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Birds


Galapagos wildlife, Galapagos PenguinGalapagos Penguin: The Galapagos Penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus) is a penguin endemic to the Galápagos Islands. It is the only penguin to live on the equator. Its nearest relatives are the African Penguin, the Magellanic Penguin and the Humboldt Penguin. The Galápagos Penguin occurs primarliy on Fernandina Island and the west coast of Isabela Island, but small populations are scattered on other islands in the Galápagos archipelago.

Waved Albatross: The Waved Albatross, Phoebastria irrorata, is the only member of the Diomedeidae family located in the tropics. It breeds exclusively on Española Island in the Galápagos archipelago. The nests are built on areas of lava with boulders and sparse vegetation. The primary food sources of the Waved Albatross are fish, squid, and crustaceans. But they have also been observed to scavenge for other food sources, including the regurgitated food of other birds.

Flamingo: One of the world's most beautiful birds is the Greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber), a resident species of the Galápagos, primarily seen on Floreana and other southern islands. Paler in coloration than found elsewhere, due to its diet, the Galapagos variety inhabits the brackish lagoons of the tidal zones, often in colonies of two to four hundred individuals. In flight or on the ground, these stately, long-legged and long-necked birds are impressive indeed, a popular sight for tourists and photographers. But flamingos are skittish, and often take flight at sudden movements or noises.

Lava Gull: The Lava Gull (Larus fuliginosus) is a large gull, probably related to the Laughing Gull. One of the rarest gulls in the world, the entire population lives on the Galapagos Islands and is estimated at 400 pairs.Adult plumage, acquired in the third year of life, consists of a black head, black wings, and with a dark gray body and a paler gray belly. The bill and legs are black, and the inside of the mouth is scarlet. They have white upper and lower eyebrows, with red lids. Immature gulls are generally dark brown.

Galapagos hawkGalapagos Hawk: The Galapagos hawk belongs to the same genus as many of the hawks found in the Americas, Europe and Asia, but because it evolved in the isolated Galapagos, it is far tamer than its relatives. Its plumage varies in color from white and brown to a brilliant yellow and black. The Galapagos hawk is the major native predator of most island lizards, including the marine and land iguanas and other reptiles.

Darwin's Finches: Darwin's finches are an excellent example of the way in which species' gene pools have adapted in order for long term survival via their offspring. The Darwin's Finches diagram below illustrates the way the finch has adapted to take advantage of feeding in different ecological niche's. Their beaks have evolved over time to be best suited to their function. For example, the finches who eat grubs have a thin extended beak to poke into holes in the ground and extract the grubs. Finches who eat buds and fruit would be less successful at doing this, while their claw like beaks can grind down their food and thus give them a selective advantage in circumstances where buds are the only real food source for finches.

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