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Seeking hard-to-find specialties of the Choco region.

Read an informative overview of Field Guides Ecuador Tours covering our current itineraries.

Anyone interested in this trip probably already knows the importance of the region we visit on this itinerary. The Choco biome has long been known to be one of the most endemic-rich zones on the planet; more than 70 bird species (many threatened or near-threatened) are restricted to these forests that extend from eastern Panama, down through the west slope of Colombia, and then finally into NW Ecuador (although there are a few fingers of humid forest [with Choco influences] that approach Peru). The Choco region in Ecuador is isolated by two of the most effective natural genetic barriers of them all: the Pacific Ocean to the west, and the mighty Andes to the east. The Panama current that circulates off the northern coast bathes this corner of the country with warm, humid air and creates one of the wettest regions on the planet, with more than 500 inches of rain annually; possibly only New Guinea can rival this! The result of these high levels of rain and humidity is the creation of one the most miraculous greenhouses on the planet, a place where genetic diversity has grown at a quicker and more constant rate for thousands of years! Despite this overall wet and rainy climate, there tends to be a fairly well-defined, but intense, rainy season; we've planned our visit for the end of the "dry" period, to avoid the wettest period.

On this tour, we will bird two of the most accessible chunks of intact forest tracts remaining in the lowlands of NW Ecuador, and they are indeed some gorgeous and pristine chunks, where Great Green Macaws still fly and Rose-faced Parrots can be daily fare, and where healthy mixed flocks of insectivores and tanagers can breeze through at any moment. Playa de Oro offers lowlands in the strictest sense, with a flatter landscape out closer to the coast. Canande, on the other hand, is surrounded by towering escarpments amongst more rolling hills.

There is, obviously, a large overlap in their bird communities as they are both in the lowlands not far from each other as the crow flies, but both offer up some of their own special species. Berlepsch's Tinamou, Tawny-faced Quail, Olive-backed Quail-Dove, and Five-colored Barbet are more typical of the lower western plain around Playa de Oro, while at Canande we can hope more for Speckled Mourner, Choco Tapaculo, and Gold-chested Tanager (at its lowest elevational reaches up on the ridges above the lodge). Our list of targets is a long one, so here is a taste of both common species, as well as those on the rarer side, to warm you up. We'll be on the lookout for Black-and-white and Ornate hawk-eagles, Tiny Hawk, Barred and the rare Plumbeous forest-falcons, Brown Wood-Rail, Scaled Pigeon, the pacifica, form of Maroon-tailed Parakeet, Red-lored Amazon, the Choco form of the Vermiculated Screech-Owl, the rare Central American Pygmy-Owl, some big owls like Crested, Spectacled, and Black-and-white, Choco Poorwill, Bronzy and Stripe-throated hermits, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, Slaty-tailed and Blue-tailed (Choco) trogons, Broad-billed and Rufous motmots, Rufous-tailed and Great jacamars, Barred Puffbird, Lanceolated Monklet, Orange-fronted Barbet, Yellow-throated and Choco toucans, Stripe-billed and Pale-mandibled aracaris, Lita Woodpecker, Scaly-throated Leaftosser, Western Woodhaunter, Northern-Barred and Black-striped woodcreepers, Black-crowned Antshrike, the ignota form of Moustached Antwren, Dot-winged Antwren, Dusky Antbird, Black-headed Antthrush, Brown-capped and Choco tyrannulets, Black-capped Pygmy-Tyrant, Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Pacific Flatbill, Golden-crowned Spadebill, White-ringed Flycatcher, Choco Sirystes, Rufous Mourner, Rufous Piha, White-bearded Manakin, Northern Schiffornis, Cinnamon Becard, Slaty-capped Shrike-Vireo, Band-backed, Stripe-throated, and Bay Wrens, Slate-throated Gnatcatcher, Dagua Thrush, Emerald and Silver-throated tanagers, Yellow-tufted (Black-faced) Dacnis, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Black-winged Saltator, Chestnut-headed Oropendola, and Orange-crowned, Fulvous-vented, and White-vented euphonias. Long-wattled Umbrellabird is even a possibility, if we hit it right.

Would you like to extend your Ecuador visit with a day or more of additional birding or cultural options with a local guide? Check out the various possibilities on our Ecuador: Add to Your Tour! page.

Download an itinerary, triplist(s), request space, and see more about this tour...

Combo Tours
If you would like a longer birding holiday, some departures of this tour may be combined with:
ECUADOR'S SHIRIPUNO LODGE: Heartland of the Waorani

Other Tours in ECUADOR

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2019 Departures
Sep 27 - Oct 5

2020 Departures
Sep 25 - Oct 3



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Guides for our tours
Willy Perez

What to Expect
Good accommodations, warm climate, easy to moderate terrain.

Our staff travel agents can assist you with tour information, flight reservations and tour bookings. Contact us at (800) 728-4953
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