Of the ten countries on the planet with the greatest number of bird species, six are located in South America, making this an incredible continent for avian enthusiasts. Find here the top places for birding in South America and the most exciting species to find.
Birding in South America: Top Destinations
Ecuador and The Galapagos Islands
Ecuador has an exceptional biodiversity of bird species, making it a top destination for birding in South America. Home to 1620 species in total, 27 of which are endemic to The Galapagos Islands and seven to the mainland, Ecuador has two times more bird species than the entirety of North America.
It’s no wonder that thousands of tourists ply the Pacific Ocean to arrive at Ecuador and the country’s nearby historic islands to see this extraordinary range of avifauna.
Birds to spot in Ecuador
- Mainland: sword-billed hummingbird (there are 130 species of hummingbirds in Ecuador)
- The Galapagos Islands: blue-footed boobies, Galapagos mockingbird, Galapagos hawk, finches (there are 15 species of finches)
Best places for birding in Ecuador
- The Galapagos Islands
- Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve
- Andean condor
The southern skirt of the continent, Patagonia is an area encompassing both Argentina and Chile, combining ecosystems of sub-Antarctic forests, high-elevation mountains and barren grasslands of steppe. This environmental biodiversity allows for a huge diversity of avifauna, making Patagonia yet another top place for birding in South America.
Although data on the population and range of species in Patagonia is limited (most information is country-specific), a unique range of terrestrial and seabirds are found in this region, along with a huge number of penguin colonies along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts.
- Magellanic, Humboldt and king penguins, Chilean flamingoes, Andean condor, Austral parakeets, Magellanic woodpeckers, upland goose
Best places for birding in Patagonia
- Torres del Paine National Park
- Tierra del Fuego
- Valdes Peninsula
- Andean condor (for both Argentina and Chile)
With an estimated 19% of all bird species in the world found in Peru, it’s not surprising that this land of dense, Amazonian rainforest and cool Pacific coastline is a top destination for birdwatching in South America.
Just under 1800 species of birds are found in this country, 106 of which are endemic and range from exotic species found in the darkest depths of the jungle to soaring seabirds.
Birds to spot in Peru
- Magnificent frigatebird, Humboldt penguin, osprey, waved albatross, green and white hummingbird, torrent duck, lemon-throated barbet, silver beaked tanager
Best places for birding in Peru
- Manu National Park
- The Andean cock-of-the-rock
Home to only a few bird species less than neighboring Peru, Brazil is a vast country that encompasses ecosystems from tropical rainforest to swampland and large stretches of coastline, all of which foster an abundance of avifauna.
From the bright plumage of jungle species such as toucans, parrots and hummingbirds to those that have adapted to the open plains of the tropical savannah, Brazil is alive with a fascinating array of birdlife.
Birds to spot in Brazil
- Burrowing owl, Amazon kingfisher, hyacinth macaw, swallow-tailed hummingbird, toco toucan, red-and-green macaw, flightless rhea, crested caracara, harpy eagle
Best places for birding in Brazil
- Atlantic Coast (southern Brazil)
- Rufous-bellied thrush