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 32 of 67

31 March 2015 | Birder's Guide to Travel pages. Create two books: a metal spiral- bound book with just the plates that you can take into the feld and another book containing all the text pages. The latter can be left in your room. • Get a "book bag" to easily carry your plate feld guide into the feld. • Request prior trip lists from your tour company. These are often available as PDFs on the company's website. They will help you fgure out how likely it is that you will see each species during the trip. Prior trip lists can give you a sense of the abundance of each species, and where it has been seen previously; at least one company, Rockjumper, lets you know just how often they have seen a particular bird on all previous tours. • Check out the eBird output for the area. The eBird Location Explorer at is a very useful tool for planning a trip. Simply enter the country or other jurisdiction you plan to visit, and from there you can get fur- ther output. By far the most helpful tools for well-birded areas are the bar charts, which show your likelihood of observing any particular species during any week of the year. You may, however, fnd that the eBird maps function is of more help for more remote areas. • Make lists of the birds by day/area as you will see them. Use the tour com- pany's written materials (prior years' bird lists, trip reports, itineraries) to guide you. Use these smaller lists to study the birds you are likely to see at each location, which is more effcient than, say, learning all of the hummingbirds you might see on the whole trip. Many participants refresh their memories by consulting this list each evening or early morning; doing this reinforces the images of species which might be seen during the next outing. • Bring electronic equipment with you. Recently, I began to add to my travel equipment the smallest laptop computer that will run my database. I now have my database, and any special pictures I have downloaded, with me. I often want to know where I saw a species previously (no, I cannot remember where I saw ev- ery bird!). This sometimes becomes im- portant when I am checking for subspe- cies. If your data are on eBird, you can display your lifelist anytime you have an internet connection on some devices. Even better, download your life list as an HTML fle so that you can have access to it even when offine. These days, many traveling birders also pack their smart- phones, tablets, and GPS devices. • Download the taxonomic updates. Regardless of which taxonomy you use, keep the checklist open as you look for current names or subspecies. If you re- cord your sightings in eBird, your obser- vations will be (sometimes automatically) updated if one of your observed species is ever split. • Seek out additional illustrations for hard-to-ID birds. Because the quality of reproductions in a particular book might not be the best, additional views of the bird can be very helpful. Googling a species's name will often give you many options to see images and often videos. Marking up your feld guide can make using it much easier, especially if numbers instead of names are used on the plates. Having the plates from a large feld guide removed and professionally bound can be quite handy if you plan on taking them into the feld with you. It will also cut down on the weight of your luggage if you don't plan on bringing the text along on your trip. Birding on a Field Guides tour in Guyana. Photo © Megan Edwards Crewe

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