Birding in Ecuador with My Mom


Two hours into our rainy, cold, early morning birding tour somewhere outside of Quito, I grumpily look at my mom and declare, “Just so you know, THIS is your Mother’s Day present.” She just nods her head while keeping her eyes peeled for humming birds.

The whole reason why I’m in Ecuador is because my mom wanted to see birds.

So much so that she signed us up for 3 days at the Tandayapa Bird Lodge, two hours outside of Quito, near Mindo.

I agreed to do this because in my mind’s eye, I was picturing a fancy bird lodge. A Whistler-esk, cedar beamed palace with warm lighting and a friendly (if not charming) bartender with a knack for making Caipirinhas. Instead a cement block with a musty aroma and a mini-bar fridge awaited me.

But I’ll be damned if it didn’t have a lovely patio buzzing with hummingbirds, chirpin’ and dartin’ through the air.

“Oh Megan! Loooook!!!”

My mom clutches her heart with pure joy. (Ohhh Gail.)

Yup, my Mom’s really into it. And by into it, I mean birding. If you are a completely normal person, you may be asking yourself, “I’ve heard of that, but what exactly do ‘birders’ do?”

I’ll tell you what they do.

They quietly wander through the cloud forests of Ecuador, looking through their binoculars before yelling names of the birds “Yanacocha Hummingbird!” or if unable to immediately identify the specimen, begin to list its distinguishing features “Blue head, yellow body, orange beak” with equal parts excitement and urgency.

If it’s a particularly good sighting, birders may yell “Life Bird!” or “I’m going to tell my bird group about this!”

I kid you not.

One thing is for sure, birders are Evangelical little nature lovers. Mom quote: “I made you a traveler and I will make you a birder!” The lodge owner looks at me like a monk a few steps short of enlightenment “You know, I used be like you, but then…”

Two positive things I will say about birding:

1) You go places off the beaten track. Whether you’re on a dirt road in rural Quito or on a slippery trail swimming through spider webs, this is not the road most traveled.

2) You appreciate the diversity of nature. You realize how many different adaptations birds have, from a hummingbird with a beak longer than its body, to a hummingbird with the smallest beak in the world. It’s kind of crazy if you think about the evolutionary process.

But, when all is said and done, it was totally worth it to make my mom happy 🙂

Mom, THIS is your Mother’s Day present, Happy Mother’s Day to the best mom in the world!

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