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Birds in Mindo

In Mindo, a parish located in the northwest of Pichincha and considered worldwide as one of the best destinations for birdwatching, the 19th edition of the Christmas Bird Count will take place from December 13th to 15th. Around 34 groups will participate in this new edition, covering a 24-kilometer circle that includes the Cinto river to the north, the Yanacocha sector (peace of the birds) to the south, Mindo to the east, and Nono to the west. This area called Mindo-Tandayapa is globally recognized among the top three places for bird observation. It is worth mentioning that the “El Paseo del Quinde” eco-route is part of this sector, considered a dynamic element of the economy of the area that includes Quito, Nono, Tandayapa, Bellavista, San Tadeo, and Milpe.

Mindo, due to its great diversity, is positioned globally as a unique and incredible area for bird watching. With this background, Birdlife International declared it an Important Bird Area (IBA), and national and foreign ornithologists and specialists participate each year in the Christmas bird count. In support of these sustainable and environmentally friendly initiatives, the Zonal Coordination 2 of the Ministry of Tourism will provide each participant with posters, cards, and brochures of the most precious birds in the country, along with a snack during the count. In total, the number of bird species that can be seen in Mindo and its surroundings exceeds 550 and includes the Andean Cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruviana), Swainson’s Toucan (Ramphastos swainsonii), Bar-bellied Woodpecker (Semnornis ramphastinus), Club-winged Manakin (Machaeropterus deliciosus), Torrent Duck (Merganetta armata), among others.

Hummingbird species, such as the Long-tailed Sylph, Mountain Velvetbreast, Tourmaline Sunangel, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Chestnut-breasted Coronet, and many more.

The Andean Cock-of-the-rock

also known as “gallo de la peña”, is one of the world’s most exotic wild birds due to its striking plumage. According to Humboldt, its name is associated with rocks because it inhabits deep and humid valleys where it builds its nests to raise its chicks. In Quito, it can be observed in the rural parishes of the northwest between 900 and 2,100 meters above sea level. The closest place to appreciate this bird is in the El Pahuma reserve, which is about an hour away from Quito. The Andean Cock-of-the-rock lives in the foothills of the Andean mountain range, between 500 and 2400 meters above sea level, from western Venezuela to Bolivia. It is mainly found in ravines and alongside rivers that flow down from the mountains through deep valleys. It is a silent bird, and its feeding activities are usually at dusk. It is frugivorous and feeds on wild fruits. The males are good singers and dancers.

Swainson’s Toucan

This species can be found in Central and South America in countries such as Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Colombia. In Ecuador, they inhabit the Coastal region in humid forests in the lowlands and foothills of the west. They feed mainly on a variety of fruits, small animals, and bird eggs. They have a very long beak measuring 16 to 18 cm; the upper part of the beak is yellow, and the lower part is dark brown. The body is mostly black with a white rump, a red lower zone, a yellow throat and chest bordered below by a red band.

Bearded Toucan

This species has been recorded in the western foothills of the Andes, from northwestern Ecuador southward to the west of Cotopaxi. It is relatively abundant in the Mindo and Tandayapa region (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001). It is found in the understory of humid montane and cloud forests in the subtropical zone of the western foothills of the Andes (BirdLife International 2009, Freile 2002). It inhabits primary and secondary forest, forest edges, and tolerates altered habitats (Hilty and Brown 1986). This species has been recorded in the western foothills of the Andes, from northwestern Ecuador southward to the west of Cotopaxi. It is relatively abundant in the Mindo and Tandayapa region (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001).

Scaled Fruiteater

A chubby bird with a short tail and a flat head, patterned in moss green and black. Scaled above and below with broad green wing bars and a black cap. The female has less black in the plumage than the male, but also has scaled plumage. Discreet, it often perches quietly in the middle or upper levels of the Andean cloud forest. More often seen near a fruiting tree; occasionally follows mixed-species flocks. Listen for a loud descending whistle. Mindo has around 400 species of orchids of different sizes, sometimes we need a magnifying glass to admire their shape and color, and other times when they are in bloom, their aroma invites us to search for them. Inside the orchid garden, there are approximately 200 species that bloom at different times of the year.

Long-tailed Sylph

A striking hummingbird with an extremely long tail. The male is mostly emerald green with a greenish-blue throat and a long, forked tail. The female is very different, with a shorter tail, a spotted throat, a beige belly, and a short white mustache. It is mainly found on the eastern slope of the Andes from Venezuela to Bolivia, in the foothills and subtropical zones from 1,200-2,500 m. It occurs within the cloud forest and at its edges. It visits feeders. The male is superficially similar to the trainbearers, but note that it occurs in a different habitat.

Mountain Velvet Breast

This unique hummingbird is best recognized by its long, curved bill and mostly white tail (especially visible in flight). Males are mostly green with a black belly. Females are whitish or beige below with green scales. It is found in forests and edges of high elevations from Venezuela to Peru. It occurs from around 2,500-3,400 m, occasionally ranging lower. It visits feeders, but is often quite shy.

Tourmaline Sunangel

A dark hummingbird with a rather short and straight bill. The male has a bright purple throat and a blue-green forehead. The female has a white throat. Note the white undertail coverts and the relatively long forked tail. It is relatively common in forests and high elevation edges in the Andes of Colombia and Ecuador. It visits feeders.

Sword-billed Hummingbird

This hummingbird has the longest bill relative to body size of any bird in the world. In addition to the notable bill, it has mostly dull green body coloration and a bronzed head. It occurs in the temperate zone of the Andes, from Venezuela to Bolivia, at elevations of approximately 2,500-3,500 m. It occurs in mountain forests and edges, where it uses its bill to feed on long tubular flowers. It visits feeders.

Chestnut-breasted Coronet

An aggressive hummingbird of the Andean cloud forest, occurring from southwestern Colombia to Peru. Note the green upperparts and hood, chestnut breast and belly, and relatively short bill. The sexes are similar. It usually raises its wings for a fraction of a second after perching. It is often seen defending a patch or feeder of flowers, driving away any other hummingbird that dares to approach.

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