The four species of Andigena toucans are some of the most dramatic birds of middle and high elevation cloud forests in South America. We have two species in our reserves, the Black-billed Mountain-Toucan (Andigena nigrirostris) and the one featured in this video, the Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan (Andigena hypoglauca). The Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan lives at very high elevations, from about 2400m all the way up to timberline. It mostly eats fruit, but may also use its long beak to reach into other birds’ nest holes and gobble their chicks.
The video was taken by Manuel Chapungal (a resident of the area, and volunteer caretaker of this mountain) near our seventh and newest reserve, a 15 ha forest bought through a donation by my friend and colleague Anne Chao. This reserve is adjacent to the 100 ha Chamana Reserve, owned by Juan Pablo Reyes, whom we have hired as manager of EcoMinga’s reserve system. The mountain valley protected by these two reserves is very beautiful though partly deforested due to past cattle ranching. It still hosts Mountain Tapir, Spectacled Bear, wild cats, and many many birds.
This forest gets a lot of hunting pressure due to its nearness to the town of Banos. One day Juan Pablo’s sister was in that area alone, checking her automatic cameras for her study of tapirs, when she ran into two illegal sport hunters with shotguns. She was afraid but slipped away and called Juan Pablo on her cell phone. Juan Pablo, his family, and Manuel Chapungal climbed the mountain and found the hunters. Though Juan’s group was unarmed, they somehow managed to disarm the hunters, confiscating their guns and the bird they had shot. That’s one reason why Juan Pablo is our reserve manager!
Thanks to Anne Chao for her support for this, to Manuel for sharing his video, and to IdeaWild for donating the video camera to Manuel via the Fundacion Oscar Efren Reyes.