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You are here:7.2. Genovesa Island.

7.2. Genovesa Island.

Arid zone

Genovesa Island

Genovesa is a fairly flat island to the northwest of the Archipelago with a land surface of about 14 square km and a maximum elevation of 75 m.   The central volcano is now a big caldera filled with seawater to a depth of 64 meters.  Darwin Bay (the site where all tour boats anchor), is also a huge collapsed caldera 180 meters deep.   This bay provides access to the two only landing sites on the island.

(Click here to download Map of Genovesa)



Darwin Bay.

The trail starts on a small white coral beach.   The first half of the trail passes inland along the edge of the intertidal zone with some mangrove growth and tide pools. Swallow-tailed Gulls and Great Frigatebirds are numerous along the first part of the trail Sharp-beaked Ground Finch (e) is also frequently seen.

The second part of the trail leaves the beach behind and continues on lava fields that are rough at the beginning.  Soon the trail climbs along the side of the cliff toward the navigation beacons.  Here the ground gets smoother and easier to walk.  The low Opuntia Prickly Pear Cactus stand is probably the best place to look for the Large Cactus Finch (e) from Genovesa. Some of this cactus is also found at the beginning of the trail at the base of the cliff close to the white sandy beach.  The colony of Red-footed Boobies at Darwin Bay is a place of special interest, as many nests will be at close range and eye-level.  The Genovesa form of Large Cactus Finch may represent a different species than the one found on Española, (subspecies conirostris). This is true as there is a very low possibility of contact between the two subspecies.  They have totally different voices and bill shape, which also suggest that they are separate species.  Unfortunately I have no experience with the darwinii race from Darwin and Wolf islands, but further studies and especially the DNA analysis, will throw more light on the evolutionary relationship between these three races. 

Birds to look for

Darwin Bay.

Arid Zone   (AZ), Sea shores (SS),

Common:    Swallow-tailed Gull (SS), Nazca Booby (SS), Red-footed Booby (AZ, SS),   Galápagos Mockingbird (e) (subspecies   bauri) (AZ, SS), Great Frigatebird   (AZ, SS), Large Cactus Finch (e)   (subspecies propingua) (AZ),   Sharp-beaked Ground Finch (e)   (subspecies difficilis) (AZ, SS),   Warbler Finch (e) (subspecies mentalis) (AZ, SS), Yellow Warbler (AZ).

Uncommon: Lava   Heron (e) (AZ, SS), Galápagos Dove   (AZ, SS), Large Ground Finch (e) (AZ,   SS).



Prince Philip’s Steps

After walking up the steep trail it flattens at the top of the island and passes through a Holy Tree, or Palo Santo forest, and heads to the far cliff on the south-east side of the island.  Here, two species of storm-petrels have their nesting colonies in the lava crevices on top of this cliff. Wedge-rumped Storm-petrel, also known as Galápagos Storm-Petrel (endemic subspecies tethys), visit their nests throughout the day. The Band-rumped Storm-petrel arrives nocturnally, and a late afternoon visit to the upper cliff may afford you the chance to see both species..

The Short-eared Owl (endemic subspecies galapagoensis) can also be seen in the area as it hunts for inattentive storm-petrels returning or leaving their colony.

The Band-rumped Storm-Petrel is a pelagic species, searching for food in extremely deep waters.  When sailing to or from Genovesa Island is a great opportunity to see it, but several hours of searching on the ocean may be required.

When navigating towards Isabela Island plan to reach it in the early morning of the next day, you will begin this navigation in the mid-afternoon.  This will get you near Marchena Island in the late afternoon allowing you time to look for the uncommon Galápagos Petrel.


Birds to look for

Prince Philip’s Steps

Arid Zone   (AZ), Sea shores (SS).

Common:  Swallow-tailed Gull (SS), Red-footed Booby (SS),   Nazca Booby (SS), Great Frigatebird (AZ, SS), Wedge-rumped Storm-petrel (SS),   Galápagos Mockingbird (e) (the   subspecies bauri) (AZ, SS),   Sharp-beaked Ground Finch (e)   (subspecies difficilis) (AZ, SS).

Uncommon:   Galápagos Petrel (e) (SS), Short-eared Owl (AZ, SS), Lava Heron (e) (SS), Large Ground Finch (e) (AZ, SS), Large Cactus Finch (e) (subspecies propingua) (AZ, SS), Warbler Finch (e) (subspecies mentalis)   (AZ, SS), Lava Gull (e) (SS),   Galápagos Dove (e) (AZ, SS),   Yellow Warbler (AZ, SS).

Rare:   Band-rumped Storm-petrel (SS).



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Meet the Author

Lelis Navarrete – Birding tour leader. Lelis has 19 years of experience as a birding guide and naturalist in the field. He has led groups of birders throughout most of Latin America, guiding frequently in countries like his native country of Ecuador and in the Galapagos Islands, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil and Panama. A Biology B.Sc. graduate from Universidad Católica in Quito, Lelis has supported Jocotoco Foundation since its founding in 1998 and was an active Board Member until 2010 supporting Ecuadorian bird and wildlife conservation. Lelis divides his time between his two great passions in life: birding and spending time with his wife Solange and son Fabian with whom he lives in Quito.


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