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Darwin's Finches

Darwin's Finches

Evolution in Action

What you need to know about the Darwin's Finches

Known to school children all over the world studying evolution, the small changes amongst the species of Galápagos Finches famously helped Darwin to begin to formulate his theory of natural selection. Often referred to as Darwin’s Finches, there are 17 species on the archipelago, and they range from 4 to 8 in (10cm to 20cm) in size.

The key factor that makes each species different is the shape and size of their beaks - each having developed to specialize in a different kind of food source, ranging from nuts and seeds to insects and cactus pulp.

Galápagos finches can be found throughout the islands and some of our visitors have remarked that for such an important species in the history of science, Darwin’s Finches are not particularly exotic or exciting to look at! Whilst it’s true that they are uniformly drab in color and don’t exhibit any remarkable behavior, these little birds are a true icon of the islands and of the uniqueness of the archipelago. This is what makes a Galápagos cruise such a wonderful adventure of a lifetime, and why here at Galapatours we always make sure that our naturalist guides are amongst the best working in the National Park so that even these “dull” little birds will come to life for you.

However, there are some concerns about the future of the species. The finches are currently under threat from an introduced parasitic fly, and they are the subject of research studies to help the Galápagos National Park authorities to preserve these unique birds.

Darwin's Finches: Interesting facts

There are 17 species accepted of these little perching birds

Because of their isolation, they developed different beak shapes to deal with different food

Darwin's insight that they all evolved from a single species has been proved with DNA testing

Despite their unremarkable plumage, Darwin's Finches are known for being fearless and noisy!

Darwin's Finches: Pictures from our travelers

Darwin's Finches
Darwin's Finches
Darwin's Finches

Spots where the Darwin's Finches can be observed

A walk on Bartholomew
A walk on Bartholomew

Bartholomew (known as Bartolomé locally) is the most popular excursion for Galápagos visitors, and its iconic scenery is the most photographed in the whole archipelago.

To start your walk on this island you will land in the small bay opposite the famous Pinnacle Rock. You then start the climb to the 375ft peak of Bartholomew. You’ll travel along a half mile trail that includes a series of wooden steps that have been built by the National Park Service to protect the ground here from erosion caused by tourists hiking to the summit.

When you arrive at the top of island the spectacular views will have made your efforts worthwhile. Your Galapatours expert guide will point out all the landmarks you will see from here - Pinnacle Rock itself, jutting skywards. The huge black lava flows of Sullivan Bay. The islands of Daphne Major and Daphne Minor.

On the way back down, you will be able to recognise the different volcanic formations evident on the island, such as tuff cones and volcanic spatter. You'll also see some remarkable examples of the Galápagos' ability to highlight the adaptation of species. For example the  bushes that all look dead are actually very much alive, with leaves covered with special grey hairs that help to reflect the harsh sun and reduce moisture loss for the plants.

Back at the beach there is excellent snorkeling, thanks to the underwater caves and rocks in the area. You will see various sharks, rays and tropical fish. You may also see Galápagos Penguins swimming with you!

Chinese Hat
Chinese Hat

Chinese Hat ("Sombrero Chino" to locals) is an islet set just a short distance off the southeastern coast of Santiago. The small channel between Chinese Hat and mainland Santiago is fairly deep yet sheltered, and the water here is a glistening turquoise.

The islet gets its name because if you approach from the north, you will see that this small volcanic cone does indeed look like the traditional bamboo or rice hat. Viewed from above on a satellite image, however, you will see that this islet is actually more of an oval shape.

There is a short hiking trail on Chinese Hat that runs along the western coast of the islet. This is a harsh landscape of volcanic rubble and lava formations, a very atmospheric reminder of the fiery origins of the Galápagos.

Along the cost of both Chinese Hat and the opposite Santiago shore you are likely to see Galápagos Sea Lions and Galápagos Penguins, either basking in the sun or seeking shade to avoid the hottest parts of the day. Overhead, you might catch a glimpse of the magnificent Galápagos Hawk.

The stand-out reason for a visit to Chinese Hat however is to snorkel in that turquoise channel. Here you can see various species of sharks, rays, and a variety of tropical fish. Not all Galápagos boats can visit, and permits are only given to a select few boats and guides. Here at Galapatours we offer itineraries on all of these specially selected boats, so if a visit to Chinese Hat is important to you, speak to one of our Galápagos experts today to help choose the perfect itinerary.

Our trips to spot the Darwin's Finches

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