Birder's Guide

MAR 2015

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 14 of 67

13 March 2015 | Birder's Guide to Travel and never easy to see. There are places to seek it in Chiapas and Guatemala, but the logistics can be tricky. Many of the loca- tions are either on private/native land or just hard to fnd, and it can be diffcult to obtain up-to-date information. If you do go looking for Unspotted Saw-whet near San Cristóbal, Chiapas, read up on access and safety issues because there have been problems with locals breaking into cars and extorting birders in the past. Unspot- ted Saw-whet Owl is probably easiest to see in Costa Rica, on Volcán Irazú and in the Savegre Valley. In both locations, lodg- ing is available, the roads and trails are safe, and there are no issues with wander- ing about at night with a spotlight! Eared Poorwill (Nyctiphrynus mcloedii) is poorly known, rare, spottily-distrib- uted, and nocturnal. That makes this Mexican endemic one hard-to-fnd goat- sucker! Fortunately, Eared Poorwills can be found somewhat reliably at a few sites in west Mexico if you are willing to put in some extended night hours. They occur on Cerro San Juan (on which sits Ran- cho La Noria) in Nayarit, on the Puerto Los Mazos road above Autlán in Jalisco (no longer drivable, though readily hiked, and excellent for hummingbirds, including Mexican Woodnymph), and on the old Volcán de Fuego road, where good ground clearance is necessary and four-wheel drive is very helpful. All of these sites are described in Steve How- ell's A Birdfnding Guide to Mexico. Seek out scrubby, thicket-covered hillsides, and you will have a fair chance of hear- ing and, with some luck, actually seeing the poorwill. Be aware, though, that this nightjar really likes heavy cover and can be very hard to fnd perched. Beautiful Treerunner (Margaror- nis bellulus), a member of the furnariid/ woodcreeper family, is endemic to just a few mountaintops in eastern Panama. The only two areas it inhabits that are realis- tically accessible are Cerro Chucantí and Cerro Pirre. This very poorly known spe- cies seems to be quite uncommon if not downright rare within its tiny range. Cerro Chucantí is accessible, with diffculty, Eared Poorwill. Photo © Greg R. Homel Beautiful Treerunner. Photo © Josh Beck via Advantage Tours Panama and Guido Berguido, who own a reserve and rustic lodge on the mountain. The other loca- tion, Cerro Pirre, was formerly accessible via airstrip at Ancon Expedition's camp at Cana, deep in the Darién Gap. Nowadays, Cerro Pirre is best accessed via some dif- fcult logistics, lots of permits, and either good Spanish skills or a bilingual guide. One way or another, you will have to hire Isaac Pizarro, who is essentially the only way to get to Pirre Station and Cerro Pirre these days. The good news is that (along with terrible accommodations at Pirre Station and some long, miserable, steep, muddy, slippery hikes) you can see some other amazing endemics (Pirre Warbler, Pirre Hummingbird, Pirre Chlorospingus, Green-naped Tanager) as well as some just plain awesome birds, like Sharpbill, Sapa- yoa, Great Jacamar, Harpy Eagle, Crested Eagle, Crimson-bellied Woodpecker, and many, many more. Going to Cerro Pirre is a real adventure, but it offers some of

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