Southern Ecuador Hummingbird Extravaganza Aug 27—Sep 07, 2017
Posted by Paul Greenfield
This, our first Southern Ecuador Hummingbird Extravaganza, was designed as a sequel to our original Northern Hummingbird “hit” that has become so popular, but set this time in the diverse and fascinating southern regions of Ecuador. Our enthusiastic team experienced and enjoyed these living jewels in all their splendor. We bore witness to their unique and dizzying behavior; we gained knowledge of many aspects of the distinct ecosystems they inhabit and their habitats; and we encountered many “other” bird species that share their intriguing world. This itinerary took us from the coastal wetlands, up the west Andean slope to the high tundra-like páramo zone, down over the eastern slope of the Andes to the Amazonian foothills and back up to high temperate-zone forest, before descending again to the deciduous forests of the Tumbesian endemic bioregion, and finally to rich western foothill cloud forests. Our hummer-quest included some real “hunting” to locate several of the more elusive species “in the wild,” while others were enjoyed at leisure, at a variety of nectar feeding stations at several lodges and sites.
Highlights were many and varied. As we reached the cool, high temperate zone and colder páramo at El Cajas National Park on our first afternoon—after enjoying some coastal wetland birding in the morning—we “struck gold,” calling in the local endemic Violet-throated Metaltail rather quickly. Further up the road we came upon several pairs of Tit-like Dacnis before spotting a male Ecuadorian Hillstar atop his favored Chuquiragua shrub, and shortly after that, a pair of Blue-mantled Thornbills came to check us out…nice for starters! Copalinga Lodge, set in the Amazonian foothills, offered a feast of hummers, tanagers, and other surprises. A male Spangled Coquette, Wire-crested Thorntails, and Violet-headed Hummingbirds showed up at flowering Verbena shrubs by the parking lot, and nectar and plantain feeders we watched from the dining area (including a few set up on the bar!) were constantly entertaining—Green and Gray-chinned hermits, Sparkling Violetear, Fork-tailed Woodnymph, Many-spotted Hummingbird, Violet-fronted Brilliant, Glittering-throated Emerald, and Golden-tailed Sapphire, along with Green-and-gold and Golden-eared tanagers and Green Honeycreepers, came in regularly. We finally spotted Black-throated Brilliant sneaking in to a hidden feeder nearby. We enjoyed nice looks at the rather scarce Gray Tinamou that came to a forest corn feeder—and it would be criminal to forget the incredible Paradise, Golden, and Orange-throated tanagers we encountered along the road—excellent! We took a detour on our long drive towards Tapichalaca Reserve to Cerro Toledo, cold and so windy we could hardly open the van doors! It was not in vain though, as we scored nice looks at a male Rainbow-bearded Thornbill, even in that crazy wind.
Read Paul’s full report in his Field List.