Ecuador is one of the world’s leading destinations for birdwatchers, and no wonder: the country has no less than 1,659 species of exotic bird, in all colors, shapes and sizes. These numbers are roughly the same for Ecuador’s neighbors, Colombia and Peru, but Ecuador is about a quarter the size of either, so it has an incredible four times as many birds per square meter. Here are some of the country’s spectacularly exotic and wondrous birds.
The pride of Ecuador and other Andean countries in South America, perched atop the coat of arms on the Ecuadorian flag, this is the largest flying bird in the world, with a wingspan of over 10 feet (3 meters). It lives high up in Ecuador’s sierras, and is considered an endangered species because local farmers see the animal as a threat to their livestock. Conservation societies are breeding condors in captivity in order to safeguard this magnificent bird. Visitors to Ecuador can try and see the condor at the Papallacta Pass, east of Quito, between Pichincha and Napo Provinces.
The Blue-footed Booby
Famous for their large, blue, webbed feet – as are the red-footed boobies – this avian species can be found in abundance on the Galápagos Island, as well as in the coastal village of Puerto Lopez. Blue-footed booby males are known for their distinctive mating dance that they use to lure a member of the opposite sex.
The Magnificent Frigatebird
The magnificent frigate is also found on the Galápagos. The male of the species has a large red pouch on its chest which it inflates periodically. The bird’s long, pointed wings extend up to more than 6.5 feet (2 meters), which gives it the largest wing to body weight ratio of any flying creature.
The Galapagos Waved Albatross
Found on the coast of Ecuador, as well as on Española Island in the Galápagos, where they breed, this species of albatross can fly non-stop for hours on end.
Famous for their large, multicolored beak and vibrant plumage, the omnivorous toucan lives primarily in tropical climates, but can also be found just outside the small tourist community of Mindo, two hours northwest of Quito.
The Harpy Eagle
One of the largest and strongest raptors in the Western Hemisphere, with wingspans up to 6.5 feet (2 meters), the harpy eagle can be seen throughout the Ecuadorian Amazon.
The hoatzin, known as the “stinkbird”, is more prevalent in Brazil and Colombia than in Ecuador, but it can also be seen in the northeast corner of Ecuador’s Amazon jungle. It is popular for the beauty of its wild crest, long neck, and chestnut-colored wings.
The oilbird is the only nighttime fruit-eating avian on Earth, and has a wingspan of 3 feet (1 meter). It dwells in caves, which can be found on farms located northwest of the Bellavista cloud forest in the northwestern region of Ecuador.
The Galapagos Penguin
Native to the Galapagos Islands, these the are second-smallest penguins in the world.
The Amazonian Motmot
This discreet but beautiful blue-green bird can be found in Ecuador’s rainforests.
Though it is Venezuela’s national bird, the guacamaya or macaw, a variation of the parrot, can be found in Ecuador too.
The Black-tailed Trainbearer
This is a uniquely Andean species of hummingbird noted for its bifurcated tail that can be up to 2 feet (24 centimeters) long.