Saturday, April 9, 2022

Galapagos Hawk

Galapagos hawks are endemic to the Galapagos Islands. They are most closely related to the Swainson's hawk and it is estimated that they colonized the Galapagos Islands about 300,000 years ago, making them the most recent native species to arrive. They are considered "vulnerable" by the IUCN and there are only about 150 mating pairs. They are no longer found on the Islands of Baltra, Daphne, Floreana, San Cristobal or Seymour. 

They are similar in size to a red-tailed hawk and Swainson's hawk, but their size varies from island to island (the smallest are on Marchena, Santiago has an intermediate size, and Espanola has the largest). The coloring also varies. It is generally a sooty brown/black. The tail is silver/gray above with about ten narrow black bars and is is pale below. They have white and black barring on the underside of the wings and tail. The beak is grayish/black with a yellow cere (base). The legs and feet are yellow. 

They eat insects, small lizards, snakes and rodents. They will also occasionally take marine and land iguanas, sea lion pups, sea turtle and tortoise hatchlings, the eggs and hatchlings from swallow-tailed gulls and carrion. 

I saw one Galapagos hawk, above Tagus Cove on Isabela Island. We hiked from the ocean up to above Darwin Lake (a salt water lake) to a rock outcropping with great views. The hawk landed on another rock outcropping about 30 yards away, while we were there, and stayed until we were gone. It was a great opportunity to photograph a bird I really wanted to see while I was in the Galapagos.
Later, at Espumilla Beach on Santiago Island, I saw another Galapagos Hawk flying overhead. The photo is lightened up a bit to better show the white and black barring on the bottom side of the wings and tail. 

1 comment:

  1. Your fourth photo with just the tilted head of the hawk is my favorite, although that last one of the hawk in flight and it's feathers so well defined is pretty awesome. You were lucky to be able to check this bird off your list.