00º01’193’’N 78º42’433’’W 1780-1927m, 60ha, primary forest patch degraded in some marginal areas, entrance fee $10 each


Birding Site Guide

From the main road coming from Quito, turn left at KM66 and follow for 4km along the Mindo-Nanegalito road. Unfortunately the reserve is not signed with a name, but there is a large tourist ‘do and don’t’ board in English, keep an eye out for this and park there. There is a small food place, souvenir stall and house and these are owned by the same people. Obviously for the Cock-of-the-Rock lek and the antpittas you need to arrive before dawn, and preferably pre-booked. The place has only been going 9 months (July 2006). 

This is a unique place because of the unique Ecuadorian who created the reserve. Nowhere else in the world can you experience a man calling out 3 species of antpitta, which he does using their individual names. Maria is a Giant Antpitta, Willy and Esmereldas are Yellow-breasted Antpittas, and there are also Moustached Antpittas. Angel Paz worked for the logging company that was logging in his area, but he wanted to save the forest on his family’s 60ha, as he went about his work he noticed the antpittas and tried to bring them into the open with meat scraps. Of course being antpittas they disappeared as soon as they could, however Angel noticed if he landed the food right at the antpittas feet it would quickly take it before disappearing. He worked on this for 2 or more months until he could get them to come at his call. They now hop out of cover right into the open of the path and follow him to the waiting amazed audience of birders. Most times 3 species should appear, though the shyer Moustached sometimes gets bullied away by the smaller Yellow-breasted (as happen on my first visit). But there are other special birds to see here besides the antpitta circus. It is probable that the first birds seen will be the amazing Andean Cock-of-the-Rock lek, where presently 8 males display. Beautiful Jays, while uncommon, are sometimes seen too. At the hummingbird feeders, White-bellied Woodstar can be identified by its distinctive wing drone even before being seen and Purple-bibbed Whitetip can sometimes be seen (as BPW did). 

At present this small patch of forest has plenty to offer, but without some effort on the Paz family’s part to extend the reserve the special birds could gradually be lost as the remaining forest becomes more fragmented and the reserve more isolated. It is to be hoped they will work with other families in the area to continue the good work. 

Species seen 

  • Black Vulture Coragyps atratus
  • Tawny-bellied Hermit Phaethornis syrmatophorus
  • Sparkling Violet-ear Colibri coruscans
  • Rufous-tailed Hummingbird Amazilia tzacatl
  • Andean Emerald Agyrtria franciae
  • Fawn-breasted Brilliant Heliodoxa rubinoides Photographed
  • Empress Brilliant Heliodoxa imperatrix Photographed
  • Buff-tailed Coronet Boissonneaua flavescens Photographed
  • Velvet-purple Coronet Boissonneaua jardini Photographed
  • Brown Inca Coeligena wilsoni
  • Purple-throated Woodstar Calliphlox mitchellii Photographed
  • Golden-headed Quetzal Pharomachrus auriceps Heard only
  • Toucan Barbet Semnornis ramphastinus Near-threatened Photographed
  • Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan Andigena laminirostris Near-threatened Photographed
  • Strong-billed Woodcreeper Xiphocolaptes promeropirhynchus Heard only
  • Giant Antpitta Grallaria gigantea Endangered Photographed
  • Moustached Antpitta Grallaria alleni Endangered Photographed
  • Yellow-breasted Antpitta Grallaria flavotincta Photographed
  • Andean Cock-of-the-rock Rupicola peruviana Heard only
  • Golden-winged Manakin Masius chrysopterus Heard only
  • Beautiful Jay Cyanolyca pulchra Near-threatened

Other Fauna 
A total of -- species of mammals. 

There are -- recorded species of amphibians and reptiles. 

Author, BSG Charles Hesse