Tuesday, November 11, 2008
THAT'S MY WORLD
Well I promised a couple of weeks ago that we would get airborne in the Galapagos for the next post - sorry that got delayed for a week (see previous post) but better late than never!
One bird that seems synonymous with the Galapagos is the Blue-footed Booby Sula nebouxii excisa. Blue-footed Boobies can be found in other parts of the world but the sub-species excisa is endemic to Galapagos. These birds are very much the clowns of the islands and when you see their delightful courtship 'dance' which involves waving their huge, vivid blue feet in the air, you can see why. The Blue-footed Booby fishes close to shore which means that when fishing is good the parents can raise up to three young in their sparse nest spots on the ground.
But the Blue-foot isn't the only Booby on the islands, there is also the very charming Red-footed Booby Sula sula. This funny character has two colour morphs, the common brown morph and the less common white morph. I think this was my personal favorite of the Boobies, partly for the delightful subtle pastel shades it wears around its beak and eyes
and partly because of the utterly bizarre way that they sleep in trees.............................
The first time I saw one in this position I was quite alarmed, I thought it was sick or dying! But no, just sleeping! The Red-footed Boobies nest in trees, not on the ground like the other species, they also fish many hundreds of miles out at sea, because of this long commute for food they only ever lay one egg as feeding one chick is a full time task.
The third species of Booby found on the islands is the Nazca Booby Sula granti. This spectacular bird is easy to spot because it has beautifully bright white plumage.
The Nazca is the largest of the three Booby species, it fishes further from the shore than Blue-footed Boobies but not as far out to sea as the Red-footed Boobies. The Nazca nests on the ground and will always produce two eggs. If they both hatch then the chicks will fight until one is pushed from the nest to die (obligate sibling murder) not an entirely pleasant process but it seems to ensure that each pairing has a high probability of raising a chick with each breeding cycle.
Ok, that is enough Boobies for today! I have talked about the Flightless Cormorant Nannopterum harrisi in a previous post but because they are a personal favorite of mine, you have to be subjected again! In case you thought that romance was dead, this bird is living proof that it is actually alive and well. These intriguing birds build their rock and seaweed nests on the rocky shoreline.
The female stays on shore to incubate the eggs and later protect the chicks, whilst the male hunts for fish for them. As well as 'bringing home the bacon' on a regular basis, every time he returns to the nest he brings a small gift for his mate, another pebble or piece of seaweed for the nest so as the weeks go by the nest becomes taller and taller! They definitely get my vote for the 'incurable romantic' award!
Another bird I have mentioned previously is the Great Frigate bird Fregata minor ridgewayi. Better known for its piratical habits with regard to stealing food from other birds, this bird too can turn on the charm when necessary. The male, equipped with his bizarre scarlet gular pouch waits for females to fly past and then puts on quite the show. First he throws back his head, fills the gular pouch and starts creating a very strange warbling, almost yodeling sound, as this is happening, he shakes his head from side to side and spreads his enormous wings.
I guess if you are a female Frigate bird, it works for you! Although most of the females I saw were keeping a fairly wary distance from this extravagant display!
The Galapagos Penguin Sphensicus mendiculus is one of the smallest Penguins in the world but what it lacks in physical stature it makes up for in character.
This is the only penguin found in the Northern Hemisphere and also the only one to breed entirely within the tropics. How can you not smile when you see these characters?
One thing that doing this post is making me realise, is that I can't possible talk about all the amazing birds species in one post, so I guess I know what I will be doing for next weeks post :) Galapagos Birds - Part Two!
For many wonderful posts from all over the world, check out Thats My World.
Photo Credits - Dominick V
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