Ecuador is a true birding paradise, with over 1600 species of birds found throughout the country. It offers endless opportunities for birdwatchers to discover and enjoy the incredible avian diversity of the region. In this post, we will introduce you to some of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring birds in Ecuador that you won’t want to miss on your next trip.
Whether you’re an experienced birdwatcher or just starting out, these stunning birds will surely captivate your imagination and inspire you to explore the incredible world of Ecuadorian birdlife. So come along on a journey through the skies of Ecuador, and discover the beauty and wonder of these incredible birds.
1. Galapagos Penguin
Scientific name: Spheniscus mendiculus
Length: 48-50 centimeters (19-20 inches)
Body mass: 2.5-4.5 kilograms
Lifespan: 15-20 years
Belonging to the genus of Banded Penguins (Spheniscus), the Galapagos Penguins are an endangered penguin species endemic to the Galapagos archipelago in Ecuador. They’re quite small by the typical penguin standards, being the second-smallest of them all.
In appearance, the Galapagos Penguins closely resemble their cousins, Humboldt Penguins (Spheniscus humboldti). Their heads are black, with white markings running around their eyes and chin and finally meeting on the throat.
Their chest, belly, and rump are all white, with two faint black chest stripes that meet on their back. The upper mandible of their bills is black, while the lower one has touches of faded pink.
While both sexes of this species might appear identical from a distance, they have two distinctions. The males are larger in size and have more pink on their lower mandible than their female counterparts.
2. Pacific Parrotlet
Scientific name: Forpus coelestis
Length: 11-14 centimeters (4.3-5.5 inches)
Body mass: 30-38 grams
Lifespan: 10-24 years
A permanent resident on the Pacific coasts of Ecuador and Peru, the Pacific Parrotlets are a small parrot species of South America. These little birdies mostly occur in the dry habitats of their range and are known by several names, including Celestial Parrotlet and Lesson’s Parrotlet.
While both sexes of this species have primarily green plumages, they display dimorphism in the amount of blue on their bodies. The males have prominent blue streaks behind their eyes, on the underside of their wings, and on their rump. In females, there’s no touch of blue on wings; although you might occasionally find faint blue touches on their rump and eyes.
Like most parrotlets, the Pacific Parrotlets have a small tail edged with brownish-green feathers. Their eyes are dark, while the bills and feet are bone-colored.
3. White-tailed Jay
Scientific name: Cyanocorax mystacalis
Length: 33 centimeters (12.9 inches)
Body mass: 160 grams in males; 149 grams in females
Lifespan: 5-9 years
The White-tailed Jays are a striking corvid species with a limited range restricted to the Pacific coasts of western Ecuador and northwestern Peru. These jays prefer to inhabit dry forests and scrubs and lack dimorphism between the adult sexes.
The plumage of White-tailed Jays has three colors: white and two shades of blue. The darker shade covers their face and throat, while the lighter one colors their wings and uppertail. They have two bluish-white spots, one above and below each eye, and a white patch extending from their bills to their lower cheeks.
The back of their head and neck are white, and so are their chest, belly, and rump. Even the tip of their tail and undertail coverts are white, lending them their name. Their irises are yellow, and the bills and legs are dark greyish.
4. Thick-billed Euphonia
Scientific name: Euphonia laniirostris
Length: 10 centimeters (3.9 inches)
Body mass: 13-16.5 grams
Belonging to the family of True Finches, the Thick-billed Euphonias are a South American euphonia species with a widespread distribution in Ecuador, Peru, Costa Rica, Panama, Brazil, Colombia, and Bolivia.
True to their name, these euphonias have thicker bills than all the other members of their genus. The adult Thick-billed Euphonias display a strong dimorphism among their sexes, with the males being more vibrantly colored than their female counterparts.
Males have a bright yellow forehead spot that touches the base of their bills. The rest of their face, as well as their mantle, back, wings, and tail, are all covered in iridescent violet. In contrast, their chin, throat, chest, belly, and rump are all bright yellow.
The female Thick-billed Euphonias have a dull, olive-green head, mantle, wings, tail, and rump. Their chin and undersides are pale yellows, with yellowish touches to the wing edges. However, both sexes possess black eyes, slate-grey bills, legs, and feet.
5. Lilacine Amazon
Scientific name: Amazona lilacina OR Amazona autumnalis lilacina
Length: 34 centimeters (13.3 inches)
Body mass: 350-400 grams
Lifespan: 26-40 years
While the Birdlife International considers the Lilacine Amazons to be an individual species, the IOC World Bird List enlists them as a subspecies of the Red-lored Amazons (Amazona autumnalis). Thus, they have an alternate name: Ecuadorian Red-lored Amazon.
This critically endangered amazon species inhabit the fry forests of western Ecuador. A small population is also found dwelling on the Colombia-Ecuador border.
The plumage of Lilacine Amazons is primarily colored green, with an off-white crown and reddish forehead. Their red irises are surrounded by a bare white skin patch, while the cheeks are yellow.
The rest of their body has a somewhat uniform coloration; only the underparts are slightly paler in comparison to upper parts. They also have red stripes on the edge of each wing. Both sexes are identical and have grey bills and feet.
6. Ecuadorian Trogon
Scientific name: Trogon mesurus
Length: 30-32 centimeters (12-13 inches)
Body mass: 96-100 grams
Lifespan: 6-7 years
Once considered a subspecies of the Black-tailed Trogon (Trogon melanurus), the Ecuadorian Trogons are now seen as an individual species endemic to Ecuador and Peru. Much like the other trogon species, they display a strong dimorphism between the sexes.
The males have a black face and throat, with an iridescent green throat, mantle, back, and wings, and a bluish-black tail. A white chest band separates their throat from the rest of their underbody, which is colored red.
The females of this species have a dull slaty-grey head, throat, mantle, back, and wings. Their underparts are red as well, but no chest band separating them. They also lack the red eye rings of the males. However, both sexes have white irises, yellow bills, and greyish feet.
7. Blue-footed Booby
Scientific name: Sula nebouxii
Length: 90 centimeters (35.4 inches)
Body mass: 1.3 kilograms in males; 1.6 kilograms in females
Wingspan: 1.5 meters (4.9 feet)
Lifespan: 17 years
The Blue-footed Boobies are a large marine bird species are a South American booby species that inhabit the coasts of the Galapagos island in Ecuador. They have a strictly marine lifestyle and only come to land to breed and rear their younger ones.
In their appearance, the Blue-footed Boobies closely resemble the Peruvian Boobies (Sula variegata). They have a brown head and mantle covered with white streaks, while the underbody is stark white in contrast. Their wings and tail are dark brown, with a pair of large, fully-webbed feet colored vibrant blue.
They have pale yellow irises and long, greyish bills. Both sexes of this species are identical in plumage, except for the darker heads of the males. They’re also slightly smaller and weigh lesser than their female counterparts.
8. Long-tailed Mockingbird
Scientific name: Mimus longicaudatus
Length: 27-29.5 centimeters (10.6-11.6 inches)
Body mass: 54-67 grams
Lifespan: 8 years
The Long-tailed Mockingbirds are a South American mockingbird species that occur in the restricted range of the Pacific Coast. You can find them in western Ecuador and Peru.
True to their name, these mockingbirds have a long, graduated tail that is often used as their field identification mark. Their plumage is mainly greyish, with heavy streaks on their face and a dark mask covering their eyes.
Their underparts are paler in comparison to their upper parts, while their wings and tail have black edges. Both sexes of this species have identical plumage; only the males are larger in size.
9. Ecuadorian Thrush
Scientific name: Turdus maculirostris
Length: 21.5-23 centimeters (8.4-9 inches)
Body mass: 62-76 grams
Lifespan: 3-8 years
Earlier considered to be a subspecies of the Spectacled Thrush (Turdus nudigenis), the Ecuadorian Thrushes are a South American thrush species found in the western regions of Ecuador and Peru.
These thrushes have a dusty, olive-green head and upper parts, including their wings and tail. Their off-white throat consists of brown streaks, while the rest of their underparts are colored brownish. They have orange bills, brown irises, grey feet and legs, and distinct orange eye rings.
Both sexes of the adult Ecuadorian Thrushes are identical in plumage and size and display monomorphism.
10. Speckled Hummingbird
Scientific name: Adelomyia melanogenys
Length: 8.5-9 centimeters (3.3-3.5 inches)
Body mass: 3-4 grams
Lifespan: 3-5 years
The Speckled Hummingbirds is a solitary hummingbird species endemic to the high-altitude cloud forests of Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Argentina, and Venezuela. Within Ecuador, you can find them in both the eastern and western slopes.
These hummingbirds are sexually monomorphic, with both sexes appearing identical in plumage and size. Their head and upper parts are covered in greenish-bronze gloss, with faint-white markings above their eyebrows. The undersides are white, covered with greenish or brownish speckles on the side.
They have black eyes, straight, pointed bills, and reddish legs and feet.
11. Saffron Siskin
Scientific name: Spinus siemiradzkii
Length: 10-10.5 centimeters (3.9-4.1 inches)
Body mass: 13-14 grams
Lifespan: 9-10 years
Belonging to the subfamily of the Cardueline finches, the Saffron Siskins are a South American siskin species endemic to Ecuador and Peru. These siskins inhabit the dry forests and shrublands within their range. Despite their population being considered as least concern, they’re highly uncommon and rarely spotted.
Although Saffron Siskins have saffron in their name, there is no trace of the color in their plumage, which mainly consists of black, olive, and yellow.
The adults are sexually dimorphic, with the males possessing a black head with a bright yellow throat and underbody. Their mantle is olive green, while the wings are black with small yellow patches on them. Their tail is yellow but has a black tip.
On the other hand, the females have a pale yellow head with light streaks on their crown and nape. Their underparts are yellow, except for a white rump, while the upper parts are olive-green with black and yellow wings and tail. Both sexes have black eyes, bone-colored bills, and greyish feet.
12. El Oro Parakeet
Scientific name: Pyrrhua orcesi
Length: 22 centimeters (8.6 inches)
Body mass: 65-76 grams
Lifespan: 6-11 years
The El Oro Parakeets are one of the most recently identified parakeet species that are endemic to the high-elevation forests in the El Oro Province of Ecuador. Their population is given an endangered status, with habitat degradation due to cattle ranching being a major threat.
El Oro Parakeets have long, slender bodies with long tails. Their overall plumage is green, with bluish edges to their wings and tail. Their dark eyes have bare yellow skin patches surrounding them, and a red spot rests on their wings near both shoulders.
Although both sexes of this species appear identical, you can distinguish between them by their foreheads. The males have a red forehead patch which is absent in their female counterparts.
13. Pale-legged Hornero
Scientific name: Furnarius leucopus
Length: 18.5 centimeters (7.2 inches)
Body mass: 39-59 grams
Lifespan: 2-6 years
Native to the lowlands of South America, the Pale-legged Horneros are an ovenbird species found in Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, and Bolivia. These birds prefer to inhabit deeply wooded areas, especially with a water body nearby.
Pale-legged Horneros are sexually monomorphic, making it impossible to tell the sexes apart by their appearance. Their plumage is colored in a rich rufous shade, with dark markings covering their undertail and wing edges.
They have a chestnut face, with a darker stripe running from their bills and ending in a crest. Their chin is white, followed by rufous flanks and buff undersides. The irises are pale yellow, while the bills, legs, and feet are all bone-colored.
14. Black-capped Sparrow
Scientific name: Arremon abeillei
Length: 11.5-12.5 centimeters (4.5-4.9 inches)
Body mass: 22-25 grams
Lifespan: 1-3 years
The Black-capped Sparrows are a South American sparrow species endemic to the dry lowland forests of southwestern Ecuador and northwestern Peru. A typical Arremon sparrow, their plumage is a blend of white, black, and grey, with an occasional touch of green on the mantle of a few individuals.
Black-capped Sparrows have a black head and crest, with a white chin and white eyebrow stripes. Their underparts are dull greyish, with dark grey wings and tail. The eyes and bills are both dark, with pale, bone-colored legs and feet. Both sexes of this species are monomorphic and bear identical plumages.
Scientific name: Steatornis caripensis
Length: 40-49 centimeters (16-19 inches)
Body mass: 350-475 grams
Wingspan: 95 centimeters (37 inches)
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Closely related to the nightjars, the Oilbirds are a nocturnal bird species found in Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, and Brazil. They inhabit wooded areas with caves to roost in nearby and fruit-bearing trees to forage on.
Oilbirds appear very much like a large nightjar, with their plumage being colored rich brown. They have large, dark eyes, heavily hooked bills, and diamond-like marks covering their head and underparts.
Their upperbody is rufous brown, including their long, broad wings and tail, while the underbody is somewhat paler, almost cinnamon brown. The adults of this species are sexually monomorphic and display no visual distinction.
16. Ecuadorian Hillstar
Scientific name: Oreotrochilus chimborazo
Length: 12 centimeters (4.7 inches)
Body mass: 7-8 grams
Lifespan: 3-5 years
The Ecuadorian Hillstars are a South American hummingbird species that inhabit the high-altitude mountain grasslands of the Andes. Despite their restricted range, these hummers have two subspecies, which can be distinguished by their throat color.
Like most hummingbirds, the Ecuadorian Hillstars are sexually dimorphic as well. The males have a glittering violet head, which is separated from the rest of their underbody with a horizontal black chest stripe.
Their chest and belly are white, with a dark stripe running from their mid-belly and extending to their rump. The back is covered in olive green plumage, including their wings and tail.
The female Ecuadorian Hillstars lack the vibrant head of the males and have a dull, sooty olive head with a pale greyish underbody and olive-green upper parts. They also have speckles and brown spots on their throat.
17. Slaty Becard
Scientific name: Pachyramphus spodiurus
Length: 14 centimeters (5.5 inches)
Body mass: 27-29 grams
The Slaty Becards are a vulnerable becard species endemic to the dry forests of the Ecuadorian coasts. Due to the restrictive range of these birds, they’re rarely spotted by humans.
Slaty Becards display dimorphism in their plumage, with the males harboring a slaty grey plumage that they’re named after and the females sporting a brown one.
Males have a slate-colored cap atop their head, with a paler chin and underbody. Their upper parts are considerably darker, with rufous touches on their secondary feathers and tail.
The females, on the other hand, have a rufous head and upperbody. Their chin and throat are pale white, while the rest of their underparts are buff-colored. However, both sexes have black eyes, grey bills, legs, and feet.
18. Pacific Elaenia
Scientific name: Myiopagis subplacens
Length: 13 centimeters (5.1 inches)
Body mass: 14-16 grams
Lifespan: 11-14 years
The Pacific Elaenias are a tyrant flycatcher species of South America. These little flycatchers inhabit the Pacific lowlands of Ecuador and Peru, and closely resemble the Greenish Elaenia (Myiopagis viridicata) in appearance.
Pacific Elaenias have an olive-green head and back, with dark touches on their wings and tail. Their chin and throat are dusty greys, while the belly and rump are off-white with a pale-yellow wash on them. Upon a closer look, you’ll also notice white eyebrow patches over their eyes.
The adult elaenias lack sexual dimorphism, with both sexes appearing identical in plumage and size.
19. Tumbes Pewee
Scientific name: Contopus punensis
Length: 14 centimeters (5.5 inches)
Body mass: 11-12 grams
Lifespan: 3-7 years
Belonging to the family of the Tyrant Flycatchers, the Tumbes Pewees are tiny birds native to the western regions of Ecuador and Peru. Also referred to as Western Tropical Pewee, these birds are often considered conspecific Tropical Pewee (Contopus cinereus).
Tumbes Pewees lack sexual dimorphism, with both sexes appearing identical. Their plumage is a blend of grey, olive green, and pale yellow.
They have a dark olive head with a laid-back crest resting on it. A pale yellowish chin gives way to a greyish chest and yellow belly and rump.
Their mantles are grey, with darker wings and tail. The eyes are dark, with greyish feet and orange bills.
20. Ecuadorian Piculet
Scientific name: Picumnus sclateri
Length: 9 centimeters (3.5 inches)
Body mass: 5-8 grams
Lifespan: 6-9 years
Found in the montane and semi-deciduous forests of their range, the Ecuadorian Piculets are a South American piculet species endemic to Ecuador and Peru. These tiny woodpeckers have a highly restrictive range and are the only piculets to be found there.
Like most piculets, these birds have both short bills and tail. They have a black head covered in small, white spots, with their upper and underbody both colored brown. Their undersides are more heavily barred than the upperbody, with dark, black-and-white bars on their tail.
You can spot no visual differences in the sexes of the adult Ecuadorian Piculets, making them monomorphic.