ABOUT THE BIRDING
Podocarpus National Park is conveniently divided into two main sections, the higher elevation site accessed from the Cajanuma entrance and the lower elevation Bombuscaro section accessed from Zamora. The habitat on the mountain slopes along the road to Zamora have been severely degraded by logging and agricultural activities. A few stops along the way offer opportunities to find White-capped Dipper and Cliff Flycatcher. Birding can also be good along the old Loja-Zamora Road, which intersects the new road not far outside Zamora.
The Bombuscaro section of the park is in the Subtropical and Upper Tropical altitudinal zones and offers some of the best birding in Ecuador. The area is famous for the relatively recently discovered Foothill Elaenia and two other near endemics, the White-breasted Parakeet and Coppery-chested Jacamar. The trail into the park is wide and fairly easy walking. It descends gradually downhill through the forest and eventually reaches a clearing around the ranger station. Notable birds regularly seen along the trail include Black-streaked Puffbird, Lafresnaye's Piculet, Dusky Spinetail, Equatorial Graytail, Foothill Antwren, Blue-rumped Manakin, Western Striped Manakin, Orange-crested Flycatcher, Yellow-cheeked Becard, Yellow-whiskered Tanager, Golden-collared Honeycreeper, and Russet-backed Oropendola. The eastern race of Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, which is more orange than the western race, is sometimes seen in the forest mid-story. The area is famous for its mixed species tanager flocks, which may include Yellow-whiskered Chlorospingus, Ashy-Throated Chlorospingus, Orange-eared Tanager, Paradise Tanager, Green-and-gold Tanager, Golden Tanager, Golden-eared Tanager, Spotted Tanager, and other species.
Hummingbird feeders at nearby Copalinga Lodge attract a variety of interesting species including Violet-headed Hummingbird, Glittering-throated Emerald, Ecuadorian P:iedtail, and Violet-fronted Brilliant. Rare possibilities to be looked for are Black-throated Brilliant and Wire-crested Thorntail as well as the little-known Spangled Coquette and Amethyst Woodstar. The extremely rare and local Maroon-chested Ground-Dove sometimes visits the gardens around the lodge.
Birding along the nearby Trans-Amazonian Highway offers opportunities to see species of more open habitat such as Speckled Chachalaca, Chestnut-collared Swift, Blue-tailed Emerald, Yellow-tufted Woodpecker, Little Woodpecker, Dark-breasted Spinetail, White-browed Antbird, Short-crested Flycatcher, White-banded Swallow, Black-capped Donacobius, Olivaceous Greenlet, Olivaceous Siskin, Magpie Tanager, Turquoise Tanager, Chestnut-bellied Seedeater, Yellow-browed Sparrow, Yellow-rumped Cacique, and Crested Oropendola. There is little traffic along the road and the birding entails easy walking off the shoulder of the road.
LOCATION OF SITE
The Bombuscaro section of Podocarpus National Park is reached by driving east from Loja in southern Ecuador. The scenic winding road descends steeply through multiple altitudinal zones to the town of Zamora, about 60 km east of Loja. From Zamora a short drive leads out of town to Copalinga Lodge and continues a bit farther to the Bombuscaro entrance to the park.