• JUser: :_load: Unable to load user with ID: 43

You are here:1.1.5 Ecuadorian Endemic Species

1.1.5 Ecuadorian Endemic Species

Species of birds which are found nowhere else in the world but Ecuador are the ones we will call Ecuadorian endemic birds.   They will be the most sought-after birds for listing birders traveling in Ecuador. The regional endemic bird species have already been discussed in the section called Biogeographic Bird-Regions of Ecuador and the national endemics are also listed among them. All of the Ecuadorian National endemics are rare and have very limited ranges

Ecuador National Endemics (8)
El Oro Parakeet             Pyrrhura orcesi
Turquoise-throated Puffleg            Eriocnemis godini
Black-breasted Puffleg         Eriocnemis nigriventris
Violet-throated Metaltail         Metallura baroni
Esmeraldas Woodstar                    Chaetocercus berlepschi
Cocha Antshrike             Thamnophilus praecox
El Oro Tapaculo            Scytalopus robinsonii
Pale-headed Brush-Finch         Atlapetes pallidiceps

-El Oro Parakeet. Found in southwest Ecuador at the Buenaventura Reserve in El Oro Province. Its population here is now bouncing back thanks to protection and habitat preservation at this site.

-Turquoise-throated Puffleg. A very poorly known species and the greatest enigma of the Ecuadorian avifauna (possibly a not valid species or possibly extinct). There are only three specimens, all from the 19th century. One of the specimens, the type, dating from 1850, was labeled as from Guaillabamba south of Perucho (Collar et al.1992). There are no recent records and all the attempts to find the bird have failed. The other two specimens have been labeled “from Bogotá” and probably represent trade skins that were taken from somewhere in Colombia.   If the origin of the Colombian specimens is confirmed, this puffleg might not be an Ecuadorian endemic.

- Black-breasted Puffleg.  A very rare species that can be seen sporadically at some sites on Volcán Pichincha, ie. Yanacocha and Verdecocha.  This bird has recently been rediscovered in the Cordillera del Toisán.   There are some old records from Volcán Atacazo.  It is a local and seasonal species whose appearance might be linked to staggered flowering periods of certain plant species.

- Violet-throated Metaltail. Occurs in high montane scrub and woodland above Cuenca city. The best place to look for it is El Cajas National Park where it is very well protected.

-Esmeraldas Woodstar.  Little known until recently, this hummingbird is unquestionably rare and very local, and apparently engages in still poorly understood movement away from its breading areas in places such as the Río Ayampe, close to Machallilla National Park. Note that the illustration of a “female” in Ridgely and Greenfield (2001) is actually an immature male; adult females are quite buffy below not dissimilar from the female Little Woodstar. It is best found in the Ayampe area, but only during the rainy season (ca. December – March).

- Cocha Antshrike.  A specialized bird of the Várzea woodland habitat in the northeastern lowlands.   One of the best areas to look for this species is the extensive flooded forest in the Cuyabeno Faunistic Reserve, and some other areas with identical habitat along the same longitude near the Napo River.  This bird has only been observed on the northern bank of the Napo (e.g., La Selva Lodge, Sani Lodge, Sacha Lodge and the Emuya Lake near the Aguarico River). This species likely occurs in adjacent Colombia and/or Peru but it has not yet been reported in those countries.

- El Oro Tapaculo.  A recently described species which shares much the same distribution locations as the El Oro Parakeet, southwest Ecuador at the Buenaventura protected forest in El Oro Province.  It occurs there in very small numbers and is scarce even in extensive forest.
- Pale-headed Brush-Finch.  Apparently now confined to one patch of scrubby woodland near Girón at the Yunguilla Valley at the Yunguilla Reserve.  This Brush-Finch was rediscovered  in late 1998. The population has increased from 12 pairs in 1998 to about 115 pairs in 2010 thanks to a successful cowbird parasitism control program performed by Jocotoco Foundation staff and habitat management.

Other species have been considered to be Ecuador National endemics, but in recent years they have been documented to occur in either neighboring Colombia or Peru.

-White-breasted Parakeet. In 2003 reported (sight records only) as occurring on the Peruvian side of the Cordillera del Cóndor Mountain. A few years later it was collected in Peru and officially added to the Peruvian list.

-Emerald-bellied Woodnymph. This species occurs in Peru in The Tumbes Reserved Zone (extreme northwest Peru) but all the Peruvian accounts refer to it as Green crowned Woodnymph Thalurania fannyi hypochlora only a subspecies of Thalurania fannyi, occurring in southwest Ecuador and Northwest Peru.

- Ecuadorian Hillstar This species was some time ago (1991) recorded on the Colombian side of the Volcán Chiles which is right by the Ecuadorian border.

- Pale-mandible Aracari. It has been recorded in Peru from the Tumbes Reserved Zone (extreme northwest Peru) might be also possible that this species occurs in South-Western Colombia.

- Jocotoco Antpitta.  When this species was discovered in 1997 with its tiny range, it was thought to be an Ecuadorian endemic.   One pair was found and collected on the Peruvian side adjacent to the Ecuadorian border by an LSU team in 2006 in the southern Cordillera del Cóndor in Cajamarca Department north of Jaén.

- Orange-crested Manakin.  It was first reported from Peru in 1996 from Chamicuros on the Rio Huallaga, in northern Peru. Subsequently it was reported to be fairly common along the middle and lower course of the Rio Tigre in northern Peru, Loreto Departamento.
-Chestnut-bellied Cotinga. The distribution of this species is primarily in Ecuador but has been recorded in Colombia from a single location, the Cañon del Quindío Nature Reserve in the Central Andes. Not reported from Perú, but should be expected as a paper describing the species reports one male taken from “Zamora-Chinchipe/Depto. Cajamarca 25 km SE of Jimbura”.   The  location Jimbura is in Ecuador but it is very close to the Peruvian border.

Galápagos Islands Bird Endemics (29)

Galápagos Penguin            Spheniscus mendiculus
Waved Albatross            Phoebastria irrorata
Galápagos Petrel            Pterodroma phaeopygia
Galápagos Shearwater        Puffinus subalaris
Flightless Cormorant        Phalacrocorax harrisi
Galápagos Hawk        Buteo galapagoensis
Galápagos Rail        Laterallus spilonotus
Lava Gull        Larus fuliginosus
Swallow-tailed Gull        Creagrus furcatus
Galápagos Dove        Zenaida galapagoensis
Galápagos Flycatcher        Myiarchus magnirostris
Galápagos Mockingbird        Nesomimus parvulus
Charles Mockingbird        Nesomimus trifasciatus
Hood Mockingbird        Nesomimus macdonaldi
Chatham Mockingbird        Nesomimus melanotis
Galápagos Martin        Progne modesta
Large Ground-Finch        Geospiza magnirostris
Medium Ground-Finch        Geospiza fortis
Small Ground-Finch        Geospiza fuliginosa
Sharp-beaked Ground-Finch        Geospiza difficilis
Common Cactus-Finch        Geospiza scandens
Large Cactus-Finch        Geospiza conirostris
Vegetarian Finch        Platyspiza crassirostris
Large Tree-Finch        Camarhynchus psittacula
Medium Tree-Finch        Camarhynchus pauper
Small Tree-Finch        Camarhynchus parvulus
Woodpecker Finch        Camarhynchus pallida
Mangrove Finch        Camarhynchus heliobates
Warbler Finch        Certhidia olivacea

-Galápagos Penguin. Mainly on the west side of Isabela Island and the shores of Fernandina Island. A few can be seen in Bartolomé Island and also in the south side of         Floreana Island.                     
- Waved Albatross. Almost the entire population breeds on Española Island but a tiny group breeds on La Plata Island off the coast of Manabí province.
- Galápagos Petrel. Breeding colonies are found in the highlands of the major Islands. This species can regularly be seen at sea when moving between islands.
- Galápagos Shearwater. A common bird that is now regarded as an endemic species on the basis of DNA analysis. Formerly it was considered a subspecies of Audubon´s Shearwater.
- Flightless Cormorant. Mainly occurs on the west side of Isabela Island and the shores of Fernandina Island
- Galápagos Hawk. Uncommon on most of the islands except San Cristóbal and Floreana. Now probably extirpated from Santa Cruz.
- Galápagos Rail. In former times it used to be a much more common bird and it was reported from San Cristóbal, Floreana and Isabela Islands. Now the only reliable place seems to be the highlands of Santa Cruz Island.
 - Lava Gull. Occur in small numbers throughout the entire archipelago. At times turns at the fish markets of Puerto Ayora and Puerto Villamil on Santa Cruz and Isabela islands respectively.
- Swallow-tailed Gull. Fairly common throughout the entire archipelago especially in or near the colonies. There is also a small colony in the Malpelo Island off the west coast of Colombia.
-  Galápagos Dove. A fairly common bird throughout the entire archipelago.    
- Galápagos Flycatcher. Common but occurring in small numbers throughout the entire archipelago.
- Galápagos Mockingbird. A very common bird on almost all the islands except for Floreana, San Cristóbal and Española Islands on which it is replaced by their respective endemic mockingbirds.
- Charles Mockingbird. An endangered species only occurring in the Champion and Gardner islets close by Floreana Island. The entire population seems to be only 150 birds.
 - Hood Mockingbird. Common bird on Española Island.
- Chatham Mockingbird. Common bird on San Cristóbal Island.
- Galápagos Martin. Rare species throughout the entire archipelago, the best place to look for it is the upper rim of the Sierra Negra Volcano on Isabela Island.
- Large Ground-Finch. Fairly uncommon in the dry lowlands of Pinta, Marchena, Genovesa, Santa Cruz, Santiago and Isabela Islands.  
- Medium Ground-Finch. Fairly common species on all the islands but Española where it is absent. Particularly numerous in the highlands of major islands.
- Small Ground-Finch. Abundant and common bird throughout the entire archipelago.
- Sharp-beaked Ground-Finch. Only on a few islands: common in Genovesa, Darwin and Wolf, uncommon on Santiago and Fernandina Islands.
- Common Cactus-Finch. Locally common where Opuntia cactus is healthy, but absent from Española, Fernandina, Darwin and Wolf Islands.
- Large Cactus-Finch. Uncommon on Genovesa, Española, Darwin and Wolf Islands
- Vegetarian Finch. Uncommon on all major islands except Española, Genovesa, Santa Fe, Darwin and Wolf.
- Large Tree-Finch. Uncommon on all major islands except Española, Genovesa, Darwin and Wolf.
- Medium Tree-Finch. An uncommon bird found only on Floreana where best seen in the highlands.
- Small Tree-Finch. Fairly common in highlands of most islands but absent from Española, Marchena, Genovesa, Darwin and Wolf Islands.
- Woodpecker Finch. Uncommon to rare mainly in the highlands of Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Santiago, Fernandina and Isabela Islands.
- Mangrove Finch. A very rare species, reported extinct from Fernandina through there have been some recent records. The only reliable site is Black Beach, on the west side of Isabela Island where it is a rare bird.
- Warbler Finch. A common species throughout the entire Archipelago.

Other species have been considered to be Galápagos Islands endemics
Lava Heron Butorides sundevalli It is now considered to be a form of the Striated Heron
Striated Heron Butorides striatus sundevalli

Bird endemic subspecies in the Galápagos Islands
Elliott’s Storm-Petrel             Oceanites gracilis galapagoensis
Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrel     Oceanodroma tethys tethys
Blue-footed Booby             Sula nebouxii excise
Brown Pelican             Pelecanus occidentalis urinator
Magnificent Frigatebird        Fregata magnificens magnificens
Great Blue Heron             Ardea herodias cognate
Striated Heron             Butorides striatus sundevalli
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron     Nyctanassa violacea pauper
White-cheeked Pintail         Anas bahamensis galapagensis
American Oystercatcher         Haematopus palliatus galapagensis
Sooty Tern                 Sterna fuscata crissalis.
Brown Noddy             Anous stolidus galapagensis
Barn Owl                 Tyto alba punctatissima
Short-eared Owl             Asio flammeus galapagoensis
Vermilion Flycatcher            Pyrocephalus rubinus nanus
Yellow Warbler             Dendroica petechia aureola

Others have been consider endemic subspecies
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber glyphorhynchus but some authors doubt the validity of the subspecies
Vermilion Flycatcher Pyrocephalus rubinus dubius from San Cristóbal, but some authors suggested that P.r. dubius was described on the basis of three males of P. r. nanus, therefore the subspecies dubius is not valid. The Vermilion Flycatcher from Galápagos Islands might represent a separate species from the continental populations.

Copyright © 2010 by Lelis Navarrete

All rights reserved. This web book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author and Jocotoco Foundation except for the use of brief quotations in a book review and to print the information for traveling in Ecuador purposes.

You may not mirror, modify or otherwise alter any files in this website for rebroadcast, print or distribute in anyway the information contained therein with commercial purposes , without written permission from the author. Except as expressly provided above.

Meet the Author

Lelis Navarrete – Birding tour leader. Lelis has 19 years of experience as a birding guide and naturalist in the field. He has led groups of birders throughout most of Latin America, guiding frequently in countries like his native country of Ecuador and in the Galapagos Islands, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil and Panama. A Biology B.Sc. graduate from Universidad Católica in Quito, Lelis has supported Jocotoco Foundation since its founding in 1998 and was an active Board Member until 2010 supporting Ecuadorian bird and wildlife conservation. Lelis divides his time between his two great passions in life: birding and spending time with his wife Solange and son Fabian with whom he lives in Quito.


Jocotoco Foundation

  • Lizardo García E9-104 y Andrés Xaura,
  • Quito - Ecuador
  • Tel: +593 2 250-5212
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.