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 17 of 51

16 Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy | October 2017 Amazonian Big Day 1982, the on-foot Big Day record was set at 331 species, recorded at Cocha Cashu Biological Station, 100 miles northwest of Los Amigos Biological Station. The ven - erated ornithologists Scott Robinson and Ted Parker had marched through their forest in a similar fashion, during a time when Neotropical ornithology was still in its infancy. I ran through the numbers three times in disbelief, although some part of me must have believed it because I was grinning ear to ear. Every detail of that day vividly blazed in my mind, fuel - ing my intense love for the Amazon. Each factor in the Amazonian Big Day algorithm produced its unique effects in augmenting the species total of 345. The most important factors included: (a) fa - miliarity with calls, especially of flycatch- ers, furnariids, and antbirds; (b) visiting as many habitats as possible; (c) stak- ing out birds; (d) timing certain species correctly, especially early-morning rare singers and tanager flocks; (e) timing the Big Day after a friaje; and (f) avoiding Screaming Pihas. Although many factors worked toward LEFT: n Royal Flycatchers readily defy the stereotype that flycatchers are drab. Several can be found at Los Amigos, if one keeps an ear out. This mist-netted individual presented his namesake display to intimidate me into liberating him. Photo © Sean Williams RIGHT: n This Orange-cheeked Parrot at its nest played an important role for the Big Day because it was the only time I encountered the species. Photo © Sean Williams la Cuenca Amazónica has excelled in pro- viding comfortable accommodations in a remote area and harsh climate. For the full eBird checklist of the Big Day with more details and photos, visit ebird/view/checklist?subID=S24475056 Literature Cited Martinez, A. E. and R. T. Zenil. 2012. Foraging guild influences dependence on heterospe - cific alarm calls in Amazonian bird flocks. Behavioral Ecology 23:544-50. Schulenberg, T., D. F. Stotz, D. F. Lane, J. P. O'Neill, and T. A. Parker. 2010. Birds of Peru. Princeton University Press: Princeton, New Jersey, USA. Snow, D. W. and A. Lill. 1974. Longevity records for some Neotropical land birds. The Condor 76:262-267. Williams, S. M. 2016. First description of the nest of the Stipple-throated Antwren ( Epinecrophylla haematonata ) in Peru. Ornitología Neotropical 27:97-100. an impressive total, my record can be broken. My biggest strategic bungle was the lack of teammates. One person can - not possibly see and hear every available species on a Big Day, and a small group of three to five people could maximize the number of possible species. In ad - dition, more people can help in stak- ing out birds, share list-keeping duties, and carry food supplies so that returns to the station are not necessary. Finally, five of the 24 total hours were unbirded, which potentially could be used for lo - cating roosting riverine species and per- haps a few more rare nocturnal species. I believe 360 or 370 avian species is pos- sible on foot in one day at Los Amigos. The right people, time, and strategy will break the record. Acknowledgments I thank my wife for perpetually cheering me on from Michigan while I explored the vast Peruvian Amazon. Jack Stenger provided insightful ideas and critical edits in the final draft of this article. The staff of the Asociación para la Conservación de

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