Exotic Bird World
Exotic birds are amongst the most loved creatures

Ecuador Birds

ECUADOR BIRDING

Map of Ecuador showing locations of birding areas we visit while on tour.A single birding tour to Ecuador is hardly adequate to do the country justice. Most Ecuador birding tours are based in the north. They typically cover some or all of the western Andes Mountains, eastern Andes Mountains, and occasionally the Amazon headwaters along the Napo River. More exotic birding tours go to the south, where some 150 species not found in the north can be found. Birding tours to the south are becoming increasingly popular as people discover all that southern Ecuador has to offer.

The great bird diversity of Ecuador is a direct result of the country’s topography. The Andes Mountains divides the country into east and west and acts as a barrier for low and mid-elevation birds, preventing them from interbreeding between the two slopes of this towering mountain range, resulting in different species composition on the two sides of the country. By visiting various altitudinal zones in east and west, it’s possible to see over 500 species of birds on a single 2-week tour. Especially spectacular is the high diversity of hummingbirds and tanagers.

Yellow-breasted Antpitta - © Laura L Fellows and Exotic Birding ToursNorthern Ecuador features some of the country’s best known birding locales. The west slope of the Andes and the lowlands of the northwest encompass part of the Choco Endemic Bio-region where many endemics and near endemics are found. The Mindo and Tandayapa Valleys are renowned for the 20+ species of hummingbirds and an amazing array of middle elevation cloud-forest birds. Refugio Angel Paz is a private farm the owner decided to preserve. He pioneered the technique of conditioning rare antpittas to come onto the trail for food, a technique now employed at several other places in Ecuador as well. The eastern Andes has a whole new array of species not found in the west, and an altitudinal transect can produce over 200 species in less than a week. Guango Reserve at 9000 ft elevation attracts high elevation hummingbirds and other temperate forest birds, while San Isidro is famed for the many middle elevation birds found there. A new lodge on the Sumaco Road is a great place to find lower elevation birds in the subtropical zone.

Sword-billed Hummingbird - © Laura L Fellows and Exotic Birding ToursThe Amazon lowlands supports over 500 species of birds but it’s not possible to see them all in a single visit. Many species are present in low densities and move about looking for widely scattered fruiting trees. Two clay licks along the Napo River attract several species of parrots and macaws, while observation towers built into giant Kapok trees allow viewing of forest canopy birds. Exploring flooded forests in dugout canoes paddled by indigenous guides is an experience not to be missed.

Southern Ecuador is less traveled but offers extraordinary birding opportunities. It features a great variety of endemics characteristic of the Tumbesian and Maranon Endemic Areas that also extend into northern Peru, the newly discovered Jocotoco Antpitta, and such unusual birds as the Horned Screamer of Manglares Churute Reserve, the El Oro Parakeet and El Oro Tapaculo discovered in the 1980′s, and a great many parrots, parakeets, hummingbirds, tanagers, and finches not found further north. A series of reserves operated by the Jocotoco Foundation provide basic accommodations and extraordinary birding all over the south.