On a trip to the Galápagos Islands, class is in session – Lonely Planet
, 2023-01-30 11:27:25,
Nature can be the best classroom and the Galápagos archipelago has much to teach us.
In a land of ancient tortoises and equatorial penguins, I fell for the humble mockingbird. About nine inches tall and with plumage that spans a dull spectrum of grays and browns, the Galápagos mockingbird seems like the kind of mundane specimen that blends seamlessly into the background. But after repeated encounters while traveling across the volcanic archipelago, I started noticing – and becoming enamored by – the animal’s behaviors and quirks.
There were its angry hazel eyes, set permanently in the expression of someone whose parking spot had just been stolen. The birds showed no fear of lumbering humans as they skittered across sand as white as snow, or pecked at my backpack’s zippers with the persistence of an overeager customs agent. Looking more closely, the differentiating characteristics of the various subspecies emerged. On the island of San Cristóbal, the eponymous mockingbird variety showed an especially brash disregard for personal space, a result of just how few humans visit its shores. Elsewhere, the Española mockingbird has developed a longer beak, perfect for burrowing into albatross eggs for a snack.
Focus long enough on any specific part of what makes this island chain so magical, I quickly realized, and…
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