For many, birding is a numbers game. All serious birders keep a list, referred to as the Life List, which is the complete list of bird species seen (and documented) during a lifetime. Realistically, how many birds can you see before you die? Assuming you never left your own country, Ecuadorians could probably see twice as many as U.S. citizens.
There are about 9,800 species of birds on the planet. Very few birders have seen more than 7,000. To see that many you truly must travel the world, though in Ecuador, it is easy to get quick start to building your life list.
Of the 9,800 species in the world, one third of them are found in South America, with 1,600 of those in Ecuador alone. By comparison there are approximately 900 species of birds in all of North America. Because of Ecuador’s small size it is the country with the highest density of bird species per acre in the world.
It often seems that it takes an outsider to appreciate the riches of a country like Ecuador. For birding, this is no exception. In Ecuador the authoritative guidebook on birds was written and illustrated by two Americans, Robert Ridgely of the Jocoto Foundation and Paul Greenfield of the Mindo Cloud Forest. “The Birds of Ecuador”, details every species of bird found in Ecuador with amazing illustrations to help identification when birding. Pick up a copy before you come down.
Where are the hotspots for seeing birds in Ecuador? Just about everywhere.
Mindo Cloud Forest
The sierra region, in particular the cloud forests, are home to some of the greatest bird watching areas on the planet. The area around Mindo and nearby Tandayapa Valley (also known as the Choco-Andean Coordidor) is home to more than 500 species of bird.
Napo River Region
One third of mainland Ecuador consists of the Amazon basin, which is home to protected areas such as the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, Sumaco-Napo-Galeras National Park, and the Yasuní National Park, the last of which is Ecuador´s largest protected area and is home to more than one third of all bird species in Ecuador.
The Galapagos Islands do not have the volume of bird species found on mainland Ecuador. But what they lack in numbers, they compensate for in singularity. The islands have only 52 species of birds, 28 of which are endemic (not found anywhere else in the world).
Coast Region of Ecuador
Though usually associated with great beaches and even greater food, the coast of Ecuador is just as rich in bird life. Considering only the region around Bahia de Caraquez and you can find close to 400 species.
MORE BIRDING IN ECUADOR
The Jocotoco Conservation Foundation