Darwin’s finches on your Galapagos vacation


The Friendly Finch

They are small and cute, for sure, but they usually don’t leave us dumbfounded at first sight. Everyone will get to see at least one, if not several Darwin’s finches during a Galapagos vacation, as many of these little birds approach visitors to dine or lunch by their side or at their feet, seeking out the crumbs they may leave behind.

They are not bashful by any stretch, and this “personality trait” will certainly be an unusual experience in itself, but they are by no means a Blue-footed Booby, with their bright blue feet, or a male Magnificent Frigatebird during breeding season, with that spectacular guttural pouch they inflate like a big red balloon.

Still, don’t get them wrong. Galapagos Darwin’s finches are equally, if not more, fascinating than any of the other special Galapagos encounters, especially when understanding their complexities at an evolutionary level. You may end up dumbfounded in the end!


The Finches’ Role in Darwin’s Theory of Evolution

First off, they have been central to providing evidence for the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. The most obvious, visible aspect of differentiation between them is their beaks.

Some have evolved to sport large wrench-like bills while others are slender and pointy; the size and shape of each bill has a direct relationship with the environment they inhabit and the food that that environment provides them.

The Vampire Finch

There are finches, like the “vampire” Finch, on the very isolated Wolf Island of the northernmost latitudes of the archipelago, that uses its pointy bill to puncture the skin of sea lions’ necks or larger birds’ wings to actually suck their blood. It has adapted to do so to survive.


Woodpecker or Mangrove Finches

Other finches, like the Woodpecker or Mangrove finches, use utensils, such as tiny twigs or cactus spines, to pick out grubs from inside crevices in the tree trunks or branches.


Finches in all sizes

Cactus finches, tree finches, warbler finches, ground finches, mangrove and woodpecker finches… There are large, medium and small cactus finches, and large, medium and small tree finches, as well as large, medium and small ground finches, which is a testimony to their scientific complexity.


Recent Research

The study of Darwin’s finches is intricate and changing and has taken place for decades without being at all a settled affair. New discoveries are ongoing, such as the fact that only recently have ornithologists concluded that there is at least one or two more species on Genovesa Island, bringing the total species count to seventeen different Darwin’s finches… Perhaps during your Galapagos vacation, you may want to see how many of them you actually come across.

In Santa Cruz island, home to Galapagos Safari Camp, there are a total of nine species. It’s a perfect place to begin!


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See our Safari Holidays for our suggested Galapagos itineraries and recommended activities.

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