Birder's Guide

MAR 2014

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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88 Birder's Guide to Travel | March 2014 Why We Travel ferent from Tour Company B. Key word: "different", not "better". You can't please all the people all the time—especially if you're dealing with birders, so wonderfully idio- syncratic. So don't try: Be yourself, and let birders be themselves. I hope to get back to Guana Island. I like the management's philosophy: You're here, it's your life, you ought to enjoy the place the way you want to. I want to learn more about the Banana- quits of Guana Island. Like the Bridled Quail-Doves, many of the island's Banana- quits are color-banded. I want to make re- cordings of the different males, and see how they differ—within and among individuals. I want to go there again in fall migra- tion. I want to hang out at the banding station, and see how many Swainson's Thrushes and Blackpoll Warblers they're capturing. Also, I want to hang out on the north beach and watch the migrants com- ing in off the Atlantic Ocean. Even more, I want to enjoy the experi- ence of listening to the dawn chorus of the island's Pearly-eyed Thrashers. They're big and plucky, and their songs are, objective- ly speaking, unremarkable for a thrasher. Whatever. I love 'em! In my experience, they're perfectly exemplary of the experi- ence of being in the tropical dry forests of Guana Island. Maybe you'll decline to join me for any of the preceding. You'd rather photograph the birds of Guana Island. Not the dickey birds, either, but, rather, the big birds: the boobies and tropicbirds just offshore, the American Fla- mingos and White-cheeked Pintails in the salt ponds, and the Magnifcent Frig- atebirds constantly aloft. I totally admire you for doing that, but bird photography isn't my thing, and neither are big birds. Meanwhile, our mutual friend has entirely differ- ent plans. She and her girl- friends are unapologetic twitchers. They've never birded in the re- gion. They want to get every bird—espe- cially the regional endemics—then move on. You and I aren't up for that pace: We go too slow; they go too fast. Another birder won't be joining us, ei- ther. We've enjoyed birding with him for years, but not this time. He and his hus- band and kids are on a family vacation. Oh, he'll fnd some great bird; it's an an- noying habit of his. I can picture how it will happen: They're beachcombing or snorkeling or something, when they just happen upon a frst for the island, or even the region. I'm impressed, but I've got Ba- nanaquits to record, a banding station to visit, and Pearly-eyed Thrashers to enjoy. A few months later, we'll all meet up— you and I, our crazy twitcher friend, and the guy with the annoying habit of fnding rarities—at a bird festival or Christmas Bird Count compilation, and we'll refect on a splendid paradox. Birding brings us togeth- er; birding unites folks who would other- wise never encounter one another; birding transcends linguistic, cultural, and ideo- logical barriers. Yet birding affrms the indi- vidual: There are as many valid approaches to the engagement of bird study as there are people who love to watch and study birds. Acknowledgments I thank Tracy Boal for fact-checking and co- py-editing this article, for helping procure photos, and for showing me the birds of Guana Island. I also thank Jason Goldberg for logistical support with my visit, and for helping with photo procurement. What do you seek as a trav- eling birder? What turns you on? What turns you off? What would the perfect feld trip or bird tour be like for you? Join the con- versation online at Photography, scientifc study, camaraderie, journaling, sea-watching, solitude… All those things, and many more, are perfectly valid reasons for travel. Photo © Guana.com Photo © Guana.com 12-Why we Travel.indd 88 3/4/14 2:00 PM

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