Photos with this report (click to enlarge)
The intent of this report is to help prepare any birder to get the most out of a visit to Playa de Oro in remote northwest Ecuador. In the two weeks prior to our visit we were able to find relatively little information about the specifics of birding at Playa de Oro, despite many references to this premier site for Chocó lowland birds in the Birds of Ecuador Vol. 1. The biggest gap in helpful gen seems to be a lack of trip reports online, with Pete Hosner’s excellent Ecuador report from 2005 being the only relevant, useful report we were able to find. If you are an independent traveler this report should help you in planning your trip to Playa de Oro and whether you are visiting on your own or as part of a guided tour we hope this report, in conjunction with Hosner’s, will give you a good idea of what the birding will be like. This extraordinary site is well worth your time.
I'd like to disclose that I work as a tour leader for Tropical Birding; while I'd love to guide you on your trip to Playa de Oro, this report is not intended to be an advertisement for my company. It is simply intended to provide more information on a fantastic birding site that is a bit off the beaten birding track in Ecuador.
All recordings included in this report are archived at xeno-canto; videos are archived at the Internet Bird Collection. Both of these excellent websites are free.
Making the necessary reservations and travel arrangements turned out to be far easier than we expected. All of the information needed to visit the Playa de Oro Reserve can be found on the website touchthejungle.org. You can make your reservation by contacting Tracy Wilson (firstname.lastname@example.org), who I believe is the international liaison for Earthways Foundation, the nonprofit that supports the Playa de Oro. Alternatively you can get in touch with Ramiro Buitron in Otavalo by calling him at his family’s hotel 06-292-0990 or on his cel phone 09-960-6918. Either way, the message is going to be relayed to the lodge through Ramiro, who seems to be the sole point of contact between the lodge and the rest of the world. Ramiro communicates with the lodge once a week by radio and also transfers most of the guests to and from the lodge. There are many travel options given on the website, but if you are coming from Quito, using Ramiro’s shuttle service is certainly the most time-efficient. Leaving Quito in the early morning we were able to make it to the lodge in time for a late lunch. You really can make it to almost any place in Ecuador from Quito within a single day!
If you choose to travel with Ramiro to Selva Alegre, you just need to make it to Otavalo by about 8am and from there Ramiro will drive you (with breathtaking speed) through Ibarra, down the Rio Mira valley past Lita to the coast road from San Lorenzo to Esmeraldas. Eventually cutting back inland, you’ll drive an hour along the road to Selva Alegre, a little town situated on the Rio Santiago. At $100 each way, this service is not cheap, but if time is really worth more than money (and I think it is to most travelers) than this service is still a good value. Otavalo is 2-3 hours north of Quito, depending on traffic, and is easily reached by an army of public buses. This easy access is facilitated at least in part by the exaggerated fame of the city’s handicrafts market among dude tourists. Taking the bus is easy from Quito’s main bus terminal in the old town or by simply waiting just about anywhere on Avenida Occidental. (We usually catch buses at Occidental & Carvajal near El Bosque shopping center or sometimes at Occidental & Mañosca. Note that Av. Occidental is usually marked as Av. Mariscal Sucre on signs and sometimes maps.) If you even slightly resemble a tourist, bus drivers bound for Otavalo with any room at all are accustomed to slow down and ask if this is in fact your destination. At any rate, to avoid confusion, most buses usually have the names of their destinations posted on the front window. If you do wind up taking a public bus to Otavalo, our only counsel is that you keep an eye on your belongings at all times while on board. The fare should be $2-3. You can arrange with Ramiro ahead of time where you will meet him but we left it that we would just give him a call when we got into town and he came and picked us up at the bus stop. It’s worth noting that some buses from Quito will actually drive into the Otavalo bus terminal while others (usually with a final destination farther north such as Ibarra or Tulcán) will merely leave you at a roadside bus stop along the Panamerican Highway on their way through town.
Once at Selva Alegre we met up with Julio the skipper from Playa de Oro who transports guests up and down the Rio Santiago in a motorized dugout canoe, much like the canoes used in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The river is swift and a few times during the week we were splashed by light spray as we passed through rapids. Also the canoe will likely take on a small amount of water (this is normal) during the journey; this means anything sitting on the floor of the boat will likely get wet. So anything you would prefer to keep dry should be stowed in the bow under the tarp with the luggage. If you keep a camera with you onboard, be prepared to cover it as you go through patches of light whitewater.
Be aware that the only way to pay for your stay is in cash (USD, bills no larger than $20). It seems the usual procedure is to pay the total balance in the town on the departure day, either to the community treasurer or to Julio the boatman. A small fuel fee is charged for traveling by canoe to some of the trails, and this will be added onto the price of accommodations. All of this information is on the touchthejungle.org website as well.
Finally, if you are keen to visit Playa de Oro but not so ambitious that you want to go on your own, it's possible to go as part of an organized birding trip. There are probably several companies that can make the arrangements for you, but in order to get the most out of your trip I'd recommend using a well-known and experienced company that is based in Ecuador, such as Tropical Birding.
Length of Stay
Not really knowing what to expect and, after reading Hosner’s report, a bit apprehensive that there wouldn’t be enough trails for four full days at the reserve, we nevertheless booked a five-night stay. This turned out to be a good amount of time and I would recommend it for independent travelers that really want to get to know the surrounding area. On our four full mornings we hiked four different trails and got the impression that we could have repeated one or two of those and also that there were probably other trails available. If you are also visiting Jocotoco’s Canandé Reserve or other lowland sites with good extensive forest you might choose only a three or four night stay and concentrate on the local specialties.
The lodge is an uninspired old dormitory-type building built, briefly used, and subsequently abandoned by a team of gold prospectors a couple of decades back. It is actually quite comfortable and rather well-maintained for a rough wood building in the rainforest. Some rooms share bathrooms, which is not really a big deal in a setting like this. There is no hot water, something that irritates me in all but the steamiest of settings, but it seemed totally appropriate here given the climate of the lowland Chocó rainforest. We found that when it hadn’t rained in a day or so we had to shower in the first floor bathroom since there seemed to be not enough pressure to get water up the shower in the bathroom next to our second-floor bedroom. The lodge has a solar power generator with a power strip for battery chargers and other essential appliances located in the library. There is also just enough electricity for ceiling lights in the kitchen, dining room, and library. Rooms are equipped with candles and of course, mosquito nets. Drinking water is boiled (actually tastes good) and is always available in the dining room. There is a pitcher to take back to your room.
Let’s start by just laying it out there: this is not easy birding. The forest is very tall and there is no canopy tower. The trails are muddy, roughly cut, and in places steep. Many of the forest birds are secretive and the understory flocks sometimes pass in the blink of an eye. Should this make you not want to go? By all means no! It just means you should have reasonable expectations when you get there and do as much preparation as you can beforehand, especially in learning vocalizations. We birded perhaps 90% by ear during our stay, and relied on sound to find many of our target species.
11/23 – Arrived in time for a late lunch, after seeing Osprey and Great Blue Heron (a rare boreal migrant) on the river trip. Bellies full we spent the last couple hours of the afternoon walking on the Paila Trail (upstream behind the lodge) as far as the first stream crossing. Black-striped Woodcreeper and Scarlet-rumped Caciques were common in the canopy and Tawny-crested Tanagers were abundant in the lower levels. Saw our first Spotted Antbird.
11/24 – It rained overnight and into the morning. After 05:30 breakfast Julio and Jorge the boatmen took us across the river to the Peñon del Santo Trail, which starts just opposite the lodge. For the first hour or so it was wet and we didn’t see much more than a couple of poisonous snakes! (These were just babies and we never saw a full-sized pit viper while at the reserve but it’s worth noting that there certainly is a healthy snake population here.) After the rain dried up we got our first Streak-chested Antpitta (they proved to be common, vocal, and easy to see during our stay) and a pair of Olive-backed Quail-Doves. A pair of Song Wrens responded well to a bit of speculatory tape broadcast but we never detected this species again; seems they were not singing spontaneously. Our first Sapayoa was in a flock about halfway along the trail. We first picked it up by sound as it gave its soft call note. (Taxonomy trivia: Sapayoa is now classified in the same family as the Old World Broadbills?) Ocellated Antbird was heard but did not come in well to tape, responding much like a Phlegopsis, doing wide circles around us, staying hidden in vegetation and never coming close enough to see more than a fleeting shape. White-tipped Sicklebill showed well. Arriving at the upstream end of the trail a little ahead of schedule we tracked down a displaying Red-capped Manakin nearby and had a brilliant eye level view. As arranged the guys picked us up at 1pm and we headed back to the lodge for Lunch, finding a lonely Laughing Gull perched on a gravel bar en route. Late afternoon took a short spin on the Pueblo Trail (downstream behind the lodge) and found the first Lemon-spectacled Tanager of the week. Also saw Dagua Thrush nicely; they were common and singing persistently at dawn and dusk during our stay. Got better views of Olive-backed Quail-Dove and just before dusk Chocó Poorwill started calling. (Listen to my recording here.) It responded to a couple of phrases of tape by flying toward us and settling on a branch in the understory. No spotlight required as there was still enough light to see!
11/25 – This morning we went up to the Cascada Trail. There is a steep ascent of 100m vertical along the first section of trail, and we found Chestnut-headed Oropendolas and Stripe-billed Araçaris in the trees overhead. Once on top of the ridge we found ourselves in spectacular old growth forest with some simply tremendous trees. Our first pair of Tawny-faced Quails flushed off the trail along this stretch and we found more Lemon-spectacled Tanagers flocking with Tawny-crested Tanagers. I was excited to get a good recording of the strange call note of the Lemon-spectacled Tanager - listen here. We walked all the way to the beautiful waterfall at the end of the trail, where we had a snack and spotted a pair of Great Green Macaws flying overhead. Returning, we found a great antswarm on the relatively flat stretch with the oldest forest, and spent nearly two hours watching the drama. 10+ Bicolored Antbirds, several Ocellateds, a handful of Spotteds , a Spot-crowned Antvireo, and a few Plain-brown and Northern Barred-Woodcreepers were active throughout the time we watched. (I took some video of Ocellated and Bicolored Antbirds at the swarm.) I played tape for Neomorphus and Pittasoma occasionally throughout, but never got an answer and never detected anything different. Soon we found ourselves late for lunch and almost had to run back to the boat landing. (It’s an out-and-back trail.) We found a Baudó Guan in a tree as we turned to leave the antswarm. Spotted Green-and-rufous Kingfisher flying across the river on the way back for lunch. In the afternoon I walked very slowly around the short loop trail near the lodge and had great closeup studies of Streak-chested Antpitta and Scaly-breasted (Southern Nightingale) Wren. I held still as the wren foraged on the ground, walking toward me on the muddy trail like a tiny rail, bobbing its tail a bit as it crept along, poking under fallen leaves and hopping into and out of rubber boot footprints. I kept very still and the bird walked to within about two feet of my boot before a soft noise behind me caught my attention and I turned just in time to see a Berlepsch’s Tinamou walk across the trail! Three Olive-backed Quail-Doves were settling down to roost nearby.
11/26 – This morning we gave Mercedes and Gloria (the kitchen staff) a break by taking a 6am breakfast and then set out along the Pueblo Trail. We probably walked only half of it during the course of the morning. The forest is a little more secondary here (but not much) and we found canopy flocks slightly easier to observe. Blue-whiskered Tanager, Scarlet-and-white Tanager, Slate-throated Gnatcatcher, and Gray-and-gold Tanager were among the best birds seen, while Scarlet-breasted Dacnis and Five-colored Barbet remained heard-only. A Veniliornis moving with one flock was almost certainly Chocó Woodpecker. On this trail we found our first Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, a male visiting a flowering Psychotria (“Hot Lips”). In the afternoon we rode in the canoe as Julio and Jorge went far upstream (beyond the Cascada and Angostura Trails) to set some nets for fish. A Fasciated Tiger-Heron hunting in the rapids made for a beautiful sight and we were excited to spot a male Black-tipped Cotinga overflying the river. After they had set their nets, we just drifted back downstream, shot the breeze with Julio, and enjoyed the scenery. There were five species of swifts foraging over the river in front of the lodge: Chestnut-colored, White-collared, Lesser Swallow-tailed, Chimney, and Band-rumped (the most common swift every day).
11/27 – In talking with Julio the night before we mentioned hadn’t yet run into any monkeys in the forest and he suggested we try the Angostura Trail, upstream of the lodge roughly opposite the Cascada Trail. It turned out to be an excellent choice. The trail first climbs from the riverbank up to a flatter area and as we covered the uphill stretch there was a great canopy flock moving overhead, with Five-colored Barbets, Chocó Woodpeckers, Scarlet-browed Tanagers, Rufous-winged Tanagers, and other stuff. At the flat area at the top of the uphill stretch but before the ravine-like stream crossing I lucked into a Golden-chested Tanager in the canopy as we were returning for lunch. On the other side of the stream the trail runs up, up, and up along a ridge. We climbed to 200m higher than the lodge. Tawny-faced Quail showed well, flushing up onto a low branch and at our turnaround point we found 3-4 very nervous Crested Guans. Only lunch made us turn back; this trail goes on and on and apparently might take you all the way to the Rio Cayapas if you had the desire. We saw Sapayoa again along this trail, this time in a flock with Tawny-crowned Greenlets and a Green Manakin, among others. We also had fantastic encounters with both Mantled Howler Monkeys and a family group of very rare Brown-headed Spider Monkeys. The spider monkeys were very agitated by our presence and obviously hadn’t had too much previous contact with humans. I never imagined seeing Ateles in west Ecuador and this was one of the biggest thrills of the whole week for both of us. The habitat along this trail seemed perfect for Pittasoma and I trawled a lot but never detected a response. It’s worth mentioning that there are several species that have somewhat similar calls to that of the antpitta, most notably Tawny-faced Gnatwren. Listen carefully.
11/28 – We took an hour or so on the Paila Trail before breakfast, again walking as far as the first stream crossing. There were a couple of Stub-tailed Antbird territories and with difficulty we managed brief looks at one of the birds. This bird is certainly one of the most uncooperative antbirds when you are trying to coax one into view with playback. We got a final look at Sapayoa, this time moving with Tawny-crested and Lemon-spectacled Tanagers. And the last new bird was a female Lita Woodpecker moving in a loose flock with Cinnamon and Black-cheeked Woodpeckers. Interestingly, we never heard Lita Woodpecker once during the week and this was our only encounter; I was surprised to not see more. After breakfast we said goodbye to the kitchen staff and headed downriver. We stopped in at the Playa de Oro community to see the village itself, and Julio showed us around. It really is a tidy little place. There are cabins at the edge of town that you can stay in instead of the lodge upstream, but perhaps for serious birders the lodge would be the best choice for its quiet, more secluded setting. Then it was back in the canoes and down to Selva Alegre where Ramiro was waiting to drive us back to Otavalo.
Annotated List of Species Observed
Great Tinamou Tinamus major – 2 flushed off trail behind lodge 11/26. Also heard on other occasions.
Berlepsch’s Tinamou Crypturellus berlepschi – seen on trail behind lodge at dusk on 11/25.
Little Tinamou Crypturellus soui H
Guans, Curassows, etc.
Baudó Guan Penelope ortoni – 1 sighting, Cascada Trail 11/25. Confiding and seemingly unafraid.
Crested Guan Penelope purpurascens – a group of 3-4 birds seen on the high sections of Angostura Trail, 11/27. Extremely wary of our presence.
New World Quails
Tawny-faced Quail Rhynchortyx cinctus – commonly encountered in pairs inside mature forest. Pairs usually responded by fluttering a short distance and then running away on ground but once a pair flushed by flying a longer distance, and the male perched up on a low branch and remained motionless for several minutes.
Neotropic Cormorant Phalacrocorax brasilianus – common on river.
Herons & Egrets
Fasciated Tiger-Heron Tigrisoma fasiatum – adult seen far upstream of lodge, beyond Cascada & Angostura trails.
Snowy Egret Egretta thula – common on river.
Little Bue Heron Egretta caerula – several sightings on river.
Striated Heron Butorides striatus – seen once on river.
New World Vultures
Black Vulture Coragyps atratus
Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura
Osprey Pandion haliaetus – perhaps the same individual seen every day on river.
Hawks, Kites, & Eagles
Plumbeous Kite Ictinia plumbea – 1 sighting of a perched individual on Cascada Trail, 11/25.
Plumbeous Hawk Leucopternis plumbeus H – heard 11/27 at the start of the Angostura Trail.
Roadside Hawk Buteo magnirostris – seen once beside river.
Rails, Gallinules, etc.
Uniform Crake Amaurolimnas concolor H – heard once after dark behind the lodge.
Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularia – seen every day on river.
Laughing Gull Leucophaeus atricilla – a single bird seen perched on a gravel bar near the lodge.
Pigeons & Doves
Scaled Pigeon Patagioenas fasciata – 2 birds seen by the river on 11/25.
Ruddy Pigeon Patagioenas subvinacea H – heard only once.
Dusky Pigeon Patagioenas goodsoni – abundant in canopy of forest.
Pallid Dove Leptotila pallida – commonly seen flying across the river, also heard a few times.
Olive-backed Quail-Dove Geotrygon veraguensis – seen 11/24 & 11/25 on Peñon del Santo Trail and behind the lodge. Not heard vocalizing during our stay.
Great Green Macaw Ara ambigua – a flyover pair seen 11/25 on Cascada Trail. Heard most days.
Rose-faced Parrot Pyrilia pulchra – seen perched 11/27 across the river from the lodge. Heard most days in flight.
Blue-headed Parrot Pionus menstruus – seen or heard every day.
Bronze-winged Parrot Pionus chalcopterus – seen 11/26 perched in canopy above Pueblo Trail.
Red-lored Parrot Amazona autumnalis H – what was believed to be this species was heard on the Paila Trail on the afternoon of 11/23.
Mealy Parrot Amazona farinosa – abundant and observed in numbers each day.
Squirrel Cuckoo Piaya cayana H
Chocó Poorwill Nyctiphrynus rosenbergi – seen & heard 11/24 behind the lodge just before dusk. Recording here.
White-collared Swift Streptoprocne zonaris – observed every day.
Chestnut-collared Swift Streptoprocne rutilus – seen 11/26 over the river with other swifts.
Chimney Swift Chaetura pelagica – seen 11/26 over the river with other swifts.
Band-rumped Swift Chaetura spinicauda – abundant, observed every day.
Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift Panyptila cayennensis – a pair seen over the lodge 11/26.
Band-tailed Barbthroat Threnetes ruckeri – seen 11/24 on Peñon del Santo Trail.
White-whiskered Hermit Phaethornis yaruqui – abundant inside forest.
Stripe-throated Hermit Phaethornis striigularis – seen 11/24 on Peñon del Santo Trail.
White-tipped Sicklebill Eutoxeres aquila – seen 11/24 on Peñon del Santo Trail.
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird Amazilia tzacatl – seen 11/23 near lodge.
Purple-chested Hummingbird Amazilia rosenbergi – seen 11/24 on Pueblo Trail & 11/25 on Cascada Trail.
Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer Chalybura urochrysia – seen 11/26 on Pueblo Trail and 11/27 on Angostura Trail
Purple-crowned Fairy Heliothryx barroti – seen 11/25 & 11/27 near lodge.
Blue-tailed (Chocó) Trogon Trogon comptus H
White-tailed Trogon Trogon viridis chionurus H
Black-throated Trogon Trogon rufus – common inside forest.
Ringed Kingfisher Megaceryle torquata – fairly common along river.
Green Kingfisher Chloroceryle americana – fairly common along river.
Green-and-rufous Kingfisher Chloroceryle inda – two sightings along river.
Broad-billed Motmot Electron platyrhunchum H
Rufous-tailed Jacamar Galbula ruficauda H – heard once near lodge.
Barred Puffbird Nystalus radiatus H – heard once at the start of the Angostura Trail.
White-whiskered Puffbird Malacoptila panamensis – fairly common inside forest.
New World Barbets
Five-colored Barbet Capito quinticolor – heard 11/26 on Pueblo Trail, a pair seen 11/27 with a canopy flock near the start of Angostura Trail.
Collared (Stripe-billed) Araçari Pteroglossus torquatus erythropygius – fairly common.
Chocó Toucan Ramphastos brevis – fairly common.
Black-mandibled (Chestnut-mandibled) Toucan Ramphastos ambiguus swainsonii – fairly common.
Lita Woodpecker Piculus litae – surprisingly only encountered once, a female moving with a mixed flock of other woodpeckers 11/28 on the Paila Trail. I got a soft recording of its strange shrieking call; you can listen here.
Cinnamon Woodpecker Celeus loricatus – fairly common in canopy.
Black-cheeked Woodpecker Melanerpes pucherani – common at edge and in canopy.
Red-rumped Woodpecker Veniliornis kirkii – a very vocal pair observed every day around lodge clearing.
Chocó Woodpecker Veniliornis chocoensis – what was presumed to be this species was seen accompanying canopy mixed flocks on the Pueblo Trail 11/26 (single) and the Angostura Trail 11/27 (pair). Birds were silent and unresponsive to tape of V. kirkii.
Guayaquil Woodpecker Campephilus gayaquilensis H – what was believed to be this species was heard drumming 11/24 on Peñon del Santo Trail.
Sapayoa Sapayoa aenigma – fairly common but often inconspicuous in mixed understory flocks on all trails. Often accompanied by Tawny-crowned Greenlets.
Slaty Spinetail Synallaxis brachyura – present around the lodge clearing.
Striped (Western) Woodhaunter Hyloctistes subulatus assimilis – abundant inside forest.
Ruddy Foliage-gleaner Automolus rubiginosus H – heard only once.
Plain Xenops Xenops minutus – a couple of sightings.
Tawny-breasted Leaftosser Sclerurus guatemalensis H – heard once 11/27 on Angostura Trail.
Plain-brown Woodcreeper Dendrocincla fulinosa – seen once at antswarm 11/25 on Cascada Trail.
Wedge-billed Woodcreeper Glyphorynchus spirurus – fairly common inside forest.
Northern Barred-Woodcreeper Dendrocolaptes sanctithomae – seen once at antswarm 11/25 on Cascada Trail.
Black-striped Woodcreeper Xiphorhynchus lachrymosus – fairly common in canopy.
Spotted Woodcreeper Xiphorhynchus erythropygius – seen once 11/25 on Cascada Trail.
Streak-headed Woodcreeper Lepidocolaptes souleyetii H – heard just once 11/23 near lodge.
Great Antshrike Taraba major H – heard 11/26 near lodge.
Western Slaty-Antshrike Thamnophilus atrinucha – seemed uncommon inside forest.
Spot-crowned Antvireo Dysithamnus puncticeps – fairly common inside forest, 1 seen attending an antswarm 11/25 on Cascada Trail.
Moustached (Griscom’s) Antwren Myrmotherula i. ignota H – seemingly not uncommon with canopy flocks.
Pacific Antwren Myrmotherula pacifica H – heard only in edgy habitat beside river.
Checker-throated Antwren Myrmotherula fulviventris – fairly common in forest.
White-flanked Antwren Myrmotherula axillaries – abundant inside forest.
Dot-winged Antwren Microrhopias quixensis H – heard once 11/27 on the high ridge on Angostura Trail.
Dusky Antbird Cercomacra tyrannina H – heard each morning near lodge.
Spotted Antbird Hylophylax naevioides – common inside forest. I took an interesting recording of a soft peeping call that a female was giving at the big antswarm we encountered on the Cascada Trail. You can listen here.
Immaculate Antbird Myrmeciza immaculata H – heard just once, 11/25 on Cascada Trail.
Chestnut-backed Antbird Myrmeciza exsul – common inside forest.
Stub-tailed Antbird Myrmeciza berlepschi – fairly common, especially along streams. Surprisingly hard to see.
Bicolored Antbird Gymnopithys leucaspis – commonly encountered at antswarms and away from them. Video here.
Ocellated Antbird Phaenostictus mcleannani – fairly common at antwarms; recorded each of the four full days. Video here.
Black-headed Antthrush Formicarius nigricapillus – fairly common inside forest.
Streak-chested Antpitta Hylopezus perspicillatus – common inside forest, mostly seen on ground. I got a recording of the alarm call - listen here.
Sooty-headed Tyrannulet Phyllomyias griseiceps
Brown-capped Tyrannulet Ornithion brunneicapillum H – fairly common in canopy.
Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet Tyrannulus elatus
Olive-striped Flycatcher Mionectes olivaceus – fairly common but inconspicuous inside forest.
Black-capped Pygmy-Tyrant Myiornis atricapillus H
Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher Todirostrum nigriceps
Common Tody-Flycatcher Todirostrum cinereum
Pacific Flatbill Rhynchocyclus pacificus H – heard only but two nests found.
Golden-crowned Spadebill Platyrinchus coronatus – fairly common inside forest. Recording here.
Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher Terenotriccus erythrurus H
Black Phoebe Sayornis nigricans – one sighting along river.
Long-tailed Tyrant Colonia colonus – seen every day around the lodge.
Rufous Mourner Rhytipterna holerythra – encountered just twice in forest.
Boat-billed Flycatcher Megarynchus pitangua H
Social Flycatcher Myiozetes similes
Rusty-margined Flycatcher Myiozetetes cayanensis
Gray-capped Flycatcher Myiozetetes granadensis
White-ringed Flycatcher Conopias albovittata H – heard several times with canopy flocks.
Piratic Flycatcher Legatus leucophaiu
Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus
Snowy-throated Kingbird Tyrannus niveigularis
Rufous Piha Lipaugus unirufus – common inside forest.
Black-tipped Cotinga Carpodectes hopkei – a male seen once flying over the river far upstream of the lodge beyond Cascada & Angostura Trails on 11/26.
Purple-throated Fruitcrow Querula purpurata H – heard 11/24 on Peñon del Santo Trail.
Red-capped Manakin Pipra mentalis – common inside forest.
Blue-crowned Manakin Lepidothrix coronata – abundant inside forest. I took a good recording of a female calling - you can listen here> .
White-bearded Manakin Manacus manacus – a lek near the lodge was active every day.
Tityras & Allies
Masked Tityra Tityra semifasciata
Black-crowned Tityra Tiryra inquisitor
Thrush-like Schiffornis Schiffornis turdinus H – heard 11/26 on Pueblo Trail.
Cinnamon Becard Pachyramphus cinnamomeus
White-winged Becard Pachyramphus polychopterus – a male that appeared to be this species was seen near the lodge on 11/27. This would be a surprising record given the low elevation.
One-colored Becard Pachyramphus homochrouous
Vireos & Allies
Slaty-capped Shrike-Vireo Vireolanius leucotis H
Red-eyed Vireo Vireo olivaceus
Lesser Greenlet Hylophilus decurtatus
Tawny-crowned Greenlet Hylophilus ochraceiceps – heard every day inside forest but difficult to actually see.
Swallows & Martins
Brown-chested Martin Progne tapera – seen 11/23 over the river downstream of Playa de Oro.
Gray-breasted Martin Progne chalybea – seen only over the river.
Blue-and-white Swallow Notiochelidon cyanoleuca
White-thighed Swallow Neochelidon tibialis
Southern Rough-winged Swallow stelgidopteryx ruficollis
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica – common over the river.
Bay Wren Thryothorus nigricapillus – fairly common at forest edge and along streams.
Stripe-throated Wren Thryothorus leucopogon – fairly common inside forest, usually difficult to see.
House Wren Troglodytes aedon
White-breasted Wood-Wren Henicorhina leucophrys chocoensis – common inside forest.
Song Wren Cyphorhinus phaeocephalus – encountered only once, a pair on the Peñon del Santo Trail. Not vocal during our visit.
Scaly-breasted Wren Microcerculus marginatus – common inside forest.
Gnatcatchers & Gnatwrens
Tawny-faced Gnatwren Microbates cinereiventris – fairly common in forest understory.
Slate-throated Gnatcatcher Polioptila schistaceigula – twice observed with canopy flocks.
White-throated (Dagua) Thrush Turdus assimilis daguae – common inside forest and heard singing each day at dawn and dusk. I took a recording of the call note - listen here.
Tanagers & Allies
Scarlet-breasted Dacnis Dacnis berlepschi H – heard with a canopy flock on the Pueblo Trail.
Scarlet-and-white Tanager Erythrothlypis salmoni – encountered once with a canopy flock on the Pueblo Trail.
Gray-and-gold Tanager Tangara palmeri – observed 11/26 with a canopy flock on the Pueblo Trail.
Blue-necked Tanager Tangara cyanicollis
Blue-whiskered Tanager Tangara johannae – observed 11/26 with a canopy flock on the Pueblo Trail.
Rufous-winged Tanager Tangara lavinia – twice encountered in canopy flocks.
Golden-chested Tanager Bangsia rothschildi – encountered just once on the Angostura Trail, 11/27.
Blue-gray Tanager Thraupis episcopus
Palm Tanager Thraupis palmarum
Flame-rumped (Lemon-rumped) Tanager Ramphocelus flammigerus icteronotus
Summer Tanager Piranga rubra H
Lemon-spectacled Tanager Chlorothraupis olivacea – found to be fairly common, often moving singly or in pairs with understory flocks of Tawny-crested Tanagers. Quite inconspicuous and easy to miss if not giving its distinctive squeaky call. Recording here.
Tawny-crested Tanager Tachyphonus delatrii – abundant inside forest. Recording here.
Scarlet-browed Tanager Heterospingus xanthopygius – observed 11/27 with canopy flock on Angostura Trail.
Bananaquit Coereba flaveola
Buff-throated Saltator Saltator maximus
Slate-colored Grosbeak Saltator grossus H
Thick-billed Seed-Finch Oryzoborus funereus – regular around the lodge.
Variable Seedeater Sporophila corvina
Orange-billed Sparrow Arremon aurantiirostris – fairly common inside forest.
Buff-rumped Warbler Phaeothlypis fulvicauda – common along river and streams.
New World Blackbirds
Scarlet-rumped Cacique Cacicus microrhynchus
Chestnut-headed Oropendola Zarhynchus wagleri – twice encountered moving through canopy with groups of Scarlet-rumped Caciques.
Giant Cowbird Molothrus oryzivorus – a flyby on 11/24.
Thick-billed Euphonia Euphonia laniirostris
Orange-bellied Euphonia Euphonia xanthogaster
White-vented Euphonia Euphonia minuta H – heard twice near the lodge.
Fulvous-vented Euphonia Euphonia fulvicrissa H – what sounded like this species was heard 11/26 on the Pueblo Trail.