Darwin’s Finch, using a tool

On our recent May group tour to the Galapagos Islands we were excited to observe the Woodpecker finch in action twice. Though this bird is not hard to find in the highlands of Santa Cruz, it is extremely rare to see the bird using a tool. One of the 13 or so species of ‘Darwin’s’ finches – all unique to the Galapagos Islands – this is one of the few birds in the World that uses a tool. It will break off a twig or use a cactus spine to probe holes in bark to extract wood-boring grubs. It has filled the empty niche held by woodpeckers in the mainland, but lacks the long barbed tongue to spear larvae and so has improvised in a unique way. Though Darwin himself did not witness this act of nature on his voyage, one can only wonder at his reaction if he had done so.

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