Birds of Machalilla: A Photo Gallery

I have seen a lot of birds during my time in Machalilla National Park on the coast of Ecuador, many of which didn't make it into blog posts yet...

There was that trip I took with Barbara to Isla de la Plata, otherwise known as "Poor Man's Galápagos." Then there was that time I went back to Rio Blanco for a weekend of birding with Gastón, but I was too sick to move the whole first day. Or, there was the time I met a man named Rene while on a field trip to Ayampe with EcoClub, and we decided to meet up for a birding tour the following day at 4:30am. Then again, there were all those beach walks and turtle captures and odd moments when I happened to see a neat bird.

I hope you enjoy this photo gallery of all the random birds I saw around Machalilla!

And remember... you can always scroll through a high-definition slideshow my clicking on any of the photos.

Isla de la Plata with Barbara

A bright vermillion flycatcher stood out on the dry, grassy island.

A juvenile blue-footed booby objected to its photo being taken. Must be those awkward adolescent years...

This puff-ball baby booby was still in the cute stage.

A short-tailed woodstar! We heard her chirping for a while before she finally revealed herself.

Muyuyo, a plant I remember well from the Galapagos.

And the muyuyo berries. They taste sweet until the pure rubber texture begins to set in...

A collared warbling finch taking a break from its melodic, liquid, trilling song.

Snorkeling was fun until the jellyfish got me... :( My arm looked as if I had just had an allergy test!

Return to Rio Blanco for birding with Gastón

The exotic yet abundant blue-crowned motmot.

A gray hawk (yes that's its official name) in a secropia tree.

A Pacific hornero scratching in the dirt road.

A buff-rumped warbler hopping from rock to rock in a dry stream bed. I had help identifying this one from the folks on, the coolest website ever. Check it out!

A yellow-rumped cacique.

An olivaceous woodcreeper. Look how the end of its tail seems to cling to the trunk.

We found a giant freshwater shrimp (crayfish?) in the nearly-dry stream. Gaston brought it home for lunch.

A tropical kingbird perches in the open, just like the kingbirds on wires back home. 

Early-morning birding in Ayampe with Rene

A pair of preening Pacific parrotlets.

A scrub blackbird with a characteristically pointy beak.

A tropical gnatcatcher, or perlita tropical, the first bird I learned to recognize this morning.

A rufus-headed chachalaca.

A male crimson-breasted finch among seed pods.

A female tanager or warbler of some kind... Rene identified this bird with no problem by memory, but looking at my short list of candidates and a bird book I still have no clue. I have a long way to go before I am a master birder in Ecuador!

A yellow-billed cacique.

A northern violaceous trogon, FEMALE...

And a northern violaceous trogon, MALE. Notice the different patterns on the undersides of their tails.

A yellow-tailed oriole.

A streak-headed woodcreeper.

Guayacan, a yellow flowering tree with good wood for making furniture.

After hours of slow bird-hiking, we made it to the entrance of the famous reserve!

An exciting bird: an orange-crowned euphonia. The first time Rene has seen this species here! Rene made me promise to e-mail him this photo.

I was walking along the road when suddenly Rene yelped and grabbed me. I had nearly stepped on this dead snake!

It was an equis, or fer-de-lance viper -- a deadly venomous snake. It was probably hit by a car. Thank goodness it wasn't just injured and ready to strike! 

A long-billed starthroat. Hummingbirds have the best names!

A Baron's hermit, swishing his tail back an forth.

An above-ground termite tunnel crossing the road. The orange insects poured out to repair this one break.

A wounded, starving, orphan foal which whinnied and followed us along the road.

This shimmering hummingbird literally fell at our feet.

She was injured and too exhausted to fly away.

We identified her as a violet-bellied hummingbird.

She drank a little from my water bottle cap, and she managed to open her crusted eye when we bathed it, but in the end she was very ill and we had to leave her in the leaf litter by the side of the road.

This streaked xenops was my favorite bird of the day for its pug nose, its extraterrestrial name, and the way it looked straight at me.

What a weirdo!

These shiny, skittish lizards kept running away before I could get a decent photo. Once I said aloud, "I wish it would run toward me instead of away!" and voila, the lizard ran a loop and ended up frozen right in front of me, posed for a photo.

Nearly six hours into our hike, we ran into this character -- an Austrian expat wearing a pink bonnet and carrying a machete. She invited us down her perilously steep concrete steps for a tour of her property, an eclectic garden of plants and stones.

A gray elaenia, technically too far south for its range. I wonder if I should report all my out-of-range sightings to the bird book authors?

Odds and Ends Around Town

I noticed an adult black vulture standing curiously close to the sidewalk. It was bolder than usual, so I looked around for a reason...

... and found this fuzzy orange chick hunched in a corner. He was too young to fly. I think it was only a matter of time until a dog or cat got the better of him.

A blue-gray tanager watched as I photographed the baby vulture, so I photographed it too.

A pair of hungry Baird's flycatcher chicks gets a grasshopper from mom or dad.

A scrub blackbird sits on a Puerto Lopez wall at sunset.

An aptly named croaking ground dove making ridiculous croaking sounds from the ground.

I was excited to identify this stripey little songbird until I discovered it was just a house wren.

A turkey vulture scavenges a meal of dog-slaughtered ghost crabs on the beach.

A magnificent frigatebird watched over us when the axle fell off our bus and we were stranded in the middle of nowhere.

I came upon this juvenile brown pelican during a turtle beach patrol. She was too sick to move or even flinch when I got close.

This isn't a bird, but you've probably realized by now I have a broad definition of a "bird photo gallery." I held this squeak bug up to my ear and heard its steady stream of squeaks!

The gray-breasted martins lined up on these wires by the thousands at dusk. The locals know to never walk under these wires at night!

A close-up of a sleeping martin.

A willet that seemed reluctant to fly, but I didn't chase her to find out if she was able to.