Nature Reserve & Biological Station

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The Cuckoo Rollercoaster

The observations of the Banded Ground Cuckoo at the reserve can be so different from one day to the other that I sometimes cannot believe it myself.

In the past two weeks we had the best situation ever since we found the Cuckoo in the reserve last year. An army ant colony decided to get statary right next to the station again and our cuckoos were running around the house like chickens. Currently there are four Cuckoos around, we have a pair of adult birds (one tame, one shy) and a new juvenile from this June and additionally we have observed another tame individual around a different army ant colony. Next to the station we were now observing the tame adult which probably is our Wilito from last year and its new offspring. Both cuckoos were around every morning for about two weeks and some of our visitors got incredible shots of them. Jonathan Rossouw from Zegrahm Expeditions was one of them. He had visited the reserve in June on two mornings but hadn’t been lucky with the cuckoo. So he had decided to come back and this time he got his reward. Here are a few of his shots of our two little friends and Wilo feeding them.

Last Friday afternoon a couple of visitors arrived at the reserve to stay for the night and observe the Cuckoo the next morning. They were about to settle in their rooms when the juvenile Cuckoo came running across the trail and welcomed them. They observed it for a good while until it realized that I didn’t have any grasshopper fast food for it and it left. And our visitors were also thinking about leaving straight away (!) but then stayed and did some more birding. Saturday morning I fed the juvenile next to the station again and after all the grasshoppers were gone, it even started to follow me up the stairs towards the station house. It was just ridiculous.

The next morning we had visitors who actually only had flown down to Ecuador because they wanted to see the Banded Ground Cuckoo. We spent the whole morning with them sitting in front of the station waiting for any sign of the Cuckoo, but it didn’t show up. The visitors stayed and again on the next morning: no cuckoo. And the next morning again….and the next morning again…no cuckoo. Our visitors were very patient and they definitely would have deserved to see the bird after waiting for it so long but during their whole stay we didn’t get a glimpse of the bird. They left on wednesday afternoon without completing their mission and promised to be back again someday.

And what happened on thursday? The juvenile cuckoo was back!Wilo and I had to go to Quito and our interns Uli and Felix stayed at the station. When we came back, they had the surprising news that the juvenile Cuckoo had shown up again and that they even fed it with grasshoppers. And in the last few days it showed up at the station every morning begging for food as always.If we only could read its mind…

This blog post was written by Nicole

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Bad news....

The army ants became nomadic again and took a route into a rivine covered with bamboo which made it impossible to follow them. Unfortunately this means that we can't offer the Cuckoo-feeding anymore.

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