlife, including the birds, refraining from feeding the birds, and respecting that this wonderfully exotic world is their home helps ensure that we have the luxury of seeing rarities of nature. The least we can do is to return the favor of their hospitality by being gracious guests.
There is no other place on earth like the Galapagos Islands; this is not a mere vacation destination. This is a destination for fulfilling your need to discover and to experience nature much more closely and intimately than you would have thought possible.