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Field Guides Tour Report
Holiday at San Isidro, Ecuador 2015
Nov 21, 2015 to Nov 30, 2015
Mitch Lysinger

Slate-throated Redstarts were common mixed-species flock members at middle elevations. (photo by participant Jean Halford)

Ecuador is quite possibly the most birder-friendly country of them all! The single-site diversity can't be beat, this is for sure, but maybe just as importantly, one can also get to comfortable lodges in relatively short periods of time, while still being in remote, prime habitats. To have the capital city, Quito, perched up in the beautiful Andes and sandwiched between two of the birdiest slopes on the planet, is a huge advantage... no flights necessary, with travel along (for the most part!) paved roads. We were witnesses to this during our awesome week on the east slope, and plucked many of its avian fruits indeed, enjoying some spectacular scenery along the way.

Bird highlights were many, and while this is often a very personal list, I'll do my best to draw attention to birds that I thought were special in some way or another -- whether rare, beautiful, or both! So here it goes with the leader's picks: that stunning pair of Torrent Ducks; a rare Semicollared Hawk that sat fearlessly for close views; a pair of the odd Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe under beautiful conditions in the high paramo; killer spotlight studies of the "San Isidro" (Black-banded-type) Owl on our first night at San Isidro; day-roosting Blackish Nightjar; mind-boggling Sword-billed Hummingbirds at arm's length at Guango's feeders; stunning males of both Golden-headed and Crested quetzals; scope studies of a singing Black-billed Mountain-Toucan; Powerful Woodpecker; unbeatable views of the rare and secretive Bicolored Antvireo along San Isidro's trails; point-blank views of White-bellied Antpitta at San Isidro's worm feeding station, and Rufous Antpitta at our feet in the high elfin woodlands; a brilliant male Andean Cock-of-the-Rock below the cabins at San Isidro; a large haul of flamboyant tanagers with the mixed flocks, including Vermilion, Blue-browed, and Golden-crowned tanagers, and the scarce Black-chested Mountain-Tanager; and fabulous studies of a pair of the high elevation and very local Giant Conebill.

Getting back to comfortable birding lodges, we had the pleasure of staying at two -- Cabañas San Isidro and Guango lodge - which both happen to be surrounded by their own forest preserves (and also adjacent to national reserves), and also happen to serve up delectable cuisine that might even rival the birds... a perfect mix! I also have to plug our talented and faithful driver, Edgar, who accompanied us every step of the way with good humor and spirit, getting us to all of our destinations safely and efficiently... thanks Edgar! What really makes any trip successful though, is its participants, and you guys were a dream to bird with. We celebrated some great birding together, and laughed a lot, so I thank all of you for making this trip a joy to lead. All right, start turning some pages and reliving some memories, and I hope to see all of you again sometime soon out there in the field!

-- 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

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)

The male Long-tailed Sylph is one we never got tired of seeing! (photo by participant Jean Halford)

TORRENT DUCK (Merganetta armata colombiana) – This species is always a nice way to start a triplist off with, and we had some nice scope studies at a pair on our second day of this unique and beautiful, Andean duck!
YELLOW-BILLED PINTAIL (SOUTH AMERICAN) (Anas georgica spinicauda) – We had this and the next species - both highland species here in Ecuador - up on Papallacta Lake, where we enjoyed some pretty nice scope studies. Compared to the teal this species is larger, has a more cinnamon tinge to its plumage, and has a bright yellow bill!
ANDEAN TEAL (ANDEAN) (Anas andium andium) – Up on Papallacta Lake. This rather drab species is common on high Andean lakes.
Cracidae (Guans, Chachalacas, and Curassows)
WATTLED GUAN (Aburria aburri) – Seen through the scope from the dining room deck at San Isidro, but I sure wish we had spotted this one about 15 minutes earlier since we were on our last few photons of light!
SICKLE-WINGED GUAN (Chamaepetes goudotii tschudii) – A fairly common guan of the highlands, we had them in the gardens at San Isidro for nice views.
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax brasilianus) – One up on Papallacta Lake, where there is usually at least one lurking about.
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
GREAT EGRET (AMERICAN) (Ardea alba egretta) – Jean was the only one to spot this one as it flew by on our last day.
CATTLE EGRET (WESTERN) (Bubulcus ibis ibis) – Uncommon in the San Isidro area, but they do show up from time to time.
Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus)
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)
ANDEAN CONDOR (Vultur gryphus) – More bitter than sweet I have to say, since only Sue and I managed to pick the very distant, soaring bird out before it slipped away on our last day. We sure put in a good effort through.
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
SWALLOW-TAILED KITE (Elanoides forficatus) – Elegant, and always a joy to see. We had a few on the south slope of the Cordillera de Guacamayos, not too far from San Isidro.
SEMICOLLARED HAWK (Accipiter collaris) – One of the birds of the trip, for sure! This a rare bird of the subtropical zones that one can go years without seeing, but we really lucked out when we spotted a perched bird right along the roadside on the S. slope of the Guacamayos for killer studies. Best of all, it didn't seem to mind our presence, and sat as long as we would watch it... wow!
SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (PLAIN-BREASTED) (Accipiter striatus ventralis) – The "Plain-breasted Hawk" was long considered by many to represent a species distinct from the Sharp-shinned, but they were recently lumped by the SACC. Maybe future studies will determine it to be distinct, but who knows? At any rate, we had one zip in and perch at fairly close range along the road up above San Isidro for nice views... looked like it was out for a meal, indeed!
ROADSIDE HAWK (MAINLAND) (Rupornis magnirostris magnirostris) – A wide ranging hawk that seems to be able to tolerate a variety of habitat types, but almost always near edges. We numerous encounters with this species, often being recognized by the large rufous patches in the flight feathers.
VARIABLE HAWK (Geranoaetus polyosoma) – A large highland raptor that was actually repositioned from the Buteos, into the same genus as the Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, which seems to make some sense visually since it is so large. As its common name implies this species has a number of different morphs, and we saw some of them up in the paramos above Papallacta.
BLACK-CHESTED BUZZARD-EAGLE (Geranoaetus melanoleucus australis) – This robust eagle has a very chunky aspect, owing to its relatively short tail and thick wings; we had some fabulous studies of them soaring about - and even perching - with the gorgeous high paramo as and amazing backdrop.
BROAD-WINGED HAWK (NORTHERN) (Buteo platypterus platypterus) – A common boreal migrant, especially in the subtropical zone, and we had them almost daily around San Isidro. [b]
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
SLATE-COLORED COOT (Fulica ardesiaca) – A large highland coot, that looks quite similar to the American Coot. We had scope views of them up on Papallacta Lake.
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

Tiny White-bellied Woodstars hovered like bees around Guango's feeders. (photo by participant Jean Halford)

SOUTHERN LAPWING (Vanellus chilensis) – Traditionally thought of as an eastern lowland species of open habitats, this one seems to be actively expanding its range, even out onto the west slope. We had this one up in the highlands on our first day for nice studies.
Thinocoridae (Seedsnipes)
RUFOUS-BELLIED SEEDSNIPE (Attagis gayi latreillii) – An odd family of birds related to shorebirds, but one that looks and acts more like ptarmigans. There are only a few spots in Ecuador to find this largest of the seedsnipes, and the Papallacta Pass area happens to be one of them. Luckily, we had relatively decent weather for them, because under dreary conditions, this one can be a devil to find. This resulted in our stumbling upon them pretty easily, and for phenomenal views!
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius) – A common boreal migrant that can be found strutting along the edges of streams and rivers. [b]
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
ANDEAN GULL (Chroicocephalus serranus) – A stunning gull, with a silvery tinge to its plumage, and one that we saw on both of our passes through the high paramos.
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]
SCALED PIGEON (Patagioenas speciosa) – This handsome species of pigeon has a localized range in the east, mainly restricted to certain areas of the foothill zones. We heard one calling along the Loreto rd. and managed to spot it, and get it in the scope for pretty decent studies of its bold plumage and red bill.
BAND-TAILED PIGEON (WHITE-NECKED) (Patagioenas fasciata albilinea) – Less common than usual, but we did see them a few times.
RUDDY PIGEON (RUDDY) (Patagioenas subvinacea ogilviegranti) [*]
WHITE-THROATED QUAIL-DOVE (Zentrygon frenata bourcieri) [*]
EARED DOVE (Zenaida auriculata hypoleuca) – The common pigeon in the highlands, urban and suburban areas alike. Maybe it is just me, but I'm sure that the individuals around Quito look darker. Could the smog, exhaust, and whatever else really have this effect on the plumage?
Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

We had excellent views every day of the red-eyed, highland Masked Flowerpiercer. (photo by participant Jean Halford)

SQUIRREL CUCKOO (AMAZONIAN) (Piaya cayana mesura) – Squirrel Cuckoos are always a an entertaining sight, and remind anybody who has birded the Caribbean of Lizard-Cuckoos. We saw this large species a couple of times as they slinked through the branches, much like a squirrel would.
SMOOTH-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga ani) – Here in Ecuador, this one is known as the "garrapatero", or in English, the "tick-catcher".
Strigidae (Owls)
"BLACK-BANDED" OWL TYPE (Ciccaba sp. nov. 1) – If only I had a dime for the number of times that I have written this bird up in triplists without being able to give a clear answer as to its taxonomic assignment... well, ok, make that a fifty cent piece... haha! Many of you have probably already read at least something regarding this mystery, and you got my spiel on the matter. I certainly wish that there were an easy route to deciphering the genes of this bird, but it isn't as easy as a simple genetic analysis of a blood sample from a single bird. Without opening a can of worms, I'll just say that this riddle still needs a ton of biogeographic and genetic work that will still take some time in order to unravel what I consider a taxonomic conundrum. Most important though, we did see this magnificent beast on our first night at San Isidro for astounding views in the spotlight!
RUFOUS-BANDED OWL (Ciccaba albitarsis) – Most of us had this shy species before it flew off at San Isidro.
Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)
RUFOUS-BELLIED NIGHTHAWK (Lurocalis rufiventris) – The fog hindered our views a bit, but we did manage to see one zipping by a few times in the Guacamayos.
BLACKISH NIGHTJAR (Nyctipolus nigrescens) – It is always nice to see a nightjar by day, and we had smashing views of this dark species along the Loreto rd, in the eastern foothills at a usual haunt.
Apodidae (Swifts)
WHITE-CHINNED SWIFT (Cypseloides cryptus) – We enjoyed quite a nice swift show/clinic in the early morning along the Loreto rd. with clear weather and good light. Swifts are a hard bunch to learn well and researchers are still learning a lot about them. Without some serious field experience some of them can be quite difficult to identify since they often fly high and fast, but with knowledge of their flight styles, shapes, and calls, they are identifiable. This species' distinctive stocky shape and staccato, chattering calls help id it.
SPOT-FRONTED SWIFT (Cypseloides cherriei) – This species was also present in our cloud of swifts in the foothills, and were actually able to discern the white spots in front of the eyes.

Tourmaline Sunangels -- this one's a female -- were one of the more common hummers around Guango's feeders. (photo by participant Jean Halford)

CHESTNUT-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne rutila brunnitorques) – A pretty common swift that will often fly lower than other swifts, and in front of hillsides so as to be able to see the chestnut-collar!
WHITE-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne zonaris) – A humongous swift that we saw well numerous times during the trip.
SHORT-TAILED SWIFT (Chaetura brachyura) – Another member of the large swift party along the Loreto rd.; this was the one with the very short tail and thick wings.
GRAY-RUMPED SWIFT (ASH-RUMPED) (Chaetura cinereiventris sclateri) – Like the previous species in general form, but thinner and longer tailed.
Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)
TAWNY-BELLIED HERMIT (Phaethornis syrmatophorus columbianus) [*]
WEDGE-BILLED HUMMINGBIRD (Schistes geoffroyi geoffroyi) – Nice looks at this scarce hummer when a female came to feed at the Abutilan flowers at San Isidro!
GREEN VIOLETEAR (Colibri thalassinus) – Fairly common, but wary, at San Isidro's feeders.
SPARKLING VIOLETEAR (Colibri coruscans coruscans) – Seen daily at San Isidro's feeders, where it can be a bit of a bully.
TOURMALINE SUNANGEL (Heliangelus exortis) – One of the more common hummers at Guango's feeders. The male is a real beauty with that rosy, purple throat!
WIRE-CRESTED THORNTAIL (Discosura popelairii) – A diminutive hummer of the eastern foothills that we had good looks at during some time at a hummingbird feeder station along the Loreto rd.
SPECKLED HUMMINGBIRD (Adelomyia melanogenys melanogenys) – Seen everyday of the trip.
LONG-TAILED SYLPH (Aglaiocercus kingii mocoa) – The male, with its stunning, glittering tail, was a sight we never got tired of!
ECUADORIAN HILLSTAR (Oreotrochilus chimborazo jamesonii) – We managed good looks at a female in the high paramos above Papallacta.
BLACK-TAILED TRAINBEARER (Lesbia victoriae victoriae) – Tremendous studies of a long tailed male on our first day at my house in Tumbaco.
BLUE-MANTLED THORNBILL (Chalcostigma stanleyi stanleyi) [*]
TYRIAN METALTAIL (Metallura tyrianthina) – A common highland hummer that we saw particularly well at Guango's feeders.
VIRIDIAN METALTAIL (ECUADORIAN) (Metallura williami primolina) – This one replaces the previous species treeline, and is quite common and often very responsive.

The highlands around Papallacta Pass may look bleak and forbidding, but they're home to some highly sought-after species, including Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe, Tawny Antpitta and Chestnut-winged Cinclodes. (photo by participant Jean Halford)

SHINING SUNBEAM (Aglaeactis cupripennis cupripennis) – All rufous is not a common color for a hummingbird, but this one sports it well! We had this highland species a few times in the paramo edges of the Cayambe-Coca National Park.
BRONZY INCA (Coeligena coeligena obscura) – Ok, this isn't the most exciting of hummers, but it is an east slope specialty, and they are quite common at San Isidro's feeders.
COLLARED INCA (COLLARED) (Coeligena torquata torquata) – A hummer with a very pied plumage, and a pretty common bird at both Guango and San Isidro.
BUFF-WINGED STARFRONTLET (Coeligena lutetiae) – Fairly common in the highland temperate forests where it also visits the feeders at Guango in small numbers. This one easily is recognized thanks to its bold buffy wing patches.
SWORD-BILLED HUMMINGBIRD (Ensifera ensifera) – One of the most outrageously proportioned hummers of them all, with a bill that almost equals its body length! I am still always left bewildered at how this species manages to magically wield its bill, such as when inserting it into a tiny hole of a hummingbird feeder! We had fabulous studies of them at Guango's feeders.
GREAT SAPPHIREWING (Pterophanes cyanopterus peruvianus) – A huge hummer that graces the treeline forests at high elevations; we ran into one during some time birding in the Cayambe-Coca NP.
BUFF-TAILED CORONET (Boissonneaua flavescens flavescens) – This is surprisingly a bird that I have only ever seen at feeders on the east slope; in the west they are commonly seen at forest edges during normal birding... go figure! At any rate, we had repeated views of them at Guango and San Isidro, where they are regular feeder hogs.
CHESTNUT-BREASTED CORONET (Boissonneaua matthewsii) – The common coronet of the east slope, and the top feeder hog of them all, being the most common hummer at San Isidro's feeders.
WHITE-TAILED HILLSTAR (Urochroa bougueri bougueri) [*]
FAWN-BREASTED BRILLIANT (Heliodoxa rubinoides cervinigularis) – Brilliants are easily recognized by their heavy headed, bulky aspect. This species is common at middle elevations and was a common visitor to the feeders at San Isidro.
WHITE-BELLIED WOODSTAR (Chaetocercus mulsant) – This bee-like hummer was most common at Guango's feeders.
WESTERN EMERALD (Chlorostilbon melanorhynchus melanorhynchus) – We glimpsed one in the central valley.
VIOLET-HEADED HUMMINGBIRD (Klais guimeti guimeti) – Fine studies at the east slope foothill species at the feeders along the Loreto rd., where we grabbed some quality hummers!

Chestnut-breasted Coronets are common on the eastern slope -- particularly around hummingbird feeders, where they definitely rule the roost! (photo by participant Jean Halford)

MANY-SPOTTED HUMMINGBIRD (Taphrospilus hypostictus) – A foothill, east slope specialty, and another one that we had nice studies of at the feeders along the Loreto rd. This one can be a real toughie to find away from feeders.
RUFOUS-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD (RUFOUS-TAILED) (Amazilia tzacatl jucunda) – This was a real surprise! While this species is a common bird out on the west slope and its lowlands, it is almost unheard of up in the central valley. We had one pop in - as it feed at the flowers of an Inga tree - at my house around Tumbaco for nice studies. It must have been hanging around for about a week or so, because in hindsight, I remember jogging and hearing a sound that rang out as being this species, but since I was out of breath and exercising, I sort of blew it off! Nice to confirm it.
GOLDEN-TAILED SAPPHIRE (Chrysuronia oenone oenone) – Stunning males at the feeders in the foothills along the Loreto rd.
Trogonidae (Trogons)
GOLDEN-HEADED QUETZAL (Pharomachrus auriceps auriceps) – We persisted and had fantastic luck with the quetzals on this tour, seeing males of both species spectacularly well! We called in a male of this brilliant species along the trails at San Isidro one morning that blew us away!
CRESTED QUETZAL (Pharomachrus antisianus) – This species tends to be more skittish than the Golden-headed, but wow, we called in a full blown male near San Isidro for crippling studies. I couldn't believe how it just sat there, out in the open, for unforgettable scope studies!
MASKED TROGON (Trogon personatus personatus) – We had some fine studies of this highland trogon around San Isidro.
Momotidae (Motmots)
ANDEAN MOTMOT (Momotus aequatorialis aequatorialis) [*]
Capitonidae (New World Barbets)
RED-HEADED BARBET (Eubucco bourcierii orientalis) – Some had looks at the flaming male of this species with a flock on the south slope of the Guacamayos, not far from San Isidro.
Ramphastidae (Toucans)
EMERALD TOUCANET (ANDEAN) (Aulacorhynchus prasinus albivitta) – A wide ranging, green toucanet that is always a joy to see! We had them various times around San Isidro.
GRAY-BREASTED MOUNTAIN-TOUCAN (Andigena hypoglauca hypoglauca) – I wish everybody could have been there when this colorful beast put in its appearance at Guango, but the first day at high elevations took its toll on some and warranted a rest. Still, Sue, Eric, and I persevered and scored some nice looks a this high elevation mountain-toucan.
BLACK-BILLED MOUNTAIN-TOUCAN (Andigena nigrirostris spilorhynchus) – This can be a tricky toucanid to find, but we are usually victorious in one way or another. After some effort, along a favorite side road of mine near, San Isidro we finally dug one out as it called from a high perch, clinching scope views... nice!
CHANNEL-BILLED TOUCAN (Ramphastos vitellinus) [*]
Picidae (Woodpeckers)
SMOKY-BROWN WOODPECKER (Picoides fumigatus fumigatus) [*]
YELLOW-VENTED WOODPECKER (Veniliornis dignus baezae) – A hard woodpecker to find, but we had fine studies of males on two consecutive days.
GOLDEN-OLIVE WOODPECKER (GOLDEN-OLIVE) (Colaptes rubiginosus buenavistae) – We had nice studies of this handsome woodpecker on our last day near the town of Baeza.
CRIMSON-MANTLED WOODPECKER (Colaptes rivolii brevirostris) – A stunning woodpecker, with that crimson back... wow! We had a couple of memorable encounters around San Isidro.
POWERFUL WOODPECKER (Campephilus pollens pollens) – And "powerful" it is! This one often escapes those who search for it, but we lucked out and had some really nice looks along the trails at San Isidro.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
COLLARED FOREST-FALCON (Micrastur semitorquatus semitorquatus) [*]
CARUNCULATED CARACARA (Phalcoboenus carunculatus) – A fancy caracara that inhabits the highland paramos; we saw them on both of our passes through.

Eastern-slope Buff-tailed Coronets aren't quite the feeder hogs that their close cousins are, but it's close! On the western slope, however, they're almost never found around feeders, prefering to stay along forest edges. (photo by participant Jean Halford)

AMERICAN KESTREL (SOUTH AMERICAN) (Falco sparverius aequatorialis) – A common central valley bird.
MERLIN (TAIGA) (Falco columbarius columbarius) – Some got a quick look at this rare boreal migrant when it flew by on our last afternoon.
Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)
RED-BILLED PARROT (Pionus sordidus corallinus) – We had to settle for flybys as we couldn't find any perched this trip.
SPECKLE-FACED PARROT (Pionus tumultuosus) – We had some nice perched studies of this unkempt looking parrot species a few times.
SCALY-NAPED PARROT (Amazona mercenarius) – As is usually the case, we only had them flying by, but did see them in nice light on one occasion.
CHESTNUT-FRONTED MACAW (Ara severus) – We had some fairly distant flybys along the Loreto rd. in the eastern foothills, but the looks weren't bad at this species' highest elevational range.
Thamnophilidae (Typical Antbirds)
RUFOUS-RUMPED ANTWREN (Euchrepomis callinota callinota) – We had some really great flock activity, and hit some real whoppers on the south slope of the Guacamayos. We nabbed this tiny, flock dwelling, canopy antwren for killer studies when it came right into a tree at almost eye level, flashing its bright rufous rump!
BICOLORED ANTVIREO (Dysithamnus occidentalis punctitectus) – A rare antvireo of middle elevations only really first learned in life around the late 80's. A decent population persists in the forests at San Isidro, but they are often shy and go undetected. Our luck was different and we managed to attract a cooperative, even if jittery - pair for excellent studies along the trails at San Isidro... wow!
STREAK-HEADED ANTBIRD (Drymophila striaticeps) – This form is now split from the true Long-tailed Antbird of Colombia. As a true and strict bamboo dweller, this guy can be a toughie to see, even though it is very common, but we persisted and ended up with nice views.
BLACK ANTBIRD (Cercomacroides serva) – Fine studies of a cooperative pair along the Loreto rd.
BLACKISH ANTBIRD (Cercomacroides nigrescens aequatorialis) [*]
Grallariidae (Antpittas)
CHESTNUT-CROWNED ANTPITTA (Grallaria ruficapilla ruficapilla) [*]
CHESTNUT-NAPED ANTPITTA (Grallaria nuchalis nuchalis) [*]

Crested Quetzals tend to be much more shy and wary than their Golden-headed cousins, so to find a male out in the open -- and to get good scope studies of him -- was a real treat! (photo by participant Jean Halford)

WHITE-BELLIED ANTPITTA (Grallaria hypoleuca castanea) – Smashing looks at the worm feed birds at San Isidro made for a big hit! This one used to be a real bear to try and see well, or even at all!
RUFOUS ANTPITTA (RUFOUS) (Grallaria rufula rufula) – This temperate forest antpitta species is a fine looking bird, and our encounter with it was memorable when one came trotting in and sat there singing - through small windows - in the dense understory.
TAWNY ANTPITTA (Grallaria quitensis quitensis) – A high elevation, paramo antpitta that we saw well up around the Papallacta Pass on our first day of the trip when we had one singing in the scope.
SLATE-CROWNED ANTPITTA (SLATE-CROWNED) (Grallaricula nana nana) [*]
Rhinocryptidae (Tapaculos)
BLACKISH TAPACULO (BLACKISH) (Scytalopus latrans latrans) – After a long string of hearing this common species we finally saw one pretty well on our penultimate day at San Isidro.
LONG-TAILED TAPACULO (Scytalopus micropterus) [*]
SPILLMANN'S TAPACULO (Scytalopus spillmanni) [*]
PARAMO TAPACULO (Scytalopus opacus) [*]
Formicariidae (Antthrushes)
BARRED ANTTHRUSH (Chamaeza mollissima mollissima) [*]
Furnariidae (Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers)
TYRANNINE WOODCREEPER (Dendrocincla tyrannina tyrannina) – Nice views of this rather large and plainly patterned woodcreeper on our final full day of the tour. This can be a tricky bird to find, but sometimes they do respond well.
OLIVE-BACKED WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus triangularis triangularis) – Pretty common with the middle elevation flocks. This one can be differentiated from the more common Montane Woodcreeper by its duller plumage, and more splotchy patterning.
MONTANE WOODCREEPER (Lepidocolaptes lacrymiger aequatorialis) – Common with mixed flocks, and a very well marked species. We had plenty of fine studies at close range of this handsome woodcreeper.
STREAKED XENOPS (Xenops rutilans heterurus) – We had this nuthatch-like furnariid on our last day right up at the upper end of its elevational range near Baeza.

The Cinnamon Flycatcher is common around San Isidro's gardens, and was seen every day. (photo by participant Jean Halford)

STREAKED TUFTEDCHEEK (Pseudocolaptes boissonneautii orientalis) – A large and beautifully plumaged furnariid, that sports those incredible white cheek patches. We had some nice views of this flock follower along the Guacamayos trail.
RUSTY-WINGED BARBTAIL (Premnornis guttuliger guttuliger) [*]
CHESTNUT-WINGED CINCLODES (Cinclodes albidiventris albidiventris) – The Bar-winged Cinclodes was split three ways, and the birds of Ecuador now fall into what is called the "Chestnut-winged Cinclodes". This small cinclodes species is common in the highland paramos above Papallacta, and we enjoyed some nice views of them a numerous times.
STOUT-BILLED CINCLODES (Cinclodes excelsior excelsior) – Larger, and with a thicker decurved bill than the previous species. We were able to compare this in the field, seeing both species together.
BUFF-FRONTED FOLIAGE-GLEANER (Philydor rufum bolivianum) [*]
MONTANE FOLIAGE-GLEANER (Anabacerthia striaticollis montana) – A common flock bird of the lower montane and foothill regions, and we saw them well a few times, noting its obvious pale eyering.
SPOTTED BARBTAIL (Premnoplex brunnescens brunnescens) – A sneaky understory species that we tracked down along the Guacamayos trail.
PEARLED TREERUNNER (Margarornis squamiger perlatus) – One of the most stunningly patterned birds of the large furnariid family, and one that is quite common with canopy mixed flocks; we had them on most days of the tour.
ANDEAN TIT-SPINETAIL (Leptasthenura andicola andicola) – A streaky. long-tailed paramo bird that forages about at treeline in pairs and small groups. We had one perch up for us on our first day as we crossed the Papallacta Pass.
MANY-STRIPED CANASTERO (Asthenes flammulata flammulata) – Yet another streaky plumaged, high elevation furnariid. This one prefers low-lying bunch grasses, but often perches up to peek around and sing; we had one under such circumstances for nice studies.
WHITE-CHINNED THISTLETAIL (Asthenes fuliginosa fuliginosa) – Thanks to recent genetic studies, the thistletails have been re-grouped into the canastero assemblage, but they can still be recognized as a sub-group thanks to their long, skinny tails and drab plumages. We coaxed one in on our first day for excellent studies.
ASH-BROWED SPINETAIL (Cranioleuca curtata cisandina) – A canopy spinetail that we saw well on our last day when we pulled one in near the town of Baeza.
AZARA'S SPINETAIL (Synallaxis azarae media) – The common highland spinetail that sneaks about in secondary undergrowth.
RUFOUS SPINETAIL (UNIRUFA) (Synallaxis unirufa unirufa) – Often tied to stands of bamboo, we had fine looks at this shy species along the Guacamayos trail.
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
SOUTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET (SOUTHERN) (Camptostoma obsoletum sclateri) – Nice looks at this sprite little tyrannulet in the central valley on our first day.
WHITE-TAILED TYRANNULET (Mecocerculus poecilocercus) – Common with the flocks at middle elevations, but it took us the better part of the week to lay eyes on one, but we did!
WHITE-BANDED TYRANNULET (Mecocerculus stictopterus stictopterus) – Common with the flocks around Guango, where we saw them well a few times.
WHITE-THROATED TYRANNULET (Mecocerculus leucophrys rufomarginatus) – A large tyrannulet of highland, treeline forests that we saw well up above Papallacta.
SULPHUR-BELLIED TYRANNULET (Mecocerculus minor) – Common with the flocks around San Isidro.
TUFTED TIT-TYRANT (Anairetes parulus aequatorialis) – A cute little tyrannid with curly tufts; we had them well on two consecutive days at the beginning of our trip.
AGILE TIT-TYRANT (Uromyias agilis) – This one follows flocks, and also seems to have preference for bamboo stands. We located a small and active group of this peppy little tyrant in the high temperate forests above Papallacta for top-notch studies.
WHITE-CRESTED ELAENIA (WHITE-CRESTED) (Elaenia albiceps griseigularis) – Brief views in the central valley at my house.

A female Wedge-billed Hummingbird feeding at the Abutilan flowers was an unexpected treat; this is a scarce species. (photo by participant Jean Halford)

LESSER ELAENIA (Elaenia chiriquensis brachyptera) – This form of the Lesser Elaenia has recently been split, and will likely be called "Coopmans' Elaenia", in honor of a great Belgian birder and ornithologist who passed all too soon. Paul Coopmans was a good buddy of mine, and had one of the best birding ears of anybody, bringing to the attention of the ornithological world many potential splits due to vocal differences. This form of the Lesser Elaenia inhabits the gardens around San Isidro during certain seasons, and can often be found raiding the myrtle fruits right around the dining, where we saw them.
SLATY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (SUPERCILIARIS) (Leptopogon superciliaris superciliaris) – Eric and I had looks at this flock bird on the S. slope of the Guacamayos.
RUFOUS-BREASTED FLYCATCHER (Leptopogon rufipectus) – Common with the flocks around San Isidro, and a very loud and vocal species.
VARIEGATED BRISTLE-TYRANT (Phylloscartes poecilotis) – A handsome and well marked bristle-tyrant that inhabits the subtropical forests of the east slope. San Isidro is one of the best spots to find this species as it often follows flocks right around the cabins. We had some nice looks at this guy along the trails near the lodge, brining it down from its favored canopy habitats.
MARBLE-FACED BRISTLE-TYRANT (Phylloscartes ophthalmicus ophthalmicus) – Common with the middle elevation flocks around San Isidro.
ASHY-HEADED TYRANNULET (Phyllomyias cinereiceps) [*]
TAWNY-RUMPED TYRANNULET (Phyllomyias uropygialis) – Fabulous studies at this uncommon little tyrannulet in the central valley when one came in and almost perched on our noses.
GOLDEN-FACED TYRANNULET (GOLDEN-FACED) (Zimmerius chrysops chrysops) – A common tyrannulet of the eastern foothills. We had some fine looks at this guy a couple of times at close range.
ORNATE FLYCATCHER (Myiotriccus ornatus phoenicurus) [*]
BRONZE-OLIVE PYGMY-TYRANT (Pseudotriccus pelzelni pelzelni) [*]
RUFOUS-HEADED PYGMY-TYRANT (Pseudotriccus ruficeps) – The Guacamayos trail is an excellent place to see this little understory cutie, and we did so when we called in a cooperative pair to only a few feet away.
RUFOUS-CROWNED TODY-FLYCATCHER (Poecilotriccus ruficeps) – A strict bamboo specialist, and a common bird on the east slope of the Andes, and a striking little tyrannid to as well! We had them well a couple of times at San Isidro for killer studies as they bobbed about on bamboo sprigs.

We had a couple of memorable encounters with Crimson-mantled Woodpeckers around San Isidro. (photo by participant Jean Halford)

CINNAMON FLYCATCHER (Pyrrhomyias cinnamomeus pyrrhopterus) – A richly colored, common little flycatcher of subtropical forest edges. This ones graced the branches and gardens around San Isidro on a daily basis.
CLIFF FLYCATCHER (Hirundinea ferruginea sclateri) – A very local species in the foothills at specific rocky hillsides and escarpments. We made a stop to enjoy it in its splendor and had some terrific looks at close range.
HANDSOME FLYCATCHER (Nephelomyias pulcher bellus) – A lovely little flycatcher of the subtropical east that is relatively common around San Isidro, where it moves about with mixed flocks.
FLAVESCENT FLYCATCHER (Myiophobus flavicans flavicans) – Seen by some around San Isidro.
OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER (Contopus cooperi) – A boreal migrant that we saw on the S. slope of the Guacamayos. [b]
SMOKE-COLORED PEWEE (Contopus fumigatus ardosiacus) – The common pewee of the subtropics.
WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE (Contopus sordidulus) – A common boreal migrant on the east slope, particularly in the foothills. [b]
BLACK PHOEBE (WHITE-WINGED) (Sayornis nigricans angustirostris) – Common along Andean streams and rivers.
CROWNED CHAT-TYRANT (CROWNED) (Ochthoeca frontalis frontalis) [*]
SLATY-BACKED CHAT-TYRANT (SLATY-BACKED) (Ochthoeca cinnamomeiventris cinnamomeiventris) [*]
BROWN-BACKED CHAT-TYRANT (Ochthoeca fumicolor brunneifrons) – Common in the paramo highlands where we had nice studies.
PALE-EDGED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus cephalotes cephalotes) – The common Myiarchus of the subtropical east slope, and a resident of the gardens at San Isidro.
SOCIAL FLYCATCHER (SOCIAL) (Myiozetetes similis similis) [*]
LEMON-BROWED FLYCATCHER (Conopias cinchoneti cinchoneti) – We called in a responsive group along a side road near Baeza that danced right above our heads for wonderful studies.
GOLDEN-CROWNED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes chrysocephalus minor) – Right in the gardens at San Isidro where they frequently come to glean insects.
TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus melancholicus) – Common throughout the neotropics, and a good flycatcher to learn well!
Cotingidae (Cotingas)
GREEN-AND-BLACK FRUITEATER (GREEN-AND-BLACK) (Pipreola riefferii chachapoyas) – Exceptionally nice studies of this stunning fruiteater along the Guacamayos trail.
BLACK-CHESTED FRUITEATER (Pipreola lubomirskii) [*]
RED-CRESTED COTINGA (Ampelion rubrocristatus) – Thanks to Sue's sharp eyes, we had nice views of this sharp cotinga in the highland, treeline forests above Papallacta.
ANDEAN COCK-OF-THE-ROCK (Rupicola peruvianus aequatorialis) – A South American classic, and we had knee-buckling, scope studies at San Isidro along the trails where there is a small lek not far from the cabins.
OLIVACEOUS PIHA (Snowornis cryptolophus cryptolophus) – One quick flyby in the Guacamayos.
Pipridae (Manakins)
GOLDEN-WINGED MANAKIN (Masius chrysopterus pax) – We had looks at a female at San Isidro is it foraged about at a fruiting tree.
Tityridae (Tityras and Allies)
MASKED TITYRA (Tityra semifasciata fortis) – Seen out along the foothills of the Loreto rd.; always an exciting find!
BARRED BECARD (Pachyramphus versicolor versicolor) – Most had views of this flock bird at San Isidro.
Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)
BROWN-CAPPED VIREO (Vireo leucophrys leucophrys) – A common flock species. This form was once considered conspecific with the Warbling Vireo.
OLIVACEOUS GREENLET (Hylophilus olivaceus) – We dragged this one out of a bamboo patch on our last day near Baeza for nice looks.

Chestnut-winged Cinclodes, recently split from the Bar-winged Cinclodes complex, is common in the paramo around Papallacta Pass. (photo by participant Jean Halford)

SLATY-CAPPED SHRIKE-VIREO (Vireolanius leucotis leucotis) [*]
BLACK-BILLED PEPPERSHRIKE (Cyclarhis nigrirostris nigrirostris) – A chunky, vocal, and lively species that feeds about daily in the gardens at San Isidro, where we had some nice studies when one sat and sang.
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
TURQUOISE JAY (Cyanolyca turcosa) – Troops of them feeding bout noisily at Guango, and what a stunning jay!
GREEN JAY (INCA) (Cyanocorax yncas yncas) – Gregarious, loud, and in your face at San Isidro!
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
BLUE-AND-WHITE SWALLOW (CYANOLEUCA) (Pygochelidon cyanoleuca cyanoleuca) – Common in the central valley and at middle elevations on the east slope.
BROWN-BELLIED SWALLOW (Orochelidon murina murina) – The high elevation swallow that we saw on the first two days up around the Papallacta Pass.
WHITE-THIGHED SWALLOW (Atticora tibialis griseiventris) – A few of this smallish and mostly dark swallow in the foothills where they can be locally quite common.
SOUTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx ruficollis ruficollis) – Fairly common in the foothills along the Loreto rd.
Troglodytidae (Wrens)
HOUSE WREN (SOUTHERN) (Troglodytes aedon musculus) [*]
MOUNTAIN WREN (Troglodytes solstitialis solstitialis) – A more forest based and arboreal relative of the previous species where it is common around Guango and San Isidro.
SEDGE WREN (PARAMO) (Cistothorus platensis aequatorialis) – Nice looks at this high elevation, paramo species when one popped up out of its preferred grassland habitat near the pass. Look for some serious splitting of this species complex once the biogeographics and genetics get worked out.
THRUSH-LIKE WREN (Campylorhynchus turdinus hypostictus) – A large and explosively vocal wren of the eastern foothills and lowlands. Like many of this genus, this one prefers the treetops, and we called in a responsive pair for nice views along the Loreto rd.

Boisterous flocks of Green Jays were common around San Isidro. (photo by participant Jean Halford)

PLAIN-TAILED WREN (Pheugopedius euophrys longipes) – A large understory wren of Chusquea bamboo stands in the subtropical and temperate zones. We clinched some excellent views of at least one of a pair along the forested roadside at San Isidro, which can be a tricky task as they are quite shy and know how to stay out of sight!
SHARPE'S WREN (Cinnycerthia olivascens) – Split from Sepia-brown Wren. We snagged this mostly brown and chunky wren on the S. slope of the Guacamayos where they move about in sometimes large groups - we must have had about 10? - through the understory.
WHITE-BREASTED WOOD-WREN (BLACK-CAPPED) (Henicorhina leucosticta hauxwelli) [*]
GRAY-BREASTED WOOD-WREN (ANDEAN) (Henicorhina leucophrys leucophrys) – A very common wren of the highlands that is almost constantly heard, but can be tricky to see well without some effort, but we got one to come in quite well in the Guacamayos for close looks.
Cinclidae (Dippers)
WHITE-CAPPED DIPPER (WHITE-BELLIED) (Cinclus leucocephalus leuconotus) – Dippers are always fascinating little birds to observe as they hop about along rushing streams. This species, unlike the more familiar American Dipper, does not dive, but rather stays above water on mossy rocks. We had nice views of this active species on our first day around Guango.
Donacobiidae (Donacobius)
BLACK-CAPPED DONACOBIUS (Donacobius atricapilla nigrodorsalis) – Scope studies of this only member of its family in the foothills. This is always an exciting bird to see as it is so distinct and full of life!
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
ANDEAN SOLITAIRE (Myadestes ralloides venezuelensis) – Glimpsed at San Isidro.
SWAINSON'S THRUSH (Catharus ustulatus) – Common this time of the year in the gardens around San Isidro and throughout the foothills and subtropics. [b]
PALE-EYED THRUSH (Turdus leucops) – Afternoon scope studies of an attractive male of this species at San Isidro where we could discern the pale iris and yellow bill.
BLACK-BILLED THRUSH (Turdus ignobilis debilis) – This rather dull species is common in cleared areas in the eastern foothills.
CHESTNUT-BELLIED THRUSH (Turdus fulviventris) – Good looks at this robin-like thrush on the S. slope of the Guacamayos.
GREAT THRUSH (Turdus fuscater quindio) – The largest of the genus and an abundant bird in the highlands in cleared and forested habitats alike.
GLOSSY-BLACK THRUSH (Turdus serranus fuscobrunneus) – Like a smaller version of the previous species, but with a darker plumage and more orange soft part colors (male). This one was pretty common around the gardens at San Isidro where they sneak about in search of insects.
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)
PARAMO PIPIT (Anthus bogotensis bogotensis) [*]
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER (Mniotilta varia) – This northern migrant was seen well as it crept about in its unique way near Baeza on our last day. [b]
TROPICAL PARULA (Setophaga pitiayumi alarum) – A common flock bird that reaches its upper range limits around San Isidro.
BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER (Setophaga fusca) – One of the most common birds with the flocks during the northern winter, and one we saw plenty of! [b]
BLACKPOLL WARBLER (Setophaga striata) – We had a couple in the foothills where small numbers persist throughout the northern winter. [b]
THREE-STRIPED WARBLER (THREE-STRIPED) (Basileuterus tristriatus baezae) – With the understory flocks along the trails at San Isidro where they sing and call almost constantly.
BLACK-CRESTED WARBLER (Myiothlypis nigrocristata) – An understory warbler species of edges, and one that superficially resembles the plumage of a Wilson's Warbler. We had some nice studies of this common bird in the gardens at San Isidro on our first morning there.

The Rufous-crowned Tody-Flycatcher is a bamboo specialist -- and a striking little tyrannid as well! (photo by participant Jean Halford)

RUSSET-CROWNED WARBLER (Myiothlypis coronata orientalis) – This understory warbler of the subtropics and temperate zones moves about in pairs and belts out its beautiful dueted song throughout the day. We saw them well a couple of times, seeing that bright orange crown stripe well.
CANADA WARBLER (Cardellina canadensis) – Very common this time of the year as a northern migrant where it inhabits the forest understory, from the highlands down into the foothills. [b]
SLATE-THROATED REDSTART (Myioborus miniatus ballux) – A common flock warbler at middle elevations.
SPECTACLED REDSTART (Myioborus melanocephalus ruficoronatus) – This one replaces the previous species at higher elevations, occurring right up into the paramo edge forests near the Papallacta Pass, but it does narrowly overlap with the previous species in the gardens at San Isidro.
Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)
MAGPIE TANAGER (Cissopis leverianus leverianus) – This longest of tanagers was seen well in the foothills along the Loreto rd.
RUFOUS-CRESTED TANAGER (Creurgops verticalis) – A strange canopy tanager of the subtropics and foothills that moves with mixed flocks, but is not always easy to find. Fortunately, we had small groups them a couple of times at close range for memorable studies.
BLACK-CAPPED HEMISPINGUS (BLACK-CAPPED) (Hemispingus atropileus atropileus) – A large and handsome hemispingus that sneaks around in small groups though the understory of temperate forests, such as around Guango, where we scored some nice views.
SUPERCILIARIED HEMISPINGUS (SUPERCILIARIED) (Hemispingus superciliaris nigrifrons) – One of the few canopy dwelling hemispingus species, this one travels with mixed flocks at higher elevations, such as in the Papallacta area, where we hit them for killer studies.
OLEAGINOUS HEMISPINGUS (Hemispingus frontalis frontalis) – A bird probably best recognized by way of its lack of any strong field marks; it looks like pea soup in the shape of a bird! We had this flock follower as it foraged about along the trails at San Isidro for surprisingly good looks.
BLACK-EARED HEMISPINGUS (BLACK-EARED) (Hemispingus melanotis melanotis) [*]
GRAY-HOODED BUSH TANAGER (RUBRIROSTRIS) (Cnemoscopus rubrirostris rubrirostris) – A canopy dwelling, tail wagger that we saw well at close range on our first afternoon around Guango during some end of the day flock activity. This species is the only bird in its genus, and has nothing to do genetically with the other bush tanagers - the now called "chlorospingus" - that we saw on the tour.
WHITE-LINED TANAGER (Tachyphonus rufus) – fairly common along roadsides in the foothills. The male of this one is all jet black with a white lining near the leading edge of the wing, while the female is all rufous... hence the scientific name.

Fawn-breasted Brilliants were common at mid-elevations, including around San Isidro's feeders. (photo by participant Jean Halford)

SILVER-BEAKED TANAGER (Ramphocelus carbo carbo) – Usually more common, but we did squeak one female out in the foothills along the Loreto rd.
VERMILION TANAGER (Calochaetes coccineus) – A stunningly beautiful tanager species that usually travels about in small groups with flocks in the lower montane on the east slope, and one that also happens to be one of my favorites since it is a challenge to find and always gets the adrenaline pumping! We had fine views of this guy during some morning flock birding on the S. slope of the Guacamayos.
HOODED MOUNTAIN-TANAGER (Buthraupis montana cucullata) – A few groups of this large and flashy mountain-tanager were seen along the Guacamayos trail. The one with the bright red eye!
BLACK-CHESTED MOUNTAIN-TANAGER (Cnemathraupis eximia chloronota) – A high elevation mountain-tanager that inhabits the treeline forests up above Papallacta. We had killer studies at a pair sneaking about in the stunted trees at eye level. This was fortunate because it can be a tricky bird to locate at times.
GRASS-GREEN TANAGER (Chlorornis riefferii riefferii) – One of the most unique and recognizable of all Andean tanagers, with its stunning, rich red and brilliant green tones. One glorious afternoon of birding out of San Isidro had this one in store for us, and we enjoyed it to the fullest!
LACRIMOSE MOUNTAIN-TANAGER (PALPEBROSUS GROUP) (Anisognathus lacrymosus palpebrosus) – Some of us had brushes - even seeing it quite well - with this citrine-colored mountain-tanager at the beginning of the trip around Guango, but we all caught up with it later for smashing views along the Guacamayos trail.
SCARLET-BELLIED MOUNTAIN-TANAGER (Anisognathus igniventris erythronotus) – Another mountain-tanager that took us right up until the end of the trip to get good group views of, but we did it in the highland forests above Papallacta. Good thing too, because it is a real beauty!
BLUE-WINGED MOUNTAIN-TANAGER (Anisognathus somptuosus baezae) – The common mountain-tanager around San Isidro.
BUFF-BREASTED MOUNTAIN-TANAGER (BUFF-BREASTED) (Dubusia taeniata taeniata) – Another last minute mountain-tanager that we picked up on our last day, this one at Guango when it sat up and sang for us.
YELLOW-THROATED TANAGER (Iridosornis analis) – An understory tanager of the foothills with a bright yellow throat that we had great looks at on the S. slope of the Guacamayos.
GOLDEN-CROWNED TANAGER (Iridosornis rufivertex rufivertex) – The highland relative of the previous species, and one that also spends most of its time foraging close to the ground with mixed flocks. This was a favorite of many with that bright yellow-orange crown, and a pair performed well for us , popping up a few times.
FAWN-BREASTED TANAGER (Pipraeidea melanonota venezuelensis) – Fairly common around the gardens at San Isidro where they frequently sing from high perches.
BLUE-AND-YELLOW TANAGER (Pipraeidea bonariensis darwinii) – A very common central valley tanager in gardens and scrub habitats. The male of this one is quite a looker with that sky blue head and yellow belly, and we had nice views at an active pair at my house near Tumbaco on our first day.
ORANGE-EARED TANAGER (Chlorochrysa calliparaea bourcieri) – This colorful, east slope tanager sports an almost unreal set of green tones and other colors, and gave us some quality shows as at least a pair moved through with a flock on the S. slope of the Guacamayos.
BLUE-GRAY TANAGER (WHITE-EDGED) (Thraupis episcopus coelestis) – The east slope form with the white epaulets that we saw numerous times over the course of the trip.
PALM TANAGER (Thraupis palmarum melanoptera) – For anybody who has birded around in the neotropics a bit, this is likely to be a familiar bird; we had them a few times in the foothills.
BLACK-CAPPED TANAGER (Tangara heinei) – Despite being a pretty common bird around San Isidro, we had a tough time solidifying a quality group study of it, but did eventually find a nice male on our last day as we headed back to Quito.
SCRUB TANAGER (Tangara vitriolina) – The final new bird of the trip, when we fished out some feeding birds right in the parking lot at the hotel San Jose to round out our birding! Although rather dull, this is a subtly beautiful bird, with its rufous crown and aqua-colored wings.
BLUE-NECKED TANAGER (Tangara cyanicollis caeruleocephala) – Well, this one should have been called "Blue-headed Tanager", don't you think? We crossed path with this handsome tanager few times during our week of birding.

The Agile Tit-Tyrant is a flock follower with a preference for bamboo stands. (photo by participant Jean Halford)

SPOTTED TANAGER (Tangara punctata zamorae) – Not the most colorful of tanagers, but its intricate patterning makes up for it! This east slope, foothill species came right in for us along the Loreto rd. one morning, right at eye level.
BLUE-AND-BLACK TANAGER (Tangara vassorii vassorii) – Now this one certainly lives up to its name, being completely blue and black, and was seen well along the Guacamayos trail where they tend to be regular.
BERYL-SPANGLED TANAGER (Tangara nigroviridis nigroviridis) – When seen in the right light, these species simply shines, and we had some encounters such as this to do it justice.
BLUE-BROWED TANAGER (Tangara cyanotis lutleyi) – A hard to find, east slope species of the lower montane zones. One needs to find just the right flock, but we did, and had them perched at eye level, and at close range, for spectacular views on the S. slope of the Guacamayos. What a sizzling tanager species!
BAY-HEADED TANAGER (BAY-AND-BLUE) (Tangara gyrola catharinae) – A few with the flocks in the foothills.
GOLDEN-EARED TANAGER (Tangara chrysotis) – We called in a pair to within only a few meters distance on the S. slope of the Guacamayos. This east slope gem is always a thrill to see.
SAFFRON-CROWNED TANAGER (Tangara xanthocephala venusta) – I still say that this one should be called "Saffron-helmeted Tanager"! We had them daily with the bird flocks at San Isidro.
FLAME-FACED TANAGER (Tangara parzudakii parzudakii) – A gorgeous tanager that we had almost daily at San Isidro.
GOLDEN TANAGER (Tangara arthus aequatorialis) – Common with the mixed tanager flocks on the east slope.
SWALLOW TANAGER (Tersina viridis occidentalis) – A tanager that can be found either singly or in rather large groups, but never with flocks; they seem to keep to themselves. This species can often be found perching high up on tall snags in the foothills.
GOLDEN-COLLARED HONEYCREEPER (Iridophanes pulcherrimus pulcherrimus) [*]
CINEREOUS CONEBILL (Conirostrum cinereum fraseri) – A common conebill of the highlands, occurring in dry and humid habitats alike. This one has always reminded me of a female Black-throated Blue-Warbler in plumage.
BLUE-BACKED CONEBILL (Conirostrum sitticolor sitticolor) – A unmistakable bird of the temperate forest, and a regular follower of mixed flocks.
CAPPED CONEBILL (Conirostrum albifrons atrocyaneum) – Eric, Sue, and I had this one at Guango on our first afternoon at Guango as we weeded through a sizable mixed flock.

Before the idea of "worm-feeding" stations was born, White-bellied Antpittas were mighty tough to see well -- or at all! That's definitely not the case any more. (photo by participant Jean Halford)

GIANT CONEBILL (Oreomanes fraseri) – If there were ever a vote to change this species' name, I'd throw the name, "Polylepis Conebill" into the hat since this one can only be found in the Polylepis forests that drape the high elevation paramo edges, and that there isn't much "giant" about this bird. We had some serious fun watching this nuthatch-like species creep about, and sing, on our second day at the Papallacta Pass.
GLOSSY FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa lafresnayii) – A thick-set flowerpiercer of the highland, temperate forests, and one that we saw well a couple of times above Papallacta. This was the one with the bold, bluish-gray shoulder patch, and very pronounced curve to the tip of the bill.
BLACK FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa humeralis aterrima) – The all black flowerpiercer that inhabits the drier hills of the central valley.
WHITE-SIDED FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa albilatera albilatera) – Seen well as they raided flowers on our last two days.
RUSTY FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa sittoides decorata) – A cleanly marked flowerpiercer (male) of the drier central valley. We had at least one male perch out in the open for exceptional views.
DEEP-BLUE FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa glauca tyrianthina) – The all royal blue flowerpiercer, with the golden eye, of the eastern foothills, and one that we had smashing views of a couple of times.
BLUISH FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa caerulescens media) – And bluish it is! This thin billed flowerpiercer can easily be found in the gardens at San Isidro.
MASKED FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa cyanea cyanea) – The red-eyed flowerpiercer of the highlands, and one we had fantastic looks at on most days of the trip.
BLACK-BACKED BUSH TANAGER (Urothraupis stolzmanni) – What? Yet another bird called a "bush tanager" that isn't related to the others? Genetic times are changing, and we have to face the truth; not all is at face value! This peculiar highland tanager does look like what we think of as a bush tanager, but in reality it slides in there between flowerpiercers and sierra-finches, birds that some taxonomists had often excluded from the tanager complex. At any rate, we had some awesome studies of this high elevation bird a couple of times as they foraged through the stunted vegetation above Papallacta.
PLUMBEOUS SIERRA-FINCH (Phrygilus unicolor geospizopsis) – A plump, highland bird that we found in the paramos for nice views.

We saw Saffron-crowned Tanagers (and why aren't they Saffron-HELMETED Tanagers?) daily in the mixed flocks around San Isidro. (photo by participant Jean Halford)

BLUE-BLACK GRASSQUIT (Volatinia jacarina splendens) – Not a common bird in the east but we turned up a male out in the foothills.
CHESTNUT-BELLIED SEEDEATER (Sporophila castaneiventris) – Common in cleared areas of the eastern foothills where we had some nice studies of brightly colored males.
CHESTNUT-BELLIED SEED-FINCH (Sporophila angolensis torrida) – The one that we saw was presumably a young male as it was actively singing and in female plumage; Loreto rd.
YELLOW-BELLIED SEEDEATER (Sporophila nigricollis vivida) – Males up and singing, and seen through scope in the central valley at my house on our first day.
PLAIN-COLORED SEEDEATER (Catamenia inornata minor) – The common seedeater of the highland grasslands.
BANANAQUIT (CARIBBEAN) (Coereba flaveola intermedia) – Known to many neotropical birders!
BUFF-THROATED SALTATOR (Saltator maximus) [*]
GRAYISH SALTATOR (GRAYISH) (Saltator coerulescens azarae) – We managed some eleventh hour views of them around Baeza just before heading back into the highlands on our last day.
Emberizidae (Buntings and New World Sparrows)
YELLOW-THROATED CHLOROSPINGUS (YELLOW-THROATED) (Chlorospingus flavigularis flavigularis) – This genus has now been moved out of tanagers and allied with the buntings and new world sparrows, once again thanks to genetics. This noisy flock follower is quite common in the foothills and lower montane zones, and we had them at close range during active morning birding on the S. slope of the Guacamayos.
SHORT-BILLED CHLOROSPINGUS (Chlorospingus parvirostris huallagae) – Also known as Yellow-whiskered Chlorospingus. WE had brief views of this middle elevation species on the S. slope of the Guacamayos.
COMMON CHLOROSPINGUS (NORTHERN ANDES) (Chlorospingus flavopectus phaeocephalus) – Daily around San Isidro where they feed about in the trees around gardens. This species' evening song is one of the loudest and most obvious noises at dusk.
RUFOUS-COLLARED SPARROW (Zonotrichia capensis costaricensis) – Everyday of the trip!
SLATY BRUSHFINCH (SLATY) (Atlapetes schistaceus schistaceus) – Regular with the mixed flocks at Guango where we ran into a group or two as they fed about near the lodge. This is an exceptionally handsome brushfinch, with its all gray plumage, highlighted by its ferruginous crown and black malar.
PALE-NAPED BRUSHFINCH (Atlapetes pallidinucha papallactae) – A striking brushfinch with the a bold crown stripe that starts orange in the front and then goes clean white over the head. We had them at very close range a couple of times in the highlands for wonderful studies.
Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)
SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra rubra) – That's right, anything in this genus - that we have always considered as part of the tanager family - is now considered an ally of the cardinals, which does seem to make sense morphologically, so it shouldn't be too hard to get used to. This northern migrant was seen well a few times during the trip. [b]
SCARLET TANAGER (Piranga olivacea) – Seen on our last day near Baeza during some cleanup birding. [b]
GOLDEN GROSBEAK (Pheucticus chrysogaster chrysogaster) – A stunning pair in the central valley helping kick the trip off!
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)

The Mountain Wren is an arboreal cousin of the House Wren, common in the forests around Guango and San Isidro. (photo by participant Jean Halford)

YELLOW-BILLED CACIQUE (CHAPMAN'S) (Amblycercus holosericeus australis) [*]
SCARLET-RUMPED CACIQUE (SUBTROPICAL) (Cacicus uropygialis uropygialis) – Some authorities split this eastern form out as the "Subtropical Cacique", but the current trend is to lump it with forms west of the Andes and up into Central America. I suspect that further research will end up re-splitting the two as they occur in quite different habitats and have a very different vocal repertoire, but this remains to be seen. At any rate, we did have some fine looks at this active, and loud cacique around San Isidro.
MOUNTAIN CACIQUE (GOLDEN-SHOULDERED) (Cacicus chrysonotus leucoramphus) – Jean had the first looks at this all black and yellow, highland cacique species at Guango, but we all soon caught up with them at San Isidro for fine group views.
RUSSET-BACKED OROPENDOLA (Psarocolius angustifrons angustifrons) – The only oropendola species that occurs around San Isidro, but one that nests right in the tall trees around the gardens.
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
GOLDEN-RUMPED EUPHONIA (Euphonia cyanocephala pelzelni) – The male of this euphonia is simply stunning, with its all sky blue crown and bright yellow rump! We were treated to excellent studies of this one on our first bout of birding in my yard in the central valley.
BRONZE-GREEN EUPHONIA (Euphonia mesochrysa mesochrysa) [*]
ORANGE-BELLIED EUPHONIA (Euphonia xanthogaster brevirostris) – Probably the most commonly seen euphonia in Ecuador, and one that we had well a couple of times.
BLUE-NAPED CHLOROPHONIA (Chlorophonia cyanea longipennis) [*]
CHESTNUT-BREASTED CHLOROPHONIA (Chlorophonia pyrrhophrys) [*]
HOODED SISKIN (Spinus magellanicus capitalis) – Seen well in the central valley highlands on our first day.
OLIVACEOUS SISKIN (Spinus olivaceus) – Replaces the previous species on the east slope.

RED-TAILED SQUIRREL (Sciurus granatensis) – A common sight in the gardens around San Isidro.

The Bronzy Inca might not have much in the "flashy plumage" department, but it is an east slope specialist -- and a common hummer around the San Isidro feeders. (photo by participant Jean Halford)

BLACK AGOUTI (Dasyprocta fuliginosa) – Jean had one foraging about around the gardens at San Isidro.


Totals for the tour: 287 bird taxa and 2 mammal taxa