Birder's Guide

AUG 2013

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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Photo © SuSan MyerS Photo ©Gary albert reason enough to never call this bird by the abbreviated name, "Gould's Sunbird"! I hate to say this, but—go see it now! 6•Fire-tailed Myzornis (Buceros bicornis) (Myzornis pyrrhoura) Bhutan, China, India, Burma, and Nepal. This exceptional babbler sports my favorite color—green—so it's on the list! A small jewel of the Himalayas, this bird has the added appeal of being rather uncommon. More than that, it is found in one of the most breathtaking places in the world. I frmly believe that, if possible, all birders should see the Himalayas before they die. It's the birder-travelers' mecca! 7•Siamese Fireback (Lophura diardi) 8•Spoon-billed Sandpiper (Eurinorhynchus pygmeus) Breeds in northeast Russia and winters in Southeast Asia. I hardly need to justify this one, do I? With its odd spatulate bill, the Spoon-billed Sandpiper is a rare, unusual, and cute shorebird. It ticks all the boxes for many a birder. BirdLife International classifes this fascinating species as critically endangered, with a population of fewer than 600 individuals, and rapidly declining due to habitat loss over its breeding, migratory, and wintering grounds. And as if that's not enough, this bird has to contend with hunting, disturbance, and climate change! The Himalayas and Southeast Asia to Sumatra, and the Western Ghats in India. I could have chosen Rhinoceros Hornbill or Helmeted Hornbill, with their fabulously ornate bills and wild facial patterns. I could easily have flled this entire list with hornbills. They're all equally fabulous, but I have some great memories of this bird. Like that time I spent an hour watching a family of White-handed Gibbons in company with a dozen or so hornbills, which were feeding together in a huge fruiting fg. Mama gibbon held her tiny baby around the waist with her foot while it played. I love this photo of a female in Cambodia having a bit of a scratch. Photo © SuSan MyerS 10•Bornean Bristlehead (Pityriasis gymnocephala)  Borneo. I really should have put this one much higher on the list. Its appeal is obvious: crazy looks, baffing taxonomic affnities, unusual behavior, and weird vocalizations. Best of all, it's found in one of the most exotic and exciting places in the world. What's more, it's now placed in its own family. With family listing rapidly becoming the latest fad in birding, everyone loves this old skinhead. 11•Steller's Sea-Eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus)  Far-eastern Russia and northern Japan. Steller's Sea-Eagle is simply one of the most amazing birds I can think of. By one measurement, weight, it is the largest raptor in the world. And the setting in northern Hokkaido on the pack ice is stunning, albeit way too cold for my liking. Just look at the size of that bill! Photo © SuSan MyerS Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. There are a number of families that reach their aesthetic pinnacle in Asia: the pittas, the babblers, the hornbills…and the pheasants. So no list of the best birds in Asia would be complete without at least a couple of these spectacular creatures. The amazing coloration and head ornamentation of the Siamese Fireback makes this species a standout amongst a stellar cast. 9•Great Hornbill 12•Red-crowned Crane (Grus japonensis)  Japan, China, and Korea. All cranes have that certain something that appeals to the aesthetic eye, and this species is my favorite. It's arguably the most stately of the cranes and has been depicted in Japanese and Chinese art for centuries. This lovely bird is also featured in many myths and legends as a symbol of longevity and nobility. It is said that the tancho lives for a thousand years. There is something magical about watching a pair of cranes calling August 2013 | Birder's Guide to Travel 27

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