Species Spotlight: Galapagos Petrel
Recognizing the buoyant flight of the Galapagos Petrel (Pterodroma phaeopygia) is the best way to ID this large, long-winged ‘gadfly petrel’ as it floats effortlessly over the Pacific in search of food. Squid, fish and crustaceans make up their diet.
Once considered a subspecies of the Dark-rumped Petrel (Pterodroma phaeopygia phaeopygia) it was split into Galapagos and Hawaiian Petrel (Pterodroma sandwichensis), making it an endemic of the Galapagos Islands archipelago. Critically endangered, Galapagos Petrels breed in rocky burrows surrounded by dense vegetation, especially the endemic Miconia robinsoniana and a wide variety of native ferns found in the highlands of the islands that are inhabited by humans. These islands are also home to many introduced cats, dogs, pigs and, worst of all, rats. All of these non-native animals feed on the birds’ eggs and chicks.
As with most seabirds in the Galapagos, they nest during the Garua season… from the end of May into early November. The Garua (fog) season is created by the colder currents shifting to hit the Galapagos directly, lowering the sea temperatures surrounding the islands, bringing more nutrients and therefore, more food for the seabirds to feed to their chicks.
Photo and article by Kevin Loughlin
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