Travel theme: Birds of the Galapagos

Of course birds are everywhere, in every country, everywhere one travels. I’ve seen wild peacocks in Hawaii, eagles in the Pacific Northwest, hummingbirds in Oaxaca, Lappet-faced vultures in southwest Kenya, and I thought I glimpsed a California condor in the Grand Canyon. On my second day of a year-long stay in Kenya I saw a toucan perched on a branch out my window in Nairobi, and I didn’t run for my camera because I thought “I bet these are like seagulls here. I’ll feel silly about snapping a dozen pictures of this.” Of course I never saw one again. (I also had a 35-mm camera, and one wasn’t careless about photo snapping in those days.)

Despite my travels, I have few photos of the beautiful birds I have encountered. They’re usually too far away or moving too fast, and I’m not a bird photographer. The one exception to this rule is my trip to the Galapagos, where birds are one of the only warm-blooded native inhabitants of the islands. In their millennia of existence on the islands, they have rarely encountered predators (humans were the most serious threat), and many even build their nests on the ground, like this blue-footed booby:

Blue-footed booby

Photographing birds in the Galapagos is amazingly easy, because they have no fear of people. One species, the flightless cormorant, lost the ability to fly at all. It’s the only cormorant species that can’t fly, and has wings 1/3 the size that would be necessary for flight. Look at those stubby widdle wings:

Flightless cormorantThe photos below are a collection of birds of the Galapagos. Hovering over the images will tell you the type of bird, and clicking will embiggen. Fair disclosure, when we travel, Josh and I are constantly grabbing the camera from each other, each convinced that we’ve got the better shot. It’s entirely possible that a few of the photos below were taken by alpinemystic.

Many thanks to Where’s My Backpack for the great photo challenge idea.

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