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Galapagos Wildlife Activity Calendar
Galapagos Sealion pup
Iguana in the Galapagos Islands
Frigatebird with red pouch extended in the Galapagos Islands
Galapagos Tortoise
Blue footed boobies courting in the Galapagos IslandsSea lion pup suckling in the Galapagos Islands
Galapagos penguin
Marine iguanas in Galapagos
Blue footed boobies in the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos wildlife
is fascinating at any time of year.  This month-by-month activity calendar shows some bird & animal highlights
in the islands.

Galapagos Wildlife Activity Calendar

The Galapagos wildlife is the main attraction for many visitors and there is always something interesting to see, no matter what time of year you visit the islands.  North Seymour's magnificent frigate birds show off their red pouches all year round and there are always sea lions to be seen.  
Some specific highlights of the wildlife year are described below:  
January Land birds start to nest after the first rain.  Española's marine iguanas adopt bright colouring to attract mates.  Green sea turtles start to lay eggs on Galapagos beaches.  Giant tortoise eggs are hatching.
February Greater flamingos start nesting on Floreana.  Marine iguanas nest on Santa Cruz.  Galapagos doves are nesting.  Penguins migrate away from Bartholeme to cooler waters off Isabela and Fernandina.  Giant tortoise eggs are still hatching.
March Marine iguanas nest on Fernandina and North Seymour.  Waved albatrosses start to arrive back on Española at the end of March.  Hatching season of giant Galapagos tortoise eggs continues.  Galapagos Penguins on Isabela island.   Frigatebirds inflate their red throat pouches for the mating season on San Cristobal and Genovesa islands.
April Green sea turtle eggs begin to hatch.  Mass arrival and courtship of waved albatrosses on Española.  Land iguana eggs hatch on Isabela.  End of the giant tortoise hatching season.  Mating dance of blue-footed boobies on North Seymour.  Mating season for frigatebirds on Genovesa and San Cristobal, when the males attract a mate by showing off their red throat pouches.
May Mating dance of blue-footed boobies on North Seymour.  Band rumped storm petrels start first of two nesting periods.  Waved albatross are laying eggs on Española Island.
June Giant tortoises on Santa Cruz come down to the lowlands to look for nesting sites.  Birds migrating north use the Galapagos Islands to rest.  Humpback Whales pass the Galapagos Islands from June to September.  Whale sharks may be seen in the far northwestern islands towards the end of the month.  The endemic short-eared owl starts mating on Genovesa Island. 
July Whales and dolphins off the west coast of Isabela, whale sharks near Darwin and Wolf islands.  American oystercatchers nest on Santiago.  Flightless cormorants court and nest on Fernandina.  Sea bird colonies are breeding.  Blue footed booby chicks are at their cutest and most photogenic in July.  Greater flamingoes court potential mates with a dance-like ritual.  The first frigatebird chicks start to hatch.  
August Sea lions are giving birth to pups and can be agressive if they feel threatened.  The giant tortoises of Santa Cruz head back to the highlands.  Frigatebird chicks are hatching.  Greater flamingo courtship dances continue.  Migrant shore birds are arriving.  Courtship of Galapagos hawks on Santiago and Española.  Nazca boobies nest on Genovesa.  Possibility of whale shark sightings near Wolf and Darwin islands.  Humpback whales pass the Galapagos on migration route.
September Galapagos penguins busy courting on Bartolome.  Male sea lions are fighting to win or defend their harems of females.  Lots of sea birds at nest sites.  Chance of seeing whale sharks in the northwest of the archipelago or humpback whales migrating past the islands.
October Galapagos fur seal mating season.  Blue footed booby chicks on Española and Isabela.  Lava herons start nesting.  Whale sharks still around Darwin and Wolf islands.
November Sea lion pups are old enough to play with tourists and their mothers are more relaxed about them.  Brown noddy breeding season.  Band rumped storm petrels start nesting again.  Chance of seeing whale sharks in the far northwest of the Galapagos Islands.  Green sea turtle mating season starts.
December Giant tortoise eggs start to hatch, through until April.  Waved albatross chicks fledge and the waved albatrosses leave the Galapagos, not to return until March.  Green sea turtles are mating.
Keen birdwatchers or fanatical divers seeking some particularly elusive specimen to add to their list should look for a specialist Galapagos wildlife tour operator to find the best itinerary and time of year to achieve their objective.  Taking a specialist cruise with like-minded passengers will also help prevent the birdwatchers from driving the geologists mad, or vice versa, and increase your enjoyment of the Galapagos experience.  
Please bear in mind that the animals and birds of the Galapagos Islands have not read this page and reserve the right to change their behaviour based on weather patterns, availability of food, number of predators/prey or other factors beyond the control of this website or of your tour operator or cruise boat captain.  The above is an indication of what you might see and what usually happens in an average year.  Nothing is guaranteed.  Especially in El Niño years with extreme weather patterns, wildlife populations can fluctuate dramatically and behaviours change. 
Now you have an idea of when you want to see the Galapagos wildlife, start thinking about the best cruise boat and itinerary for your needs and perhaps a Galapagos hotel for a couple of days before or after your cruise.  Don't forget to book your Galapagos flights as far ahead of time as you can.
Useful Spanish Vocabulary about wildlife activity in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador:
Las Islas Galápagos: The Galapagos Islands
fauna silvestre: wildlife
nido: nest
crianza: breeding
Galapagos Wildlife Activity Calendar
Wildlife calendar and monthly birdwatching and diving notes for the Galapagos Islands
Website www.ecuadortravelsite.org, text and photos by Sarah Clifford.
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