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Darwin's finches (Galapagos Islands)

Discussion in 'Birds' started by jczinn, Aug 17, 2009.

  1. One of the things the Galapagos is famed for, of course, is Darwin's famous journey and his basis for "Origin of the Species". One of the bird groups he studied were the finches---so very similar and yet so different from island to island, feeding specialized for the vegetation on different islands, etc. The finches aren't spectacularly colored and in fact, rather dull, but it is fascinating (and quite a challenge) to try and identify them--it has to be done based on habitat, island, behavior, and beak size and shape. It is further complicated by the fact that Cactus Finch isn't always on Cactus, Ground Finch isn't necessary on the ground, males and females look quite different... :eek:  Even experts have a hard time in the field. Fortunately we had great guides, and I took a lot of photos which I was able to use for ID verification when we got home. We were able to see 11 out of the 13 species in the Galapagos and I THINK most of these ID's are correct :wink:

    All with D300 and either 200-400VR or 80-400VR

    Medium Ground Finch
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    Small Tree Finch
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    Cactus Finch
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    Small Ground Finch
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    The Small Ground Finch on some islands likes to pick parasites off the iguanas--its a mutually beneficial arrangement :wink:
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    Vegetarian Finch
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    Woodpecker Finch--this one looks quite different and we were fortunate enough to actually see him pecking. BTW this shot is ISO 2000.
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    Warbler Finch--notice the beak is much different, thin like a warbler beak--this one is an easy ID!
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    Thanks for looking!
  2. This is a neat series, imagine what it would have been lik when Darwin was there, I wouldnt say they are the prettiest of birds, but very educational and great IQ especially withthe 80-400!!!
  3. Thanks Andreas--I should add/clarify--so folks don't have to look at the exif-- the ones with taken with the 80-400VR are the ones labeled from Santa Cruz Island. On that day, I knew we had a full day on-land with a bus ride, shopping in town, and it was raining to boot--so I opted to leave the 200-400vr and tripod aboard ship and just go with the 80-400VR. That lens still has life left in it :smile: The others are all with the 200-400VR.
  4. Beautiful shots Janet! Your 4th shot looks similar to the Junco doesn't it?
  5. Beautiful set. Dawrin would be proud.
  6. califlefty


    Apr 7, 2006
    Really superb! Thanks for this great set an all the information.
  7. Hi Janet,

    Those are great shots of an interesting group of birds.

    I especially like the one sitting on the Marine Iguana, no where but in the Galapagos!

    Bob & Nan
  8. Super shooting, terrific IQ on these images.
  9. Wonderful series Janet. Some of the differences are very subtle indeed. The photos, however, are excellent.
  10. A superb collection of these finches ...great detail !!

    You should be very proud of your efforts !

  11. Ryan Bradford

    Ryan Bradford

    Jul 14, 2009
    extraordinary set!
  12. Wonderful collection of shots. Very educational.

    I especially like the 2 finch shots on the cactii.
  13. Oh man, this really is great stuff. I will admit to having always wanted to see Darwin's finches, lucky you and great series! Top notch work!
  14. Excellent set! Very topical in this anniversary year, too.
    Scientifically speaking, these are some of the most interesting animals on the islands, but some photographers haven't paid much attention to them. I ever get there, I hope I can get equally good photos of the finches.

  15. Bolts


    May 7, 2007
    Tampa, Florida
    Nice job, Janet, and wonderful post! You certainly made the most of these little brown birds!
  16. Thanks everyone. Its true they aren't very colorful but once you appreciate what they are all about, its really fascinating. I recommend reading "The Beak of the Finch" if you are at all interested in the background.

    Alan, so true that most folks pay little or no attention to them, unless they are serious birders. I got a lot of recommendations before I left "don't bother with a tripod" and "you won't need a 400mm lens unless you care about the little birds." Well, I do and I did :biggrin: Although even the finches are relatively tame...they are still quite small! If I hadn't lugged the 200-400vr and the tripod I never would have gotten many of these shots.
  17. wonderful shooting Janet!! lots of sweet light there.
  18. shtarka1


    Feb 1, 2008
  19. Thanks Ray! Actually the light was a bit of a challenge because you are not allowed to use flash of any kind in the national park. Fortunately we did have some bright overcast days but often the bright sun...and shooting against black lava or bright sand...made it tricky. But it was good practice to shoot without fill flash--I actually liked it, one less thing to think about :wink:
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