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Field Guides Tour Report
Southwestern Ecuador Specialties: Jocotoco Foundation Reserves 2015
Mar 7, 2015 to Mar 21, 2015
Mitch Lysinger

The Jocotoco Antpitta is surely one of the most prized of antpittas -- and a definite highlight on any visit to the Jocotoco Foundation Reserves! (photo by participant John Drummond)

This was yet another fabulous run for what has become one of my favorite tours to lead. Why? Because we get to stay right in the heart of the important habitats, at lodges that are comfortable and beautifully constructed, enjoy tasty cuisine (too much at times!), ogle some spectacular scenery along the way, and -- most importantly -- go wild with some of the best birding that Ecuador has to offer... a grand slam of sorts, I'd say! I always find myself asking, "how in the world are we going to manage to top (or even equal) last year's trip"? Well, the bird species mix is always different on each trip, but we seem able to achieve this tough feat, and I don't see why we won't do the same the next time!

Our SW Ecuador tour targets three major regions: the Tumbesian endemic zone (shared with NW Peru), the extreme southern reaches of the humid Choco endemic region (which also happens to have its own small set of special birds), and the southern highlands (which, along with a number of regional endemics shared with Peru, also boasts the Jocotoco Antpitta). This tour originally sprouted as an attempt to put together a route that targeted the Tumbesian endemics of Ecuador while not missing many of the other enticing birding hotspots of the southern parts of the country. Back then the accommodations were a lot different, most necessarily not anywhere near the key habitats (and some much less comfortable), so needless to say, we were forced to spend much more time traveling to get to the juicy birding areas. But thanks to the efforts of the Jocotoco Foundation, and three dreamy lodges later right in the heart of their reserves, the tour had gone through a pretty quick transformation; within a few years, mythical gems like Long-wattled Umbrellabird and Jocotoco Antpitta were suddenly "backyard" birds... wow!

Ecuador as a whole is not an endemic haven as far as political lines are concerned, but it does hold within its boundaries a wealth of regional endemics that it shares with neighboring Colombia and Peru. Its real strength, rather, lies in its small size; Ecuador houses a whopping number of species and habitats, all crunched into a country the size of the state of Colorado. Imagine extending an accordion: this is Peru. Now, compress it (still the same box, but smaller), and you have Ecuador. Sure, you squeeze out some bird species, but you have the same magnitude of diversity -- if not a notch up, considering Ecuador's size. What this all means is that one can easily cover a wider range of habitats in a short period of time, and we did just this.

We had a long list of birds -- beautiful and/or rare -- and just kept raking them in, right until the very end of the trip! Here are my picks for what I think really helped push our trip over the top (as I know that all of you have yours), so here goes: unusually tame Pale-browed Tinamous prancing around the feeders at Jorupe; rare and localized Gray-backed Hawks soaring and perched; the rare and usually very secretive Ochre-bellied Dove that flew in right over our heads; a pair of awesome and scoped Gray-capped Cuckoos; some fancy owls, including a day roosting Black-and-white at Buenaventura, and that incredible Spectacled in the spotlight at Jorupe; a mind-numbing collection of hummingbirds, but I thought the scoped White-tipped Sicklebill, those mesmerizing Rainbow Starfrontlets, all of those colorful sunangels, and a couple of species of smashing sylphs were winners... and although among the least colorful of hummers, I have to plug that Tumbes Hummingbird as well, since it's a special regional endemic; responsive Barred Puffbirds; some rare and beautiful psittacids, including nesting Golden-plumed and El Oro parakeets at the Jocotoco reserves, but the biggest surprise came when we found a sizable group of Scarlet-fronted (Cordilleran) Parakeets -- the first confirmed country record in many years; the shy Esmeraldas Antbird on two days; beautiful Elegant Crescentchests; an Undulated Antpitta that blew us away as it hopped along the trail; Jocotoco Antpitta, of course; that stunning Crescent-faced Antpitta that flitted in to within only a few feet... wow!; a huge diversity of furnariids, but I think the two Tumbesian endemic foliage-gleaners stole the show: Henna-hooded and Rufous-necked; Black-crested Tit-Tyrants in all of their glory up at Utuana reserve; three species of colorful fruiteaters, including Scaled; a male Long-wattled Umbrellabird to knock your socks off; the very localized Pale-headed Brush-Finch after we had to get a tad creative with how we were going to find it; and of course, a wonderful array of colorful tanagers, Black-and-white being the most interesting and important with respect to targets. Okay, I need to pull the reins here, as I am in danger of reciting the entire list, so read on for a more detailed species comments!

No trip like this could be such a grand success without masterful driving skills, and our awesome driver, Edgar, proved his worth daily along curvy, and sometimes bumpy, Andean roads, behind the wheel of our comfortable bus. Hats off to you, Edgar! But most of all, you -- the participants on this two-week extravaganza -- deserve a huge round of applause for having been such a joyful, energetic, and talented bunch of birders that really sent the trip over the top... so good birding to all! -- Mitch

One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

Tinamidae (Tinamous)

A Pale-browed Tinamou in the open?! It's amazing what a little corn sprinkled on the ground can do! (photo by participant John Drummond)

PALE-BROWED TINAMOU (Crypturellus transfasciatus) – Seeing a tinamou is always an exciting event since they are so furtive. It is now well known that antpittas can readily be attracted to worm feeding stations, but what about tinamous? Well, they don't seem to come running in to gobble up worms, but the Jorupe reserve has shown that at least this species of tinamou is more than happy to trot through, on a daily basis, to pick about at morsels of corn spread about on the ground, right next to the dining room! It took a few passes to get everybody onto this most wanted species, as it tended to not stay for long periods, but we all got it, in flying colors!
ANDEAN TINAMOU (Nothoprocta pentlandii) – We never got a visual, but we heard them sounding off numerous times in the hills west of Loja. [*]
Anhimidae (Screamers)
HORNED SCREAMER (Anhima cornuta) – A magnificent, hulk of a bird, that inhabits marshes in a few key spots in Ecuador; our trip passed through one of them, and offered up some nice scope views during our drive from Guayaquil to Buenaventura reserve.
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna autumnalis) – Plenty of this handsome duck out in the marshes at Manglares-Churute, west of Guayaquil.
FULVOUS WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna bicolor) – Also common at Manglares-Churute.
COMB DUCK (SOUTH AMERICAN) (Sarkidiornis melanotos sylvicola) – A few perched birds near the border town of Zapotillo in a wet pasture area.
MUSCOVY DUCK (Cairina moschata) – Legitimate ones out at Manglares-Churute, where they are regular.
WHITE-CHEEKED PINTAIL (WHITE-CHEEKED) (Anas bahamensis rubrirostris) – Common in the marshes and ponds in the west.
Cracidae (Guans, Chachalacas, and Curassows)
RUFOUS-HEADED CHACHALACA (Ortalis erythroptera) – Daily at Buenaventura reserve, especially right behind the dining room where they frequently came to dine on berries in the evenings.
BEARDED GUAN (Penelope barbata) – We pulled this regional endemic out at the eleventh hour at Cajanuma during a rainy day for nice views.... whew!!!
CRESTED GUAN (Penelope purpurascens aequatorialis) – Possibly glimpsed at Buenaventura, but they never really materialized.
Odontophoridae (New World Quail)
RUFOUS-FRONTED WOOD-QUAIL (Odontophorus erythrops) – Some folks had quick views of this understory species at Buenaventura as they scurried away.
Fregatidae (Frigatebirds)
MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD (Fregata magnificens) – Common in coastal areas.
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax brasilianus brasilianus) – Common along the coast and along rivers well inland.
Pelecanidae (Pelicans)
BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis) – Plenty of them out near the coast around the shrimp ponds.
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
COCOI HERON (Ardea cocoi) – A common, large, and beautiful heron that we saw during our trip south to Buenaventura.
GREAT EGRET (AMERICAN) (Ardea alba egretta)
SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula thula)
LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea)
TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor tricolor)
CATTLE EGRET (IBIS) (Bubulcus ibis ibis)
STRIATED HERON (SOUTH AMERICAN) (Butorides striata striata)
YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nyctanassa violacea)
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus)
ROSEATE SPOONBILL (Platalea ajaja) – Some nice views of this pink beauty out at Manglares-Churute.
Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus)
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)
KING VULTURE (Sarcoramphus papa) – Nice studies at a soaring bird at Buenaventura... I think of this one as a white condor.
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
PEARL KITE (Gampsonyx swainsonii magnus) – Nice views in the dry scrub during our first day of birding west of Guayaquil.
WHITE-TAILED KITE (Elanus leucurus leucurus) – One flying by at Manglares-Churute.
HOOK-BILLED KITE (HOOK-BILLED) (Chondrohierax uncinatus uncinatus) – A kite with paddle-shaped wings, and one we had some nice views of as they soared at Jorupe.
SWALLOW-TAILED KITE (Elanoides forficatus) – Common and almost daily in the lowlands of the west... and what an elegant bird in flight!
SNAIL KITE (Rostrhamus sociabilis sociabilis) – Common in the swamps and wetlands of the west.

A Black-and-white Owl on a dayroost allowed some great leisurely studies. (photo by participant John Drummond)

PLUMBEOUS KITE (Ictinia plumbea) – In small numbers at Buenaventura.
SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (PLAIN-BREASTED) (Accipiter striatus ventralis) – Sometimes split out from the Sharp-shinned Hawk, but now widely considered conspecific. We had them a couple times in the mountains near Loja.
BICOLORED HAWK (BICOLORED) (Accipiter bicolor bicolor) – One quick flyby at Jorupe.
SAVANNA HAWK (Buteogallus meridionalis) – Fairly common in the lowlands around Guayaquil.
GREAT BLACK HAWK (Buteogallus urubitinga urubitinga) – Nice looks at one at Buenaventura.
BARRED HAWK (Morphnarchus princeps) – Up and soaring at Buenaventura, were they are regularly seen.
ROADSIDE HAWK (Rupornis magnirostris) – A common, open habitat hawk that we saw a few times at Buenaventura.
HARRIS'S HAWK (HARRIS'S) (Parabuteo unicinctus harrisi) – Also known as the "Bay-winged Hawk"... a name that really characterizes this species much better. This hawk is common in the drier areas of the west.
GRAY-BACKED HAWK (Pseudastur occidentalis) – A spectacular regional endemic that we had some fantastic experiences with at Buenaventura reserve, where it seems to be thriving.
BROAD-WINGED HAWK (NORTHERN) (Buteo platypterus platypterus) – We saw this boreal migrant a few times in the mountains on its prime wintering grounds. [b]
GRAY-LINED HAWK (Buteo nitidus) – We encountered one in the lower areas of the Buenaventura reserve.
ZONE-TAILED HAWK (Buteo albonotatus) – An infrequently seen boreal migrant, but we had a couple of them soaring above Urraca Lodge at Jorupe. [b]
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
WHITE-THROATED CRAKE (RUFOUS-FACED) (Laterallus albigularis albigularis) [*]
RUFOUS-NECKED WOOD-RAIL (Aramides axillaris) – Heard on a few evenings chorusing from the lodge at Jorupe, and we tried to see them, but they seemed unresponsive. [*]
PLUMBEOUS RAIL (Pardirallus sanguinolentus) – One quick flyby in a marsh at Vilcabamba during a short stop.
COMMON GALLINULE (AMERICAN) (Gallinula galeata pauxilla) [*]
Aramidae (Limpkin)
LIMPKIN (Aramus guarauna guarauna) – Common in the marshes at Manglares-Churute where we had some nice studies.
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
BLACK-NECKED STILT (BLACK-NECKED) (Himantopus mexicanus mexicanus) – Abundant in the rice fields and ponds of the west.
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus) – We had them out in the shrimp ponds south of Machala.
Jacanidae (Jacanas)
WATTLED JACANA (CHESTNUT-BACKED) (Jacana jacana scapularis) – Common in the marshes of the western lowlands.
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius) [b]
WILLET (Tringa semipalmata) [b]
LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes) [b]
WHIMBREL (Numenius phaeopus) [b]
LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla) [b]
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
FRANKLIN'S GULL (Leucophaeus pipixcan) – Common in the shrimp ponds along the coast. [b]
GULL-BILLED TERN (Gelochelidon nilotica) [b]
ROYAL TERN (AMERICAN) (Thalasseus maximus maximus) [b]
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]
PALE-VENTED PIGEON (Patagioenas cayennensis) – Common in the western lowlands, especially in swampy areas.
BAND-TAILED PIGEON (WHITE-NECKED) (Patagioenas fasciata albilinea) – The common highland pigeon.
PLUMBEOUS PIGEON (Patagioenas plumbea chapmani) – Fairly common in the Buenaventura reserve. This one has a pale iris whereas the Ruddy has a reddish eye.
RUDDY PIGEON (BERLEPSCH'S) (Patagioenas subvinacea berlepschi) – Seen on both slopes.
ECUADORIAN GROUND-DOVE (Columbina buckleyi) – A common ground-dove of the west.
CROAKING GROUND-DOVE (Columbina cruziana) – A common ground-dove of drier areas in the west. This handsome bird, with the bright yellow base of the bill, also has a comical call, which heard and enjoyed a few times.
BLUE GROUND-DOVE (Claravis pretiosa) – Fantastic studies, especially at Jorupe's feeders.
WHITE-TIPPED DOVE (DECOLOR) (Leptotila verreauxi decolor) – Quite common in the west.
OCHRE-BELLIED DOVE (Leptotila ochraceiventris) – A rare and very secretive species of Tumbesian forests. We stumbled into them calling on our first day at Cerro Blanco... a rare event indeed! We actually managed to call one in a couple of times to quite close range, which I had never done. Our bird was quite skittish, but some folks did actually clinch pretty decent views before it before it slipped away behind the thick growth.
PALLID DOVE (Leptotila pallida) – A common bird by voice in the Buenaventura reserve. [*]
WHITE-THROATED QUAIL-DOVE (Zentrygon frenata) – Quick views for a few at Tapichalaca.
WEST PERUVIAN DOVE (Zenaida meloda) – Seen well near the border town of Zapotillo.
EARED DOVE (Zenaida auriculata hypoleuca) – Abundant in the drier highlands and west coast.
Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
SQUIRREL CUCKOO (NIGRICRISSA) (Piaya cayana nigricrissa) – This large cuckoo was seen well a couple of times in the Buenaventura area.
GRAY-CAPPED CUCKOO (Coccyzus lansbergi) – Fantastic studies through the scope at two birds on our first day at Cerro Blanco... wow! This one can be a toughie to see, but Cerro Blanco seems to be the place for this migrant during the right time of the year.
BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO (Coccyzus erythropthalmus) – A very infrequently seen boreal migrant, and usually during a narrow window. We lucked into a young bird just above the lodge at Jorupe for fine views. [b]
STRIPED CUCKOO (Tapera naevia naevia) – We should have seen this one! [*]
SMOOTH-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga ani) – A few in the western lowlands outside of Guayaquil, where they seem to be comfortably mixing (not interbreeding!) with Groove-billeds.
GROOVE-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga sulcirostris) – Common in drier habitats of the west.
Strigidae (Owls)
PERUVIAN SCREECH-OWL (Megascops roboratus pacificus) – It took some work and searching through the vines with the spotlight, but we finally managed to locate one for excellent studies right at the lodge at Jorupe.
SPECTACLED OWL (Pulsatrix perspicillata chapmani) – Jorupe has a resident pair of this gorgeous owl that frequently hangs around the lodge, and we were treated to some fabulous views one evening right from the dining room... nice!
PERUVIAN PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium peruanum) – The common pygmy-owl of the west. We had some nice views a couple of times.
MOTTLED OWL (Ciccaba virgata) [*]
BLACK-AND-WHITE OWL (Ciccaba nigrolineata) – Wow... on a day roost at Buenaventura, where we enjoyed some nice scope studies.
Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)

The stunning view from Tapichalaca. (photo by participant John Drummond)

COMMON PAURAQUE (Nyctidromus albicollis) – Nice views of a male at Jorupe.
Apodidae (Swifts)
CHESTNUT-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne rutila brunnitorques) – A common swift of the highlands, and one we had some nice looks at a few times.
WHITE-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne zonaris) – The very large swift that we saw daily around Buenaventura.
SHORT-TAILED SWIFT (TUMBES) (Chaetura brachyura ocypetes) – Some experts split this one out from the Short-tailed Swift of the Amazon. Whatever comes out in the wash, we had some good views of them swirling around overhead a few times.
GRAY-RUMPED SWIFT (ASH-RUMPED) (Chaetura cinereiventris occidentalis) – Common on the west slope, especially around Buenaventura.
WHITE-TIPPED SWIFT (Aeronautes montivagus) – Seen on our travel to Cuenca in the dry central valleys.
Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)
WHITE-NECKED JACOBIN (Florisuga mellivora) – This beautiful hummer is common at Buenaventura's feeders.
WHITE-TIPPED SICKLEBILL (Eutoxeres aquila heterurus) – Not all that uncommon in the right habitat, but often tricky to hunt down for good looks. We however nailed one at a Heliconia patch along the old Buenaventura, cobblestone road for scope views!
WHITE-WHISKERED HERMIT (Phaethornis yaruqui) – Fairly common in the Buenaventura reserve where we had some nice studies.
STRIPE-THROATED HERMIT (Phaethornis striigularis subrufescens) – Glimpsed in the Buenaventura reserve.
WEDGE-BILLED HUMMINGBIRD (Schistes geoffroyi albogularis) – Buenaventura, where they are relatively common. We had some nice views of them a couple of times in the surrounding forests.
BROWN VIOLETEAR (Colibri delphinae) – Common at Buenaventuras feeders.
SPARKLING VIOLETEAR (Colibri coruscans coruscans) – More a bird of the highlands, and quite common in numerous habitats.
PURPLE-CROWNED FAIRY (Heliothryx barroti) – We had looks at a female bird at Buenaventura.
AMETHYST-THROATED SUNANGEL (AMETHYST-THROATED) (Heliangelus amethysticollis laticlavius) – Common and active at Tapichalaca's feeders, and really fine hummingbird species.
LITTLE SUNANGEL (Heliangelus micraster) – Also common at Tapichalaca's feeders... what a flaming throat!
PURPLE-THROATED SUNANGEL (Heliangelus viola) – The common sunangel at the feeders at the Utuana reserve.
GREEN THORNTAIL (Discosura conversii) – This tiny and dashing little hummer dazzled us at Buenaventura's feeders.
SPECKLED HUMMINGBIRD (Adelomyia melanogenys maculata) – Common in the humid highlands.
LONG-TAILED SYLPH (Aglaiocercus kingii mocoa) – A really gorgeous hummer with a shocking tail that we had at the feeders at Tapichalaca; an east slope species.
VIOLET-TAILED SYLPH (Aglaiocercus coelestis aethereus) – Replaces the previous species on most of the west slope, and the only sylph at Buenaventura, where had them for excellent studies.
GREEN-TAILED TRAINBEARER (Lesbia nuna gracilis) – We had this long-tailed species at the Utuana reserve, west of Loja.
RUFOUS-CAPPED THORNBILL (Chalcostigma ruficeps) – Common along roadsides and more open trails at Tapichalaca reserve where we had some nice perched birds.
TYRIAN METALTAIL (Metallura tyrianthina tyrianthina) – Common at the feeders at forest edges at Tapichalaca. The metaltail with the bronzy-purple tail.
GLOWING PUFFLEG (Eriocnemis vestita smaragdinipectus) – A stunning puffleg species, with that glittering greenish-yellow rump patch... wow! This one is common in the humid forests of the southern highlands, such as around Tapichalaca.
SHINING SUNBEAM (Aglaeactis cupripennis) – A common and very distinct hummer of the highlands during our birding day through Saraguro area.
BROWN INCA (Coeligena wilsoni) – Buenaventura where we had looks at one.
COLLARED INCA (COLLARED) (Coeligena torquata fulgidigula) – Common in the highlands around Tapichalaca, where they also frequent the feeders. The only hummer sharp enough to sport a tuxedo!
RAINBOW STARFRONTLET (Coeligena iris iris) – Fabulous studies of this stunner at Utana's feeders!
BUFF-WINGED STARFRONTLET (Coeligena lutetiae) – The hummer with the large buffy wing patch that we saw in the highlands.
CHESTNUT-BREASTED CORONET (Boissonneaua matthewsii) – Common at Tapichalaca's feeders, where they tend to dominate, but hey, it is a flashy hummer, so we had no complaints.
BOOTED RACKET-TAIL (Ocreatus underwoodii peruanus) – Fairly common around Buenaventura reserve. This racket-tailed beauty is really an Andean classic!
FAWN-BREASTED BRILLIANT (Heliodoxa rubinoides aequatorialis) – Fairly common at the feeders at Buenaventura reserve.
GREEN-CROWNED BRILLIANT (Heliodoxa jacula jamersoni) – Common at Buenaventura's feeders.
LONG-BILLED STARTHROAT (Heliomaster longirostris albicrissa) – We had some nice views of this species a few times, but had one especially well during our first round of birding at Cerro Blanco as the birding juices started to flow.
PURPLE-COLLARED WOODSTAR (Myrtis fanny fanny) – John had a female in the Catamayo Valley west of Loja, but we all caught up with one - another female - during our travel day to the Cuenca area. A bird of dry valleys in the Andes.
SHORT-TAILED WOODSTAR (Myrmia micrura) – This small woodstar inhabits the dry woodlands and desert-like habitats of the western lowlands. We had our best looks at this species in the Zapotillo area, right near the Peruvian border.
CROWNED WOODNYMPH (EMERALD-BELLIED) (Thalurania colombica hypochlora) – Nice looks at a female at Buenaventura. This subspecies - of SW Ecuador and extreme NW Peru - is sometimes split out as the Emerald-bellied Woodnymph, such as in the "Birds of Ecuador".
TUMBES HUMMINGBIRD (Leucippus baeri) – A rather drab hummingbird species of the Tumbesian lowlands. We had some nice views of this target bird during our travel day between Buenaventura and Jorupe in the deciduous forests north of Macara.
AMAZILIA HUMMINGBIRD (AMAZILIA) (Amazilia amazilia dumerilii) – The common hummer of the drier western lowlands, and also locally in some dry valleys... we had plenty!
AMAZILIA HUMMINGBIRD (LOJA) (Amazilia amazilia alticola) – Split by a few authorities from the previous species, but still quite similar to it. This form is restricted to the drier highland valleys of Loja province, and most individuals sport the whiter underparts and more rufous tail, but there does seem to be a bit of muddiness with respect to the overlap of these characteristics, so I wonder about the validity of the split. We shall see, but we did see this form well south of Loja during some central valley birding.
ANDEAN EMERALD (Amazilia franciae) – The hummer with the immaculate white underparts that we saw daily at the feeders at Buenaventura.
RUFOUS-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia tzacatl) – Abundant at Buenaventura.
VIOLET-BELLIED HUMMINGBIRD (Damophila julie) – This little gem is common at Buenaventura's feeders.
Trogonidae (Trogons)
ECUADORIAN TROGON (Trogon mesurus) – Most common at Jorupe reserve where they are quite vocal this time of the year. This Species was long considered conspecific with the Black-tailed Trogon, but most authorities now regard it as a distinct species.

They may be common in western Ecuador's deciduous forests, but those Red-masked Parakeets are still pretty snazzy. (photo by participant John Drummond)

COLLARED TROGON (COLLARED) (Trogon collaris virginalis) – Nice views of this wide ranging trogon on a couple of days at Buenaventura.
MASKED TROGON (Trogon personatus temperatus) – We saw this highland form a few times such as around Cajanuma and Tapichalaca.
Momotidae (Motmots)
WHOOPING MOTMOT (ARGENTICINCTUS) (Momotus subrufescens argenticinctus) – A fairly recent split from the Blue-crowned Motmot, which went several ways throughout its range after the splitting campaign! This form of western Ecuador does indeed give a single "whoop" call, unlike the double-noted calls of many other other forms. Especially common around Jorupe as it tends to prefer semi-dry habitats.
RUFOUS MOTMOT (Baryphthengus martii) – We had this large and wide ranging motmot up the road from the lodge at Buenaventura on our last morning there.
BROAD-BILLED MOTMOT (BROAD-BILLED) (Electron platyrhynchum platyrhynchum) – Nice looks at this motmot at Buenaventura, where they are fairly common. This one is similar to the previous species, but is smaller, and has less rufous on the breast, among other differences.
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
RINGED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle torquata) – Fairly common out on the western plain, especially near water.
Bucconidae (Puffbirds)
BARRED PUFFBIRD (Nystalus radiatus) – A beautiful puffbird of the west slope that we had nice views of at Buenaventura. Just love that whistled call!
Ramphastidae (Toucans)
EMERALD TOUCANET (BLACK-THROATED) (Aulacorhynchus prasinus cyanolaemus) – Steve was the only one to see this one at Cajanuma before it slipped away!
GRAY-BREASTED MOUNTAIN-TOUCAN (Andigena hypoglauca lateralis) – All mountain-toucans are fancy, but this one, in my opinion, takes the cake... wow! We ran into them along the Jocotoco Antpitta trail for some excellent studies!
BLACK-MANDIBLED TOUCAN (CHESTNUT-MANDIBLED) (Ramphastos ambiguus swainsonii) – We had fine studies of the two large toucans to be found at the Buenaventura reserve, this being the larger one. This form of western South America and up into Central America is now widely regarded to be conspecific with the forms of the east slope.
CHOCO TOUCAN (Ramphastos brevis) – Very similar in plumage to the previous species, but smaller, and with black in the bill. The two species' calls are quite different as well; this one "croaks", while the other "yelps".
Picidae (Woodpeckers)
ECUADORIAN PICULET (Picumnus sclateri) – One of the first key birds of the trip during our birding at Cerro Blanco during a small flock along the entrance road. Piculets are among the smallest of woodpeckers, and are a real treat to watch in action as they pick along the, searching for food.
OLIVACEOUS PICULET (Picumnus olivaceus) – Nice views on our first full day at Buenaventura after we called one in.
YELLOW-TUFTED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes cruentatus) – A few in the cut-over woodlands south of Tapichalaca, down in the Maranon foothills.
SMOKY-BROWN WOODPECKER (Picoides fumigatus) [*]
RED-RUMPED WOODPECKER (Veniliornis kirkii cecilii) – With a canopy flock at Buenaventura where they occur in small numbers.
SCARLET-BACKED WOODPECKER (Veniliornis callonotus) – A snappy little woodpecker with a rich, red upper side. this one is most common in the drier habitats of the west, where we had fine studies a few times, such as on our first day at Buenaventura.
GOLDEN-OLIVE WOODPECKER (RUBRIPILEUS) (Colaptes rubiginosus rubripileus) – A fairly common and wide ranging, but also very attractive, species.
CRIMSON-MANTLED WOODPECKER (Colaptes rivolii brevirostris) – Always stunning! We had them nicely in the highlands a couple of times for breath-taking studies.
LINEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus lineatus fuscipennis) – This large woodpecker seems to do well in a wide range of habitat types; we had one well at Jorupe.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
MOUNTAIN CARACARA (Phalcoboenus megalopterus) – We had one fly by in the Saraguro area, where this species is right at the extreme northern edge of its range.
CRESTED CARACARA (Caracara cheriway cheriway) – Common in the drier western lowlands.
LAUGHING FALCON (Herpetotheres cachinnans) – Certainly heard well, but we never caught site of one. [*]
AMERICAN KESTREL (SOUTH AMERICAN) (Falco sparverius peruvianus) – A common highland bird of drier areas.
Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)
GRAY-CHEEKED PARAKEET (Brotogeris pyrrhoptera) – Fairly common in the west, and a regional endemic of the Tumbesian zone, but recent studies indicate that it is declining. Jorupe is certainly the place to see this loud and attractive little parakeet, and we enjoyed some nice views of at least a pair, that seemed to be investigating/attending a nest hole in a large Bombax tree.
RED-FACED PARROT (Hapalopsittaca pyrrhops) – Tough this trip since we couldn't locate a close group. Linda and I were the only ones to see this one - near Saraguro - when a small group zoomed by across the distant hillside, only to vanish in the vast greenery... darn!
ROSE-FACED PARROT (Pyrilia pulchra) – Fly-overs at Buenaventura, where they occur in small numbers.
RED-BILLED PARROT (Pionus sordidus corallinus) – In the Maranon foothills below Tapichalaca, where we had some perched birds for scope studies.
SPECKLE-FACED PARROT (WHITE-CAPPED) (Pionus tumultuosus seniloides) – A subtropical species that we had well at Tapichalaca.
BRONZE-WINGED PARROT (Pionus chalcopterus) – The common parrot at Buenaventura, and a west slope specialty. Not many parrots are adorned with royal blue, as opposed to the usual green, as this one is.
RED-LORED PARROT (SALVIN'S) (Amazona autumnalis lilacina) – Fly-overs at Cerro Blanco; they didn't seem to want to perch for us this year. This form of the Red-lored Amazon may end up being split from birds further north, such as in northern Ecuador and northward, which would make it a species in serious danger of extinction. This form's habitat has been largely wiped out - mainly the mangroves - in order to create large scale shrimp ponds, so its future could be bleak.
SCALY-NAPED PARROT (Amazona mercenarius) – We saw this highland Amazon species well at Tapichalaca.
PACIFIC PARROTLET (Forpus coelestis) – An abundant parrotlet of the west, where it inhabits dry habitats of the lowlands and hills.
EL ORO PARAKEET (Pyrrhura orcesi) – Almost like cheating, with the nest boxes and all, but hey, it is an endangered species that needs all of the help it can get. It is a great feeling to support the conservation of yet another parrot species facing an uncertain future, but thanks to the Jocotoco Foundation, this one seems to be hanging on quite well at the Buenaventura reserve where nest boxes seem to be making a big difference with respect their breeding success. We had some magnificent studies of a group when they screeched in, and perched for us at relatively close range... I'd say at that point, we struck oro (gold).
GOLDEN-PLUMED PARAKEET (Leptosittaca branickii) – Tapichalaca is great to visit this time of the year, especially because this species is in high breeding gear. We had some spectacular studies of them perched, and in flight, around their nesting boxes in the reserve, which was a real treat. I particularly love the raw and loud, screeching calls of this species as it so profoundly projects the wild surroundings. This is yet another example of a species that the Jocotoco Foundation is doing such a marvelous job of protecting by supplying nesting boxes to help increase the population. As we saw, this species needs a particular species of palm tree in which to nest, in just the right condition, but many of these palms have been hacked out as the fronds are traditionally harvested for religious ceremonies. The Jocotoco Foundation, in conjunction with the government, and other organizations, has set in motion a campaign to halt this destructive practice by urging locals to use alternative and renewable options for their celebrations, and it seems to be working!
SCARLET-FRONTED PARAKEET (Psittacara wagleri frontatus) – Possibly the bird of the trip, from a rarity standpoint anyway! This is the classic species that one reads about in the books for years: decades-old sightings, and nothing really current other than uncorroborated reports that never pan out. Well, we helped make some progress in the knowledge of this very poorly-known species in Ecuador by confirming its modern existence in the country by sound recording it. When they first flew over, my first gut reaction was to label them as Red-masked, but the size was wrong - too big - and the sound did not sound like any Red-masked I'd ever heard. It didn't take too long to realize what we were dealing with, and we were off to the races! Do make sure to note that this southern form of the species - reaching its northern-most limit, right where we saw it (and I mean literally!) - is now split out by some authorities from birds of Colombia and Venezuela, and called the Cordilleran Parakeet. So pick your taxonomy as you will!
RED-MASKED PARAKEET (Psittacara erythrogenys) – Common in the deciduous forests of the west.
Thamnophilidae (Typical Antbirds)
RUFOUS-RUMPED ANTWREN (Euchrepomis callinota callinota) – We connected with a responsive pair in a flock at Buenaventura of this canopy antwren.
GREAT ANTSHRIKE (Taraba major transandeanus) [*]
CHAPMAN'S ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus zarumae zarumae) – For many years this species was treated as conspecific with the Barred Antshrike, but obvious habitat (Tumbesian endemism), vocal, and plumage differences just couldn't be ignored anymore by taxonomists! We had our first views of this handsome antshrike along the roadside during our drive from Buenaventura to Jorupe when a pair popped up for killer studies.

The Green Thorntail (the male at least) is aptly named. (photo by participant John Drummond)

LINED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus tenuepunctatus) [*]
COLLARED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus bernardi) – Another Tumbesian-endemic antshrike, and quite a common bird in the deciduous forests of SW Ecuador. We scored big with this fancy antshrike on our first day at Cerro Blanco during some trail birding.
BLACK-CROWNED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus atrinucha atrinucha) – Also commonly known as Western Slaty-Antshrike... not sure why a name was chosen that divorces this species from the other "slaty-antshrikes", but I guess we'll have to get used to it. We some some good looks at this well marked species in the Buenaventura reserve.
UNIFORM ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus unicolor unicolor) – The upper sector of the Buenaventura reserve is one of the best places to find this understory species, and we connected with a a pair during our long hike back down to the lodge.
RUSSET ANTSHRIKE (TAWNY) (Thamnistes anabatinus intermedius) – Fairly common with the canopy flocks in the Buenaventura reserve, and often looking more like a foliage-gleaner.
PLAIN ANTVIREO (Dysithamnus mentalis aequatorialis) – A wide ranging species of the neotropics; we had them well in the Jorupe reserve, where there is a healthy population.
CHESTNUT-BACKED ANTBIRD (Myrmeciza exsul) – An understory antbird that is common by voice in the lower reaches of the Buenaventura reserve, but one that can be hard to lay eyes on. Some folks saw one fly by us on one occasion; others heard it.
ESMERALDAS ANTBIRD (Myrmeciza nigricauda) – An antbird that prefers the dark understory of forested streams in humid areas. Buenaventura is one of the best spots to find this skulker, and we had some fine views on a couple of days right along the edge of the trail, in quality light.
ZELEDON'S ANTBIRD (CHOCO) (Myrmeciza zeledoni macrorhyncha) – Split from the Immaculate Antbird, so make sure to update those lists! Although a fairly common denizen of the understory at the Buenaventura reserve, they can still be hard to see, as was the case this trip, but most folks managed to catch a view as they sneaked about just downhill from us one morning.
Melanopareiidae (Crescentchests)
ELEGANT CRESCENTCHEST (Melanopareia elegans elegans) – I don't know about anybody else, but I think it was about time that the crescentchests got split out of the tapaculo family; it always seemed strange to me that we had to call them "tapaculos"! Although often remarkable skulkers - like tapaculos - crescentchests can be quite easy to see at times, and display some fabulous, earthy colors in their plumages; there are other more technical, morphological differences as well, but we won't get into this! We had stunning views at a cooperative pair on our first day during some afternoon birding in the dry scrub well west of Guayaquil on the Santa Elena peninsula.
Grallariidae (Antpittas)
UNDULATED ANTPITTA (Grallaria squamigera squamigera) – Antpittas are always among the Holy Grail birds of South America, since they are traditionally so hard to find, and such fascinating birds. We really scored big with this hard to spot species when we caught one hopping along the trail at Cajanuma for fabulous studies!
SCALED ANTPITTA (Grallaria guatimalensis regulus) [*]
CHESTNUT-CROWNED ANTPITTA (Grallaria ruficapilla connectens) [*]
WATKINS'S ANTPITTA (Grallaria watkinsi) – We sure tried, but none of them wanted anything to do with us... [*]
JOCOTOCO ANTPITTA (Grallaria ridgelyi) – Probably the most coveted antpitta of them all, and certainly one of the most exciting species to come out of South America in recent decades! We all know the story of its discovery by now, but it is worth plugging the Jocotoco Foundation for pioneering such a monumental conservation effort after the discovery of this localized and stunning antpitta species; ever since, they have been saving rare birds and endangered habitats all over Ecuador, among other projects. Thanks to them, our SW Ecuador is so much more enjoyable and productive. Having said this, I don't think that we could have seen an antpitta any better... wow! Hail to the worm feeding stations all over Ecuador!
CHESTNUT-NAPED ANTPITTA (Grallaria nuchalis nuchalis) – Remarkably, we managed to call this chunky and well-dressed antpitta species in for excellent views shortly after our hypnotizing stint with the Jocotoco. John spotted this one first when it came in quietly from our right flank, and then proceeded to pose and strut in full view for a few minutes for a really memorable experience!
RUFOUS ANTPITTA (Grallaria rufula rufula) – We sure tried, but this one just wasn't up for popping in for a view this trip. [*]
CRESCENT-FACED ANTPITTA (Grallaricula lineifrons) – Absolutely incredible! This rare and very localized antpitta also happens to be one of the most beautiful, and we were lucky enough to witness this first hand! Once we all crammed into that dark little den inside the bamboo, I explained how this can be a very shy and difficult bird to observe, and that it also tends to make one visit before moving off. Well, we got it in pretty easily, and about half of the group got a decent view. But, we lucked out after some waiting and patience, allowing the bird to settle down, and pulled the bird in second time, clinching awesome views for all... nice!!!
Rhinocryptidae (Tapaculos)
OCELLATED TAPACULO (Acropternis orthonyx infuscatus)
ASH-COLORED TAPACULO (Myornis senilis) [*]
BLACKISH TAPACULO (PACIFIC) (Scytalopus latrans subcinereus) – Nice views of this southern form in the highlands a couple of times.
CHUSQUEA TAPACULO (Scytalopus parkeri) – Outstanding views as they crept through the understory at Cajanuma and Acacana (Crescent-faced Antpitta spot). This is a relatively recently described species named after the late Ted Parker.
Furnariidae (Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers)
TAWNY-THROATED LEAFTOSSER (Sclerurus mexicanus) – Heard at Buenaventura, but they just weren't interested this trip. [*]
OLIVACEOUS WOODCREEPER (PACIFIC) (Sittasomus griseicapillus aequatorialis) – A species that will likely be split a number of ways throughout its huge range in the future. We saw the form west of the Andes that inhabits deciduous forests (especially in the SW) and differs markedly from the birds over the mountains in the Amazon. This one is especially common at Jorupe reserve.
PLAIN-BROWN WOODCREEPER (PLAIN-BROWN) (Dendrocincla fuliginosa ridgwayi) – Pretty common in the Buenaventura reserve, where we had them a couple of times.
WEDGE-BILLED WOODCREEPER (Glyphorynchus spirurus pectoralis) – The smallest woodcreeper, and quite common in the Buenaventura reserve.
SPOTTED WOODCREEPER (BERLEPSCH'S) (Xiphorhynchus erythropygius aequatorialis) – Common with the forest flocks at Buenaventura.
RED-BILLED SCYTHEBILL (Campylorhamphus trochilirostris thoracicus) – A spectacular woodcreeper that we tracked down near the lodge at the Jorupe reserve... wow!
STREAK-HEADED WOODCREEPER (Lepidocolaptes souleyetii) – A common and attractive woodcreeper of the west slope.
MONTANE WOODCREEPER (Lepidocolaptes lacrymiger aequatorialis) – Replaces the previous species at higher elevations. We had them with the flocks in the humid highland areas, such as at Tapichalaca.
PLAIN XENOPS (Xenops minutus littoralis) – A small, almost nuthatch-like furnariid, that we had with a mixed flock at Buenaventura.
STREAKED XENOPS (Xenops rutilans guayae) – Especially common with the flocks at Buenaventura.
BUFFY TUFTEDCHEEK (PACIFIC) (Pseudocolaptes lawrencii johnsoni) – I have had some tough luck with this handsome and large furnariid at Buenaventura over the last few years of this tour, but we scored big when we found a pair moving with a large mixed flock along the old cobblestone road.
STREAKED TUFTEDCHEEK (Pseudocolaptes boissonneautii orientalis) – The tuftedcheek of the highlands that we saw well with a flock at Tapichalaca.
PALE-LEGGED HORNERO (PACIFIC) (Furnarius leucopus cinnamomeus) – Abundant in the drier areas of the west, lowlands and highlands alike.
SCALY-THROATED FOLIAGE-GLEANER (SPOT-BREASTED) (Anabacerthia variegaticeps temporalis) – Common with the canopy flocks at Buenaventura.
BUFF-BROWED FOLIAGE-GLEANER (Syndactyla rufosuperciliata cabanisi) – A wide ranging species, and common in many areas of South America, but here in Ecuador - at the northern limit of its range - it is quite rare and localized. Until one turned up on this tour a couple of years before - we probably saw the same exact bird this year! - this species was really only known in Ecuador from the outlying eastern ridges, away from the main chain of the Andes. We had pretty good looks along the roadside down below the lodge in the lower reaches of the Tapichalaca reserve.
RUFOUS-NECKED FOLIAGE-GLEANER (Syndactyla ruficollis) – The Jorupe reserve is a great place to find this Tumbesian endemic foliage-gleaner, even right around the lodge.
HENNA-HOODED FOLIAGE-GLEANER (Clibanornis erythrocephalus) – Vocal this time of the year - the rainy season - at Jorupe, where we had some very fine studies of this large, beautiful, and skulking foliage-gleaner.

A Barred Puffbird at Buenaventura serenaded us with its whistling calls. (photo by participant John Drummond)

UNIFORM TREEHUNTER (Thripadectes ignobilis) [*]
STRIPED WOODHAUNTER (CENTRAL AMERICAN) (Automolus subulatus virgatus) [*]
PEARLED TREERUNNER (Margarornis squamiger perlatus) – Common with humid forest flocks in the highlands.
RUFOUS-FRONTED THORNBIRD (Phacellodomus rufifrons) [*]
WHITE-BROWED SPINETAIL (Hellmayrea gularis gularis) – Fabulous views of one at close range as we sat and waited for more views of the Crescent-faced Antpitta.
MANY-STRIPED CANASTERO (Asthenes flammulata flammulata) – Nice looks at this flashy grassland furnariid of the highlands near Saraguro.
MOUSE-COLORED THISTLETAIL (Asthenes griseomurina) – Common in the humid temperate forests of the south, where we had some good studies.
LINE-CHEEKED SPINETAIL (Cranioleuca antisiensis antisiensis) – An arboreal spinetail of the SW that can be found in a variety of habitats and elevations. We had nice looks at pair with a canopy flock at Buenaventura.
AZARA'S SPINETAIL (Synallaxis azarae ochracea) – The common highland spinetail found mainly in shrubby areas that we had fine views of in some roadside growth at Buenaventura.
RUFOUS SPINETAIL (Synallaxis unirufa unirufa) – Nice looks along the Jocotoco Antpitta trail at Tapichalaca as we watched a pair sneak about in the bamboo understory.
BLACKISH-HEADED SPINETAIL (Synallaxis tithys) – A spinetail of the Tumbesian zone where it prefers the understory of deciduous forest. We had them just uphill form the lodge at Jorupe for excellent views as they called right next to active nests.
NECKLACED SPINETAIL (NECKLACED) (Synallaxis stictothorax stictothorax) – Restricted to the thorn scrub of the coast. We called in a responsive pair west of Guayaquil out on the Santa Elena Peninsula.
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
SOUTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET (SOUTHERN) (Camptostoma obsoletum sclateri) – A common, active, and bushy-crested little tyrannulet that we had many times in the drier areas.
WHITE-TAILED TYRANNULET (Mecocerculus poecilocercus) – Although a fairly common flock bird of the humid subtropical zone, but one that only John got onto this trip.
WHITE-BANDED TYRANNULET (Mecocerculus stictopterus stictopterus) – Tends to occur a little higher than the previous species, replacing it in the temperate zone. We had this well-marked species a number of times with the flocks in the highlands.
WHITE-THROATED TYRANNULET (Mecocerculus leucophrys rufomarginatis) – Seen with the high elevation temperate flocks on our travel day to the Cuenca area. This species to me seems worthy of its own genus as it seems so divergent from the other members of the group.
BLACK-CRESTED TIT-TYRANT (Anairetes nigrocristatus) – Stunningly well up at the Jocotoco Foundation's, Utuana reserve, where this species reaches its northern-most range limit.
AGILE TIT-TYRANT (Uromyias agilis) – Nicely with a high elevation flock at Acacana.
MOUSE-COLORED TYRANNULET (TUMBES) (Phaeomyias murina tumbezana) – A complicated species that deserves some splitting, and Ridgely did so in the "Birds of Ecuador". The form that we saw - restricted to the highlands of the Tumbesian zone - looks, acts, and sounds very different from other forms, especially birds from the Amazon. We had had some active individuals come in to investigate the pygmy-owl playback west of Loja.
YELLOW TYRANNULET (Capsiempis flaveola magnirostris) – A denizen of tall Guadua, bamboo stands in humid areas in many parts of South America. We pulled in a sprite pair just below the lodge at Buenaventura.
PACIFIC ELAENIA (Myiopagis subplacens) – A common forest species of Tumbesian deciduous woodlands, and one we had some fine studies of at the Jorupe reserve. Many birds in this genus can be tricky to id in the field, but this species' distinctive head pattern one of the easier birds in this group to separate out.
GREENISH ELAENIA (GREENISH) (Myiopagis viridicata implacens) – An elaenia with a pretty muddy plumage, making it a tough id at times, but thankfully its call gives it away every time! We had this little unobtrusive species at Cerro Blanco, where it is quite common.
YELLOW-BELLIED ELAENIA (Elaenia flavogaster semipagana) [*]
WHITE-CRESTED ELAENIA (WHITE-CRESTED) (Elaenia albiceps griseigularis) – A common elaenia of the shrubby highlands that we saw well a few times.
MOTTLE-BACKED ELAENIA (Elaenia gigas) – Elaenias can be a very difficult group to identify in the field, but this distinctive species, with its tufted horns, is an easy one. This cotton-topped species popped in for us in the foothills below Tapichalaca for nice scope studies.
SIERRAN ELAENIA (ANDEAN) (Elaenia pallatangae pallatangae) – Fairly common in the edge growth at Cajanuma, where we had them for good looks.
STREAK-NECKED FLYCATCHER (Mionectes striaticollis viridiceps) – A common flycatcher of the humid subtropical zone, and one that is often found gleaning small fruits. We had them well at Tapichalaca.
OLIVE-STRIPED FLYCATCHER (Mionectes olivaceus hederaceus) – A lower elevation relative of the previous species, and seen daily at Buenaventura.
SLATY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Leptopogon superciliaris) – Common with the flocks at Buenaventura.
SOOTY-HEADED TYRANNULET (Phyllomyias griseiceps) – A common tyrannulet of edges and secondary habitats, and one we had well on our second day at Buenaventura as we made our way up to the lodge. This is one of the few tyrannulet species that lacks wingbars.
BLACK-CAPPED TYRANNULET (Phyllomyias nigrocapillus nigrocapillus) – A well-marked, high elevation tyrannulet that we saw on four days running at the end of our tour.
GOLDEN-FACED TYRANNULET (LOJA) (Zimmerius chrysops flavidifrons) – The Bird of Ecuador splits this form out from the Golden-faced, mainly because of its very different vocalizations... a good decision, I think. The Buenaventura reserve is a stronghold for this form, and we saw it well a couple of times.
ORNATE FLYCATCHER (Myiotriccus ornatus stellatus) – An attractive little flycatcher that we saw daily at Buenaventura.
BRONZE-OLIVE PYGMY-TYRANT (Pseudotriccus pelzelni annectens) – An unobtrusive understory flycatcher that would largely go undetected were it not for its distinctive vocalizations. We did manage to get some views of this drab species along the old cobblestone road at Buenaventura one morning.
RUFOUS-HEADED PYGMY-TYRANT (Pseudotriccus ruficeps) [*]
TAWNY-CROWNED PYGMY-TYRANT (Euscarthmus meloryphus fulviceps) – Common in drier, shrubby habitats of western Ecuador.
SCALE-CRESTED PYGMY-TYRANT (Lophotriccus pileatus squamaecrista) – Common in a number of habitats. We had one along the roadside upon our approach to the Buenaventura lodge.
BLACK-THROATED TODY-TYRANT (Hemitriccus granadensis pyrrhops) – Although a bit distant, and across a small ravine, we still managed to see a pair well at the beginning of the Jocotoco Antpitta trail at Tapichalaca. It took some work, but we stuck with it and prevailed.
COMMON TODY-FLYCATCHER (Todirostrum cinereum sclateri) – Common in the western lowlands in shrubby habitats.
BROWNISH TWISTWING (Cnipodectes subbrunneus subbrunneus) [*]
YELLOW-OLIVE FLYCATCHER (EQUATORIAL) (Tolmomyias sulphurescens aequatorialis) – Common in the deciduous forests of western Ecuador.
WHITE-THROATED SPADEBILL (Platyrinchus mystaceus albogularis) – Spadebills are difficult to see understory birds that dart about in a manner almost like popcorn popping! We did manage to see one though, after some effort, right up the hill from the lodge at Buenaventura.
CINNAMON FLYCATCHER (Pyrrhomyias cinnamomeus pyrrhopterus) – A common forest edge bird in the humid highlands.
ORANGE-BANDED FLYCATCHER (Nephelomyias lintoni) – A regional endemic of the humid highlands in S Ecuador and N Peru. Tapichalaca is one of the best places to see this strange interesting flycatcher, and we weren't disappointed, since a few waves of them came through for point blank studies.
SULPHUR-RUMPED FLYCATCHER (Myiobius sulphureipygius aureatus) – Fairly common with and away from flocks at Buenaventura.
OLIVE-CHESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiophobus cryptoxanthus) [*]
BRAN-COLORED FLYCATCHER (BRAN-COLORED) (Myiophobus fasciatus crypterythrus) – Common in the west in secondary habitats.
GRAY-BREASTED FLYCATCHER (Lathrotriccus griseipectus) – A regional endemic whose range lies mostly within the Tumbesian zone. This easily overlooked species prefers the interior of deciduous, often near ravines and streams. We had some nice views at a couple of birds up the hill from the lodge at Jorupe, where a few resident pairs can usually be found.
SMOKE-COLORED PEWEE (Contopus fumigatus zarumae) – Quick views in the fog of one near Sozoranga.
WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE (Contopus sordidulus) – Fairly common around Buenaventura in open areas. [b]
TROPICAL PEWEE (TUMBES) (Contopus cinereus punensis) – John and I were the only ones to get a look at one at Jorupe before it slipped away; they were tough this trip. Note that this Tumbesian form is often split out as the Tumbes Pewee.
BLACK PHOEBE (WHITE-WINGED) (Sayornis nigricans angustirostris) – A common and wide ranging phoebe of streams and rivers.
VERMILION FLYCATCHER (VERMILION) (Pyrocephalus rubinus piurae) – Some splits may be on the horizon for this one, and may go as many as four ways... we'll see. We saw the form that is most allied to the birds that run right into North America. Too bad that one of the potential splits is already extinct (San Cristobal island, Galapagos)

The Elegant Crescentchest was formerly considered to be a tapaculo -- despite the fact that it actually shows itself nicely every now and again! The crescentchests are now in their own family, the Melanopareiidae. (photo by participant John Drummond)

RUFOUS-TAILED TYRANT (Knipolegus poecilurus) – Nice looks at one in the lower stretches of the Tapichalaca reserve above the town of Valladolid.
BLACK-BILLED SHRIKE-TYRANT (Agriornis montanus solitarius) – It was a treat to the two shrike-tyrants almost shoulder to shoulder in the Saraguro area for a detailed and close comparison. Both have white tails, so this doesn't help much, but this more common species is smaller, has a thinner bill, usually has a pale iris, and sports a duller gray plumage.
WHITE-TAILED SHRIKE-TYRANT (Agriornis albicauda) – The rarer of the two shike-tyrants here in Ecuador. This one perched up nicely for us up in a close pine tree for quality pics. This one differs from the previous species in that it has a thicker bill, heftier body, usually darker eye, and has a richer clay-colored tone to the plumage.
STREAK-THROATED BUSH-TYRANT (Myiotheretes striaticollis striaticollis) – Fine studies of this large bush-tyrant on a couple of days in the highlands.
SMOKY BUSH-TYRANT (Myiotheretes fumigatus cajamarcae) – Fairly common in the humid highlands, such as in the Tapichalaca reserve.
MASKED WATER-TYRANT (Fluvicola nengeta atripennis) – Fairly common in the lowlands of the west, usually near water. This is a smashing bird that always demands attention!
CROWNED CHAT-TYRANT (CROWNED) (Ochthoeca frontalis frontalis) – Preferring the cover of the understory of high temperate forests, this shy little species can be a devil to see well, but Acacana is often a really good spot. We were successful at calling one out to the roadside for picture perfect studies, literally!
JELSKI'S CHAT-TYRANT (Ochthoeca jelskii) – Essentially a Tumbesian replacement of the previous species, being found in the undergrowth of thick subtropical forests of the Tumbes highlands of SE Ecuador and NW Peru. The Jocotoco foundation's Utuana reserve is usually the best spot for this one, and after some patience, we had nice views at a pair of this shy and jumpy little species as it zipped about.
YELLOW-BELLIED CHAT-TYRANT (Ochthoeca diadema gratiosa) – Another shy understory chat-tyrant. This one prefers the understory of humid subtropical forests along the main chain of the Andes, where they are fairly common, but not always easy to see. We called one in along the trail to the Jocotoco Antpitta worm feeding station that most folks saw well.
RUFOUS-BREASTED CHAT-TYRANT (Ochthoeca rufipectoralis obfuscata) – Finally... a chat-tyrant that isn't an understory skulker; this one prefers the canopy of subtropical and temperate forests, often choosing perches right at the tops of tall trees. We had them for nice looks a few times in the highlands, such as at Tapichalaca.
BROWN-BACKED CHAT-TYRANT (Ochthoeca fumicolor brunneifrons) – The high elevation chat-tyrant here in Ecuador, and we had them well at Acacana up in the high grasslands.
SHORT-TAILED FIELD TYRANT (Muscigralla brevicauda) – A bird of desert scrub that we found easily out on the Santa Elena Peninsula west of Guayaquil on our first day of birding.
OCHRACEOUS ATTILA (Attila torridus) [*]
DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tuberculifer nigriceps) – A common bird of the lowlands and foothills in humid areas.
SOOTY-CROWNED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus phaeocephalus phaeocephalus) – A fairly common Myiarchus, this race being restricted to the Tumbesian zones. We had them well a few times, such as at Cerro Blanco and Jorupe.
BOAT-BILLED FLYCATCHER (TUMBES) (Megarynchus pitangua chrysogaster) – A large flycatcher with a large range in the neotropics in bith humid and dry areas.
SOCIAL FLYCATCHER (TUMBES) (Myiozetetes similis grandis) – Common in the drier areas of the west, we saw them, but also a common bird of the Amazonian region.
GOLDEN-CROWNED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes chrysocephalus minor) – John had one at Buenaventura.
BAIRD'S FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes bairdii) – A Tumbesian endemic flycatcher of drier zones, and a really handsome bird. We had our first looks west of Guayaquil out on the Santa Elena Peninsula.
STREAKED FLYCATCHER (STREAKED) (Myiodynastes maculatus chapmani) – A common species any many areas of the neotropics.
PIRATIC FLYCATCHER (Legatus leucophaius) – Seen perched up just below the reserve at Buenaventura.
SNOWY-THROATED KINGBIRD (Tyrannus niveigularis) – Another Tumbesian-based flycatcher that is especially common in drier scrub habitats out along the coast.
TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus melancholicus)
Cotingidae (Cotingas)
GREEN-AND-BLACK FRUITEATER (GREEN-AND-BLACK) (Pipreola riefferii occidentalis) – Fruiteaters are a fancy plumaged lot, and always a thrill to see. We saw all three possible species for this itinerary well, so couldn't have done much better! We had outstanding views of both this and the next species during our productive morning at Cajanuma.
BARRED FRUITEATER (Pipreola arcuata arcuata) – A large fruiteater of humid temperate forests. This one was seen well at close range at Cajanuma.
SCALED FRUITEATER (Ampelioides tschudii) – A very distinctive fruiteater that we scored big with at Buenaventura by seeing it well on two days with the mixed flocks.
RED-CRESTED COTINGA (Ampelion rubrocristatus) – Fairly common in the humid highlands where had them on a couple of days, perched atop tall trees, such as at the Utuana reserve.

The Long-wattled Umbrellabird is one of the key targets on this tour -- and probably one of the most spectacular species in South America! (photo by participant John Drummond)

LONG-WATTLED UMBRELLABIRD (Cephalopterus penduliger) – Certainly one of the target birds of the trip and one of the most spectacular species in South America. Buenaventura has been one of the best spots to track this stunner down in recent years since there is an easily accessed lek only a short ways up the hill from the lodge, and we weren't disappointed! We got to the reserve early enough to try on our arrival afternoon and were treated to an unbelievable male at close range with its wattle completely distended... incredible!!! Certainly one of the trip's most memorable experiences.
Pipridae (Manakins)
GOLDEN-WINGED MANAKIN (Masius chrysopterus coronulatus) – At Buenaventura where they are pretty regular, especially at fruiting trees.
WHITE-BEARDED MANAKIN (Manacus manacus) – Most had pretty decent views of them at the small lek uphill from the lodge at Buenaventura, but they dart around with amazing speed!
CLUB-WINGED MANAKIN (Machaeropterus deliciosus) – The usual lek areas were quiet this year, so no males, but we did run into a female for good looks on our first full day at Buenaventura when it visited a fruiting tree.
Tityridae (Tityras and Allies)
BARRED BECARD (Pachyramphus versicolor versicolor) – A small and common highland becard that we saw well with a flock at Cajanuma.
SLATY BECARD (Pachyramphus spodiurus) – A regional endemic that we located at a nest at Jorupe for nice looks at a pair right along the roadside. We also noted how this species' nest is smaller and more round than the larger, more oblong nest of the One-colored Becard.
BLACK-AND-WHITE BECARD (Pachyramphus albogriseus guayaquilensis) – A common bird at the Jorupe reserve where had repeated fine studies.
ONE-COLORED BECARD (Pachyramphus homochrous homochrous) – The largest of the becards on our trip, and a common bird at the Jorupe reserve.
Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)
BROWN-CAPPED VIREO (Vireo leucophrys josephae) – A common flock bird at Buenaventura.
RED-EYED VIREO (RESIDENT CHIVI) (Vireo olivaceus griseobarbatus) – Abundant in the west.
OLIVACEOUS GREENLET (Hylophilus olivaceus) – We had one in the foothills of the Maranon valley down below Tapichalaca.
LESSER GREENLET (GRAY-HEADED) (Hylophilus decurtatus minor) – With almost every mixed flock at Buenaventura.
RUFOUS-BROWED PEPPERSHRIKE (YELLOW-BACKED) (Cyclarhis gujanensis virenticeps) – Most common in the deciduous forests around Jorupe where their frequently heard song is a characteristic sound of the hillsides.
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
TURQUOISE JAY (Cyanolyca turcosa) – It is always a thrill to see this gorgeous highland jay!
GREEN JAY (INCA) (Cyanocorax yncas yncas) – It sort of surprised me that we didn't actually see one! [*]
WHITE-TAILED JAY (Cyanocorax mystacalis) – A shockingly handsome Tumbesian endemic that we had our first taste of at Cerro Blanco outside of Guayaquil, but then had daily around Jorupe for many crippling studies!
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
BLUE-AND-WHITE SWALLOW (CYANOLEUCA) (Pygochelidon cyanoleuca cyanoleuca) – The common swallow of the trip.
PALE-FOOTED SWALLOW (Orochelidon flavipes) – Linda had them first at Tapichalaca, but we all caught up with this highland, forest based species at Cajanuma the following day for nice views as they swirled by. This one is superficially similar to the Blue-and-white, but has a different flight style and, if seen well, a rufousy throat; calls differ greatly as well.
BROWN-BELLIED SWALLOW (Orochelidon murina) – A common swallow of the highlands, especially in open grassy habitats.
SOUTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx ruficollis uropygialis) – Common around Buenaventura. The swallow with the pale rump.
GRAY-BREASTED MARTIN (Progne chalybea chalybea) – A common martin in western Ecuador, especially in drier areas.
BARN SWALLOW (AMERICAN) (Hirundo rustica erythrogaster) – A few migrating through out on the western plain. [b]
CHESTNUT-COLLARED SWALLOW (Petrochelidon rufocollaris aequatorialis) – This Tumbesian based swallow, similar in plumage to Cliff Swallow, is locally common in SW Ecuador, and can often be seen nesting in the churches of town squares. We had good looks at them in flight and perched near the Peruvian border at Zapotillo.
Troglodytidae (Wrens)
HOUSE WREN (SOUTHERN) (Troglodytes aedon albicans) – A common wren of non-forested habitats that we saw on most days.
MOUNTAIN WREN (Troglodytes solstitialis solstitialis) – A common highland wren of humid forests that we in habitats such as Tapichalaca.
FASCIATED WREN (Campylorhynchus fasciatus pallescens) – A relative of the cactus wren, this strongly patterned, arboreal wren can really make quite a racket when they want to, with their loud and scratchy calls. We had many of them throughout the drier areas of the SW.
PLAIN-TAILED WREN (Pheugopedius euophrys) – A Chusquea bamboo specialist that is usually first detected through its loud, dueted song. We pulled in a cooperative pair along the trail at Tapichalaca.
SPECKLE-BREASTED WREN (SPECKLE-BREASTED) (Pheugopedius sclateri paucimaculatus) – Common in the tangles at Cerro Blanco, where we had some fine views as they crept in over us.
BAY WREN (SOUTH AMERICAN) (Cantorchilus nigricapillus nigricapillus) – An understory wren of the western humid lowlands and foothills. This one can be a devil to see as it is a talented skulker of the undergrowth, but we managed to draw one in for nice studies at Buenaventura.
SUPERCILIATED WREN (Cantorchilus superciliaris) – A bright rufous and white wren that inhabits the scrub and acacia woodlands of Tumbesia. This is another wren that can be a toughie to see well, but we called out a pair for tremendous studies at Manglares-Churute.
RUFOUS WREN (Cinnycerthia unirufa unibrunnea) – Nice looks at a family group at very close range with an understory flock at Cajanuma during our morning up there.
GRAY-BREASTED WOOD-WREN (Henicorhina leucophrys hilaris) [*]
SONG WREN (Cyphorhinus phaeocephalus phaeocephalus) – Buenaventura has got to be one of the best places to see this skulking, forest understory wren, and we had some nice encounters with them a couple of times, and were able to enjoy their wonderfully melodic vocalizations as well!
Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)
TROPICAL GNATCATCHER (WHITE-BROWED) (Polioptila plumbea bilineata) – A very common species of the SW scrub, and the one usually to be first on the scene after playing some pygmy-owl calls.
Cinclidae (Dippers)
WHITE-CAPPED DIPPER (Cinclus leucocephalus) – At least Ron and I had one before it got away along a mountain stream!
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
ANDEAN SOLITAIRE (Myadestes ralloides) [*]
SLATY-BACKED NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (SLATY-BACKED) (Catharus fuscater fuscater) – Some got onto this one when it sneaked in through the understory in the Utuana area, but we all caught up with it on our last day at Yungilla after our extremely lucky encounter with the Pale-headed Brush-Finch!
PLUMBEOUS-BACKED THRUSH (Turdus reevei) – Abundant at Jorupe where they are almost never out of earshot! This is one handsome thrush though, always deserving a look.
PALE-VENTED THRUSH (Turdus obsoletus parambanus) [*]
ECUADORIAN THRUSH (Turdus maculirostris) – Common along the roads at Cerro blanco; sometimes lumped with the Spectacled Thrush of more northern latitudes.
MARA–ON THRUSH (Turdus maranonicus) – We saw this distinctive thrush right at the extreme northern-most point possible, and I doubt that even occurs that many more curves up the road from where we saw it!
SLATY THRUSH (Turdus nigriceps) – This trans-Andean form is split out by some authorities as the Andean Slaty-Thrush. This has to be one of the skulkiest thrushes around, and is very hard to track down unless it is up and singing, and even then it can still be a chore to spot as it can really stay hidden in dense growth! But, we were persistent, and indeed found a singing bird for scope studies in the Acacia forests west of Loja city.
GREAT THRUSH (Turdus fuscater gigantodes) – The common highland thrush in humid areas.
CHIGUANCO THRUSH (CHIGUANCO) (Turdus chiguanco chiguanco) – Tends to replace the previous species in drier valleys, such as around Loja city, and the dry valleys all the way up through to Cuenca. During a short stop in some central valley scrub, we spotted one perched atop an Acacia tree for nice studies.
GLOSSY-BLACK THRUSH (Turdus serranus fuscobrunneus) – Seen well in the subtropical zone at Cajanuma. Like a small Great Thrush, but darker, and more forest based.
Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
LONG-TAILED MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus longicaudatus) – Very common in the drier lowlands and valleys of the west.
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)
PARAMO PIPIT (Anthus bogotensis bogotensis) – We had one in the high grasslands around Acacana, which was a bit of a surprise.
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
OLIVE-CROWNED YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis semiflava semiflava) – Fairly common in the wet pastures at Buenaventura.
AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla) – Always a treat to see these northern migrants down here and flourishing! [b]
TROPICAL PARULA (Setophaga pitiayumi pacifica) – Common in dry and humid habitats alike, up and down the west slope.
BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER (Setophaga fusca) – Blackburnians are usually big deal when they show up on their migrating routes in the States, but down here, they are about as common as any bird could be! [b]
THREE-BANDED WARBLER (Basileuterus trifasciatus nitidior) – A Tumbesian Warbler that seems to do well in various habitats, from humid foothills to drier Acacia valleys. We had them well a few times at Buenaventura.
CITRINE WARBLER (Myiothlypis luteoviridis luteoviridis) – A bird of humid subtropical and temperate forests that usually moves with flocks, singing all the while; we had them daily around Tapichalaca and Cajanuma.
BLACK-CRESTED WARBLER (Myiothlypis nigrocristata) – A common warbler of edge habitats in humid areas of the highlands.
GRAY-AND-GOLD WARBLER (Myiothlypis fraseri ochraceicrista) – The northern form with the more orange colored crown patch that we saw in good numbers at Cerro Blanco on our first day.
GRAY-AND-GOLD WARBLER (Myiothlypis fraseri fraseri) – The southern race that is found in most of Tumbesia, differing slightly from the previous race in that it sports a yellow crown patch; this one was common in the Jorupe area.
RUSSET-CROWNED WARBLER (Myiothlypis coronata castaneiceps) – A common and very vocal warbler species that often launches into its dueted song as pairs flip about in the understory of humid highland forests; we had them at Tapichalaca and Cajanuma.
SLATE-THROATED REDSTART (Myioborus miniatus) – One of the most common flock birds in middle elevation, humid forests throughout Ecuador.
SPECTACLED REDSTART (Myioborus melanocephalus) – Replaces the previous species in the higher elevation temperate forests; common at Tapichalaca and Cajanuma where they travel with the mixed canopy flocks.
Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)

The handsome Red-hooded Tanager is a canopy species, so it's always satisfying to see them well -- especially if you can do so without breaking your neck! (photo by participant John Drummond)

BLACK-FACED TANAGER (Schistochlamys melanopis) – Reaches its northern-most range here in Ecuador right at the point where we saw it, just south of the town of Valladolid at the upper limits of the of the Maranon drainage. We had good looks at a pair as they raided a fruiting tree in secondary woodland edge during some productive afternoon birding.
BLACK-AND-WHITE TANAGER (Conothraupis speculigera) – An enigmatic tanager that seemingly vanishes altogether from its breeding grounds in Tumbesia into the Amazonian lowlands where it has been found in riparian habitats, such as river islands; an interesting and unique migratory pattern for sure. While only known to breed in SW Ecuador and NW Peru, it does seem to show some eruptive tend en cies, being much more common in really wet years, but there always seem to be some around, assuming one can find the right patch where they singing. Our first attempts around the lodge at Jorupe were fruitless, and had me scratching my head if we had just hit the wrong year, but we continued searching and hit a spot not far from the lodge - right at the Slaty Becard nest - that had a few males in full song, and perching right out in the open for wonderful scope studies!
WHITE-CAPPED TANAGER (Sericossypha albocristata) [*]
BLACK-EARED HEMISPINGUS (PIURA) (Hemispingus melanotis piurae) – The Black-eared Hemispingus complex is in need of a comprehensive analysis, because there are some marked differences in a few of their populations that really point to some differences at the specific level. This highland Tumbesian form is probably the most divergent looking of them all, and is a really striking bird. We connected with a group of them in the fog in the roadside forests near Utuana reserve one morning for pretty good looks.
BLACK-HEADED HEMISPINGUS (Hemispingus verticalis) – A handsome and cleanly plumaged hemispingus that can be found with canopy flocks in the humid temperate zone. We called in a group of them at Tapichalaca for amazing scope studies.
GRAY-HOODED BUSH TANAGER (RUBRIROSTRIS) (Cnemoscopus rubrirostris rubrirostris) – Seen at close range with the same flock as the previous species when they came through at eye level... nice! This species has the curious habitat of flicking its tail as it forages along through the canopy.
RUFOUS-CHESTED TANAGER (Thlypopsis ornata media) – Nice views at this mostly orange tanager species in the highland forests above Sozoranga.
WHITE-SHOULDERED TANAGER (Tachyphonus luctuosus panamensis) – Common at Buenaventura in secondary habitats. The male is all black with a bold white shoulder patch, while the female is yellow and olive, with a gray head.
WHITE-LINED TANAGER (Tachyphonus rufus) – Seen well in the foothills near Valladolid. Another mostly black tanager (male), but the female is all bright rufous.
FLAME-RUMPED TANAGER (LEMON-RUMPED) (Ramphocelus flammigerus icteronotus) – An abundant tanager in the humid areas of the west, mainly in secondary habitats.
HOODED MOUNTAIN-TANAGER (Buthraupis montana cucullata) – A large and noisy mountain-tanager of humid highland forests; seen well at Tapichalaca.
GRASS-GREEN TANAGER (Chlorornis riefferii riefferii) – We should have seen this one better, but did have the opportunity to see one launch into a display flight at Tapichalaca.
LACRIMOSE MOUNTAIN-TANAGER (Anisognathus lacrymosus caerulescens) – The mountain-tanager with the yellow teardrop spot that inhabits highland humid forests, mostly on the east slope. we had them well with the mixed flocks at Tapichalaca and Cajanuma.
SCARLET-BELLIED MOUNTAIN-TANAGER (Anisognathus igniventris erythronotus) – A stunning mountain-tanager of humid highland forests that we had well at Acacana as they moved with the flocks.
GOLDEN-CROWNED TANAGER (Iridosornis rufivertex rufivertex) – A boldly patterned highland tanager with a bright yellow cap... wow! John and I were the only ones to catch this one as it moved through the understory with a flock at Cajanuma, but luckily we all caught up with it in another flock at Acacana.
FAWN-BREASTED TANAGER (Pipraeidea melanonota venezuelensis) – Seen on our final day at Yungilla reserve.
BLUE-GRAY TANAGER (Thraupis episcopus quaesita) – We saw two forms of this common species. For almost all of the trip we had contact with the duller western subspecies, but also had good looks at the eastern subspecies (coelestis) in the foothills around Valladolid.
PALM TANAGER (Thraupis palmarum) – Common in the humid lowlands of much of the neotropics.
BLUE-CAPPED TANAGER (Thraupis cyanocephala) – Seen a few times over the course of the tour, and a well-dressed tanager.
SILVERY TANAGER (Tangara viridicollis fulvigula) – Also known as Silver-backed Tanager, this is a fairly common tanager of the subtropical zone of the SW with small numbers also occurring in the Maranon foothills. We had our best studies of this handsome tanager - a male - just south of Valladolid.
BLUE-NECKED TANAGER (Tangara cyanicollis) – Should be called, "Blue-headed Tanager"! Seen well on both slopes.
RUFOUS-THROATED TANAGER (Tangara rufigula) – We saw this Choco based species right near the southern limit of its range on two days at Buenaventura.
SPOTTED TANAGER (Tangara punctata zamorae) – We ran into a nice flurry of tanager activity one afternoon at the lower end of the Tapichalaca reserve, this being among them.
BLUE-AND-BLACK TANAGER (Tangara vassorii vassorii) – The highest occurring member of this genus here in Ecuador, and we had good looks at them in the humid forests at Cajanuma and Acacana.
BERYL-SPANGLED TANAGER (Tangara nigroviridis) – Common, but a real stunner, and we had them in some nice light a few times below Tapichalaca.
METALLIC-GREEN TANAGER (Tangara labradorides chaupensis) – Although I first guessed that what John and Linda had seen in our burst of tanager activity at the lower end of the Tapichalaca reserve was Blue-browed, upon further discussion, John convinced me that it had to have been the SE race of this species, which is certainly a possibility.
PARADISE TANAGER (Tangara chilensis) – Another of the dazzling tanagers that we saw in the Maranon foothills below Tapichalaca as we went from one brilliant tanager species to another!
BAY-HEADED TANAGER (BAY-AND-BLUE) (Tangara gyrola nupera) – Known to many neotropical birders, we had them daily at Buenaventura, where it is indeed on of the most common tanagers.
GOLDEN-EARED TANAGER (Tangara chrysotis) – A stunning tanager of the eastern foothills and yet another that we pulled out of the hat during our afternoon birding stint south of Tapichalaca.
SAFFRON-CROWNED TANAGER (Tangara xanthocephala) – Common in the subtropical zone in the Tapichalaca area, where they frequent mixed canopy flocks.
FLAME-FACED TANAGER (Tangara parzudakii) – We saw both of the very distinctive races this trip. First we had the smaller, more orange-crowned nominate race at Buenaventura, and then the more red-and-yellow headed race of the east.
GOLDEN TANAGER (Tangara arthus) – Common in humid forest on both slopes. We had them daily with the flocks at Buenaventura.
SILVER-THROATED TANAGER (Tangara icterocephala icterocephala) – Common with the tanager flocks at Buenaventura.
BLUE DACNIS (Dacnis cayana glaucogularis) – A female popped up into view in the subtropical zone below Tapichalaca.
GREEN HONEYCREEPER (Chlorophanes spiza exsul) – Some smashing studies at the feeders at Buenaventura where they give the hummers a run for their money!
GUIRA TANAGER (Hemithraupis guira) – Fairly common in the canopy at Buenaventura.
BLUE-BACKED CONEBILL (Conirostrum sitticolor sitticolor) – A common flock bird of the temperate zone; we had them at close range at Tapichalaca.
CAPPED CONEBILL (Conirostrum albifrons atrocyaneum) – Very likely seen fleetingly at Cajanuma.
GLOSSY FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa lafresnayii) – Common in highland humid forests; the all black flowerpiercer with the bluish shoulder patch.
WHITE-SIDED FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa albilatera schistacea) – Common in shrubby growth in the highlands, where they flit about in search of flowers to raid.
BLUISH FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa caerulescens) – A flowerpiercer of humid, subtropical eastern forests that we saw well in the Tapichalaca area.
MASKED FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa cyanea dispar) – The common highland flowerpiercer; the one with the deep blue plumage, black mask, and red eye.
ASH-BREASTED SIERRA-FINCH (Phrygilus plebejus ocularis) – A sierra-finch of drier habitats that we saw along our drive from Buenaventura to Macara.
BAND-TAILED SIERRA-FINCH (Phrygilus alaudinus) – The rains had set in at Tapichalaca and Cajanuma, so we decided to try and outrun them with a quick visit to the "drier" valleys west of Loja city. Well, the rain continued to chase us, but we still prevailed, nailing little beauties such as this attractive sierra-finch!
COLLARED WARBLING-FINCH (Poospiza hispaniolensis) – A cleany marked warbling-finch of scrubby habitats that we had killer scope views of west of Guayaquil and in the Zapotillo area.
SAFFRON FINCH (SAFFRON) (Sicalis flaveola valida) – Abundant throughout the dry SW.
BLUE-BLACK GRASSQUIT (Volatinia jacarina peruviensis) – Common in the grassy western lowlands, where we had the opportunity to watch males engage in their comical display jumps.
PARROT-BILLED SEEDEATER (Sporophila peruviana devronis) – A seedeater of dry scrub habitats along and near the coast. We had them in good numbers west of Guayaquil, and in the Zapotillo area, where they be the dominant seedeater.
CHESTNUT-THROATED SEEDEATER (Sporophila telasco) – We had plenty of them in the grassy wetlands SW of Guayaquil.
DRAB SEEDEATER (Sporophila simplex) – Sort of a specialty in the dry hills of the SW, and one that we picked up during some birding west of Loja city one afternoon, where they are quite common and vocal when the rains set in.
THICK-BILLED SEED-FINCH (Sporophila funerea) – Common and vocal in the secondary habitats around Buenaventura.
VARIABLE SEEDEATER (BLACK) (Sporophila corvina corvina) – A common black-and-white seedeater of fields and secondary habitats in the west.
BLACK-AND-WHITE SEEDEATER (Sporophila luctuosa) – A seedeater that has some migratory tendencies, and seems to appear eruptively when the conditions are right. We ran into them at Yungilla reserve this year for some nice studies on our last day of birding.
YELLOW-BELLIED SEEDEATER (Sporophila nigricollis) – Abundant in the grassy areas of the west.
CRIMSON-BREASTED FINCH (Rhodospingus cruentus) – This monotypic genus of finch bursts into song during the wet season, and we had smashing views of vocalizing males on our first two days around Guayaquil.
BANANAQUIT (CARIBBEAN) (Coereba flaveola intermedia) – Particularly common around Buenaventura where they visit the feeders almost constantly.
DULL-COLORED GRASSQUIT (Tiaris obscurus pauper) – Fairly common in degraded habitats of the west, but it took us up until our last day - at Yungilla reserve - to score good looks at them for all.

The White-headed Brush-Finch is a Tumbesian forest specialty. (photo by participant John Drummond)

BUFF-THROATED SALTATOR (Saltator maximus maximus) – A saltator with a large range; we saw them a few times at Buenaventura.
BLACK-WINGED SALTATOR (Saltator atripennis) – A specialty of the west, reaching its southern limits at Buenaventura, where we called them in a couple of times for nice views.
STREAKED SALTATOR (Saltator striatipectus flavidicollis) – The unstreaked race of the SW, that is especially common at Cerro Blanco.
STREAKED SALTATOR (Saltator striatipectus peruvianus) – This form of the the Maranon valley is heavily streaked, and we had them well in the Valladolid area.
BLACK-COWLED SALTATOR (Saltator nigriceps) – A boldly marked saltator of the Tumbesian highlands, with a striking, coral bill. We had fabulous scope views of them in the Sozoranga-Utuana area.
SLATE-COLORED GROSBEAK (Saltator grossus) [*]
Emberizidae (Buntings and New World Sparrows)
ORANGE-BILLED SPARROW (Arremon aurantiirostris santarosae) – Seen in the understory at Buenaventura.
BLACK-CAPPED SPARROW (Arremon abeillei abeillei) – We saw the gray-backed, western form at Cerro Blanco and Jorupe, where they are common understory, forest birds.
GRAY-BROWED BRUSH-FINCH (Arremon assimilis nigrifrons) – Some quick views for some in the highlands above Sozoranga. If you have a look in the Birds of Ecuador, you will find this as the Stripe-headed Brush-Finch, but after the split, this northern form is now called "Gray-browed".
BLACK-STRIPED SPARROW (Arremonops conirostris striaticeps) – We called up an interested bird at Buenaventura in the hills below the lodge.
PALE-NAPED BRUSH-FINCH (Atlapetes pallidinucha papallactae) – A temperate forest species that can often be found in small groups as they forage about quite confidingly; we saw them at close range daily in the humid highlands.
YELLOW-BREASTED BRUSH-FINCH (Atlapetes latinuchus) – A member of the Rufous-naped Brush-Finch complex, and a common species in the highlands of Ecuador. The form that we saw in the south of Ecuador sports a bold white wing patch.
WHITE-HEADED BRUSH-FINCH (Atlapetes albiceps) – A local species in deciduous forests of Tumbesia that can often take some special effort to find, but we found just the right spot north of Macara, and tracked down a small group of this spectacular brush-finch as they fed about with a small flock in roadside shrubbery... awesome!
PALE-HEADED BRUSH-FINCH (Atlapetes pallidiceps) – The final key bird of the trip that we had left to set our sights on. Things looked pretty grim for a short period when we realized that we were not going to be able to step foot onto its primary habitat at Jocotoco's Yungilla reserve, due to some high waters along the small ravine we hoped to cross; rolling rocks and and challenging currents ruled this possibility out for safety reasons! But, we rolled with the punches in stride, and then the obvious occurred to us: why not try from our side to see if we could pull them in for a view? Well, the results were miraculous, resulting in some of the best views we have ever scored on this tour... amazing! As a brief history, this species was "lost" for decades, and only recently rediscovered at this very site, thanks to the efforts of renowned Danish ornithologist, Niels Krabbe. Thanks to his gut feelings - that the the species might still persist in the nearby valleys - the bird was mist-netted, and thus once again on the map, giving birth to the Yungilla reserve. The reserve may not look like much, but it is still the only known place where this extremely endangered species continues to hang on. [E]
BAY-CROWNED BRUSH-FINCH (Atlapetes seebohmi simonsi) – A brush-finch of the Tumbesian highlands that we saw in the Utuana area.
TUMBES SPARROW (Rhynchospiza stolzmanni) – A Tumbesian endemic that is locally common in scrubby hillside habitats of the SW, and we saw them well a couple of times as they sang and foraged about.
RUFOUS-COLLARED SPARROW (Zonotrichia capensis) – The abundant sparrow of the highlands.
COMMON CHLOROSPINGUS (NORTHERN ANDES) (Chlorospingus flavopectus phaeocephalus) – The word, "Chlorospingus", sounds like a breath mint, but I guess we'll have to get used to it for this genus as it does actually help clear up some confusion with respect to common names! We had many groups of this species at Buenaventura. Although considered to be the same subspecies as those found on the east slope, I have a feeling this will one day change.
YELLOW-THROATED CHLOROSPINGUS (YELLOW-THROATED) (Chlorospingus flavigularis marginatus) – A common and noisy flock bird around Buenaventura.
ASHY-THROATED CHLOROSPINGUS (ASHY-THROATED) (Chlorospingus canigularis paulus) – Common with the tanager flocks at Buenaventura
Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)
WHITE-WINGED TANAGER (Piranga leucoptera ardens) – We had nice views at a stunning pair of this canopy flock species at Buenaventura on our first full day there.
RED-HOODED TANAGER (Piranga rubriceps) – Cajanuma has got to be one of the best spots to find this gorgeous canopy species, and we had little trouble finding a cooperative group along the road up to the headquarters for knee buckling, scope studies!
OCHRE-BREASTED TANAGER (Chlorothraupis stolzmanni) – After having always been considered a tanager, the idea of grouping this one with the cardinals will have to take some getting used to, but genetics don't lie! We encountered this chunky and very vocal species at Buenaventura on a daily basis.
GOLDEN GROSBEAK (Pheucticus chrysogaster chrysogaster) – Has also gone by Southern Yellow, and Golden-bellied Grosbeak. This is a common species in mostly in drier areas; we had plenty of fine studies over the course of the trip.
BLUE-BLACK GROSBEAK (Cyanocompsa cyanoides) – We had some responsive pairs in the roadside growth at Buenaventura for tremendous studies.
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
PERUVIAN MEADOWLARK (Sturnella bellicosa bellicosa) – Common in dry zones in the western lowlands and highlands alike. We had our first views of them in the grassy, roadside habitats as we made our way south of Guayaquil towards Buenaventura.
SCRUB BLACKBIRD (Dives warszewiczi warszewiczi) – The common blackbird in dry areas of the west, and a very noisy bird whose loud, liquid song really carries!
GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus) – Common in coastal areas.
SHINY COWBIRD (Molothrus bonariensis) – Fairly common in the Jorupe area.
GIANT COWBIRD (Molothrus oryzivorus oryzivorus) – As its name suggests, this is a large cowbird. We had them flyby during our birding drive south out of Guayaquil.
WHITE-EDGED ORIOLE (Icterus graceannae) – This Tumbesian endemic oriole is easily found right around the lodge at Jorupe. Although similar to the more wide ranging Yellow-tailed Oriole, tis one has a clean white triangle in the wing, and lacks any yellow in the tail, among other differences.
YELLOW-TAILED ORIOLE (Icterus mesomelas taczanowskii) – Common in both drier and more humid habitats of the west; we had them well on our first day at Cerro Blanco.
YELLOW-RUMPED CACIQUE (WESTERN) (Cacicus cela flavicrissus) – This western form, while fairly similar in plumage to birds of the Amazon, has a very distinctive vocal repertoire, and may deserve specific status. This one is fairly common in deciduous forests of western lowlands and foothills.
MOUNTAIN CACIQUE (GOLDEN-SHOULDERED) (Cacicus chrysonotus leucoramphus) – Seen in the highland, inter-Andean humid forests around Saraguro for nice studies when we connected with a few foraging birds.
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
ORANGE-CROWNED EUPHONIA (Euphonia saturata) – An uncommon euphonia that some got a look at at Cerro Blanco before it zipped off. Although generally similar to the more common Orange-bellied Euphonia, this species has a larger crown patch, is more of a rich orange underneath, and lacks the white patches in the tail.
THICK-BILLED EUPHONIA (THICK-BILLED) (Euphonia laniirostris hypoxantha) – Particularly common in the deciduous forests around Jorupe. The euphonia with the yellow running all the way up the chin.
GOLDEN-RUMPED EUPHONIA (Euphonia cyanocephala) – A really handsome euphonia of both humid and dry areas; we had had them during our travel day from Jorupe to Loja city.
ORANGE-BELLIED EUPHONIA (Euphonia xanthogaster) – The common euphonia around Buenaventura.
YELLOW-BELLIED SISKIN (Spinus xanthogastrus xanthogastrus) – A distinctive siskin of the humid foothills of the west; Buenaventura.
HOODED SISKIN (Spinus magellanicus) – The common siskin of the central highlands.
SAFFRON SISKIN (Spinus siemiradzkii) – A rare, local, and possibly somewhat nomadic siskin that is restricted to the Tumbesian zone where it prefers deciduous forest and taller scrub. We lucked into a killer male for awesome views north of Macara... wow!
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) – I think Larry and I were th only ones to see this introduced species. [I]
Estrildidae (Waxbills and Allies)
TRICOLORED MUNIA (Lonchura malacca) – Common and seemingly breeding with great success in the pasture lands SE of Guayaquil; not too long ago this species was not even on the radar. [I]

MANTLED HOWLER MONKEY (Alouatta palliata) – Seems to be thriving in the forests at Buenaventura, where we heard them daily. We did luck into a small group right along the roadside one morning for really nice studies of this very noisy monkey species.
RED-TAILED SQUIRREL (Sciurus granatensis) – We saw one at Buenaventura; a wide ranging squirrel in Ecuador.
GUAYAQUIL SQUIRREL (Sciurus stramineus) – A splendid species of squirrel that is common in the deciduous forests of the west. We had particularly nice studies at Jorupe's feeders where they are almost constantly present.
WESTERN PYGMY SQUIRREL (Microsciurus mimulus) – Steve had one right behind the cabins at Buenaventura.
CENTRAL AMERICAN AGOUTI (Dasyprocta punctata) – In small numbers at Buenaventura where saw them scurrying about in the undergrowth.
SOUTH AMERICAN COATI (Nasua nasua) – These guys used to be real pests Buenaventura's dining room, but somehow they have gotten them to back off! Some had looks at these comical animals at one point.


Totals for the tour: 450 bird taxa and 6 mammal taxa