Ecuador is one of the smaller South American countries, but for variety of birds it makes for a great trip for bird watchers. Bird watching in Ecuador for some might be considered a bit of a paradise because there are thought to be more than 1,500 species in this nation. Here we will explain some of the best places for bird watching in Ecuador, and the species that you may have a chance of seeing at these destinations.
For superb birding in Ecuador it does not get much better than a visit to the cloud forest in Mindo or the surrounding area. This is surely one of the best places for bird watching in Ecuador, not least for the wide variety of hummingbird species that can be seen there. In total there are thought to be more than 500 bird species in the Mindo area. The cloud forest in Ecuador is considered a hot spot of biodiversity which makes it a haven for bird watching in Ecuador. Species you might be lucky enough to see here include cock of the rock, the golden headed quetzal, the choco toucan, the club winged manakin and a variety of woodpeckers and hummingbirds. Those that are serious about wanting to see some birds while staying in the cloud forest will find that their best chance is heading out early in the morning, on or around dawn.
The Ecuadorian Amazon is another superb place for birding in Ecuador. Many lodges have recorded sightings of 400 or more different species in the vicinity. In particular, the Yasuni National Park is one of the best places for birdwatching in Ecuador, and it is one of the world’s most biodiverse places. The Napo Wildlife Center is also another excellent place to visit for birding in Ecuador, especially due to the parrot licks that it has nearby. Visits can be easily organized from the Center. The Amazon region in Ecuador is home to tanagers, parrots, flycatchers, toucans, parakeets, hoatzins, woodpeckers, antbirds, macaws, woodcreepers, pihas and cotingas, among a great many others. Great places for birdwatching in the Ecuador Amazon are often those with canopy walkways or canopy towers, from which you get a good view over the surrounding flora and have a better chance of spotting a more unusual bird.
One of the best places for bird watching in Ecuador that should not be ignored is the Galapagos Islands and taking a Galapagos cruise or tour. Here, Charles Darwin formed his theory of evolution based on the different finches that he observed living on the islands. Finch varieties include the medium ground finch, the large ground finch, the common cactus finch, the small ground finch and the medium tree finch among others. Yet Galapagos birding is not just about finches – very far from it! The Galapagos Islands are home to a diverse array of other birdlife too. There are a lot of species that are endemic to the Galapagos Islands, and these include the lava heron, the flightless cormorant, the Galapagos hawk, the Galapagos rail, the Galapagos dove, the Galapagos mocking bird and the San Cristobal mockingbird, to mention just a few. Not all birds can be found on every island, so if you have hopes of seeing one particular species it is best to ensure that your cruise ship does visit the island where your must-see bird resides.
A particularly fun Galapagos bird is the blue footed booby, so named for its bright blue feet. You might also see the Nazca booby, the red-footed booby, frigate birds and varieties of herons, gulls and egrets. Lucky birdwatchers may get to snorkel while a penguin is diving for food, or watch waved albatrosses go through their courtship ritual. Note that for the latter, you’ll need to check on the time of year of your trip.
For those that hope to see the majestic Andean condor soaring high in the sky in Ecuador, it is worth noting that there are just a few hundred pairs left in the Ecuadorian highland regions. This means that spotting this bird is unlikely, though not impossible. Condors are often seen in pairs, and it is well worth looking out for them when visiting highland areas, especially in the regions around Cotopaxi, Antisana and Papallacta, where they are more likely to be seen. If you are really lucky you might also see a caracara, a type of falcon that lives in the Ecuadorian highlands.
For those that love birdwatching with a passion, or even those that enjoy it for just a couple of hours, Ecuador is an amazing place to visit. We have put together a birdwatching tour visiting some of the best birding in Ecuador destinations. Alternatively, we can help you by customizing your tour to include the best birdwatching places in Ecuador, and ensuring that you have knowledgeable, talented guides that can help you see the species you are looking for. Or we can offer simple one-day excursions to places like Mindo, for quick birdwatching trips. Whatever your preference, we can help.