Ecuador Travel Diary - p. 2Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

4 April 2002
My daily routine at Tandayapa is relaxing to say the least.  Unlike the bird-watchers here, who must be up and in the field at first light, I enjoy a leisurely breakfast at 6:30, then spend the morning photographing hummers.  The cook usually has a thermos of coffee waiting for a mid-morning coffee break.  Then it's back to "work" until lunch, the highlight of which is soup.  Ecuadorian cusine is famous for rich hearty soups - they are meals in themselves.
    The rainy season isn't quite finished here, so most afternoons we have continuous showers - a good time for a nap.  If the sky clears I photograph hummers again until the light fades, then I'm ready for a cold beer before the evening meal.  A fellow could get used to this.
VT SYLPH2.jpg (64179 bytes) 





5 April 2002

Of the 330 species of hummingbirds in the Americas, half are found in the Andes.   This wealth of hummingbirds is not due to chance.   According to Robert Bleiweiss of the University of Wisconsin, the uplifting of the high Andes some 18 million years ago was a key event in hummingbird evolution.  It allowed them to diversify, or form new species, in the cool mountain highlands.  They, rather than insects, serve as chief pollinators of hundreds of plants here with whose flowers they have co-evolved.

  Purple-bibbed Whitetip (67733 bytes) 




The Purple-bibbed Whitetip is endemic to a narrow altitudinal range along the western slope of the Andes.  Today one of them accidentally hit a window at the lodge and fell to the ground, momentarily stunned.  It perched on my finger when offered.  I had the feeling of holding a rare jewel, which in a sense it was.   After a moment it came around and buzzed away, apparently none the worse for wear.

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