Flightless Cormorant in the Galapagos Islands
Carol and I enjoyed visiting the flightless cormorants in the Galapagos Islands.
One of the unique gifts of a visit to the Galapagos Islands is the ability to visit species that are found nowhere else on earth. The flightless cormorant is one of those species.
As you can see in my video below, they look rather comical as they move about. Their wings are small, making them unable to fly. Hence, the “flightless” cormorant.
According to Wikipedia, “the flightless cormorant is the largest extant member of its family, 89–100 cm (35–39.5 in) in length and weighing 2.5–5.0 kg (5.5–11.0 lb), and its wings are about one-third the size that would be required for a bird of its proportions to fly. The keel on the breastbone, where birds attach the large muscles needed for flight, is also significantly reduced.
Like all cormorants, this bird has webbed feet and sturdy legs that propel it through the water as it seeks its prey of fish, small octopuses, and other little marine creatures. The species feeds near the sea floor and no more than 200 meters offshore. The flightless cormorants look slightly like a duck, except for their short, stubby wings. The upper parts are blackish, and the underparts are brown. The long beak is hooked at the tip, and the eye is turquoise. Like all members of the cormorant family, all four toes are joined by webbed skin. Males and females are similar in appearance, although males are larger and 35% heavier. Juveniles generally resemble adults but differ in that they are glossy black in color with dark eyes. Adults produce low growling vocalizations.
Like other cormorants, this bird’s feathers are not waterproof, and they spend time after each dive drying their small wings in the sunlight. Their flight and contour feathers are much like those of other cormorants, but their body feathers are much thicker, softer, denser, and more hair-like. They produce very little oil from their preen gland; it is the air trapped in the dense plumage that prevents them from becoming waterlogged.”
We sat and watched these two for about 10-minutes from our zodiac. The male’s first present to the female was a sea urchin, which she immediately discarded. On his second dive to the bottom of the sea, he brought her some seaweed which she clearly approved of, and incorporated it into her nest.
Carol and I visited the Galapagos Islands via our expedition cruise with Silversea Expeditions.
This was our first expedition cruise. We enjoyed it greatly, and I’m certain that you’ll see us on another expedition cruise ship in the not-too-distant future.
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