WingsBirds Updates Updates from WingsBirds Mon, 21 May 2018 01:32:58 -0700 en daily 1 <p>Gavin Bieber on his and Evan Obercian's recently completed tour, <a href="">Florida: The South, the Keys and the Dry Tortugas</a></p> 2018-05-08 09:42:57 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>We just wrapped up a fun week exploring south Florida from Fort Myers to Key West. We started with a day in the dry pine forests and upland scrub of the central peninsula with fantastic views of an inquisitive Barred Owl, and a cooperative Florida Scrub Jay.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="427" height="640" /></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /></p> <p>A day trip out to the unique Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas was sunny and hot but still produced the usual cloud of nesting seabirds, 16 species of warblers and a much appreciated Black Noddy.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" /></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="417" /></p> <p>Some of Florida&rsquo;s most sought-after birds, like Mangrove Cuckoo and Limpkin, posed for us nicely and we even lucked into front row seating for a mating pair of Purple Gallinules in a marsh near Sarasota.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="480" height="640" /></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="483" /></p> <p>As always, Florida isn&rsquo;t all about the birds, and this year we had excellent views of a beautiful Sherman Fox Squirrel and a host of reptiles, amphibians, butterflies and even fish!</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="427" height="640" /></p> Bolivia: Barba Azul Nature Reserve, Sadiri Lodge, and the Apolo Valley 2018-04-30 14:55:00 Will Russell Recently updated tours Bolivia is a large country with many ecoregions, and we&rsquo;ve long wanted to offer this new tour as a companion to our classic Bolivia tour in order to see even more of it and the wonderful birds that call it home. We&rsquo;ll visit four regions of radically different ecosystems, all farther north than our other tour. Starting with the Lake Titicaca area, we&rsquo;ll cross the northern Andes and descend through the cloud forests on our way to the dry interior valley of Apolo, which has a whole host of special birds. We&rsquo;ll then return to La Paz to take a short flight to the Amazonian lowlands where we&rsquo;ll spend some time at one of Bolivia&rsquo;s few ecolodges, located on the outermost ridge of the Andes&mdash;low enough to have some classic Amazonian species yet high enough to offer some respite from the tropical heat. Finally, we&rsquo;ll take a private air taxi to Barba Azul Nature Reserve, a remote station located in the Llanos de Moxos, a region of seasonally flooded tropical savanna and gallery forest. After two days at bird-filled Barba Azul, famous for its conservation importance for the Blue-throated Macaw, we&rsquo;ll finish with a day in Trinidad and a short internal flight to Santa Cruz de la Sierra. <p>Rich Hoyer on his recently completed tour, <a href="">Costa Rica in Spring</a></p> 2018-04-27 10:52:32 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>Spring came early to Costa Rica, and we experienced (and enjoyed) slightly cooler weather caused by occasional showers and some overcast days. An explosion of breeding activity was a bonus result. Of the nearly 475 species of wonderful tropical birds, heard and seen, we observed nesting evidence for almost 40, such as a Dark Pewee form-fitting its mossy nest in the top of a tree below eye level, a pair of rare Black-and-white Becards carrying material to their basket ball-sized orb in a small tree, and an amazing interaction between two male Resplendent Quetzals while the female watched from a nearby perch near the nest. With such a magnificent species seen so well, it was no wonder it was voted as one of the favorite birds of the tour.</p> <p>Song activity was high well into the mid-day hours, and after lunch one day we chanced upon a responsive Lesser Ground-Cuckoo that performed amazingly on a bush right next to our bus. An elusive and attractive species (multicolored orbital skin reminding one of Egyptian royalty), it also earned it top votes to tie with the quetzal. Other bird highlights included 23 Turquoise-browed Motmots on one single day, a incredibly timed flyover of two Great Green Macaws at La Selva Biological Station, a male Snowcap at a flower garden, a busy mob of three species of intensely colored honeycreepers at close range, a kettle of over 150 migrating Mississippi Kites, and so many others. Add to the birds some wonderful snakes, lizards, frogs, and toads; many botanical highlights including some lovely orchids; and endless invertebrates from butterflies and moths to beetles and damselflies, it was a most enriching two weeks in paradise.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="1208" /></p> <p>A male Resplendent Quetzal watches over the nest cavity, waiting to see what an intruding male might do.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="428" /></p> <p>This Lesser Ground-Cuckoo sat up next to our bus and nearly fell of his perch as he belted out his song. The video can be seen here: <a href=""></a>.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="407" /></p> <p>These Turquoise-browed Motmots were just the first two of 23 seen on one day.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" /></p> <p>A total of 154 Mississippi Kites were counted in this exciting kettle of migrants.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="432" /></p> <p>A White Hawk preening after a morning rain was a lucky find next to the road. A video of it can be seen here: <a href=""></a>.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="422" /></p> <p>We sometimes miss Dark Pewee, but almost never do we get a chance to look so closely at a nest.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="578" /></p> <p>There weren&rsquo;t many orchids in bloom, but this <em>Acianthera cogniauxiana</em> on our Monteverde hotel grounds was spectacular.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="338" /></p> <p>This rubyspot damselfly, <em>Hetaerina majuscula</em>, is probably the most attractive member of the genus.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="415" /></p> <p>This Whitened Bluewing, <em>Myscelia cyaniris</em>, was basking next to the trail on our last day.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="436" /></p> <p>The silk moth <em>Rothschildia orizaba</em> never fails to take the show when one is spotted, this one by a sharp-eyed participant just after we had seen a Spotted Woodcreeper.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Gavin Bieber on his just-completed tour, <a href="">Texas: The Upper Coast</a></p> 2018-04-20 15:03:20 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>Our tour took place over a week where the weather didn't create conditions for a fallout of migrant songbirds along the coast, but the saving grace of the upper Texas coast and environs in spring is that, weather aside, the place is heaving with birdlife and we spent a very enjoyable week exploring the expansive marshes, white sand beaches, coastal woodlots and inland pine and hardwood forests that typify far east Texas.</p> <p>The rookery at High Island gave us excellent views of Roseate Spoonbill and patient American Alligators.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="600" height="421" /></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="600" height="328" /></p> <p>The marshes of Louisiana held King Rails with fuzzy black chicks in tow and handsome roadside Scissor-tailed Flycatchers.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="600" height="395" /></p> <p>A trip north to the hardwood and pine forests near Jasper yielded the hoped for Red-cockaded Woodpecker and several warblers on their breeding grounds such as this Hooded.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="600" height="392" /></p> <p>The various coastal woodland preserves also held treasures, such as Ovenbirds walking on the open understory of the woods and a stunning Cerulean Warbler on the last afternoon.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="600" height="407" /></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="600" height="417" /></p> <p>We spent quite some time working on the identification of shorebirds and waders, encountering an impressive 33 species of shorebirds, all 12 possible U.S. herons and nine species of terns; often sitting together for close studies.&nbsp; It had been several years since I had visited this bird-rich area and I&rsquo;m thankful for the chance to revisit one of the United States&rsquo; premier destinations, and happy to have shared the joys of migration birding with such a fine group.&nbsp;</p> <p>Fabrice Schmitt on his and Steve Howell's recently completed cruise, <a href="">Buenos Aires to Santiago</a></p> 2018-03-23 13:01:01 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>For the second time this year, we had an amazing cruise from Buenos Aires (Argentina) to San Antonio (Chile)!</p> <p>According to the group, some of the most memorable birds seen during our landings were the stunning Magellanic Woodpecker seen in Ushuaia, the unique Magellanic Plover in the Patagonian steppe near Punta Arenas, and the American Painted Snipe that surprised us all near Montevideo!</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="426" /><br /> <em>Our shipmates on dry land in Montevideo</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="426" /><br /><em>Magellanic Woodpecker</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>Magellanic Plover</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="426" /><br /><em>South American Painted Snipe</em></p> <p>Obviously, the visit to the King Penguin colony on the Falklands Islands was also a wonderful moment, as was sailing near the Horn with 70 knots of wind!</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>King Penguins and hatchlings</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="426" /><br /><em>Cape Horn</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="426" /><br /><em>Black-browed Albatross in a whole gale...and then some</em></p> <p>During our seabirding days, we found no fewer than 34 species of tubenoses, and even added the rare Sooty Albatross to our already long list of 13 species of albatrosses.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>A Sooty Albatross, new for even Fabrice</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="426" /><br /><em>Southern Royal Albatross</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="426" /><br /><em>Yellow-nosed Albatross</em></p> <p>Beside amazing birding and wonderful scenery, we had as always fantastic encounters with several species of whales and dolphins.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>Fin-backed Whale</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>Common Dolphin</em></p> <p>It really was a wonderful cruise, offering a marvelous combination of comfort and superb seabirding.</p> <p>Jon Feenstra on his recently completed tour, <a href="">Ecuador: The Amazon Lowlands</a></p> 2018-03-19 15:27:34 Wings Staff Field Reports <p class="p1"><span class="s1">We&rsquo;re all back from a week in the Ecuadorian Amazon based at the remote, but comfortable, indigenous people-run Sani Lodge. We had a great time with bird highlights ranging from colorful Wire-tailed Manakins, a few cryptic antbirds, bizarre Hoatzins, four species of macaw, and lots of interesting insects, monkeys, and just fascinating jungle scenery. The time we spent &nbsp;in the rainforest was nearly eight days, and with no rain, it was easy to explore the surrounding jungle on foot and by canoe.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><img src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></span><br /><em>A Crested Owl was a day-roost stakeout at a house near the indigenous peoples&rsquo; village.</em></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><img src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></span><br /><em>The lodge itself always had birds about. A few Black-fronted Nunbirds were noisy members of the &ldquo;bar flock&rdquo;.</em></p> <p class="p1"><img src="" alt="" width="600" height="800" /><br /><em>This was as close we came to seeing a Jaguar, but one was out there&hellip; maybe seeing us.</em></p> <p class="p1"><img src="" alt="" width="600" height="800" /><br /><em>This peanut-headed bug (real name) was yet another example of the astounding, and often strange, diversity of the Amazon.</em></p> <p class="p1"><img src="" alt="" width="800" height="600" /><br /><em>Though most of our birding was in the forest, we made a beach landing on a river island to get those island specialties like Oriole Blackbird and Olive-spotted Hummingbird.</em></p> New ‘Birds of Chile’ book from WINGS leaders Steve Howell and Fabrice Schmitt just released! 2018-03-19 15:13:23 Will Russell Miscellany <p>After a few years collaboration, thousands of pictures, and uncountable hours in the field, Steve Howell and Fabrice Schmitt just published their photographic field guide &lsquo;Birds of Chile&rsquo;. With its pocket size, short texts focused on identification marks, and numerous pictures showing the birds in their habitat, their new book is the perfect tool to identify birds of this part of the world.</p> <p>Participants of the ongoing cruise &lsquo;Buenos Aires to Santiago&rsquo; have been able to test the very first copies of the new book, and it works!</p> <p>If you too want to use this new field guide with their authors, you can join them on one of their forthcoming <a href="">Chile</a> tour or <a href="">cruises</a>!</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="479" /></p> Nepal 2018-03-05 16:03:29 Will Russell Recently updated tours Cut off from the rest of the world for centuries, Nepal remains one of Asia&rsquo;s most fascinating destinations. It&rsquo;s a tiny, landlocked country dominated by the still-growing Himalayan mountain chain that separates the icy deserts of Tibet from the dusty, sun-baked plains of India but within its borders one finds a feast of spectacular scenery, cultural contrasts, and rich biological resources. Over 850 bird species have been recorded here, more than in any other region of comparable size in Asia, and this tour samples a variety of the country&rsquo;s richest natural habitats. These range from the moist, moss-covered oak-rhododendron forests surrounding the Kathmandu Valley to areas of riverine grassland, marsh, and scrub at Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve in the southeast, and on to the subtropical forests, grasslands, and wetlands in and around the world-renowned Chitwan National Park. Idaho: Cassia Crossbill and Southern Idaho 2018-02-12 09:14:33 Will Russell Recently updated tours In 2017 the AOS Checklist Committee concluded that the endemic subspecies of Red Crossbill from Cassia County, Idaho, was a full species, the Cassia Crossbill (Loxia sinesciurus). The translation of the specific epithet&nbsp;sinesciurus&nbsp;literally means &ldquo;without squirrels,&rdquo; and indeed Red Squirrels are absent from the two ranges in Cassia County that this species occurs. The cones there have evolved in the absence of squirrels, and so have the crossbills. Our tour will spend two full days in the heart of the Cassia Crossbill&rsquo;s range in the South Hills, and we should have an excellent chance of both seeing and hearing this species (their calls differ from other Red Crossbill populations). There is, of course, much more to see in the South Hills, including a wide variety of montane species, and a full array of hummingbirds should be at peak numbers in mid-August. In addition we&rsquo;ll visit the Boise National Forest northeast of Boise with hopefully a fine variety of woodpeckers, and the sagebrush areas and grasslands around &nbsp;Pocatello with Ferruginous Hawks, Burrowing Owls, and with good luck Sharp-tailed Grouse. Finally we&rsquo;ll explore the famous Grays Lake National Wildlife Refuge with up to 20,000 nesting Franklin&rsquo;s Gulls and the world&rsquo;s largest Sandhill Crane population. Our tour will coincide with the peak of fall shorebird migration, and we&rsquo;ll have numerous opportunities to study their concentrations in wetland areas. Idaho is lightly populated, and, with the numerous mountain ranges and valleys, the scenery will be spectacular. Colombia: The Chocó 2017-12-07 07:55:45 Will Russell Recently updated tours The Choc&oacute; area of western Colombia and Ecuador encompasses the Pacific slope of both the Colombian West Andes and the main Andes. Most of the habitat here is characterized by wet forest, and with up to 630 inches of rain per year in some places, mostly falling from April to June and from October to December, it is perhaps the wettest place on earth. The Choc&oacute; has one of the world&rsquo;s richest lowland biotas, with exceptional endemism in a wide range of taxa, including plants, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies, and of course birds. For example, 10% of the 80,000 to 90,000 plant species recorded in the Neotropics have been found in the Choc&oacute;, and 25% of these are endemic to this narrow band of land. The Choc&oacute; also supports the largest number of restricted-range bird species of any area in the Americas, with more than 60 endemics.&nbsp;