12/26/2012 08:49 am ET Updated Feb 25, 2013

Galápagos Birds And The Evolution Of A Passion

A trip to The Galápagos Islands is guaranteed to make a birder out of anyone. The sheer numbers, and just plain strange features that isolation has brought upon these fabulous creatures would have been enough for us. Couple this with fact that we spent more effort backing away from them than trying to spot them -- these birds have absolutely zero fear of humans -- and we were instantly hooked.

Genovesa Island has been nicknamed "The Bird Island" and that moniker is certainly fitting considering the proliferation of the red-footed and Nazca varieties of boobies.

There is a six-foot boundary law for all animals on the islands. As humans, it was our duty to keep that distance even though the birds, who approached us regularly didn't seem to care about the rule.

As we rode a dingy into Elizabeth Bay, dozens of Galápagos penguins dove and frolicked beside the boat. They were looking for breakfast, but eager to look at us as well. Ahead of us, Tropicbirds swarmed on massive cliffs.

We spied a Flightless Cormorant eating a Tiger Snake Eel. In the blink of an eye (but sadly, not of a camera lens) a pelican swooped down and, after a mighty tug-of-war, stole the cormorant's prey and took it to the sky.

On the island itself, we spotted a Short-eared Owl eating a freshly captured Storm Petrel. These rare owls are diurnal, meaning they hunt during the day, and are the only owls known to exist that exhibit this behavior. Their peculiarity seemed very much in tune with their home, an unusual and boundlessly fascinating sanctuary

Touring Bird Island

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