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September 19, 2013

We’re off again! Celebrating our 30th anniversary with our 3rd trip to bird-rich Ecuador, a country the size of Colorado, with twice as many birds as the entire North American continent! Talk about mind-blowing!

Our first trip in 2005 was made possible due  to the hard work of some of Phil’s high school students – winners in a  Florida State Envirothon competition. The winning coach (Phil) won a trip to the Galapagos! Of course he couldn’t go without me – his favorite birding partner – and of course, we couldn’t go to the Galapagos without spending some time in the nearby rainforests and Andes mountains of Ecuador looking for some fabulous birds. LIke the Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, and the Streaked Tufted Cheek, and the White-tailed Tyrannulet, and the Pale-billed Aracari, and the Lemon-rumped Tanager, and the Sparkling Violetear, or the Green-crowned Brilliant, or the . . . well, you get the picture. Speaking of pictures, if you want to see what these birds look like, you can google each one, but you’ll have to imagine them deep in a rainforest dripping with mosses and bromeliads and orchids with  misty clouds rising up out of the steep valleys.


Our experiences in Ecuador have been with friendly people, delicious native foods, and beautiful lodges buried in some cases way back in the forests, one we even had to hike in to. “Field Guides”, a birding tour company, describes Ecuador best:”Tiny Ecuador, covering only 2.5 percent of South America’s landmass, supports more than half its avifauna – about a sixth of the Earth’s bird species! Its incredible avian diversity, totaling nearly 1600 species is a direct reflection of its habitat diversity. Cactus-clad desert on the southwest coast gives way to some of the wettest of the world’s rainforests just 200 miles to the north. Vast Amazonian rainforests east of the Andes lie but a few tens of miles from paramo grassland and glaciers at 20,000 feet!”


If we wanted to go birding with a group of people and be led by the hand to see many species, we would go with this tour company. They have a great reputation and reading their website and their newsletter is inspiring! However, so far, Phil and I usually prefer to hunt for and find our own birds, and even though we don’t find as many as we would with a guide, there is some satisfaction in doing it by ourselves. We have on occasion used a guide for several hours or a day, and in fact you can’t tour in the Galapagos without one! But because our time is very limited on this upcoming trip, we’re letting our lodge hosts drive us around! How easy could that be? We’ll let you know how we do. When we drive ourselves around we always get lost, since most of these Central and South American countries we’ve visited seem to have something against road signs, and getting lost is pretty easy to do.

This trip, we’re returning to a few of the places we’ve been on previous trips – mainly because we love the areas so much, and they’re famous because there are so many birds there. And we still haven’t seen them all! We usually spend at least a day acclimating to the high altitude, so we will enjoy birding again around the several hundred-acre forest at our lodge, San Jorge Eco-Lodge and Botanical Reserve about 20 minutes west out of  Quito, not far from the active Volcan Pichincha.  You can see pictures of our lodge and their other lodges at the website,

Birders who have been to Ecuador are very familiar with the places we will visit,  the first of which is up a very rough 4-5 mile road to a trailhead at the 10,500 ft high Yanacocha Ecological Reserve, cared for by the Jocotoco Conservation Foundation. This is an area of “high barren plains and highland rainforest”.  Another day we will travel on the Nono-Mindo Road along the Alambi River  for several miles, stopping many times along the way to look at birds, eventually arriving at a famous birding area called Tandayapa. This road encompasses highland rainforest and cloud forest. Our 4th day we’ll go east, high up into the Andes,  to another well-known birding area at Papallacta Pass, which is a habitat in “high barren plains”, and reminds me of the area above treeline in the Beartooth Mountains of Montana. Cold, windy, short and stubbly vegetation, and oh yes, over 13,000 feet up!

I’ll send a report soon!DSC02217


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  1. Can’t wait to see what you find this time!

  2. Diane de Moye permalink

    Great blog! I can feel the place.


    Sent from my iPad

  3. Joanne Anthony permalink

    That is a beautiful exciting report –thankyou!
    love, Joanne

  4. Sarah Davis Dean permalink

    LOVED IT!! You’re going to have SUCH a great time. Safe travel, and happy birding!!

    Xoxo, Sarah

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