On the Mend in Mindo, Ecuador: January 28 – 30, 2020

Following our amazing 2 week climbing adventure, we had a few unplanned days prior to leaving for our Galapagos cruise.  Since we were both still feeling terrible from the flu, we opted to take it easy in the cloud forest in a tiny town called Mindo.  The town is mostly known as a birder’s paradise as there are over 400 species in the area.  It sounded appealing to us to try our luck at birding while trying to feel better.

Mindo is a quick 2-hour bus ride from Quito.  Due to the mountains, we crossed the equator twice on the way.  Once we arrived in Mindo, we realized it truly is a small town with just one main street and is surrounded by tree-covered mountains slightly shrouded in the clouds.  It was perfect for a little R&R.

The next morning, we woke up early to meet our guide, Neicer, at 6AM for our first day of birding.  After a 20-minute drive out of town and up into the forest, we started our adventure by trekking along a road listening to the birds’ wakeup calls. 

Neicer had a great scope along and could set it up in a blink of an eye.  He was also able to use the scope to take closeup pictures with our phone, which was awesome!  He was super knowledgeable and got very excited about showing us his favorite birds.  The morning highlights included:

3 types of Toucan – black/yellow, chocolate/yellow and green.  They hang out at the very top of the trees to catch the bugs, so it makes them somewhat easy to find.

Laughing hawk which we found by following the loud, laughing calls!

Many different colored tanagers… golden, flame-faced, blue, so many!

Red Motmot.  Very shy, but we were able to see both a male and a female!

After a few hours of birding, we headed back to the hotel to rest.  We pretty much did nothing all day trying to get well.  The highlight was going to a Venezuelan café for Arepas (fried corn meal sandwich stuffed with meat, beans, cheese and avocado).  It was amazing.

The next morning, we met Neicer at 5AM to drive to a nature reserve farther out of town to see the much-anticipated Andean Cock of the Rock.  We hiked a few minutes to a covered shelter in the dark to await.  A few minutes after dawn, we could hear the birds calling and then a few males landed in the trees in front of us.  The males are famous for their brilliant red heads and large crests.  Their eyes are yellow, and they have a tiny yellow beak.  The males congregate in the trees to perform little dances and show off their colors in hopes of attracting a female.  We didn’t see a lady, but we saw many males strut their stuff!

After an hour of watching the show, we headed to another viewing area to check out the many tanagers and hummingbirds.  Ecuador has over 100 types of hummingbirds, and they are so beautiful!  My favorites included…

Violet-tailed Sylph with its long glorious tail

White-booted Racket-tail with its little white pants

Back at the hotel, it was time to pack and catch the bus back to Quito.  Mindo was a perfect place to rest and allow our bodies to recover from the terrible flu.  I really enjoyed birding and seeing so many colorful creatures.  It got us in the right mindset to continue our animal exploration in the Galapagos!

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