Ex-hunter thrills bird watchers on Ecuador preserve

After hunting birds for decades, Angel Paz now guides bird-watchers who flock to his forested mountain preserve in Ecuador, home to one-sixth of the world's bird species.

In 2005, the 47-year-old farmer traded in his rifle for binoculars after realizing that tourists would dole out large sums to view birds on the private preserve near Nanegalito, some 90 kilometers (56 miles) north of Quito.

"I used to hunt. Now I safeguard the birds. I give them food and they allow me to feed my family," Paz told AFP, boasting of his ability to imitate the calls of 100 different bird species.

Six months after the creation of his "Peace of the Birds" refuge, it has already attracted ornithologists and "birders" or "twitchers" -- bird-watching enthusiasts -- from the United States, Britain, Canada, Japan and India.

Paz has patiently gained the trust of his birds by offering them food, and now when he calls out their names select birds will come out of the thick foliage to greet visitors.

Minutes after arriving at the reserve, visitors are surrounded by dozens of hummingbirds of different sizes and colors, including rare and endangered species such as the tiny black-breasted puffleg (eriocnemis nigrivestis).

"One tourist who really wanted to visit could not believe his eyes when he arrived, and he broke into tears," Paz recalled.

One of his favorite birds is the endangered tawny antpitta (grallaria antpitta), which he has named after the Colombian pop star "Shakira" because of its unique rhythmic tail wag.

He is especially proud of his dark-backed wood quail, a shy, endangered ground bird native to the high forests of Colombia and Ecuador.

There is also a giant antpitta named Maria, which Paz said was difficult to attract to his reserve.

On his 25 hectares (62-acres) perched 1,400 meters (4,200 feet) above sea level, virtually on the equator, Paz feeds fruits and earthworms to more than 220 bird species.

On the reserve Paz has el oro parakeets (pyrrhura orcesi) and toucans as well as sparrows, doves, wild turkeys and owls.

After the birds finish eating, two olingos -- mammals that look like a cross between a monkey, a squirrel and a miniature bear -- swoop down to scoop up the leftovers.

Thanks to its variety of micro-climates, from rain forests to the snowcapped Andes, the Latin American country is a bird paradise.

"There are in Ecuador nearly 1,600 bird species representing 13 percent of the world's bird species," guide and birdwatcher Roberto Cedeno, who has spent 20 years observing birds, told AFP.

For comparison, there are 914 wild bird species in the United States and Canada, according to the American Birding Association.

There are 130 different types of hummingbirds in Ecuador, nearly half of the 300 species in the Americas. Hummingbirds are native to the western hemisphere.

Tourism linked to birdwatching has flourished in Ecuador in recent years, and Paz says it could take a birder days to find the vast variety he has in his reserve.

"The birds are jewels in the forest and there are people who, instead of scanning images, prefer to make their own observations about these small treasures," said Cedeno.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Isuzu PH announces new President
    Isuzu PH announces new President

    Isuzu Philippines Corporation (IPC) formally announced the appointment of Hajime Koso as the new president replacing outgoing president Nobuo Izumina, who will be assigned as the Director of Isuzu Body Corporation, an affiliate of Isuzu Motors Limited (IML) in Japan. A native of Okayama Japan, the 57 years old executive has been working for IML for 35 […] The post Isuzu PH announces new President appeared first on Carmudi Philippines. …

  • Pacquiao sees fist of God delivering win over Mayweather
    Pacquiao sees fist of God delivering win over Mayweather

    Filipino boxing hero Manny Pacquiao is confident he can beat American arch-rival Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas on Saturday with the power of God, after abandoning a life he said was packed with sin condemning him to hell. Pacquiao is in top form both in mind and spirit after he traded his boozing, gambling and womanising ways for a devout life of prayer, his spiritual adviser, Jeric Soriano, told AFP in a recent Manila interview. Except the world got to him," Soriano said of Pacquiao's …

  • Honda sells Limited Edition CR-V and Jazz
    Honda sells Limited Edition CR-V and Jazz

    Honda Cars Philippines, Inc. (HCPI) is starting to roll out their limited edition models—the all-new Jazz and CR-V. The 20 units of all-new Jazz Cool Blue Limited Edition will have refreshing Brilliant Sporty Blue paint color and factory-installed Modulo accessories while the 10 new CR-V 2.4 SX units are available with limited edition Gold Brown […] The post Honda sells Limited Edition CR-V and Jazz appeared first on Carmudi Philippines. …

  • Celebrities urge Australia PM to do more to save execution pair
    Celebrities urge Australia PM to do more to save execution pair

    Celebrities including Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush released a video Tuesday urging Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to fly to Indonesia to help save two citizens facing execution, forcing the government to defend its tactics. "Bali Nine" drug traffickers Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan could face the firing squad within hours, along with others from Brazil, Nigeria, the Philippines and an Indonesian prisoner. Australia, Indonesia's close neighbour, has mounted a sustained diplomatic …

  • ISIS has not penetrated Phl – AFP
    ISIS has not penetrated Phl – AFP

    Security officials yesterday maintained that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has not penetrated the Philippines following an expert’s warning that the group poses a threat to the country. Abu Sayyaf, BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters), private armed groups to our knowledge are the people making problems down south,” Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang Jr. said. The BIFF and the Abu Sayyaf have pledged allegiance to the ISIS but it remains uncertain whether they are …

  • Cerbo named national police intel chief
    Cerbo named national police intel chief

    Philippine National Police officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina yesterday ordered the appointment of PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr. as chief of the Directorate for Intelligence. …

  • Pump prices up anew
    Pump prices up anew

    Oil companies announced yesterday another round of price hikes with independent oil firms among the first to issue their respective announcements. PTT Philippines, the local subsidiary of Thailand’s biggest oil firm, and Phoenix Petroleum Philippines, another independent oil company, were among the first to issue their respective advisories. Seaoil Philippines also issued its announcement. …

  • PNP to ease rules on gun permit processing
    PNP to ease rules on gun permit processing

    The Philippine National Police will simplify requirements for getting a firearm’s permit under the new gun control law, PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina said yesterday. Espina said they are working to simplify the process to secure a license to own and possess firearms (LTOPF) amid complaints of excessive requirements from gun holders. Espina directed the Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO) to make it easier for legitimate gun owners to comply with the …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options