After many years of working in bird conservation and with extensive experience as a tour leader as well as personal birding trips throughout the Americas, Europe and southern Africa, I decided to open a birding tour company based in Mindo, Ecuador.Why Mindo??Because it is considered a key site for endemism and it was where I had launched the first Important Bird Area (IBA) in the Americas while working as Head of the Americas Regional Office for BirdLife International. I had first visited Mindo in 1990 and had found it to be a beautiful, tranquil, bird-filled area.So, in 1996 when we were deciding to launch the first IBA, it was not hard to convince everyone that it should be in the Mindo area.
I had long ago decided that by the year 2000 I would be working in the field instead of a city office. So in May 1999 I quit my real job, sold my home in Austin, Texas and moved from Quito to Mindo.As my birding friends and others began to want to come birding in Ecuador they contacted me for assistance.So I helped arrange birding tours and, one thing always leading to another, soon decided to formalize my efforts by establishing an actual tour company.In 1999 I established Mindo Bird Tours as the first birding company based in Mindo. We have been in business ever since and are still the only birding tour company based in Mindo and now also with an office in Quito. Beware of imitations - and there are many - who claim to be a birding tour company and even copy our name. We recommend that you ask for their credentials and official legal status.
Since its inception Mindo Bird Tours has grown dramatically.We now offer regular set departure birding tours throughout Ecuador as well as Peru and Colombia and also arrange many custom tours in Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Chile, Brazil and elsewhere in South America.We have very many repeat customers and pride ourselves on providing the best possible birding tour –with great birds, great guides, great drivers, comfortable lodging and safety.
Our philosophy of providing the best birding tours is coupled with our strong conservation ethic. As I plotted my move away from city life I began to purchase parcels of land for habitat conservation and potentially for a place to live.In 1998, with a purchase of 15 acres of mixed forest and farm, Reserva Las Gralarias was born (www.reservalasgralarias.com).It now encompasses 1063 acres of land within Mindo parish.With the help of many people we established the U.S.-based Las Gralarias Foundation (www.lasgralariasfoundation.org) for the protection in perpetuity of the reserve.We have worked hard for over 14 years to establish the reserve, actively revegetating previously pastured areas, and protecting the primary forest.Our efforts have paid off – we now have regular observations of such rare species as Hoary Puffleg and Spectacled Bear not to mention the hundreds of other species that call Reserva Las Gralarias home.We also host numerous researchers from Ecuador, the U.S.and Europe who are trying to unlock the mysteries of this Pacific slope Andean cloud forest in order to help us better conserve it.Our Las Gralarias Foundation has an amazing Board of Directors that does everything from fundraising, newsletter production, frog research, aquatic insect research, environmental education, tour leading - ETC ETC ETC!!! We also have a dedicated full-time staff of Ecuadorians and foreigners without whom none of our efforts would have been possible.
So, when you sign up for a tour with Mindo Bird Tours you can rest assured that you will be receiving the highest quality birding tour and will also be helping conserve some amazing habitat for many wonderful birds and other cloud forest creatures. You will be providing meaningful employment to our full-time and contract staff and will be helping promote responsible ecotourism in one of the world´s most biodiverse regions.
We all thank you!
Jane A. Lyons, Ph.D.
Mindo Bird Tours Cia Ltda
Velvet-purple Coronet - Photo by Dusan Brinkhuizen
Dušan M. Brinkhuizen
Dušan works as a full-time employee of Mindo Bird Tours and has led many of our tours throughout Ecuador and Peru. He is quickly becoming known as one of the best birding guides in the neotropics. Not only a keen birder, but with a Master´s of Science in Ornithology Dušan has an in-depth understanding of birds. He has conducted ornithological field research in Holland, Sweden, Hungary, China, Ecuador and Australia. He has been birding since childhood throughout Europe and has been birding in Ecuador since 2006. Known as a friendly enthusiastic person, Dušan enjoys helping others observe the amazing birds found in Ecuador and Peru. He has also added substantial records to Ecuadorian ornithology including the first Chocó Vireo found in Pichincha province (a significant range extension for this very rare species) found during one of Mindo Bird Tours private tours, the second record of Blue Grosbeak in Ecuador (first one was in 1964) again found during one of MBT´s private tours, the first Red-throated Pipit for the continent of South America, and a new species for Ecuador, White-bellied Pygmy-Tyrant, discovered during MBT´s December 2010 "Birds of Southern Ecuador" tour.
Dušan is an accomplished bird photographer and is also a very keen recordist. In January 2011 while guiding an MBT tour to Yanacocha Reserve, Dusan had the honor of showing some hummingbirds to Ecuador´s Vice President, Lenin Moreno who was visiting the reserve the same day. When they are not out birding in some remote corner of Ecuador, Dušan and his wife Lorena reside in Quito.
Tuomas is a well-known birder, field ornithologist, tour leader, birding guide and photographer from Finland. As with many birders, he started bird watching as a youngster and what started as a hobby grew into a life-long passion for birds.When he first visited Ecuador in 1998 it left an indelible effect on him:he fell in love with the Neotropics.Since then he has made many personal birding trips throughout South America and has been a professional guide for the past nine years.Since 2002 he has worked in a Finnish research group that has conducted thousands of hours of ornithological field work throughout Finland.Tuomas speaks Finnish, English, French and Spanish.He resides with his wife Hanna and daughter Saana in Helsinki but escapes the Finnish winter by migrating to South America.He is definitely a fanatic birder, which, as he states, “is an incurable condition” - and is just exactly the life he enjoys.
Dr. Fabricio Cela
Dr. Fabricio Cela has worked with us for nine years and is the current President of Mindo Bird Tours.A registered Ecuadorian attorney, Dr. Cela works in the business aspect of the company, including employment contracts, visas for foreign staff, business reports and any other legal or business issues.
Juan Carlos Cruz
Juan Carlos Cruz has worked for MBT for 11 years as one of our professionaltour and transfer drivers.During that time Juan Carlos has learned a bit of English and has found some birds as well, while maneuvering the sometimes challenging road conditions found in the more remote partsof Ecuador and Peru – which is where birders like to go!
Myrian is our accountant. Her work involves a huge amount of paperwork and ensures that our employees, bills and taxes are all paid on time and according to the most recent regulations.
Jane A. Lyons
Jane became infected with birding as a child in Austin, Texas when her father showed her her first Ruby-throated Hummingbird.Years later she realized birds were her passion and, while gazing at her first saltator during a birding tour at Rancho El Cielito, Mexico, it dawned on her that the Neotropics were in fact birding-heaven-on-earth.She worked for 8 years as the Wildlife Coordinator at the Austin Nature Center and 5 years for National Audubon Society as the Regional Representative for Texas and Latin America where she was especially involved in conservation efforts for the Golden-cheeked Warbler and Black-capped Vireo. After co-leading various birding tours to Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Ecuador and numerous personal birding trips to and field research in Brazil, Panama and Venezuela, Jane was ready to move to bird-rich South America.In 1993 she moved to Montevideo, Uruguay to work for the U.S. Department of State as Associate Director for Natural Resources Programs in Uruguay and Argentina – a job with the side benefit of over 3 years of birding time throughout southern South America.In 1996 she was offered a job in Quito, Ecuador as Head of the Americas Region of the Cambridge, UK-based BirdLife International.One of her main jobs at BirdLife was to launch the Important Bird Areas (IBA) Program in South America.This is what caused her to return to Mindo.In 1997 she as the representative of BirdLife along with the community of Mindo, the Ecuadorian Ministry of the Environment and local BirdLife Partner CECIA officially declared Mindo as South America´s first IBA.By May, 1999 Jane had sold her house in Austin and moved to Mindo.She is still enthralled with the amazing birdlife found among the cloud forests of the northwestern Andes and is still 100% committed to bird and habitat conservation.
Jane has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude and an M.A. in Spanish, ABD in Comparative Literature (Spanish, French and Portuguese), and a PhD in Biogeography from the University of Texas at Austin.She served for 7 years on the Board of Directors of Ecuador´s Jocotoco Foundation and for 3 years as a project reviewer for the Ecuadorian endangered species research program Biobecas.She currently runs Mindo Bird Tours and Reserva Las Gralarias and serves as Vice-President of the Board of the Las Gralarias Foundation, Inc. She was the first President of Jocotours Cia Ltda, the tour agency of the Jocotoco Foundation, and also works as a consultant for birding tourism and supervisor for graduate student and other field research projects. Her favorite pasttimes include hiking the trails at Reserva Las Gralarias, where she is constantly delighted to observe new creatures large and small, new plants of all kinds and mind-boggling biodiversity, plus of course birding throughout Ecuador and Peru. A_new_species_to_Ecuador_Dec_2010.pdf