I didn’t head to Ecuador to be at one with the birds. I’ve never been especially drawn to the things. I didn’t appreciate the claws on the parrots at Parrot Jungle. My grandmother’s caged parakeets—still singing despite their incarceration—annoyed me. I see sea gulls on the Jersey shore as scavengers for French fries.
Walking through parks in D.C., I’ll cling to your arm if we happened to walk through a flock of pigeons. Old ladies carrying sacks of bird seed scared me. Birds just aren’t my thing.
The Galapagos Islands, for me, were more about snorkeling, and sea lions, and crabs, and volcanoes, and tortoises, and the equator. Darwin’s finches were hardly the draw. I enjoyed seeing a few penguins, creatures I hadn’t expected there, and was intrigued by the circles of bird guano that prevent ants and other predators from eating eggs in their nests.
I was on a press trip, so I was there for work—to see the environment, to observe how the boat I was on was environmentally friendly. Yet I was also there for the hiking, the sunshine, the small-boat-in-a-big-sea adventure. I got that. But I also fell in love.
No matter how much one disdains the avian world, one can’t help but love the blue-footed booby. Its feet are the color of ’70s eye shadow. It’s as plain and easily dismissed as any number of birds, unremarkable to me, the non-birder, as any other—except for those bright webs.
I didn’t know when I was in Ecuador that those cute little boobies could be vicious little killers, willing to peck at their siblings to increase the odds of their own survival. Even their spunk attracts me.
Yet, even if your heart wouldn’t melt at the sight of one of these, the abundance of other wildlife and the pleasantness of hiking on islands with just a few others still make for a memorable, even life-changing, trip.
© Lori Tripoli