Newly Goat-Free, a Galapagos Island Awaits a Finch Renaissance

By Dan Shapley

Woodpecker finch Photo: Sonia Kleindorfer

Woodpecker finch Photo: Sonia Kleindorfer

When Charles Darwin first came upon the Galapagos Islands, he wasn’t as impressed with the diversity of bird life he found there as is widely believed. It was later, at home, that his observations of the beaks of finches led him toward his revolutionary theory of evolution. Still, the finches of the Galapagos have an unparalleled place in the minds of conservationists.

Now, on the island of Santiago, the fourth largest in the Galapagos Archipelago, a bird resurgence is poised to begin. And it’s all because of goats.

More accurately, the decline in local finches resulted from the feral goats released on the island in the 1920s. In their first 70 years, they chewed through every bit of brush on the 226-square-mile island (that’s about the size of Manhattan and Galveston islands combined). In their wake: grass … and fewer birds.

The story of the Galapagos is that similar species developed unique adaptations to living on different islands, each with different habitats. The woodpecker finch, on Santiago Island, learned to use a twig, stick, or cactus spine as a tool to dislodge grubs and insects from trees.

About Rene

About Ecuador, Galápagos, the Hospitality & Tourism industry, Conservation and personal Tidbits from a Swiss Hôtelier working in Ecuador & Galapagos and committed to supporting and encouraging local youngsters in Education, Sports and Environmental protection via my Foundation "Nova Galápagos."
This entry was posted in Environment Conservation, Marinelife Wildlife Fauna, Positive News and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Newly Goat-Free, a Galapagos Island Awaits a Finch Renaissance

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