Birding: 107 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas in Ecuador
Birding is the observation and study of birds in their natural habitat. It is a popular hobby around the world, enjoyed by both amateur and professional bird enthusiasts.
Birdwatching has many benefits:
- It makes a positive impact on our mental and physical health by promoting relaxation and reducing stress.
- It provides opportunities for physical activity like hiking and walking.
- It helps you to have a greater appreciation for nature.
- It inspires you to learn more about the natural world.
Why birding in Ecuador?
Ecuador is renowned as a top birding destination with more than 1,600 species of birds. The country has a variety of ecosystems, from the Andes Mountains to the Amazon Rainforest. These give birders the chance to observe many different species, some of which can only be found in this country.
Birdwatching exploration in Ecuador started late compared to other countries, toward the end of the nineteenth century. The first scientific collecting expedition to Ecuador did not occur until 1899.
It was led by British naturalist Henry Whitely and his team of collectors. The early 1900s saw several expeditions, such as the Archbold Expeditions of the American Museum of Natural History. This expedition explored the Andean region and collected many specimens.
Early scientific expeditions played an important role in documenting Ecuador’s bird diversity. Much of this collecting, however, was actually done by indigenous people. They sold their specimens to museums and private collectors. In the decades since the early expeditions, numerous scientists, naturalists, and birdwatchers have continued to explore and document Ecuador’s birdlife.
Nowadays, there are still many species not identified. However, there is an increasing interest in knowing and preserving bird-watching areas.
IBA stands for Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas. These sites are crucial for the conservation of birds and other animals. There are 107 IBAs in Ecuador covering 35.7% of Ecuador’s territory. 10 IBAs are located in the Galapagos Islands and 97 are in continental Ecuador.
Birding is not only a fun and rewarding hobby, but it also has important conservation implications. Birders can help scientists by observing and documenting bird populations and behaviors. Also, birding can support conservation efforts by raising awareness about the importance of protecting natural habitats and the species that depend on them, and by allowing birders to participate in citizen science projects.
Each July 18 is celebrated as the Day of the National System of Protected Areas of Ecuador. 25 IBAs are completely protected within the National Protected Areas Network, 60 are partially protected, and 22 are not protected at all.
On the other hand, from an economic and social perspective, birdwatching can have a significant impact on local communities by creating jobs, increasing revenue for local businesses, and supporting conservation efforts through funding. Many birding lodges and tour operators are locally owned and employ local guides and staff, providing much-needed income. Birdwatching has helped to raise awareness about the importance of conservation and has given the locals a sense of pride in the unique biodiversity found in Ecuador.
In addition, birding has helped to increase cultural exchange. Birdwatchers from around the world come to Ecuador to see its unique birdlife and experience its diverse culture. Tours and guides are available throughout the country to help visitors make the most of their bird-watching experience. If you are interested in birding, make the most of your visit to Ecuador to observe birds and other species in Mindo, The Galapagos Islands, The Amazon Rainforest, The Andes Mountains, and Cajas National Park.
Apps to start birding
Finally, there are mobile applications that are user-friendly to make your visit even better. Some of them work even without the internet. Some recommended apps are:
Written by Elisa Castillo.