The Cock of the Rock Adventure

Mindo Cloud Forest, Ecuador. For two days,  we took early morning hikes with our superb birding guide, Lucia, who pointed out numerous species of tanagers and other birds.

Photo by Carol S Wade
Golden Tanager
Photo by Lucia Pilco
Golden Tanager
Photo by Lucia Pilco
Vermillion Flycatcher
Photo by Lawrence Wade

Chocó Toucan
Photo by Lawrence Wade
  Common Potoo   
Photo by Lucia Pilco

After two days, Lucia told us about the Cock of the Rock. But in order to see the bird, we had to do the following:
4am Get out of bed
4:30am Cross the river on the trolley
4:45am  Take a taxi with Lucia
5:15 am Get dropped off on a remote dirt road in the jungle
5:20am  Be completely stunned when three other taxis arrive -filled with 10 serious birders.
Shortly after 5:30 the owner showed up and opened the gate. The group hustled down to the bird blind and jostled for a viewing position. The blind fit around 6 people comfortably, but on this morning there were 13 people and many of them had huge cameras with 3 foot lenses.

That is Lucia trying to get through the camera maize.
Photo by Carol S. Wade

 Listen to the cacophony of Cock of the Rocks calling :

  Cock of the Rocks do not pair up, like most birds. Every day the males come to the same location (lek) and display (head-bobbing, and wing flapping) Their goal is to attract a female and then be chosen to mate with her.

Finally, it was light enough to see the birds and get a photo. But first, I had to stake out a spot in the crowded bird blind.

male Cock of the Rock

This was a surreal experience: seeing these unusual birds in this remote area. Sharing the space with all the birders. The friendly and helpful owner, collected $10 from each person. Lucia said that he fills up every morning (over a $100 a day).

That is Lucia between the two old people.

Reader Jim Evrard shared his adventure with the Cock of the Rock:
While serving in the Peace Corps in Peru in 1965-66, I had an opportunity to see the Cock of the Rock along a wild, rapid-filled stream in the high selva on the eastern slope of the Andes. I served as a technical advisor to the Peruvian Wildlife and Forestry Service based in Cuzco and saw the bird while on a working expedition involved in evaluating private land with the ideal of possibly establishing a sawmill.

P.S. Just so you know, that area was a hotbed of communist activity led by Che Guevara, Fidel Castro’s second in command. I was hauled into an army checkpoint along a road because I couldn’t produce my identify card (stolen by a pick-pocket). The soldiers had machine guns and had grenades strapped to their chests. Since I spoke Spanish with an accent, they thought I was a Cuban until I could identify two other Peace Corp Volunteers who were working and living in that area.

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11 Responses to The Cock of the Rock Adventure

  1. Gary L. Friedrichsen says:

    Sounds like a wonderful trip for you two. Good on ya for getting down there.

  2. barry says:

    Great photos! Thanks!!!

  3. Janine says:

    Amazing! Thank you for sharing your experience, Larry!

  4. Sarah says:

    What an amazing experience! Some seriously intense birding. Reminds me of when I hiked around for 3 hours in the middle of the night while 5 months pregnant to see a kiwi in New Zealand.

  5. Kim Puckett says:

    What a great adventure with marvelous birds! Love the back story about Che from your reader.

  6. Justin says:

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful story! Great pictures too.

  7. Linda Jensen says:

    Amazing experience Larry and Carol! Thanks for sharing!

  8. bb says:

    The elder viewer loves the views! bb

  9. Carol Izad says:

    Beautiful pictures… what old people? … these peple looked like they were having a great time.

  10. barbara goodman-fischtrom says:

    Thanks for posting. I felt like I was there for a moment listening to the bird sounds. Barbara

  11. joan Ungar says:

    Thanks so much, Larry: your enthusiasm, expertise and photos really made this an alive and awesome experience for me. Joan

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