Birder's Guide

MAR 2017

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 44 of 95

43 March 2017 | Birder's Guide to Travel eventy-five birders from 16 countries re- sponded to our Nature Travel Network survey on travel. This article offers tips and techniques for the traveling birder, drawing on the results of the survey, and is interspersed with com- ments and opinions from some of the respondents (modified only for clarity). Who participated in the survey? Most of those sur- veyed travel just for fun, though a few respondents were professional bird guides. Most of the respon- dents like to travel independently (with a partner or friend) or on group tours, and a small percentage en- joy traveling solo. Most of the travelers surveyed trav- el within the United States and Canada, and about a third of them travel internationally. How much do birders spend on travel every year? "I try not to think about that!" joked a respon- dent from Vienna, Austria. The survey uncovered a range of spending from as little as a few hundred dollars to more than $75,000 per year—all to sat- isfy intense cravings for time spent with birds in nature. Astoundingly, this small sample of birders collectively pumps a half a million dollars into the S world's birding travel economy every year! We asked individuals how they deal with some of the most stressful decisions in travel: How do you de- cide on a tour company? How do you pack and man- age all your gear? What goes in your carry-on? We also asked respondents to give advice for people who want to travel for birds but don't have a partner. Final- ly, we wrap up with ideas for how to travel sustainably. How to Choose a Group Tour Company Participants who book group tours are very selective. They weigh an array of factors in choosing both the company and the specific trip, but three of these fac- tors stand out as most important: (1) birding targets and endemic species that will be seen on the tour, (2) cost, and (3) tour dates. The size of the group tour, the field guides/trip leaders, and the guide's experi- ence with the destination are also considered. How do you judge the quality of a tour company? Survey respondents offered these recommendations: ■ Word of mouth usually is the best way to evaluate a tour company or operator. Read trip reports, and talk to birders in person and online. People are candid Rochester, New York Rochester, New York Laura Kammermeier Kammermeier Laura

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