Ecuador, A Week in the Eastern Andes, July 4th - 10th, 2006

Published by Forrest Rowland (rowbird2005 AT

Participants: Donald Grade, Karen Grade, Tiffany Grade, Forrest Rowland


The Arboreal Summer is often said to be the worst time to visit South America, in a general sense. The rains have come up from the Amazon Basin, the mountains can be very windy, and very cold. Last but not least, many of the desired species are nesting and are difficult to see, and quite unresponsive to a bird group's attempts at viewing. Aside from all this, it's likely nice and beautiful back in one's homeland and people are expected to be with family and friends, having barbeque, while supporting their favorite local softball Summer-League team. So, how does one find one's self on a dirty ridgeline road, after dusk, being pelted by rain, surrounded by clouds, catching a cold, while waiting for a Swallow-tailed Nightjar? Well.....we do enjoy a challenge.

The itinerary for our week's tour was a sound one. I was to meet the group (returning from 5 days/ 6 nights at Sacha Lodge) at Coca airport, after having flown up from a trip in Loja, and we would work our way up the Andes. This is somewhat reverse of the standard, and a tad bit more hectic, as one doesn't have time to "gear up" for the foothill birding and flocks. However, everyone was very patient with working through the flocks, and followed directions and cues very well. I admit to being demanding and curt in getting everyone on the birds. Successful, in a word, and we all had a great time.

The detailed itinerary was a follows:

Day 1: Transfer to San Isidro from Coca, via Loreto Road. Little birding done today, as the road was in horrible condition (worse, even than usual), and we had to wait for nearly two hours at a landslide repair. Left Coca 1pm, arrived San Isidro 8:15pm.

Day 2: All day birding at San Isidro. Birded the Cock-of-the-Rock Trail in the morning, part of the Chaucheras Road in the afternoon. Approx. 8 hours in the field.

Day 3: Guacamayos Ridge Trail (first 2kms) in the morning, afternoon rainy at San Isidro, birded around the Lodge. Approx. 8 hours in the field.

Day 4: All day birding at San Isidro. Birded the Macucoloma-Chaucheras Road loop in the morning. Birded the Rock Trail in the afternoon. Approx. 7 hours in the field.

Day 5: Birded the Upper Loreto Road in the morning, and had a very slow afternoon on the Guacamayos Ridge. Approx. 7 hours in the field.

Day 6: Transfer to Guango Lodge. Birded casually in the morning along the road before clouds and rain set in. Very light birding around the lodge in rain. Approx. 5 hours in the field.

Day 7: Birded the Papallacta Lake area, antenaes, and paramo in the morning, and back to Quito by noon. It was very windy. Approx. 4 hours in the field.

Time in the field amounted to around 40 hours total. The total distance travelled during our trip came to a somewhat extraneous 300+ miles, but there's really nothing for it. The only way to bird the Northeast slope is to cover a lot of area, regardless of time frame. Access is still limited and, unfortunately, the pavement ends after Guacamayos Ridge, heading East from Quito. Hopefully the next President will given Amazonian Ecuador some much-deserved attention with regards to infrastructure.

Playback was used sparingly and somewhat ineffectively, given the time of year. Many of the birds on the San Isidro grounds seem to be "played out" and/or nesting, so just birding the flocks was what we basically resorted to. We did manage to pull in some skulkers, doing quite well with Tapaculos, especially, but had a near lack of Thamnophilidae and Brush-finches. The flocks were, however, fantastic. The service, hospitality, and....especially....the food are all outstanding at both Lodges. The food and friendly atmosphere is almost as noteworthy as the birds, and would be moreso if the birds weren't so great. Many thanks to the Bustamante family for forming and maintaining such a high standard in birding ecotourism!

Okay....enough banter. Now to the trip list. The birds recorded are listed in taxonomical order, in accordance with Ridgely and Greenfield's The Birds of Ecuador, Field Guide vol. 2, Cornell University Press, Ithaca New York, 2001. I will follow the species common name with the number of individuals seen, a comma, then the keyed location where observed. The latter are keyed as such: LL - Lower Loreto Road, UL - Upper Loreto Road, GR - Guacamayos Ridge, SI - San Isidro Lodge property and Chaucheras Road, Gu - Guango Lodge Property and main Highway, and PP - Papallacta Lake and/or Pass. Heard only birds will have a number immediately followed by the letter H, to designate the number of individuals heard, when applicable. I may include specific comments on exactly where, when, and/or how certain specific species of interest were noted. If the reader has any comments, questions, or suggestions about the tour given, contact the operator, Bird Ecuador, through their website To contact me personally, write to Thanks and Good birding!

Species Lists

Highland Tinamou 1H, SI
Torrent Duck 3, Gu
Andean Teal 14, PP
Yellow-billed Pintail 8, PP
Black Vulture ~15, LL UL SI
Turkey Vulture 7, LL UL SI
Greater Yellow-headed Vulture 4, LL UL
Gray-headed Kite 2, LL
Swallow-tailed Kite 13, UL
Double-toothed Kite 1H, UL
Plumbeous Kite 4, UL
Crane Hawk 1, UL
Barred Hawk 1H, UL
Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle 2, PP
Roadside Hawk 6, LL UL SI
Short-tailed Hawk 3, LL UL
White-throated Hawk 1, SI
Variable Hawk 3, PP
Black-and-Chestnut Eagle 2, Gu
Black Caracara 3, LL
Yellow-headed Caracara 2, LL
Lined Forest-Falcon 1, UL
American Kestrel 3, PP
Laughing Falcon 1, LL
Bat Falcon 1, UL
Andean Guan 5, Gu
Sickle-Winged Guan 1, SI
Black-banded Crake 1, LL
Rock Pigeon ?
Band-tailed Pigeon ~25, GR SI
Eared Dove ?
Military Macaw 4, UL two pairs flew over the road near km 10
White-eyed Parakeet 7, UL
Dusky-headed Parakeet 6, LL
Maroon-tailed Parakeet 6, UL
Cobalt-winged Parakeet 4, LL
Blue-headed Parrot 6, UL
Red-billed Parrot ~20, SI
White-capped Parrot 17, GR SI
Scaly-naped Amazon 4, GR
Squirrel Cuckoo 2, UL
Greater Ani 5, LL
Smooth-billed Ani ~10, LL UL
Ciccaba sp. (San Isidro) Owl 1H, SI
Rufous-banded Owl 1H, SI
Rufous-bellied Nighthawk 3, SI
Swallow-tailed Nightjar 2, GR
Lyre-tailed Nightjar 2, SI
White-collared Swift ~50
Chestnut-collared Swift ~30
Spot-fronted Swift 1(maybe more, but I searched this one out), SI this bird was one of a few suspect birds in a large flock of swifts
White-chested Swift ~10, SI
Short-tailed Swift ~30, LL UL
Gray-rumped Swift 5, UL
Neotropical Palm-Swift 4, LL
Tawny-bellied Hermit 1, SI
Green Violetear 1, SI
Sparkling Violetear 2, SI
Fork-tailed Woodnymph 4, UL
Golden-tailed Sapphire 1, LL
Glittering-throated Emerald 1, UL
Speckled Hummingbird 2, Gu
Fawn-breasted Brilliant 4, SI
Ecuadorian Hillstar 2, PP
Shining Sunbeam 5, PP
Mountain Velvetbreast 1, Gu
Great Sapphirewing 1, PP
Bronzy Inca 4, SI
Collared Inca ~10, SI Gu
Buff-winged Starfrontlet 1, Gu
Sword-billed Hummingbird 3, Gu PP
Buff-tailed Coronet ssp. flavescens 2, Gu
Chestnut-breasted Coronet ~15, GR SI Gu
Tourmaline Sunangel ~20, Gu
Glowing Puffleg 1, Gu
Greenish Puffleg 1, GR never seen at feeders, we got this one at a blooming parasitic epiphyte near the antennae parking area
Purple-backed Thornbill 1, PP
Viridian Metaltail 1, PP
Tyrian Metaltail 7, Gu PP
Mountain Avocetbill 1, Gu
Long-tailed Sylph ~10, SI Gu
White-bellied Woodstar 3, SI Gu
Gorgeted Woodstar 2, SI
Golden-headed Quetzal 1, SI
Masked Trogon 3, GR SI
Rufous Motmot 1H, UL
Highland Motmot 2, SI
Coppery-chested Jacamar 2H, UL
Striolated Puffbird 1H, UL
Lemon-throated Barbet 1, UL
Red-headed Barbet 3, UL
Andean Toucanet 2, SI
Golden-collared Toucanet 1H, UL
Chestnut-eared Aracari 2, UL
Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan 2, Gu
Black-billed Mountain Toucan 16, SI this massive flock was seen on the Rock Trail at 5pm...I'd never seen a group so big
Lafresnaye's Piculet 2, UL
Crimson-mantled Woodpecker 4, SI
Golden-olive Woodpecker 3, UL
Lineated Woodpecker 1, SI
Yellow-tufted Woodpecker 8, LL UL
Smoky-brown Woodpecker 2, UL
Red-stained Woodpecker 2, UL
Yellow-vented Woodpecker 1, SI
Powerful Woodpecker 3, GR SI
Bar-winged Cinclodes 4, PP
Stout-billed Cinclodes 2, PP
Andean Tit-Spinetail 1, PP
Azara's Spinetail 1 (many heard), SI
Dark-breasted Spinetail 1 (many heard), UL
Many-striped Canastero 1,PP
Streaked Tuftedcheek 3, GR SI
Pearled Treerunner 6, GR SI Gu
Spotted Barbtail 2, SI
Rusty-winged Barbtail 1, SI
Lineated Foliage-Gleaner 1, SI
Montane Foliage-Gleaner 1, GR
Buff-throated Foliage-Gleaner 1, UL
Ruddy Foliage-Gleaner 2 (both glimpsed), UL
Striped Treehunter 2H, SI
Streak-capped Treehunter 1H, SI
Streaked Xenops 1, UL
Tyrannine Woodcreeper 1, SI
Strong-billed Woodcreeper 1, SI
Olive-backed Woodcreeper 3, SI
Montane Woodcreeper 8, GR SI Gu
Lined Antshrike 2, UL
Stripe-chested Antwren 1H, UL
Ornate Antwren 1H, UL
Long-tailed Antbird 3, SI
Blackish Antbird 2, UL
Moustached Antpitta 1H, GR
Plain-backed Antpitta 3H, UL
Chestnut-crowned Antpitta 2, SI
White-bellied Antpitta 1 (many heard), SI
Rufous Antpitta 1, Gu not listed on Guango's checklist but may have been an oversight?
Tawny Antpitta 3, PP
Slate-crowned Antpitta 3H, GR SI
Peruvian Antpitta 1H, SI
Blackish Tapaculo 1 (many heard), SI
Rufous-vented Tapaculo 3, SI
Northern White-crowned Tapaculo 1, UL
Spillman's Tapaculo 1, GR
Ocellated Tapaculo 1H, GR
Plumbeous-crowned Tyrannulet 1, UL decent looks at a tough bird, verified by playback
Black-capped Tyrannulet 1, PP
Ashy-headed Tyrannulet 2, SI
Golden-faced Tyrannulet 6, UL
Red-billed Tyrannulet 1, UL
White-throated Tyrannulet 2, PP
White-banded Tyrannulet 7, Gu PP
White-tailed Tyrannulet 3, SI
Sulphur-bellied Tyrannulet 2, SI
Torrent Tyrannulet 4, UL SI
Tufted Tit-Tyrant 1, PP
Streak-necked Flycatcher 1, SI
Olive-striped Flycatcher 1, UL
Slaty-capped Flycatcher 1, UL
Rufous-breasted Flycatcher 4, SI
Marble-faced Bristle-Tyrant 2, SI
Variegated Bristle-Tyrant 1, SI
Spectacled Bristle-Tyrant 1, UL
Bronze-olive Pygmy-Tyrant 2, SI
Rufous-crowned Tody-Flycatcher 2 (many heard), SI
Common Tody-Flycatcher 3, UL
Ornate Flycatcher 2, UL
Flavescent Flycatcher 3, SI
Orange-crested Flycatcher 1, UL the first I'd seen in the area...likely overlooked
Olive-chested Flycatcher 1, UL
Handsome Flycatcher 2, SI
Cinnamon Flycatcher ~10, GR SI Gu
Smoke-colored Pewee 3, GR SI
Black Phoebe 5, UL SI
Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant 3, Gu
Yellow-bellied Chat-Tyrant 2, SI
Smoky Bush-Tyrant 1, SI
Cliff Flycatcher 2, UL
Paramo Ground-Tyrant 2, PP
Long-tailed Tyrant 2, UL
Dusky-capped Flycatcher 2, GR SI
Short-crested Flycatcher 2, UL
Pale-edged Flycatcher 2, SI
Boat-billed Flycatcher 3, LL UL
Social Flycatcher ~12, LL UL
Gray-capped Flycatcher 4, LL
Streaked Flycatcher 1, UL
Golden-crowned Flycatcher 4, SI
Piratic Flycatcher 1, UL
Crowned Slaty Flycatcher 1, LL
Tropical Kingbird ?
Yellow-cheeked Becard 1, UL
Barred Becard 3, GR SI
Masked Tityra 6, LL UL
Black-crowned Tityra 2, UL
Green-and-Black Fruiteater 2 (more heard), GR SI
Black-chested Fruiteater 3, SI
Olivaceous Piha 2, SI
Dusky Piha 1, GR
White-bearded Manakin 1, UL
Turquoise Jay 7, GR Gu
Inca Jay ~15, SI Gu
Black-billed Peppershrike 2, SI
Red-eyed Vireo 1, UL
Brown-capped Vireo 4, GR SI
Olivaceous Greenlet 2, UL
Lemon-chested Greenlet 1, UL very surprising to see this bird here, and would not have been counted if not seen quite well
Andean Solitaire 3, SI
Spotted Nightingale-Thrush 1H, GR
Pale-eyed Thrush 2, SI
Great Thrush ?
Glossy-black Thrush 2, SI
Black-billed Thrush 1, LL
Gray-breasted Martin ~10, LL
Brown-bellied Swallow ~20, Gu
Blue-and-White Swallow ~40
Pale-footed Swallow 4, Gu
Southern Rough-winged Swallow ~20, LL UL
Thrush-like Wren 2, UL
Gray-mantled Wren 2, SI a pair seen well (courting) on the Rock Trail in the large flock we were following, and seen below eye level
Sepia-brown Wren 4H, GR SI
Grass Wren 1, PP
Plain-tailed Wren 10H, GR SI Gu
House Wren 2, UL
Mountain Wren 4 (many heard), SI Gu
White-breasted Wood-Wren 1 (more heard), UL
Gray-breasted Wood-Wren 2 (most common voice at San Isidro), GR SI
Wing-banded Wren 2H, UL
Paramo Pipit 1, PP
Tropical Parula 1, UL
Slate-throated Whitestart ?, UL GR SI
Spectacled Whitestart ?, SI Gu PP
Black-crested Warbler 4, SI PP
Citrine Warbler 3, Gu PP
Russet-crowned Warbler 4, SI
Bananaquit ~10, SI Gu
Purple Honeycreeper 7, UL
Green Honeycreeper 6, UL
Golden-collared Honeycreeper 4, SI
Blue Dacnis 3, UL
Black-faced Dacnis 2, UL
Yellow-bellied Dacnis 1, UL
Chestnut-vented Conebill 2, UL a pair seen feeding mid-level near the first rock quarry on the road
Cinereous Conebill 2, Gu PP
Blue-backed Conebill 3, Gu
Capped Conebill 4, SI Gu
Bluish Flowerpiercer ~5, SI
Masked Flowerpiercer ~20, GR SI Gu
Golden-eyed Flowerpiercer 1 (Me only), UL
Glossy Flowerpiercer 3, Gu
Black Flowerpiercer 1, PP
White-sided Flowerpiercer ~5, SI
Fawn-breasted Tanager 1, UL
Blue-naped Chlorophonia 1 (more heard), UL
Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonia 2 (more heard), SI
Thick-billed Euphonia 2, UL
Golden-rumped Euphonia 6, UL
Orange-bellied Euphonia ~10, UL SI
White-vented Euphonia 2, LL
Bronze-green Euphonia 2, UL
Orange-eared Tanager 5, UL SI
Golden Tanager 7, UL
Saffron-crowned Tanager ~20, GR SI
Golden-eared Tanager 2, UL
Flame-faced Tanager 6, GR SI
Golden-naped Tanager 2, SI
Blue-browed Tanager 1 (Me only), GR
Beryl-spangled Tanager ~15, GR SI
Blue-and-Black Tanager 6, GR
Black-capped Tanager 6, GR SI
Blue-necked Tanager 8, UL
Turquoise Tanager 5, UL
Paradise Tanager 12, UL
Green-and-Gold Tanager 6, UL
Spotted Tanager 5, UL
Yellow-bellied Tanager 2, UL
Bay-headed Tanager 4, UL
Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager 5, PP
Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager ~10, SI
Hooded Mountain-Tanager 4, GR
Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager 1, Gu
Grass-green Tanager 4, GR
Rufous-crested Tanager 2, GR SI
Swallow Tanager 4, UL
Blue-gray Tanager ~15, LL UL GR SI
Palm Tanager ~10, LL UL
Silver-beaked Tanager ~20, LL UL
Masked Crimson Tanager 4, LL
White-lined Tanager 2, UL
White-shouldered Tanager 6, UL
Common Bush-Tanager 12, GR SI
Ashy-throated Bush-Tanager 4, SI on the hypothetical list at San Isidro, but was seen regularly for the past two weeks
Yellow-throated Bush-Tanager 4, UL
Yellow-whiskered Bush-Tanager 1, GR
Gray-hooded Bush-Tanager 4, Gu
Superciliaried Hemispingus 1, Gu
Oleaginous Hemispingus 4, SI
Black-eared Hemispingus 10, SI
Magpie Tanager ~10, LL UL
Buff-throated Saltator 3, UL
Grayish Saltator 1, LL
Blue-black Grassquit ?H, LL UL
Lesser Seed-Finch 8, LL UL
Black-and-White Seedeater 4, UL
Yellow-bellied Seedeater ~10, UL
Chestnut-bellied Seedeater ~15, LL UL
Paramo Seedeater 6, PP
Plumbeous Sierra-Finch 5, PP
Ash-breasted Sierra-Finch 1, PP
Pale-naped Brush-Finch 4, PP
Rufous-naped Brush-Finch 2, PP
Yellow-browed Sparrow 4 (many heard), LL UL SI
Rufous-collared Sparrow ?
Yellow-rumped Cacique 12, UL
Northern Mountain-Cacique 8, GR
Subtropical Cacique ~10 (more heard), GR SI
Yellow-billed Cacique ?H, SI
Russet-backed Oropendola ~15, UL SI
Giant Cowbird 2, LL
Olivaceous Siskin 6, UL

Total Species recorded: 319
Total Species seen: 297