Cueva de los Tayos (Oil Bird Cave)
This private farm owned by Hugo Morales and his wife has been in their hands for more than forty years has become the best place to see the Oilbirds in South America. Their meager farming income is now increased by birders and adventurers who want to slip down into a river gorge to see the odd oilbird at Cueva de los Tayos.
The Morales farm lies on the left hand side on the road to Chontal just after descending a long windy dirt road that departed from the road to Pacto. Hugo will fire-up his tractor and carry his visitors in a wagon down a dusty road that descends from his farm to the trail leading into the river gorge. At the end of the trail Hugo will strap you with home made harnesses and help you descend an incredible long bamboo ladder! This will lead you to another ladder which takes you to the main area from where the oilbirds can be seen.
Also there is a send site that is much easier to access and it is also used when the rains are swell the creek and make the access to the first site impossible without a wet suit. This site is a little bit further but it only take 10 minutes to reach it from the farm.
The oilbirds (Tayo or Guacharo in Spanish) are resting on rocks and ledges on the vertical walls formed by the erosion of the water going through this gorge for thousands of years. These curious birds are nocturnal and use their sounds to navigate much like bats do with a sound radar. On a recent visit, when we approached some of them took flight and made terrible sounds while they approached other birds in search of a spot to cling to the walls. These birds have been hunted for the oil that the fledglings deposit inside their body as they sit on the ledges while their parents bring them fatty rich palm oil fruit to feed them. We saw some nests with three eggs and parents sitting along smaller fledglings. Additionally we saw a pair of White-collard Swifts and other birds outside of the farm. As a bonus, this place also has a small collection of archeological pieces found on the property, these pieces belonged to the tribe knows as Yumbos who populated 10,000 square kilometers around the Tulipe main site.
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