Here’s a wildlife interlude between Part 3 and Part 4 of my endemic orchid talk. I have just returned from a visit to our Dracula Reserve with Dr Robert Ridgely (author of Field Guide to the Birds of Ecuador, Birds of Panama, Birds of South America, etc, and director of the Rainforest Trust, one of the major donors for the Dracula Reserve), Nigel Simpson (a director of Fundacion EcoMinga, and also of the World Land Trust and Fundacion Jocotoco), Javier Robayo (Exec. Director of Fundacion EcoMinga), David Agro (a director of the Fundacion Jocotoco), Francisco Sornozo (Conservation Director of Fundacion Jocotoco), Heinz Schneider (Curator, University of Basel Botanical Garden, another major donor for the Dracula Reserve), Rafaella Schneider (professor, University of Basel), and Hector Yela (EcoMinga warden). The trip was wonderful, a nice mix of birds and plants, and later I will post some of the things we saw. But I can’t wait to post our photos of this amazing Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan (Andigena laminirostris), one of the most beautiful birds in the world. This species is restricted to mid-elevation Choco cloud forests in the western Andes of Colombia and Ecuador. Learn more about it here.
This toucan is quite common in our Dracula Reserve, and we saw and heard and photographed them several times on the first day of our trip. At the end of that long day of birdwatching and botanizing, some of us were driving down the mountain to our hotel, when I spotted this toucan in the roadside trees. It flew across the road in front of our car and sat in good view in a bare branch. We pulled alongside and watched enraptured as it preened, regurgitated seeds, and modeled for us in the soft evening light. We took hundreds of pictures and many videos of it. Francisco, who is one of Ecuador’s most experienced ornithologists, was so moved as he was filming and photographing it that he said this was the most perfect and most beautiful bird observation he had ever experienced in his whole life. Here is a clip of one of the videos I made of it that evening. I cut out some random conversation, but Francisco made his nice comment near the end, and I left it in the clip. Then Bob Ridgely translates for the non-Spanish-speakers in the car.
We have two other mountain-toucans in our reserves. The Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan (Andigena hypoglauca) lives in our Cerro Candelaria, Rio Verde, Chamana, Rio Valencia, and possibly our Zunac reserves, while the Black-billed Mountain-Toucan (Andigena nigrirostris) occurs in our Zunac, Cerro Candelaria, Naturetrek, and possibly our Rio Verde reserves. See our video of the Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan here.
Please think about donating to help us maintain these reserves.