Birding in Southern Ecuador

In Search of Outlandish Elusive Feathered Phantoms

February 2015

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In late February 2105 we left the snows of Montana behind and headed for southern Ecuador for two weeks chasing birds with Ram Papish and Dawn Harris, Dona's nephew and his wife. They are more or less professional bird lovers -- Ram is an artist whose work often features birds in their natural settings, and Dawn is a wildlife educator with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the refuges along the Oregon coast. They graciously let us tag along on some of their trips and are wonderfully tolerant of my amateur birding faux paws.

We left home on the afternoon of the 22; it was cold and snowy, -3°F overnight. We put the cats out with food and water, the horses were all arranged and our neighbor would feed and water them, and we dropped Max at the dog sitter. We spent the night in Missoula with Dona's mom, then took a green taxi to the airport the next morning.

It was a long series of plane rides, and we ended up in Guayaquil, Ecuador, at midnight the morning of the 24th. Ram and dawn were arriving four hours later, and then we were heading into the rainforest to the Umbrellabird Lodge; there didn't seem much point in getting a hotel room. We latched on to our bags, found some benches in the new modern Guayaquil airport, and grabbed a nap.

Dona Guayaquil Airport
Waiting for Ram and Dawn in the Guayaquil Airport

When Ram and Dawns' plane landed, we started scanning the passengers exiting into the public area. At first passengers came out in a burst, but the stream slowed to a trickle and then a dribble. At last they emerged, tired-looking but smiling. They had started from different parts of the U.S.A., as Ram had been at a conference and flew out of Minneapolis. Our driver, Patricio, was waiting with a sign with their names on it. We piled our gear into the back, covered it with a tarp, and were off. We were headed for the Umbrellabird Lodge.

Umbrellabird Lodge Urraca Jorupe Forest Reserve Casa Simpson Copalinga Quito
Umbrellabird Lodge Urraca Jorupe Nature Reserve Casa Simpson Copalinga Lodge Quito

All said, a great trip. But as we were waiting at the airport for the plane I remembered what I said the last time we left Ecuador: "The next time we go to Ecuador, we have to take an extra week and go to the Galapagos." Ooops. Next time...