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.

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14 Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy | October 2014 Un Año Grande en Guatemala Coast. We stop at a random location to change drivers, and, above the cacophony of the frogs in a nearby wetland, I hear the distant but dis- tinct cackling of Double-striped Thick-knees. I had never heard or seen this species in life; I only knew their voice from recordings. The last confrmed record of this species in Guatemala was from 2007. Thick-knees are considered by some to be extirpated from Guatemala. My dad throws the truck into reverse and we make for their voices in the darkness. While my dad goes to ask for permission to enter a private farm, I make a couple of recordings. The next day we returned and photo- graphed several individuals. Three months later, on April 8 and 9, I discovered thick- knees again at a location nine mi. (15 km) from the frst sighting, including an egg laid in a scrape in the soil. Not only are there still thick-knees in Guatemala, but sively birded, range maps for many birds are incomplete. Maps show the Pacifc Screech-Owl's range as a thin belt along the Pacifc Coast. I was thunderstruck to hear this species in one of Guatemala's inland desert valleys near the Heloderma Natural Reserve. I double-checked. I made audio recordings. I returned later to the site and made more recordings. I began to think about why Pacifc Screech-Owls would be in a thorn forest in the middle of Guatemala. It is like connecting the dots or ftting pieces in a puzzle. The range of Pacifc Screech-Owl is another excellent example of how birding, and especially doing a big year, can contribute to science, especially when it's in an underbirded area. January 13, 2013. La Avellana, Santa Rosa My dad and I are driving toward the Pacifc From top to bottom: The range of Spot-breasted Oriole is little known in Guatemala; the author has recently spotted it in several places on the Atlantic slope, such as Punta de Manabique. Pink- headed Warbler, a resident in highland pine-oak and cloud- forests, is one of the more famous Guatemalan birds. Slender Sheartail (male shown here) is endemic to central Middle America, from Chiapas to Honduras. All photos © John Cahill Map © Rad Smith

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