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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Page 34 of 67

vately owned reserves, diffcult to locate/ access and often lacking overnight lodging. Do extensive research if you plan to travel individually (not recommended for remote birding sites) and be profcient in Spanish, as English is not spoken outside of established travel spots. Birding tours operated by reputable agencies which have the expert knowledge and experience to handle the unexpected, are, for many travelers, worth the peace of mind. The geography of Colombia makes land travel somewhat arduous. But it's all worth it from a birder's perspective. The countryside is a mosaic of varied habitats, small towns, coffee plantations, immense river valleys, and jagged peaks—often all within one blink. Indeed, it is possible to visit several different ecosystems in a single day's drive. Most tours, especially those with an Andean focus, spend a lot of time travelling between birding sites, frequently using muddy and bumpy "roads" to access remote sanctuaries or reserves where unique species can be spotted. Patience, coupled with a sense of humor, will help travelers look past these annoyances. The reward of seeing and observing some incredibly rare species makes up for every last bit of a long, bumpy day. Travel light, as most tours use small 8- to 12-passenger vans to shuttle between sites, and be prepared for any type of weather. A newly illustrated, portable feld guide, Birds of Colombia by artist and naturalist Miles McMullan, is a great substitute for the bulky bird guides we've become accustomed to for this part of the world. Birding agencies design their tours to take advantage of the best and safest birding spots. It is currently unwise from a safety standpoint to travel to deep parts of the Chocó and southern and northern Amazon/Llanos regions, so most tours foq Middle left: Purplish-mantled Tanager is one of the many tangaras found at Reserva Las Tangaras. Photo © Nick Athanas. q Bottom left: Yet another Santa Marta endemic, Santa Marta Screech-Owl. © Nick Athanas. q Bottom right: Here, birders are taking a GPS reading where they saw a thenundescribed species of tapaculo. Who knows what awaits you! Photo © Tim Mitzen. August 2013 | Birder's Guide to Travel 33

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