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Roger Ahlman got word of a "nearby" site where Banded Ground-Cuckoo, an extremely rare Choco endemic, was being seen daily so Jonas Nilsson, Rudy Gelis and I twitched off to Un Poco del Choco bio-research station on the north side of the Pachijal river valley near Los Bancos but far by road. 

We arrived after midday and met the nice owners, Nicole Buttner, a German biologist married to Wilo Vaca, a Mindo native. Nicole showed us where it had been seen daily in the morning between their house and the field station. Wandering around that afternoon we had great views of a pair of Broad-billed Motmots beginning to nest as well as Immaculate Antbirds tame and close-up. Also a confiding Spotted Nightingale-Thrush feeding along the trail. No Ground-Cuckoo that pm so we killed a bottle of rum over birding war stories. In the morning we rose to a dawn cacophony of Ochre-breasted Tanagers and Yellow-throated Bush-Tanagers, then entertained by a close mixed flock near the cabin. Around 7:30 we had our first spotting of the Banded Ground-Cuckoo just down the trail watching and photographing it as it worked the ant-swarm along the forest floor and sometimes perching up on low branches or logs. We watched it for a number of bouts then went to breakfast. As we were eating, it appeared on the trail in the clearing not 15m from us, sunning with its wings out and raising its back feathers. What an amazing sighting and milestone for my 1400th species on my Ecuador list! We eventually saw 2 individuals chasing each other with bill-snapping and jumping. Possibly a pair or an adult with sub-adult as one had very little blue skin on post-ocular. See the photos and videos on
Here’s what a fan said: "That is undoubtably the best bird video I've ever seen. Went to NW Ecuador in July and longed to see this bird! Now I want to see it even more. So glad you were able to see and video it! Great looks and I could feel the silent excitment!" (Stennie Stirling Meadours)


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