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LAS GRALARIAS GUEST HOUSE
Las Gralarias Guest House is one of Ecuador´s finest birding and nature lodges. It is situated just south of the equator at an elevation of 6200 feet (2068 meters) and just two hours from the city of Quito. This small lodge is located in the middle of the famous birding site Reserva Las Gralarias and provides first-class comfort and service while serving as a model for conservation and restoration of the western Andean Chocó cloud forest habitat. Conveniently situated just 2 miles (3.5 kilometers) from the main highway, the lodge is easily accessible. It was designed for the comfort of our clients - in fact, you can drive right up to the front door.
The climate is very pleasant with comfortable temperatures (50-80°F/10-28°C). Often in the early mornings the sun rises from clear blue skies dominated by stunning views of the distant Pichincha Volcano and nearby bird-filled forested hills. By late afternoon spectacular formations of cumulus clouds may occur, and sometimes there are days with overcast. Generally there is only some rain in the afternoon, often followed by amazing celestial palettes of color as the sun sets over the western Andes. The main rainy season is normally short, from March to May. At this altitude and climate few bothersome insects are ever noticed, and tropical diseases have never been reported in this area.
From the lodge you have access to over 7 miles (12 kilometers) of birdy, uncrowded, well-marked trails. We maintain three feeding stations for hummingbirds and frugivorous species such as tanagers and toucans. More than half of all the bird species found in the wider Mindo-Tandayapa-Milpe area have been recorded at Reserva Las Gralarias. We currently have a bird checklist of close to 300 species many of which are endemic to the Chocó Biogeographic Region of the Andes West Slope, and 12 species are considered to be at risk (p.65-66, Birds of Ecuador).
Specialties of the reserve include: Wattled Guan, Crested Guan, Hoary Puffleg, Dark-backed Wood-Quail, Cloud-forest Pygmy-Owl, Golden-headed Quetzal, Crested Quetzal, Beautiful Jay, White-faced Nunbird, Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, Giant Antpitta, Yellow-breasted Antpitta, Moustached Antpitta, Chestnut-crowned Antpitta, Ochre-breasted Antpitta, Scaled Fruiteater, Orange-breasted Fruiteater, Green-and-black Fruiteater, Club-winged Manakin, Golden-winged Manakin, Olivaceous Piha, Powerful Woodpecker, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Yellow-vented Woodpecker, 7 species of parrots, 15 species of ovenbirds, 27 species of tanagers, mountain-tanagers and flower-piercers, 25 species of flycatchers, 26 species of hummingbirds and much more!
Our goal is to provide top quality birding and nature enjoyment in a comfortable setting while conserving the habitat and its avifauna. We have sponsored local outreach environmental education programs, including a local birdwatching club for schoolchildren, as well as on-site research and are happy to hear from anyone interesting in volunteering to work at the reserve. The reserve encourages ongoing conservation-oriented biological research, not limited to avian fauna but including all aspects of tropical montane and cloud forest ecology.
We manage the reserve for the benefit of native flora and fauna and allow human visitors to enjoy the reserve in areas and ways that do not disturb the ecosystem. No trees were cut to build our buildings. Our constructions are 100% ecological, made with long-lasting non-toxic materials that require little maintenance. All buildings were constructed in previously pastured areas and the surrounding sites are now being replanted with bird-friendly plants and native trees. Our water system is rainfall, collected in roof-tubes and cisterns and filtered through a pumping system. Used water is collected in septic tanks and gray water is filtered through a drainage field. Our human footprint at Las Gralarias is minimal and blends harmoniously with our beautiful and tranquil surroundings. This lodge and reserve cater to birds, birders and nature-enthusiasts!
So, if you want top class birding and nature hikes without the crowds, this is the place for you! We can provide transportation, complete accommodations and an on-site guide as well as full birding tours in this area and anywhere else in Ecuador and South America. Check out our group tours at http://www.mindobirdtours.com
Advanced reservations only. Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org Individuals interested in volunteering at or donating to the reserve are invited to contact us. Donations are tax-deductible within the U.S.A. via the 501c3 non-profit Las Gralarias Foundation, Inc. http://www.lasgralariasfoundation.org
Located in the westernmost foothills of the northwestern cordillera of the Andes some 200 kilometers above the Pacific Ocean, Reserva Las Gralarias sits just south of the equator, between 1790-2400 meters elevation. It is home to 24 of the 44 montane endemic bird species of the West Slope of the Andes and includes 12 of 19 bird species in this region considered to be at risk (p. 65-6, Birds of Ecuador).
We have recorded 25 species of hummingbirds, including rare and range-restricted species such as Black-breasted Puffleg, Hoary Puffleg, Gorgeted Sunangel, Empress Brilliant, Velvet-purple Coronet, White-tailed Hillstar and Wedge-billed Hummingbird. Other key attractions include Giant, Moustached, Yellow-breasted, Chestnut-crowned and Ochre-breasted Antpitta as well as breeding populations of Orange-breasted and Scaled Fruiteater. Additional bird species found at Reserva Las Gralarias include Cloud-forest Pygmy-Owl, Black-and-white Owl, Rufescent Screech-Owl, Dark-backed Wood-Quail, Sickle-winged Guan, Toucan Barbet, White-faced Nunbird, Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, Golden-headed Quetzal, Crested Quetzal, Black-billed Peppershrike, Golden-winged Manakin, Club-winged Manakin, Olivaceous Piha, Beautiful Jay, Black Solitaire, Plushcap, Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager, and much more. Mammal species so far encountered on the reserve include Spectacled Bear, Two-toed Sloth, Oncilla, Puma, Mountain Coati, Tayra, Red-brocket Deer, Nine-banded Armadillo, Kinkajou, Andean Weasel, Rothchild´s Porcupine, Agouti, Collared Peccary, various squirrels, opossums and bats. One nectarivorous bat species, Anoura fistulata, described only in 2005, has also been found on the reserve.
HABITAT CONSERVATION Our conservation objective is to purchase and protect high quality habitat for rare, endemic and special species in the Mindo area. We have so far purchased, protected and restored approximately 1500 acres (585 hectares) of key cloud forest habitat. We intend to expand our holdings in this beautiful area in order to help re-establish a habitat connection upslope that will provide a continuous protected habitat corridor from 1700 meters to 3300 meters elevation, along approximately 30 kilometers of the northwestern Andean slopes. We are currently planning to purchase another 600 acres of adjacent land to total 2000 acres of protected cloud forest habitat. Donors who are interested in helping fund this project are encouraged to contact the Las Gralarias Foundation at www.lasgralariasfoundation.org.
FIELD RESEARCH Birds: *For ten years we operated a permitted bird banding project on the reserve in order to better understand the distribution and movements of the avifauna in this zone as well as to document individual characteristics of plumage and body measurements. In January 2009 the first-ever nest of the Chocó endemic Yellow-breasted Antpitta was found by Segundo Imba, caretaker at Las Gralarias, and was formally described by biologists Dr. Harold Greeney and Mery Juiña in January 2010. [See article at boc1294-091117-ind:BOC Bulletin.qxd Nest with two young Yellow- breasted Antpittas Grallaria flavotincta, Reserva Las Gralarias, north- west Ecuador, 14 February 2009]. *In June-July 2010 UK student Elizabeth Noble of Leeds University conducted her master´s research documenting hummingbird behavior on the reserve. *In April 2011 researchers from Yale University studied the Purple-throated Woodstar at Las Gralarias in an attempt to decipher the sounds made during courtship. *In April 2012 a film and production crew of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) spent three weeks filming hummingbirds at Las Gralarias for their nature and bird television series and a special film entitled "Hummingbird Fight Club", *From May 2017 - May 2019 we hosted the team of botanists and ornithologists who were studied hummingbird-plant interactions along the western slope of the Andes as a project of the Swiss Federal Institute of Research and with the cooperation of various Ecuadorian agencies and researchers.
We continue to regularly record bird activity, distribution and nesting behavior and keep ongoing documentation of bird observations on the reserve. Throughout the year we have visiting birders who contribute to our database of sightings and who are delighted by the species they find at our feeders as well as in the forest.
Mammals: *In May 2008 we welcomed Suzanne Bartzke, a graduate student from Germany studying mammals and conservation at the University of Leeds in the UK. Suzanne conducted a survey of the mammals of Reserva Las Gralarias as part of her graduate degree in Conservation and Biology. Her camera traps photographed an interesting variety of mammals on the reserve. We maintain several trail cameras which continue to provide us with some astounding photos of the little-seen and little-known mammals who live on the reserve. Our trailcams and visiting photographers have caught many photos of mammals.
Plants: *In 2001 a team from Ecuador's National Herbarium conducted an initial survey of the plant life at Reserva Las Gralarias. Collecting 82 species of plants considered important to birds, the team found 11 species that are endemic to Ecuador. Of these 11 endemics, 5 are classified as vulnerable, 3 are classified as near-threatened, 1 is considered endangered and 1 is considered critically endangered. The species considered critically endangered is Podandrogyne brevipedunculata of the family Capparaceae and is found in three separate sites on our reserve. We are currently trying to identify the butterfly species recently discovered pollinating this rare plant. We have also been able to identify numerous plants that are important as food sources for various frugivorous and nectarivorous bird species. Thanks to our plant surveys, we have been able to ensure adequate protection for these rare and important plants and the birds and other animals that depend on them. In March and May 2011 we hosted two different botany field courses from Quito´s Catholic University, the New York Botanical Garden and Missouri Botanical Garden with some 40 students who studied the myriad of plants found in the amazing Andean west slope cloud forest.
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