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  • Photograph of Plate-billed Mountain Toucan

    The amazing Plate-billed Mountain Toucan at Bellavista Lodge in Northern Ecuador by Dubi Shapiro.

  • Where to watch birds and wildlife in

    Photograph of Booted Racket-tails

    Booted Racket-tails at Tandayapa Lodge by Dubi Shapiro.

    Best Birds and other wildlife in Northern Ecuador


    Black-breasted Puffleg, Esmeraldas Woodstar (west coast), Pale-mandibled Aracari and Cocha Antshrike. (El Oro Parakeet, Blue-throated Hillstar, Violet-throated Metaltail, El Oro Tapaculo and Pale-headed Brush Finch are endemic to Southern Ecuador, and the Choco endemic Turquoise-throated Puffleg is designated as ‘Critically endangered’ and is possibly extinct. It looks very similar to Glowing Puffleg and there has been just the one, unconfirmed, sighting since the 19th century).

    Choco Endemics (60+, not all of which are likely to be seen on a single trip!)
    Berlepsch’s Tinamou, Dark-backed Wood Quail, Plumbeous (Lined) Forest Falcon, Dusky Pigeon, Lilacine (Red-lored) and Rose-faced Parrots, Banded Ground Cuckoo, Colombian Screech Owl, Choco Poorwill, Purple-chested Hummingbird, Empress Brilliant, Velvet-purple Coronet, Brown Inca, Gorgeted Sunangel, Hoary Puffleg, Purple-bibbed Whitetip, Violet-tailed Sylph, Choco (Blue-tailed/White-eyed) Trogon, Five-coloured, Orange-fronted and Toucan Barbets, Plate-billed Mountain Toucan, Choco Toucan, Choco and Lita Woodpeckers, Pacific (Buffy) Tuftedcheek, Fulvous-dotted (Star-chested) Treerunner, Uniform Treehunter, Bicoloured Antvireo, Stub-tailed Antbird, Rufous-crowned Gnat/Antpitta/soma, Yellow-breasted Antpitta, Narino Tapaculo, Choco (Golden-faced) Tyrannulet, Orange-breasted Fruiteater, Long-wattled Umbrellabird, Club-winged Manakin, Beautiful Jay, Black Solitaire, Dagua (White-throated) Thrush, Choco (Golden-bellied) Warbler, Black-chinned Mountain Tanager, Blue-whiskered, Glistening-green, Golden-chested, Moss-backed, Purplish-mantled, Scarlet-and-white and Yellow-green (Bush) Tanagers, Tanager Finch, Scarlet-breasted Dacnis, Indigo Flowerpiercer, Dusky Chlorospingus (Bush Tanager) and Yellow-collared Chlorophonia. The following species are also considered to be Choco Endemics by some birders; Western (Blue-tailed0 Emerald, Esmeraldas Antbird, Choco Sirystes, Pacific Flatbill, and Lemon-spectacled, Rufous-throated and Ochre-breasted Tanagers. Three species; Baudo Guan, Yellow-headed Manakin and Choco Vireo are known from Ecuador but are easiest to see in Colombia.

    (Colombia Choco Endemics include Colourful Puffleg, Sooty-capped Puffbird, Red-bellied Grackle, Black-and-gold, Gold-ringed and Multicoloured Tanagers, Turquoise Dacnis, Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer, Crested Ant-Tanager and Baudo Oropendola).

    Other Specialities (Northern Ecuador as a whole including Amazonia)
    Rufous-fronted Wood Quail, Salvin’s Curassow, Wattled Guan, Zigzag Heron, Crested Eagle, Black-faced Hawk, Ecuadorian (Virginia) Rail, Brown Wood Rail, Military Macaw, Choco and Colombian Screech Owls, Crested and San Isidro Owls, Andean and Cloud Forest Pygmy Owls, Oilbird, Rufous Potoo, Lyre-tailed and Swallow-tailed Nightjars, White-chested Swift, Black-thighed and Golden-breasted Pufflegs, Purple-throated Woodstar, Napo Sabrewing, Ecuadorian Hillstar, White-tipped Sicklebill, Tooth-billed Hummingbird, Fiery Topaz, Blue-headed Sapphire, Ecuadorian Piedtail, Purplish Jacamar, Black-breasted and Western Striolated Puffbirds, Lanceolated Monklet, Black-billed Mountain Toucan, Crimson-bellied, Guayaquil and Scarlet-backed Woodpeckers, Sapayoa, Brown-billed Scythebill, Short-tailed Antthrush, Cocha and Pearly Antshrikes, Dugand's, Yasuni and Yellow-breasted Antwrens, Bicoloured, Lunulated, Ocellated, Spotted, Yellow-browed and Zeledon’s (Immaculate) Antbirds, Crescent-faced, Giant, Moustached, Ochre-breasted, Plain-backed, Slate-crowned, Streak-chested, Undulated, Western Tawny-bellied and White-bellied Antpittas, Ash-throated and Chestnut-crowned Gnateaters, Choco, Paramo and Rusty-belted Tapaculos, (Pacific) Royal Flycatcher, Foothill Elaenia, Ecuadorian Tyrannulet, Orange-eyed Flatbill, Citron-bellied Attila, Black-chested, Fiery-throated and Scaled Fruiteaters, Black-tipped, Chestnut-bellied, Plum-throated and Spangled Cotingas, Black-necked Red Cotinga, Grey-tailed Piha, Blue-rumped, Choco (Green), Orange-crested and Wire-tailed Manakins, White-browed Purpletuft, Olivaceous and Rufous-naped Greenlets, Grey-mantled, Musician and Song Wrens, Slate-throated Gnatcatcher, Spotted Nightingale Thrush, Ecuadorian, Hauxwell’s and Lawrence’s Thrushes, Casqued Oropendola, Black-chested Mountain Tanager, Blue-browed, Golden-crowned, Grey-and-gold, Fulvous-crested, Scrub, Stolzmann's (Black-backed Bush), White-capped and Yellow-throated Tanagers, Golden-collared Honeycreeper and Ecuadorian (Blue) Seedeater.

    Also a chance of Agami Heron, Harpy and Crested Eagles, Sunbittern, Sungrebe, Grey-winged Trumpeter, Pavonine Quetzal, Mountain Avocetbill, White-plumed Antbird and Masked Mountain Tanager.

    Torrent Duck, guans, Zigzag Heron, Black-faced Ibis, Andean Condor, Black-chested Buzzard Eagle, Carunculated Caracara, Hoatzin, Imperial Snipe, Andean Lapwing, Pied Plover, Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe (endemic latreillii race), Andean Gull, pigeons, doves, parakeets, parrots, Blue-and-yellow and Scarlet Macaws, owls including Crested, Andean, Long-tailed and Rufous Potoos, numerous hummingbirds (many at feeders) including Sword-billed, all five South American kingfishers, motmots, jacamars including Great, White-eared and Yellow-billed, trogons, quetzals, puffbirds, White-faced Nunbird, barbets, aracaris, toucans, toucanets, woodpeckers, foliage-gleaners, spinetails, Pearled Treerunner, Streaked Tuftedcheek, woodcreepers, antshrikes, antwrens, antbirds, Ringed Antpipit, tapaculos including Ocellated, tyrant flycatchers, Golden-winged, Spotted and Yellow-browed Tody Flycatchers, Andean Cock-of-the-rock (red sanguinolenta race at leks), Amazonian Umbrellabird, Dusky, Olivaceous and Screaming Pihas, Bare-necked and Purple-throated Fruitcrows, Wing-barred Piprites, becards, tityras, Slaty-capped Shrike Vireo, Black-capped Donacobius, White-capped Dipper, wintering warblers, Slate-throated and Spectacled Redstarts, conebills, bush tanagers, hemispinguses, mountain and numerous other tanagers including Flame-faced, Golden, Golden-eared, Grass-green, Orange-eared and Paradise, Fulvous Shrike Tanager, dacnises, honeycreepers, Plushcap, flowerpiercers, brush finches, Red-capped Cardinal, Oriole Blackbird, caciques, oropendolas and euphonias.

    Pygmy Marmoset, Black-mantled and Golden-mantled Tamarins, Colombian Howler, White-fronted Capuchin, Noisy (Spix's) Night, Equatorial Saki, Black-headed Spider (rare in Choco), White-bellied Spider, Common Squirrel, Lucifer (Yellow-handed) Titi, Red-bellied Titi and Silvery Woolly Monkeys, Black and Central American Agoutis, Olinguito, Andean White-eared Opossum, Tayra and Kinkajou. Also a chance of Spectacled Bear (mostly in August-early September), Mountain Tapir, Giant and Neotropical River Otters, and Hoffmann's Two-toed and (Brown-throated) Three-toed Sloths.

    One of the richest floras on Earth includes over 3700 species of orchid - the Andes of Ecuador support the highest diversity of orchids in the world. Also present in great diversity are arums, bromeliads, fuchsias and heliconias. Yasuni National Park in which the Napo Wildlife Center is situated has the highest documented tree diversity in the world.

    Other Natural Wonders in Northern Ecuador

    This almost perfectly symmetrical volcanic cone is the highest active volcano in the world. It is largely covered by permanent fields of ice and snow, and rises to 5897 m (19,348 ft), much higher than the neighbouring Andean peaks.

    Best Sites for Birds and other wildlife in Northern Ecuador