is a birding paradise with some of the best bird watching in the world
for ornithologists or amateur birdwatchers alike.
Bird Watching in
Ecuador is incredibly rewarding, even for amateur ornithologists just
starting out as birders. Ecuador has around 1600 bird species
- more than some entire continents. Birding
highlights include the cock-of-the-rock, the huge Andean condor,
motmots, quetzals and over a hundred types of hummingbirds.
tourists just interested in nature generally will find that at least
some of the more colourful birds of Ecuador can easily be seen without
booking specialised birdwatching holidays. You can see
hummingbirds in the parks of urban Quito, hummingbirds and flocks of
parakeets over Mindo, vultures across most of the country, birds of
prey such as the condor in the high páramo, and of course
the Galápagos Islands have various endemic species.
will probably want to join an organised bird watching vacation with an
experienced guide for at least part of their time in Ecuador,
especially those planning on doing some bird photography. To
see some of the rarer, shyer and more endangered birds of Ecuador an
ornithologist guide with good knowledge of the local area is usually
necessary. On a well-planned Ecuador birdwatching tour with a
professional guide it is not unusual to spot hundreds of different bird
species over the course of a week or two. There is nothing to
stop you planning your own birding tour, especially if you have plenty
of time and a good field guide.
is best to go
birdwatching in Ecuador?
The best birdwatching spots in Ecuador
are of course a matter of opinion, though you will see birds almost
anywhere. For such a small country, Ecuador has a wide range of
different habitats and serious birders will want to check out
most of them. Birdwatching in the Sierra (highlands) is
very different from birding in the warm, lush rainforests or the cool,
misty cloudforests. Don't forget to spend some time on the coast
spotting marine birdlife.
is one of the world's birding hotspots and is on the must-do
list for most birdwatchers. It's home to the
cock-of-the-rock, it's one of the best places to watch and
photograph hummingbirds and can even be done as a day trip from Quito -
though most birders will want to stay much longer. Mindo has
several birding guides and most of the hotels and hostels are used to
the early-morning starts so familiar to bird watchers. (Mindo
also has the advantage of offering various adventure activities for
non-birding spouses or children). Nearby Bellavista and
Tandayapa are renowned among the birding community and are more
specialised bird watching destinations, with their own guides to lead
walks and help with bird identification around the hotels.
is at or near the top of the Christmas Bird Count every year, with
usually around 460 species.
rainforest) is teeming with birdlife including toucans, quetzals,
parrots and macaws. You almost certainly need an
organised birding tour to the oriente, both for safety reasons and to
see the best of the birds of the rainforest. The Galapagos
Islands offer fantastic bird
watching opportunities of a limited but interesting range of species
the famous Galapagos finches. Many of the birds will
and perch on the end of your camera.
good bird watching
and/or a spotting scope with you if you have them. Binoculars
are not easy to find
here - they are available in large
and some birding destinations but there is usually a limited choice and
the quality is not always the best. Likewise, camera
bird photography is best brought from home to ensure that you have all
the memory, lenses and other photographic equipment you need, and know
how to use it.
so many bird species
to see, a good birding field guide is a must. Surprisingly,
books and identification guides are not that easy to find within
Birds of Ecuador: Field Guide Vol II,
by Ridgely and
Greenfield, is huge, heavy, comprehensive, reliable, beautifully
generally considered to be *the* bird watching guide
for mainland Ecuador. (It may be cheaper to get the Birds
of Ecuador Field Guide
the United States, even if you don't live there). The book is
large enough to almost require a porter and/or a wheelbarrow, so many
birders buy a second copy, and cut out just the picture section to
laminate and bind for use in the field.
a look at the Hummingbirds
of Ecuador Photo Gallery to
inspire you to book a bird
watching tour to Ecuador soon.
vocabulary for bird
watching in Ecuador:
Observación de aves: bird watching
Pájaro: bird (less formal than "ave")
Pajareros: birders, birdwatchers (a less formal term than
Madrugada: early morning or dawn (often the best time for bird watching)
Watching in Ecuador
Bird photography, birding in Ecuador, birdwatching holidays, field
guide to the birds of Ecuador, bird books and bird identification on a
bird watching vacation to Ecuador - bring binoculars and find a good
birding guide or ornithologist to make the most of a birding tour.
Website www.ecuadortravelsite.org, text and photos by Sarah Clifford.
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