RIO CANANDE RESERVE
|# Excl Vagrants:||361|
|# Near Endemics:||43|
|Habitat: Lowland tropical forest|
ABOUT THE BIRDING
Rio Canande Reserve protects about 5200 acres of lowland tropical forest in northwestern Ecuador. It's of special interest because it protects some of the last remaining habitat of specialty birds in Esmeraldas Province. It is sufficiently far from the border with Columbia that it's a completely safe place to visit. The reserve is owned and operated by the Jocotoco Foundation, first established to protect the Jocotoco Antpitta but has since become actively involved in purchasing and protecting the habitat of many critically endangered species throughout Ecuador.
Guests at the reserve stay at a small, basic lodge operated by Jocotoco Foundation. Several feeders near the dining hall attract hummingbirds to the feeders. Species of interest include Band-tailed Barbthroat, Purple-chested Hummingbird, and Purple-crowned Fairy. Other hummingbirds of interest in the forest and sometimes around the lodge are White-tipped Sicklebill, Tooth-billed Hummingbird, and Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer.
A network of trails through the reserve offers access to the lowland tropical rainforest on the property. There is also excellent birding along the roads used by the logging company through forest that is now protected. Visitors generally spend one day birding the trails and a second day birding along the roads. Some birds of special interest regularly seen in the reserve are Tawny-faced Quail, Choco Trogon, Choco Toucan, Lita Woodpecker, Black-striped Woodcreeper, Pacific Antwren, Rose-faced Parrot, Green Manakin, Golden-winged Manakin, Dagua Thrush, Ochre-breasted Tanager, Scarlet-browed Tanager, Tawny-crested Tanager, Emerald Tanager, Scarlet-thighed Dacnis, and Scarlet-breasted Dacnis. In recent years a few endangered Great Green Macaws have been regularly visiting the area around the lodge. One of the truly prized birds sometimes seen around antswarms is the rare Banded Ground-Cuckoo. Though the bird is rare, it is sometimes seen in certain areas known to the local rangers and guides. Long-wattled Umbrellabird is a possibility though infrequently seen as it's population has declined substantially due to habitat destruction. The reserve is one of the few places where it's possible to find the quite uncommon Scarlet-and-white Tanager and the rare Lemon-spectacled Tanager<
LOCATION OF SITE
Rio Canande Reserve is reached by driving south from Mindo toward Esmeraldas in the lowlands. From Mindo it's about a 6 hour drive. It can also be reached from the area of Santo Domingo de los Colorados in about 3½ hours. The reserve is located on a maze of back roads that are generally unmarked, so it's advisable to have an experienced driver who knows how to find the place. Also, to get into the reserve requires advance written permission from the Botrossa logging company, which operates the ferry across the Rio Canande as well as permission from Jocotoco Foundation.