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Searching for the Swainson’s Thrush and the Andean Solitaire

November 10, 2018

Since September, a task was given to us, search for two particular species of birds to find out if there is a relationship between them.

One of them is the Swainson’s Thrush which is a bird that migrates to Ecuador since September, and it is possible that with its arrival it displaces the Andean Solitaire which is the other specie we have to find, and it is a native specie of the Andes.

Our task consist on walking all the trails of the Reserve looking for any sign, either hearing the sing or sighting them, and during these two months of research we have found amazing animals, here we leave photos of some of them.


The singing of Andean Solitaire is incredibly beautiful, and we were fortunate to hear it very close, but we have never seen it (here a link with the sing

This week for the first time we finally observed the Swainson’s Thrush!



Wild neighbors

October 9, 2018

In the Reserve it is possible to find a lot of wild animals , so in order to know them we ​​use trap cameras.

The cameras have capture a nine barred armadillo, a brocket deer, an opossum, an agouti, a paca and a tayra.
We have placed the cameras where we have found traces, and surprisingly , most of the animals were captured in the front yard of the cabin.



The babies of August

October 9, 2018

August brought a very pleasant surprise to the Reserve, we found under the cabin a small nest of hummingbirds.

We were lucky to witness their development from small eggs until they left the nest, this happened in a period of five weeks.

We believe that the little ones were Green – Fronted Lancebill (Doryfera ludovicae),
What do you think?

Hello from Las Tangaras!!

August 7, 2018

We are Pablo and Daniela, the new stewards of Reserva Las Tangaras.

We are from Ecuador, so sorry our english is not the best, but we try the best we can!

This month in Reserva Las Tangaras has been overwhelming because living in the Reserve has nothing to do with what one gets used to in the city, and that is the reason why we choose to do this work.

The most charming part of living in the Reserve is being part of the cloud forest and being able to live with countless birds and have the opportunity to observe beautiful mammals in your yard, and hundreds of insects with shapes and colors out of this world, that make you realize the forest is a magical place where life expresses itself in wonderful ways, and how powerful nature is.

There have also been challenges and to overcome them we had to strengthen our body and our mind, such as not having electricity or internet or having to walk an hour and a half to get your food, which makes you appreciate even more the simple things of life.

Here we leave some pictures of our “neighbors” and our new home.

Bird Banding & Farewells at Las Tangaras

July 1, 2018

For our last weeks at Reserva Las Tangaras, we were not just stewards, but also assistants on the Life Net Nature bird banding project. For many years now, Life Net Nature has organized groups of volunteers to conduct avian surveys through mist netting and bird banding at the Reserve. This data set is primarily used for long-term monitoring of avian species abundance and avian species communities within several different categories of habitat that the reserve provides to wildlife.

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Working a bird banding project, you learn that there is a very specific and important protocol one must follow. You need to know which knots to tie to your net poles, how to string a net without getting it tangled, how to open the net each morning, how to start extracting a bird from the net, how to hold a bird safely, and what to look for when inspecting the bird. This kind of hands-on wildlife field research required a certain amount of hand-eye coordination and finesse that is different from a lot of other research we have done. You pick it up fast though, and on this project, we had the pleasure to work with a relatively small, but great team of banders who had a wide range of experiences from beginner to expert to everything in between. The work atmosphere was really conducive for learning, and both of us stewards took a lot away from this experience.

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For us, handling the birds that we had been watching through our binoculars for so long, transformed the way we perceived these creatures. Rather than seeing them magnified through our scopes, we were able to hold them in our hands, and from there we were able to study them much more closely. It was an intimate experience, we were instructed on the proper bird handling technique, called the “bander’s grip”, and while turning these birds over in our hands, we measured things like wing feather length, tail feather length, culmen length, and tarsus length. We would also blow their feathers apart and do a full body inspection, looking closely at their cloaca, brood patch, furculum fat, and ectoparasite load (hoping all the while not to stimulate any projectile bird doppings). Through this project, we got glimpses into the lives of the birds of Las Tangaras, that were otherwise obscured and hidden from us by many layers of foliage and feathers.

One of the most stunning parts about this experience for us was that behind all those branches and leaves, and under all those layers of feathers, most of the birds in the forest are tiny little things. Pequeñitas! And for so many of these birds that call Las Tangaras home, while holding them, you are then able to see all the subtle details or dazzling patterns displayed on these small birds’ plumage. For us we realized that these small creatures are more beautiful than we ever could have understood from afar. We are so thankful that we had the opportunity work with these birds, to live in such a special place, and to share it with all of these extraordinary creatures. We will cherish these memories forever.

Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Dan y Bárbara


There are cats, and there are Cats

June 17, 2018

Imagine for a moment that you are camping under the stars (more realistically clouds) at the Las Tangaras Reserve in Mindo, Ecuador. You are at peace, bundled in your sleeping bag, and listening to nothing but the calls of frogs and insects. When suddenly you hear a different call. The call nobody wants to hear when they are about to fall into a deep sleep. The “Call of Nature”. Disgruntled, you extricate yourself from your sleeping bag, fumble for your headlamp, exit the tent, find your boots and make your way to the Las Tangaras outhouse. At last at the latrine and taking care of business, you reflect that this is not so bad. At least there’s toilet paper, and plus you have a great view of the forest, maybe you’ll see some neat animals. Then, you hear leaves rustling and twigs snapping. You sit up straighter, frozen, adrenaline pumping, “what is that?”. The sounds come closer and closer, it sounds close to the ground, and then at last a small shadow moves into view, and a white-eared opposum scurries past. Relieved, you relax back into your seat and carry on. Only to sit bolt upright as a much larger shadow falls across the entrance. A Puma (Puma concolor) stalks past, nose to the ground. It disappears around the corner in the same direction of the opossum. Well, this didn’t actually happen, but it may have happened if you decided to stay the night at Reserva Las Tangaras the night of the May 15, 2018! However, we’ll never know exactly what happened that night, all we do know is that the next morning there was a scattering of opossum tracks and one Puma footprint directly in front of the latrine.

The Reserve is very much a wilderness area, and we are constantly reminded of that fact. We have seen even more Puma tracks around the property as recently as June 15th, we have a photo from one of our camera traps of an Ocelot on May 23, and we have personally encountered an Oncilla as we were crossing the Río Nambillo very early in morning to catch the early bus to Quito. It’s one thing to know that these animals exist, we see their pictures, we read about them in our animal guides, but it is quite another thing to actually see them (or evidence of them) in the wild. We are very thankful, that we live in such a protected area. Not only does the Reserve, a 50 ha property, have a lot of primary cloud forest, but it is also borders the Mindo-Nambillo Bosque Protector, over 19, 000 ha of protected land that also encompasses many acres of primary cloud forest. Many of these rare and endangered animals like wild cats require large areas of intact forest to survive, and we are very thankful that this very special place can provide that for these spectacular creatures.

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Hogar Dulce Hogar

May 11, 2018

How do you define home? Some might say it is the place where you grew up, some might say it is the place where you have lived the longest, some might say it is where your family lives, some might say it is where you own a house, some might say all of the above and that they have many homes, and others might even say they have no home. Home seems to be a simple, but also very abstract concept that depending on the individual, can be defined in a multitude of different ways. For us, we are not Ecuadorian, we have not lived at Reserva Las Tangaras long, and our families live very far away. Yet, we feel at home here.

We came to Reserva Las Tangaras excited about the incredibly unique biodiversity in Ecuador and all of the new things we would learn about this Reserve and ourselves. And yes, since being here, we have definitely experienced that. We have seen new species of wildlife everywhere, we have heard bizarre animal calls throughout the Jungle, we have cooked with many different local foods, and we have met many amazing people both from Ecuador and abroad. We take great pleasure in, and cherish all of these new things we are experiencing, but there is something else about living here that we weren’t expecting to give us so much pleasure.


It’s also the same things that we have begun to notice everyday. There are small patterns you start to pick up on at Las Tangaras like the afternoon rains, seeing the same individual hummingbirds zoom around the house, walking alongside a column of army ants on the entrada trail to town, or hearing the Andean Cock-of-the-rock call as they descend down the mountain from their daily morning lek. As the Stewards of Las Tangaras, we take immense pleasure in not only the new things, but also these smaller things that have become routine. Maybe that’s another definition for home.

Although we don’t have very many human neighbors, we do have a Common pootoo that regularly roosts near the cabin, we have a Broad-billed motmot that often comes by to say hi when we are doing our hummingbird counts, and we have a pair of Orange-bellied euphonias that hop around the trees in our backyard picking berries as they go. Albeit only temporarily, this is our home now, and through recognizing the habits of some of the other creatures living here at Las Tangaras we feel like we’re slowly becoming part of the ecosystem here too.

We have found that we enjoy both the ordinary and the extraordinary, and we value each type of experience equally. This Reserve is a beautiful place that offers hiking trails, diverse avifauna, breathtaking views, swimming holes, you name it. There are plenty of opportunities for excitement here, but you can never know beforehand what those will be. For us, one of our greatest pleasures is watching the hummingbirds during a thunderstorm bathe themselves, and seeing them come to the feeders with crazy hair styles!

Reserva Las Tangaras is a little different from most other nature destinations, and if you approach your stay here with an open-mind you can find endless entertainment, enjoyment, and adventure.