Lots of people enjoy taking a Galapagos tour when love is in the air. Specifically, when the Galapagos albatross, or waved albatross, on Espanola Island are performing their striking courtship dance.
The Waved Albatross
The waved albatross has a huge wingspan, stretching 8 feet. (Compare that to Tacko Fall of the Boston Celtics, the tallest players in the NBA, who is 7 feet and 5 inches tall.) They are the largest of all the distinctive birds you will find in the Galapagos Islands.
“One of their most interesting behaviours [sic] is their courtship dance, which includes bill circling, bill clacking, head nodding, a waddle and a cow-like moo,” the Galapagos Conservation Trust says. “The courtship ritual is most complex and especially drawn out for new breeding pairs and pairs which had an unsuccessful breeding season.”
That’s not the only thing that is distinctive about the waved albatross’s behavior, however. Once the dancing is over and the birds settle down for the breeding season, the female lays an egg. Yes, just one egg. And she lays it on the ground. These birds don’t make a nest in which to lay their eggs and raise their young.
“The couple take it in turns to incubate the egg for up to two months until it hatches. Several weeks after hatching, chicks will be left in ‘nursery’ groups, allowing the parents to go off and feed. On their return, the parents will regurgitate a pre-digested oily liquid for the chicks to feed on,” the experts at the Galapagos Conservation Trust say. “Around five and half months after hatching, chicks will be developed enough to start flying.”
And talked about distinctive behavior, according to the Trust, “Once fully fledged the birds will spend up to six years out at sea before returning to find a partner.”
If you would like to learn more about the amazing wildlife in the Galapagos Islands up close and in person, there’s nothing like a Galapagos Island vacation. Especially if you have black marlin fishing or striped marling fishing on the itinerary.