Birder's Guide

OCT 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 11 of 51

10 Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy | October 2017 Amazonian Big Day August—ravaged the typically hot and humid forest. Tropical birds are normally active in the cool, early morning hours but are so incredibly slow in the hot af - ternoon that one wonders if the birds have all collapsed from heat exhaustion! However, as the days warm up following a friaje, the winds are calm, the skies are clear, and temperatures are cool; in turn, birds actively forage and sing throughout the day. In addition, the ear-splitting ci - cadas that often preclude hearing faint or distant birds are silent on these cool days, which greatly extends the audibility of distant birdsong. Thus, I was well equipped with the n Collared Puffbirds are rare, but a few pairs are reliable at Los Amigos. Photo © Sean Williams ultimate tools for finding birds in the ul- timate location—I had learned how to find the birds, where to find them, and when to find them. On 23 July 2015, a day after a friaje, the perfect birding storm emerged, and I knew it could be my big- gest day ever. At 4 a.m. on 23 July, the eerie whistle of a distant Variegated Tinamou woke me— the first bird of the day. I relinquished the remaining hours of darkness to search for nocturnal birds since I was too anxious to sleep. I left the station at 4:15 a.m. and crept along a forested trail that bordered the uplands and lowlands, which contain different suites of species. Aside from the most common owls and nightjars, the only challenging pickup was a Lined Forest-Falcon found in its regular roost. During nocturnal searches for jaguars a month before, I accidently flushed this falcon from a roost. The falcon remained faithful to this tree each night, and so it became one of many stakeout birds that led to the Big Day's success. At 5:30 a.m., the first sounds of day commenced. A Wing-barred Piprites was the first passerine to sing. I stood mo - tionlessly in an area that I strategically selected because it bordered forest and bamboo, where I could hear rare species that sing only at dawn. Los Amigos Biological Station is home to many habitats that can be accessed eas - ily in a single day: upper and lower ter- race forests, bamboo, marsh, thickets, river and riparian forest, palm swamp, and several high overlooks for scanning the canopy and the skies. The overall strategy was to visit all possible types of habitats. A different array of specialist species is found in each habitat, and so rounding up those specialists played a most important part in the algorithm of a Big Day in the tropical rainforest. I stood humbled by hundreds of tow - ering trees and mentally sorted through the cacophony of voices. I searched for several target species, including the Blue- backed Manakin, Banded Antbird, and Collared Puffbird. This location had been a reliable spot to hear Great Jacamar and Collared and Buckley's forest-falcons, but those species never audibly vocalized and, surprisingly, I missed them the rest of the day. A Laughing Falcon distantly wailed, a bonus to partially make up for the misses.

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