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Field Guides Tour Report
Montane Ecuador: Cloudforests of the Andes 2015
Jul 20, 2015 to Jul 29, 2015
Mitch Lysinger

Our Montane Ecuador tour has been a long-lasting and popular one that always scores a high number of bird species, rare and beautiful alike. This year was no different, though the weather on the east slope hit us with some setbacks that forced us to make one quick-decision itinerary change; it was nothing too major with respect to the major venues, but it did cost us some time in a few of the habitats that we usually have more time to bird in, such as the paramo and east slope temperate regions.

While this tour usually runs smoothly and free of logistical issues, every now and then something completely unpredictable occurs -- possibly linked to "El Nino"? -- that triggers particularly heavy rains, sometimes causing landslides in the east that can complicate travel for a week or so. Which weeks, and where? One never knows. It just so happened that it hit pretty hard on the days we had planned to make our move to the east, but we rallied well, and ended up losing little birding time in the greater scheme of things; in fact, for us, the birding on the east slope was not particularly plagued by rain -- only on that last travel day, when we made it back to the central valley past the slides. One major perk of our rather long drive around the slides (through the towns of Banos and Puyo) was a stop to look for a very rare bird that had been found about a week before: the Fiery-tailed Awlbill. There are only a few confirmed records for Ecuador -- all from the lowlands -- so it was even weirder for it to have set up shop well up into the foothills... go figure! Luckily for us, it was right where we needed it to be, and we had smashing views, turning the day -- quality over quantity-wise -- into a big success.

One of the perks of this tour is being able to really soak up and enjoy two of the more renowned birding lodges in the Ecuadorian Andes: Tandayapa and Cabanas San Isidro. Tandayapa Lodge is perched up on a hill overlooking the beautiful valley above and below, and has a nice trail system right out the back where numerous west slope specialties abound. Though it is especially known for its fantastic hummingbird feeders, Tandayapa has a bird-blind setup of particular interest, I think; one sits and waits in the early morning, and almost always a few skulking species come hopping or trotting in, like that sneaky White-throated Quail-Dove! Cabanas San Isidro is a bit more sprawling, with cabins spread about among the gardens and woodland edges, while views of the surrounding, vast reserve abound. Trail and roadside birding are top-notch, allowing access to a variety of montane forest habitats. Birding aside, we experienced some fabulous food at both lodges, keeping us well-charged and ready to bird!

Birding highlights were certainly in no shortage on both slopes, and this trip managed to net a more than healthy number of fascinating birds, some quite hard to find. Everybody always has their favorites, but here are some that I think helped send our experience into orbit: White-throated Quail-Dove at Tandayapa's feeders (and almost under our noses); Rufous-banded Owl, which can be tricky to draw in, at San Isidro; a stunning male Lyre-tailed Nightjar at dusk; a courting pair of Andean Potoos at San Isidro (how often does one see two potoos on one perch?!); hoards of gorgeous hummingbird species, but this time rarity trumped, with that semi-surprise (and very rare), female Fiery-tailed Awlbill during our unexpected detour (but do read on for many of the other hummer highlights!); fabulous males of both Golden-headed and Crested quetzals; point-blank Red-headed Barbets at Tandayapa's feeders; comical Toucan Barbets; awesome studies of Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan in the west, and Black-billed in the east; San Isidro's own, worm-fed White-bellied Antpitta right below the dining room; a whole host of scaled brown furnariids, though I think that pair of cooperative Buffy Tuftedcheeks really stole the show in the west, as they foraged right over us in a large mixed flock; a head-spinning pair of the rare and local Beautiful Jay; and a stack of thrilling tanagers, like White-capped, Vermilion, Grass-green, Orange-eared, Blue-browed, and Saffron-crowned! This is just a short synopsis of the goodies we found, so again, read on for details of the many additional highlights that dazzled us during our week in the spectacular Ecuadorian highlands! And as they say, any day is better than a day on the golf course... wait, I mean a day at work!!! I guess what I'm trying to convey is that we had a ton of laughs too. I also have to plug our outstanding driver, Edgar, who made us all feel safe, and did a wonderful job of navigating those winding Andean roads... thanks Edgar!

To sum things up, I want to thank all of you for making this tour such a joy to lead, and I hope to see you again in some far-flung location soon!

-- 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)
YELLOW-BILLED PINTAIL (SOUTH GEORGIA) (Anas georgica georgica) – We had precious little time this trip in the paramo and highlands of the east due to the landslides, but we still managed to squeak a few birds out on our last day up there once we got past the rainy areas. We picked this one up in the Papallacta area for scope views.
ANDEAN TEAL (Anas andium) – In the same area as the previous species. This one is smaller, duller, and lacks the bright yellow bill.
Cracidae (Guans, Chachalacas, and Curassows)
ANDEAN GUAN (Penelope montagnii) – Woody spotted this high elevation guan for us on our first day at Yanacocha, which was fortunate since it isn't always easy to cross paths with.
WATTLED GUAN (Aburria aburri) – Heard in the west, but they were just too far away to have a decent shot at seeing. [*]
SICKLE-WINGED GUAN (Chamaepetes goudotii) – We heard them in the west, and Denis was the only one to at least catch a flyby in the east.
Odontophoridae (New World Quail)
DARK-BACKED WOOD-QUAIL (Odontophorus melanonotus) [*]
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
CATTLE EGRET (IBIS) (Bubulcus ibis ibis)
Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus)
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
SWALLOW-TAILED KITE (Elanoides forficatus) – Always an elegant sight; we saw them on the west slope.
SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (PLAIN-BREASTED) (Accipiter striatus ventralis) – We had one at San Isidro when it came through not far from the dining room. Note that this non-migratory form is sometimes split out and called Plain-breasted Hawk.
ROADSIDE HAWK (MAINLAND) (Rupornis magnirostris magnirostris) – The common hawk of open habitats that is easily recognized in flight by its rufous wing panels.
BLACK-CHESTED BUZZARD-EAGLE (Geranoaetus melanoleucus australis) – Lois spotted our first one up at Yanacocha! This eagle has especially thick secondaries and a short tail, giving it a stocky appearance.
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
SOUTHERN LAPWING (NORTHERN) (Vanellus chilensis cayennensis) – Nice studies at a group of the resident population near San Isidro where they have fairly recently taken up residence, which was sort of surprising as they tend to be more of a lowland bird.
ANDEAN LAPWING (Vanellus resplendens) – Nice looks at this high altitude lapwing up near Yanacocha. Lapwings are in general fancy shorebirds, with their bold patterns and bronzy tones.
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
SOLITARY SANDPIPER (Tringa solitaria) – We scoped one at San Isidro for decent views after a long travel day! [b]
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
ANDEAN GULL (Chroicocephalus serranus) – Up in the highlands above Papallacta. This is an elegant gull, with silvery tones to its plumage that sports a unique wing pattern.
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]
BAND-TAILED PIGEON (WHITE-NECKED) (Patagioenas fasciata albilinea) – The common highland pigeon that can be found in forested habitats; we saw them well on both slopes. This one has a large range, occurring from North America down through the Andes.
PLUMBEOUS PIGEON (Patagioenas plumbea) [*]
RUDDY PIGEON (Patagioenas subvinacea) [*]
WHITE-TIPPED DOVE (DECOLOR) (Leptotila verreauxi decolor) – Common along roadsides in the west, and easily recognized by its white-tipped tail pattern when flushed.
WHITE-THROATED QUAIL-DOVE (Zentrygon frenata) – Tandayapa's feeding station produced some real goodies, and this was probably the major highlight here. This is usually a very hard bird to see well under normal birding conditions, but the bird blind really made a difference, and we had magnificent views as they pranced around only meters away.
EARED DOVE (Zenaida auriculata hypoleuca) – The common highland dove in open habitats, including cities; the southern version of the Mourning Dove.
Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
SQUIRREL CUCKOO (NIGRICRISSA) (Piaya cayana nigricrissa) – This western form of the Squirrel Cuckoo differs from the eastern race in that it displays a greenish-yellow orbital ring, not red. We had some nice looks at this large cuckoo species at Milpe during our afternoon there.
SQUIRREL CUCKOO (AMAZONIAN) (Piaya cayana mesura) – We had this eastern form a couple of times, such as around San Isidro. These guys really do resemble squirrels as they run along high branches.
SMOOTH-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga ani) – Fairly common in disturbed areas, such as pastures. Here in the Ecuador they are known as "tick-catchers", or in Spanish, "garrapateros".
Strigidae (Owls)
CLOUD-FOREST PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium nubicola) – Heard along the old Tandayapa-Mindo road, but these guys often don't respond. [*]
RUFOUS-BANDED OWL (Ciccaba albitarsis) – We spotlighted one at dusk at San Isidro for pretty nice views, even if it didn't want to show us its belly!
Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)
BLACKISH NIGHTJAR (Nyctipolus nigrescens) – Nicely on a stake-out day roost along the Loreto road. It is always interesting to see nightjars during the day to get a feel for their real colors and tones.
LYRE-TAILED NIGHTJAR (Uropsalis lyra lyra) – We had an awesome, long-tailed male come flying out over us near Tandayapa right at dusk that just blew us all away... made for a perfect end to a wonderful day!
Nyctibiidae (Potoos)
ANDEAN POTOO (Nyctibius maculosus) – A rare and local potoo of the eastern highlands. We had marvelous luck one evening at San Isidro when we landed spotlight views at two birds, presumably a pair in courtship. Wow!
Apodidae (Swifts)
WHITE-CHINNED SWIFT (Cypseloides cryptus) [*]
CHESTNUT-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne rutila brunnitorques) – The common, mid-sized swift that tends to fly lower than others. We had them well in the east.
WHITE-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne zonaris) – A huge swift that we saw most days.
WHITE-TIPPED SWIFT (Aeronautes montivagus montivagus) – Seen well on a nice sunny morning in the Tandayapa Valley just as the sun started to warm things up, which is the perfect time to try and spot swifts.
Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)
WHITE-NECKED JACOBIN (Florisuga mellivora) – A stunning hummer of warmer climates. We had awesome views of males and females and Tandayapa's and Milpe's feeders.
WHITE-TIPPED SICKLEBILL (Eutoxeres aquila aquila) [*]
WHITE-WHISKERED HERMIT (Phaethornis yaruqui) – Glimpsed at Milpe's feeders where they were unusually scarce.
TAWNY-BELLIED HERMIT (Phaethornis syrmatophorus) – This mid-elevation, forest-based hermit was seen well along the trails at Tandayapa.
GREEN-FRONTED LANCEBILL (Doryfera ludovicae ludovicae) – We had quick views of this long-billed species in the east.
BROWN VIOLETEAR (Colibri delphinae) – Common in smaller numbers at Tandayapa's feeders.
GREEN VIOLETEAR (ANDEAN) (Colibri thalassinus cyanotus) – Smaller and less brilliantly colored than the Sparkling. This one was common at feeders on both slopes.
SPARKLING VIOLETEAR (Colibri coruscans coruscans) – Larger and more aggressive than the previous species. This chunky hummer sports the obvious blue chin and belly. We had this common hummer numerous times, especially in the west.
FIERY-TAILED AWLBILL (Avocettula recurvirostris) – The leader's choice for bird of the trip... by far! Why? Well, we all know! This is a pretty low density bird anywhere in its large range, but it is particularly rare in Ecuador, with only a handful of confirmed records. This bird had been found at a new and well-appointed lodge on the east slope in the foothills, which was even more of a surprise considering the high elevation. Since we had been forced to get to San Isidro via a long drive that sent us much further south - due to the punishing landslides along the Papallacta rd. - we made the best of it and made a run for this stake-out, thanks to a hot tip from Robert Ridgely... the finder of this rare bird. Luckily, I had the contact for the owner of the lodge, Isabel, who was a warm and gracious host, and even invited us in for some refreshing lemonade, which was just what we needed on a hot afternoon. But most important, she led us right to the key spot for the hummer, and even found the bird for us the second we pulled up... wow! Since this mega-rarity is one that only a very, very few have seen in Ecuador - and also happened to be a "lifer" for the leader - it gets top honors.
GORGETED SUNANGEL (Heliangelus strophianus) – This west slope specialty of the subtropical zone was seen quite well up at the Tandayapa ridge, one of the most accessible places to see this magenta-throated beauty.
TOURMALINE SUNANGEL (Heliangelus exortis) – Very briefly - but seen well - at Guango Lodge on or last day before we had to get out of "Dodge" due to the heavy rains and slides; didn't want to risk getting stuck on the wrong side a second time!
GREEN THORNTAIL (Discosura conversii) – Very nice studies at close range of this tiny hummer at Miple's feeders.
SPECKLED HUMMINGBIRD (Adelomyia melanogenys) – As one of the more common hummer species in the humid subtropics on both slopes, the Speckled seems to do just fine in mature forests as well as at edges.
LONG-TAILED SYLPH (Aglaiocercus kingii mocoa) – A common feeder bird at San Isidro, and one that dazzled us many times during our stay there. The dark metallic, long blue tail is just unreal!
VIOLET-TAILED SYLPH (Aglaiocercus coelestis coelestis) – And this one is no less stunning! The Violet-tailed Sylph replaces the previous species on most of the west slope, so they act and look pretty similar. We had close-up studies of this a few times, but especially at Tandayapa's feeders.
BLACK-TAILED TRAINBEARER (Lesbia victoriae victoriae) – You don't come across too many tails in life as proportionately long as the male of this species... tall tales not included! We had fine studies of this amazing hummer on the first and last days of the trip, our best probably being the males we had feeding at/and perched on a roadside bush on our way up to Yanacocha.
GREEN-TAILED TRAINBEARER (Lesbia nuna gracilis) – A slightly more petite, brighter green version of the previous species, this one tends to prefer more humid habitats, often with thick forest; they can also be somewhat migratory with respect to altitude. We hit it right at Yanacocha and landed a healthy number as they fed and chased about in the tops of some small flowered trees... nice!
PURPLE-BACKED THORNBILL (Ramphomicron microrhynchum microrhynchum) – Right at the same spot as the previous species, where we had female and young male plumaged birds. This can be another tricky hummer to track down as it seems to vanish from areas when its preferred trees are not in bloom, so we hit it right once again! This is apparently the hummer with the smallest bill of them all, so it is sort of humorous that its scientific name is so long...
TYRIAN METALTAIL (Metallura tyrianthina) – A very common, small hummer at Yanacocha's feeders; the one with the rusty-purple tail.
VIRIDIAN METALTAIL (Metallura williami primolina) – One of the east slope highland species that we squeaked out on our last day as the final curtain of the trip started to come down. This metaltail is mostly dark green, with a dark bluish-black tail.
GREENISH PUFFLEG (Haplophaedia aureliae russata) – This east slope, inforest species is usually a bit of a toughie, but it does come out to roadsides and edges when its favorite flowers are in bloom, as they were during or day of birding in the Cordillera de Guacamayos, near San Isidro. We had repeated views at this rather drab species a few times.
SAPPHIRE-VENTED PUFFLEG (SAPPHIRE-VENTED) (Eriocnemis luciani luciani) – One of the most common visitors to the feeders at Yanacocha, and a stunning hummer with that glittering blue crown and purplish vent.
GOLDEN-BREASTED PUFFLEG (Eriocnemis mosquera) – Also frequent at the feeders at Yanacocha, but in much smaller numbers than the previous species. This one lacks the brilliant colors on the head and vent, but in turn has a warm wash of golden on the breast.
SHINING SUNBEAM (Aglaeactis cupripennis cupripennis) – This mostly orange hummer was seen well near the parking lot at Yanacocha on our first day, where it also hits the feeders.
BRONZY INCA (Coeligena coeligena obscura) – A fairly common hummingbird of the subtropical east, and one of the most drab! They nonetheless are regular around San Isidro where they visit the feeders all day long.
BROWN INCA (Coeligena wilsoni) – Replaces the previous species on the west slope. The Brown has a little more pazazz to its plumage though, with those lateral, white pectoral spots and that splash of purple on the throat. This one was present in small numbers at Tandayapa's feeders.
COLLARED INCA (Coeligena torquata) – Common this trip around San Isidro, and a most memorable hummer species, almost like it is wearing a tuxedo.
BUFF-WINGED STARFRONTLET (Coeligena lutetiae) – A common and very vocal hummer of highland temperate forests. Its most distinguishing mark are the bold, buffy patches on the wings. We had our best experiences with them at Yanacocha's feeders.
MOUNTAIN VELVETBREAST (Lafresnaya lafresnayi saul) – We managed to ambush them at Yanacocha's feeders as they sneaked in a few times; they are such whimps! This highland hummer has an obviously decurved bill, suited for dealing with certain flowers of the same shape.
SWORD-BILLED HUMMINGBIRD (Ensifera ensifera) – Sure, hummingbirds can flaunt all of the iridescent colors, long tails, and crests that they want, but this is still the king of hummers in my opinion, especially from an initial impact point of view! How in the world can you beat a bird that hovers, and has a bill that almost matches its body size? I'm still always blown away every time I see it. What makes the whole scene even more impressive is how this species can surgically insert - at high speed - such a long bill into the tiny hole of a feeder; sort of like us attempting to instantly, and continuously stick a long camera monopod - repeatedly, and without mistake - into a hole a quarter the size of a golf green hole! This high elevation hummer was seen wonderfully at Yanacocha and Guango, where they are feeder addicts.
GREAT SAPPHIREWING (Pterophanes cyanopterus cyanopterus) – The second largest hummer, and one that we had fantastic encounters with at Yanacocha's feeders.
BUFF-TAILED CORONET (Boissonneaua flavescens tinochlora) – A common feeder bully. We had had large numbers in the west, such as at Tandayapa's feeders.
CHESTNUT-BREASTED CORONET (Boissonneaua matthewsii) – As I mention above, coronets tend to be feeder hogs, and we witnessed this with this species at San Isidro's feeders; they behave the same way at flowering trees as well.
VELVET-PURPLE CORONET (Boissonneaua jardini) – Arguably one of the most amazingly colored hummingbirds, when seen in the right light, which we did manage to accomplish. We had this dazzler at Mindo Loma's feeders on our last day in the west, in the afternoon hours, as sort of a farewell offering from that slope.
BOOTED RACKET-TAIL (Ocreatus underwoodii melanantherus) – How could anybody not be simply floored by such an incredible little bird... ok, so forget what I said in the Sword-billed account, knocking long tails and flashy adornments!? This Andean classic is one of the most distinctive hummers around, and the males are breath-taking, with that unbelievable racket tail! We had unforgettable views at Tandayapa's feeders.
BOOTED RACKET-TAIL (Ocreatus underwoodii peruanus) – We had females of this buff-booted race in the eastern foothills for nice views.
WHITE-TAILED HILLSTAR (Urochroa bougueri leucura) – The eastern race that we had a couple of times in the foothills for nice views.
PURPLE-BIBBED WHITETIP (Urosticte benjamini) – Fairly common at Tandayapa's feeders; the white spot on the top of the tail of the male is quite distinctive.
RUFOUS-VENTED WHITETIP (Urosticte ruficrissa) – Not an easy bird to find unless encountered at just the right flowers. We had such luck on the S. slope of the Guacamayos and landed some excellent views as they fed about along the roadside.
FAWN-BREASTED BRILLIANT (Heliodoxa rubinoides) – Seen daily over the course of the trip, and a regular at feeders.
GREEN-CROWNED BRILLIANT (Heliodoxa jacula jamersoni) – We connected with this chunky hummer at the feeders at Milpe where they are one of the dominant species.
GIANT HUMMINGBIRD (Patagona gigas peruviana) – The largest of all hummers, as the name implies! This was a nice way to end the trip after a slow day of birding in the paramo and landslides.
WHITE-BELLIED WOODSTAR (Chaetocercus mulsant) – Common at Guango's feeders, and we had nice views before our hasty loading onto the bus to avoid any further complications with the landslides.
GORGETED WOODSTAR (Chaetocercus heliodor) – A tiny woodstar that graced the feeders daily at San Isidro. The male is especially gorgeous, with that ornate, magenta gorget!
PURPLE-THROATED WOODSTAR (Calliphlox mitchellii) – Healthy numbers at Tandayapa's feeders, and we enjoyed them from all angles!
WESTERN EMERALD (Chlorostilbon melanorhynchus melanorhynchus) – Another last grab - on our final day before we headed for the barn - at my house in the central valley in the town of Tumbaco.
VIOLET-HEADED HUMMINGBIRD (Klais guimeti guimeti) – A small hummingbird of the eastern foothills. We nabbed this one as it fed at Vervain flowers along the Loreto rd. at a wonderful stop, where the hummers were just buzzing!
NAPO SABREWING (Campylopterus villaviscensio) – A few individuals were caught in the act, visiting hummer feeders at our bonanza hummingbird stop along the Loreto rd. This is an eastern foothill species with a relatively limited range.
CROWNED WOODNYMPH (NORTHERN GREEN-CROWNED) (Thalurania colombica verticeps) – Glittering males - and duller females - abounded at the feeders at Milpe.
FORK-TAILED WOODNYMPH (Thalurania furcata viridipectus) – Another brightly colored species that put in repeated visits at the feeders along the Loreto rd. in the eastern foothills.
MANY-SPOTTED HUMMINGBIRD (Taphrospilus hypostictus) – Not the most attractive hummingbird species, but certainly an interesting one as it is difficult to find in its eastern foothills habitat. But thanks to the feeders, this one is now a regular sight.
ANDEAN EMERALD (Amazilia franciae viridiceps) – The hummingbird with the immaculate white underparts and aqua-green crown, that we had many fine studies of at Tandayapa's feeders.
GLITTERING-THROATED EMERALD (Amazilia fimbriata fluviatilis) – A common hummer of secondary habitats in the east, and yet another one that we saw well at the feeders along the Loreto rd. This one is best identified by the white stripe up the belly.
RUFOUS-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD (RUFOUS-TAILED) (Amazilia tzacatl jucunda) – Abundant in the western foothills and lowlands, especially in secondary habitats.
GOLDEN-TAILED SAPPHIRE (Chrysuronia oenone oenone) – The male is a real stunner, and we had them at close range along the Loreto rd.
Trogonidae (Trogons)
GOLDEN-HEADED QUETZAL (Pharomachrus auriceps auriceps) – Quetzals are among the ranks that really define neotropical birds... thanks in large part to the Resplendent of Central America. There are five species, and the Golden-headed is one the most wide-ranging, occurring from eastern Panama down through the Andes into Bolivia. We had many encounters - most fleeting - but really nailed one on our last day in the west.
CRESTED QUETZAL (Pharomachrus antisianus) – This quetzal species is usually more retiring than the Golden-headed, but we were dazzled by males and females for nice views in the east, where they performed well for us. Although superficially similar to the previous species, this one has a red eye, and males really shine with their emerald green plumage and white tail feathers.
MASKED TROGON (Trogon personatus personatus) [*]
MASKED TROGON (Trogon personatus assimilis) – We had this west slope form right around the lodge at Tandayapa.
Momotidae (Motmots)
ANDEAN MOTMOT (Momotus aequatorialis) – We never did manage to get one into view. [*]
RUFOUS MOTMOT (Baryphthengus martii semirufus) – Some folks had this large motmot at Milpe before it slipped away.
Galbulidae (Jacamars)
COPPERY-CHESTED JACAMAR (Galbula pastazae) [*]
Capitonidae (New World Barbets)
RED-HEADED BARBET (Eubucco bourcierii aequatorialis) – This west slope form put on some nice shows at the banana feeders at Tandayapa. The red head of the male was just crippling!
Semnornithidae (Toucan-Barbets)
TOUCAN BARBET (Semnornis ramphastinus ramphastinus) – A must get on the west slope as it is a mid-elevation Choco endemic and such an emblematic bird of the region in general. We scored big time on our first afternoon during a stroll down the old Nono-Tandayapa rd. when we called in an active pair for excellent studies! This one looks like it is wearing a clown outfit, with all of those gaudy colors crammed into one plumage. We were also treated to numerous vocal choruses, as they "honked" out their comical song.
Ramphastidae (Toucans)
EMERALD TOUCANET (ANDEAN) (Aulacorhynchus prasinus albivitta) – Nice views for some of this mostly green toucanet in the east around San Isidro when it perched up.
CRIMSON-RUMPED TOUCANET (Aulacorhynchus haematopygus sexnotatus) – A beautiful toucanet, almost entirely restricted to the west slope here in Ecuador. We had some fabulous studies at Tandayapa's fruit feeders.
PLATE-BILLED MOUNTAIN-TOUCAN (Andigena laminirostris) – We snagged this stunning mountain-toucan along the old Tandayapa-Mindo rd. on our last day in the west for tremendous studies. Like the Toucan Barbet, this is another must see on a visit to the west, for much the same reasons.
BLACK-BILLED MOUNTAIN-TOUCAN (Andigena nigrirostris spilorhynchus) – Nice studies at a close pair in the San Isidro area after a little persistence. This one is restricted to the subtropical zones on the east slope, and can be a devil to find at times, but we hit it right!
BLACK-MANDIBLED TOUCAN (CHESTNUT-MANDIBLED) (Ramphastos ambiguus swainsonii) – We heard this west slope form. [*]
CHOCO TOUCAN (Ramphastos brevis) – Very nice looks at Milpe where they were quite vocal and visible.
Picidae (Woodpeckers)
LAFRESNAYE'S PICULET (Picumnus lafresnayi lafresnayi) – We saw this tiny woodpecker relative nicely with a flock along the Loreto rd.
SMOKY-BROWN WOODPECKER (Picoides fumigatus fumigatus) – Fairly common at middle elevations; we had them at Tandayapa where they came into the lodge area for good looks.
CRIMSON-MANTLED WOODPECKER (Colaptes rivolii brevirostris) – A stunning woodpecker of the highlands, and one we saw on most days of the trip.
POWERFUL WOODPECKER (Campephilus pollens pollens) – Jak and Woody had this one around San Isidro, but despite some effort, we never could get one for the entire group.
GUAYAQUIL WOODPECKER (Campephilus gayaquilensis) – One nice male at Milpe right around the parking lot as it pecked away in a Cecropia tree.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
COLLARED FOREST-FALCON (Micrastur semitorquatus semitorquatus) [*]
CARUNCULATED CARACARA (Phalcoboenus carunculatus) – Well, I guess we will all have to get used to the fact that the falcon family is actually more closely related to parrots and woodpeckers, and not hawks, thanks to recent genetic work! We had this high elevation caracara up at the Papallacta Pass on our last day under rainy conditions.
AMERICAN KESTREL (SOUTH AMERICAN) (Falco sparverius aequatorialis) – A common bird of the drier highlands, but it took us up until our last day to find one.
Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)
RED-BILLED PARROT (Pionus sordidus corallinus) – A common middle elevation parrot on both slopes that we saw in some excellent light near San Isidro.
SPECKLE-FACED PARROT (WHITE-CAPPED) (Pionus tumultuosus seniloides) – Also seen exceptionally well in the east near San Isidro as large groups flew by in perfect afternoon light. Sometimes lumped with the Plum-crowned of the southern Andes.
BRONZE-WINGED PARROT (Pionus chalcopterus) – An amazingly colored - mostly royal blue - parrot of the west slope that we saw around Milpe.
SCALY-NAPED PARROT (Amazona mercenarius) – Nice views of this large Amazon parrot in the east around San Isidro; one of the dullest of the genus. These guys often fly long distances out into the foothills each day to feed, only to return to their highland roosts in the afternoon.
MAROON-TAILED PARAKEET (CHOCO) (Pyrrhura melanura pacifica) – We saw this Choco form - which may someday be a valid split - in the foothills around Milpe.
Thamnophilidae (Typical Antbirds)
UNIFORM ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus unicolor unicolor) – Eric got a look along the forest trails at Tandayapa where they were unusually tough this trip. [*]
RUSSET ANTSHRIKE (TAWNY) (Thamnistes anabatinus intermedius) [*]
WHITE-STREAKED ANTVIREO (WHITE-STREAKED) (Dysithamnus leucostictus leucostictus) – Lois and Denis got a quick but decent views in the Guacamayos when we called in a responsive pair during some roadside birding, which is unusual since one usually has to get deep into the forest to have a chance at seeing this one.
SLATY ANTWREN (Myrmotherula schisticolor schisticolor) – With the understory forest flocks at Tandayapa where they can be readily found as tight pairs or small groups.
STREAK-HEADED ANTBIRD (Drymophila striaticeps) – A common bamboo bird of middle elevations. We had nice views of a pair shortly after exiting the bird blind at Tandayapa. Note that this will show up in the current books as Long-tailed Antbird; there was a four way split and the other three occur further north in Colombia and Venezuela.
ZELEDON'S ANTBIRD (CHOCO) (Myrmeciza zeledoni macrorhyncha) – A recent two way split of the Immaculate Antbird, with the Zeledon's occurring from Costa Rica south along the west slope of Colombia and down into western Ecuador. We had nice looks at this sneaky understory species along the trails at Tandayapa after some persistence.
Grallariidae (Antpittas)
SCALED ANTPITTA (Grallaria guatimalensis) [*]
CHESTNUT-CROWNED ANTPITTA (Grallaria ruficapilla ruficapilla) [*]
WHITE-BELLIED ANTPITTA (Grallaria hypoleuca) – Fabulous studies at the worm trained birds at San Isidro's feeders! This used to be a toughie to get good looks at.
RUFOUS ANTPITTA (Grallaria rufula rufula) – Eric spotted this one for us at the far end of the trail at Yanacocha as it fed about right in the open along the trail for awesome views.
TAWNY ANTPITTA (Grallaria quitensis quitensis) – The high elevation antpitta here in Ecuador, and one that can usually be found without too much effort as they tend to occur in grassy habitats.
SLATE-CROWNED ANTPITTA (SLATE-CROWNED) (Grallaricula nana nana) – Eric and Jak got onto this one at San Isidro as it lurked and called back to us one afternoon.
Rhinocryptidae (Tapaculos)
BLACKISH TAPACULO (BLACKISH) (Scytalopus latrans latrans) – One very cooperative, juvenile bird came hopping out right along the trail at Yanacocha for point blank views, as young tapaculos will often do.
LONG-TAILED TAPACULO (Scytalopus micropterus) [*]
NARI┬ľO TAPACULO (Scytalopus vicinior) – As tapaculos go, this one was actually pretty responsive and easy to see. We found this one along the lower Tandayapa-Mindo road, and it put on quite a show, evening crossing the road.
SPILLMANN'S TAPACULO (Scytalopus spillmanni) [*]
Formicariidae (Antthrushes)
RUFOUS-BREASTED ANTTHRUSH (Formicarius rufipectus) [*]
BARRED ANTTHRUSH (Chamaeza mollissima mollissima) [*]
Furnariidae (Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers)
PLAIN-BROWN WOODCREEPER (PLAIN-BROWN) (Dendrocincla fuliginosa ridgwayi) [*]
WEDGE-BILLED WOODCREEPER (Glyphorynchus spirurus) – The smallest woodcreeper!
STRONG-BILLED WOODCREEPER (ANDEAN/NORTHERN) (Xiphocolaptes promeropirhynchus promeropirhynchus) – ...And this one is at the other end of the size spectrum, being a real hulk of a woodcreeper! We had this one well on both of our full days on the west slope.
SPOTTED WOODCREEPER (BERLEPSCH'S) (Xiphorhynchus erythropygius aequatorialis) – Fairly common with the insectivorous flocks at Milpe.
OLIVE-BACKED WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus triangularis triangularis) – The east slope representative of the previous species that we had well at San Isidro.
BROWN-BILLED SCYTHEBILL (Campylorhamphus pusillus) [*]
MONTANE WOODCREEPER (Lepidocolaptes lacrymiger aequatorialis) – The common highland woodcreeper of both slopes.
PLAIN XENOPS (Xenops minutus) [*]
STREAKED XENOPS (Xenops rutilans) – An almost nuthatch like furnariid. We ran into this small species with a healthy mixed flock on the S slope of the Guacamayos during some morning birding there.
BUFFY TUFTEDCHEEK (PACIFIC) (Pseudocolaptes lawrencii johnsoni) – Not an easy bird to find on this tour as we only just barely dip into its narrow elevational range and very humid forest habitat type, but we scored big when we hit an active and vocal pair as they foraged with a canopy flock along the lower Tandayapa-Mindo road. Nice!
STREAKED TUFTEDCHEEK (Pseudocolaptes boissonneautii) – The more common and more highland based relative of the previous species, which we saw nicely on the same day as the previous species with a mixed flock.
RUSTY-WINGED BARBTAIL (Premnornis guttuliger) – Eric got a look at this unobtrusive species before it sneaked away in the Guacamayos... the rest of us heard it.
CHESTNUT-WINGED CINCLODES (Cinclodes albidiventris) – The Bar-winged Cinclodes was recently split three ways, the Chestnut-winged being the new name for the species found in northern South America (Ecuador). Despite our short time birding in the paramo, we salvaged a few on our last day, nabbing this and the Stout-billed.
STOUT-BILLED CINCLODES (Cinclodes excelsior excelsior) – Larger than the previous species, with a much thicker, decurved bill. Also seen in the high paramos above Papallacta.
BUFF-FRONTED FOLIAGE-GLEANER (Philydor rufum) – A handsome, bright buffy foliage-gleaner of mixed flocks in the foothill and pre-montane zones which we saw well at Milpe.
SCALY-THROATED FOLIAGE-GLEANER (SPOT-BREASTED) (Anabacerthia variegaticeps temporalis) – Also with the mixed flocks at Milpe where they actively probe mossy branches.
MONTANE FOLIAGE-GLEANER (Anabacerthia striaticollis montana) – The eastern counterpart of the previous species, but less rufous toned in general. We enjoyed some nice studies of this well marked species in the Guacamayos with the mixed flocks.
LINEATED FOLIAGE-GLEANER (Syndactyla subalaris) – Another of the many furnariids that we encountered with the rich flocks on the west slope.
STRIPED TREEHUNTER (Thripadectes holostictus) – A bamboo bird that can be tricky to see well, but we had some luck prying one into view not far from San Isidro one afternoon.
STREAK-CAPPED TREEHUNTER (Thripadectes virgaticeps) – A relatively drab, but large furnariid. This one was a regular at Tandayapa's feeders where they sneak in to pluck insects around the lights.
STRIPED WOODHAUNTER (CENTRAL AMERICAN) (Automolus subulatus assimilis) – Can it get any more confusing? This is yet another medium sized furnariid that we found with the flocks at Milpe, where we found some very diverse flocks... we were like kids in a candy store.
PEARLED TREERUNNER (Margarornis squamiger perlatus) – One of the most gorgeous species of the furnariid family, and a common sight with the flocks in the highlands.
WHITE-BROWED SPINETAIL (Hellmayrea gularis) – We lucked out and had an especially cooperative pair of this reclusive species at Yanacocha on our first day; this one can sometimes be a chore to tease out into view.
MANY-STRIPED CANASTERO (Asthenes flammulata flammulata) – A boldly marked species that inhabits paramo grasslands. We managed to snag one for nice studies during our paramo cleanup day before heading for our comfortable hotel in the central valley near Quito.
RED-FACED SPINETAIL (Cranioleuca erythrops erythrops) – Common with the flocks on the west slope in the foothills and pre-montane zones. We had our fair share of quality studies, such as around Tandayapa Lodge, where they creep around in the canopy with canopy flocks.
ASH-BROWED SPINETAIL (Cranioleuca curtata) – Replaces the Red-faced Spinetail on the east slope, and equally arboreal, inhabiting the moss covered branches of canopy trees. We encountered this rather dull species on the S. slope of the Guacamayos and brought one individual down to almost eye level.
AZARA'S SPINETAIL (Synallaxis azarae media) – The common understory spinetail on both slopes in the highlands, and a very commonly heard species.
RUFOUS SPINETAIL (Synallaxis unirufa unirufa) – Living up to its name, this all rufous species tends to inhabit patches of bamboo, but frequently ventures out from it as well. We had nice looks at a responsive bird along the old Tandayapa-Mindo road.
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
WHITE-TAILED TYRANNULET (Mecocerculus poecilocercus) – The common little tyrannulet with middle elevation mixed flocks on both slopes.
WHITE-BANDED TYRANNULET (Mecocerculus stictopterus stictopterus) – Tends to replace the previous species at higher elevations, and an equally common bird.
WHITE-THROATED TYRANNULET (Mecocerculus leucophrys rufomarginatis) – A large and more upright postured bird of this genus, possibly belonging in its own genus; this one occurs at high elevations in humid temperate forests. We had good looks at them with the flocks on both slopes.
SULPHUR-BELLIED TYRANNULET (Mecocerculus minor) [*]
TUFTED TIT-TYRANT (Anairetes parulus aequatorialis) [*]
WHITE-CRESTED ELAENIA (WHITE-CRESTED) (Elaenia albiceps griseigularis) – Good looks at this rather drab flycatcher on our first day in the central valley on our way to Yanacocha.
LESSER ELAENIA (Elaenia chiriquensis) – We had this confusing elaenia as a garden bird at San Isidro where they often hang around the myrtle trees to glean berries during certain seasons; I suspect this one is an altitudinal migrant that at least partially vacates its nesting grounds in the foothills. At one point I discussed the possibility that this form (brachyptera) might very well be eligible for a split, and what do you know? The SACC just recently voted a unanimous "yes", so we have a new one, split from the two other forms of Lesser Elaenia. Here is a link for interested readers that explains in more detail than you might be interested in, but it sums the situation up well: It looks as if the new name will end up being Coopmans's Elaenia as it was this late ornithologist who first pointed out this form's different vocalizations. Paul Coopmans was a good ole buddy of mine that I learned a great deal from, so it is a thrill indeed to see him finally get a bird named after him.
STREAK-NECKED FLYCATCHER (Mionectes striaticollis) – A common montane flycatcher that can often be found raiding fruiting trees; we had them on numerous occasions.
SLATY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Leptopogon superciliaris) – A common flock bird, often first detected by voice. We had this one nicely with a large mixed flock in the Guacamayos.
RUFOUS-BREASTED FLYCATCHER (Leptopogon rufipectus) – Replaces the previous species in the subtropical zones, and a common flock bird around San Isidro.
VARIEGATED BRISTLE-TYRANT (Phylloscartes poecilotis) – We had some fine studies of this east slope species when a cooperative pair foraged with a mixed flock at San Isidro. I particularly fancy this little tyrannid as it is so well marked and is a tough bird to find without healthy forest.
MARBLE-FACED BRISTLE-TYRANT (Phylloscartes ophthalmicus ophthalmicus) – Common with the forest flocks at San Isidro, and often right with the previous species.
ASHY-HEADED TYRANNULET (Phyllomyias cinereiceps) – A stocky little tyrannulet that we had some spectacular views of a couple of times on the east slope.
CHOCO TYRANNULET (Zimmerius albigularis) – A fairly recent split from the Golden-faced Tyrannulet, this one can be found on the west slope from the lowlands well up into the pre-montane zones, and is quite common.
GOLDEN-FACED TYRANNULET (GOLDEN-FACED) (Zimmerius chrysops chrysops) – Common on the east slope in the foothill and pre-montane zones. While its face is really not all that golden, it does sport a discernible yellow wash on the face.
ORNATE FLYCATCHER (Myiotriccus ornatus) – A spectacular little flycatcher that we had nice looks at around Milpe where they are usually quite common.
BRONZE-OLIVE PYGMY-TYRANT (Pseudotriccus pelzelni) [*]
RUFOUS-HEADED PYGMY-TYRANT (Pseudotriccus ruficeps) [*]
SCALE-CRESTED PYGMY-TYRANT (Lophotriccus pileatus) [*]
RUFOUS-CROWNED TODY-FLYCATCHER (Poecilotriccus ruficeps) – Another bamboo based bird, this one occurs in just about every Chusquea (bamboo) patch at San Isidro, and we enjoyed some excellent studies of this colorful little tyrannid.
COMMON TODY-FLYCATCHER (Todirostrum cinereum) [*]
CINNAMON FLYCATCHER (Pyrrhomyias cinnamomeus pyrrhopterus) – Common right around the gardens at San Isidro where they can frequently be found perched on the power lines for closeup studies.
HANDSOME FLYCATCHER (Nephelomyias pulcher) – Fairly common with the mixed canopy flocks around San Isidro where we encountered then on a few occasions. This one is quite handsome, with its peachy chest, yellow belly, and warm buffy wingbars.
FLAVESCENT FLYCATCHER (Myiophobus flavicans flavicans) – Seen by some on our last day at San Isidro.
OLIVE-CHESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiophobus cryptoxanthus) [*]
SMOKE-COLORED PEWEE (Contopus fumigatus) – If you know the Greater Pewee, then this one will have seemed quite familiar, especially since they were once lumped. We had this common highland species most regularly right around the gardens at San Isidro where they often perch on the power lines and Alder trees.
BLACK PHOEBE (WHITE-WINGED) (Sayornis nigricans angustirostris) – Common along streams and rivers in the highlands.
VERMILION FLYCATCHER (VERMILION) (Pyrocephalus rubinus piurae) – Known to many and a common bird of the drier areas in Ecuador, although a migratory race does visit the eastern foothills and lowlands during the austral winter, so watch for some splits here. We had this colorful species on our last day in the Tumbaco valley around my house.
STREAK-THROATED BUSH-TYRANT (Myiotheretes striaticollis striaticollis) – A large and striking tyrant species that we snagged on our first day.
SMOKY BUSH-TYRANT (Myiotheretes fumigatus fumigatus) – More of a forest based species than the previous species, and less boldly patterned, but it does sport some nice rufous tones in the wings. We had good looks at this one in the Guacamayos.
CROWNED CHAT-TYRANT (CROWNED) (Ochthoeca frontalis frontalis) – A sneaky chat-tyrant that often stays out of view in the forest understory, but we had some excellent looks at them at Yanacocha on our first day.
SLATY-BACKED CHAT-TYRANT (SLATY-BACKED) (Ochthoeca cinnamomeiventris cinnamomeiventris) – Nice looks at this stream loving species in the Guacamayos.
BROWN-BACKED CHAT-TYRANT (Ochthoeca fumicolor brunneifrons) – The high elevation chat-tyrant hear in Ecuador. We picked this one up fairly easily in the high elevation woodlands at Yanacocha on our first day.
BRIGHT-RUMPED ATTILA (NORTHERN) (Attila spadiceus parambae) – Not a bird that we often pick up on this route as it tends to occur at lower elevations, but we lucked out at Milpe when we heard one calling not far off the roadside. Our friend, Doug, who accompanied us from Tandayapa Lodge, hung with it and made a remarkable spot, getting all of us onto this handsome flycatcher species... nice!
DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tuberculifer) – A common flycatcher on both slopes; we had them best around Milpe.
PALE-EDGED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus cephalotes cephalotes) – Common on the east slope, especially around the gardens at San Isidro, where they will even nest in the cabin roofing; sort of a make-shift cavity nest.
SOCIAL FLYCATCHER (SOCIAL) (Myiozetetes similis similis) [*]
LEMON-BROWED FLYCATCHER (Conopias cinchoneti cinchoneti) [*]
GOLDEN-CROWNED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes chrysocephalus minor) – Most common right around the lodge at Tandayapa.
TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus melancholicus) – A common bird of secondary habitats in the neotropics, and one known to many!
Cotingidae (Cotingas)
GREEN-AND-BLACK FRUITEATER (Pipreola riefferii) [*]
BARRED FRUITEATER (Pipreola arcuata arcuata) [*]
BLACK-CHESTED FRUITEATER (Pipreola lubomirskii) [*]
SCALED FRUITEATER (Ampelioides tschudii) – After having only heard them in the distance on our first day along the trails at Tandayapa, we finally scored bigtime the following day with a cooperative female, which was a bit of a relief as it ended up being our only seen fruiteater; I chalk this up to poor luck.
RED-CRESTED COTINGA (Ampelion rubrocristatus) – Some had brief views of this highland cotinga on our first day at Yanacocha before it slipped away.
ANDEAN COCK-OF-THE-ROCK (Rupicola peruvianus sanguinolentus) – One of the Andes' most magnificent bird species, and one we had some pretty nice views of a few times on the west slope, especially at the lek we stopped to have a look at on our first day along the old Nono-Tandayapa road; the males were in high gear, and really screaming for the attention of females. Although they were a tad distant, we did manage to scope them for some satisfying studies.
Pipridae (Manakins)
GOLDEN-WINGED MANAKIN (Masius chrysopterus) – Wish we could have scored a male - none of the leks seemd to be pumping this trip - but at least some did manage to squeak out views of a female.
Tityridae (Tityras and Allies)
MASKED TITYRA (Tityra semifasciata) – Tityras and becards now rule with their own official family after having teetered between the flycatchers and cotingas for years! We landed some nice views of this boldly marked species in the eastern foothills along the Loreto rd. on our penultimate day.
GREEN-BACKED BECARD (YELLOW-CHEEKED) (Pachyramphus viridis xanthogenys) [*]
BARRED BECARD (Pachyramphus versicolor versicolor) – We caught a pair of this small highland becard at the lower end of its elevational range as they moved with a flock at Tandayapa's parking lot.
CINNAMON BECARD (Pachyramphus cinnamomeus cinnamomeus) – Quite common at Milpe, where they are vocal and readily seen with mixed flocks.
WHITE-WINGED BECARD (Pachyramphus polychopterus dorsalis) – The male of this western race is much grayer than those found in the Amazon of Ecuador, and we had them right over our heads at Tandayapa lodge, right from the hummingbird deck.
ONE-COLORED BECARD (Pachyramphus homochrous) – More often thought of as a bird of drier forests, where they are more common, but this species does frequently push into the more humid forests of the NW (as a migrant?) where they can sometimes swarm! We saw plenty of them at Milpe.
Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)
BROWN-CAPPED VIREO (Vireo leucophrys) – Common with the highland flocks on both slopes. Some of you may remember that this species was once lumped with the Warbling Vireo.
RED-EYED VIREO (RESIDENT CHIVI) (Vireo olivaceus griseobarbatus) – Quite common around Milpe and Tandayapa.
RUFOUS-NAPED GREENLET (Hylophilus semibrunneus) – A bit of a surprise as we found this local, east slope species right at the upper end of its elevational range at a spot (along the roadside) in the Guacamayos where it is seldom seen.
OLIVACEOUS GREENLET (Hylophilus olivaceus) – We pried this bamboo dweller out in the foothills along the Loreto rd. where they are quite vocal.
LESSER GREENLET (GRAY-HEADED) (Hylophilus decurtatus minor) [*]
SLATY-CAPPED SHRIKE-VIREO (Vireolanius leucotis) – One of the biggest surprises of the trip since we found one with a flock at Tandayapa lodge, a place where I believe it has never been reported as the elevation was higher than it is usually found.
BLACK-BILLED PEPPERSHRIKE (Cyclarhis nigrirostris nigrirostris) – A common and vocal species around the gardens at San Isidro.
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
BEAUTIFUL JAY (Cyanolyca pulchra) – A rare and local jay of the Choco, west slope highlands. Although easily missed, as this species travels in small bands (or pairs) over large ranges, we really hit it right at Tandayapa lodge when we called in two birds - close range, mind you - just outside of the bird blind during some early morning birding there... awesome! The royal blue tones of this stunner are truly amazing.
TURQUOISE JAY (Cyanolyca turcosa) – Although more common and wide ranging than the previous species, it is no less impressive plumage-wise; this species' rich turquoise aspect always impresses! We had some fine studies in the Guacamayos near San Isidro, where they frequently grace the flocks right along the roadside.
GREEN JAY (INCA) (Cyanocorax yncas yncas) – A loud and raucous jay species that haunts the gardens at San Isidro on a daily basis!
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
BLUE-AND-WHITE SWALLOW (CYANOLEUCA) (Pygochelidon cyanoleuca cyanoleuca) – The common highland swallow species, and one that we saw on almost a daily basis.
PALE-FOOTED SWALLOW (Orochelidon flavipes) – An east slope species that seems to prefer more forested habitats, so not one that one tends see along highways or commonly birded habitats. We had some fantastic luck tracking this one down at a spot that has worked for me many times over the years near San Isidro, where they mingle with the more common Blue-and-white. Although the two are superficially similar, the Pale-footed has a different flight style and very different calls.
BROWN-BELLIED SWALLOW (Orochelidon murina murina) – The common swallow of high elevations.
SOUTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx ruficollis) – Common in the foothills on both slopes.
Troglodytidae (Wrens)
HOUSE WREN (SOUTHERN) (Troglodytes aedon albicans) [*]
MOUNTAIN WREN (Troglodytes solstitialis solstitialis) – A common little wren that inhabits the highland forests of both slopes.
SEDGE WREN (POLYGLOTTUS GROUP) (Cistothorus platensis aequatorialis) [*]
PLAIN-TAILED WREN (Pheugopedius euophrys) – This amazing wren species has one of the most explosive songs of any passerine, and we experienced it in full burst at San Isidro as a pair let us have it on our first morning of birding there, where we clinched some excellent views.
WHISKERED WREN (Pheugopedius mystacalis mystacalis) – We enjoyed some super views of this secondary growth, and chunky species of wren along the trails at Tandayapa when we pulled one out of a dark thicket and into close range.
BAY WREN (SOUTH AMERICAN) (Cantorchilus nigricapillus nigricapillus) [*]
RUFOUS WREN (Cinnycerthia unirufa unirufa) – A wren that often travels about in large family groups, which was the case with our sighting of this beautiful wren up in the high temperate forests at Yanacocha.
WHITE-BREASTED WOOD-WREN (Henicorhina leucosticta) [*]
GRAY-BREASTED WOOD-WREN (Henicorhina leucophrys leucophrys) – This species is the owner of one of the most common voices in the highlands on both slopes, but it can be a pill to see well. We did manage to cajole them into view for nice views around Tandayapa though.
Cinclidae (Dippers)
WHITE-CAPPED DIPPER (WHITE-BELLIED) (Cinclus leucocephalus leuconotus) – Who doesn't love a dipper? I mean, even a non-birder has to! These sprite little, rock-hopping balls of energy are always a joy to encounter, and we had nice looks at a pair along the Alambi River on our first day as we birded down to Tandayapa lodge.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
ANDEAN SOLITAIRE (Myadestes ralloides) – Another species that is often heard, but that takes some patience to observe due to its retiring nature, but we had some nice views of this handsome solitaire species upon our arrival to San Isidro after a long journey.
SLATY-BACKED NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (SLATY-BACKED) (Catharus fuscater fuscater) – Nightingale-Thrushes are stealthy, understory species that really know how to hide, but their beautiful voices often betray their presence. We found a responsive bird along the trails at Tandayapa lodge for some nice studies.
ECUADORIAN THRUSH (Turdus maculirostris) [*]
BLACK-BILLED THRUSH (Turdus ignobilis debilis) – A quick flyby along the Loreto rd. in the eastern foothills.
GREAT THRUSH (Turdus fuscater quindio) – The largest species of the genus, and a common highland species that seems to persist in a variety of habitat types, from the cloud forests to the city streets of Quito.
GLOSSY-BLACK THRUSH (Turdus serranus fuscobrunneus) – Similar to the previous species, but smaller and blacker, and more forest based. We had some nice views of this attractive thrush around San Isidro.
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)
PARAMO PIPIT (Anthus bogotensis bogotensis) [*]
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
TROPICAL PARULA (Setophaga pitiayumi) – A common little bird with the mixed flocks on both slopes in warmer climates.
THREE-STRIPED WARBLER (Basileuterus tristriatus) – Especially common with the understory mixed flocks at Tandayapa lodge.
BLACK-CRESTED WARBLER (Myiothlypis nigrocristata) – Common in the secondary habitats around San Isidro where they can be heard vocalizing throughout the day.
GOLDEN-BELLIED WARBLER (CHOCO) (Myiothlypis chrysogaster chlorophrys) – This Choco form is sometimes split out from the nominate Golden-bellied Warbler of eastern Peru, which is probably a wise move. We hit a nice group of this rather drab, but noisy understory species with a flock at Milpe.
RUSSET-CROWNED WARBLER (Myiothlypis coronata elata) – This west slope race has a much more obvious yellow below than eastern forms, and we had some fine studies of them a few times, such as along the trails at Tandayapa. The dueted song of this species is especially entertaining and musical.
RUSSET-CROWNED WARBLER (Myiothlypis coronata orientalis) – The grayer bellied east slope race that we had good looks at San Isidro.
SLATE-THROATED REDSTART (Myioborus miniatus) – A very common species with mixed flocks at middle elevations, such as around Tandayapa and San Isidro. Myioborus redstarts - like the American Redstart - often feed by flaring their wings and tail in order to scare up insect prey.
SPECTACLED REDSTART (Myioborus melanocephalus ruficoronatus) – This one replaces the previous species at higher elevations, but they do narrowly overlap, such as around the gardens at San Isidro, where the Spectacled reaches its lowest elevational limits.
Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)
MAGPIE TANAGER (Cissopis leverianus leverianus) – The longest of all tanagers, and quite a striking bird. We had them in the foothills during our travel day to San Isidro.
WHITE-CAPPED TANAGER (Sericossypha albocristata) – One of the most sought after and fantastic tanagers. For years there was speculation that this species might even be more closely allied to the jays, or even blackbirds, but recent genetic testing has proven them to be true tanagers. We had some fabulous views of this large species of a noisy group at San Isidro.
SUPERCILIARIED HEMISPINGUS (SUPERCILIARIED) (Hemispingus superciliaris nigrifrons) [*]
OLEAGINOUS HEMISPINGUS (Hemispingus frontalis frontalis) – A rather unobtrusive hemispingus that almost lacks any real discerning field marks; if you are on the east slope at mid-elevations (especially at San Isidro) and see a mostly pea soup colored birded probing into dead leaves with a flock, it is likely this one!
BLACK-EARED HEMISPINGUS (BLACK-EARED) (Hemispingus melanotis melanotis) – Seen with the same flock as the previous species, although this one tends to stay pretty close to Chusquea bamboo stands. This one is usually readily identified by its all black face.
SILVER-BEAKED TANAGER (Ramphocelus carbo carbo) – Common in foothill and lowland second growth in the east; we had them during our travel day through Puyo to get to San Isidro.
FLAME-RUMPED TANAGER (LEMON-RUMPED) (Ramphocelus flammigerus icteronotus) – This one sort of fills the niche in the west that that previous species does in the east. The male of this species is particularly eye catching with that jet black plumage, contrasting with a bright yellow rump.
VERMILION TANAGER (Calochaetes coccineus) – A stunning east slope tanager that we had awesome studies of on the S. slope of the Guacamayos... I never get tired of seeing this one, as you could probably tell!
HOODED MOUNTAIN-TANAGER (Buthraupis montana cucullata) – A wide ranging mountain-tanager, found from the subtropics all the way up to almost treeline on both slopes. This large tanager travels around in small groups with flocks, and can be quite noisy; we had them nicely on the west slope.
BLACK-CHESTED MOUNTAIN-TANAGER (Cnemathraupis eximia chloronota) – Restricted to higher elevation temperate forests on both slopes where they can be tricky to find as they can really burry themselves deep into the dense vegetation. Yanacocha is a great place for this beauty, and we had them close in for killer studies.
GRASS-GREEN TANAGER (Chlorornis riefferii riefferii) – It just seems like the tanagers get more and more amazing as I continue this narration, and this one is no exception... wow! As about as distinct and amazingly colored as any tanager, we were blown away by this chunky species with the mid-elevation flocks on both slopes.
SCARLET-BELLIED MOUNTAIN-TANAGER (Anisognathus igniventris erythronotus) – The bold black, red, and blue tones of this spectacular mountain-tanager make this one another unmistakable species of the highlands, even if only seen as a streak through the trees. We had nice looks at this guy though up at Yanacocha on our first day.
BLUE-WINGED MOUNTAIN-TANAGER (Anisognathus somptuosus cyanopterus) – Among the more common and wide ranging of the mountain-tanagers, being mostly found at subtropical elevations. We had our best looks at this west slope form - with the black back - at Mindo Loma's banana feeders for point blank studies!
BLUE-WINGED MOUNTAIN-TANAGER (Anisognathus somptuosus baezae) – The east slope form of this species that displays more of a mossy green tone to the back. We had them daily around San Isidro where they feed about in the fruiting trees right around the lodge.
BLACK-CHINNED MOUNTAIN-TANAGER (Anisognathus notabilis) – A rather uncommon and local tanager of the west slope, pre-montane zones where they usually occur only in certain very wet habitat types at a narrow elevational band. In recent years Mindo Loma has been the spot to find this one since it comes in to raid the banana feeders, and we had just such luck when a small group came in a couple of times for superb views, helping wrap up our successful birding in the west.
YELLOW-THROATED TANAGER (Iridosornis analis) – Some got onto this understory species on the S. slope of the Guacamayos before it slipped away.
BLUE-AND-YELLOW TANAGER (Pipraeidea bonariensis darwinii) – A common tanager of the dry central valley, reaching its northern-most range limits in northern Ecuador. We had nice looks at this handsome tanager at our garden hotel on our last afternoon.
ORANGE-EARED TANAGER (Chlorochrysa calliparaea bourcieri) – Another stunning tanager of the eastern foothills that we pulled out of a large flock on the S. slope of the Guacamayos.
BLUE-GRAY TANAGER (Thraupis episcopus quaesita) – The duller west slope form that we had best at Milpe where they are common feeder birds.
BLUE-GRAY TANAGER (Thraupis episcopus coelestis) – This east slope form has an obvious white shoulder patch and is readily seen in secondary foothill and lowland zones.
GOLDEN-NAPED TANAGER (Tangara ruficervix) – Common with the flocks in the Tandayapa area.
BLACK-CAPPED TANAGER (Tangara heinei) – The male of this species is quite a looker, with its dark black cap and turquoise face and throat. We had them daily at San Isidro where they feed around the gardens.
SCRUB TANAGER (Tangara vitriolina) – A fairly common garden bird in the dry central valley, and one that we snagged as one of the last birds of the trip in the gardens of our hotel for nice views as they fed about in the fruiting trees.
BLUE-NECKED TANAGER (Tangara cyanicollis) – A gorgeous, all blue-headed tanager that we enjoyed excellent views of in the Guacamayos.
RUFOUS-THROATED TANAGER (Tangara rufigula) – We did manage to find a small group of this west slope species at Milpe, but not everybody managed to get a view before they zoomed off into the distance.
BLUE-AND-BLACK TANAGER (Tangara vassorii vassorii) – Glimpses on the west slope where they were harder to find than usual.
BERYL-SPANGLED TANAGER (Tangara nigroviridis) – An all blue, speckled tanager that we saw well on most days of the trip... but one that we never got tired of seeing!
METALLIC-GREEN TANAGER (Tangara labradorides labradorides) – I have still yet to find anything particularly "metallic" on the plumage of this species, but it is a dreamy name at any rate! We had this one with a mixed canopy flock on our final day on the west slope.
BLUE-BROWED TANAGER (Tangara cyanotis lutleyi) – One of my favorite east slope, foothill tanagers since it can be hard to find, and is just so beautiful. We landed this gem in one of our large mixed flocks on the S. slope of the Guacamayos.
PARADISE TANAGER (Tangara chilensis) – Glimpsed by some in the east... wish they would have stayed around a tad longer!
BAY-HEADED TANAGER (Tangara gyrola) – A wide-ranging tanager; we had this one with a flock at Milpe.
GOLDEN-EARED TANAGER (Tangara chrysotis) – Another mind-blowing east slope tanager species. We tracked this one down at Bellandia lodge - the spot where we got the rare Awlbill - for some excellent views.
SAFFRON-CROWNED TANAGER (Tangara xanthocephala venusta) – This one has more of a yellow helmet than just a crown. Common on the east slope, this is one of the more common tanagers to be found around the cabins at San Isidro.
FLAME-FACED TANAGER (Tangara parzudakii parzudakii) – Its name says it all, I'd say! This east slope form, that we saw well with the flocks around San Isidro for instance, shows more distinct yellow and red on the head, while the west slope birds show more of a bland of blazing orange.
FLAME-FACED TANAGER (Tangara parzudakii lunigera) – We had this west slope form on our final afternoon in the west at Mindo Loma's banana feeders.
GOLDEN TANAGER (Tangara arthus goodsoni) – A bright yellow, west slope form sprinkled most canopy flocks.
GOLDEN TANAGER (Tangara arthus aequatorialis) – The more orange-toned east slope form that we saw a few times with the flocks.
SILVER-THROATED TANAGER (Tangara icterocephala) – Most got onto this one at Milpe one afternoon.
SWALLOW TANAGER (Tersina viridis occidentalis) – We ran into a female plumaged bird at Milpe. This species seems to be quite nomadic, so it is hard to predict where they will turn up.
PURPLE HONEYCREEPER (Cyanerpes caeruleus) – Nice looks at a pair with a flock on the S. slope of the Guacamayos.
GOLDEN-COLLARED HONEYCREEPER (Iridophanes pulcherrimus pulcherrimus) – Nice looks at this very distinctive honeycreeper, especially around the gardens at San Isidro where they were raiding the fruiting trees.
CINEREOUS CONEBILL (Conirostrum cinereum fraseri) – A common conebill of both highland humid forest and drier central valleys. We had them with the flocks on our first day at Yanacocha.
BLUE-BACKED CONEBILL (Conirostrum sitticolor sitticolor) – A stunning little conebill of temperate highland forests. We called them in out of a flock at Yanacocha and enjoyed some fabulous studies.
CAPPED CONEBILL (Conirostrum albifrons atrocyaneum) – A conebill of the middle elevations on both slopes. This flock follower was seen nicely on the west slope a couple of times as it displayed its peculiar habitat of pumping its tail.
GLOSSY FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa lafresnayii) – The all dark flowerpiercer with the bluish-gray shoulder patch. Hummingbirds aren't the only two birds here in Ecuador who have learned to take advantage of the feeders, because some species of flowerpiercers have become addicts as well! This species visits the feeders at Yanacocha all day long, creating their own elbow room amongst the clouds of hummers.
BLACK FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa humeralis aterrima) – An all black bird of the highlands that can often be found in garden habitats, cloud forest, and cleared areas with scattered trees. We had them as they fed and chased about on our way up to Yanacocha on our first day.
WHITE-SIDED FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa albilatera albilatera) – We only encountered one female this trip, which was surprising.
DEEP-BLUE FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa glauca tyrianthina) – Certainly one of the most beautiful of all flowerpiercers, this yellow-eyed, eastern foothill species sports a stunning, rich royal blue plumage that never gets old! We called them into close range on the S. slope of the Guacamayos.
BLUISH FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa caerulescens media) – A dull blue flowerpiercer with a burgundy eye that occurs in good numbers right around the lodge at San Isidro.
MASKED FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa cyanea cyanea) – The most easily found and wide ranging of the flowerpiercers here in Ecuador, probably best remembered by its bright red eye.
PLUSHCAP (Catamblyrhynchus diadema diadema) – Some folks scored with quick but decent views of this beautiful Andean species on our last full day at San Isidro. This attractive species has been jostled around taxonomically for years, but has finally ended up as a tanager after genetic research.
ASH-BREASTED SIERRA-FINCH (Phrygilus plebejus ocularis) – During a quick gas stop on our roundabout journey to San Isidro, a few folks were in the right spot at the right time to view this all gray highland bird of open, drier habitats.
BLUE-BLACK GRASSQUIT (Volatinia jacarina) – Quick views of one bird during our travel day to San Isidro.
PLAIN-COLORED SEEDEATER (Catamenia inornata minor) – Common in the highland pastures and natural grasslands; we had this drab species on our way up to Yanacocha as one of our first official birds of the trip.
BANANAQUIT (Coereba flaveola) – A bird known to many who have birded the neotropics; we had them along the Loreto rd. where they thrive.
BUFF-THROATED SALTATOR (Saltator maximus maximus) [*]
BLACK-WINGED SALTATOR (Saltator atripennis) – A west slope specialty that we had at Tandayapa's fruit feeders where a few individuals sneaked in a time or two.
Emberizidae (Buntings and New World Sparrows)
CHESTNUT-CAPPED BRUSH-FINCH (CHESTNUT-CAPPED) (Arremon brunneinucha frontalis) – Tandayapa lodge is a great place to find this understory skulker as they creep around the lodge in the early morning to pick off insects that have fallen from the lights.
GRAY-BROWED BRUSH-FINCH (Arremon assimilis) [*]
TRICOLORED BRUSH-FINCH (CHOCO) (Atlapetes tricolor crassus) – Some authorities advocate splitting this Choco, west slope subspecies out from the nominate birds of eastern Peru, much as the situation with the Golden-bellied Warbler. This dull brush-finch is readily seen right around the lodge at Tandayapa where they frequently sing in the early mornings.
YELLOW-BREASTED BRUSH-FINCH (Atlapetes latinuchus spodionotus) – The highland, and more colorful relative of the previous species; we had our first looks at this little songster at Yanacocha on our first day. This taxon is a member of the Rufous-naped Brush-Finch complex, which has now been split into various species up and down the Andes.
WHITE-WINGED BRUSH-FINCH (WHITE-WINGED) (Atlapetes leucopterus leucopterus) – A handsome brush-finch that seems to do well in secondary habitats of the central valley and even in cloud forest areas where lands have been cleared. Just have a seat in Tandayapa's dining room over breakfast, wait a little, and you are almost certain to spot a curious pair as they sneak in to gobble down insects around the building.
YELLOW-BROWED SPARROW (Ammodramus aurifrons aurifrons) – A common bird of cleared and riparian habitats in the east.
RUFOUS-COLLARED SPARROW (Zonotrichia capensis costaricensis) – An abundant bird of the highlands in Ecuador, and a bird that ranges from Mexico to Argentina. Needless to say, we say plenty of them!
COMMON CHLOROSPINGUS (NORTHERN ANDES) (Chlorospingus flavopectus phaeocephalus) – This genus, long known as "bush-tanagers", has finally been given a formal generic "upgrade" to help distinguish it from other unrelated genera of the same name. In addition, the Chlorospingus genus has also been transferred from the tanager group into the new world sparrow family thanks to modern genetics. I have to admit that getting used to calling them "chlorospingus" will take some time, but in the end should help avoid confusion with respect to taxonomic relationships. Ok, enough on this, but it had to be mentioned! This wide-ranging species, that probably needs some serious splitting of the various forms, is common on the east slope and a daily sight around the cabins at San Isidro.
DUSKY CHLOROSPINGUS (Chlorospingus semifuscus semifuscus) – Usually quite common in the west, but they were tricky this trip, only offering up quick views.
YELLOW-THROATED CHLOROSPINGUS (YELLOW-THROATED) (Chlorospingus flavigularis marginatus) – The duller-plumaged western form of this species that we saw at Milpe.
YELLOW-THROATED CHLOROSPINGUS (YELLOW-THROATED) (Chlorospingus flavigularis flavigularis) – This east slope form has a larger and brighter yellow throat patch, and is a common member of mixed flocks in the foothills.
Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)
OCHRE-BREASTED TANAGER (Chlorothraupis stolzmanni) – Yet another new twist, thanks to genetics: the Ochre-breasted Tanager is no longer a tanager, but rather a cardinal relative, which is sort of comical since we think of cardinals as colorful birds; this one is almost as drab as they come! We did see this species in "flying colors" at Milpe where they are loud members of mixed canopy flocks. The heavy head, wide bill, and overall ochre plumage help distinguish this species from others.
GOLDEN GROSBEAK (Pheucticus chrysogaster chrysogaster) [*]
BLUE SEEDEATER (BLUE) (Amaurospiza concolor aequatorialis) – A special bamboo bird of the west slope that surges into singing and breeding when the bamboo seeds. We had fine studies of this easily missed species on our final day in the west.
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
YELLOW-BILLED CACIQUE (CHAPMAN'S) (Amblycercus holosericeus australis) [*]
SCARLET-RUMPED CACIQUE (Cacicus uropygialis) – This east slope form is often given full species status, and called "Subtropical Cacique", which would seem to be a good decision as they occur at higher elevations, and have a very different set of calls and songs, even though the two are almost identical visually. We had fine studies of this flashy species on a daily basis at San Isidro where they feed about - and vocalize loudly - around the gardens.
MOUNTAIN CACIQUE (GOLDEN-SHOULDERED) (Cacicus chrysonotus leucoramphus) – A fairly common cacique of the highlands on the east slope, and we had nice views of them a number of times in the San Isidro area.
RUSSET-BACKED OROPENDOLA (Psarocolius angustifrons angustifrons) – A common oropendola around San Isidro, where they often nest in the taller trees around the lodge.
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
ORANGE-CROWNED EUPHONIA (Euphonia saturata) – We lucked into a male for good looks on the west slope. This can be a hard bird to find and weed out as it is quite similar to the Orange-crowned, but the males do sport a larger crown patch, are a richer orange underneath, and show no hint of any white in the undertail.
THICK-BILLED EUPHONIA (Euphonia laniirostris) – This dark-masked euphonia was seen well in the eastern foothills along the Loreto rd.
GOLDEN-RUMPED EUPHONIA (Euphonia cyanocephala pelzelni) – Denis spotted this fancy bird for us on the west slope for nice views.
BRONZE-GREEN EUPHONIA (Euphonia mesochrysa) – A rather dull east slope euphonia, usually best recognized by the male's bright yellow frontal patch, but this species is often best found and identified by its distinctive songs and calls. We called in a responsive male on the S. slope of the Guacamayos for some exceptional studies.
ORANGE-BELLIED EUPHONIA (Euphonia xanthogaster) – Probably the most common euphonia in Ecuador as it is so wide ranging and able to tolerate many different habitat types.
BLUE-NAPED CHLOROPHONIA (Chlorophonia cyanea longipennis) – A heard bird for just about everybody, but Lois managed to spot one with a flock - where we were hearing them - on the S. slope of the Guacamayos.
YELLOW-BELLIED SISKIN (Spinus xanthogastrus) – Nice looks at this western foothill species around Milpe.
HOODED SISKIN (Spinus magellanicus capitalis) – Common in the central valley; we saw this brightly colored species on our first day.
OLIVACEOUS SISKIN (Spinus olivaceus) – Brief views in the east.

WHITE-EARED OPOSSUM (Didelphis albiventris) – Quick views on our last full day at San Isidro.
BRAZILIAN RABBIT (Sylvilagus brasiliensis) – A fairly common mammal that is mostly encountered in the highland grasslands, and we saw them a couple of times in such habitats.
RED-TAILED SQUIRREL (Sciurus granatensis) – Common on both slopes.
BLACK AGOUTI (Dasyprocta fuliginosa) – Seen around the gardens at San Isidro, where they frequently forage about near the cabins and dining room.


Totals for the tour: 342 bird taxa and 4 mammal taxa