Birder's Guide

MAR 2018

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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19 April 2018 | Birder's Guide to Travel to be a new species based on record- ings made decades earlier, though find- ing the birds proved difficult enough to thwart discovery efforts until the late 2000s. As luck would have it, a lodge was built right in the middle of the ter- ritory of a breeding pair. The rest is, as they say, history. While the pair breeding near the lodge grounds became fairly well-known and somewhat regularly encountered, the true range of this species is unknown, as are many of its habits. Access to this species' range is possible only via the one road that travels up onto the San Lorenzo ridge of the Santa Marta range. Moreover, the road is suitable only for four-wheel-drive vehicles with excep- tionally high clearance, a heavy sus- pension, a skilled driver who knows the road well, and a month's supply of Dramamine. Only 10–20 individuals of this species have ever been observed by humans, all at an elevational range of about 6,000 to 8,500 feet. The sum of what we know about the species can be summed up in a few short paragraphs. When we enjoyed leisurely views of this lovely, relatively colorful screech- owl on a day roost at the aforemen- tioned lodge, it quickly shot to the top of our list. We had checked known roost sites the two days prior, as well as at- tempting, in vain, to see it at night. We had nearly given up when one last check of the most visible and most easily ac- cessed roost site proved successful! This was close to the end of our tour, and though not the final highlight (we had some 30+ species to go to reach 1,000), the experience of finally finding the owl felt somehow symbolic of all our efforts in the field during this wonderful month of birding. Photo © Tom Friedel # 5 #2 • Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock Rupicola rupicola This is unquestionably one of the most iconic birds of South America and one of the most striking birds on Earth: bright orange, with wings bannered in black and white, and the signature, bizarre tuft of feathers on the forehead covering the bill. Mitú has the most impressive lek I've ever seen of this species. With, at times, seven lekking males displaying some 20 feet off the trail, our views of this astonishing species and its unique breeding behavior were unrivalled. The trek to get to the lek site was equally memorable, requiring a pre-dawn de- parture out the only road leaving town, then a transfer to a tractor-drawn flatbed trailer before reaching the community where we disembarked to begin the few kilometers walk through the forest to the lekking arena. Our Chestnut-crested

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