A reliable place for Western mountain coati (Nasuella olivacea quitensis) near Mindo, Ecuador.

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San Tadeo Birding garden near the famous birding town Mindo currently (end of February 2021) provides a great and easy opportunity to spot mountain coati. This is a lovely little place with banana feeders for tanagers and other colourful local birds which can impress even those people who normally ignore birding. The entrance fee is 5 USD  person (10 for photographers). We spotted a coati sitting quietly on the low tree branch watching all the birds feasting on cutted bananas at the feeders. It was about 7:30 a.m. This incredible beast looking like a hibrid between tayra and wolverine let us take a couple of pictures, climbed slowly down the tree and disappeared. N. o. quitensis, the subspecies found in Ecuador, is described as having less distinct rings on the tail but the individual we saw had black tail with no rings at all. With short body and tail, greyish head with broad forehead it looked very distinct from the other coati species. We were more than happy with this super rare encounter and didn’t hope for any continuation. However, about a half an hour later the coati reappeared sitting at one of the feeders about five meters away from us and eating the bananas which have left after the birds’ feast. We were sitting quietly but the sound of shouting camera was quite noticeable. The coati gave us a couple of careful looks but kept feeding. After no bananas has left it disappeared slowly in the woods. It was enough time to fully enjoy the close view of the animal and even make a video.
We talked with the lady managing the place  and she said that coati is a regular visitor of the feeders and often comes twice a day, in the morning and in the evening. This is also supported by the confident behaviour of the coati.
We recommend to arrive not later than 7 a.m. (6:30 is even better to be sure you will not miss it). Arriving at this time is feasible from Quito but much more comfortable if you sat in Mindo (it’s ten-minutes taxi drive from the town centre). The coati moves very quiet so monitor the feeders area carefully. We missed the moment it appeared in the field of view both times.
In general, Mindo area which is mostly visited by birders (except the nearby Bellavista Lodge) appeared to be a nice place for mammalwatching. A week-long stay with only occasional night walks (due to rain) resulted in a couple of nice encounters like a Western lowland olingo, bicoloured-spine porcupine, mouse opossum (not sure about the species), and Central American woolly opossum. During the day we were lucky to see Western pigmy squirrel. Feel free to contact us (zoology.gilev@gmail.com) for specific locations.

6 Comments
  1. Profile photo of Jon Hall
    Jon Hall 1 week ago

    What a great looking beast! Thanks so much – this info is gold. Now wondering how soon I can travel to Ecuador… Did the manager tell you how long it has been visiting for and whether it is a seasonal or year round visitor? Also where did you see the porcupine?
    thanks

    jon

  2. Profile photo of Karina and Andrey Author
    Karina and Andrey 7 days ago

    With our zero Spanish and the manager’s zero English it wasn’t easy to get some specific information. We’ve got an impression that it visits the feeders already for a long time. It is a good option to contact them directly via Facebook or WhatsApp (+593 986316784). Before our visit we asked them by whatsapp about opening hours and got a rapid reply in English.
    We saw two different porcupines (one was unusually light coloured) walking the San Lorenzo road at about 3 a.m. It is a long road leading from the town to the Tarabita cable car and beyond. The section we saw porcupines is between El Eden Tree house and Tarabita parking lot. The best part of this section where we saw all the mammals is somewhere in the middle between the Tree house and Tarabita. In this area we stayed at the property bordering the El Eden tree house. It is a little house in the jungle which is something in-between the birdwatching tower and a cabin with beds, kitchen and bathroom. It is absolutely unique and pleasant place to stay. Should be a fantastic adventure for kids of any age. Here is this place – https://ecuadorreptileadventures.com/en/ecolodge/

  3. Profile photo of Karina and Andrey Author
    Karina and Andrey 7 days ago

    Exactly! Watching toucans from your accommodation instead of guided walk is incredible.
    Just to note, we found the porcupines and other stuff here using a thermal gadget working with iPad (SeekThermal). Finding them with classic spotlighting would much harder as porcupines have very weak eye shine.

  4. Profile photo of Jon Hall
    Jon Hall 6 days ago

    THanks so much – I am very tempted to visit in April. Yes agreed – thermal imagers work great for porcupines which can be almost impossible to see with a flashlight if they are high up.

  5. Profile photo of Conuropsis
    Conuropsis 3 days ago

    Nice sighting. Been to Mindo, but not to that place. I should’ve looked for more mammals while in Ecuador:-(

    Andrew

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