Birdwatching - Ecuador, Land of the Hummingbird
For superb opportunities for exotic birdwatching, Ecuador is an excellent destination to see the wonderful hummingbird.
Hummingbirds are a unique family of birdlife and a very exciting one for newcomers to the world of birdwatching. Ecuador is the ideal location for bird enthusiasts to visit for a wide array of bird species to see, displaying a rainbow of magnificent plumage. Although the country's terrain is not always an easy one to navigate, expert tour guides can lead groups across gentler landscapes to areas that are well known for an abundance of bird watching opportunities.
Despite its small size, the country is renowned as one of the world’s most ecologically diverse. It is also home to over 132 different species of hummingbirds, making it ideal for birdwatching. Ecuador supports just about every type of habitat and climate from sea level to snow tipped mountain ranges, and hummingbirds can be found in all of them. The species that live in the higher altitudes have developed an amazing ability to go into a state of torpor at night naturally lowering their heart rate and body temperature to conserve energy. Due to their large population and bright colours, hummingbirds make an ideal subject for novice bird-watchers.
Studies of evolution have revealed that these birds naturally adapt their bodies and shape to suit the environment in which they live. The most densely populated areas of Ecuador are the warmer, more tropical regions, which are ideal for birdwatching; Ecuador’s higher altitudes are more sparsely populated by hummingbirds, but the ones who do live there have slightly different body shapes to accommodate their environment and lifestyles. The ones found at higher altitudes, such as the Sword-billed Hummingbird, have much larger bills and bodies compared to their tropical cousins. These evolutionary adaptations have come about due to the food and resources the species have access to at altitudes of 2500 to 3500 metres.
A Pleasure to See
This is the only known species of bird with the ability to fly backwards, and their antics, in all environments, are thrilling for bird-watchers - both beginners and seasoned spotters. These amazing little birds have an enormous amount of energy and their wings move at around 70 to 80 beats per minute. They maintain their energy by visiting and feeding off the sucrose found in flower nectar and will typically feed every 10 minutes to refuel then go into a hibernation-like state at night. Hummingbirds are vital for the continued pollination of many plants and flowers in Ecuador.
The country has a wealth of wildlife and excellent opportunities for birdwatching. Ecuador’s large population of hummingbirds is especially well suited for beginners, as they are abundant and easy to spot. They are also a very entertaining species of bird to observe, making a dedicated bird-watching holiday both exciting and enjoyable.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marissa Ellis-Snow is a freelance nature writer. If you’re looking for a holiday dedicated to birdwatching, Ecuador is ideal. Naturetrek specialises in expert-led natural history and wildlife tours worldwide. Naturetrek brings over 25 years of experience to polar expeditions and tours to other spectacular regions on Earth.