J. Hornbuckle & R.C. Brace

The Cerro Golondrinas Reserve in Carchi near the Colombian border comprises 500 ha of cloud forest at 1600-2400+m in the largely deforested mountains of NW Ecuador. It is owned by  the Fundacion Golondrinas, whose directors, Eliza Mariteca Onate and Piet Sabbe, are based at Calle Isabel La Catolica 1559, Quito (tel 226 602, fax 00593 2 502 640, email Our visit, to and from La Carolina, our “starting point”, arranged through Eliza and Piet,  was aimed at increasing the knowledge of the reserve’s avifauna. An alternative strategy, which a few other birders have followed, is to trek from Moran at 3000m, up and across the paramo and down through the reserve to La Carolina – this is a “standard” 4-day trek, again organised through Eliza and Piet, with a charge of $50 per person per day, all-in. A bird-list for this trek, based mainly on a compilation by Niels Krabbe, is available from the Fundacion.


Fundacion Golondrinas is a locally run conservation organisation dedicated to conserving up to 25,000 ha of montane cloud forest and ensuring a sustainable living for local people by education and improved agroforestry practices. It is achieving some success, with limited resources and the assistance of a number of young volunteers, and deserves every support. Even staying at their simple and friendly hostal, La Casa de Eliza, in Quito, which we highly recommend, contributes to the finances of the Fundacion. As throughout virtually all of forested Ecuador, the sound of the chainsaw has still to be silenced on Cerro Golondrinas.


Although the Reserve holds some excellent birds, such as Yellow-breasted Antpitta, Bicoloured Antvireo, Beautiful Jay and Purple-mantled Tanager, it is not well-known (not even meriting a mention in the site guide of Best et al, 1997) and hence rarely visited by birders. We spent 3 whole days in the Reserve, mist netting some of the time, and staying in the hostel-style accommodation of El Corazon. Conditions were unusually dry and birds generally quiet, which probably accounts for our failure to record some of the listed species. We did add Little Cuckoo, Spotted Barbtail, Golden-olive Woodpecker, Handsome Flycatcher and Red-eyed Vireo to the list.



Bus from Quito to Ibarra (2.5-3 hours), then Lita or San Lorenzo bus to La Carolina (1-1.5 hours) – overnight at the comfortable Cerro Golondrinas Cloudforest Conservation Project (CGCCP) headquarters. CGCCP truck to Las Juntas (1 hour), walk to El Corazon 1450 -2200m (3.5+ hours) with guide / cook, and baggage on horse. Return the same way.



This is an excellent reserve, which should be included in any comprehensive birding tour of Ecuador. Highlights for us were White-throated Quail-Dove, a good selection of hummers including Empress Brilliant, Gorgeted Sunangel and Hoary Puffleg, Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, Powerful Woodpecker, Striped Treehunter, Bicoloured Antvireo, Long-tailed Antbird, Rufous-breasted Antthrush, Yellow-breasted Antpitta, Narino Tapaculo, Green-and-black Fruiteater, Bronze-olive and Rufous-headed Pygmy-Tyrants, Flavescent Flycatcher, Beautiful Jay, Olive Finch and Rufous-chested Tanager.


We recorded seven Globally Threatened species (Collar et al, 1994, Birds to watch 2, BirdLife International), the Vulnerable  and rare Bicoloured Antvireo, and Near-threatened Colombian Screech-Owl, Hoary Puffleg, Toucan Barbet, Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan and Beautiful Jay. The Critically Endangered Yellow-eared Parrot has been seen here and the Vulnerable Dark-backed Wood-Quail, Black-thighed Puffleg and Purplish-mantled Tanager also occur in the area. Further observations will surely add new and interesting species to the Reserve’s list.


Systematic List of Birds

All records in the vicinity of El Corazon, 2100-2350m unless otherwise stated.


Black Vulture

Coragyps atratus

1 or 2

Turkey Vulture

Cathartes aura

Only 1

Roadside Hawk

Buteo magnirostris

Singles at El Corazon and La Carolina

Short-tailed Hawk

Buteo brachyurus

1 at Las Juntas

Ornate Hawk-Eagle

Spizaetus ornatus

1 on 11th

Bat Falcon

Falco rufigularis

1 on 11th

Sickle-winged Guan

Chamaepetes goudotii

1 on 9th

Band-tailed Pigeon

Columba fasciata

Up to 5 daily

Ruddy Pigeon

Columba subvinacea

1 seen and others heard

Ecuadorian Ground-Dove

Columbina buckleyi

2 at La Carolina

White-throated Quail-Dove

Geotrygon frenata

1 on 9th

Little Cuckoo

Piaya minuta

1 trapped

Squirrel Cuckoo

Piaya cayana

1 or 2 daily

Colombian Screech-Owl

Otus colombianus

1 heard on 10th

Rufous-banded Owl

Strix albitarsus

1 large owl heard, possibly this sp.

Band-winged Nightjar

Caprimulgus longirostris

1 at dusk on 10th

White-collared Swift

Streptoprocne zonaris

A few on 2 dates and 100 Las Juntas

Tawny-bellied Hermit

Phaethornis syrmatophorus

3 trapped and 1 seen

Blue-tailed Emerald

Chlorostilbon mellisugus

A female on 11th

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

Amazilia tzacatl

1 at La Carolina

Speckled Hummingbird

Adelomyia melanogenys

Up to 3 seen daily and a max of 6 trapped

Empress Brilliant

Heliodoxa imperatrix

1 on 8th and 3 trapped on 9th

Brown Inca

Coeligena wilsoni

1 on 8th and 2 on 10th

Buff-tailed Coronet

Boissonneaua flavescens

5 on 10th

Gorgeted Sunangel

Heliangelus strophianus

1 on 8th and 3 on 11th

Hoary Puffleg

Haplophaedia lugens

1 on 10th and 1 trapped

Violet-tailed Sylph

Aglaiocercus coelestis

1 or 2 daily

Masked Trogon

Trogon personatus

Singles on 9 and 11th, others heard

Toucan Barbet

Semnornis ramphastinus

2 or 3 daily and commonly heard

Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan

Andigena laminirostris

Heard daily but only 1 seen on 10th

Yellow-vented Woodpecker

Veniliornis dignus

Singles on 3 dates

Crimson-mantled Woodpecker

Piculus rivolii

1 or 2 daily

Golden-olive Woodpecker

Piculus rubiginosus

1 near Santa Rosa

Powerful Woodpecker

Campephilus pollens

2 on 11th

Wedge-billed Woodcreeper

Glyphorhynchus spirurus

1 at 1900-2000m.

Spot-crowned Woodcreeper

Lepidocolaptes affinis

Up to 4 daily

Azara's Spinetail

Synallaxis azarae

Heard daily , 2 trapped

Rufous Spinetail

Synallaxis unirufa

Up to 4 daily

Slaty Spinetail

Synallaxis brachyura

1 above Las Juntas

Red-faced Spinetail

Cranioleuca erythrops

A pair feeding young

Spotted Barbtail

Premnoplex brunnescens

1 on 9th

Lineated Foliage-gleaner

Syndactyla subalaris

2 singles on 11th and 3 trapped together

Scaly-throated Foliage-gleaner

Anabacerthia variegaticeps

Sigles on 8 and 10th

Striped Treehunter

Thripadectes holostictus

1 on 9th and 1 trapped, 2 at 1900-2000m

Uniform Antshrike

Thamnophilus unicolor

A pair on 10th

Bicoloured Antvireo (Western Antshrike)

Dysthamnus (Thamnomanes) occidentalis

1 on 10th

Long-tailed Antbird

Drymophila caudata

Up to 5 daily, commonly heard

Rufous-breasted Antthrush

Formicarius rufipectus

Singles on 9 and 11th

Yellow-breasted Antpitta

Grallaria flavotincta

1 on 9th and 1 or 2 heard daily

Narino Tapaculo

Scytalopus vicinior

Up to 3 daily

Spillmann’s Tapaculo

Scytalopus spillmanni

1 or 2 heard at 1900-2000m

Green-and-black Fruiteater

Pipreola riefferii

Up to 3 daily and 3 trapped

Andean Cock-of-the-rock

Rupicola peruviana

A male flew past El Corazan on 11th

Streak-necked Flycatcher

Mionectes striaticollis

1 on 10th and 1 trapped

Bronze-olive Pygmy-Tyrant

Pseudotriccus pelzelni

1 at c.2000m

Rufous-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant

Pseudotriccus ruficeps

1 seen or trapped daily

Ashy-headed Tyrannulet

Phyllomyias cinereiceps

1 on 10th

Golden-faced Tyrannulet

Zimmerius chrysops

Singles daily

Ornate Flycatcher

Myiotriccus ornatus

1 on 9th and a few at lower altitudes

Flavescent Flycatcher

Myiophobus flavicans

1 or 2 daily

Cinnamon Flycatcher

Pyrrhomyias cinnamomea

Singles daily

Smoke-coloured Pewee

Contopus fumigatus

A few daily

Handsome Flycatcher

Myiophobus pulcher

1 on 10th

Black Phoebe

Sayornis nigricans

2 near Las Juntas

Dusky-capped Flycatcher

Myiarchus tuberculifer

1 on 10 and 11th

Tropical Kingbird

Tyrannus melancholicus

Fairly common

Rusty-margined Flycatcher

Myiozetetes cayanensis

Singles near Santa Rosa

Beautiful Jay

Cyanolyca pulchra

2 above Santa Rosa

White-capped Dipper

Cinclus leucocephalus

2 at c.1800m

Red-eyed Vireo

Vireo olivaceus

1 near Santa Rosa

Pale-eyed Thrush

Platycichla leucops

1 on 10th

Glossy-black Thrush

Turdus serranus

Singles on 8 and 10th

Sepia-brown Wren

Cinnycerthia peruana

2 on 11th at C.2000m

House Wren

Troglodytes aedon

A few Las Juntas - Santa Rosa

Gray-breasted Wood-Wren

Henicorhina leucophrys

Fairly common

Blue-and-white Swallow

Notiochelidon cyanoleuca

A few daily and common at Las Juntas

Tropical Parula

Parula pitiayumi

1 on 8th and 2 on 9th

Olive-crowned Yellowthroat

Geothlypis semiflava

1 seen and 1 trapped on 9th

Slate-throated Redstart

Myioborus miniatus

A few daily

Black-crested Warbler

Basileuterus nigrocristatus

1 on 8th

Three-striped Warbler

Basileuterus tristriatus

1 or 2 daily with 4+ at lower elevations

Buff-rumped Warbler

Basileuterus fulvicauda

Heard near Santa Rosa

Russet-crowned Warbler

Basileuterus coronatus

Fairly common

Rufous-collared Sparrow

Zonotrichia capensis

Up to 3 daily

Rufous-naped Brush-Finch

Atlapetes rufinucha

2 on 9th

Tricoloured Brush-Finch

Atlapetes tricolor

2 on 10 and 11th, and 2 trapped

Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch

Atlapetes brunneinucha

A few daily

Olive Finch

Lysurus castaneiceps

2 at lower elevations

Grass-green Tanager

Chlorornis riefferii

1 on 10th

Dusky Bush-Tanager

Chlorospingus semifuscus

A few daily

Rufous-chested Tanager

Thlypopsis ornata

Single males on 9 and 10th

Rufous-crested Tanager

Creurgops verticalis

4 on 10th

Flame-rumped Tanager

Ramphocelus flammigerus

Common Las Juntas - Santa Rosa

Blue-gray Tanager

Thraupis episcopus

Only 1, at Las Juntas

Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager

Anisognathus somptuosus


Orange-crowned Euphonia

Euphonia saturata

1 at 1900-2000m.

Orange-bellied Euphonia

Euphonia xanthogaster

A pair on 9th and 1 on 10th

Glistening-green Tanager

Chlorochrysa phoenicotis

Singles on 10th and at 1900-2000m

Golden Tanager

Tangara arthus

2+ daily

Saffron-crowned Tanager

Tangara xanthocephala

2 on 10 and 11th

Flame-faced Tanager

Tangara parzudakii

2 on 8 and 11th

Scrub Tanager

Tangara vitriolina

1 La Carolina and below Las Juntas

Golden-naped Tanager

Tangara ruficervix

5+ daily

Beryl-spangled Tanager

Tangara nigroviridis

A few daily

Plush-capped Finch

Catamblyrhynchus diadema

2 on 9 and 1 on11th, with 1 trapped

Blue-black Grassquit

Volatinia jacarina

A few Las Juntas - Santa Rosa

Yellow-bellied Seedeater

Sporophila nigricollis

1 or 2, with a few at lower elevations

Yellow-faced Grassquit

Tiaris olivacea

A few Las Juntas - Santa Rosa

White-sided Flower-piercer

Diglossa albilatera

1 or 2 daily, with 3 trapped on 9th

Bluish Flower-piercer

Diglossopis caerulescens

Singles on 9 and 11th, with 1 trapped

Buff-throated Saltator

Saltator maximus

A few Las Juntas - Santa Rosa




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