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November 1995 & September 1996

Greg D. & Debra G. Jackson

4-13 November 1995

Our first venture to South America, the 12-day journey to Ecuador was fantastic for many reasons.  An easy and secure place to visit on your own, Ecuador is an amazing land of contrasts, with a range of habitats surprising for such a small area.  The people are extremely friendly; it is a joy to travel in a place where you are well received.  We had no unpleasant encounters, enjoyed good food and accommodations, and experienced great birding.

We had obtained a variety of birdfinding information before the trip, but did not use guides or drivers.  This allowed greater freedom, and a sense of adventure, though we would have had a larger list had we used professional guides.  I prefer to find and identify my own birds, though, and would go on my own on future visits.

Driving is not for the timid, but is not too bad if you are patient and attentive.  The roads taken by birders in Ecuador are often poor, and four-wheel-drive (4WD) is strongly recommended (mainly for the higher clearance of the vehicle).  We prearranged a two-door Chevrolet Trooper from Budget in Quito, costing about $600 for 10 days.  This was a good vehicle for the task, excepting the sudden loss of function of the speedometer/odometer; this made finding described birding spots more of a challenge.  A drawback to the Trooper was the inability to leave the vicinity of the car while traveling due to the exposed luggage in the back; access to difficult roads was worth this inconvenience.  Gasoline was readily available in most areas, though in remote places you should not let the tank get too low.

I carried our passports, driver's and auto licenses, and extra money in a thin leather belt pouch tucked into my pants; identification always should be carried while driving, or even walking in the towns and cities.  We never felt threatened, but caution should be exercised in the less-affluent parts of Quito, especially at night.  We changed money at hotels for convenience, though slightly better rates may have been available elsewhere.  Many places in Ecuador accepted US dollars when we were low on sucres, however.  Credit cards were useful in several places, mainly in Quito.  Prices quoted are in US dollars, usually including the mandatory 10% each for tax and service.

Expect bad weather in Ecuador.  We suffered rain and fog most days, making birding difficult at times.  Hooded Gore-Tex jackets from Eddie Bauer were great, as were rubber/leather "Wellie-type" boots; birding with a small umbrella is a skill quickly learned in Ecuador.  A canvas shoulder bag was useful for carrying the Columbia guide and other small items in the field; adding a "ziplock" plastic bag as an inner liner helped in the frequent rain.  We were cold far more than warm, so adequate clothing is suggested; nights can be chilly and most of the hotels, even luxury hotels in Quito, did not have heat.  Due to a water deficit in reservoirs, during our stay there was a variable-onset electrical blackout for eight hours each day, a minor inconvenience.  We had no problems with insects at any site.

We used mefloquine (Lariam) for malaria prevention, and were inoculated for several diseases before the trip (Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A, Diphtheria/Tetanus, and Typhoid); the malaria prophylaxis probably was overkill given our itinerary.  We had no significant problems with gastrointestinal illness; bottled water was always available, and we tried to avoid potentially harmful foods.  The fare in Ecuador was both good and plentiful, with a wide variety of restaurants in Quito.  The modern section of Quito is surprisingly sophisticated, with good shopping and pleasant places for food and drink.

Our trip never took us more than four hours from Quito, which served as a convenient hub between stays in the countryside.  Excellent birding could be enjoyed if based only in Quito, but we liked the convenience of nights closer to the birding sites.  We sampled a variety of habitats in the Andes and on both slopes, from about 400 meters in the west to 1100 meters on the east slope.  We birded parts of 10 days, but sometimes this consisted of only a few hours in the field; Debi needed a few breaks from the birding routine, and a chance to enjoy other facets of the country.  In many areas, roadside birding is very productive.  We followed the advice of Bob and Lucy Duncan and often drove slowly, stopping for a bird likely to be part of a feeding flock; this technique worked very well, especially on long roads with considerable habitat.  I recommend using an altimeter at many sites, especially long roads on the slopes of the Andes.  A Casio wristwatch, available at Sharper Image stores, combining an altimeter, compass, and thermometer was very convenient and accurate to elevations up to 4000 m.



All our time was spent in the new portion of the city, which was very pleasant.  Calle Juan León Mera is the best shopping street, though interesting stores also are found on nearby Avenida Amazonas and Calle Cristóbal Colon.  Tree-lined streets with many restaurants and cafes fill this area.  Two highly recommended shops with local items are Olga Fisch Folklore (Colon and various hotels) and Galería Latina (Juan León Mera).  Libri Mundi is a good bookstore next to the Galería Latina.  We spent so much time shopping we did not have the opportunity to visit the old city.

The Hotel Sebastian was ideally-located in this area, and is a pleasant, modern hotel with friendly service and reasonable prices (for regular rooms).  Free guarded parking is available underground at the hotel, and there are two restaurants.  We stayed in the Sebastian three nights, separated by ventures into the surrounding areas, and were very pleased.  We had prepaid for a large suite as part of a lump sum involving multiple items, spending far more than was necessary at $224/night; I learned the individual price after we returned home.  Locating the hotel can be difficult without some pointers.  The best way is to drive east on Colon and take the right turn on Almagro just past the large Ecuatoriana building on the right; the hotel is on the left in one block.  From the Sebastian you can easily walk to surrounding streets for shopping and dining, and the Budget office is nearby on Colon.

At the end of the trip we stayed in the Hotel Oro Verde.  This is just southeast of the Sebastian, and is reached by driving east on Colon past Av. 6 de Diciembre, turning right on Av. 12 de Octubre.  The Oro Verde is on the left in a few blocks.  This is probably the most elegant hotel in the city, with prices to match; a suite was $244/night.  Our two nights here were very pleasant; the premium restaurant, Le Gourmet, was excellent (coat, but not tie, needed for men).

We were often so tired after late arrivals from the countryside we did not sample many restaurants in Quito.  This was unfortunate as there were several interesting choices.  Lunch on two days was at Ch Farina, a good pizza place, and at the Magic Bean, a recommended café/coffee house; both are reached from Juan León Mera.

Traffic usually is heavy in Quito, though early morning travel is easy.  Directions to most areas are in the texts by Green and Taylor, and leaving the city was not as troublesome as I had conceived.  The most difficult passage is to and from the south, where you mostly follow the flow of traffic with few signs available.  We encountered construction blocking some tunnels, and just stayed with the vehicles bypassing these areas.  When driving south on the divided Av. Mariscal Jose de Sucre (also known as Av. Vencedores de Pichincha), we never saw the described CEPE station.  To reach the Pan-American Highway, continue on Sucre until the circle, and turn left (3/4 around circle).  Follow the signs to the highway, turning right at another circle.  The Chiriboga road can be reached from the circle at the end of Sucre, with the CEPE station supposedly just before the circle.  When returning from Chiriboga, we emerged at the circle from the west.  Asking directions in this area might be a good idea if driving toward Chiriboga.

Papallacta area

The birdfinding texts cover the Papallacta region well.  This high páramo area over 4000 m is beautiful, particularly if you drive up to the microwave towers.  The first patches of polylepis woods east and west of the pass were productive for several specialties such as Giant Conebill and Black-backed Bush-Tanager (west grove only).  Boots are suggested for walking through the low areas in the páramo.

Blooming Datura flowers were in and just east of the town of Papallacta.  We narrowly missed what probably were Sword-billed Hummingbirds at two sites, pulling up just as large dark hummingbirds were leaving the flowers (without return).  Farther east down the mountain, there is a sharp left curve leading to a bridge over a river; we enjoyed good looks at a pair of amazing Torrent Ducks here.  At the northeast corner of the bridge a trail leads upstream to a forest grove with alders; we had been told this spot was productive, but we didn't have time to cover it.  The alder grove at 2450 meters at the Rio Maspa Chico evidently has been destroyed by a landslide, with little forest seen.

Cabañas San Isidro

In Baeza we passed through the sole police checkpoint of the trip, where we were asked to show identification (only when eastbound).  Proceeding through the small town of Baeza (gasoline available), we drove south toward Tena to the signed right turn to Cabañas San Isidro.  The turn is a little before the community of Cosanga, and the entrance road was very rough (4WD recommended).  An earthquake a few weeks before our visit had destroyed the road less than a mile from the cabins, but two men and a burro (!) were waiting to carry our luggage the rest of the way.  The car remained at the chasm, and evidently was guarded even at night by a ranch hand from San Isidro.  Traveling from the farm area was inconvenient, so we would leave only once each day (no dashing out for a quick look at an area).  This was only a minor inconvenience, however, and hopefully the damaged area will be bypassed in the near future.

San Isidro occupies an area of rolling hills at roughly 2100 meters.  An excellent base for exploring this region of Ecuador, several days should be allotted.  The setting of the ranch is beautiful, with views of nearby Guacamayos Ridge.  The cabins are simple but clean, with private baths and solar-powered hot water; when it had been sunny the water was surprisingly hot, but two nights out of three we took cold (and very quick!) showers due to the day's cloudiness.  With the elevation, the rooms are chilly at night; rain is frequent in this area, so prepare for mud and cold.  Price was about $55/night.

Carmen Bustamente is the daughter of the ranch owner, and is responsible for the hotel functions.  An educated and charming person, Carmen is fluent in English and made us feel like part of the family; everyone at the ranch was extremely friendly.  She knows many of the birds on the property.  One afternoon she took us to the small Andean Cock-of-the-Rock lek, where we had phenomenal looks at two males; the site is a little difficult to find on your own, with a very muddy trail.  Some interesting pre-Columbian artifacts have been discovered at the ranch which can be seen in the main house.

Food is prepared at whatever hour is necessary to accommodate your birding schedule, a nice convenience; box lunches are available if you are to be out all day.  Meals were excellent, with a sophisticated flair and light touch surprising for such an isolated, rural setting.  (The food is fairly expensive by Ecuadorian standards, costing nearly $200 for the two of us over three days.)  The two main trails at the farm are to the Cock-of-the-Rock lek, and another known as the Log Trail.  Four kilometers long, the latter consists of thousands of log segments placed transversely across the trail.  The local people and their horses walk this route in the fashion most of us treat a sidewalk; Debi and I found travel to be very difficult during the rain when the logs were slippery.  Birding on the Log Trail was moderately good one morning, including views of Golden-headed Quetzal and Dusky Piha.

Guacamayos Ridge

An excellent birding site, this was probably the best spot of the trip.  The pass is reached a few kilometers south of Cosanga, and is about 15 minutes from San Isidro.  The road is traversable in a normal car.  We had good birding along the road just south of Cosanga before reaching the ridge.  At the pass (2250 meters), there is a shrine and a radio tower on the south side of the road.  A trail leads past the tower, and reportedly is very good.  We had problems with thick fog near the pass, and unfortunately much roadside forest has been cleared in the upper levels close to the pass.  Our best birding, on parts of two days, was in the more southern portions of the road at 1600-1800 meters, on either side of a small village.  Birding from the road was very productive once a flock was spotted, with several flocks seen.  This was a fantastic place for tanagers; many other species were noted, with good looks at a Gray-tailed Piha at a higher-than-expected site.

Loreto Road

We spent one morning covering the western portion of the relatively new Loreto Road.  This easily-drivable route has good forest remnants at three, 10-11, and 13-18 kilometers from the Baeza-Tena road.  All our birding was from the roadside.  At the 3-km site there are good looks into a valley to the south, and many birds were present; we did not find the trail mentioned in some texts.  Interesting birds along the Loreto Road included Solitary Eagle (a pair!), Rufous-tailed Xenops, Plumbeous-crowned Tyrannulet, and Yellow-throated Tanager.

Hostería La Ciénega

A lovely hacienda and gardens dating to the 1600's, this is a very pleasant place to stay while birding the Cotopaxi area; a good restaurant is located next to a flower-filled courtyard.  The road to the hostería leads west just south of the town of Lasso below a small arch and a billboard advertising the hotel.  We requested the enormous and beautiful room #8 (Honeymoon Suite) featured in a recent Condé Nast Traveler; it's amazing to get such accommodation for little more than what a normal motel room would cost in the States ($86).  The grounds are filled with birds and are easily covered.  This is good site for several hummingbird, including Black-tailed Trainbearer and Sparkling Violet-ear; we missed the Giant Hummingbird mentioned in several texts.

The Lasso Marsh did not appear to be at the location reported.  We easily found two Subtropical Doraditos in a marshy area along the dirt road between the highway and the entrance to La Ciénega; this marsh was south of a curve just past the railroad tracks near the highway.

Cotopaxi National Park

A beautiful park easily reached (30 minutes) from the Hostería La Ciénega.  Contrary to the instructions in Taylor's book, I recommend access via the southern entrance when arriving from any direction.  The northern route, beginning near the CLIRSEN tracking station, forces you to drive a long, winding, rough road through a barren pine forest.  The entrance closest to Lasso is signed to the park, and you quickly reach the main entrance where the llama herd is kept.  We birded a few hours in the park one morning, then came back later after a long lunch.  Evidently you are not supposed to enter after 3PM, but we were admitted for a few hours anyway.

Most roads in the park could be negotiated with a normal car when dry, though the refugio track becomes a little rough and caution would be needed without 4WD.  Birding is productive and easy at Lake Limpiopunga; a trail leads from the far end of the parking lot giving access to the marsh and an adjacent brushy hillside.  The refugio road has few birds, but provided excellent views of at least three Chimborazo Hillstars above 4000 meters near the vegetation line.  We did not walk for the Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe at this site.

New Santo Domingo Road

Not a birding site, but a caution is in order.  The road is paved moderately well, but is tortuous and filled with commercial vehicles.  We drove down the mountain in thick fog at night, playing leapfrog with the trucks and crazy bus drivers.  This was not driving for the meek (? sane), and a morning drive would be better.  We had read that the signs for Tinalandia were difficult to see, but found them easily at night without the use of our broken odometer.


Lovely eco-resort, dating from the 1930's, at about 600 meters in the western lowlands.  We stayed in a duplex just outside the gate to the golf clubhouse, up the mountain from the restaurant and main house.  Our room, with private bath, was comfortable and clean, and we enjoyed good food and excellent hospitality.  A generator provides limited electricity during power outages.  Sergio Platonoff, the son of the owners, Tina and Eduardo Garzón, is a friendly host who speaks English well.  Everyone is very nice here, adding to the pleasure of the surroundings.  Meals, but not drinks, are included in the room price ($120/night); box lunches are available.  Tinalandia is excellent for birding, but also can serve as a base to explore Rio Palenque (not covered by us) and the lower end of the Chiriboga road.

The little-used golf course is attractive and easy to cover.  A map of trails is available from Sergio, giving access to the wet forest.  Walking on the narrow, hillside trails is a little tricky but manageable.  The best trail is found by turning right on a road just before the gate near the golf clubhouse, and continuing right just before a pond.  Bear right at the field edge and you will find the trail leading to the left along the mountain.  This connects with several other trails leading up the valley, and gives access to the upper end of the cattle pasture west of the golf course.

You can reach the upper trails by road with a 4WD vehicle.  Leaving the property at the highway, drive east to the first right turn on a rough dirt road.  In two kilometers or so, a small power line crosses the road just before a sharp left curve.  Between the two on the right is an easily-crossed segment of fence with a faint trail.  This leads in a few meters to the top of the pasture, near the entrance to two forest trails shown on the Tinalandia map.

Birding is very productive from the balcony of the restaurant, an excellent vantage over a small wooded gorge.  We had problems with heavy fog for the first few hours of both mornings at Tinalandia.  The second morning we birded at the restaurant instead of being enshrouded at the higher elevation of the golf course.

Chiriboga (Old Santo Domingo) Road

The beginning of the gravel/dirt Chiriboga road is about 11 kilometers east of Tinalandia at a "Petrochemidad"  sign.  Turn left here and look at the river from the bridge in a few hundred meters.  Andean Cock-of-the-Rock roosts under the bridge; Sergio has only seen females here, and recommends waiting an hour or so.  There are gasoline stations and small stores in a town and along the highway between Tinalandia and the turnoff.

The approximately 80 kilometers of rough road will test your patience due to the length, but we encountered no areas really difficult to drive with a 4WD Trooper.  Covering the entirety of this road with a conventional car would be trying but possible.  We drove the upper third at night in fog; at least you can't see the steep drop-offs in those conditions!

There has been a great deal of deforestation at the lower elevations, but we found a few patches of acceptable forest.  We used the "drive-and-stop-for-a-bird" method on this road, and found it to be a good technique for picking up feeding flocks.  The road in the lower part signed to Estacion Faisanes described in some texts was gated and did not appear accessible.

The best birding was west of the desolate town of Chiriboga.  A pass is reached at about 2200 meters, and there are good patches of woods at roughly 2100 meters west of the pass.  Superb forest is found in a large stretch between the pass and Chiriboga, and we encountered good birding at about 2000 meters.   Flocks east and west of the pass yielded a large variety of species, including the lovely Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, Toucan Barbet, and Turquoise Jay.  We really didn't have enough time to do this area justice, as we left Tinalandia nearly at midday.

Good forest continues in patches, sometimes across a river, to and east of Chiriboga.  Several kilometers east of the town, you make a long climb up the side of a spectacular valley through acceptable forest, though we did not find many birds on this stretch.  Eventually you cross the pass at the village of San Juan, and descend to Quito, arriving near the south end of the old city.


We only had one night at this excellent spot, and just scratched the surface of the birding potential here.  The new road to Mindo, via the Mitad del Mundo monument, is a scenic and easy drive of about 1-1/2 hours.  The turn to Mindo is on the left marked by signs for lodges, a reserve, and guide services for birders; the obelisk no longer is present.  A rough dirt road winds down the mountain to the town 400 meters below, beginning at about 1700 meters.  On our visit there was considerable construction activity to improve the road, which would be difficult without 4WD if very wet.  Unfortunately, the road improvement has resulted in significant roadside habitat destruction, but the birding was still good; the landmarks and distances mentioned in some texts have been changed by the road work.  Several feeding flocks were encountered, and interesting birds included Golden-headed Quetzal, Toucan Barbet, Pale-mandibled Araçari, and Powerful Woodpecker.

Mindo is one of the most relaxed places I've seen, with people and animals lounging everywhere in and along the main street.  To reach Hostería El Carmelo de Mindo, turn right halfway down the main drag at a small obelisk, and continue past the soccer field and pool to a bridge.  Take the first left after the bridge (good place for White-capped Dipper); the lodge is on the left in about a kilometer.

El Carmelo is a great base from which to explore the area.  Comfortable and attractive, you have the choice of A-frame chalets or tree-houses (!).  We stayed in a chalet, which had a private bath and plenty of room.  The two tree-houses are interesting but small, though there is enough room for a double bed and even a private bath.  The outdoor, covered restaurant is pleasant and serves good food (pay total bill on departure); price was $100 the first trip.  Washington Lopez is the friendly owner, and everyone is very pleasant and helpful; only Spanish was spoken.

Birding was good at the lodge (tanagers such as White-winged and Fawn-breasted at the buildings), and trails lead to the river and other areas of the large property.  By taking the road from the lodge up the hill, bearing right at the fork about 100 meters past the lodge, you arrive at a public dirt road ("ridge road").  Turn right and drive a kilometer or two to reach the start of the excellent Mindo Forest; this is the same road reached from the Rio Mindo not far from the Mindo Gardens Lodge.  Parts of the track are suitable only for 4WD vehicles, and eventually we reached an area too risky even for our Trooper.  Walking on this road was highly productive, and I recommend birding on foot when the forest is reached.  We enjoyed such birds as Golden-headed Quetzal, Toucan Barbet, Strong-billed Woodcreeper, and Ornate Flycatcher.

If you go past the main square in town and turn right, you will ford a small river.  The next left will take you to Mindo Gardens Lodge and a nearby covered bridge.  This short stretch (probably two kilometers) was the worst road we encountered on the trip, and would be impossible without 4WD; I would be reluctant to stay at Mindo Gardens just because of this road.  We did not find the Sunbittern at the covered bridge, though White-capped Dipper was present; the bridge is a great place for a picnic lunch.

14-23 SEPTEMBER 1996

We enjoyed the first visit so much, we decided on a casual follow-up trip.  This journey devoted more time to non-birding activities, with only about six days of birding time.  The primary focus was the Cuenca area in southern Ecuador, though a few days were spent in and near Quito before we returned home.

Though usually cloudy and often cold, weather problems were not severe this time; a full day on the Gualaceo-Limón road was ruined by constant rain, wind, and fog, however.  The biggest problem this time was gastrointestinal illness for both of us toward the end of the trip, causing the loss of about two days of birding time.  No malaria prophylaxis was used, as the lowest area we birded was Mindo.

We rented a 4WD Chevrolet Vitara both from International in Cuenca and from Budget in Quito.  This is a small, four-door, trooper-like vehicle that handled the rough roads very well.  Prices were similar to that of the 1995 trip, about $65-75/day.  In 1995, our US travel agent had used Metropolitan Touring in Quito to handle most of the arrangements.  Prices were very high by this method, and I had to intervene about an exorbitant rate that had been reserved for the rental car.  For the second trip, our agent booked everything directly when possible; this resulted in considerable savings and better control of what was reserved.



We again used the Hotel Sebastian as a base, spending five nights on three occasions.  This time we reserved a regular room directly, paying about $100/night; three of the nights we enjoyed free upgrades to large suites.  Though the rooms are not well-insulated against the street noise, this is a very nice hotel and is well situated; service is friendly and efficient, and I would return on future trips.

Due mostly to illness, we were not able to sample many restaurants in Quito.  We enjoyed dinner again at Ch Farina pizzeria near Juan León Mera, and had lunch on a shopping day at the Magic Bean.


We drove to Gualaceo on arrival in Cuenca, following a brief flight on SAN from Quito.  The main road to Gualaceo has been impassible for several years due to a landslide, with construction proceeding on a new route.  In the meantime, it takes just over an hour on unpaved roads to cover the distance, making a stay in Gualaceo important for those wishing to cover the Gualaceo-Limón road.

Gualaceo is a scruffy town in a valley just west of the eastern ridges of the Andes.  The best place to stay is the Parador Turistico Gualaceo (2265 m), reached by traversing the town and turning right at a sign before you cross the river.  The buildings and grounds are attractive, and rooms are simple but clean; there is no heat, so bring warm clothes for the cool nights.  There is a pleasant restaurant with good food, and the people at the hotel are friendly.  Cost was about $40/night.  Brief birding on the grounds was not very productive, though others have had better luck; we enjoyed a beautiful male Great Sapphirewing from the restaurant window, though.

The Gualaceo-Limón road (also known as the Gualaceo-Macas road), is a dirt/gravel route east over the last ridge of the Andes, rising to páramo then descending through good forest to the tropical zones.  Access is provided to a range of east slope zones, and birding is easy from the sparsely-traveled road.  Cross the river as you leave Gualaceo and continue on this road, ignoring both the right turn for Chordeleg (just after the bridge) and a sharp left a little farther.  The directions in the Taylor guide are adequate, though our odometer did not correspond well to his.  The road could be covered in a normal car, though the type of vehicle we had made for a easier drive.  For a couple of days, the route was blocked by a jackknifed truck, requiring a brief but very rough detour through a nearby village on the hill above the road.

We concentrated the first two days on the descent from the shrine at the highest pass east of the páramo.  This pass, at 3350 m, is reached in about 50 minutes from the parador.  The next pass (2200 m), marking the end of the stretch we covered, is 29.1 kilometers from the shrine (just under an hour without stopping).  The lowest point we reached along the road was 2130 m; the eastern part gave access to the upper subtropical zone, with the remainder in temperate vegetation.  Many waterfalls are seen as you slice down the eastern escarpment, and the whole area is very scenic.  There are two primitive restaurants along the way, but I suggest carrying all food and drink when covering this route.

The first day birding was fantastic, with many flocks as we worked down the mountain; it was difficult to find anything in the severe weather the next day on the same stretch.  Our last morning in Gualaceo was spent on the western end of the road, from just over 3000 m west of the páramo down to a bridge marking the start of a more developed area.  This western stretch passes through brushy hillsides interspersed with farmlands, excellent for hummingbirds and others.  We didn't work the páramo zone between the highest bridge and the shrine, which probably would have been productive.

Interesting birds on the Gualaceo-Limón road included Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, 11 species of hummingbird, Ocellated Tapaculo (two calling, with one seen well, at a bridge 2.0 kilometers east of the shrine at 2870 m), Red-crested Cotinga (western section at 2670 m), Barred Fruiteater, and numerous tanagers and allies including five species of mountain-tanager and Plush-capped Finch (the latter east of the shrine at 2780 m).


Cuenca is an attractive city (2530 m) providing a good base for visiting Las Cajas National Recreational Area and the Inca ruins of Ingapirca.  The center of town is pleasant for walking, with many shops and beautiful colonial buildings.  We stayed at the luxurious Hotel Oro Verde west of center, reached by turning west from the Pan-American Highway at the circle with the Bolívar statue; the hotel is on the left in several blocks.  Rooms are spacious, front a small lake, and fortunately have small space heaters; service is very friendly.  We paid only $114 for a room with a king bed, reasonable for the quality of the facilities.

Cuenca has several good restaurants, and we enjoyed the Villa Rosa and El Jardin.  These central spots are very nice and have excellent food and service, with the Villa Rosa having a more elegant setting.  Nice casual clothes are acceptable in both, though a jacket probably would have been a little better at the Villa Rosa.  Complete meals with wine for two were $60-70.

The ruins of Ingapirca are the most extensive remaining in Ecuador.  They are about two hours north of Cuenca, not far from the Pan-American Highway.  Though not as impressive as many we have visited in Mexico, it is still an interesting site and worth a visit.

Returning to Quito on TAME was easy, but I recommend early airport arrival when using this military-run airline.  There are no assigned seats, and reportedly space is given away quickly, despite reservations.  Those with luggage to check should ignore the long lines and go up to the counter when someone eventually appears; this seemed rude to us at first, but several locals in line told us it was the proper procedure when checking bags.

Las Cajas National Recreation Area

This beautiful area of páramo and temperate forest is about a half hour west of Cuenca on the road running past the Hotel Oro Verde.  The road has been paved recently, and in most areas is very good.  No one was at the entrance station when we entered about 6:30 A.M., so the $10 fee was skipped.

We drove first to the refugio area at Lake Toreadora (3825 m).  In brush along the switchbacks before reaching this area, we had the endemic Violet-throated Metaltail along the road.  From the polylepis forest on the south side of Lake Toreadora, walk near the shore to the forest patch on the west side.  The groves can be entered, and Tit-like Dacnis was found in both.  A Giant Conebill was seen at close range near the closest woods, and the western forest had Blue-mantled Thornbill.  Páramo species may be found in the open area along the lakeshore.  A few birds were seen near the refugio, including great looks at a male Chimborazo Hillstar.  Similar species can be seen without much walking by driving about a kilometer and taking the left turn to Lake Illinococha.  Park near the buildings and walk up to the forest, where Tit-like Dacnis and Blue-mantled Thornbill were easy to find.

There is a great lunch spot in Cajas at a trout farm called Dos Chorreras; this spot is well-signed and is just off the road on the left as you drive through the park toward the refugio.  A pleasant, casual spot, you can get a several-course meal for $5/person; the trout is fresh and excellent.  This is a good spot to take off the chill, especially when they bring the complimentary warm liqueur to start the meal.

After lunch we attempted to bird Lake Llaviuco (3055 m) closer to the park entrance.  Road work has changed some of the directions in the guides; take a left where an obvious valley is seen, at a sign for a forest and vegetation protection program.  The dirt road is very rough but drivable with high clearance.  Most of our time was spent at the southwest corner waiting for, and eventually observing, the staked-out Sword-billed Hummingbird.  There are several Datura bushes with long red and yellow flowers near a dilapidated building, and sitting in the car near these is productive for this amazing bird.

Getting to the cloud forest at the northeast corner of the lake evidently has become more complicated.  There is a dam at the east end, but it is fenced.  Park near the curve on the dam and look for the gate with a foot passage.  Follow the wide track along the base of the dam to the creek.  There is a gap in the concrete spillway that would require a long jump or climbing on the sluice gate.  I felt Debi wouldn't wish to do this, especially in the rain after a long day, so we skipped this spot.


We spent one night in Mindo, the only repeat birding location from last year.  We had planned to bird the Nono-Mindo road either to or from Mindo, but one of us was sick both times causing us to scrap these plans.  As before, we enjoyed the rustic but nice Hostería El Carmelo de Mindo (1285 m).  The A-frame chalet was $72; tasty meals were extra.  A young American was employed this time as an assistant and guide; we enjoyed talking to him while at the Hostería, though did not require his guide services.

Birding at Mindo was limited to two sites.  We had a productive afternoon in light rain and mist on the Mindo entrance road, which has been greatly improved at the expense of some habitat.  The following morning we worked the ridge road (about 1500 m) above the Hostería.  This track was much drier than before, and this year with 4WD we were able to drive the 7-8 kilometers to the end.  Birding was excellent on this road, as it had been previously; several trails lead into the forest from the road, but we didn't have time to explore them.  We had great looks at a pair of calling Wattled Guans in a tree, found a flowering tree with eight species of hummingbirds, and had two small adjacent leks of Club-winged Manakin.  The manakin leks were at and just past a sign indicating the sale of 100 hectares of land; this was 1.0 kilometer beyond a small sign for another part of the Hostería El Carmelo property, and 1.3 kilometers from the end of the track.


After a late start due to continued illness, we tried to bird at Yanacocha near Quito.  This was probably a mistake in view of my weakness at that point, especially working at high elevations (about 3500 m).  The directions to the beginning of the Nono-Mindo road are poor in the Taylor guide, with several mistakes.  The left turn driving north on Av. Occidental is across from a large dirt bank just north of some apartment buildings (no purple building); the turn is marked for the Hostería San Jorge.  Drive 3.4 kilometers (not 1.9) to a fork with a sign for the Hostería (not the hotel itself), and take the right.  Drive 6.4 kilometers to an angled left up a slope just before the main road curves left (no house in view).  From this point the directions in Taylor matched perfectly on multiple points of mileage and description, so I believed we were on the proper road then.  No mileage is given to the ditch of Yanacocha, though, and I never really felt we found the area.  I birded at a large ditch on the left at 2.3 kilometers past the double fork; we turned around at the stream farther on where the road curves sharply back to the right on the opposite side of the valley.  Perhaps Yanacocha was beyond this, but we decided to just bird the roadside bushes.  Birding was very disappointing, probably in part due to the late morning time and my poor condition.


 Total species: 304 (237 & 177)

 Life birds:  GDJ - 207 (147 & 60)
    DGJ - 191 (136 & 55)

Taxonomy, species order, and English names follow Clements' Birds of the World: A Checklist, 4th edition, and supplements.  If a location is not listed, the species was found at multiple sites.

Little Tinamou -- Tinalandia; heard only
Speckled Teal -- Cotopaxi NP
Yellow-billed Pintail -- Cotopaxi NP
Cattle Egret -- Quito to Cotopaxi NP, Tinalandia, Mindo
Striated Heron -- Tinalandia
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle -- west Gualaceo-Limón road
Solitary Eagle -- Loreto Road (KM 17.5)
Roadside Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk -- Guacamayos Ridge
Red-backed Hawk
Puna Hawk -- Papallacta Pass
eagle sp. -- Mindo ridge road
Carunculated Caracara -- Papallacta Pass, Cotopaxi NP, Las Cajas NRA, Yanacocha
American Kestrel
Wattled Guan -- Mindo ridge road
American (Andean) Coot -- Cotopaxi NP, Las Cajas NRA
Greater Yellowlegs -- Cotopaxi NP
Lesser Yellowlegs -- Cotopaxi NP
Spotted Sandpiper -- Mindo
White-rumped Sandpiper -- Cotopaxi NP
Baird's Sandpiper -- Cotopaxi NP
Wilson's Phalarope -- Cotopaxi NP
Semipalmated Plover -- Cotopaxi NP
Andean Lapwing -- Cotopaxi NP
Andean Gull -- Cotopaxi NP, Las Cajas NRA, Cuenca to Ingapirca
Rock Dove
Band-tailed Pigeon -- Mindo entrance road, Gualaceo-Limón road
Plumbeous Pigeon -- Tinalandia, Chiriboga Road, Mindo ridge road
Eared Dove
Common Ground-Dove -- north of Quito
White-tipped Dove -- Cuenca to Gualaceo
Pallid Dove -- Tinalandia
Red-billed Parrot -- Cabañas San Isidro, Chiriboga Road
Bronze-winged Parrot -- Tinalandia, Mindo entrance road
Scaly-naped Parrot -- Mindo ridge road
Squirrel Cuckoo
Smooth-billed Ani -- Mindo
Pauraque -- Mindo ridge road
Band-winged Nightjar -- Chiriboga Road (3100-3400 m)
Chestnut-collared Swift
White-collared Swift
Gray-rumped Swift -- Loreto Road (KM 15)
Tawny-bellied Hermit -- Mindo ridge road
Gray-chinned Hermit -- Cabañas San Isidro
Green-fronted Lancebill -- Loreto Road (KM 3), Mindo (Rio Mindo and ridge road)
Brown Violet-ear -- Mindo ridge road
Sparkling Violet-ear -- Hostería La Ciénega, Mindo ridge road
Green Thorntail -- Tinalandia
Violet-crowned Woodnymph -- Mindo ridge road
Fork-tailed Woodnymph -- Loreto Road (KM 17.5)
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird -- Tinalandia, Mindo
Speckled Hummingbird -- Chiriboga Road
Empress Brilliant -- Mindo entrance road, Mindo ridge road
Chimborazo Hillstar -- Cotopaxi NP (4000+ m), Las Cajas NRA (3800+ m)
White-tailed Hillstar -- Loreto Road, Chiriboga Road
Shining Sunbeam -- west Gualaceo-Limón road, Yanacocha area
Mountain Velvetbreast -- east Gualaceo-Limón road
Great Sapphirewing -- Parador Turistico Gualaceo
Brown Inca -- Mindo ridge road, Mindo entrance road
Collared Inca -- Guacamayos Ridge, Cabañas San Isidro, Gualaceo-Limón road
Rainbow Starfrontlet - west Gualaceo-Limón road, first section of Las Cajas NRA road
Sword-billed Hummingbird -- Las Cajas NRA (L. Llaviuco)
Buff-tailed Coronet -- Mindo ridge road
Amethyst-throated Sunangel -- east Gualaceo-Limón road (2100-2200 m)
Glowing Puffleg -- Gualaceo-Limón road
Purple-bibbed Whitetip -- Mindo ridge road
Booted Racket-tail -- Mindo ridge road
Black-tailed Trainbearer -- Hostería La Ciénega, Cotopaxi NP, Las Cajas NRA, Ingapirca
Purple-backed Thornbill -- east Gualaceo-Limón road (3015 m)
Violet-throated Metaltail -- Las Cajas NRA road (switchbacks at 3500-3700 m)
Tyrian Metaltail -- east Gualaceo-Limón road
Blue-mantled Thornbill -- Las Cajas NRA polylepis areas (3800+ m)
Rainbow-bearded Thornbill -- Gualaceo-Limón road
Long-tailed Sylph -- Cabañas San Isidro, Guacamayos Ridge, Loreto Road
Violet-tailed Sylph -- Mindo entrance road, Mindo ridge road
Purple-throated Woodstar -- Mindo ridge road
Purple-collared Woodstar -- Parador Turistico Gualaceo, west Gualaceo-Limón road,
Las Cajas NRA (L. Llaviuco)
Golden-headed Quetzal -- Cabañas San Isidro, Mindo
Ringed Kingfisher -- Tinalandia
Amazon Kingfisher -- Loreto Road
Broad-billed Motmot -- Tinalandia
Red-headed Barbet -- Guacamayos Ridge, Tinalandia, Mindo ridge road
Toucan Barbet -- Chiriboga Road, Mindo
Emerald Toucanet -- Cabañas San Isidro
Crimson-rumped Toucanet -- Tinalandia, Mindo entrance road
Pale-mandibled Araçari -- Mindo entrance road
Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan -- Chiriboga Road
Lafresnaye's Piculet -- Loreto Road
Olivaceous Piculet -- Tinalandia
Black-cheeked Woodpecker -- Tinalandia
Smoky-brown Woodpecker -- Loreto Road
Red-rumped Woodpecker -- Tinalandia, Mindo ridge road, Mindo entrance road
Golden-olive Woodpecker -- Tinalandia, Mindo
Crimson-mantled Woodpecker -- west Gualaceo-Limón road
Powerful Woodpecker -- Mindo entrance road
Plain-brown Woodcreeper -- Mindo ridge road
Strong-billed Woodcreeper -- Mindo ridge road, Mindo entrance road
Spotted Woodcreeper -- Tinalandia, Mindo ridge road
Montane Woodcreeper -- Cabañas San Isidro, Chiriboga Road, Mindo ridge road
Bar-winged Cinclodes -- Papallacta Pass, Cotopaxi NP, Gualaceo-Limón road (páramo),
Las Cajas NRA
Stout-billed Cinclodes -- Papallacta Pass, Cotopaxi NP, Las Cajas NRA
Pale-legged Hornero -- Tinalandia, Chiriboga Road
Andean Tit-Spinetail -- Papallacta Pass, Las Cajas NRA
Azara's Spinetail -- Cabañas San Isidro, Guacamayos Ridge, Mindo,
Gualaceo-Limón road
Slaty Spinetail -- Tinalandia, Mindo ridge road
Rufous Spinetail -- Chiriboga Road
Red-faced Spinetail -- Chiriboga Road, Mindo
Many-striped Canastero -- Papallacta Pass, Las Cajas NRA
Rusty-winged Barbtail -- Chiriboga Road
Pearled Treerunner
Streaked Tuftedcheek -- Cabañas San Isidro, Chiriboga Road
Striped Woodhaunter -- Mindo entrance road
Scaly-throated Foliage-gleaner -- Mindo ridge road, Mindo entrance road
Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner -- Tinalandia, Mindo ridge road
Streak-capped Treehunter -- Chiriboga Road
Rufous-tailed Xenops -- Loreto Road (KM 3)
antshrike sp. -- Loreto Road
Long-tailed Antbird -- Cabañas San Isidro, Mindo entrance road
Chestnut-backed Antbird -- Tinalandia
Tawny Antpitta -- Papallacta Pass, Cotopaxi NP, Las Cajas NRA, Yanacocha area
Ocellated Tapaculo -- east Gualaceo-Limón road (bridge 2.0 km east of shrine at
2870 m)
Red-crested Cotinga -- west Gualaceo-Limón road (2670 m)
Green-and-black Fruiteater -- Cabañas San Isidro, Chiriboga Road, east Gualaceo-Limón road
Barred Fruiteater -- east Gualaceo-Limón road (3015 m)
Gray-tailed Piha -- Guacamayos Ridge (1700 m)
Dusky Piha -- Cabañas San Isidro (Log Trail)
Andean Cock-of-the-rock -- Cabañas San Isidro (Cock-of-the-rock Trail)
Golden-winged Manakin -- Mindo entrance road (about 1600 m)
Club-winged Manakin -- Mindo ridge road (1.0-1.3 km from end, 1500 m)
Streak-necked Flycatcher -- Guacamayos Ridge, Chiriboga Road, east Gualaceo-Limón road
Rufous-crowned Tody-Tyrant -- Guacamayos Ridge, Cabañas San Isidro
Common Tody-Flycatcher -- Loreto Road
Plumbeous-crowned Tyrannulet -- Loreto Road (KM 15)
Black-capped Tyrannulet -- Tinalandia, east Gualaceo-Limón road
Golden-faced Tyrannulet -- Tinalandia
Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet -- Hostería El Carmelo de Mindo
White-crested Elaenia -- west Gualaceo-Limón road
Sierran Elaenia -- east Gualaceo-Limón road
White-throated Tyrannulet -- Papallacta Pass
Rufous-winged Tyrannulet -- Mindo
Sulphur-bellied Tyrannulet -- east Gualaceo-Limón road
Torrent Tyrannulet
Tufted Tit-Tyrant -- Hostería La Ciénega, Gualaceo-Limón road, Las Cajas NRA
Subtropical Doradito -- Hostería La Ciénega (Lasso Marsh)
Marble-faced Bristle-Tyrant -- Tinalandia, Mindo entrance road
Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant -- Mindo ridge road
Ornate Flycatcher -- Mindo ridge road
Cinnamon Flycatcher -- Cabañas San Isidro, Guacamayos Ridge, Hostería La Ciénega, east Gualaceo-Limón road
Olive-sided Flycatcher -- Loreto Road, Tinalandia, Mindo entrance road
Smoke-colored Pewee -- Mindo entrance road
wood-pewee sp.
Black Phoebe
Vermilion Flycatcher
Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrant -- Guacamayos Ridge, east Gualaceo-Limón road
Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant -- east Gualaceo-Limón road
Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant -- Papallacta Pass, Cotopaxi NP, Las Cajas NRA
Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant -- Hostería La Ciénega
Black-billed Shrike-Tyrant -- Las Cajas NRA (3500+ m)
Plain-capped Ground-Tyrant -- Papallacta Pass, Cotopaxi NP, Las Cajas NRA
Masked Water-Tyrant -- Tinalandia
Dusky-capped Flycatcher
Tropical Kingbird
Boat-billed Flycatcher -- Tinalandia
Golden-crowned Flycatcher -- Loreto Road, Guacamayos Ridge, Mindo
Streaked Flycatcher -- Mindo ridge road
Rusty-margined Flycatcher - Mindo entrance road
Social Flycatcher
Gray-capped Flycatcher -- Tinalandia, Mindo ridge road
Barred Becard -- east Gualaceo-Limón road
Black-and-white Becard -- Chiriboga Road
One-colored Becard -- Tinalandia, Mindo
Masked Tityra -- Tinalandia, Mindo ridge road
Turquoise Jay -- Chiriboga Road
Green Jay -- Cabañas San Isidro
Rufous-browed Peppershrike -- east Gualaceo-Limón road (2130 m)
Red-eyed Vireo -- Tinalandia, Mindo entrance road
Brown-capped Vireo
Lesser Greenlet -- Tinalandia
White-capped Dipper -- Mindo, east Gualaceo-Limón road
Andean Solitaire - Mindo entrance road, Mindo ridge road; heard only
Swainson's Thrush
Chiguanco Thrush -- southern Ecuador
Great Thrush
Ecuadorian Thrush -- Tinalandia, Hostería El Carmelo de Mindo
Thrush-like Wren -- Loreto Road (KM 17.5)
Band-backed Wren -- Tinalandia
Sedge Wren -- Cotopaxi NP
Plain-tailed Wren -- Mindo entrance road
Coraya Wren -- Loreto Road (KM 3)
Bay Wren -- Tinalandia
House Wren
Mountain Wren -- east Gualaceo-Limón road, Mindo
Gray-breasted Wood-Wren
Brown-bellied Swallow
Blue-and-white Swallow
Southern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
House Sparrow
Hooded Siskin -- Hostería La Ciénega, Gualaceo-Limón road, Ingapirca
Olivaceous Siskin -- Loreto Road (KM 3)
Lesser Goldfinch -- Tinalandia
Tropical Parula -- Chiriboga Road, Mindo
Blackburnian Warbler
Cerulean Warbler -- Loreto Road (KM 3)
American Redstart -- Loreto Road (KM 3)
Canada Warbler
Slate-throated Redstart -- northern Ecuador
Spectacled Redstart -- southern Ecuador
Golden-bellied Warbler -- Tinalandia
Citrine Warbler -- Gualaceo-Limón road
Black-crested Warbler -- Guacamayos Ridge, Cabañas San Isidro, Gualaceo-Limón road
Three-striped Warbler -- Chiriboga Road, Mindo
Rufous-collared Sparrow
Yellow-browed Sparrow -- Loreto Road
Orange-billed Sparrow -- Tinalandia
Pale-naped Brush-Finch -- Gualaceo-Limón road
Rufous-naped Brush-Finch -- southern Ecuador
Tricolored Brush-Finch -- Mindo entrance road
Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch -- Cabañas San Isidro, Chiriboga Road
Bananaquit -- Loreto Road (KM 3)
Cinereous Conebill -- Papallacta Pass, Hostería La Ciénega, Gualaceo-Limón road
Blue-backed Conebill -- east Gualaceo-Limón road
Capped Conebill -- east Gualaceo-Limón road
Giant Conebill -- Papallacta Pass (polylepis east & west of pass),
Las Cajas NRA (L. Toreadora)
Magpie Tanager -- Loreto Road
Grass-green Tanager -- Guacamayos Ridge, east Gualaceo-Limón road
Common Bush-Tanager
Dusky Bush-Tanager -- Mindo ridge road, Mindo entrance road
Yellow-throated Bush-Tanager
Ashy-throated Bush-Tanager
Gray-hooded Bush-Tanager -- east Gualaceo-Limón road
Black-capped Hemispingus -- east Gualaceo-Limón road
Superciliared Hemispingus -- Guacamayos Ridge, east Gualaceo-Limón road
Oleaginous Hemispingus -- Guacamayos Ridge
Black-headed Hemispingus -- east Gualaceo-Limón road
Dusky-faced Tanager -- Tinalandia
Ochre-breasted Tanager -- Tinalandia, Mindo ridge road
Rufous-crested Tanager -- Guacamayos Ridge
Summer Tanager
White-winged Tanager -- Hostería El Carmelo de Mindo
Red-hooded Tanager -- east Gualaceo-Limón road (2150 m)
Vermilion Tanager -- Guacamayos Ridge
Silver-beaked Tanager -- Loreto Road
Flame-rumped Tanager -- Tinalandia, Mindo
Blue-gray Tanager -- Tinalandia, Mindo
Palm Tanager -- Tinalandia, Hostería El Carmelo de Mindo
Blue-and-yellow Tanager -- Hostería La Ciénega
Hooded Mountain-Tanager -- Baeza to Papallacta, east Gualaceo-Limón road
Black-chested Mountain-Tanager -- west Gualaceo-Limón road (3050 m)
Lacrimose Mountain-Tanager -- Gualaceo-Limón road
Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager -- Gualaceo-Limón road
Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager -- Guacamayos Ridge, Mindo entrance road,
Mindo ridge road
Yellow-throated Tanager -- Loreto Road (KM 12)
Golden-crowned Tanager -- Gualaceo-Limón road
Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager -- west Gualaceo-Limón road (2670 m)
Fawn-breasted Tanager -- Mindo
Orange-crowned Euphonia -- Tinalandia, Mindo entrance road
Orange-bellied Euphonia -- Loreto Road, Mindo
Blue-naped Chlorophonia -- Loreto Road (KM 3)
Green-and-gold Tanager -- Loreto Road (KM 17.5)
Golden Tanager -- Guacamayos Ridge, Mindo
Silver-throated Tanager -- Tinalandia
Saffron-crowned Tanager
Flame-faced Tanager
Spotted Tanager -- Loreto Road (KM 3)
Rufous-throated Tanager -- Mindo entrance road, Mindo ridge road
Bay-headed Tanager
Blue-necked Tanager
Masked Tanager -- Tinalandia
Beryl-spangled Tanager
Blue-and-black Tanager -- east Gualaceo-Limón road
Black-faced Dacnis -- Loreto Road, Tinalandia, Mindo
Blue Dacnis -- Guacamayos Ridge
Green Honeycreeper -- Guacamayos Ridge, Tinalandia
Tit-like Dacnis -- Las Cajas NRA polylepis (3800+ m)
Swallow-Tanager -- Tinalandia, Mindo entrance road
Plush-capped Finch -- east Gualaceo-Limón road (2780 m)
Black-backed Bush-Tanager -- Papallacta Pass (polylepis west of pass)
Plumbeous Sierra-Finch -- Papallacta Pass, Cotopaxi NP, Las Cajas NRA
Blue-black Grassquit -- Tinalandia, Mindo
Variable Seedeater -- Tinalandia, Mindo
Yellow-bellied Seedeater -- Tinalandia, Chiriboga Road, Mindo
Chestnut-bellied Seedeater -- Loreto Road
Band-tailed Seedeater -- Hostería La Ciénega, west Gualaceo-Limón road, Ingapirca
Plain-colored Seedeater -- Papallacta Pass
Páramo Seedeater -- Cotopaxi NP
Rusty Flower-piercer -- Guacamayos Ridge
 White-sided Flower-piercer -- Cabañas San Isidro, Chiriboga Road, east Gualaceo-Limón road
Glossy Flower-piercer -- Gualaceo-Limón road
Black Flower-piercer
Deep-blue Flower-piercer -- Loreto Road, Guacamayos Ridge
Bluish Flower-piercer -- Guacamayos Ridge
Masked Flower-piercer -- Cabañas San Isidro, Gualaceo-Limón road
Yellow Grosbeak -- Chiriboga Road, west Gualaceo-Limón road, Cuenca to Ingapirca
Rose-breasted Grosbeak -- Tinalandia, Mindo entrance road
Buff-throated Saltator -- Mindo
Black-winged Saltator -- Tinalandia, Mindo entrance road
Russet-backed Oropendola -- Cabañas San Isidro, Loreto Road
Mountain Cacique -- Papallacta to Baeza
Scrub Blackbird -- Tinalandia
Shiny Cowbird -- Ingapirca
Giant Cowbird -- Mindo


Birdfinding information is widely available.  Taylor's Birder's Guide to Ecuador (1995) was very helpful, with only a few directional errors noted.  Good privately-produced trip reports by R. Thomas (1990), C. Green (1991 edition used; revised 1996), E. Mølgaard et al. (1992), J. Vermeulen (1993), and G. Finch (1994) are available from Subbuteo Natural History Books (UK); a report by A. & N. Chartier (1991) was from the ABA Foreign Field Notes collection.  Where to Watch Birds in South America by Wheatley (1994) was moderately productive.  Following our second visit, A Guide to Bird-watching in Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands was published.  This extensive guide by Best, Heijnen, and Williams appears to be well done and useful.  I also obtained advice from Bob and Lucy Duncan, Ann Forster, and Larry Gardella.

The primary field guide was the Guide to the Birds of Columbia by Hilty and Brown (1986), my constant companion.  As not all Ecuadorian birds are illustrated, I compiled a print album by photographing many of the excluded species in other texts.  The situation should improve when Ridgely and Greenfield’s Ecuador guide is completed.  Birds of Ecuador: locational checklist with English and Spanish common names (1990) by Crespo, Greenfield, and Matheus (1990) was purchased the first trip at the excellent book shop in new Quito, Libri Mundi; it was not seen there in 1996.  This list was extremely helpful in deciding what species to expect at a given area and altitude.  Birds of the High Andes by Fjeldså and Krabbe (1990) was a useful reference in the hotel and car.  Unfortunately, I didn't have space for the two available volumes (1989 & 1994) of Birds of South America by Ridgely and Tudor.  Dunning's South American Birds: a photographic aid to identification (1987) was moderately helpful, though I did not bring it the second trip.  The Ecuador checklist compiled by Rogers (1992) was a good repository for daily tallies.

Several general guides to Ecuador were handy.  Best were the Lonely Planet guide (1992), South American Handbook (1995), and The New Key to Ecuador and the Galapagos (1996).  Guides in the Cadogan, Birnbaum, and Insight series were of moderate utility.  The ITM map of Ecuador (1994, 1:1,000,000 scale) was the best general map I found.  There are useful local maps in the Pocket Guide to Ecuador (1994), available at Libri Mundi.

Greg D. Jackson

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