Lat:04o10´S/79o10´W 145,000ha 860-3607m (Cuco) e. slope montane forest, entrance fee $10 (guides in Loja)


Birding Site Guide

There are 3 entrances at Río Bombuscaro (04 08’S 79 00’W, 1000m, 6km s of Zamora), Cajanuma (3100m, 04 05’S 79 12’W) and Romerillos. There are guard stations and basic camping shelters at the first 2. From the basic camping shelter of ‘El Refugio’ (Cajanuma) there are 4 trails: Spectacled Bear 400m, Cloud Forest 700m, View Point 1.5-5km 3,347m (Nudo de Sabanilla) and Compadres Lagoon 14km to 3 of 105 lagoons. From Bombuscaro there are also some short, but good birding trails. A good base is the town of Vilcabamba. 


CAJANUMA 04o05’S/79o12’W 2500-3100m 

(Charles Hesse visited 21st-23rd July, 2006) 

The Cajanuma sector of the Podocarpus National Park, has some fantastic birds of the elfin forest and paramo zones and is easily accessible from Loja. To get there, take one of the many buses from the terminal to Loja towards Vilcabamba and get off at the Cajanuma entrance, which all the bus drivers know. At the gate, you have to pay an entrance fee of $10 (for foreigners) but this is valid for 5 days both here and at the Bombuscaro entrance. From the gate it is about 8km uphill to the visitors centre (about 2,700m) where there is simple accomodation available for just $3 per night. It's a tough 2 hour walk if you have a heavy bag, but I was lucky enough to hitch a ride.

 Alternatively, you could hire taxi at the terminal in Loja or there maybe one at the entrance. There are solar-powered lights and a nice fireplace where you can make a fire to cook on at night. The friendly park guards may lend you a pan to cook with if you don't have your own. Bring your own food and a warm sleeping bag as it gets cold at night. 

There are several trails leading from the house. On leads uphill to the right towards Lagunas del Compadre. To reach there requires a several day hike and camping. You can go up the trail for several hours and turn back. Birds seen along here included: Barred Fruiteater, Paramo Seedeater, Pale-footed Swallow and Chusquea Tapaculo. Spectacled Bears may also be possible up in the Paramo. To the left from the house, a trail leads up to 2 loops: the Oso de Anteojos and Bosque Nublado trails. On the former I saw Flame-throated Sunangel, Buff-winged Starfrontlet and Collared Inca, and the latter Ash-coloured Tapaculo, White-bellied Woodstar and White-banded Tyrannulet. This whole lower area is good for mountain-tanagers too. The trail continues up through elfin forest (White-throated Hawk, Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager and and Chestnut-naped Antpitta) to a mirador at about 3,100m (near where Chestnut-bellied Cotinga has been seen in the past) and up along a steep ridge where I saw Masked Mountain-Tanager and Black-headed Hemispingus. The road below the house is best for Bearded Guan and I heard Stygian Owl here at night. I saw 61 species including 7 lifers

  • Great Egret Ardea alba
  • White-throated Hawk Buteo albigula Photographed
  • Bearded Guan Penelope barbata Vulnerable Photographed Recorded
  • Band-tailed Pigeon Patagioenas fasciata
  • Smooth-billed Ani Crotophaga ani
  • Stygian Owl Asio stygius Heard only. Recorded
  • Green Hermit Phaethornis guy
  • Gray-chinned Hermit Phaethornis griseogularis Possibly seen
  • Chestnut-breasted Coronet Boissonneaua matthewsii
  • Collared Inca Coeligena torquata
  • Buff-winged Starfrontlet Coeligena lutetiae
  • Rainbow Starfrontlet Coeligena iris
  • Little (Flame-throated) Sunangel Heliangelus micraster
  • Green-tailed Trainbearer Lesbia nuna
  • Tyrian Metaltail Metallura tyrianthina
  • Mountain Avocetbill Opisthoprora euryptera
  • White-bellied Woodstar Chaetocercus mulsant
  • Bar-bellied Woodpecker Veniliornis nigriceps
  • Crimson-mantled Woodpecker Piculus rivolii
  • Azara's Spinetail Synallaxis azarae Heard only
  • Many-striped Canastero Asthenes flammulata
  • Streaked Tuftedcheek Pseudocolaptes boissonneautii Recorded
  • Chestnut-naped Antpitta Grallaria nuchalis Heard only. Recorded
  • Rufous Antpitta Grallaria rufula Recorded
  • Ash-colored Tapaculo Myornis senilis Heard only
  • Unicolored Tapaculo Scytalopus unicolor Heard only. Recorded
  • Paramo Tapaculo Scytalopus canus Possibly heard
  • Chusquea Tapaculo Scytalopus parkeri Endemic Heard only. Recorded
  • Red-crested Cotinga Ampelion rubrocristata
  • Barred Fruiteater Pipreola arcuata Photographed. Recorded
  • White-banded Tyrannulet Mecocerculus stictopterus
  • Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant Ochthoeca rufipectoralis
  • Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant Myiotheretes striaticollis
  • Smoky Bush-Tyrant Myiotheretes fumigatus
  • Blue-and-white Swallow Notiochelidon cyanoleuca
  • Pale-footed Swallow Notiochelidon flavipes Recorded
  • Fasciated Wren Campylorhynchus fasciatus
  • Rufous Wren Cinnycerthia unirufa Photographed
  • Mountain Wren Troglodytes solstitialis
  • Gray-breasted Wood-Wren Henicorhina leucophrys Recorded
  • Chiguanco Thrush Turdus chiguanco
  • Great Thrush Turdus fuscater Recorded
  • Spectacled Redstart Myioborus melanocephalus
  • Black-crested Warbler Basileuterus nigrocristatus Recorded
  • Blue-backed Conebill Conirostrum sitticolor
  • Black-capped Hemispingus Hemispingus atropileus Photographed Recorded
  • Black-headed Hemispingus Hemispingus verticalis
  • Masked Mountain-Tanager Buthraupis wetmorei Vulnerable Photographed
  • Lacrimose Mountain-Tanager Anisognathus lacrymosus
  • Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager Anisognathus igniventris
  • Golden-crowned Tanager Iridosornis rufivertex
  • Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager Dubusia taeniata
  • Paramo Seedeater Catamenia homochroa
  • White-sided Flowerpiercer Diglossa albilatera
  • Glossy Flowerpiercer Diglossa lafresnayii Photographed Recorded
  • Masked Flowerpiercer Diglossopis cyanea Recorded
  • Pale-naped Brush-Finch Atlapetes pallidinucha
  • Yellow-breasted Brush-Finch Atlapetes latinuchus
  • Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch Buarremon brunneinucha
  • Rufous-collared Sparrow Zonotrichia capensis
  • Hooded Siskin Carduelis magellanica

LOJA-ZAMORA ROAD 04o00’S/79o13’W to 04o04’S/78o05’W 1000-2700m 

RIO BOMBUSCARO 04o08’S/79o00’W 950-1350m

(Charles Hesse visited 24th-26th July, 2006)

 This is another excellent area of the Podocarpus National Park that has a very different avifauna. The same ticket as the Cajanuma sector can be used but only for 5 days in total. The birds here are a little more difficult to see and therefore I recommend 3 nights here and 2 at Cajanuma. You could spend easily spend a lot more time at both, though. The sector is accessed from the large town of Zaruma, where you could stay, although it's better to stay within the park. Buses to Zaruma leave Loja regularly and take about 2 hours. From the terminal in Zaruma, take the signed turning to Bombuscaro, the name of the river and an area of Zaruma. To the entrance of the park, it is about 6km, and from there about another 1km through nice forest to the visitors centre. You may encounter the guard at the entrance or at the centre where you can buy or show your ticket and arrange accommodation. There is a cabin with 2 twin rooms (also $3 per person per night) and a bathroom. The beds are OK but there are no electric lights. Bring candles and a sleeping bag. There were very few mosquitos when I was there. There are more visitors here and you may find the rooms full. There are also places to camp. There is no visitor's kitchen, but the guards may be kind enough to leave you the key for theirs. Bring your own food. 
There are many good birding spots around the park. From the car park to the visitor's centre, there is a nice stretch of forest. One of the guards said White-necked Parakeets feed in some trees here and even come to eat clay/earth in an exposed area next to a curving handrail. Just before the centre, you cross a small stream where I saw Black Phoebe and White-capped Dipper. Near the centre, there is an orchid garden from where a trail leads up to a beautiful waterfall (Cascada La Poderosa) and a Mirador. The later is a tough climb and if you go right up to the top, there is an interesting patch of forest where I saw Thrush-like Schiffornis, Barred Becard and Sharpbill (99% certain). Also from the Orquideria, there is a loop trail called 'Uraquita Verde' (Green Jay). This is excellent and I saw many different birds each time I went up. Another group saw Amazonian Umbrellabird and Coppery-chested Jacamar here, although I didn't. A long trail called 'Sendero Hilgueros' also leads along the river. Along the first section, I saw Grey Tinamou in the early morning and Ecuadorian Piedtail singing. Look out for gaps in the trees with a view of the river, where I saw Fasciated Tiger-Heron. The trail leads a fork (look out for Highland Motmot), the right continuing on the same side (15 minutes along which I heard White-necked Parakeets) and the left crosses a foot bridge and loops back along the other side. The trail on the other side follows the river downstream to another bridge which you can cross and walk back to the HQ. The whole loop is said to take 3 hours. On the other side of the river I saw Andean Cock-of-the-Rock (there maybe a lek near the upper bridge), Crimson-bellied Woodpecker (in a clearing about half way along) and Coppery-chested Jacamar in secondary forest 5 minutes up from the lower bridge. From the lower bridge, look out for Torrent Duck and Fasciated Tiger-Heron. I saw 83 species including 12 lifers 

  • Gray Tinamou Tinamus tao Photographed
  • Fasciated Tiger-Heron Tigrisoma fasciatum
  • Torrent Duck Merganetta armata Photographed
  • Speckled Chachalaca Ortalis guttata
  • Rufous-breasted Wood-Quail Odontophorus speciosus Heard only
  • Plumbeous Pigeon Patagioenas plumbea Possibly seen
  • Gray-fronted Dove Leptotila rufaxilla
  • Ruddy Quail-Dove Geotrygon montana
  • White-eyed Parakeet Aratinga leucophthalmus Recorded
  • White-necked Parakeet Pyrrhura albipectus Endemic Vulnerable Heard only. Recorded
  • Squirrel Cuckoo Piaya cayana
  • Roraima (Foothill) Screech-Owl Megascops roraimae Heard only
  • Gray-rumped Swift Chaetura cinereiventris
  • White-whiskered Hermit Phaethornis yaruqui
  • Fork-tailed Woodnymph Thalurania furcata
  • Ecuadorian Piedtail Phlogophilus hemileucurus Near-threatened Photographed Recorded
  • Collared Trogon Trogon collaris Photographed
  • Highland Motmot Momotus aequatorialis Photographed
  • Coppery-chested Jacamar Galbula pastazae Endemic Vulnerable
  • Chestnut-tipped Toucanet Aulacorhynchus derbianus Photographed Recorded
  • Lafresnaye's Piculet Picumnus lafresnayi
  • Smoky-brown Woodpecker Veniliornis fumigatus Recorded
  • Lineated Woodpecker Dryocopus lineatus
  • Crimson-bellied Woodpecker Campephilus haematogaster Photographed
  • Guayaquil Woodpecker Campephilus gayaquilensis Near-threatened
  • Spotted Barbtail Premnoplex brunnescens
  • Streaked Xenops Xenops rutilans
  • Montane Foliage-gleaner Anabacerthia striaticollis
  • Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner Philydor rufus
  • Olivaceous Woodcreeper Sittasomus griseicapillus
  • Olive-backed Woodcreeper Xiphorhynchus triangularis
  • Lined Antshrike Thamnophilus tenuepunctatus Photographed
  • Sharpbill Oxyruncus cristatus
  • Andean Cock-of-the-rock Rupicola peruviana
  • Thrush-like Schiffornis Schiffornis turdinus Recorded
  • Olive-striped Flycatcher Mionectes olivaceus
  • Slaty-capped Flycatcher Leptopogon superciliaris
  • Spectacled Bristle-Tyrant Pogonotriccus orbitalis Possibly seen
  • Ecuadorian Tyrannulet Phylloscartes gualaquizae
  • Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant Lophotriccus pileatus Photographed Recorded
  • Common Tody-Flycatcher Todirostrum cinereum
  • Fulvous-breasted Flatbill Rhynchocyclus fulvipectus Possibly seen
  • Yellow-olive Flycatcher Tolmomyias sulphurescens Recorded
  • Ornate Flycatcher Myiotriccus ornatus Photographed
  • Orange-crested Flycatcher Myiophobus phoenicomitra
  • Tawny-breasted Flycatcher Myiobius villosus
  • Cliff Flycatcher Hirundinea ferruginea
  • Black Phoebe Sayornis nigricans
  • Golden-crowned Flycatcher Myiodynastes chrysocephalus
  • Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus
  • Barred Becard Pachyramphus versicolor
  • Blue-and-white Swallow Notiochelidon cyanoleuca
  • White-banded Swallow Atticora fasciata
  • Southern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx ruficollis
  • White-capped Dipper Cinclus leucocephalus
  • House Wren Troglodytes aedon
  • White-breasted Wood-Wren Henicorhina leucosticta Recorded
  • Glossy-black Thrush Turdus serranus
  • White-throated Thrush Turdus assimilis
  • Green Jay Cyanocorax yncas
  • Brown-capped Vireo Vireo leucophrys
  • Tropical Parula Parula pitiayumi
  • Slate-throated Redstart Myioborus miniatus
  • Buff-rumped Warbler Basileuterus fulvicauda
  • Bananaquit Coereba flaveola
  • Yellow-throated Bush-Tanager Chlorospingus flavigularis Recorded
  • Ashy-throated Bush-Tanager Chlorospingus canigularis
  • White-lined Tanager Tachyphonus rufus
  • Silver-beaked Tanager Ramphocelus carbo
  • Bronze-green Euphonia Euphonia mesochrysa
  • Orange-bellied Euphonia Euphonia xanthogaster
  • Orange-eared Tanager Chlorochrysa calliparaea
  • Paradise Tanager Tangara chilensis
  • Golden Tanager Tangara arthus
  • Golden-eared Tanager Tangara chrysotis
  • Spotted Tanager Tangara punctata
  • Bay-headed Tanager Tangara gyrola Recorded
  • Blue-necked Tanager Tangara cyanicollis
  • Yellow-bellied Seedeater Sporophila nigricollis
  • Orange-billed Sparrow Arremon aurantiirostris
  • Yellow-browed Sparrow Ammodramus aurifrons
  • Buff-throated Saltator Saltator maximus
  • Crested Oropendola Psarocolius decumanus


ZAMORA 04o04’S/78o05’W


This reserve adjoins the sw part Podocarpus NP and is the place to see the Jocotoco Antpitta. The QUEBRADA HONDA trail where the discovery was made is located here. 

In all 600 species of bird have so far been recorded.


Plant species 3,500.

Author: BSG, Charles Hesse