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A Report from

Ecuador 1998, 1995,

John van der Woude

Birding in Ecuador will get a new impulse with the phenomenal field guide by Ridgely & Greenfield. Here are summaries of John van der Woude's reports of his independent trips to this country with its enormous contrast in life zones. The older report is about a cross section of the North, and the newer one about many sites in the intriguing South of the country. The full reports are at There you will also find photos of the scenery of the birding sites (for the North), many site maps (for the South), and several sounds (in mp3 format).

The Birds of Ecuador Vol 2: Field Guide
Robert S. Ridgely, Paul J. Greenfield (Illustrator): Buy from or

  • Volume 2: Field Guide contains 96 full-colour plates and facing pages of descriptive text, a colour map of Ecuador, 2 line drawings of bird anatomy, 115 silhouette outlines and nearly 1600 distribution maps. All species are illustrated in full colour, including migrants and vagrants and visually distinctive subspecies. The text focuses on the field indentification aspects of each species,

Paperback edition: Buy from or

Ecuador South 22 August - 15 September 1998

From 22 August till 15 September 1998 Nollie and I made a private birding trip to Southern Ecuador, as a follow-up of our trip to Northern Ecuador in 1995. Southern Ecuador has an outstanding diversity of habitats. Cajas and Podocarpus National Parks are famous mountain destinations. The humid to dry hills and plains in the Southwest have the Tumbesian endemics and many other species. We visited other sites as well.

On this particular trip we only traveled by public transport, including taxi's and trucks where necessary. On most of the 'travel days' we still managed to bird in the morning using local transport, and have a long distance bus in the afternoon.

Hotel capacity was never a problem, and we only made reservations for the first destination (Gualaceo). We were rather careful in selecting the more quiet hotels or hotel rooms, both regarding street noise as regarding nightly fiestas or discos. We always bought food for breakfast and lunch (both out in the field) the night before, the shops are open late: bread rolls (often sweetened), Tampico juices (sealed), mineral water (sealed), and bananas or apples if available. We also brought some granola and milk powder. We mostly followed Lonely Planet in the choice of restaurants for the evening meal around 7 p.m., the corvina (seabass) being a wellcome change from the usual chicken or meat.

Sites visited are:

- Gualaceo - Limon road including surroudings of Gualaceo
- Cajas N.P. West of Cuenca
- Surocucho reserve between Cuenca and Cajas
- Cajanuma part of Podocarpus N.P. near Loja
- dry valley near Vilcabamba
- Bombuscaro valley of Podocarpus N.P. near Zamora
- Oriente lowlands East of Zamora
- Buenaventura site near Piņas, El Oro
- Rio Pindo East of Piņas
- Punta Carnero on Sta Elena Peninsula
- Isla de la Plata or between island and mainland
- Ayampe valley and surroundings (S of Machalilla N.P.)
- Cerro Blanco reserve 5 km W of Guayaquil

In terms of number of bird species observed (including heard only's), the top sites were Ayampe at the West coast (97 species), Buenaventura near Piņas in El Oro province (87), Cajanuma (high Podocarpus N.P.; 67), Bombuscaro (low Podocarpus N.P.; 65), and the Gualaceo-Limon road East of Cuenca (64 species). Of course this is only numbers of species, not yet how special these species are. In the same respect, a good second place is for the Oriente East of Zamora (58 species), Punta Carnero at the West coast (47), and Cerro Blanco near Guayaquil (36 species). 

The sites differ widely in the number of species that were only observed at that particular site. In this 'uniqueness' aspect the sites score as follows, from high to low: Punta Carnero (33 out of 47; the only coastal wetlands we visited), Cajas N.P. West of Cuenca (15 out of 24; the only site above 3200 m a.s.l.), Isla de la Plata (10 out of 17), Bombuscaro (33 out of 65), Cajanuma (31 out of 67), Oriente (27 out of 58), Gualaceo-Limon road (24 out of 64), Ayampe (35 out of 97), Vilcabamba (5 out of 17), Surocucho (6 out of 21; should give much more on a longer visit), Cerro Blanco (10 out of 36). 

Comparing this species diversity with the number of endemics observed (see full report), I think our best three sites overall were Buenaventura for the middle elevations, Ayampe for the low elevations, and Cajanuma for the high elevations. However, special attention deserve Cajas for the highest elevations, Punta Carnero for the coastal wetlands, Bombuscaro for the lower East Andes slope, and the Gualaceo-Limon road for the higher East Andes slope.

Species highlights (several also seen in North Ecuador, see other report):

Pale-browed Tinamou, Blue-footed Booby, Masked Booby, Grey-backed Hawk, Carunculated Caracara, Rufous-headed Chachalaca, Bearded Guan, Sickle-winged Guan, Black-eared (Ruf-front.) Wood-quail, White-throated Crake, Wandering Tattler, Ecuadorean Ground-dove, Croaking (Gold-billed) Ground-dove, Pallid Dove, Red-masked Parakeet, El Oro Parakeet, Pacific Parrotlet, Grey-cheeked Parakeet, Red-faced Parrot, West Peruvian Screech-owl, Short-tailed (Rufous-bellied) Night, Anthony's (Scrub) Nightjar, Blackish Nightjar, White-whiskered Hermit, Baron's Hermit, Sparkling Violet-ear, Violet-bellied Hummingbird, Ecuadorian (Chimborazo) Hillstar, Mountain Velvetbreast, Buff-winged Starfrontlet, Rainbow Starfrontlet, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Amethyst-throated Sunangel, Tourmaline Sunangel, Purple-throated Sunangel, Glowing Puffleg, Sapphire-vented Puffleg, Purple-backed Thornbill, Violet-throated Metaltail, Mountain Avocetbill, Violet-tailed Sylph, Purple-crowned Fairy, Short-tailed Woodstar, Coppery-chested Jacamar, White-chinned Jacamar, White-whiskered Puffbird, Red-headed Barbet, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, Pale-mandibled Aracari, Grey-breasted Mountain-toucan, Lafresnaye's Piculet, Olivaceous Piculet, Scarlet-backed Woodpecker, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Stout-billed Cinclodes, Pacific Hornero, Mouse-coloured Thistletail, Dusky Spinetail, Necklaced Spinetail, Many-striped Canastero, Slaty-winged Foliage-gleaner, Collared (White-naped) Antshrike, Uniform Antshrike, Western Slaty Antshrike, Ornate Antwren, Chestnut-naped Antpitta, Tawny Antpitta, Chusquea Tapaculo, Ocellated Tapaculo, Blue-rumped Manakin, Club-winged Manakin, Slaty-capped Flycatcher, Black-throated Tody-tyrant, White-tailed Tyrannulet, Tawny-crowned Pygmy-tyrant, Marble-faced Bristle-tyrant, Scale-crested Pygmy-tyrant, Ornate Flycatcher, Black-tailed Flycatcher, Crowned Chat-tyrant, Red-rumped Bush-tyrant, Paramo Ground-tyrant, Short-tailed Field-tyrant, Sooty-crowned Flycatcher, Baird's Flycatcher, One-coloured Becard, Fasciated Wren, Rufous Wren, Plain-tailed Wren, Whiskered Wren, Speckled-breasted Wren, Song Wren, Long-tailed Mockingbird, Plumbeous-backed Thrush, Ecuadorian Thrush, Turquoise Jay, White-tailed Jay, Black-lored Yellowthroat, Grey-and-gold Warbler, Grass-green Tanager, Dusky Bush-tanager, Yellow-throated Bush-tanager, Ashy-throated Bush-tanager, Grey-hooded Bush-tanager, Superciliared Hemispingus, Black-headed Hemispingus, Ochre-breasted Tanager, Masked Mountain-tanager, Golden-crowned Tanager, Orange-eared Tanager, Silver-throated Tanager, Golden-eared Tanager, Flame-faced Tanager, Golden-naped Tanager, Yellow-bellied Dacnis, Tit-like Dacnis, Black-capped Sparrow, Black-striped Sparrow, Pale-naped Brush-finch, Olive Finch, Black-backed Bush-tanager, Crimson-breasted Finch, Slaty Finch, Collared Warbling-finch, Black-and-white Seedeater, Parrot-billed Seedeater, Black Flower-piercer, Southern Yellow Grosbeak, Subtropical Cacique, Northern Mountain Cacique, Scrub Blackbird.

Ecuador North 27 Aug. - 15 Sep. 1995

In this part of Ecuador we birded three regions, the middle elevations West of Quito, the high Andes East of Quito, and the Oriente (the lowland Amazon basin). We travelled by rental car, and stayed in all sorts of hotels and lodges. The weather was good, a bit too nice maybe, we only had a few days with some rain, and anyway not so much wind as in previous trips to the Neotropics. We had no problems with health or safety at all.

If you plan a birding trip to northern Ecuador, please inform yourself at newer reports too, like the many ones at, and several here at of course.


Sat 26 Aug.      Late arrival at Quito.
Sun 27 Aug.      Car hire at airport. Via Mitad del Mundo monument and Tandayapa to Bellavista lodge.
Wed 30 Aug.     Afternoon on to Mindo.
Sat 2 Sep.        Mindo to Papallacta, via Quito airport for money, phone etc.
Sun 3 Sep.       Papallacta to Baeza (Cosanga also).
Mon 4 Sep.       Baeza via upper Loreto road to Tena.
Wed 6 Sep.      Tena via Loreto road to Coca.
Fri 8 Sep.         Coca to Lago Agrio via Sushufindi and Limoncocha.
Sat 9 Sep.        Into Cuyabeno reserve.
Mon 11 Sep.     Afternoon back to L. Agrio
Tue 12 Sep.      L. Agrio to San Rafael Falls.
Wed 13 Sep.     Afternoon San Rafael Falls to Papallacta.
Thu 14 Sep.      Afternoon Papallacta to Quito.
Fri 15 Sep.        Early flight from Quito.

Species highlights for us were:

Andean Teal, Pearl Kite, White-rumped Hawk, Wattled Guan, Sickle-winged Guan, Sungrebe, White-throated Quail-dove, Maroon-tailed Parakeet, Speckled-faced (White-capped) Parro, Sparkling Violet-ear, Wire-crested Thorntail, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, White-tailed Hillstar, Shining Sunbeam, Mountain Velvetbreast, Bronzy Inca, Buff-winged Starfrontlet, Gorgeted Sunangel, Greenish Puffleg, Purple-crowned Fairy, White-eared Jacamar, Coppery-chested Jacamar, White-chinned Jacamar, Brown Nunlet, Yellow-billed Nunbird, Scarlet-crowned Barbet, Lemon-throated Barbet, Red-headed Barbet, Toucan Barbet, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, Lettered Aracari, Pale-mandibled Aracari, Lafresnaye's Piculet, Yellow-vented Woodpecker, Chestnut Woodpecker, Cream-coloured Woodpecker, Powerful Woodpecker, Western Woodhaunter, Stripe-chested Antwren, Yellow-breasted Antwren, Long-tailed Antbird, Spot-backed Antbird, Tawny Antpitta, White-lored Antpitta, Slate-crowned Antpitta, Ocellated Tapaculo, Black-necked Red-cotinga, Rufous-headed Pygmy-tyrant, Golden-winged Tody-flycatcher, White-tailed Tyrannulet, Ecuadorian Tyrannulet, Ornate Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Flycatcher, Plain-tailed Wren, Black Solitaire, Turquoise Jay, Olivaceous Siskin, Olive-crowned Yellowthroat, Buff-rumped Warbler, Capped Conebill, Giant Conebill, Grass-green Tanager, Dusky Bush-tanager, Yellow-throated Bush-tanager, Black-headed Hemispingus, Rufous-chested Tanager, Black-chested Mountain-tanager, Masked Mountain-tanager, Buff-breasted Mountain-tanager, Orange-eared Tanager, Golden-eared Tanager, Flame-faced Tanager, Rufous-throated Tanager, Golden-naped Tanager, Pale-naped Brush-finch, Tricoloured Brush-finch, Black-backed Bush-tanager, Black-and-white Seedeater, Black Flower-piercer, Golden-eyed Flower-piercer, Scarlet-rumped Cacique, Northern Mountain Cacique, Moriche Oriole, Orange-backed Troupial.

For more details see the full report at



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