A Field Guides Birding Tours Report

Galapagos: An Intimate Look at Darwin's Islands II 2023

July 15-25, 2023 with Willy Perez & local guide guiding

Field Guides Birding Tours
The Flightless Cormorant was one of the special Galapagos birds that we saw. This one is showing just why they are flightless -- it would be hard to get anywhere with those wings! Photo by participant Roger Frieden.

Galapagos is always a wonderful trip, and this time was incredible yet again. In terms of sea mammals, I can say that it was one of the best that I have ever had, with many dolphins and whales. The whole week was superb, with amazing sailing trips, very good walks, and of course a lot of birds. The Nemo III was super comfortable, the food was delicious and the crew helped us with everything. Darwin, our wonderful Galapagos guide, was perfect, showing us everything and more.

We visited most of the islands and along the way we came across many good memories, stunning landscapes, sea sights and magical birds. We witnessed many dances, from Waved Albatrosses to Blue-footed Boobies. The boat was always followed by the Elliot's Storm-Petrels, which some people thought were the same individuals the whole time. Swallow-tailed Gulls followed the boat at night.

The easiest Paint-billed Crake that I have ever seen gave us a nice show. With that being said, we saw even a Galapagos Rail, not as easy as the crake, though... The Finches were not colorful, but they were fascinating to watch, and to see the differences in their bills. The one that I enjoyed the most was the Vegetarian Finch. The trip was full of birds, from doves, Penguins, Flightless Cormorants, and even more. People who partook in the snorkeling saw a lot of colorful fish, sea turtles and even a Hammerhead Shark; we all saw several sharks from the boat.

All of this was possible because you all decided to choose us to do this tour, so thank you for joining me and sharing this incredible trip.

—Saludos y un abrazo, Willy

One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)

WHITE-CHEEKED PINTAIL (GALAPAGOS) (Anas bahamensis galapagensis)

These small ducks were seen in few locations along the trip

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Elliot's Storm-Petrels were our companions for most of the tour. Photo by participant Anthony Kaduck.
Phoenicopteridae (Flamingos)

AMERICAN FLAMINGO (Phoenicopterus ruber)

No as many as usual but we saw several of them

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

GALAPAGOS DOVE (Zenaida galapagoensis) [E]

A nice colorful dove that we found in most of the islands

EARED DOVE (Zenaida auriculata)

Seen in Quito

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

SMOOTH-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga ani) [I]

An introduced species that is really common everywhere

DARK-BILLED CUCKOO (Coccyzus melacoryphus)

Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)

SPARKLING VIOLETEAR (Colibri coruscans)

The biggest hummingbird that we saw in Quito


The usual hummingbird that we see from the window in the San Jose hotel

Field Guides Birding Tours
One of our landings was on Isla Genovesa, where participant Kathy Frieden got this photo of the group.


Seen in the hotel San Jose

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

PAINT-BILLED CRAKE (Mustelirallus erythrops)

The best view ever, a bird that stayed beside the road for long time along the road to Asilo de la Paz

COMMON GALLINULE (Gallinula galeata)

GALAPAGOS RAIL (Laterallus spilonota) [E]

It took a couple of shots to cross paths with this species that eventually showed up nicely for great looks

Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)

BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus)

Haematopodidae (Oystercatchers)

AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus palliatus galapagensis)

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus)

Field Guides Birding Tours
A highlight of any visit to the Galapagos is seeing the different "Darwin's" finches (which are actually tanagers!). Here are two of them, showing some of the differences between species. On the left is a Large Ground Finch, photographed by Anthony Kaduck, and on the right is a Vegetarian Finch, photographed by Roger Frieden.
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

WHIMBREL (HUDSONIAN) (Numenius phaeopus hudsonicus)

RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres)


Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)

SWALLOW-TAILED GULL (Creagrus furcatus)

We saw them on different islands but also at night following the boat

GRAY GULL (Leucophaeus modestus)

This was a rarity in Galapagos, a single bird that we saw in Punta Cormorant

LAVA GULL (Leucophaeus fuliginosus) [E]

Another nice endemic gull that we saw several times but not in big numbers

BROWN NODDY (Anous stolidus galapagensis)

Field Guides Birding Tours
Paint-billed Crakes can be very hard to see, but this one came out and stood along the roadside for us! Photo by participant Anthony Kaduck.
Phaethontidae (Tropicbirds)

RED-BILLED TROPICBIRD (Phaethon aethereus mesonauta)

Spheniscidae (Penguins)

GALAPAGOS PENGUIN (Spheniscus mendiculus) [E]

Few of them, especially on the western side of Isabela

Diomedeidae (Albatrosses)

WAVED ALBATROSS (Phoebastria irrorata)

We even managed to see some still in full display

Oceanitidae (Southern Storm-Petrels)

ELLIOT'S STORM-PETREL (Oceanites gracilis galapagoensis)

Hydrobatidae (Northern Storm-Petrels)

BAND-RUMPED STORM-PETREL (Hydrobates castro)

A couple of birds during our navigation from Genovesa

WEDGE-RUMPED STORM-PETREL (Hydrobates tethys tethys)

These are the ones that were the prey for the Short-eared Owl

Procellariidae (Shearwaters and Petrels)

GALAPAGOS PETREL (Pterodroma phaeopygia)

Stunning views of this handsome bird

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The Nemo III was our home for a week. Here it is anchored at a very beautiful spot. Photo by participant Roger Frieden.

GALAPAGOS SHEARWATER (Puffinus subalaris)

Fregatidae (Frigatebirds)


The most numerous of the two frigatebird species, that we saw almost every day

GREAT FRIGATEBIRD (Fregata minor ridgwayi)

We even managed to see some of them nesting

Sulidae (Boobies and Gannets)

NAZCA BOOBY (Sula granti)

BLUE-FOOTED BOOBY (Sula nebouxii excisa)

We witnessed the great dance and behavior of this iconic species


Genovesa had the brown and white morph of this stunning small Booby

Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)

FLIGHTLESS CORMORANT (Nannopterum harrisi) [E]

It was crazy to see a cormorant with literally no wings

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We saw all four of the mockingbirds of the Galapagos. While it is not the rarest, this San Cristobal Mockingbird was a little harder to see than the others, but we managed to get a good look after a while. Photo by participant Anthony Kaduck.
Pelecanidae (Pelicans)

BROWN PELICAN (GALAPAGOS) (Pelecanus occidentalis urinator)

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

GREAT BLUE HERON (GREAT BLUE) (Ardea herodias cognata)

CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis)

We saw hundreds of these birds, even in Genovesa

STRIATED HERON (GALAPAGOS) (Butorides striata sundevalli) [E]

YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (GALAPAGOS) (Nyctanassa violacea pauper)

Cathartidae (New World Vultures)

BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus)

Few in Quito

Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

GALAPAGOS HAWK (Buteo galapagoensis) [E]

A nice endemic hawk that we saw in few places, but the best one was in Espanola when a young bird was practicing to fly

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Participant Roger Frieden captured this lovely image of a Blue-footed Booby looking rather pensive against a Galapagos sunset.
Tytonidae (Barn-Owls)

BARN OWL (GALAPAGOS) (Tyto alba punctatissima)

Strigidae (Owls)

SHORT-EARED OWL (GALAPAGOS) (Asio flammeus galapagoensis)

This owl was stunning; several were hunting at Genovesa but also we saw one at Floreana

Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)


Small flycatcher that we saw in the gardens of the hotel

VERMILION FLYCATCHER (OBSCURUS GROUP) (Pyrocephalus rubinus piurae)

Also at San Jose hotel

BRUJO FLYCATCHER (GALAPAGOS) (Pyrocephalus nanus nanus)

Great views of males and females when we visited Isabela

GALAPAGOS FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus magnirostris) [E]

They were very curious birds but they never landed on the camera

Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)


Seen on a few islands

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Swallow-tailed Gulls are numerous on the islands, and some even followed our boat at night. Photo by participant Anthony Kaduck.

FLOREANA MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus trifasciatus) [E]

We had to do a trip to Champion Islet to see this nice endemic

ESPA–OLA MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus macdonaldi) [E]

Very common at Espanola


This time we had to work a bit for this species but eventually we saw several of them

Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)

GREAT THRUSH (Turdus fuscater)

Very common in the hotel San Jose

Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)

GOLDEN-RUMPED EUPHONIA (Chlorophonia cyanocephala)

Passerellidae (New World Sparrows)

RUFOUS-COLLARED SPARROW (Zonotrichia capensis)

Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)

GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus)

Some people saw one from the plane in Guayaquil

Field Guides Birding Tours
Guide Willy Perez preserved this white-board image showing our travels in the Galapagos.
Parulidae (New World Warblers)

YELLOW WARBLER (GALAPAGOS) (Setophaga petechia aureola)

The most common bird on the whole trip

Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)

SCRUB TANAGER (Stilpnia vitriolina)

Nice looks at a pair from the garden in the hotel in Puembo

SAFFRON FINCH (SAFFRON) (Sicalis flaveola valida)

GREEN WARBLER-FINCH (Certhidea olivacea) [E]

We saw this species in Isabela and Santa Cruz

GRAY WARBLER-FINCH (Certhidea fusca mentalis) [E]

Seen in Genovesa

GRAY WARBLER-FINCH (Certhidea fusca luteola) [E]

The one in San Cristobal

GRAY WARBLER-FINCH (Certhidea fusca bifasciata)

A nice one at Santa Fe

This video of the group watching Bottlenose Dolphins as we sailed gives a good feeling for life on the Nemo, and how exciting sailing in the Galapagos can be! Video by guide Willy Perez.

GRAY WARBLER-FINCH (Certhidea fusca cinerascens) [E]

Many seen at Espanola

VEGETARIAN FINCH (Platyspiza crassirostris) [E]

A last minute pair showed up nicely at Rancho Primicias

WOODPECKER FINCH (PALLIDUS/PRODUCTUS) (Camarhynchus pallidus pallidus) [E]

We saw some at Santa Cruz

WOODPECKER FINCH (PALLIDUS/PRODUCTUS) (Camarhynchus pallidus productus) [E]

Several in Isabela

WOODPECKER FINCH (STRIATIPECTA) (Camarhynchus pallidus striatipecta) [E]

Nice one seen at San Cristobal

LARGE TREE-FINCH (Camarhynchus psittacula psittacula) [E]

Great views of a pair at Santa Cruz

MEDIUM TREE-FINCH (Camarhynchus pauper) [E]

Few at Asilo de la Paz in Floreana

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Guide Willy Perez got this great shot of the group posing at Isla Isabela.

SMALL TREE-FINCH (Camarhynchus parvulus parvulus) [E]

Widespread on most of the islands

SMALL TREE-FINCH (Camarhynchus parvulus salvini) [E]

The ones that we saw at San Cristobal island

SMALL GROUND-FINCH (Geospiza fuliginosa) [E]

LARGE GROUND-FINCH (Geospiza magnirostris) [E]

GENOVESA GROUND-FINCH (Geospiza acutirostris) [E]

COMMON CACTUS-FINCH (Geospiza scandens intermedia) [E]

MEDIUM GROUND-FINCH (Geospiza fortis) [E]

Field Guides Birding Tours
A peaceful and beautiful sunset at Santa Fe, photographed by guide Willy Perez.

ESPA–OLA GROUND-FINCH (Geospiza conirostris) [E]

GENOVESA CACTUS-FINCH (Geospiza propinqua propinqua) [E]


BOTTLENOSE DOLPHIN (Tursiops truncatus)

BRYDE'S WHALE (Balaenoptera edeni)

HUMPBACK WHALE (Megaptera novaeangliae)

"GALAPAGOS" SEA LION (Zalophus californianus wollebacki)

GALAPAGOS FUR SEAL (Arctocephalus galapagoensis) [E]


MARINE IGUANA (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) [E]

Field Guides Birding Tours
A Galapagos Sea Lion mother and pup posed beautifully for participant Roger Frieden.

LAND IGUANA (Conolophus subcristatus) [E]

SANTA FE LAND IGUANA (Conolophus pallidus)

GALAPAGOS LAVA LIZARD (Microlophus albemarlensis) [E]

ESPANOLA LAVA LIZARD (Microlophus delanonis) [E]

FLOREANA LAVA LIZARD (Microlophus grayi) [E]

SAN CRISTOBAL LAVA LIZARD (Microlophus bivattatus) [E]

GALAPAGOS (GIANT) TORTOISE (Geochelone elephantopus) [E]

GREEN SEA TURTLE (Chelonia mydas)


We also saw many:

Short-finned Pilot Whales

Ocean Sun Fish

Diamond Stingray

Spotted Eagle Ray

Mobula Ray

Manta Ray

Several species of Sharks and a lot of nice colorful fish including Flying Fish.

Totals for the tour: 80 bird taxa and 5 mammal taxa