Below we find out more about our Birding Ecotours Neotropical guide Galo Real who specialises in our Ecuador tours including tours to the Galapagos Islands.
Give us a brief history of your childhood and what fueled your passion for birds and birding?
I was born and raised in the colonial downtown of Quito, Ecuador. My memories are of playing soccer on the brick streets and being in the middle of the hustle and bustle of a South American city. I had little exposure to the outdoors on a daily basis, but my mother loved plants, and I learned to take care of them at an early age. At university I began to have the opportunity to visit other habitats and became fascinated by natural history. My first real job after graduating over 16 years ago was at a reserve in the Tandayapa Valley. It was hard not to be interested in birds when Toucan Barbet, Golden-headed Quetzal, and Plate-billed Mountain Toucan were perching outside my bedroom door. I then purchased my first pair of binoculars, and, well, the rest is history.
What are some of your favorite countries you have birded?
What countries rank the highest on your ‘to bird’ list?
Papua New Guinea
Do you have a favorite bird or bird family?
That’s a difficult question. I really enjoy seeing all birds.
Star Wars or Star Trek, and why?
Star Wars. The script of the movie is amazing, and the special effects are the max. In addition there is a line of incredible actors. The soundtrack is one of the best.
Are you a scope or binocular type of guy?
I am a telescope guide. I really enjoy finding things at a distance and watching the faces of others when they see something beautiful from afar.
Do you have any other hobbies or interests?
In my spare time I am dedicated to my family and our food forest, which produces organic coffee while reforesting a delicate ecosystem on the Upano River in Ecuador.
If you had one more day left to live, what would you spend it doing?
I would spend it with my family.
Do you have a favorite non-bird-related book?
Along the Inca Road (Karin Muller)
What formal training have you undertaken?
I have a degree in Eco-tourism and am licensed by the Ecuadorian Ministry of Tourism as a National Guide as well as a Naturalist Guide for the Sangay National Park. I also have undergone training and have received a license as an environmental inspector and defender of wildlife by the Ecuadorian Ministry of the Environment.
The craziest thing you have ever done to see a bird.
When my daughter was one year old, we strapped her to my wife´s back and traveled up the Nangaritza River near the border between Ecuador and Peru, and then hiked into the Shaime community through a muddy logging trail to find the Orange-throated Tanager. It’s funny, now there is a public road and you can see the bird while sitting in the car!
One of my best experiences was when my first daughter was seven months old, and together with my wife we went to find the nest of a Harpy Eagle. After much walking we managed to find the nest with a chick and its mother. The happiness was complete since our daughter also could participate in that magical moment.
What do you enjoy most about being a guide?
The opportunity to meet new places and observe birds as well as the experience of meeting very interesting people from all over the world.
Your life motto and how you apply this to your day-to-day life?
You have to have a lot of good energy and think that everything will go well, no matter what the problem is.
The top five birds you want to see the most?
King Bird of Paradise
Describe yourself in three words?
Dedicated, organized, and friendly.
Your best birding experience to date?
Recently my oldest daughter and I went with a close friend to see a Harpy Eagle nest. It is amazing to share birding with my children.
Do you have a bogey bird and what is it?
White -plumed Antbird. I have been hearing it for 15 years now and still have not had a glance.
What’s the list you work on the most, and what’s its total?
I follow IOC, and my total list is 1200 species for Ecuador, 500 species in Peru, and 150 species in Texas.
What excites you most about Birding Ecotours?
The members of Birding Ecotours are very professional, and it is a pleasure to work with them. There is great camaraderie, and it’s a good atmosphere to work. It is a pleasure to be a member of the group of Birding Ecotours guides.
What advice would you give to a budding young birder?
Have a lot of patience and dedication. Go out to observe birds every day, and always write down what you see. There is a lot of information in the field that still needs to be known.
Join Galo on some exciting upcoming Birding Ecotours birding tours to Ecuador.