After birding all morning in the Jorupe reserve, Leonidas and I drove up to Utuana with hopes of seeing a few rare and highly localized species, including the Gray-Headed Antbird, Piura Tanager, and Black-Crested Tit-Tyrant. Loja province is known for harboring many species of birds unique to Ecuador, and these three birds aren't known to exist outside of the reserve and surrounding environs. The habitat itself is a nice mixture of dense shrubs, bamboo, and elfin moss forest, the latter of which, I understand, grows at high altitudes only in dry, cold climates.
On the afternoon that we were there, the sun was blazingly bright, offering spectacular views of the landscape but discouraging any significant bird activity. Using playback, we were lucky enough to pull in the Black-Crested Tit-Tyrant, which is quite a dandy and boisterous bird for its small size, and we witnessed the regulars at the hummingbird feeders; the most beautiful, the Rainbow Starfrontlet, was for once also the most common. The other target species proved elusive, but I still enjoyed walking through the moss forest.
The drive back to Macara yielded a couple of new birds for me though: Chestnut-Collared Swallows were nesting in the eaves of a building in the main square of Sozorango and the Northern-Crested Caracara was busy picking through some roadkill near Jorupe. Delish!
Notable birds seen: Black-Crested Tit-Tyrant, Silver-Backed Tanager, Purple-Throated Sunangel, Rainbow Starfrontlet, Green Violetear, Speckled Hummingbird, Sooty-Crowned Flycatcher, Northern-Crested Caracara, Chestnut-Collared Swallow.