Galapagos Birding: Flycatchers Come Out to Welcome You

September 14, 2012
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The plants and animals found on Galapagos that helped Darwin form his Theory of Evolution are exactly what makes a Galapagos cruise unforgettable. There are many endemic birds on the archipelago, including the Galapagos flycatcher. This small bird is also called the large-billed flycatcher even though its bill is not that big in size compared to the bird itself.

This flycatcher is the only species in its genus living in the Galapagos Islands, and can be found on nearly all the islands in the chain except Darwin, Wolf and Genovesa islands. They tend to live at lower elevations, ranging from sea level to 1,000 meters and they're rather outgoing birds. You may get the chance to see a Galapagos flycatcher up close, as they are known to approach travelers without reservation. These birds have also been spotted invading human habitations in search of creepy-crawly meals.

These tiny birds may be hard to spot against the natural landscape of the islands, as their coloration is not nearly as eye-catching as other birds that live on the archipelago like the blue-footed booby. The flycatchers have light brown heads with a slightly raised crest, backs, wings and tails with pale brownish-white striping patterns on the wings. Their bellies are typically light yellow or olive and they have white throats, while their eyes, beaks and legs are dark brown.

If you keep your eyes on the plants around the islands, you may spot these birds, which are only about six inches from head to tail. They prefer areas with plenty of vegetation, as this is where they find their meals. The flycatchers spend a lot of time on the ground feeding on small insects, especially caterpillars and other arthropods, but they have been known to munch on the occasional fruit dangling from the plants overhead.

While birding in the Galapagos Islands, be sure to wear a hat to protect your skin from the sun as well as the Galapagos flycatchers. These feisty birds have been seen yanking tufts of fur from goats, cattle and even the occasional human visitor. This behavior is believed to be part of their nest building or a defensive tactic.


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