Birdwatching in Ecuador
Ecuador is one of the best places in the world to experience birdwatching. It boasts of approximately 1,600 migrant and resident species of birds. In fact, Ecuador has a greater diversity of birds than India or China and almost double the number of species of birds in the United States. Although neighboring countries Colombia and Peru have more species of birds, Ecuador has the greatest diversity of birdlife in the smallest land size area (approximately the size of the state of Colorado encapsulates about one-sixth the world’s bird species). This gives the watcher more opportunities to see more species of birds in a shorter period of time making the experience one you’ll never forget.
Best Places for Birdwatching In Ecuador
When you are ready to get out there and start your birdwatching adventure, a good place to start is Mindo. It’s considered a must-do birding experience and one of the world’s birding hotspots. In terms of travel, Mindo is a simple day trip from Quito to one of the historic birding places called “cock-of-the-rock”, one of the very best places to watch hummingbirds. For the more serious birders, however, they will likely stay much longer than a typical day trip.
TANDAYAPA & BELLAVISTA
Near Mindo are Tandayapa and Bellavista which offer much more specialized birdwatching adventures with guides who lead walk excursions and show visitors all the different birds around all the hostels and hotels. For those people in your party not interested in birding, there a number of other various non-bird watching activities they can partake in.
The next location is Oriente, located in the Amazon rainforest. Oriente is packed with more birdlife than one can imagine, with species like macaws, quetzals, parrots, and toucans. It is highly recommended to take a tour guide for this particular tour primarily for safety and to make sure you see all the birdlife the rainforest has to offer.
West of the mainland, there are the Galapagos Islands which can be reached via a 90-minute flight. The islands offer incredible birding opportunities, such as spotting the world-famous Galapagos finches and the amazing number of the birds which literally fly right up and sit on the lens of your camera. For the serious birders, we recommend you pack your own binoculars and camera equipment because the selection on the island is limited and you may have a hard time finding high-quality equipment.
LAS CAJAS NATIONAL PARK
Las Cajas National park is located just 45 min. from the famous city of Cuenca in the Azuay providence. This high-altitude wooded forest has some of the nicest landscapes in South America, and here there are several different ecosystems such as the Andean Mountain forest, the Polylepis forest, Páramo, and the grasslands. Hundreds of interesting birds reside here, even the endemic hummingbird of Cajas – the “Violet Throated Metaltail”- one of the most important birds in Ecuador.
HUMMINGBIRD TRAIL AND AYAMPE RIVER
This beautiful place located to 20 minutes from Puerto Lopez on the coast represents a strategic area for observation and admiration of beautiful birds. In response to the immense humidity that is present in these areas, around 328 species of birds have been registered here, some of them in endemic. The Esmeraldas Woodstar can be seen (Chaetocercus berlepschi) from December to March. Other birds such as the Collared Aracari, Ecuadorian Trogon, Superciliated Wren, Collared Antshrike, and Gray-back Hawk can be seen on the regular.
ELEGANT MOON TRAIL
6 km south of Puerto Lopez is the small village of Río Chico. It is here that you will find the 2km long “Elegant Moon Route”. Along this route, you will observe a large number of local bird species of the Tumbesian region. A total of 200 endemic and non-endemic species have been registered here including the Fasciaed Wren, Elegant Crescentchest, the Red-Masked Parakeet, and the Pacific Parrotlet.