Birder's Guide

MAY 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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Chestnut-crowned Antpitta. Paz de las Aves, Ecuador. Photo © Nick Athanas Jocotoco Antpitta. Tapichalaca Reserve, Ecuador. Photo © Nick Athanas Ochre-breasted Antpitta. Paz de las Aves, Ecuador. Photo © Mike Lockhart Tawny Antpitta. Yanacocha Reserve, Ecuador. Photo © Nick Athanas 24 Birder's Guide to Conservation & Community | May 2014 Antpitta Feeding in the Andes Río Silanche, but we have been putting up hummingbird feeders and fruit feeding stations for tanagers and other frugivores for years. Maybe these practices are essen- tially the same as antpitta feeding, and fall on a continuum with the seed and suet feeders you have outside your back door right now. Or maybe hand-feeding an ant- pitta is intrinsically different and qualifes as "baiting". Now known as Refugio Paz de las Aves , the Paz bird refuge lies amidst several small farms be- longing to different members of the ex- tended Paz family. They raise chickens, tree tomatoes (tamarillos), Andean black- To attempt to answer these ques- tions, I went right to the source, to the place where antpitta feeding, or antpitta- whispering as it were, began: at the Paz family farm in Nanegalito Parish of the Metropolitan District of Quito, Ecuador. I didn't have far to travel. As one of the directors of the Mindo Cloudforest Foun- dation, I've been managing the forest ad- jacent to the Pazes' for the past few years, and before that I was the project leader for the implementation of both the Milpe and Río Silanche bird sanctuaries, nearby birding destinations and part of the same birding circuit. Full disclosure: We don't actively feed any antpittas at Milpe and Ángel Paz (AHN-hell PAHSS) has been habituating these birds to eat worms and other tidbits at blinds, at feeding stations, on logs, and even out of his hands. The quirkiness of these birds and the great novelty of the situation raise several in- teresting questions: How is it that you can habituate an antpitta? Is this really "birding"? Does feeding antpittas have any conservation impacts? Do local com- munities beneft? In other words, can we all feel good that we've done our duty to help the birds we hope to protect via con- scientious ecotourism, or should we feel just a little bit naughty, like an interspe- cies Peeping Tom? Ángel Paz feeds "Willy", a Yellow-breasted Antpitta. Photo © Brian Krohnke 3-Antpitta2.indd 24 5/22/14 7:37 PM

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