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WINGS Birding Tours – Photo Gallery

Ecuador: The East Slope of the Andes

We’ll leave Quito for the high elevations of Papallacta Pass. That’s right, snow on the Equator. Variable Hawk is one of the species to be looked for way up here… …as is Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe a bird found only on the highest peaks. The fascinating alpine plant life is second only to the birds, like this Many-striped Canastero. We’ll head down the hill to the east stopping at Guango Lodge for lunch and a little birding. Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan can often be found nearby. The hummingbird feeders are famous, here a stark contrast between the long-billed (Sword-billed Hummingbird) and the long-tailed (Long-tailed Sylph)… …and Collared Incas are as aggressive as they are striking. Further down hill we’ll arrive at Cabanas San Isidro… …with all the comforts of home. The birding is excellent right off the back porch… …where Green Jays are common and noisy in the morning… …as is Black-billed Peppershrike. An antpitta feeding station near the dining room often attracts a White-bellied Antpitta. And a light left on brings in the insects like this big atlas moth. Spectacular orchids dangle from the foliage… …as does Saffron-crowned Tanager, one of more than a dozen tanager species possible on the property. Quiet dirt roads give us access to pristine cloud forest… …where we may run into a Crested Quetzal, among other things. East from the pass at Guacamayos the Andes drop into the Amazon Basin through the altitudinal zones of hundreds of species of birds. In the lower foothills the scarce Coppery-chested Jacamar becomes a possibility… …as does the local Cliff Flycatcher. In this “magic” elevation between the Amazon lowlands and montane cloud forest, at the foot of the Sumaco volcano, lies Wildsumaco Lodge. The back porch overlooks forest, fruiting trees, and some of Ecuador’s best hummingbird feeders… …with possibilities of Napo Sabrewing, a foothill specialty… …or maybe a colorful Gould’s Jewelfront… …and some Chestnut-fronted Macaws may fly overhead at any time. From here we ascend back into the Andes toward Quito, but not before stopping again for a few other mountain specialties like Viridian Metaltail… …or Red-crested Cotinga. The east Andes are great for birds and epic views alike.