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Bustling with Bird Diversity

January 8, 2014

With already 3+ weeks gone on our stay here, it’s already going by way to fast! We had a strong push of visitors through the end of December, but perhaps the incessant rains are keeping them away now. Despite the lack of people here to enjoy the rainforest, this place has not stopped bustling with biodiversity. I’m still seeing different species of birds on nearly every walk I take out into the forest and I’ve already seen nearly 200 species since arriving on December 12th, all within walking distance of the reserve. Whenever I run into bird watchers I town, I tell them about this place and several of them have shown up later and been mightily impressed. I have been many places around Mindo and this is undoubtedly the best place I have birded. Not only do we have the best Andean Cock-of-the Rock lek around and 12-15 species of hummingbirds at the feeders everyday, but many uncommon and hard to find species also occur here. Here is a list of some of the unusual and hard to find birds I’ve seen at the reserve: torrent duck, fasciated tiger heron, bicolored hawk (seen on same perch daily), black and chestnut eagle (the locally famous guide Marcelo Arias told me he has seen this bird once in his life), white-throated quail dove, white-capped parrot, little cuckoo, green-fronted lancebill, wedge-billed hummingbird, velvet-purple coronet, barred puffbird, ringed kingfisher, crimson-bellied and powerful woodpeckers (both large and spectacular), streak-capped treerunner, uniform antshrike, rufous-rumped antwren, esmeraldas antbird, ochre-breasted antpitta (I got an incredible long long at this very shy species!), narino tapaculo, pacific and fulvous-breasted flatbills, caerulean and canada warblers, glistening-green, rufous-throated, beryl-spangled and white-shouldered tanagers, black-winged saltator, chestnut-capped brush-finch, olive finch, buff-rumpled warbler, white-throated spadebill and thrush-like schiffornis. Slaty-capped flycatcher is apparently a new species for the reserve. Other wonderful species that can be found here on a regular basis include: golden-headed quetzal, toucan barbet, strong-billed woodcreeper, white-capped dipper and yellow-collared chlorophonia. We also have a club-winged manikin lek and their bizarre display can be viewed every day!

Hopefully soon even more species can be seen here. My main project has been to lengthen the sendero del bosque (the trail that runs along the ridge that leads up from the ACOR lek), so far this trail extends to over 1,000 higher than the cabin and is still climbing. Spectacular  views and stunning montane cloud forest can be seen there and the possibility of recording more birds for the reserve there is high! Jen is working on an artistic and informative sign depicting flora and fauna of the Choco montane rainforest and little Cypress has been his happy and contented self (now more than before since he discovered his hands).

It is energizing to live in the middle of all these different creatures, you never know what your going to witness next. Yesterday I watched a spotted woodcreeper hold a millepede in its bill and rub it all over the inside of its wings before eating it! Millepedes are well known to produce cyanide and perhaps this is an attempt to repel parasites. Has anyone else out there witnessed this?


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