This montane forest reserve holds some of Ecuador's most spectacular birds -- Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Giant Antpitta, Velvet-purple Coronet, Booted Racket-tail, and many more -- and offers incredible chances to experience them. You get to the cock-of-the-rock blind early, before sunrise. How active the birds are varies; we saw one male feeding on fruits, but apparently sometimes many males lek and display together. Fruit feeders bring guans, toucanets and tanagers in close offering fantastic photo opportunities, and Angel Paz can call in Toucan-Barbets too. Several antpitta species have been trained to take earthworms from the owners, which is an interesting way to experience these usually very secretive and difficult-to-see birds. While we were there, the famous Giant Antpitta "Maria" was actually on a nest, which I thought was an even better way to see her. And the hummingbird feeders ... incredible, overwhelming, gorgeous. You won't want to leave.
After an early start and lots of birding, breakfast of local cuisine is served. I'm a fan of eating locally so enjoyed the bolas (plantain dumplings) and empanadas.
Bring your camera and binoculars (of course), and be aware that you'll be traversing steep, narrow, sometimes slippery trails through the forest (in the dark on the way in). When we were there, the road in was so slick with mud that several vehicles got stuck and we had to finish the ride in the back of a pickup truck.
Angel Paz and his family are local landowners who are trying to conserve the forest and the birds that live there. Sharing the birds with visitors helps provide the income they need to conserve the land.
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