The next post in our Galapagos series – this features birds that are usually found by the shore!
(psst… our next installment will feature something different 😛 watch out!!)
1. American Oystercatcher
The American Oystercatcher is a relatively large shorebird not endemic to the Galapagos. It is boldly patterned, with a black head and neck, brown wings and white underparts, as well as a brightly coloured long red beak. As its name suggests, it uses its long bill to eat shellfish like oysters. It can break open the shell in two ways – if it finds a half open shell, it can dig its bill into the opening to clean out what’s inside; or if it isn’t so lucky, it can hammer on the shell to break it open.
Diet: Shellfish and marine worms
2. Black Necked Stilt
The Black Necked Stilt is not endemic to the Galapagos but is commonly found in the coastlines of America. It has a black back and wings, and white undersides. It has long, pink legs, hence the name “stilt”, and white spots above its eyes. It forages by probing mudflats and shores.
Diet: Aquatic invertebrates such as crustaceans and mollusks, and sometimes small fish or tadpoles
Funfact: They use a technique called “belly-soaking” to cool themselves.
3. Galapagos Flamingo
The Galapagos Flamingo (or Caribbean Flamingo or American Flamingo) is found mostly in the salt-water lagoons hidden in the lava fields of the Galapagos Islands (which is where we saw it!). Unlike the European species, its feathers are mostly pink. This is because of the cartenoid pigments that are found in the shrimp they eat. On the other hand, like most flamingoes, it has long pink legs and a curved pink beak with a black tip.
Diet: Brine shrimp
Funfact: Their oddly shaped beaks allow them to filter-feed, meaning that they are able to separate mud from food (shrimp).
4. Great Blue Heron
The Great Blue Heron is not endemic to the Galapagos, but those found in the Galapagos have a lighter colouring than those found elsewhere. It is the largest heron found in North America, and the third largest heron overall. It is tall with grey plumage and a dark grey patch on its head and in between the eyes and beak. It has a long pale yellow beak.
Diet: Mainly small fish
Funfact: They give a harsh “kraak” in flight and a soft “frawnk” if disturbed near their nests.
5. Yellow Crowned Night Heron
The Yellow Crowned Night Heron is, as its name suggests, nocturnal and feeds at dusk. It is a medium sized, squat heron with dark grey-brown plumage, a black head and a white streak on its cheek. It has a yellow “crown” (again, as its name suggests), red-orange eyes and a black beak. It is commonly seen standing motionless on a lava-rock.
Diet: Crustaceans, insects, some fish and worms