Birding in the Ecuadorian Andes, Day 2

Day #2

We drove west and uphill thru villages and farms as we exited the sprawl of Quito. After topping a final ridge, we soon arrived at Yanacocha Reserve, situated at 10,500′ altitude.

On the approach to Yanacocha Reserve

In the mist, the Yanacocha Reserve sign

At the Reserve headquarters we found feeding stations and hummingbird feeders. One station had a resident Antpitta:

Tawny Antpitta

Tawny Antpitta

Also at that feeding station we saw Grey-browed and Yellow-breasted Brushfinches and other birds:

Grey-browed Brushfinch

Grey-browed Brushfinch

Yellow-breasted Brushfinch in a Polylepis tree

Yellow-breasted Brushfinch

A Scarlet-bellied Mountain Tanager takes his turn at the banana

Scarlet-bellied Mountain Tanager

At and around the hummingbird feeders:

Buff-winged Starfrontlet

Buff-winged Starfrontlet

Golden-breasted Puffleg

Golden-breasted Puffleg

Great Sapphirewing

Great Sapphirewing

Sapphire-vented Puffleg

Shining Sunbeam

Shining Sunbeam

Glossy Flowerpiercer

Glossy Flowerpiercer

Masked Flowerpiercer

Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant??

After spending considerable time around the feeders, we left on a hike along the Trocha Inca (Inca Trail). Cloud forests are dark, making it difficult to capture satisfactory images. More than birds, I photographed the very interesting vegetation, views of the fog-shrouded hillsides and other details:

Don’t throw trash

Indian paintbrush?


The Poor Man’s Umbrella has leaves 4-5 feet wide

Andean Guan

At a considerable distance, a Black-chested Buzzard Eagle


Hooded Mountain Tanager

Datura family

Poor Man’s Umbrella developing leaf

A side trail

We hiked to the Jardin de Colibris and back along the Trocha Inca. “Colibri” is the Spanish word for hummingbird, while “Quinde” is the Quechua word. “Sendero” is the word for path.

Poor Man’s Umbrella stalks  and fibers

Poor Man’s Umbrella flower


We passed the following two signs along the trail:

Bird sign

Bird sign

This sign was found at one of the hummingbird feeding stations



Poor Man’s Umbrella

A steep and heavily forested ravine

On the return

Lunch at the small restaurant consisted of tasty local foods. Every meal we were served in Ecuador (and here) included a delicious soup.

After lunch, we descended the canyon of the Rio Alambi, completing the Mindo Ecoroute. Our destination for this and two additional nights was Sachatamia Lodge.

When you meet an oncoming vehicle, one or both vehicles back up until a widening of the road is found

Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle.

After taking off, this Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle was pestered by a kestral.

Turquoise Jay. Edwin’s green laser beam is seen illuminating leaves to the right of the bird.

Cecropia platensis, which grows only at a particular elevation

Cecropia platensis. The leaves of this tree are highly reflective, and look white at a distance.

We stopped so that I could photograph the tree seen above, and it was here or close by that we heard activity at a Cock of the Rock lek, below and across the canyon. What is a “lek”? A lek is a location where males of a species gather to perform for one or more females, upon which basis the females choose which male to copulate with, reminiscent of  intercollegiate athletics. Most close at hand observations of this extraordinary-looking bird are made at leks (as would be the case for us on Day #5). This particular lek was known to Edwin, who predicted that eventually the birds would leave the lek and begin to fly around the area. Sure enough, we were soon treated to the sight of these sizable bright-red birds flying back and forth across the canyon, and close to where we had stopped.

The cloud forest

Plate-billed Mountain Toucan

Quito to Sachatamia Lodge by way of the Mindo Ecoroute


Link to Day #3:


About Evensteven

I am a photographer and author, and live in Embudo, New Mexico, alongside the Rio Grande. I have published a book of photography and accompanying text on running the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The first (print) edition is out of print, but a second edition is available as an iBook (eBook) through the iTunes bookstore. All Grand Canyon, river and nature lovers will enjoy my book: The Grand: I have also published six additional iBooks: 1. The Salt River: 2. Coyote Buttes: 3. Four Cornered, the Land: 4. Four Cornered, The Rivers: 5. Rio Marañon: 6. Rio Grande:
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3 Responses to Birding in the Ecuadorian Andes, Day 2

  1. Pingback: Birding in the Ecuadorian Andes, Sept. 26 to Oct. 6, 2017 – #1 | BelieveSteve (StevenRichardMiller)

  2. John B says:

    Steve! Just whipped thru post #2, and I’m starting to feel like I was on the trip with you. Great work! I’m really starting to get psyched. (Enjoyed your comparison of leks to college athletics!)


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