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Monday, May 23, 2011

Birding Quito Ecuador

American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)

The city of Quito Ecuador is a sprawling mass of people, buildings and traffic. It is a starting point for many vacations and birding adventures but never the focus. However, most travelers have at least one free day before starting their primary objective and are not sure what to do during this time. I have been asked on many occasions if there are parks or reserves that can easily be reached for a quick day of birding. For this purpose I am writing this article.

When we live in an area for several years we have a tendency to become oblivious to the wonderful avifauna surrounding us. However, we fail to realize that for those who are visiting for the first time, these birds that we consider commonplace are a boon to the uninitiated.

When walking the streets of Quito there are a number of species that you are guaranteed to encounter. Rufous-collared Sparrows, Great Thrush, and Eared Doves are everywhere. There are, nonetheless, some birds that are a little less commonplace in their appearance yet easily observed while touring the city. Sparkling Violetear and Black-tailed Trainbearer are frequently encountered in the downtown areas and are not extremely shy when foraging for food.

Sparkling Violetear
(Colibri coruscans)
There are a couple of parks that are easily reached by taxi and offer a greater abundance of opportunities to observe many species. The Botanical Gardens that is located in the center of the city at Carolina Park is a haven for many birds and some migrants as well. The Tennessee Warbler makes a regular visit during its migration period. Other birds that may be encountered are Southern-yellow Grosbeak, Cinerious Conebill and American Kestrel.

Metropolitan Park is along the eastern ridge of the city and harbors many species in its vast wooded area. Rusty Flowerpiercer, Tufted Tit-tyrant, Hooded Siskin, Yellow-bellied Seedeater and Crimson-mantled Woodpeckers frequent the area and provide for an enjoyable day of birding.

When touring the city or outlying areas be on the lookout for some unusual birds that may be passing through. I once observed a Great Egret perched high in a tree next to one of the large malls in Valley de los Chillos. There are a couple of reservoirs in the city and it may have been stopping there on its way to more productive habitat. I saw it the following day as well flying across the valley.

Quito has much to offer in the areas of architecture, culture and entertainment but do not rule out the abundance of avifauna that are available for the viewer. With a little patience and observation you can start your birding adventure early and record some new lifers.


  1. Beautiful birds, I love taking pics of them although you need real good lens on your camera.
    We used to breed our own but moved and had to sell them and no room for them now. cheers. Greats shots. thanks

  2. Since a have been doing more walking I am starting to notice beautiful birds I don't see driving. Nice Blog! Stumble Ya!

  3. Just 45 minutes SSE of Quito lies Antisana reserve. The majority of the extant condors live in the valley (or perhaps soaring above the valley). On a trip to Antisana in March we saw 14 species in 3 hours after counting 32 condors.
    Above Quito on the slopes of Pichincha there is a reserve called Yanacocha. It is very high - probably 4200 meters - but the hummingbird varieties are to die for. And it's a little known but easy excursion from Quito.