galapagos wildlife

Wildlife in Galápagos can be described with a variety of terms denoting how unique or range-restricted it might be:

Endemic species are found only in Galápagos (island-endemic species are restricted to a single island).  

Endemic sub-species are a sub-species unique to Galápagos.  The terms sub-species and race might be used interchangeably.

Native species occur naturally (without human intervention) in Galápagos, but also found elsewhere (the terms Indigenous and Native are synonymous, with Native typically used for wildlife, and Indigenous used for plants).  

Introduced species have been brought to an area by man, and now survive there on their own. 

Resident species are non-migratory species - species that breed here; they might be endemic, native or introduced.  

With ongoing science and DNA work new species or sub-species are frequently being defined or discovered. In few places is this more noticeable than with the recent addition of half a dozen Marine Iguana sub-species, or several "new" birds.

Migratory species move between one place and another at different times of year - usually for breeding or feeding.

Vagrant species (typically birds) are those that have strayed or been blown from their usual range.

 Galápagos Mangrove Warbler/Yellow Warbler

Galápagos Mangrove Warbler/Yellow Warbler

 

galapagos birds

With a little work most of these bird species (endemic, island-endemic, native & introduced) are quite possible on either our 11 and 15 day workshop cruises (a couple of "nearly impossible" exceptions are the Mangrove Finch and the Galápagos Rail, as well as the Vampire Finch which is only found on islands with no visitor sites). 

LAND BIRDS

There are 30ish resident land birds in Galápagos, including 25 endemic species, and an additional 4 who are endemic at the level of sub-species.

 

DARWIN'S FINCHES:
Small Ground-finch
Medium Ground-finch
Large Ground-finch
Sharp-beaked Ground-finch
Genovesa Ground-finch
Vampire Finch
Small Tree-finch
Medium Tree-finch
Large Cactus-finch
Common Cactus-finch
Española Cactus-finch
Genovesa Cactus-finch
Vegetarian Finch
Woodpecker Finch
Mangrove Finch
Warbler Finch

MOCKINGBIRDS:
Hood/Española Mockingbird
Floreana/Charles Mockingbird
San Cristóbal Mockingbird
Galápagos Mockinbird

FLYCATCHERS:
Galápagos Flycatcher
Vermilion Flycatcher

Galápagos Hawk
Galápagos Short-eared Owl
Galápagos Barn Owl
Galápagos Dove
Galápagos Rail
Galápagos Martin
Galápagos Mangrove Warbler
Dark-billed Cuckoo
Common Gallinule or                    Moorhen
Paint-billed Crake
Smooth-billed Ani

 


Geospiza fuliginosa
Geospiza fortis
Geospiza magnirostis
Geospiza difficilis
Geospiza acutirostris
Geospiza septentrionalis

Camarhynchus pauper
Camarhynchus psittacula
Geospiza conirostris
Geospiza scandens
Geospiza conirostris
Geospiza propinqua
Camarhynchus crassirostris
Camarhynchus pallidus
Camarhynchus heliobates
Certhidea olivacea


Mimus macdonaldi
Mimus trifasciatus
Mimus melanotis
Mimus parvulus


Myiarchus magnirostris
Pyrocephalus rubbings nanus

Buteo galapagoensis
Asio flammeus galapagoensis
Tyto alba punctatissima
Zenaida galapagoensis
Laterallus spilonotus
Progne modesta
Dendrioca petechia aureola
Coccyzus melacoryphus
Gallinula choloopus

Neocrex erythrops
Crotophaga ani

 


endemic
endemic
endemic
endemic
island-endemic: Genovesa
island-endemic: Darwin/Wolf
endemic
island-endemic: Floreana
endemic
endemic
island-endemic: Española
island-endemic: Genovesa
endemic
endemic
endemic
endemic


island-endemic: Española
island-endemic: Floreana
island-endemic: San Cristóbal
endemic


endemic
endemic sub-species

endemic
endemic sub-species
endemic sub-species
endemic
endemic
endemic
endemic sub-species
native
native

native
introduced
 

 
 Great Frigatebird (male)

Great Frigatebird (male)

SEA BIRDS

There are 7 endemic Sea Bird species in Galápagos, plus an additional 14 native species, and a wide range of vagrants or occasional visitors..

 

Galápagos Penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus)
Flightless Cormorant (Phalacrocorax harrisi)
Waved Albatross (Phoebastria irrorata)
Red-billed Tropicbird (Phaethon aethreus)
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentals)
Galápagos Shearwater (Puffinus subalaris)

BOOBIES:
Blue-footed Booby (Sula nebouxi)
Nazca Booby (Sula granti)
Red-footed Booby (Sula sula)

FRIGATES:
Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens)
Great Frigatebird (Fregata minor)

PETRELS:
Galápagos (formerly Wedge-rumped) Petrel (Pterodroma phaeopygia)
Dark-rumped (Hawaiian) Petrel (Pterodroma phaeopygia)
Madeiran (Band-rumped) Storm Petrel (Oceanodroma castro)
Elliot's (White-vented) Storm Petrel (Oceanites gracilis)

GULLS:
Lava Gull (Leucophaeus fuliginosus)
Swallow-tailed Gull (Creagrus furcatus)
Franklin's Gull (Larus pipixcan)

TERNS:
Brown Noddy (Anous stolidus)
Sooty Tern (Sterna fuscata)
Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus)
 

 

endemic
endemic
endemic
native
native
endemic

native
native
native
 

native
native

 

endemic
native
native
native


endemic
endemic
native


native
native
native

 
 Yellow-crowned Night Heron (juv)

Yellow-crowned Night Heron (juv)

COASTAL BIRDS & MIGRANTS

There are over 1300 kilometers of coastline in the Galápagos archipelago, made up of beaches, rocky shores, mangrove lagoons, and saline ponds - that's a lot of habitat! Migrant coastal birds range between the northern hemisphere, some as far north as the Arctic, and the Galápagos or further south - they are typically in the Galápagos during the northern winter months.

 

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
Great (American) Egret (Casmerodius albus)
Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
Lava Heron (Butorides ssundevalli)
Striated Heron (Butorides straits)
Yellow-crowned Night Heron (Nyctanassa violacea)
Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber)
White-cheeked Pintail Duck (Anas bahamensis)
Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors)
American Oystercatcher (Himantopus palliatus)
Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)
Semi-palmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus)
Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)
Wandering Tattler (Heterosculus incanus)
Sanderling (Crocethia alba)
Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)
Northern Phalarope (Lobbies labatus)

 

native
native
native
endemic
native
native
native
native
native
native
native
migrant
migrant
migrant
migrant
migrant
migrant

 
 Galápagos Sea Lions

Galápagos Sea Lions

MAMMALS

As one might expect from remote islands that have never been connected to the mainland, the mammal list for Galápagos is quite limited.  The endemic Rice Rats are restricted to the islands of Fernandina, Santiago, and Santa Fe (on the latter visitors have a chance of catching a glimpse).  Ongoing efforts to eradicate the Black and Brown rats are gradually gaining ground, with some islands finally rat free.  The two endemic bat species are seldom seen and little known.  

Far more common are the emblematic Galápagos Sea Lions and Galápagos Fur Seals.

Also be on the lookout for a variety of other aquatic mammals that "come and go" from the islands; occasional whale encounters are a wonderful bonus to a trip, but occur too seldom to count on seeing them.

 

Galapagos Sea Lion (Zalophus californianus, subspecies: wollebacki) 
Galapagos Fur Seals (Arctocephalus galapagoensis)


Galápagos rice Rat (Oryzomys bauri)
Fernandina Rice Rat (Nesoryzomys narboroughii)
Darwin's Rice Rat (Nesoryzomys fernandinae)
Black or Ship Rat (Rattus rattus)
Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus)

Hoary Bat (Lasiurus cinereus)
Galápagos Bat (Lasiurus brachyotis)  

BALEEN WHALES:
Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)
Minke Whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)
Bryde's Whale (Balaenoptera edeni)
Sei Whale (Balaenoptera borealis)
Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus)

TOOTHED WHALES:
Orca / Killer Whale (Orcinus orca)
Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalous)

Short-finned Pilot Whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus)
Bottle-nosed Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)
Common Dolphin (Delphinus delphis)
Striped Dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba)
Risso's Dolphin (Grampus griseus)

 

 

endemic sub-species
endemic


endemic
island-specific endemic
island-specific endemic
introduced
introduced

endemic
endemic

 

 

 
 Marine Iguana, Española Island

Marine Iguana, Española Island

REPTILES

Here again we find some of the best known wildlife to Galápagos.

 

GIANT TORTOISES (Geochelone elphantophus):
G. e. poeteri (Santa Cruz)
G. e. Darwini (Santiago)
G. e. ephippium (Pinzón)
G. e. chatamensis (San Cristóbal)
G. e. hoodensis (Española)
ISABELA SUB-SPECIES:
G. e. vandenburgi (Alcedo volcano)
G. e. vicina (Cerro Azul volcano)
G. e. guntheri (Sierra Negra volcano)
G. e. microphyes (Darwin volcano)
G. e. becki (Wolf volcano)

TURTLES:
Galápagos Green Turtle (Chelonia mynas agassisi)
Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata bissa)
Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)
Olive Ridley Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea)

LAND IGUANAS:
Land Iguana (Conolophus subcristatus) - found on 6 islands
Santa Fé Iguana (Conolophus pallidus) - found only on Santa Fe Island
Pink Iguana (Conolophus marthae) - found only on northern Isabela

MARINE IGUANAS (Amblyrhynchus cristatus): 11 island-endemic subspecies
A. c. hayampi subspec. nov. (Marchena), 
A. c. jeffreysi subsp. nov. (Wolf & Darwin), 
A. c. mertensi (San Cristóbal)
A. c. godzilla subsp. nov. (San Cristóbal-Punta Pitt),

A. c. trillmichi subsp. nov. (Santa Fé)
A. c. wikelskii subsp. nov. (Santiago);
A. c. cristatus (Isabela & Fernandina), 
A. c. nanus (Genovesa),
A. c. venustissimus (Española),
A. c. hassi (Santa Cruz), 
A. c. sielmanni (Pinta); 

Hybrid iguanas - land & marine hybrid iguanas are also possible.

 

endemic
island-endemic
island-endemic
island-endemic
island-endemic
island-endemic

island-endemic
island-endemic
island-endemic
island-endemic
island-endemic


endemic sub-species
occasional visitor
occasional visitor
occasional visitor


endemic
island-endemic: Santa Fe
island-endemic: Isabela




 

LAVA LIZARDS, GECKOS AND SNAKES, oh my...
There are seven species of endemic Lava Lizard in Galapagos (all from the genus Microlophus), plus 9 species of gecko (6 endemic, and 3 introduced), and 4 species of endemic snakes (all racers).