A Surprise at the Feeders of San Tadeo

On the Fourth of July we where going to see some Ecuadorian fireworks at the fruit and hummingbird feeders of San Tadeo in the Mindo Valley.

These feathered fireworks mainly came in the form of tropical tanagers. Golden, flame-faced, blue-gray, golden-napped, back and blue-capped tanagers. Added to the show where crimson-rumped toucanets and red-headed barbets. But the most colorful explosion came in the form of a pair of toucan barbets.

This barbet is often described in field guides as “unmistakeable” and one tropical birding guide described the toucan barbet as, “a rainbow flavored snowcone.”

While our group was enjoying the firework display, some movement on the ground caught my attention. What I saw was what looks like a large dark rufous potato on sticks and I knew immediately what bird this was and I called out: “Antpitta!!

I later found out that, our guide Luke, at first, thought that I had misidentified the potato bird, that is, until he got his bins on the bird.

“Giant antpitta!” he announced to our group, proclaiming it’s existence.

All eyes were on the bird as it sulked and paused, sulked and paused, like a snowy plover on Ocean Beach.

The reason for the initial disbelief is that the giant antpitta, despite it’s name, is one of the hardest birds to see and see well in the Mindo region. If you don’t count the unusually tame giant antpitta at Refugio Paz de las Aves. In fact, no one had ever seen this bird at San Tadeo, including the owner and Paul Greenfield (the illustrator of The Birds of Ecuador).

We were all able to get views of this rare treat as it sulked behind the water feature, stopped and paused, then struck at something in the leaf litter. It then disappeared from view, heading into the leafy cover downslope.

We then headed downslope to the hummingbird feeders that offered an amazing view of Mindo Valley with the small town of Mindo nestled in the center of the valley.

It was at the hummingbird feeders that we first saw what Luke described as his favorite hummingbird in Ecuador. And the velvet-purple cornet is an absolute stunner!

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