Introduction: Birding Ecuador

Welcome to the birding blog I maintained during the years that I lived and birded in Ecuador. Actually, I only became a birder after a few years of exploring this country, from the high Andes to Amazonia, and being regularly confronted by its remarkably diverse avifauna, almost in spite of myself. Whether it was the rare Andean Condor circling overhead as I climbed one of the country’s famous volcanoes, the Blue-Footed Boobies diving dramatically as I surfed the fine breaks along the western coast, or the many tanagers, hummingbirds, and toucans that my partner Aimee and I regularly encountered on our weekend travels, I couldn’t help but become interested and passionate about neotropical birds. As is the way with birding, I soon grew obsessed with seeing and learning as much as I could about the birds of Ecuador, publishing my experiences and insights as they developed on this blog while recording well over a thousand species.

One of my principles of birding in Ecuador was to bird independently whenever I could, acquiring knowledge and understanding first-hand, instead of simply ticking species off a list with the help of a guide. Indeed, as a resident of the country, time and proximity were luxuries of mine, and I could afford to return to birding sites multiple times to locate most of the specialties on my own. Birding is a human endeavor, however, and hence by nature a social activity, and while most of my trips were conducted independently, I am indebted to many ornithologists, conservationists, guides, and friends for sharing information, insights, and experiences with me. In turn, I share my observations and resources with you, hopefully creating the impression that Ecuador is a spectacular and safe country that birders of every level can successfully visit, whether on a tour or by themselves. If you read through my reports, please keep in mind, though, that these are only the thoughts and impressions of one birder and that the country has much more to offer, for better or worse, than I had time and opportunity to experience.

As you consider Ecuador as a future birding destination, please feel free to contact me with any questions. I’ve since moved on to living and birding in Tanzania, but Ecuador will always be the source of my passion about wildlife and my commitment to conservation.


Springman said...

Wonderful photography!
You would be welcome to contribute and help to begin a new endevour called "World Bird Wednesday" a chance for bird photographers to share and spread word of their blogs to others!
Visit and check it out!

plodder said...

Hi Derek,
thanks so much for your helpful blog and great photos. We are headed to Ecuador and I was wondering if it would work to stay in Coca and sign up for day trips, or if you have to sign up in advance for the all-inclusive packages at the lodges?

Derek Kverno said...

Thanks for your comment, Margot.

There's not a lot of good habitat that's easily accessible from Coca, which is a rough and tumble city surrounded by large clearings and agricultural zones. I don't know if there are birding guides who arrange day trips. You're probably better off staying at a lodge for a few days, where you'll be able to bird from your breakfast table as well as from a canopy tower, forest trails, etc. Do please sign up in advance as they will have to arrange transport for you down the Napo River.

Another option would be to stay at a less expensive lodge outside of Tena. Gareno Lodge comes highly recommended by many birders, but any guidebook, such as Lonely Planet, should point you to a few other options as well.

Hope that helps!


Brian said...

Astonishing site. My wife and I are retired and spent the last two winters in Costa Rica, birding every day. We've also driven from Canada to the Yucatan 5 times, birding along the way. Looking at Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, or elsewhere for new species. We like to travel by rented car and are happiest hunting birds on our own. Normal approach is to rent somewhere long term and travel from there. Costa Rica's Ojochal area was perfect for us, combined with week-long stays on the Caribbean and in San Gerardo de Dota areas. High-priced lodges spoil the budget pretty quickly. With this in mind, does Ecuador perhaps fit best the profile of car rental, house rental, independent birding? In your blog you mention to ask questions, and since I see no email, I am posting this way. Thanks. -Brian

Your movie guru, Richard said...

Okay, your bird photos are absolutely fabulous. I have not yet been to Ecuador, but it's next on my list!
But I have been to Peru ... and I went to the macaw clay lick ... which was AWESOME

Here are my recent adventures in the Amazon, hopefully it inspires people to go for eco-tourism and helps preserve the jungle! ... huge trees of the Tombopato Reserve and ... the macaw clay-lick on the Tombopato River of Peru hope it might help!

Anonymous said...

Happened on your site as I'm hoping to plan a bird photography trip to Ecuador some day. Your pics are beautiful and inspiring. Not sure if you still maintain this blog?
I was born in Kampala and have been in Canada for over 45 years. Returned to Uganda 4 years ago which was a dream come true! Stayed in Kayunga as we were collaborating with the Ugandan Martyrs Catholic Secondary School teachers and students. Was there with Father Massey who started the holy cow project (raised funds to purchase 200+ cows for the community farmers.)
We travelled to Jinja ( where my Dad was born) and made it to Queen Elizabeth!
I also arranged to visit Entebbe where my parents lived and where I spent the first 4 years of my childhood.
Will return some day. The country is wonderful. The wildlife, including birds were awesome although the storks freak me out.
Anyhow, thanks for sharing your photos and detailed recommendations.
Was in Costa Rica (Playa Samara) last December and photographed many birds. Love CR.

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