Birds of Galapagos Islands: 10 Must-See Species

Birds we spotted on the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are a wonderful place to watch birds. There are 174 different kinds of birds here, and 26 of them can only be found in the Galapagos. Here, you can see the birds up close, almost like in TV shows about nature.

Even if you are not fond of birds, the Galapagos Birds are so interesting that you’ll want to learn more about them. 

In this post, we will explore and share some of our Galapagos Bird sightings.

Galapagos Sea Birds

It’s estimated that up to 750,000 seabirds call the Galapagos home, gracing the skies and shores with their presence.

They might be flying high above the ocean, looking for food, or gathering in busy groups to make nests along the rocky shores. Galapagos seabirds are often seen, and they’re fascinating to watch.

Some of these sea birds are the following:

Blue-Footed Boobies

Blue footed boobie at Lobos Island

Blue-footed boobies are among the most popular birds in the Galapagos, and there’s a good reason for that. Their feet, which are bright blue and hard to miss, along with their funny behavior and unique dance when they’re looking for a mate, make them a joy to see many times during a trip. 

During our trip, we spotted Blue-footed boobies all over the islands. They’re remarkable divers, plunging into the ocean like fast-moving bullets from the sky. We saw them at their nests on the ground, where they live in big groups, especially on Española and North Seymour Islands.

If you visit Galapagos in March, you’ll likely see their entertaining mating dance. Their babies usually hatch around June and stay in the nest for about six months until they’re strong enough to fly.

Red-Footed Boobies

red footed boobie

Photo Cayambe // Wikimedia

What makes the Red-Footed Booby special is its easy-to-spot trait—the bright red feet that stand out against its feathers. Unlike other Boobies, these birds like to make their nests in trees or shrubs. This behavior shows how well they can fit into different places to live.

Even though they often fly over the open ocean, they’re good at catching fish. They’re skilled at hunting squid and flying fish. They can also dive really well, going as deep as 30 meters under the sea.

We spotted their colonies on San Cristobal Island. They can also be found on a secluded islet near Floreana Island.


Frigate Birds on Galapagos Islands during north seymour island tour

Dubbed the “pirate birds” by the Spanish, these avian marauders are notorious for their cunning behavior. They’ve earned this nickname due to their crafty tactics of chasing after other bird species, such as Boobies, in a bid to steal their meals. This involves grabbing the tail feathers of their targets and shaking them until they regurgitate their food. 

We were able to spot these amazing birds at San Cristobal and North Seymour Islands. They also have breeding colonies in Floreana and Genovesa. 

Galapagos Penguins

Penguins during Los Tuneles Tour on Isabella Island, Galapagos

Penguins are built for the chilly environment of Antarctica, but they have managed to adjust to the warmer tropical weather in a unique way. These captivating creatures are a favorite among tourists, and they’ve made their habitat on Isabela Island (Los Toneles Tour), Fernandina, and Bartolome Islands.

Snorkelling with penguin, Bartolome Island, Galapagos

If you’re fortunate, you might even get the chance to snorkel and watch them dive into the water to catch fish.

Galapagos Land Birds

There are plenty of land birds in the Galapagos Islands. A total of 29 distinct species call these remarkable islands home, and 75% of these birds are found nowhere else on Earth. These endemic species have evolved, adapting to their island habitat in fascinating ways. Some of them are the following:

Darwin’s Galapagos Finch

Darwin's Galapagos Finch

Photo José Antonio Lagier Martin

The legacy of Darwin’s Galapagos Finch is etched in history thanks to the groundbreaking work of English botanist Charles Darwin and his revolutionary Theory of Evolution.

These birds are iconic symbols of adaptation and natural selection, showcasing the intricate dance between life and the environment that defines the Galapagos Islands.

Today, the Galapagos boasts an astonishing 13 distinct sub-species of Finch, each one endemic to these extraordinary islands. This diversity of finches might seem remarkable, but it’s a testament to the power of evolution and the role of the Galapagos as a living laboratory of nature.

Galapagos Mockingbirds

Galápagos mockingbird

Photo kuhnmi // Wikimedia

There are four unique types of Mockingbirds in the Galapagos. Their origins trace back to North America but have adapted well to the islands.

We saw mockingbirds in many places across the Galapagos islands. But there are also Mockingbirds that are not as common and only live on Espanola, Floreana, and San Cristobal Islands.

Our guide told us that mockingbirds significantly influenced Charles Darwin’s insightful observations during his renowned voyage.

Galapagos Dove

Galapagos Dove on North Seymour Island

The Galapagos Dove is a small, unique bird you can find in the Galapagos Islands, like at North Seymour Island where I spotted them! They have brown feathers, cool blue rings around their eyes, and bright pinkish-red feet. They’re super friendly and not scared of people, and you can watch them doing their special dance to attract mates and eating from cactus plants. They’re a fun little bird to look out for when you visit!

Galapagos Flamingo

Watching birds and Flamingos at Laguna de los Flamingos in Isabela Island, Galapagos

The Galapagos Flamingo is a colorful and rare bird to watch in the Galapagos Islands. I was lucky to see them at Laguna de los Flamingos on Isabela Island! They have bright pink feathers and like to stand on one leg.

Spotted pink flamingo at Laguna de los Flamingos

These flamingos are special because there are not many of them, and they live in cool places like salty lagoons. Watching them search for food in the water with their curved beaks is pretty fun! If you visit, keep an eye out for their vibrant color and graceful moves!

Galapagos Short-eared Owl

The Galapagos Short-eared Owl owl has evolved a clever strategy for survival, choosing to hunt both during the day and night. This choice is driven by a keen adaptation to avoid competition with the Galapagos Hawks, allowing these owls to thrive in their island environment.

We had the opportunity to spot these birds in Genovesa Islands. These birds feed on Lava Lizards, Storm Petrels, and other smaller creatures. Their approach is swift and silent, catching their unsuspecting prey off guard before they have a chance to react.


The Galapagos Islands genuinely are a paradise for bird enthusiasts and nature admirers alike. The rich tapestry of avian life woven across these captivating islands is a testament to the incredible diversity of species that call this unique ecosystem home.

While this article has spotlighted some of the most intriguing and iconic bird species that grace the Galapagos, these are only a few of the many avian species on the islands.

When you visit the Galapagos Islands, don’t miss the chance to appreciate the incredible array of feathered inhabitants that enrich this extraordinary corner of the world.

About the author

Oleg Galeev

I'm Oleg, and together with my wife, we've explored Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, journeying through more than 20 cities (Quito, Cuenca, Banos, Tena, Puyo, Guayaquil, Riobamba, Otavalo, Mindo and more) and nearly every island in the Galapagos (including iconic ones such as Bartolome Island, San Cristobal Island, Isabela Island, Santa Cruz Island and more). In this blog, I give you my real thoughts about each place we visited. This info can help anyone planning a trip to the Galapagos Islands or mainland Ecuador. I'm just a traveler, not a tour company, so I'm not trying to sell anything. That means I'll tell you the truth—both the good and the bad — about traveling in Ecuador based on what we experienced.

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