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August 21, 2012

While the abundance of birdlife is the biggest draw for visitors to Las Tangaras, they are by no means the only wildlife roaming the hills of the reserve. Large mammal sightings tend to be rare, but several other creatures are commonly seen, and at least one mammal, the armadillo, turns up quite frequently.


After much anticipation, and nearly 6 weeks of waiting, we finally had our first visit from the 9 banded armadillo with battle scars, dubbed ´Pablo´ by previous managers. We had read much about Pablo in the managers´ journal, and seen fresh evidence of armadillo activity nearly every day, but our first actual glimpse came as a pleasant surprise. He nosed around the garden for a few minutes, unmindful of us, before climbing nimbly over the fence that was built to keep him out.

Although squirrels are a common site in the states, we had quite an uncommon experience with a red tailed squirrel here at the reserve. We came into the care of a young squirrel after it was abandoned by its mother during the installation of a fruit tree grove. For the next 3 weeks we acted as foster parents for this squirrel; weaning it off milk, introducing solid food and encouraging it to climb and forage.

Squirrely climbing lesson

The last few nights it stayed with us, we kept its makeshift burrow outside, hoping it would leave on its own. Unfortunately it had grown accustomed to our high class cabin lifestyle, and wasn´t keen on venturing far from human care. We would solidly ignore it for hours on end, busying ourselves inside the cabin with doors shut to keep it out, only to find it snoozing contentedly in the sun atop one of our sweaty, drying work shirts.

Squirrely sleeping on Shyama´s dirty work shirt

Two days passed with the squirrel sleeping on the porch, even though we´d stopped feeding it. We tried releasing it into the fruit grove where it was found, roughly 130 meters from the cabin. A day and a half later it was back on the front porch. This happened twice. Finally Shyama marched it much further away from the cabin, and in the opposite direction. We haven´t seen it since, but hope that it’s found its way and is enjoying its squirrel life in the forest.

One day, while weeding the garden and hacking away the encroaching jungle, we came across a Western Lowlands Rain Frog. It was hopping to escape in the thick bushes when Amanda snatched it up for closer inspection and a few pictures. It was a treat to see one up close, as we hear a chorus of frogs every evening at dusk.

Western lowlands rainfrog

This Marine Toad was actually spotted in Mindo, but was a neat find nonetheless. It also relieved itself twice on Amanda´s hand, which was pretty funny, and yet she persists in handling amphibians for identification.

Marine toad

We´ve also had the pleasure of observing a number of Torrent Ducks who have taken up residence on this stretch of the Nambillo River. Their unmistakable swimming expertise, from which they get their name, is impressive to witness firsthand. And apparently they are thriving in these waters, as we have spotted a mother and her ducklings on several occasions.

Mama Torrent duck and ducklings

It is also worth noting the abundance of bats that live with us in the forest. Every night we catch glimpses of them sipping from the hummingbird feeders, or catching insects above our mosquito net. Some had the misfortune of flying into mist nets during the bird surveys, while others were awoken from a pleasant day´s sleep when we cleaned the cabin´s rafters.

bat, unsure of the species, that Mauricio safely untangled from the mistnet


One of the most intriguing animal behaviors we´ve witnessed here is that of the Oilbird. They are typically nocturnal birds, and we feel privileged to have seen one in the daylight hours and to be able to add it to the Las Tangaras bird list. Oilbirds are known to roost in caves by day, and for their distinctive posture when perched on a branch. It was midday when we flushed this one off the Amor Trail, but luckily it only flew a few meters off the path. It landed on a branch and promptly positioned it´s head vertically down, with tail feathers pointing to the sky. It hung there motionless as we watched; only moving when the wind would stir the trees, whereupon it would sway like a leaf in the breeze. It´s ability to camouflage itself in the relatively open forest was uncanny. We admired this bird for some time before moving on, and we hope that it found its way home.

Oilbird hanging from branch (tail feathers up)

Oilbird hanging like a leaf

These animals are only a small sample of the abundant wildlife that exists here at Reserva Las Tangaras. We feel lucky to have witnessed these creatures in their natural habitat, and look forward to all that remains to be seen.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. belen permalink
    August 22, 2012 6:47 am

    Thanks for the update Amanda & Shyma, looks like you have had a great experience.


  2. August 24, 2012 12:51 am

    Que chebre!!! Jamie


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