Banded Ground-cuckoos at "un poco de Chocó"

Banded-Ground-cuckoo-Dusan-Brinkhuizen AE2On 13 September 2012 Nicole Büttner and Wilo Vaca encountered a Banded Ground-cuckoo Neomorphus radiolosus on their property, a small reserve called "un poco del Chocó". Nicole  uploaded her very rare sighting with photograph to the observation database of and it was Roger Ahlman who first stumbled upon it. While he was routinely checking the database he got shocked when he saw a picture of a Banded Ground-cuckoo taken within the limits of Pichincha! Soon he managed to get in touch with Nicole and found out that the bird was still being seen at her place. On 18 September Roger and friends went to visit the reserve to look for the cuckoo. They missed it by minutes but the next morning they hit the jackpot: a Banded Ground-cuckoo was foraging right outside the porch while they were having breakfast! The bird was not shy at all and walked around right in the open. They got stunning looks at the bird and were able to photograph and video it. There were ants all over the place which was probably the main reason for the cuckoo being there. Later that morning a second individual showed up. There seemed to be some tension between the two cuckoos and they were frequently observed chasing each other. The birds seemed not to pay much attention to the observers and were watched for over two hours. Back home Roger posted his photos online and soon the spectacular news was spread. From its discovery onwards the species had been seen almost daily by Nicole. However, two individuals  were only seen on 19 September. In general the cuckoo seemed to be attending the antswarm most of its time but on 22 September Sam Woods watched the cuckoo away from ants (there were no ants in the vicinity that day). Also today (25 Sept) the cuckoo was still present amongst ants near the biological station and it often gave away crippling views! The Banded Ground-cuckoo has been seen regularly the passed few months. Nicole even managed to feed it. You need to contact Nicole first, and see if it is worth going.

How to get there?

Most importantly is that you contact Nicole first if you want to visit the reserve. All necessary information and directions can be found on her website: There is accommodation available for small groups but the place can also be visited on a day trip. The morning (7-10am) seems to be the best time to look for the cuckoo(s) but it has also been seen in the afternoon. For now the chances of seeing it look promising, but for how long?

Dušan Brinkhuizen            Back to the News

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Aves Ecuador by Dušan M. Brinkhuizen