Taking flight with our Northeastern birds

“She’s been there for a few months now. She likes it, no one bothers her at that height” explained Richard, while we admired the nest of an Andean cock-of-the-rock. The nest was in the corner of the bathroom window, leaning against the bricks. It had been there for a few months, out of reach of any predator. The bird watched us suspiciously from its nest, protecting its egg. We took a few quick pictures, making sure not to anger the mother, and continued on our way.
We inmediately went up a short hill, thick with trees and plants. The temperature was mild, typical of the cloud forest. The path was marked by white flowers, yellow in the middle, Cascarillas. “We call them fried eggs” Richard told us, and that was indeed what they looked like. I paused to take a few pictures of our travel mates, who would walk beside the rest of the morning.

We suddenly found a break in the middle of this dense vegetation, and enjoyed the scenery of Tandayapa. Alex, my travel mate, used the break to imitate the birdcall of the Yumbos. He brought his hands up to his mouth, while his throat emitted a very particular melody. We waited in silence, looking from one tree to the next but with no reply. Alex repeated the sound, and as if by magic, a Yumbo landed on a nearby Guarumo branch. The bird watched us intently. Alex made the noise again and a dialogue began. Two more Yumbos came close to participate in the concert, as the rest of us watched from below.

Motivated by this encounter, we decided to go in search of more adventures within the forest. The path became narrower and more humid. Nature once again delighted us with its music; a Quetzal watched our every step while it sang its song. We couldn’t see it, it was surely feeling somewhat shy, but we appreciated his song brightening our day.

The route we took is visited by experts from around the world; experts who come here in search of endemic species. They get up very early in the morning and have a light breakfast at 4am, to get to this place at 6 am, the best time to start bird-watching.
By lunchtime we’re back at Tandayapa Lodge. We are welcomed by the humming birds, which never leave the bird fountain on the terrace. The dining room at the Lodge has a huge window right in front of a branch that hides little bits of fruit, the perfect bait for attracting local wildlife. Within moments we see a toucanete and a squirrel fiddling around.

Cristina and Richard, our hostess, gave us a tour of the place and explained a little more about bird-watching tourism. Later, we reluctantly began heading back to Quito.

Tandayapa is a valley located in the Cloud Forest Reserve, it's also part of the Yumbo's Path as well as the Corridor for the andean bear. This valley is an important area for bird-watching and also natural habitat of the "olinguito", a new bird specie.

More info about birds in Quito: http://aves.quito.com.ec

Text: Karla León  Pictures: Tropical Birding

To See
Admire the wealth of plant-life along the path

To Hear
The birds’ different melodies are a natural concert

To Smelle
Enjoy the refreshing and purifying rainforest air

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