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Galapagos Albatross

The Galapagos Albatross is most noteworthy for its size. The largest bird in the entire Galapagos, its wingspan reaches over 8 feet long. When compared with other birds of the Galapagos like finches or even cormorants, the Galapagos Albatross is the jumbo jet in the sky. Its size dictates its breeding cycle. Such a large creature can only get airborne with the help of high trade winds, meaning that this massive bird must lay all of its eggs, incubate them, hatch them, and raise them to the point where they can fly on their own before the wind dies down in late January. Calculating the time needed to hit this deadline, the Galapagos Albatross arrives on Espanola Island in April to start the process. These nesting months are almost the only time you’ll find these birds on dry land, as they mostly inhabit the skies and the seas — where they can feed on crustaceans and small fish. If you can catch sight of them on land during the mating cycle, you’ll be delighted by their dance, a spectacular performance that includes circular movements and a loud clacking sound made with their long beaks.

These majestic creatures are endangered, and are considered most vulnerable due to the singularity of their habitat. While they are known to migrate as far as the shores of mainland Ecuador and Peru, the Galapagos Albatross relies on Espanola Island as their only land-based habitat and breeding ground, returning to the tiny island each year. The species’ very existence depends on the maintenance of that ecosystem, making it vulnerable indeed.