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ECUADOR: Northwest

04 - 22 November 2010

by Ruth Richards


In November I made an independent birding trip to Northwest Ecuador.  I saw 220 species of birds, 146 of which were life birds for me.  Total cost of the trip, including airfare from Ohio, was just over $1700.  The field guide I took with me was The Birds of Ecuador, by Ridgely and Greenfield.  I cut out and bound the color plates to carry in the field.  I should have left the rest of the book at home.  When I got to Quito, I was able to buy Birds of Northwest Ecuador, by McMullan and Vásquez, at the Libri Mundi bookstore for $16.  I’d tried to buy it in the U.S. without success.  It is lightweight and pocket size.  I used it not only for identification but also for my list, since I had not been able to find a northwest list online before I left.


I spent the first four nights in Quito, at the Amazonas Inn in the Mariscal district.  I chose it because one of their rooms had a bathtub (but no windows).  It was clean and perfectly adequate and cost $16 per night for private room and bath.  From there I took day trips to Parque Metropolitano, the Botanical Gardens at Parque Carolina, Pululahua and Mitad del Mundo, and Yanacocha.  I had reserved a car for part of my stay but cancelled it after I saw the traffic, the road conditions, and the terrain.  Taxis were cheap and plentiful, and I used the Metro and another bus to get to Mitad del Mundo.  It was an adventure.


I booked a 2-day, 1-night stay at Bellevista Lodge for $187 (dorm) including meals and transport.  They picked me up at my hotel in Quito and then dropped me off at my next destination in Mindo.  They have an early morning bird walk and two other guided hikes per day.  I went on the bird walk (just around the lodge) and birded the other trails alone.  I was quite pleased with the lodge, the food, and the staff.


In Mindo I had made reservations at Hacienda San Vicente (Yellow House Trails) for my sixth night in Ecuador but had no plans beyond that.  The family (owners) of the hacienda had asked no further commitment and no deposit.  The cost for lodging, breakfast and dinner, and use of their trails was $25 per night.  I was shown several different buildings with rooms and was given my choice.  Only one other family was there when I arrived and so I had a whole building to myself.  I chose the second floor with a balcony.  After breakfast the next morning I stayed on the balcony birding until noon.  Birds were everywhere and the view of the town below and the mountains beyond was breathtaking.  The hacienda includes hundreds of acres of forest, river, and pasture at various altitudes.  It sits perhaps 200-300 meters above the town and its trails climb to perhaps 500-700 meters higher.  There were so many birds around the main house and other buildings that I spent most of my time there.  Occasionally I walked to town just to look around or get a photocopy from an internet café.


I ended up staying at the hacienda for the remainder of my trip.  All of the other places I’d planned to visit were convenient day trips from Mindo. I visited Milpe, Paz de las Aves (the famous Angel Paz and his named Antpittas), the Rio Nambilla Cascadas (waterfalls), Sachatamia Lodge trails, Rio Silanche, and Mindo Lindo.  Buses stop in Mindo to go in any direction you need to go; but taxis were so reasonable that I usually took one and had the driver wait for me.  The rest of the time I spent birding the hacienda’s property—and didn’t nearly cover it all.  They even arranged for me to milk a cow (something I’d always wanted to do).  I toured their small factory for making guayaba jelly, which they sell in Mindo and Quito.  Much of the food I ate was from their land, and everything was delicious (imagine making stock for soup from scratch every day—and that’s just for the first dinner course).


If anyone would like more detailed information or would like to see photos, I’ll be posting a detailed trip report/blog (same title as above) in January on the realtravel website, where I’ve posted my other travels to Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Mexico (drove into Mexico). 

Species list follows:


1 – Quito:  Parque Metropolitano                      Day Trips from Mindo:

2 – Quito:  Parque Carolina                                7a – Paz de Las Aves

3 – Pululahua                                                      7c – Rio Nambilla Cascades

4 – Mitad del Mundo                                          7m - Milpe

5 – Yanacocha                                                   7ml- Mindo Lindo

6 – Bellavista Lodge                                           7r – Rio Silanche

7 – Mindo:  Hacienda San Vicente                      7s – Sachatamia Lodge

      and Yellow House Trails


 (m/f) = (male/female)                           * = Life Bird


*Sickle-winged Guan, 7c, 7a

*Andean Guan, 5

Cattle Egret, 7,7r

Great Egret,7

Snowy Egret, 7

Turkey Vulture, 7

Black Vulture, 7

*Hook-billed Kite, 7

*Barred Hawk, 4

*Roadside Hawk (+juv), 7

*Barred Forest-Falcon, 7

*Collared Forest-Falcon, 7

American Kestrel, 3

Rock Pigeon, 7

*Eared Dove, 1,2,3,4

*Plumbeous Pigeon, 6

*Ruddy Pigeon, 7

*Dusky Pigeon, 7r

White-tipped Dove, 7m

*Pallid Dove, 7r

*White-throated Quail-Dove, 6

*Maroon-tailed Parakeet, 7

*Red-billed Parrot, 7

*Bronze-winged Parrot, 7

Squirrel Cuckoo, 7,7m

*Common Potoo, 6,7

White-collared Swift, 7

White-necked Jacobin (m), 7,7s

*White-whiskered Hermit, 7

*Tawny-bellied Hermit, 7a,7c,7s

*Sparkling Violetear, 2

*Gorgeted Sunangel, 6

*Speckled Hummingbird, 6,7a

*Violet-tailed Sylph (m/f), 6,7a,7s,7ml

*Black-tailed Trainbearer, 1,2

*Tyrian Metaltail, 3,5

*Sapphire-vented Puffleg, 5

*Shining Sunbeam, 5

*Brown Inca, 7a,7s,7ml

*Collared Inca, 6

*Buff-wingd Starfrontlet 5,6

*Sword-billed Hummingbird, 5

*Great Sapphirewing, 5

*Buff-tailed Coronet, 7a

*Velvet-purple Coronet, 7a,7s,7ml

*Booted Racket-tail (m/f), 7a,7s,7ml

*Purple-bibbed Whitetip (m), 7s,7ml

*Fawn-breasted Brilliant, 6,7a,7s,7ml

Green-crowned Brilliant (m/f), 7,7s,7ml

*Empress Brilliant,7a,7s,7ml

*White-bellied Woodstar, 7

*Purple-throated Woodstar (m), 6,7s

*Green-crowned Woodnymph (m), 7,7s

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, 7,7a,7s,7ml

*Andean Emerald, 6,7a,7s,7ml

*Purple-chested Hummingbird (m), 7r

*Crested Quetzal (m/f), 7,7a

*Masked Trogon (m/f), 6,7c

Ringed Kingfisher, 7

Broad-billed Motmot, 7m

Rufous Motmot, 7,7m,7r

*Red-headed Barbet (m/f), 7c

*Toucan Barbet, 7a

*Black-mandibled Toucan, 7c

*Choco Toucan, 7,7r

*Crimson-rumped Toucanet, 7,7m

*Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, 6

Collared Aracari, 7,7m,7r

Golden-olive Woodpecker, 7,7m,7r

*Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, 6

*Guayaquil Woodpecker, 7,7r

*Pale-legged Hornero, 7

*Azara’s Spinetail, 6

*Rufous Spinetail, 5

*Slaty Spinetail, 7

*Red-faced Spinetail, 7,7m

*Pearled Treerunner, 5,6

*Streaked Tuftedcheek, 6

*Scaly-throated Foliage-gleaner, 7,7c

*Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner, 7

*Uniform Treehunter, 7

*Striped Treehunter, 6

*Tyrannine Woodcreeper, 6,7

Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, 7r

*Strong-billed Woodcreeper, 6,7

Black-striped Woodcreeper, 7r

Spotted Woodcreeper, 7r

*Montane Woocreeper, 6,7a

Pacific Antwren (m/f), 7

White-flanked Antwren (m), 7r

Dot-winged Antwren (m/f), 7r

*Rufous-breasted Antthrush (Pepito), 7a

*Giant Antpitta (Manuela, Carino), 7a

*Moustached Antpitta (Susan), 7a

*Chestnut-crowned Antpitta, 6

*Ochre-breasted Antpitta (Shakira), 7a

*Ashy-headed Tyrannulet, 7

Yellow-bellied Elaenia, 7

*Sierran Elaenia, 6

Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet, 2,5,7

*White-tailed Tyrannulet, 6

*White-banded Tyrannulet, 5

*Ornate Flycatcher, 7,7c,7m

Yellow-Olive Flycatcher, 7r

*Bran-coloured Flycatcher, 7

*Tawny-breasted Flycatcher, 7s

Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher, 7r

*Cinnamon Flycatcher, 6

Olive-sided Flycatcher, 7

*Smoke-coloured Pewee, 7a

Western Wood-Pewee, 7,7m

Black Phoebe, 7

Vermilion Flycatcher (f), 4

*Smoky Bush-Tyrant, 5

*Masked Water-Tyrant, 7

*Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant, 5

Social Flycatcher, 7,7r

*Golden-crowned Flycatcher, 6,7

Streaked Flycatcher, 7,7r

Boat-billed Flycatcher, 7

Tropical Kingbird, 7

Dusky-capped Flycatcher, 7

*Green-and-black Fruiteater (m/f), 6

*Andean Cock-of-the-rock (m/f), 7a

*Olivaceous Piha, 7a

*Club-winged Manakin (m), 7m

*White-bearded Manakin (m), 7m,7r

Black-crowned Tityra (f), 7

Masked Tityra (m/f), 7

Cinnamon Becard, 7,7m

*Black-and-white Becard (m), 6

One-coloured Bec. (m/f/juv), 7,7a,7c,7m

*Brown-capped Vireo, 6

Red-eyed Vireo, 7,7c

*Turquoise Jay, 5,6

Blue-and-white Swallow, 2,7,7r

Southern Rough-winged Swallow, 7

House Wren, 7,7m

*Mountain Wren, 7

*Plain-tailed Wren, 7

Bay Wren, 7r

*Stripe-throated Wren, 7r

*Rufous Wren, 5

Tropical Gnatcatcher, 7

Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrush, 6,7m

Swainson's Thrush, 7,7m

*Ecuadorian Thrush, 7,7r

*Great Thrush, 1,2,3,4,5,6

*Glossy-black Thrush,7m

Tropical Mockingbird, 4

*Superciliaried Hemispingus, 5

White-shouldered Tanager (m/f), 7,7r

*Tawny-crested Tanager (m), 7r

White-lined Tanager (m/f), 7

*Lemon-rumped Tan. (m/f), 7,7m,7r,7s

Blue-grey Tanager, 7,7m,7r

Palm Tanager, 7,7m,7r

*Hooded Mountain Tanager, 5

*Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager, 5

*Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager, 6,7a

*Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager, 7a

*Fawn-breasted Tanager, 7

*Golden-naped Tanager, 6,7a

*Black-capped Tanager, 7

Golden-hooded Tanager, 7r

*Blue-necked Tanager, 7

*Beryl-spangled Tanager, 7a

*Metallic-green Tanager, 7a

*Bay-headed Tanager (+juv), 7

*Flame-faced Tanager, 6

*Golden Tanager, 6,7,7a,7c,7m

Silver-throated Tanager, 7,7m

*Swallow Tanager (m/f), 7

*Scarlet-browed Tanager, 7r

*Guira Tanager (m/f), 7

*Cinereous Conebill, 1,2

*Blue-backed Conebill, 5

*Rusty Flowerpiercer (m/f), 4,5

*Glossy Flowerpiercer, 5

*Black Flowerpiercer, 2

*White-sided Flowerpiercer (m/f), 3,6,7

*Masked Flowerpiercer, 5,6,7a

Bananaquit, 6,7,7m,7r

*Slate-colored Grosbeak, 7r

Buff-throated Saltator, 7, 7r

*Black-winged Saltator, 7,7m

Rufous-collared Sparrow, 1,2,3,4,6,7s

*Slate-colored Seedeater (m/f), 7

Variable Seedeater (m/f), 7

*Black-and-White Seedeater (m/f), 5,7

Yellow-bellied Seedeater (m/f), 7

Orange-billed Sparrow, 7

*Tricolored Brush-Finch, 7,7a

*Rufous-naped Brush-Finch, 5,6

Summer Tanager (m/f), 7,7s

*White-winged Tanager (m/f), 4,7

*Dusky Bush-Tanager, 7,7a,7m,7s

*Yellow-throated Bush-Tanager, 7

*Gray-hooded Bush-Tanager, 7

Dusky-faced Tanager, 7r

*Golden-bellied Grosbeak, 2,6

Tropical Parula, 7,7c

Blackburnian Warbler, 6,7,7a,7c

*Olive-crowned Yellowthroat (juv), 7

Canada Warbler (m), 7

Slate-throated Whitestart, 6,7

*Spectacled Whitestart, 5

*Golden-bellied (Choco) Warbler, 7m

*Russet-crowned Warbler, 6,7c

Three-striped Warbler, 6,7,7c

Buff-rumped Warbler, 7r

Yellow-rumped Cacique, 7

Scarlet-rumped Cacique, 7r

*Scrub Blackbird, 7,7s

*Shiny Cowbird (m/f), 7

*Hooded Siskin, 1

*Yellow-bellied Siskin (m), 7

Lesser Goldfinch, 7

Thick-billed Euphonia, 6,7,7m

*Orange-bellied Euphonia (m/f), 7,7a



See request for ID help below!


Additionally, I had two birds I haven’t been able to identify.  The first I saw twice, very well, and made these notes:  “Tanager:  grass-green cap, body, breast; black face, wings.  Yellow on top front of wing (like mark on White-Lined Tanager).  When it flew—more yellow obvious.”  The second bird I saw only once, not as well, and made these notes:  “Small tanager size:  bright yellow body, forehead; bright white throat; bright grass-green wings with slight barring.”  Any help would be appreciated.



Ruth Richards

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