Birding Galapagos Islands

Birding Galapagos Islands
Birding for Conservation

Friday, December 16, 2011

Military Macaws at Sumaco National Park in Ecuador

I have visited the Sumaco National Park areas in the past but recently I discovered that the local community of Pacto Sumaco has a cabaña to provide rustic lodging for birders.  I decided to help them get started and organized a bird watching tour that would include a night stay at their cabaña.  At first I was a bit nervous about lodging in a remote and rustic setting, but after visiting the place I decided that the risk would be compensated with a beautiful scenery that the place offered. 

Sumaco Volcano

The day finally arrived and we were greeted by the two locals who helped us carry our gear to the cabaña that is located at 15 minutes walk from their community.  We left our car and walked on a log trail that took us through deforested land that had a few trees left which provided some shelter for the local birds.  The trail was a bit difficult from the unevenness of the tree steps that kept us above the surrounding mud.  When we arrived to the cabaña we were greeted by three friendly women who would take care of feeding us for the next 24 hours.  

Trails at Pacto Sumaco

Since the cabaña has two large rooms we split the group into male and female dorms.  This was totally different than our previous arrangements of privacy but it seemed as a small sacrifice to get into this area.  The cabaña has a second floor which serves as a viewing platform to the Sumaco Mountain and the surrounding protected forest.  There are also some hammocks that allow you to appreciate all of this from a different perspective.

Hammoc Photo

An afternoon walk on the trail which continued away from the community produced a few new birds for the trip list including: Cerulean Warbler, White-bellied Woodstar, a mating pair of maroon-tailed Parakeets, Black-crowned Tityra, Buff-throated Tody-Tyrant, Crested Oropendola, Lafresnayes Piculet, and a pair of Collared Trogons.  The most interesting show started upon our return to the cabaña when we witness the return of many Macaws and parrots to roosting trees near the cabaña.

Chestnut-fronted Macaw

The evening came and dinner was served with candle lights and the local night frog orchestra.  After working on our bird list for the day we retired early in preparation for an early start.   The beds where comfortable and properly setup with mosquito nets to prevent the annoying buzzing disturbance for a restful night.  Before daybreak I could hear the wakeup calls of the Pauraque, the Wattled Guan, and a Ferruginous Pygmy Owl.  I could not rest more so got up before daybreak to identify more clearly another owl which turn out to be one of our own trying to call a Tropical Screech Owl.  Soon enough many other birds joined the waking day: amongst them numerous parakeets, parrots, and Macaws.  The fly-bys started and soon all the members were up and enjoying a morning spectacled of Mealy Amazon, Red-billed Parrots, Maroon-tailed Parakeets, White-eyed Parakeet, Military Macaws and finally an incredible close fly-by of the Military Macaws.

 Military Macaw flying above the Pacto Sumaco Cabaña

If you want to experience these wonderful birds and sights then contact the Pacto Sumaco community ( or take one of our spectacular tours that visit the East and West slopes of Ecuador.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Recinto 23 de Junio - Long-wattled Umbrellabird Helps Conservation

Much of the forest on the west side of the Andes has been destroyed by agriculture´s great pressure on the eco-systems that support our beautiful neotropical birds.  Many people from the south of Ecuador migrated to the west slopes and settled in this ground more than 30 years ago in their search of fertile land.  Their dream was to cut the tress, sell the wood, and make room for pastures and cows.  This story repeated itself as an eco going through the land, and the damage spread through our forest like termites on a dead tree.  These migrating Ecuadorians began their dream life with the destruction of primary forests without knowledge of the negative effects that this would bring to our eco-systems. 

We birders can make positive impact on these people by doing what we like most that is: Bird Watching. 

Our visit to Recinto 23 de Junio (at 40 minutes from Los Bancos) was to see the Long-wattled Umbrellabird and we saw four males and a female.  We also saw 48 other species making that day a record breaking day!  In addition our guide Luis Ajila and his family became the envy of the community when we ask them to provide us with more services than the usual Umbrellabird watch, such as lunch and a guide for the rest of the day.  Every time a birder goes to this place and pays money to see the birds and other services, everybody in this small community become more aware of the economic value of conservation.

Here are some of  the best birds and pictures of the day:

          The Long-wattled Umbrellabird


               The Band-backed Wren

          The Flame-faced Tanager

The Golden-headed Quetzal with a lizard on his mouth.

          The Laughing Falcon

         The Yellow-bellied Eleina

To setup a visit on your own please contact Luis Ajila at cell phone 081030948.