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Jon Feenstra reports from NW Ecudaor

February 14: Jon Feenstra reports from NW Ecudaor

I'm freshly back from our week in northwest Ecuador, one of the most accessible havens of bird diversity there can be. Here's a pictorial summary of some of the many highlights of our day trips from home base in Mindo.

On our first day we were shocked and pleased by bumping into one of the world’s rarest hummingbirds, the enigmatic and nearly mythical Black-breasted Puffleg – a first for this tour in its nearly twenty year history. We don’t expect the unexpected, but sometimes it just happens.

Hummingbirds were a theme of this tour. One of the group favorites was Shining Sunbeam – beautiful, but a real jerk to the other hummers at the feeders.

We also visited the reserve run by Angel Paz, the famous Andean farmer turned sneaky-bird taming wizard. He showed us some tough forest birds including the iconic “Maria,” the Giant Antpitta.

Staying in Mindo gave us access to a number of fancy Choco endemics, birds that only occur in the forests of northwest Ecuador and southwest Colombia. Some were really flashy-looking like this Glistening-green Tanager.

Or this more subtle Moss-backed Tanager…

Or the striking Black Solitaire

Sometimes the exotic is a little familiar, like the North American vagrant Sora that was poking around the edge of a cloud forest pond.

Our day trips meant driving through lots of little Ecuadorian towns. And, driving through little Ecuadorian towns meant ice cream breaks (Magnum bars).

The windy roads around Mindo cross the Equator many times. On our last day, about three hundred species later, we took a break from birding and paused at the monument on The Line to see what all the fuss was about.

Posted: February 14, 2023