Birding Tours Ecuador, Choco Region, Mindo Buenaventura Reserve.- Many of the world´s birds have very restricted areas, and the factors that cause one bird to have a small range can influence other species as well. So, often, range restricted birds are clustered in the same small Endemic Bird Areas (EBAs). For obvious reasons, most of these areas are concentrated on Islands, but Ecuador has landscape so varied that the two most diverse EBAs, the Choco and Tumbesian, are here side by side. As well as having the world´s top two EBAs, Ecuador has nine others where rare birds are concentrated. Nowhere else in the world are such distinct avian communities in such close proximity.
The wet Choco Area of Northwest Ecuador and Western Colombia is the most visited mainland EBA with 52 restricted range species. Most of these species are only found in Ecuador and Colombia, so for most people these are the best treated as (logistical endemics), i.e., if you want to see them, then you can only realistically see them here. Some of these species are rare and spectacular such as the Tanager Finch, while others are much more common and easy to see.
The Choco is best accessed from Quito and in a one-week trip you can see over 300 species, including most of the endemics. The main birding areas in the Choco are the Tandayapa Valley, Mindo, Milpe Bird Reserve, Rio Silanche Bird Reserve and the Canande region of far NW Ecuador.
The Tumbesian region of SW Ecuador contrasts nicely with the Choco in that this area ranges from wet forest through deciduous forest all the way to arid terrain. Some areas look very much like Guinea savanna of West Africa. Tumbesia holds 43 endemic birds, including the remarkably attractive White-tailed Jay and Elegant Crescentchest and very rare species such as the Pale-headed Brushfinch and El Oro Parakeet.
The Tumbesian EBA is easily accessed from Guayaquil, which is right in the middle of it, or driving west from Loja in Southern Ecuador. There is a huge range of birding sites in the region, but must see sites include the Cerro Blanco reserve near Guayaquil, Jorupe near Macará and the Utuana area. Birding Tours Ecuador, Choco Region, Mindo Buenaventura Reserve.
Most of the other EBAs such as the Ecuador East Andes, South Central Andes, Andean Ridge Top Forests, Central Andean Paramo, are concentrated in the interandean valleys and the East slope of the Andes. None of these has as many endemics as the Tumbesian or the Choco, but are great birding for seeing very rare and difficult species such as the White-breasted Parakeet and the Jocotoco Antpitta, both in Southern Ecuador. Some restricted range species are not so rare and a visit to some of the paramo out of Cuenca or Quito can result in great views of species such as the Ecuadorian Hillstar.
The upper Napo EBA is a wonderful exercise in biogeography with a suite of bird species restricted purely to Amazonian islands that form and erode before your eyes. These avian communities move along with this fluvial process but don´t bother to establish themselves onshore. The north Amazonian lodges provide access to this strange to this strange habitat.