Birding in the Ecuadorian Andes, Day 5

Day #5

On our last day of birding out of Sachatamia Lodge, our first destination was a very early morning visit to the Cock of the Rock lek, at the extraordinary Refugio Paz de las Aves, created by Angel Paz and his family. We met Angel beside the road, and were led a short ways downhill to the blind. And there they were – these crazy-looking birds!

We then continued to the Refuge’s main site, from where we followed a path downhill to the Antpitta “pit”. This was one of a number of feeding sites where the Paz family had succeeded in training Antpittas to respond to a whistled signal, for a reward of worms. Particular birds had been named, e.g. Maria, Susanita, Shakira.

One of Angel’s brothers tosses worms into the cleared area

The first bird to show was the Great Antpitta.

Great Antpitta

Great Antpitta, with worm

Why are these birds called Antpittas? Do they eat ants? Edwin said no, they don’t. Rather, they follow ant swarms to catch the critters that are flushed-out by the ants. The next bird to appear was the Moustached Antpitta.

Moustached Antpitta

Other sites were close by, producing 5 species of Antpittas in all.

Ocher-breasted Antpitta

Yellow-breasted Antpitta

The Chestnut-crowned Antpitta was my favorite.

Chestnut-crowned Antpitta

Chestnut-crowned Antpitta

Chestnut-crowned Antpitta

Chestnut-crowned Antpitta

How can you top the Cocks of the Rock,  followed by the Antpittas? This is how:

Crimson-rumped Toucanet

Crimson-rumped Toucanet

Crimson-rumped Toucanet

Crimson-rumped Toucanet pair

The Toucanets were followed by the Toucan Barbets.

Toucan Barbet pair

Toucan Barbet pair

Toucan Barbet

The price of admission to Paz de las Aves (paid by Road Scholar) included a breakfast of local foods served to us at tables placed close to the banana feeding station. Guess what that included? That’s right – coffee! Boy, were we getting spoiled.

As was the case at the Mirador Rio Blanco, Edwin had to tear us away from this extraordinary place, but not before we bought caps and/or painted Antpitta carvings and/or illustrated buffs and/or illustrated cups.

We returned to Sachatamia, had lunch, packed our bags, and spent some final minutes at the feeders.

Blue-winged Mountain Tanager

Blue-winged Mountain Tanager

Booted Rackettail

Booted Rackettail


Purple-bibbed Whitetip

Violet-tailed Sylph

Violet-tailed Sylph

Violet-tailed Sylph

We left Sachatamia Lodge (thanks!), and made one more stop before driving east and out of the Mindo cloud forest. That was at the Alambi Bird Garden, which we had passed when we first arrived into the Mindo area. It’s located alongside the Rio Alambi at Tandayapa, at the junction of the Ecoroute and the main highway.

Purple-throated Woodstar (juv) ?

Sparkling Violetear

Tawny-bellied Hermit

White-necked Jacobin

White-necked Jacobin

White-winged Brushfinch

White-capped Dipper


Brown Violetear

Buff-throated Saltator

Another day of spectacular birds!

Here is a video of the feeders at Alambi.



We crossed the Equator (“Mitad del Mundo”) on the return to the Quito area, at the town of Calacali. Cloud-shrouded and at an elevation of 9940′, it was chilly there. We continued to the south of Quito, to the Hacienda La Carriona, in the Chillos Valley, where we would spend the night. Suffice it to say, it was quite a place. We would leave from there the next morning for the paramo (high-altitude tundra) and Volcan Antisana.

H. La Carriona is seen at the bottom of the map, south and east of Quito

Hacienda La Carriona

Volcan Antisana


Link to Day #6:


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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8 Responses to Birding in the Ecuadorian Andes, Day 5

  1. Jim Emenegger says:

    Fabulous cock-of-the-rock pics, Steve! And Antpittas, Toucanets, & Barbets, oh my!


  2. Charles Loeffler says:

    Your outstanding photos and commentary helped us to relive the great time we had.
    What a wonderful group to be with for 10 days in Ecuador.
    Charles and Ginger


  3. claudia says:

    Grateful Karen passed this along to us. Wonderful! Claudia


  4. John B says:

    Excellent work. I’m so looking forward to our trip in January. I wonder if we can expect to see the same variety of birds as your group did. Your photos are award-worthy. Thank you.


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