Masked Trogon (Trogon personatus)

It’s time to unmask the beauty of the elegant Masked Trogon (Trogon personatus) who is a species of bird in the family Trogonidae.  They have 8 different subspecies:

  • T. p. assimilis is found in the subtropics of the west Andean slope in Ecuador.
  • T. p. duidae is found on Mount Duida in the tepui region of southern Venezuela; males of this subspecies are reddish-bronze on the back.
  • T. p. personatus is found in the subtropical Andes of Venezuela, central and east Andean slopes in Colombia, and east Andean slopes in Ecuador and Peru; males of this subspecies are glossy green above.
  • T. p. ptaritepui is found in the tepui region of southern Venezuela; males of this subspecies are golden-green on the back.
  • T. p. roraimae is found on Auyantepui and Monte Roraima, on the border between Venezuela, Guyana and Brazil.
  • T. p. sanctamartae is found in the Santa Marta Mountains of northeastern Colombia.
  • T. p. submontanus is found in the Andean foothills in Bolivia.
  • T. p. temperatus, sometimes considered to be a separate species, the highland trogon, is found in the temperate Andes of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

I took the photos below from the verandah of the El Dorado Reserve Lodge.  This female  bird (T. p. sanctamartae) seemed to know how gorgeous she is and made sure I got her good side – both of them!

dscn2870 dscn2875 dscn2878

Here’s a male bird from the Mindo area.


Another male from Cabanas San Isidro


They have a huge range throughout the mountainous areas of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru & Bolivia.  You may get lucky as I did at Mindo, San IsidroEl Dorado and Rio Blanco.





Neotropical Birds

Not Your Average American


This clip from the Mindo area has the male bird’s call.

A quiet but curious female.



Visit The Equator Between Mindo & Quito

If you are traveling between the Mindo area and Quito, the road goes right past Mitad del Mundo, the monument of the equator so why not jump out and have a look?  Sure it’s uber-touristy but we all need our touristy moments, even in Ecuador!

We were still having bad weather when we arrived.


Tickets are $3 just to enter the park or around $8 to go into the planetarium and to the top of the monument.  We just went for the entry as we had our backpacks on and just wanted to see the line.DSCN1547

The park is laid out well with several posters giving information.DSCN1548

As we walked through the park, we saw lots of really nice hummingbird statues.DSCN1549 DSCN1550 DSCN1551 DSCN1552 DSCN1553 DSCN1554 DSCN1558

So here is one variation of the silly tourist photo.  One person usually stands straddling the line or two people can be on opposite hemispheres as we did here.DSCN1563 DSCN1565 DSCN1568

We had a quick look at the shops but didn’t buy anything.DSCN1566 DSCN1567 DSCN1569 DSCN1570

Across the street was a small shopping centre with a bank that didn’t like my ATM card and a Subway sandwich shop that took credit cards so we bought a couple sandwiches.DSCN1571

Back to the taxi rank in front of the monument we bargained with a driver to take us to our hotel near the airport for $25.  I had heard it was $20 to the city and the airport was a bit further.DSCN1572

Maroon-tailed Parakeet (Pyrrhura melanura) & Choco Parakeet (Pyrrhura pacifica)

Depending on which birding field guide you have you may see these birds lumped together with Pyrrhura melanura as the nominate with these subspecies or as two separate species as per the title of this post.

  • P. m. berlepschi
  • P. m. chapmani
  • P. m. melanura
  • P. m. pacifica
  • P. m. souancei

DSCN2218a DSCN2215a

I did see them in 3 separate locations in Ecuador so I know I have at least two varieties!  The photos above were taken at Wildsumaco Lodge and were the only Maroon-tailed Parakeets I saw perched.  I also saw them flying through trees at the Waterfall Trail in Mindo & from the canopy tower at Napo Wildlife center.  The ones at Mindo and Rio Silanche are definitely the Choco Parakeet being the only species seen in the western side of the Andes (red).  The ones above could possibly be P.m. souancei (dark green) or the nominate (lighter green).  The ones at Napo were most likely Pyrrhura melanura.  Splits are so confusing!




World Parrot Trust

Birdlife – Maroon-tailed

Birdlife – Choco

Neotropical Birds

Information about the split


This is pretty much all I get with smaller birds like Pyrrhura Parakeets – just a fleeting glimpse!

Here’s some bird porn to make up for it – filmed at Wildsumaco.


An Afternoon At Rio Silanche Bird Sanctuary

We left the Mirador Restaurant around 2pm-ish and decided to keep heading down the same road to Rio Silanche Bird Sanctuary as we were still targeting Rose-faced Parrots and Blue-fronted Parrotlets.  Some Maroon-tailed Parakeets would be nice too!

As we left the main road to the access road for the reserve we saw some Bronze-winged Parrots in a tree.

DSCN1417 DSCN1424

Continuing on, the road is pretty well marked if you are self-driving.  Of course Alex, our guide has been here many times and knows it well.DSCN1425 DSCN1426 DSCN1427

We were there pretty late and the staff had closed up.  We were still able to get inside but there was no one there to charge the fees.DSCN1442 DSCN1428 DSCN1441 DSCN1440

We walked down a short trail to the canopy tower.DSCN1439 DSCN1438

There are beautiful views over the rainforest but not too many birds around. Maybe the weather was still causing trouble.DSCN1431

A pair of Choco Toucans showed up.DSCN1430 DSCN1435

I’m having trouble with some of these as they may be female tanagers which look completely different from the males!DSCN1436 DSCN1437

Grey-and-gold Tanager DSCN1432 DSCN1433 DSCN1433a DSCN1434

It was looking like rain again so we left after less than an hour at the canopy tower.  DSCN1443

Female Black-cheeked Woodpecker


Guayaquil WoodpeckerDSCN1446

Complete Bird List

We later found out that another guide had been here in the morning and seen a huge flock of Maroon-tailed Parakeets!

If you would like to visit this reserve along with other reserves around Mindo, I can highly recommend Alex Luna who can be reached by email.

Flame-faced Tanager (Tangara parzudakii)

The Flame-faced Tanager (Tangara parzudakii) is an especially beautiful member of the family Thraupidae.

IMG_3462a IMG_3149

They are found in Colombia, Ecuador & Peru with the Mindo area being one of the easier places to see them.  They like banana feeders put out by various lodges such as the ones at Angel Paz’s place and the Mirador Restaurant near Milpe Bird Sanctuary.





Neotropical Birds


A rare clip of a Flame-faced Tanager NOT on a banana feeder!

And some close-ups.


Milpe Bird Sanctuary

Milpe Bird Sanctuary is about 15 km from Mindo and can easily be added to any birding itinerary.  The entrance is well marked and there is a public road for about 5-6 km that is very birdy.


On the map below, I highlighted in red where we saw the Bronze-winged Parrots.  We were also hoping for Blue-fronted Parrotlet but dipped.  I have the worst luck with Parrotlets in general!


The red line is a public road and you can drive or walk there for free.  If you want to enter the sanctuary (you can see the trails on the map) there is a charge of $7.  We started by driving down the road.  It’s pretty bumpy so you need an SUV or 4×4.

My bird list which includes both roadside and hummingbird feeders.

DSCN1294 DSCN1295 DSCN1298 DSCN1301

End of the line, turn back!DSCN1302

I didn’t get that many photos but here’s a few random birds.IMG_3299a IMG_3303 IMG_3322

For me, the highlight was this beautiful Bronze-winged Parrot who was fairly close.IMG_3327a IMG_3332a DSCN1304 IMG_3377a

We headed back to the actual sanctuary where I got caught up in souvenir shopping.  One thing you should definitely buy here is the birding guide book for $5 which has a complete checklist and nice pictures of the birds in Milpe & Rio Silanche.  There are some nice handicrafts here too.

DSCN1390 DSCN1384

A beautiful Collared TrogonIMG_3405 DSCN1328

Then it started raining pretty hard so we took shelter at the cafe area and watched the hummingbirds.  I decided to practice photographing hummingbirds in flight.DSCN1339

Green-crowned BrilliantDSCN1338

Green-crowned Woodnymph DSCN1333

Velvet Purple Coronet DSCN1342 DSCN1346 DSCN1349 DSCN1355 DSCN1360

White-necked Jacobin DSCN1364

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird DSCN1374 DSCN1377 IMG_3392a IMG_3426

Green-crowned Woodnymph IMG_3428

When the rain let up the feeding table got more active.IMG_3448 IMG_3387


Pale-mandibled Aracari – the one on the right is a juvenile being fed by the parent. DSCN1383 DSCN1381 DSCN1340

It was around noon so we went to the Mirador Restaurant (marked on the map above).  They don’t take credit cards so we didn’t eat too much but the view and the birds were awesome!

DSCN1393 DSCN1394 DSCN1408 DSCN1409 DSCN1410 DSCN1411 DSCN1412 DSCN1413

The Chestnut-tipped Toucanets ruled the roost.  When they were eating the smaller birds stayed away.DSCN1398 DSCN1401a IMG_3472

When the Tocanets left, smaller birds like these Blue-grey Tanagers moved in.DSCN1406

Flame-faced Tanager IMG_3462a

Orange-bellied Euphonia IMG_3465a IMG_3467a

We visited Milpe Bird Sanctuary with Alex Luna, one of Mindo’s top birding guides.  You can contact him by email  if you would like to organize a trip with him.  He speaks English very well, knows all the birds and if you have target birds, he will do all he can to make sure you see them (though he can’t do anything about the weather)!




Rose-faced Parrot (Pyrilia pulchra)

The Rose-faced Parrot (Pyrilia pulchra) is a species of parrot in the family Psittacidae.  I had to try several times to find these beauties!

IMG_3708a IMG_3645a IMG_3722a

They are only found in Ecuador & Colombia but much of their habitat is difficult to get to for normal tourists.  Mindo is probably the easiest place to find them, especially along the Waterfall Trail.




World Parrot Trust


Neotropical Birds


Very affectionate little birds!

And this one seems to be looking for a nest.



Chestnut-tipped Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus derbianus)

The Chestnut-tipped Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus derbianus) is a South American species of bird in the Ramphastidae family. It occurs in humid highland forests along the east Andean slope from southernmost Colombia to Bolivia.

IMG_3472 DSCN1401a DSCN1398

They can be found in the very southern part of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru & Bolivia.  They are fairly common in the Mindo area and I saw this one at the Mirador Restaurant near Milpe Sanctuary.





Neotropical Birds


There wasn’t much on video of this bird but I did find one of the general area that includes the Toucanet at 11:08.  The mist gives you an idea of the weather I was dealing with during our trip.



Mindo’s Waterfall Trail

The road that goes up into the hills is actually called San Lorenzo Road but it is also called the Waterfall Trail because of the hikes in the area to various waterfalls.  There is also a zipline company operating here.  You can walk from Mindo town if you are fit and keen, otherwise a taxi can drop you at the birding place and you can walk down the hill.  Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of the drop off place but there is a fork from the side of the road about 2-3km up the hill leading to a farm.

We birded this area twice.  The first day was with one of the best bird guides in Mindo – Alex Luna.  The second day we went back on our own as Alex was booked that day to try again for Rose-faced Parrots.

The weather plays a huge part in how lucky you will get.  So you can imagine I wasn’t thrilled with this kind of fog!


This is the entrance to San Lorenzo Road.  Keep driving a few km, look for a fork leading to a farm on your right, then jump out and start birding.DSCN1287 DSCN1289 DSCN1290

Here’s some shots from Day 1.  Alex tried his best but the weather was working against us.  We did get some Red-billed Parrots, Bronze-winged Parrots, Collared Aracari, Choco Toucan and some beautiful Tanagers but the photos didn’t come out.

Day 1 Bird List

IMG_3245 IMG_3252 IMG_3259 IMG_3263a IMG_3265 IMG_3268 IMG_3270 IMG_3277 IMG_3285 IMG_3285a IMG_3289a IMG_3293a IMG_3295

Here’s some shots from Day 2.  This time the weather was slightly better, the fog lifted earlier and we hung around until 9:30.  The Rose-faced Parrots finally did show up but it was closer to 9am when they did and they hung around quite a while so we got to spend some quality time watching them.  We also saw Red-billed Parrots, a quick fly-by of Maroon-tailed Parakeets and a lot more!  I tried to keep the photos together but we were using 2 cameras – a Canon 60D & a Nikon Coolpix P900 (the one with 83x zoom).

Day 2 Bird List

IMG_3525 IMG_3529a IMG_3534a IMG_3540a IMG_3545a IMG_3548 IMG_3550 IMG_3550a IMG_3555 IMG_3561 IMG_3576a DSCN1454 DSCN1458a IMG_3579 IMG_3587 IMG_3618 IMG_3618a IMG_3626a IMG_3631a IMG_3636 IMG_3659 IMG_3660a IMG_3643a IMG_3645a IMG_3648a IMG_3677 IMG_3679a IMG_3700a IMG_3707 IMG_3708a IMG_3710a IMG_3716a IMG_3720a IMG_3722a IMG_3724 IMG_3725a IMG_3742 IMG_3742a IMG_3746a IMG_3764 IMG_3765a IMG_3774a IMG_3782a IMG_3785a IMG_3788a IMG_3806a DSCN1486 DSCN1490a IMG_3667a IMG_3811 IMG_3811a IMG_3818

This is Alex Luna, the wonderful birding guide in Mindo.  You can contact him by email  if you would like to organize a trip with him.  He speaks English very well, knows all the birds and if you have target birds, he will do all he can to make sure you see them (though he can’t do anything about the weather)!



Bronze-winged Parrot (Pionus chalcopterus)

The Bronze-winged Parrot (Pionus chalcopterus) is a short-tailed stocky parrot found in forest and woodland in north-western South America.  They are one of the easier parrots to find in their range.

IMG_3332a DSCN1304

They are found mostly in Ecuador & Colombia with a sparse population in Venezuela.  I saw them just about everywhere – Umbrellabird Lodge flybys, Mindo‘s Waterfall Trail, Milpe Bird Sanctuary, Rio Silanche, Rio Blanco in Colombia near Manizales.




World Parrot Trust


Neotropical Birds


This was a challenge as there isn’t much video footage of these beautiful parrots from the wild but there are a lot of pet bird videos on YouTube.  Here’s a couple, at least you can hear this one!

Video filmed through digiscoping.