A Day Birding at Ecuador’s Shiripuno Lodge

At Shiripuno, a rustic lodge about fifty miles southeast of the town of Coca along the Shiripuno River in the remote lowland rainforest of the Waorani nation, our first day of birding sometimes begins in the evening, just after our arrival dinner when the chorus of nocturnal birds gets started. At other Ecuadorian sites I know, I’ve never heard such a combination of diverse species in one place, some of them rare: Bartlett’s and White throated tinamous lead the dusk concert, followed by Nocturnal Curassow and of course Great Potoo. With all these magnificent sounds around us, we find ourselves thinking that if this is night, what will tomorrow’s daylight birding bring?

Birding from the boat en route to Shiripuno (Photo by participant Barbara Williams)

Early the next morning, we have our answer: in the courtyard of the lodge, Spix’s and Blue-throated piping-guans compete for the best fruits of the cecropia trees, while just behind the lodge, at the head of a mile-long loop trail, we see birds which elsewhere we’d have to take a long walk to find. The first to appear are the Yellow-browed and Lunulated antbirds, then Yellow-billed Jacamar, and with patience, even Brown Nunlet. Walking a little farther we spot Black Bushbird, Fiery Topaz, and a Rufous Potoo on its dayroost. We have our eyes out for the elusive Gray-winged Trumpeter, a regular possibility here, too, and there are many other species of birds to be seen such as trogons, toucans, parrots, and of course my favorites, the beautiful manakins, including three of the prettiest—Blue-crowned, White-crowned, and Golden-headed. Checking our watches, we find that our entire first morning has quickly passed, full of amazing sightings.

White-banded Swallows along the river (Photo by participant Ken Havard)

Returning to the lodge for lunch, there’s more: with a cool drink in hand as reward for our morning’s efforts, we’re interrupted by kingfishers and barbets. After lunch, a canoe trip along the Shiripuno River is super productive as we spot Blue-and-yellow, Scarlet, and Red-and-green macaws, some flying in groups but others sitting in palms along the banks of the river. Our canoe ride continues with Olive and Casqued oropendolas crossing in front of us, and good views of both Lettered Aracari and Orange-cheeked Parrot. We keep our eyes open, too, for the rarely seen Salvin’s Curassow, which I’ve seen before along the river’s edge. At dusk, we put ourselves in place to try for Black-banded Owl, and then watch as a pair flies directly over our heads!

Our first 24 hours complete with the sightings of so many magnificent birds, we return to the lodge for dinner, and the dusk avian concert strikes up again. Once more my mind turns to tomorrow’s possibilities…perhaps Pearly Antshrike, Spotted Puffbird, Ash-throated Gnateater, and more. Fabulous stuff!

Willy’s next tour to Shiripuno Lodge: Heartland of the Waorani is scheduled for Sep 25-Oct 4, 2015. Check our web page for all the details, or contact our office to hold a space. And to see some fun clips from the lodge’s trap (trail) camera, check out their YouTube channel — here’s an example of trumpeters, and there are more fun clips in the right sidebar on that page.