Galapagos Hawk

The Galapagos Hawk: The Top of the Food Chain of this Archipelago.


Hawks in Galapagos (Buteo galapagoensis) are the major native predators of most Islands in Galapagos. It is also an endemic species.

This buzzard-like bird will feed on lava lizards, snakes, young marine iguanas, chicks of sea birds, and other small vertebrates. It is also common to see sub-adults and juveniles acting like scavengers.

Galapagos Hawk

galapagos hawk

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Not all Islands of the Galapagos group have them, but common encounters occur in the Islands of Espanola, Santiago, Santa Fe, Isabela and Fernandina

It is worth mentioning that their reproductive strategy is rather unusual and it is called cooperative polyandry.

This type of mating scheme is rare among birds. The breeding cooperation exists between a female and up to three (sometimes 8) males within the same territory:

  • poly = several
  • andry/andros = males

The Galapagos hawk has the same genus as the hawks found in Europe, America and Asia.

But the interesting fact is that since these hawks evolved alone in the Galapagos Islands, they are tamer than its relatives in other continents.

As they become adults, Galapagos island Hawk's plumage changes into a full dark brown color.

Aerial displays of adults and young individuals show incredible air maneuvers. See Stunning Galapagos Pictures here

Hawks in Galapagos nest in trees, and the nests are quite big, as they are reused with new twigs added at each breeding attempt.

Up to three young may be raised at a time. Since this hawk practices cooperative polyandry, as many as eight males may mate with a single female.

Its plumage varies in color from white and brown to a bright yellow and black. Hawks in Galapagos are the major native predators.

The Galapagos Hawk hunts a wide range of Galapagos Animals which can include Lava Lizards doves, snakes, grasshoppers, iguanas and also some Galapagos Sea Birds

The hawks in Galapagos are scavengers that feed on almost every dead animal as well. These animals could be: dead fur seals, sea lions, marine iguanas, goats, etc.

According to recent studies, the ancestors of the hawk in Galapagos colonized these Islands approximately 300,000 years ago, classifying (up to now) these birds as the most recent arrival known.

As we said before, the Galapagos hawk is not afraid of humans and sometimes you can see it very close to you.

Recommended Reading

Ecuador & Galapagos (Insight Guides). Click to order from Amazon

Ecuador & Galapagos (Insight Guides)

With 250 photos and tons of great information, this is an essential addition to your pre-Ecuador and -Galapagos reading!

There are better guides if you are only interested in the islands, but for a combination trip taking in Ecuador as well, it's hard to beat.


Birds, Mammals, and Reptiles of the Galapagos Islands. Click to order from Amazon

Birds, Mammals, and Reptiles of the Galapagos Islands

Small enough to fit into your pocket, yet containing comprehensive information and pictures of all the species you will encounter in the islands, this book is a must-have for nature lovers.

Let's face it, Galapagos is largely about the wildlife. This book will NOT disappoint, and you'll have a great memento of your time with the seals, penguins and tortoises!


Galapagos: The Islands That Changed the World. Click to order from Amazon

Galapagos: The Islands That Changed the World

Definitely NOT a tourist's guide, but if you're like me, and find the history and geography of the islands irresistible, then this is a title you ought to invest in.

Stunningly illustrated, and painstakingly researched, those of you who have been there will be enchanted again -- and those of you who have not will begin planning your trip!


Moon Spotlight Galapagos. Click to order from Amazon

Moon Spotlight Galapagos Islands

If you're a seasoned Galapagos regular, then you will probably prefer something weightier.

But for first-timers looking for simple, down-to-earth advice on where to go, what to see and the best shopping and eating on the islands, this is the book for you.

Small, well-priced, and reliable!


Galapagos: Islands Born of Fire. Click to order from Amazon

Galapagos: Islands Born of Fire

The 10th anniversary edition of this photographer's tour of the Galapagos Islands is a stunning book, worthy of anybody's coffee table.

This is a perfect post-trip talking point -- a great way to remember what you've seen, and spread the word amongst your envious friends!


More About Galapagos

Galapagos Lava Heron

Galapagos Island Tortoises

Galapagos Whale Shark

Economic Galapagos Trips

If you have any questions about the Galapagos Islands, You can post them on our Galapagos FAQ Page and if you'd like to request more information about our recommended Galapagos Island Cruises to explore this Archipelago, You can Contact us here

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