Birder's Guide

OCT 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.

Issue link: http://bg.aba.org/i/392347

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Un Año Grande en Guatemala 12 Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy | October 2014 route along the old Cobán–Salama Road, in the heart of Guatemala. The top of the road, well above 6,000 ft. (1,829 m), has frag- ments of cloud forest. The edges of the dirt road are lined with fowers. White-eared Hummingbirds zip between the blossoms. Once Cobán's only connection to Guatemala City, this is now a quiet dirt road, almost completely unused yet in surprisingly good condition. At the Salama end, 3,000 ft. (915 m) lower, the trees are sparse and the land is arid. This route affords me a few species that are tough to see in Guatemala: Hepatic Tanager, Chipping Sparrow, and Red Crossbill. By the end of my frst day, I had checked 108 species, including my three hit-list birds and Resplendent Quetzal. This road has a few things to show us about Guatemala. The road winds from cloud for- est to pine-oak forest to pine forest before descending to pine-savannah and dry scrub. Only 16 mi. (26 km) long and so many differ- ent habitats! Guatemala to contribute to science and bird conservation. I wanted my birding to make a difference in Guatemala. A big year in the ABA Area can tell you a lot about the birder—for example, how much free time and discretionary income he or she has. But a big year in Guatemala probably reveals more about birds than it does about the birder. Why the difference? The birds of the ABA Area are well known and their ranges are thoroughly described; not so in Guatemala. The ABA Area has hundreds of thousands more birders than Guatemala. This means that Guatemala has a lot more surprises. It also means that you have to fnd your own birds. A big year in Guatemala is a daunting task. Imagine do- ing an ABA Area big year without a single lead on a bird—without twitches. January 1, 2013. 7:45 a.m., Pantín, Baja Verapaz I start my big year by birding a 16-mi. (26-km) A view of the Agua and Acatenango volcanoes in Guatemala's volcanic corridor. Photo © John Cahill Left: Resplendent Quetzal, one of the highlights of January 1. Photo © John Cahill Right: Giant Wren, a country frst for Guatemala. Photo © John Cahill

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