The Bird Whisperer

The Bird Whisperer

Alex Burridge – Managing Director – South America Travel Centre

Many of you will have undoubtedly heard of ‘horse whisperers’ (gauchos who have an incredible relationship with horses), but I doubt many of you would have heard of Ecuador’s ‘Bird Whisperer’ or rather, whistler.

A little over a three hour drive from Ecuador’s capital Quito and you’re into one of Ecuador’s Cloud Forest regions; a Cloud Forest is basically a higher altitude rainforest where cloud cover persists permanently or temporarily at low levels. A Cloud forest has fewer monkeys or larger mammals but it does have incredible bird life with over 500 species as well as thousands of species of plants including many orchids and bromeliads.

Ecuador’s Cloud Forest is home to more than 20 percent of the world’s bird species, including many amazing birds like the Andean cock-of-the-rock, the Umbrella bird and over 40 species of hummingbird. These more obvious ‘flashy’ birds are relatively easy to see if you know where and when to go. In the Cloud Forest undergrowth lurks several species of birds that most of the time go unseen. Some of these birds are quite rare, making them very difficult to see.

Hummingbird - Blog Size

White-Necked Jacobin Hummingbird

Cock of the Rock

Andean Cock-of-the-Rock

Farming in this area is hard with relatively thin soil and very steep slopes that make farming tough and it also leads to even greater erosion of the fragile environment. A few years ago a local farmer realised that he had a talent – the ability to call some of these hard to see bird species out of the forest for everyone to see.  Soon word of the bird whisperer’s ability to call the birds out the forest spread and not long after the farmer turned conservationist started a bird sanctuary, the Refugio Paz de Las Aves, with his brother Rodrigo. As the saying goes ‘the rest is history’.

Angel Paz - Bird Whisperer

Angel Paz – the Bird Whisperer

Refugio Paz de las Aves

Refugio Paz de las Aves

The refuge has become a favourite among birdwatchers and nature lovers from around the world thanks to their unique ability to locate hard-to-find bird species using a combination of calls, feeders and extensive knowledge of bird behaviour. The birds that Angel Paz calls out of the forest are Ant pittas; giant, chestnut crowned, ochre breasted and rufous and yellow-breasted and the rainforest hummer.

Giant Antpitta

Giant Ant pitta

It’s possible to stay at or visit Angel’s bird paradise with a range of tour options available. The experience is not just about birds that are normally very hard to see, as you’ll also likely see many of the cloud forest’s more common birds; hummingbirds, toucans, tanagers and my favourite the Andean Cock of the rock. The accommodation at Angel’s place is simple, comfortable and clean but you can expect a warm, friendly welcome and home cooked meals during your stay. Angel and his family really want you to make their home your home. However there are other lodges nearby that also afford this wonderful experience.

Please contact us to organise your incredible bird-watching experience with Angel and Ecuador’s magnificent fauna or call 1300 784 794.