Discover the National Bird of Ecuador

Written by Cindy Rasmussen
Published: February 2, 2023
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Ecuador is a small country in the northwest corner of South America. It sits between Columbia and Peru with a coastline on the Pacific Ocean. The Ecuadorian Amazon has an enormously diverse ecosystem with a wide range of wildlife, including some exceptional birds. Ecuador has large-billed toucans as well as tiny colorful hummingbirds and a variety of birds in between.

Read on to discover all about the national bird of Ecuador.

What is the National Bird of Ecuador?

The national bird of Ecuador is the Andean condor. The Andean condor is an enormous bird of prey known as a symbol of health and power. The sheer size of these birds demands respect. They stand around four feet tall and have a wingspan of 9-10 feet wide! That’s as big as an office cubicle (or bigger!).

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Andean condors are vultures and scavengers, so they fly high above the landscape looking for dead animals for dinner. Several condors may share the carcass of a deer, sheep, cow, or vicuñas (small llama-like animals). Andean condors have a very unique look, with males having a large fleshy comb on top of their beak called a caruncle. Their heads are bald but they have a fluffy white collar of feathers that contrasts against their black bodies.

Where Does the Andean Condor Live?

Andean condors live in the Andes Mountains from Columbia down to Peru and Argentina. In Ecuador, they live in the central strip of the mountains from the northern border to the southern border. Their population is sparser in Ecuador but increases the further south you go. They live in mountainous regions as well as open grassland. Andean condors don’t build nests but live along rocky outcrops and in caves. The female will lay her egg, just one at a time, right on the rocky ledge of a cliff; no nesting material is needed.

Why is the Andean Condor the National Bird of Ecuador?

The condor has been an important symbol in the history of South America, including the people of Ecuador. The Incas chose the condor as one of the three animals in their trifecta of the condor, puma, and snake. They believed the condor was the immortal ruler of the upper world. In Ecuador, they refer to the Andean condor as the “King of the Andes.” Special recognition is made to the national bird on July 7 each year as they celebrate National Andean Condor Day.

Andean condor flying across mountains in Patagonia, Chile
The countries that have the Andean condor as their national bird include Ecuador, Chile, Columbia, and Bolivia.

©Danita Delimont/

Is the Andean Condor Featured on the Flag of Ecuador?

The Andean condor is featured in the center of the Ecuador flag as part of the coat of arms. The condor is perched on the top of the shield with its impressive wings spread out. The shield features Mount Chimborazo and the Guayas River. Chimborazo is located in the Andes Mountains and is the tallest mountain in Ecuador. The Guayas is an important river in western Ecuador. An image of a steamship is floating in the river as a representation of the Guayas, the first seaworthy steamship in Ecuador. Draped on either side of the shield are replicas of the flag hanging from spears. The background of the flag is three horizontal stripes in yellow, blue, and red, with the top yellow stripe being wider than the other two.

Is the Andean Condor on the Currency of Ecuador?

The Andean condor is not on the money of Ecuador because the current currency of Ecuador is the U.S. dollar. Before the dollar, they used the sucre, and before that, the peso. Peru and Chile have both had the Andean condor minted on at least one denomination of their coins.

What Countries Have the Andean Condor as Their National Bird?

The countries that have the Andean condor as their national bird include Ecuador, Chile, Columbia, and Bolivia. The Andes Mountains span all these countries, as well as the range for the respected Andean condor.

What Other Animals Live in Ecuador?

With its mountains, rainforests, and coastal habitats, you can imagine there is a wide range of other animals in Ecuador. Did you know the Galapagos Islands belong to Ecuador? Some of the rarest and most endangered animals live in the Galapagos! One of the subspecies of giant Galapagos tortoise (Chelonoidis phantasticus) was thought to be extinct, but, in 2019, a tortoise matching the description of these massive tortoises was tested and found to be the same species. The last confirmed sighting was over 100 years ago. This tortoise was found on Fernandina Island, one of the Galapagos Islands. Other subspecies of Galapagos giant tortoises can be found on the islands year-round.

Other unique animals on the Galapagos Islands include the marine iguana, frigatebirds, blue-footed boobies, Sally lightfoot crabs, waved albatross, and flightless cormorants.

Some of the other amazing animals in Ecuador include:

  • Andean Spectacled Bear
  • Howler Monkeys
  • Marmosets
  • Vicuñas
  • Llamas
  • Armadillo
  • Capybara
  • Tapirs
  • Ocelot
  • Jaguar
  • River Dolphin

What Animals Can Be Found Off the Coast of Ecuador?

Off the coast of Ecuador are marine mammals, fish, crustaceans, and sea turtles. Humpback whales can be seen off the coast during their migration. These massive whales can get to be 49 feet long! Manta rays, dolphins, and manatees can also be seen off the coast. Some of the more common sharks off the coast are the whitetip reef, blacktip reef, dusky, scalloped hammerhead, shortfin mako, and blue shark. Despite the abundance of sharks, there have only been eight confirmed shark attacks since 1954. The beautiful beaches of Ecuador provide a beautiful landscape for enjoying the natural beauty of the country.

Are Andean Condors Endangered?

While many animal species that live in the Galapagos Islands are endangered, there are quite a few species that are also endangered in the Amazon rainforest and Andes Mountains. The Andean condor is not yet endangered but is considered vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature with an estimated population of 6,700.

One of the biggest threats to Andean condors is farmers that hunt the condors because they believe they prey on their livestock. They come across condors eating dead sheep and they assume the condor killed it. However, condors are scavengers and primarily eat the carcasses of animals that are already dead. Educational programs are in place to teach farmers about the importance of the condors and how they should stop poisoning and hunting them.

With conservation groups working together, the Andean condor can be saved and preserved so that future generations can get an up-close experience with this bird that has a 10-foot wingspan. The national bird of Ecuador needs to be preserved so the legends that began thousands of years ago can be passed on.

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The Featured Image

Close up of a Andean Condor
Male Andean condors have a caruncle on the top of their beaks.

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About the Author

I'm a Wildlife Conservation Author and Journalist, raising awareness about conservation by teaching others about the amazing animals we share the planet with. I graduated from the University of Minnesota-Morris with a degree in Elementary Education and I am a former teacher. When I am not writing I love going to my kids' soccer games, watching movies, taking on DIY projects and running with our giant Labradoodle "Tango".

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