A Field Guides Birding Tours Report

Amazonian Ecuador: Sacha Lodge I 2022

January 7-16, 2022 with Willy Perez & local guide guiding

Field Guides Birding Tours
Clay licks are one of the highlights of this tour, with scores of parrots visiting to gobble up minerals. Photo by participant Jan Wood.

In spite of some challenges the pandemic presented to us, this tour was still great and Sacha Lodge was better than ever. Having not been there for two years, I thought the lodge would have been impacted by the pandemic. However, I was impressed when I returned. The lodge and the facilities were even better than in 2020. The cabins were great and all of them have A/C which is a real luxury in the jungle. The food was fantastic and we even ate some of the local dishes prepared by the chef. Being in a single place for a week gave us the chance to explore the superb Sacha reserve and also the Yasuni National Park. The highlights were definitely the towers, where we had the opportunity to be face to face with some of the most incredible birds. The colorful Plum-throated and Spangled cotingas were amazing. Many-banded Aracaris, Purple-throated Fruitcrow and Amazonian Trogon were some of the regulars at the Kapok tower. The metal towers were also full of activity: Gilded Barbet, White-throated Toucan, Paradise Tanager and even a distant Harpy Eagle were part of the show.

The canoe rides along the creeks were very productive and we managed to see Boat-billed Heron, Greater Ani, and Orange-crowned Manakin, and even the charismatic Hoatzin showed up. The forest walks were a bit challenging but the rewards were incredible and absolutely worth it. A pair of Crested Owls and male Wire-tailed Manakins were some of the highlights there. We managed to see some of the very unique river island specialties like the Black-and-white Antbird, Parker's Spinetail and for some lucky people the very sneaky Gray-breasted Crake. At this time of year, another superb site was the parrot clay lick, where Scarlet Macaws, Cobalt-winged Parakeets and several Orange-cheeked Parrots were spotted.

I would like to say a big thank you to Oscar and Gerardo, our great local guides, who helped to finish the tour. And I would like to say a big thank you to all of you who came to join us for this tour during these difficult times. I hope that I will see you in the field looking for some birds again.

Un abrazo,


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

Tinamidae (Tinamous)

GREAT TINAMOU (Tinamus major) [*]

Field Guides Birding Tours
The gorgeous Plum-throated Cotinga was one of the amazing birds we saw from the towers. Photo by participant Cliff Thurber.

CINEREOUS TINAMOU (Crypturellus cinereus) [*]

VARIEGATED TINAMOU (Crypturellus variegatus) [*]

Cracidae (Guans, Chachalacas, and Curassows)


SPIX'S GUAN (Penelope jacquacu)

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

PALE-VENTED PIGEON (Patagioenas cayennensis)

Very common near the lagoon.

RUDDY PIGEON (Patagioenas subvinacea)

RUDDY GROUND DOVE (Columbina talpacoti)

We saw one at the arrival in Coca airport.

GRAY-FRONTED DOVE (Leptotila rufaxilla) [*]

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

GREATER ANI (Crotophaga major)

SMOOTH-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga ani)

SQUIRREL CUCKOO (Piaya cayana)

BLACK-BELLIED CUCKOO (Piaya melanogaster)

Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)

LADDER-TAILED NIGHTJAR (Hydropsalis climacocerca)

This was recorded as a young Pauraque, but looking at the photos, it is a female of this species instead.

Nyctibiidae (Potoos)

GREAT POTOO (Nyctibius grandis)

COMMON POTOO (Nyctibius griseus)

Fantastic views of a bird perched at the edge of the lagoon.

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Golden-collared Toucanet was another colorful species we saw well from the Kapok tower. Photo by participant Lois Wood.
Apodidae (Swifts)

WHITE-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne zonaris)

SHORT-TAILED SWIFT (Chaetura brachyura)

FORK-TAILED PALM-SWIFT (Tachornis squamata)

Many of them flying, especially above the lagoon when we were paddling in from or out to the lodge.

Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)

WHITE-NECKED JACOBIN (Florisuga mellivora mellivora)

WHITE-BEARDED HERMIT (Phaethornis hispidus)

Louis took a photo of one when we visited the parrot clay lick in the forest. Not many people saw it.

GREAT-BILLED HERMIT (Phaethornis malaris)

Scope views of this nice hummingbird.

LONG-BILLED STARTHROAT (Heliomaster longirostris)

FORK-TAILED WOODNYMPH (Thalurania furcata)

They were very active at the Kapok tower.

OLIVE-SPOTTED HUMMINGBIRD (Talaphorus chlorocercus)

Opisthocomidae (Hoatzin)

HOATZIN (Opisthocomus hoazin)

One of the most iconic birds of the Amazon, seen nicely on several days.

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

GRAY-BREASTED CRAKE (Laterallus exilis)

Some people saw this tiny crake when we visited the river island.

Aramidae (Limpkin)

LIMPKIN (Aramus guarauna)

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And here's the group on the Kapok tower, undoubtedly watching something good! Photo by participant Lois Wood.
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola)

It was nice to see this very uncommon migrant along the Napo river.

PIED LAPWING (Vanellus cayanus)

Jacanidae (Jacanas)

WATTLED JACANA (Jacana jacana)

Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius) [b]

Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)

LAUGHING GULL (Leucophaeus atricilla) [b]

Anhingidae (Anhingas)

ANHINGA (Anhinga anhinga)

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

ZIGZAG HERON (Zebrilus undulatus) [*]

RUFESCENT TIGER-HERON (Tigrisoma lineatum)

COCOI HERON (Ardea cocoi)

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)

SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)

CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis)

STRIATED HERON (Butorides striata)

BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)

BOAT-BILLED HERON (Cochlearius cochlearius)

These bizarre-looking birds were seen on a couple of days.

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Silvered Antbirds are virtually always found near water. Photo by participant Jan Wood.
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)

SCARLET IBIS (Eudocimus ruber)

GREEN IBIS (Mesembrinibis cayennensis)

BARE-FACED IBIS (Phimosus infuscatus)

This species used to be uncommon in the area, but now they are very reliable.

ROSEATE SPOONBILL (Platalea ajaja)

Cathartidae (New World Vultures)

KING VULTURE (Sarcoramphus papa)

We had a great time watching this bird from the Kapok tower.

BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus)

TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)


Pandionidae (Osprey)

OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus) [b]

Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

HOOK-BILLED KITE (Chondrohierax uncinatus)

HARPY EAGLE (Harpia harpyja)

Quite far away, but the scope views were good enough to see all the characteristics of this magnificent bird.

SLENDER-BILLED KITE (Helicolestes hamatus)

DOUBLE-TOOTHED KITE (Harpagus bidentatus)

PLUMBEOUS KITE (Ictinia plumbea)

CRANE HAWK (Geranospiza caerulescens)

SLATE-COLORED HAWK (Buteogallus schistaceus)

The towers worked well for seeing this hawk that likes to perch high in the canopy.

ROADSIDE HAWK (Rupornis magnirostris)

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The Orange-crowned Manakin may not be among the most colorful of birds, but it can be very cooperative, as this male showed us along Orquidea Creek. Photo by participant Jan Wood.

SHORT-TAILED HAWK (Buteo brachyurus)

Strigidae (Owls)

TAWNY-BELLIED SCREECH-OWL (Megascops watsonii) [*]

CRESTED OWL (Lophostrix cristata)

It was wonderful to see a pair at the roosting site.

SPECTACLED OWL (Pulsatrix perspicillata) [*]

FERRUGINOUS PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium brasilianum) [*]

Trogonidae (Trogons)

GREEN-BACKED TROGON (Trogon viridis)

Seen several times from the towers

AMAZONIAN TROGON (Trogon ramonianus)

The small trogon that we saw from the Kapok tower

Momotidae (Motmots)

AMAZONIAN MOTMOT (Momotus momota)

Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)

RINGED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle torquata)



Bucconidae (Puffbirds)

WHITE-NECKED PUFFBIRD (Notharchus hyperrhynchus)

Stunning scope views from the metal tower.

PIED PUFFBIRD (Notharchus tectus)

COLLARED PUFFBIRD (Bucco capensis) [*]

BLACK-FRONTED NUNBIRD (Monasa nigrifrons)

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The Wire-tailed Manakin, on the other hand, definitely qualifies as colorful! Photo by participant Jan Wood.

WHITE-FRONTED NUNBIRD (Monasa morphoeus)

SWALLOW-WINGED PUFFBIRD (Chelidoptera tenebrosa)

Always along the side of rivers or lagoons, where we found them several times.

Galbulidae (Jacamars)

WHITE-CHINNED JACAMAR (Galbula tombacea)

PURPLISH JACAMAR (Galbula chalcothorax) [*]

Capitonidae (New World Barbets)

SCARLET-CROWNED BARBET (Capito aurovirens)

A fantastic male was seen during our breakfast, when we went to La Selva lodge's landing place.

GILDED BARBET (Capito auratus)

Ramphastidae (Toucans)

CHESTNUT-EARED ARACARI (Pteroglossus castanotis)

MANY-BANDED ARACARI (Pteroglossus pluricinctus)

IVORY-BILLED ARACARI (YELLOW-BILLED) (Pteroglossus azara flavirostris)

GOLDEN-COLLARED TOUCANET (Selenidera reinwardtii)

What a colorful bird that we had the chance to admire from the Kapok tower.

WHITE-THROATED TOUCAN (CUVIER'S) (Ramphastos tucanus cuvieri)

CHANNEL-BILLED TOUCAN (YELLOW-RIDGED) (Ramphastos vitellinus culminatus)

Picidae (Woodpeckers)

YELLOW-TUFTED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes cruentatus)

LITTLE WOODPECKER (Dryobates passerinus)

CRIMSON-CRESTED WOODPECKER (Campephilus melanoleucos)

LINEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus lineatus)


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It's always a treat to watch birds doing something interesting -- like these displaying Yellow-tufted Woodpeckers. Photo by participant Judy Harackiewicz.


This handsome woodpecker likes riversides and bamboo and that is exactly where we saw it.

CHESTNUT WOODPECKER (Celeus elegans) [*]

Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

LINED FOREST-FALCON (Micrastur gilvicollis) [*]

BLACK CARACARA (Daptrius ater)

RED-THROATED CARACARA (Ibycter americanus) [*]

We only heard this unique bird, which likes mature, primary forest.

YELLOW-HEADED CARACARA (Milvago chimachima)

LAUGHING FALCON (Herpetotheres cachinnans)

Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)

COBALT-WINGED PARAKEET (Brotogeris cyanoptera)

We saw a few of these from the tower, but the big show was at the clay lick where at least a hundred of them came down to drink the water with minerals.

ORANGE-CHEEKED PARROT (Pyrilia barrabandi)

BLUE-HEADED PARROT (Pionus menstruus)

YELLOW-CROWNED PARROT (Amazona ochrocephala)

MEALY PARROT (Amazona farinosa)

These ashy-colored parrots were eating clay from the river bank along the Napo River.

ORANGE-WINGED PARROT (Amazona amazonica)

BLACK-HEADED PARROT (Pionites melanocephalus)

DUSKY-HEADED PARAKEET (Aratinga weddellii)

RED-BELLIED MACAW (Orthopsittaca manilatus)

Seen every day but always flying



It was stunning to see these macaws coming to the clay lick. What a sight!

We had a stunning display of Scarlet Macaws at the clay lick. Video by guide Willy Perez.
Thamnophilidae (Typical Antbirds)

FASCIATED ANTSHRIKE (Cymbilaimus lineatus)

BARRED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus doliatus)

PLAIN-WINGED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus schistaceus) [*]

CASTELNAU'S ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus cryptoleucus) [*]

PLAIN-THROATED ANTWREN (Isleria hauxwelli)

PYGMY ANTWREN (Myrmotherula brachyura)

We had great views of this small antwren on our way back from the metal tower.

GRAY ANTWREN (Myrmotherula menetriesii) [*]

PERUVIAN WARBLING-ANTBIRD (Hypocnemis peruviana)

GRAY ANTBIRD (Cercomacra cinerascens) [*]

BLACK-FACED ANTBIRD (Myrmoborus myotherinus)

BLACK-AND-WHITE ANTBIRD (Myrmochanes hemileucus)

We had to work hard for this island specialty, but everyone managed to see it in the end.

SILVERED ANTBIRD (Sclateria naevia)

PLUMBEOUS ANTBIRD (Myrmelastes hyperythrus)


SOOTY ANTBIRD (Hafferia fortis)

DOT-BACKED ANTBIRD (Hylophylax punctulatus)

Possibly the prettiest antbird seen on the trip

Rhinocryptidae (Tapaculos)

RUSTY-BELTED TAPACULO (Liosceles thoracicus) [*]

Furnariidae (Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers)

PLAIN-BROWN WOODCREEPER (Dendrocincla fuliginosa)

CINNAMON-THROATED WOODCREEPER (Dendrexetastes rufigula) [*]

BLACK-BANDED WOODCREEPER (Dendrocolaptes picumnus)

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This tour is good for primates too, with some special ones -- including Black-mantle Tamarin -- possible along our route. Photo by guide Willy Perez.

STRIPED WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus obsoletus) [*]

BUFF-THROATED WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus guttatus)


One of the easiest of the family to identify by habitat and look. We saw them several times from the balsa.


PARKER'S SPINETAIL (Cranioleuca vulpecula)

WHITE-BELLIED SPINETAIL (Mazaria propinqua) [*]

DARK-BREASTED SPINETAIL (Synallaxis albigularis)

Pipridae (Manakins)

DWARF TYRANT-MANAKIN (Tyranneutes stolzmanni) [*]

BLUE-CROWNED MANAKIN (Lepidothrix coronata)

ORANGE-CROWNED MANAKIN (Heterocercus aurantiivertex)

Possibly not the most colorful manakin, but we had great looks of a male along Orquidea Creek.

WHITE-BEARDED MANAKIN (Manacus manacus) [*]

WIRE-TAILED MANAKIN (Pipra filicauda)

GOLDEN-HEADED MANAKIN (Ceratopipra erythrocephala)

We did a very steep walk to find a nice male of this species in the Yasuni National Park

Cotingidae (Cotingas)


AMAZONIAN UMBRELLABIRD (Cephalopterus ornatus)

Oscar spotted a male along the Napo River.


SPANGLED COTINGA (Cotinga cayana)

This is the one with the black on the wings.

BARE-NECKED FRUITCROW (Gymnoderus foetidus)

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On closer examination of our photos, the nightjar we first thought was young Pauraque turned out to be a Ladder-tailed Nightjar! Photo by participant Kathy Carroll.
Tityridae (Tityras and Allies)


Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)

SPOTTED TODY-FLYCATCHER (Todirostrum maculatum)

YELLOW-BROWED TODY-FLYCATCHER (Todirostrum chrysocrotaphum)


GRAY-CROWNED FLYCATCHER (Tolmomyias poliocephalus)

YELLOW-BREASTED FLYCATCHER (Tolmomyias flaviventris)


Nice views of this flycatcher from the metal tower.

RIVER TYRANNULET (Serpophaga hypoleuca)

SLENDER-FOOTED TYRANNULET (Zimmerius gracilipes)

FUSCOUS FLYCATCHER (FUSCOUS) (Cnemotriccus fuscatus fuscatior)

Another island specialty that we had to work hard to find.

DRAB WATER TYRANT (Ochthornis littoralis)

They blend in very well on the riverbank; that drab color is perfect!

RUFOUS-TAILED FLATBILL (Ramphotrigon ruficauda)

CINNAMON ATTILA (Attila cinnamomeus)

CITRON-BELLIED ATTILA (Attila citriniventris) [*]

BRIGHT-RUMPED ATTILA (Attila spadiceus)


LESSER KISKADEE (Pitangus lictor)

GREAT KISKADEE (Pitangus sulphuratus)

Some were nesting near the lodge.

BOAT-BILLED FLYCATCHER (Megarynchus pitangua)

SOCIAL FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes similis)

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The Black-fronted Nunbird is widespread across the Amazon basin. Photo by participant Lois Wood.

GRAY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes granadensis)

SULPHUR-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes luteiventris)

PIRATIC FLYCATCHER (Legatus leucophaius)

SULPHURY FLYCATCHER (Tyrannopsis sulphurea)

TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus)

EASTERN KINGBIRD (Tyrannus tyrannus) [b]

Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)

RED-EYED VIREO (Vireo olivaceus) [b]

YELLOW-GREEN VIREO (Vireo flavoviridis) [b]

Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)

VIOLACEOUS JAY (Cyanocorax violaceus)

Donacobiidae (Donacobius)

BLACK-CAPPED DONACOBIUS (Donacobius atricapilla)

There were a few pairs along Pilchecocha Lake.

Hirundinidae (Swallows)

WHITE-BANDED SWALLOW (Atticora fasciata)

GRAY-BREASTED MARTIN (Progne chalybea)

The most common martin near the lodge.


WHITE-WINGED SWALLOW (Tachycineta albiventer)

Troglodytidae (Wrens)

SCALY-BREASTED WREN (Microcerculus marginatus) [*]

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We found a young Rufescent Tiger-Heron on one of our boat trips. Photo by participant Judy Harackiewicz.

HOUSE WREN (Troglodytes aedon)

THRUSH-LIKE WREN (Campylorhynchus turdinus)

CORAYA WREN (Pheugopedius coraya) [*]

WHITE-BREASTED WOOD-WREN (Henicorhina leucosticta) [*]

Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)

HAUXWELL'S THRUSH (Turdus hauxwelli) [*]

BLACK-BILLED THRUSH (Turdus ignobilis)

Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)

GOLDEN-BELLIED EUPHONIA (Euphonia chrysopasta)

THICK-BILLED EUPHONIA (Euphonia laniirostris)

ORANGE-BELLIED EUPHONIA (Euphonia xanthogaster)

RUFOUS-BELLIED EUPHONIA (Euphonia rufiventris)

Colorful males and some females were present, feeding on seed from the bromeliads on the Kapok tower.

Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)

RUSSET-BACKED OROPENDOLA (Psarocolius angustifrons)

GREEN OROPENDOLA (Psarocolius viridis)

CRESTED OROPENDOLA (Psarocolius decumanus)

SOLITARY BLACK CACIQUE (Cacicus solitarius)


GIANT COWBIRD (Molothrus oryzivorus)

ORIOLE BLACKBIRD (Gymnomystax mexicanus)

Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)

ORANGE-HEADED TANAGER (Thlypopsis sordida)

Judy managed to see this bird during our island trip.

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Some of the smaller creatures we found were pretty spectacular too, like this Urania Swallowtail Moth that participant Lois Wood photographed on an island in the Napo River.


SILVER-BEAKED TANAGER (Ramphocelus carbo)

MASKED CRIMSON TANAGER (Ramphocelus nigrogularis)

What a colorful bird! We saw them at least twice.

BLUE-GRAY TANAGER (Thraupis episcopus)

PALM TANAGER (Thraupis palmarum)

TURQUOISE TANAGER (Tangara mexicana)

PARADISE TANAGER (Tangara chilensis)

The name says it all. What a beautiful bird!


OPAL-CROWNED TANAGER (Tangara callophrys)

GREEN-AND-GOLD TANAGER (Tangara schrankii)

BLACK-FACED DACNIS (Dacnis lineata)

YELLOW-BELLIED DACNIS (Dacnis flaviventer)

BLUE DACNIS (Dacnis cayana)

PURPLE HONEYCREEPER (Cyanerpes caeruleus)

GREEN HONEYCREEPER (Chlorophanes spiza)

CHESTNUT-BELLIED SEEDEATER (Sporophila castaneiventris)

CAQUETA SEEDEATER (Sporophila murallae)

BLUE-GRAY SALTATOR (Saltator coerulescens)

Used to be called Grayish Saltator, but the new name is more suited to this bird.


LONG-NOSED BAT (Rhynchonycteris naso)

GREATER BULLDOG BAT (Noctilio leporinus)

BLACK-MANTLE TAMARIN (Saguinus nigricollis)

Field Guides Birding Tours
Spotting Spix's Night Monkeys is always a treat. Photo by participant Judy Harackiewicz.


SPIX'S NIGHT MONKEY (Aotus vociferans)

RED HOWLER MONKEY (Alouatta seniculus)


BLACK AGOUTI (Dasyprocta fuliginosa)

GIANT OTTER (Pteronura brasiliensis)

A family fished in the lagoon for several days.


SPECTACLED CAIMAN (Caiman crocodilus)

BLACK CAIMAN (Melanosuchus niger)


Totals for the tour: 219 bird taxa and 9 mammal taxa