Ecuador - p 1 of 5


4 November 2011
Has it really been nine years since I visited Ecuador?  Where does the time go?  The country is, if anything, more tourist-friendly than ever, with new lodges and reserves set aside to preserve the wildlife.  They even use the U.S. dollar as the official currancy!  But the best birding, however, is in the cloud forest, which is still cloudy.  Always.  Day after day, with showers and sprinkles and steady downpours for good measure.
     Charlotte and I arrived in Quito last night to begin a personalized tour organized by Jane Lyons of Mindo Bird Tours.  Our first stop is her lodge, Las Gralarias, about two hours northwest of Quito.  Surrounding the lodge is Reserva Las Gralarias, the 1063-acre preserve that Jane founded and oversees.  The reserve boasts an impressive 276 species of birds, including 24 of the 44 birds endemic to this region of Ecuador.
    The hummingbird list totals 25 species.  Most can be found at the feeders outside the dining room and the guest house.  As usual, we have one pugnacious species, Buff-tailed Coronet, that dominates all the others.









Velv-purple-Coronet Somewhat less feisty is a related bird, Velvet-purple Coronet, that is always near the top of every birder's want-list.  Seen in the right light, the male's head glows an iridescent blue - a true avian gem.  
5 November 2011
Jane also maintains banana feeders, something of a rarity among Ecuadorian lodges and reserves.  Easily the most handsome visitor is Blue-winged Mountain-tanager, usually dropping by in 2s and 3s.  Plumbeous Doves, Masked Flowerpiercers, Golden Tanagers, Blue-necked Tanagers, and White-winged Brush-finches round out the list.  Even the Rufous-collared Sparrow, common as dirt everywhere, has developed a taste for banana.

   We've twice seen Plate-billed Mountain-toucans lurking out in the fog-shrouded trees, but none come to the feeders.







Here in the Andes, where hummingbird speciation is at its highest, you'd expect diversity in color and form as well.  And that's what we see.  These hummers have gorgets of every shape and hue, not to mention tails with rackets, like the Booted Racket-tail.  Sometimes they're just really long, as in the Violet-tailed Sylph.




Another brightly colored member of the tanager tribe, Orange-bellied Euphonia, comes to the banana feeder.  I've tried to be helpful by putting up several perches for these birds.  But all seem quite happy to land on that same limb, back beyond the feeder which is less in the open.   So it's that or nothing. Orange-bellied-Euphonia


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