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Birds of Northwestern Quito

The northwest of Quito is the dream destination for birdwatchers, as it is one of the best cities for birdwatching, due to the diversity of birds in the area. For more than 30 years birdwatching has been a common practice in the Ecuadorian city of Quito and it is one of the most attractive cities for birdwatchers. The reason? There is not only one but more than 542 species of birds that can be seen in this city and it is only a third of the total of the country: Ecuador hosts more than 1660 species of birds and is therefore the country in the world with the highest density of bird species.
It is undoubtedly the northwest of Quito, which is also part of the Andean Chocó Biosphere Reserve (recognized as such by UNESCO in 2018); in this area of Quito you will enjoy watching hummingbirds and parrots, toucans and also quetzals; of course, although this is the best area of Quito for bird watching, it is not the only one, in the southeast of the city, specifically in the Cayambe-Coca and Antisana National Parks, bird watching is also common.
There are species of all colors and sizes, Quito is one of the mega diverse cities on the planet as far as birds are concerned. Thanks to its ecosystem, in the Metropolitan District you can see everything from huge condors to colorful hummingbirds.
Other birds that stand out are the emblematic Andean condor, which, with a length of three meters and a weight of 12 kilos, is the largest flying animal in the world and can be seen gliding in rural areas of Quito as the Antisana; and the Andean cock of the rock, a unique bird for its unique courtship dance.
For urban birdwatching, the Botanical Garden, home to a wide variety of migratory species, and the Guangüiltagua Metropolitan Park, home of the crimson woodpecker, stand out. Another beautiful place to birdwatch is Bellavista, located on the old Nono-Tandayapa-Mindo highway, one of the best birding areas in Ecuador, which has won the Audubon Christmas Bird Count for the highest number of bird species seen in one day!

And now, with the recent declaration of the Nono, Tandayapa, San Tadeo road as the first Ecoruta in Ecuador, more habitat in the region will be protected for birds and living things in general. Hike the extensive trail system (10 km), or the lightly traveled dirt roads through the reserve.
There are always great birds to see, whether it’s a good flock of tanagers, special birds like the mountain toucan dish-billed toucan and tanager finch, or strange calls that invite identification.
Andean Cock-of-the-rock
This colorful bird commonly inhabits cloud forests, between 900 and 2 100 meters above sea level. They have a striking coloration: bright red all over their bodies, except for part of their wings and tail, which are black. The coloration in females is somewhat paler than in males.
The latter have a thick crest on the head, which may even hide part of the beak; in females, on the other hand, this crest is smaller.
Cock-of-the-rock roosters tend to hide in the woods, making them difficult to observe. If you are lucky you can see them flying near the cliffs. In the breeding season, the males perform interesting courtships in defined areas. Only one of them will be chosen by the female to reproduce. It is known that they build their nests in inaccessible places and perhaps this is one of the reasons why their populations are still in good condition, although threatened by factors such as deforestation.
Tanager
On average it measures 13.2 cm in length and weighs 19 g. Its pileus, part of the nape and the sides of the head are of an intense golden yellow color. The forehead, throat and the area around the eyes are black like a mask. Most of the remaining body is grayish-blue opalescent gray in juveniles, with black stripes on the wings, bluish-green tips on the tail and with the center and lower part of the belly tan.
Its characteristics are medium tanager present from mid to upper level in forest edges, sparse forests, plantations and urban parks; sometimes visits feeding grounds. Males are glossy black with hidden red crown and white spot on the shoulder. In flight, it shows white under its wings. Females have a brownish-gray head, otherwise mostly cinnamon, paler below than above.

They feed on fruits, such as Miconia and guarumos, and also on insects, which they forage for on tree branches. They build their nests using only moss. Their habitat is in the forests, where they can only be observed in the shrubby vegetation of the alisales at an altitude of 2000 meters.
Andean Condor
It can live more than 50 years in the wild and up to 80 years in captivity. It is about 142 cm tall and reaches a wingspan of 330 cm. Its distribution range narrows across the Andes from the north in Colombia to the extreme south of Chilean and Argentine Patagonia, passing through Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia.
Andean Condor inhabits coastal mountain and montane habitat types in the Andes Mountains of South America. This species has been located at altitudes of up to 5,500 m (16,000 ft). It prefers areas of wide open spaces, which helps it to detect food.
The condor is an almost exclusively scavenger animal, feeding on all kinds of large dead animals, such as llamas, alpacas, deer, cows, etc. For this reason, its head and neck are devoid of feathers, to prevent bacteria and fungi from decaying meat from causing disease.
Forest finches
They are about 15 centimeters long and weigh about 22 grams. There are differences in plumage color between males and females. The male is more showy. It has a bluish-gray crown and nape and a pinkish breast. It feeds on grass seeds. Other important foods are buds and some parts of flowers in spring, berries and small fruits in late summer and autumn. It also eats some small insects, such as aphids. It feeds the young with regurgitated seeds.

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