Above: Cloud forest at Mashpi Lodge

Birding in Ecuador's Cloud Forest

Even if you have no intention of keeping a “life list,” it’s impossible not to feel excited by the incredible variety of gorgeously colorful birds in the reserve around Mashpi Lodge.

I arose early one morning to join my guide and other guests on the hotel’s terrace, overlooking a forested valley. There, we spotted tanagers in both lemon-rumped and blue-gray varieties, tropical kingbirds, a tricolored brush finch and a cinnamon becard.

After breakfast, I lost track of time watching hummingbirds at a designated feeding area (20 minutes from the lodge by car). We observed green thorntails, empress brilliants, with feathers resembling shiny reptilian scales, and violet-tailed sylphs, with showy tail feathers of cobalt and bright purple. A striking crimson-rumped toucanet (mostly acid green and periwinkle blue, in fact) also paid us a visit.

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