Birder's Guide

DEC 2018

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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29 December 2018 | Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy expressing understandable skepticism about my identification and asking if I had captured any images. Again, the photos I sent to him provided the unequivocal evi- dence that my words and my limited ex- pertise in tropical ornithology did not. "An Undulated Antpitta," Nick Bayly, migratory species manager for SELVA, a Colombian non-governmental conservation and re- search organization, quickly confirmed. He then passed the photos onto other Colombian experts for further verification and discussion. Several days later, after mulling the sight- ing and taking note of the significant range extension that it represented for this little- known species, Bayly encouraged me to draft a description of my sighting and sub - mit it to a Colombian ornithological jour- nal. Months later, Boletín SAO published my modest contribution to our ever-expanding knowledge of South America's avifauna. With countries such as Colombia host- ing more and more birders, opportunities are virtually limitless for both amateurs and professionals to contribute to scientific knowledge about bird locations, ranges, behaviors, and other vital natural history and conservation information. Biologist Robert Ridgely, for example, discovered the striking Jocotoco Antpitta—a large, brown- backed, gray-bellied antpitta with a passion for worms and a bold white patch under its garnet eye—as recently as 1997. And while new bird species are not often found, new information about known species is learned daily, and relationships among tropical birds are constantly being reevaluated and revised. Birders can make valuable contri - butions to this growing knowledge base— contributions that have real and important conservation implications. Because animals in isolated locations often develop traits that are adapted to local conditions and differ from their ancestral populations, fur- ther study may show that "my" Undulated Antpitta differs from those in other parts of Colombia and Ecuador. Given the high level of endemism in the isolated Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and the limited flight capabilities of antpittas, who knows? Perhaps my serendipitous find will one day be classified as a new subspecies: the Santa Marta Undulated Antpitta!

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