Trip report: Ecuador, The Andes Introtour (August 2021) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Sam Woods .This was a set departure tour, which included the High Andes extension.

This Ecuador tour is one of the most popular tours for Tropical Birding and looking back at our 8 days of birding it was easy to understand why. We spent the whole time in the Andes (at varied sites ranging in elevations from 500m/1640ft up to 4100m/13,450ft during the main tour and high Andes extension). The main tour was spent on the western slope of the Andes Mountains, in the Choco bioregion of Northwest Ecuador, which brought some specialty birds, like Toucan Barbet, Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, Dark-backed Wood-Quail, Rose-faced Parrot, Choco Toucan, Blue-tailed Trogon, Orange-breasted Fruiteater, Indigo Flowerpiercer, and a gaudy selection of endemic hummingbirds and tanagers, like Glistening-green, Scarlet-browed, Black-chinned Mountain, and Moss-backed Tanagers, Violet-tailed Sylph, Purple-bibbed Whitetip, Empress Brilliant, and the shockingly beautiful Velvet-purple Coronet (photo page before). These were among the specialties of the region seen, but some of the other birds seen may have been more widespread, but no less spectacular, like Sword-billed Hummingbird, Booted Racket-tail, a daytime male Lyre-tailed Nightjar, Ocellated Tapaculo, displaying Andean Cock-of-the-rock (one of the most spectacular of all Andean birds), Guayaquil Woodpecker, Golden-headed and Crested Quetzals, Broad-billed and Rufous Motmots, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Laughing Falcon, Grass-green Tanager, and Blue-winged and Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanagers.

A special mention should also go to antpittas. We enjoyed a good run on these, thanks in no small part to getting 5 species in one morning at the legendary Paz de las Aves reserve, due in no small part due to the herculean efforts of the Paz brothers there. In all, we got 7 species, including Giant, Yellow-breasted, and Undulated Antpittas. These birds were all only seen on the 6-day main tour. On the extension we moved up to high elevations, where over 40 new birds were added, including Ecuador’s national bird, the massive Andean Condor, the world’s largest hummingbird, with a superb Giant Hummingbird, a beautiful Blue-mantled Thornbill, a pair of Giant Conebills, and some very confiding Lacrimose Mountain-Tanagers, and a Golden-crowned Tanager. In all, we recorded more than 360 species during the main tour and extension, with more than 300 were seen by the group, which included the usual more than 40 hummingbird species and dozens of multicolored Andean tanagers.

Click the link below to view FULL report and photos.

Ecuador: The Andes Introtour August 2021 FULL trip report (9.4 MB PDF)