By: Augusto Rodríguez Flores
Mashpi Lodge: A bird-tourism powerhouse
Of the thousands of incredible things at Mashpi Lodge, what never fail to enchant me each day are the birds. From dawn until dusk, the birds here fascinate visitors with their melodious songs. Birds of all sizes and colours show up, any time of the day. In each nook and cranny of the reserve, there they are…
I love to listen to and see these species while I am working in the laboratory, in the field, or wherever I find myself during the day. That’s when you realise quite how beautiful nature can be. Everything comes together in shapes, sounds, colours and more, attracting bird-lovers from all over the world.
Due to its privileged position within the Chocó, Mashpi is home to some 400 species in different habitats and stratum, with some 35 registered as endemic. All are extremely eye-catching, beautiful, and unique. In this natural paradise, you can appreciate really common and easy-to-spot species like tanagers, euphonies, toucans, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, trogons, owls and birds of prey.
However, as well as the easy and common species, Mashpi is also inhabited by some very rare and difficult-to-spot birds, like the banded ground-cuckoo which is endemic to the Chocó and is threatened due to deforestation, a problem that today affects many species of flora and fauna. Another very rare bird to see is the umbrella bird that is also vulnerable, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, due to the destruction of its habitat and the pressure of hunting. So rare is this species that many aspects of its evolution and ecology remain unknown.
Personally, the bird that most catches my eye is the Chocó toucan, which is also endemic to this privileged zone. Apart from being large and striking, this species has a unique song that is unmistakeable when you hear it in the forest. It incites a feeling of peace and contentment in those visiting the reserve.
Thanks to its top-notch naturalist guides, its biodiversity and its geographic location, Mashpi Lodge continues to grow as a bird-watcher’s haven.
Every day I bear witness to groups of bird-lovers coming to this amazing place from different places in the world, interested in getting to know Mashpi Lodge’s – and indeed Ecuador’s – richness; eager to learn and raise awareness on the importance of conservation today.