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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Page 24 of 73

Photo © Nigel Kiteley 23 April 2018 | Birder's Guide to Travel #10 • Bare-crowned Antbird Gimnocichla nudiceps Antbirds are famous among Neotropical bird enthusiasts as being impossibly, well, Neotropical. Their cryptic plumages and elusive natures only amplify the elation of a truly intimate encounter. They blend in with the undergrowth and tangles they inhabit. They are heard far more often than seen and reach their epicenter of diversity in the most Neotropical of places: the Amazon Basin. Arguably, Bare-crowned Antbird is the most bizarre of the lot. It might even be one of the most bizarre-looking birds anywhere. It's a hefty, stout, and loud bird of thick tangles in thick jungles, where the only thing thicker than the layer of DEET applied is the humidity in the air. Patience and a heavy dose of motivation are needed to catch a glimpse of the species. It requires nearly divine inter- vention to experience what we experienced with this bird: a male, in the company of a female, came up out of a ravine to sit on a bare branch no more than 10 feet from us and sang. And sang! Then he flared the white mantle feathers the spe- cies uses in courtship display. Then sang some more. And this is how a member of this relatively dull (though incredibly ornate and complexly-plumaged) family made it into the Top 10—by becoming truly intimate with our company. I have guided two "mega-tours" since our first one (in 2013), of which I reminisce in this article. They have had varying degrees of success, with my recent attempt barely reaching the mark. To date, I believe our 2014 tour, which tallied 1,044 species, remains the highest tour total of any group. With such a tempting goal looming, new records will surely be set. I hope that those undertaking the endeavor enjoy the amaz- ing journey as much as I have, wherever it may lead them. In terms of birds and birding, Colombia is among the top three countries of the 52 I've visited. It's the culture, the scenic beauty, and the warmth I've felt from the Colombian people, however, that make it perhaps my favorite country of all. ¡Viva Colombia! EDITOR'S NOTE: For more on birding in Colombia, check out Nate Skinner's article in the August 2013 issue of Birder's Guide to Travel. # 10 Photo © Tom Friedel

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