The birds of Mindo - 1

By Jean-Guy Trussart | 25 October 2012| Ecuador
1804 - I - Photo credit Jean-Guy Trussart A Squirrel Cuckoo (Piaya cayana) A Squirrel Cuckoo (Piaya cayana)
1807 - I - Photo credit Sophie Tessier Julia Patiño, our guide Julia Patiño, our guide
1806 - I - Photo credit Jean-Guy Trussart This Squirrel Cuckoo stretches its long tail This Squirrel Cuckoo stretches its long tail
1805 - I - Photo credit Jean-Guy Trussart A Andean Cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruvianus) A Andean Cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruvianus)
1800 - I - Photo credit Jean-Guy Trussart The Moustached Antpitta (Grallaria alleni) another vulnerable species The Moustached Antpitta (Grallaria alleni) another vulnerable species
1801 - I - Photo credit Jean-Guy Trussart A Commun Potoo (Nyctibius griseus) sleeping A Commun Potoo (Nyctibius griseus) sleeping
1802 - I - Photo credit Jean-Guy Trussart Yellow-rumped Tanager (Ramphocelus icteronotus) Yellow-rumped Tanager (Ramphocelus icteronotus)
1803 - I - Photo credit Jean-Guy Trussart Commun Potoo (Nyctibius griseus) Commun Potoo (Nyctibius griseus)
1799 - I - Photo credit Jean-Guy Trussart The Giant Antpitta (Grallaria gigantea) a vulnerable species The Giant Antpitta (Grallaria gigantea) a vulnerable species
1798 - I - Photo credit Jean-Guy Trussart Dark-backed Wood Quail (Odontophorus melanonotus) Dark-backed Wood Quail (Odontophorus melanonotus)
Écho Action est un programme qui vous propose des trucs pour passer le mot sur la biodiversité. En savoir plus

My alarm goes off at 4:30 a.m., and I go right up to the second floor of the Casa Amarilla to wake up Sophie. Our guide, Julia Patiño will be here at 5 o’clock on the dot to take us birding at the Refugio Paz de los Aves. We hope to see, among other things, the mating display of the male Andean Cock-of-the-rock.

What makes the Mindo region, located on the west flank of the Ecuadorian Andes, one of the best birding sites in the world? For instance, more often than expected, Mindo takes first place for the number of birds seen during the famous Christmas Bird Count.

One explanation is certainly its position just south of the equator, the imaginary line that separates the northern and southern hemispheres. The warm, humid tropics are indeed well known for having more species. And though the equator runs right around the earth, it would seem that Mindo’s specific location, on the west coast of the Andes, with its high levels of humidity and diverse ecosystems that vary according to altitude, is another advantage. Finally, Mindo is situated a the south end of the Chocó region, which extends along the west coast of Columbia. The Chocó has a huge biodiversity and includes many endemic species.

We drive for nearly an hour. As soon as we arrive, we follow Julia’s determined pace along a narrow mountain path. There’s no time to waste. Dawn is breaking and we must get to the “lek” as soon as possible.

The lek is a “traditional” area used by males throughout the year to court females. It is used so frequently and is so permanent that the refuge owners have built an observation blind for birders.

Just moments after our arrival, three males arrive noisily and begin to call and move vigorously, leaning forward and opening their wings. They’re like bright red fireworks! Then just as suddenly, they disperse into the forest and silence reigns. Five minutes later, the games begin again. After a half and hour, it’s all over. They won’t return until late afternoon. I’m thrilled to have witnessed such a colourful ritual.

We continue birding in this cloud forest. Although I have a lot of birding experience in the American tropics, most of the birds we see are unknown to me. Fortunately, Julia is there to help us sort out the many species of hummingbird, antpitta, wood quail, toucanet, American barbet, and the nocturnal potoos.

We return to the hotel feeling that we’ve experienced something extraordinary. The experience of biodiversity.

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