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 26 of 51

25 October 2017 | Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy Nayarit, Mexico Bolinas, California Jonathan Vargas Steve N.G. Howell Background There are around 1,100 bird species in Mexico, but how many can you find in one day? Back in December 1983, Peter Pyle and Steve Howell talked about this over dinner and beers one night in San Blas, Nayarit, and thought 200 might be possible (remember, birds and bird- ing sites weren't as well known then, and field guides were pretty basic). The next day, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., they found 210 species within 20 miles of town, no playback and no scouting. Steve was pretty happy, especially as this was more species than he'd seen in his home coun- try of Wales in 12 years, not 12 hours! Fast forward to today, the era of instant communication, xeno-canto, eBird, and such, and the published Big Day record for Mexico ( is 266, again from the San Blas area of Nayarit (3 March 2013), with 260 from southern Oaxaca a close n Nayarit coastline. Photo © beklaus second (16 April 2013). Those were more seri- ous Big Days, starting at 0-dark-thirty and using playback. Since that 1983 day, Steve has wondered about another Big Day near San Blas, especially now that the birding sites are much better known. In July 2015, San Blas native Jonathan Vargas, a biologist and bird guide, visited California for some shorebird work, and we birded together and talked about a Big Day around San Blas. In January 2016, we birded the San Blas area for a few days and talked a bit more about it, but talk is cheap. We figured 200 species should be straightforward in one day, 225 would be fairly easy, but 250 would be tough—the classic curve of diminishing returns. To make it "purer" (read: more challenging), we decided we wouldn't use playback, although pishing, whistling, squeak- ing, and such would be OK, and we penciled it in for the next year.

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