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8-11 September 1997

J. Hornbuckle & R.C. Brace

The Cerro Golondrinas Reserve in Carchi near the Colombian border comprises 500 ha of cloud forest at 1600-2400+m in the largely deforested mountains of NW Ecuador. It is owned by the Fundación Golondrinas, whose directors, Eliza Mariteca Onate and Piet Sabbe, are based at Calle Isabel La Catolica 1559, Quito (tel 226 602, fax 00593 2 502 640, e-mail: Our visit, to and from La Carolina, our "starting point", arranged through Eliza and Piet, was aimed at increasing the knowledge of the reserve's avifauna. An alternative strategy, which a few other birders have followed, is to trek from Moran at 3000m, up and across the paramo and down through the reserve to La Carolina - this is a "standard" 4-day trek, again organised through Eliza and Piet, with a charge of $50 per person per day, all-in. A bird-list for this trek, based mainly on a compilation by Niels Krabbe, is available from the Fundación.

Fundación Golondrinas is a locally run conservation organisation dedicated to conserving up to 25,000 ha of montane cloud forest and ensuring a sustainable living for local people by education and improved agroforestry practices. It is achieving some success, with limited resources and the assistance of a number of young volunteers, and deserves every support. Even staying at their simple and friendly hostal, La Casa de Eliza, in Quito, which we highly recommend, contributes to the finances of the Fundación. As throughout virtually all of forested Ecuador, the sound of the chainsaw has still to be silenced on Cerro Golondrinas.

Although the Reserve holds some excellent birds, such as Yellow-breasted Antpitta, Bicoloured Antvireo, Beautiful Jay and Purple-mantled Tanager, it is not well-known (not even meriting a mention in the site guide of Best et al, 1997) and hence rarely visited by birders. We spent 3 whole days in the Reserve, mist netting some of the time, and staying in the hostel-style accommodation of El Corazón. Conditions were unusually dry and birds generally quiet, which probably accounts for our failure to record some of the listed species. We did add Little Cuckoo, Spotted Barbtail, Golden-olive Woodpecker, Handsome Flycatcher and Red-eyed Vireo to the list.


Bus from Quito to Ibarra (2.5-3 hours), then Lita or San Lorenzo bus to La Carolina (1-1.5 hours) - overnight at the comfortable Cerro Golondrinas Cloudforest Conservation Project (CGCCP) headquarters. CGCCP truck to Las Juntas (1 hour), walk to El Corazón 1450 -2200m (3.5+ hours) with guide / cook, and baggage on horse. Return the same way.


This is an excellent reserve, which should be included in any comprehensive birding tour of Ecuador. Highlights for us were White-throated Quail-Dove, a good selection of hummers including Empress Brilliant, Gorgeted Sunangel and Hoary Puffleg, Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, Powerful Woodpecker, Striped Treehunter, Bicoloured Antvireo, Long-tailed Antbird, Rufous-breasted Antthrush, Yellow-breasted Antpitta, Narino Tapaculo, Green-and-black Fruiteater, Bronze-olive and Rufous-headed Pygmy-Tyrants, Flavescent Flycatcher, Beautiful Jay, Olive Finch and Rufous-chested Tanager.

We recorded seven Globally Threatened species (Collar et al, 1994, Birds to watch 2, BirdLife International), the Vulnerable and rare Bicoloured Antvireo, and Near-threatened Colombian Screech-Owl, Hoary Puffleg, Toucan Barbet, Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan and Beautiful Jay. The Critically Endangered Yellow-eared Parrot has been seen here and the Vulnerable Dark-backed Wood-Quail, Black-thighed Puffleg and Purplish-mantled Tanager also occur in the area. Further observations will surely add new and interesting species to the Reserve's list.

Jon Hornbuckle & Robin Brace

Correspondence to 35 Grove Road, Sheffield S7 2GY UK e-mail:


Systematic List of Birds

All records in the vicinity of El Corazón, 2100-2350m unless otherwise stated.
Black Vulture Coragyps atratus 1 or 2
Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura Only 1
Roadside Hawk Buteo magnirostris Singles at El Corazón and La Carolina
Short-tailed Hawk Buteo brachyurus 1 at Las Juntas
Ornate Hawk-Eagle Spizaetus ornatus 1 on 11th
Bat Falcon Falco rufigularis 1 on 11th
Sickle-winged Guan Chamaepetes goudotii 1 on 9th
Band-tailed Pigeon Columba fasciata Up to 5 daily
Ruddy Pigeon Columba subvinacea 1 seen and others heard
Ecuadorian Ground-Dove Columbina buckleyi 2 at La Carolina
White-throated Quail-Dove Geotrygon frenata 1 on 9th
Little Cuckoo Piaya minuta 1 trapped
Squirrel Cuckoo Piaya cayana 1 or 2 daily
Colombian Screech-Owl Otus colombianus 1 heard on 10th
Rufous-banded Owl Strix albitarsus 1 large owl heard, possibly this sp.
Band-winged Nightjar Caprimulgus longirostris 1 at dusk on 10th
White-collared Swift Streptoprocne zonaris A few on 2 dates and 100 Las Juntas
Tawny-bellied Hermit Phaethornis syrmatophorus 3 trapped and 1 seen
Blue-tailed Emerald Chlorostilbon mellisugus A female on 11th
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird Amazilia tzacatl 1 at La Carolina
Speckled Hummingbird Adelomyia melanogenys Up to 3 seen daily and a max of 6 trapped
Empress Brilliant Heliodoxa imperatrix 1 on 8th and 3 trapped on 9th
Brown Inca Coeligena wilsoni 1 on 8th and 2 on 10th
Buff-tailed Coronet Boissonneaua flavescens 5 on 10th
Gorgeted Sunangel Heliangelus strophianus 1 on 8th and 3 on 11th
Hoary Puffleg Haplophaedia lugens 1 on 10th and 1 trapped
Violet-tailed Sylph Aglaiocercus coelestis 1 or 2 daily
Masked Trogon Trogon personatus Singles on 9 and 11th, others heard
Toucan Barbet Semnornis ramphastinus 2 or 3 daily and commonly heard
Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan Andigena laminirostris Heard daily but only 1 seen on 10th
Yellow-vented Woodpecker Veniliornis dignus Singles on 3 dates
Crimson-mantled Woodpecker Piculus rivolii 1 or 2 daily
Golden-olive Woodpecker Piculus rubiginosus 1 near Santa Rosa
Powerful Woodpecker Campephilus pollens 2 on 11th
Wedge-billed Woodcreeper Glyphorhynchus spirurus 1 at 1900-2000m.
Spot-crowned Woodcreeper Lepidocolaptes affinis Up to 4 daily
Azara's Spinetail Synallaxis azarae Heard daily , 2 trapped
Rufous Spinetail Synallaxis unirufa Up to 4 daily 
Slaty Spinetail Synallaxis brachyura 1 above Las Juntas
Red-faced Spinetail Cranioleuca erythrops A pair feeding young
Spotted Barbtail Premnoplex brunnescens 1 on 9th
Lineated Foliage-gleaner Syndactyla subalaris 2 singles on 11th and 3 trapped together
Scaly-throated Foliage-gleaner Anabacerthia variegaticeps Sigles on 8 and 10th
Striped Treehunter Thripadectes holostictus 1 on 9th and 1 trapped, 2 at 1900-2000m
Uniform Antshrike Thamnophilus unicolor A pair on 10th
Bicoloured Antvireo (Western Antshrike) Dysthamnus (Thamnomanes) occidentalis 1 on 10th 
Long-tailed Antbird Drymophila caudata Up to 5 daily, commonly heard
Rufous-breasted Antthrush Formicarius rufipectus Singles on 9 and 11th
Yellow-breasted Antpitta Grallaria flavotincta 1 on 9th and 1 or 2 heard daily
Narino Tapaculo Scytalopus vicinior Up to 3 daily
Spillmann's Tapaculo Scytalopus spillmanni 1 or 2 heard at 1900-2000m
Green-and-black Fruiteater Pipreola riefferii Up to 3 daily and 3 trapped
Andean Cock-of-the-rock Rupicola peruviana A male flew past El Corazan on 11th
Streak-necked Flycatcher Mionectes striaticollis 1 on 10th and 1 trapped
Bronze-olive Pygmy-Tyrant Pseudotriccus pelzelni 1 at c.2000m
Rufous-headed Pygmy-Tyrant Pseudotriccus ruficeps 1 seen or trapped daily
Ashy-headed Tyrannulet Phyllomyias cinereiceps 1 on 10th
Golden-faced Tyrannulet Zimmerius chrysops Singles daily
Ornate Flycatcher Myiotriccus ornatus 1 on 9th and a few at lower altitudes
Flavescent Flycatcher Myiophobus flavicans 1 or 2 daily
Cinnamon Flycatcher Pyrrhomyias cinnamomea Singles daily
Smoke-coloured Pewee Contopus fumigatus A few daily
Handsome Flycatcher Myiophobus pulcher 1 on 10th
Black Phoebe Sayornis nigricans 2 near Las Juntas
Dusky-capped Flycatcher Myiarchus tuberculifer 1 on 10 and 11th
Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus Fairly common
Rusty-margined Flycatcher Myiozetetes cayanensis Singles near Santa Rosa
Beautiful Jay Cyanolyca pulchra 2 above Santa Rosa
White-capped Dipper Cinclus leucocephalus 2 at c.1800m
Red-eyed Vireo Vireo olivaceus 1 near Santa Rosa
Pale-eyed Thrush Platycichla leucops 1 on 10th
Glossy-black Thrush Turdus serranus Singles on 8 and 10th
Sepia-brown Wren Cinnycerthia peruana 2 on 11th at C.2000m
House Wren Troglodytes aedon A few Las Juntas - Santa Rosa
Gray-breasted Wood-Wren Henicorhina leucophrys Fairly common
Blue-and-white Swallow Notiochelidon cyanoleuca A few daily and common at Las Juntas
Tropical Parula Parula pitiayumi 1 on 8th and 2 on 9th
Olive-crowned Yellowthroat Geothlypis semiflava 1 seen and 1 trapped on 9th
Slate-throated Redstart Myioborus miniatus A few daily
Black-crested Warbler Basileuterus nigrocristatus 1 on 8th
Three-striped Warbler Basileuterus tristriatus 1 or 2 daily with 4+ at lower elevations
Buff-rumped Warbler Basileuterus fulvicauda Heard near Santa Rosa
Russet-crowned Warbler Basileuterus coronatus Fairly common
Rufous-collared Sparrow Zonotrichia capensis Up to 3 daily
Rufous-naped Brush-Finch Atlapetes rufinucha 2 on 9th
Tricoloured Brush-Finch Atlapetes tricolor 2 on 10 and 11th, and 2 trapped
Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch Atlapetes brunneinucha A few daily
Olive Finch Lysurus castaneiceps 2 at lower elevations
Grass-green Tanager Chlorornis riefferii 1 on 10th
Dusky Bush-Tanager Chlorospingus semifuscus A few daily
Rufous-chested Tanager Thlypopsis ornata Single males on 9 and 10th 
Rufous-crested Tanager Creurgops verticalis 4 on 10th
Flame-rumped Tanager Ramphocelus flammigerus Common Las Juntas - Santa Rosa
Blue-gray Tanager Thraupis episcopus Only 1, at Las Juntas 
Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager Anisognathus somptuosus Common
Orange-crowned Euphonia Euphonia saturata 1 at 1900-2000m.
Orange-bellied Euphonia Euphonia xanthogaster A pair on 9th and 1 on 10th
Glistening-green Tanager Chlorochrysa phoenicotis Singles on 10th and at 1900-2000m
Golden Tanager Tangara arthus 2+ daily
Saffron-crowned Tanager Tangara xanthocephala 2 on 10 and 11th
Flame-faced Tanager Tangara parzudakii 2 on 8 and 11th
Scrub Tanager Tangara vitriolina 1 La Carolina and below Las Juntas
Golden-naped Tanager Tangara ruficervix 5+ daily
Beryl-spangled Tanager Tangara nigroviridis A few daily
Plush-capped Finch Catamblyrhynchus diadema 2 on 9 and 1 on11th, with 1 trapped
Blue-black Grassquit Volatinia jacarina A few Las Juntas - Santa Rosa
Yellow-bellied Seedeater Sporophila nigricollis 1 or 2, with a few at lower elevations
Yellow-faced Grassquit Tiaris olivacea A few Las Juntas - Santa Rosa
White-sided Flower-piercer Diglossa albilatera 1 or 2 daily, with 3 trapped on 9th
Bluish Flower-piercer Diglossopis caerulescens Singles on 9 and 11th, with 1 trapped
Buff-throated Saltator Saltator maximus A few Las Juntas - Santa Rosa

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