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Galapagos Dove

Galapagos Dove

A beautiful and unique ground-loving bird

What you need to know about the Galapagos Dove

The Galápagos Dove is known for its curiosity. Early sailors who landed on the Galápagos report the native doves landing on their hats, heads or shoulders. Sadly, this natural tame behaviour led to them becoming an easy source of food for both sailors and early settlers!

Luckily, the Galápagos Dove quickly learned to be more cautious about humans, but it’s still common to find your excursion party followed quite closely by one or more of these lovely birds. You can recognise them by their red-brown base color with black and white markings with touches of shimmering green, and their red feet and a bright blue ring around the eye. The best place to look for them is not in the air, but on the ground. The Galápagos Dove takes to the wing very rarely, preferring to keep on the ground where it feeds mainly on seeds and small fruits.

Like many native Galápagos species, the Galápagos Dove is able to show us some of the wonder of evolution in action. Because the Dove favors the more arid parts of the islands where the Opuntia cactus grows, it has taken on the role of pollinator. Because of the lack of bees on islands like Genovesa, the Opuntia cactus spines there have softened over time, allowing the Galápagos Dove to pollinate the plants as well as eat its fruit and help to spread the seeds.

They nest on the ground, and another of their interesting behaviours is that the adult bird will pretend to be injured if a predator gets too close, trying to draw the intruder away with the hope of a much bigger easy meal in the shape of a “wounded” bird.

The Galápagos Dove population is not classed as under concern, however the introduction of cats to the islands has meant that these have become their main threat.

Galapagos Dove: Interesting facts

Galápagos Doves love Opuntia cactus - it's thought the fleshy pulp is their main source of water

On Genovesa, Galápagos Doves perform pollination duties that would be done by bees elsewhere in the world

Early reports from sailors and settlers say the Galápagos Dove was so unafraid of humans it would perch on their heads

The curved beak of the Galápagos Dove is perfect for foraging on the ground for seeds and berries

Galapagos Dove: Pictures from our travelers

Galapagos Dove
Galapagos Dove
Galapagos Dove

Spots where the Galapagos Dove 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.

A walk on North Seymour
North Seymour

The island is named after an English nobleman, Lord Hugh Seymour and has an area of 1.9 square kilometers and a maximum altitude of 28 meters. This island is home to a large population of blue-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls and hosts one of the largest populations of frigatebirds. North Seymour has a visitor trail approximately 1.2 mi in length crossing the inland of the island and exploring the rocky coast.

North Seymour was formed at the same time as neighboring Baltra Island, and by the same process - an uplifting of undersea lava. This small, flat island has hiking trails throughout, allowing you to explore the arid landscape and to meet the seabirds that call North Seymour home.

North Seymour was the site of one of the earliest conservation experiments in the Galápagos. In 1934 a group of Galápagos Land Iguanas were moved there by Captain Hanckock. They have since thrivedthrived, and there are now well over 2,500 of them on the island and more than 3,000 on the neighbouring Baltra island.

The biggest attraction of North Seymour is its large colony of Blue-Footed Boobies and its Frigatebirds. These popular Galápagos species are often found together because the Frigatebirds rely on the Boobies’ fishing prowess. The Frigatebirds actively steal the Boobies catch to feed themselves!

There is also a population of Marine Iguanas and Galápagos Sea Lions are frequently spotted. The snorkeling here is also very good, with plenty of marine life to see including rays and reef sharks.

Our trips to spot the Galapagos Dove

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