WingsBirds Updates Updates from WingsBirds Mon, 18 Feb 2019 18:32:44 -0700 en daily 1 <p>Jon Feenstra on his recently completed tour, <a href="">Ecuador: Mindo and the Northwest Andes</a></p> 2019-02-18 10:01:22 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>We're just back in Quito from a wonderful trip to the Mindo area of northwest Ecuador. We spent the week taking day trips from our forest lodge to the various elevations of cloud forest and totaled nearly 300 bird species (including 35 species of hummingbirds). The highlights were many, but here are a few that photographed well...</p> <div><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="426" /></div> <p>Moss-backed Tanager is a very local specialty of northwest Ecuador. We saw a few while birding the roadside in the Mashpi Conservation Area, then we saw a few more eating bananas at the Amagusa Reserve. A few of them were quite close!</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" />A few Rose-faced Parrots were flying around us one day, and one confidingly perched in a tree right above our heads.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" />No visit to the Mindo area is complete with a visit to Reserva Paz de las Aves. This tiny Ochre-breasted Antpitta, nick-named "Shakira", was one of four species of antpitta we saw there that day.</p> <div><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" />&nbsp;</div> <p>The spectacular Proboscis Anole is only known from the Mindo valley and was a real treat on the grounds of our hotel.</p> Peterson Guide to Bird Identification—in 12 Steps 2019-02-14 15:46:59 Matt Brooks Miscellany <p>Continuing his publishing streak, <strong>Steve Howell</strong> has teamed up with Brian Sullivan and has produced another must-have book titled "<strong>Peterson Guide to Bird Identification&mdash;in 12 Steps</strong>." Available now on Amazon or your local bookstore.</p> <p>Jake Mohlmann on his just-completed tour, <a href="">Arizona: A Winter Week in the Southeast</a></p> 2019-02-06 08:54:20 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>In just six days we traversed 1,030 miles of cactus-studded landscapes tallying an amazing 157 species of birds. At the beginning of the tour the city of Chicago&rsquo;s wind chill was -53&deg;F, so we were all thrilled about daytime highs reaching 75&deg; with nothing but sunshine predicted all week long. It was really hard to beat our first day&rsquo;s excursion to one of the most famous birding areas in southeast Arizona. In the tree-studded Madera Canyon birds were gathering at some of the ripe hackberries. We sat in amazement as a White-throated Thrush, Arizona&rsquo;s long-staying first state record, lit in one of the trees and gorged on fruit.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="412" />&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Arizona&rsquo;s first state record White-throated Thrush photographed well by all</em></p> <p>It was hard to pull ourselves away from all the excitement but we caught rumor a male Elegant Trogon was being seen upcanyon and coming in to a reliable food source. It wasn&rsquo;t hard to spot all the birders lined up along the road revealing the correct place to look. As luck would have it he flew in for an extended photo session plucking berries in a flurry. It&rsquo;s worth mentioning that across the street from this scene a Red-naped Sapsucker distracted us while digging wells, but more surprising was the male Painted Redstart that joined in checking the sticky traps.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="294" />&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Crowds amass for a male Elegant Trogon</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="388" />&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Male Elegant Trogon is always a highlight of the tour</em></p> <p>Later this same day the group was treated to a once in a lifetime opportunity when we watched a pair of Great Horned Owls emerge early and do their best making more owls. Just after copulating a family of Harris&rsquo;s Hawks weren&rsquo;t impressed and decided to attack the owls, forcing them to the ground with dust flying and talons entwined. This raptor wrestle match only ended when the outnumbered owls ducked into someone&rsquo;s front porch and crawled in between the flower pots.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" />&nbsp;</p> <p><em>A Great Horned Owl, pre tussle</em></p> <p>The Tucson Valley Christmas Bird Count tallies the highest number of wintering Vermilion Flycatchers in the country, of which we saw several. There is nothing like seeing these birds sit atop a perch and turn anything into a flaming candle.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" />&nbsp;</p> <p><em>A male Vermilion Flycatcher lights up a fence post</em></p> <p>We visited many canyons throughout the week including Box, Carr, and perhaps the most scenic of all Cave Creek Canyon. The Cave Creek Ranch feeders were ripe with birds this year with barely any room at the feeders for the excess. Blue-throated Hummingbirds drank from feeders, Golden-crowned and &lsquo;Red&rsquo; Fox sparrow fed in the dirt, and an optimistic Sharp-shinned Hawk eventually flew in to steal the show. The only sound left was the cascading sound of the Canyon Wren&rsquo;s song echoing off the rock walls nearby.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" />&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Our group excited to explore scenic Cave Creek Canyon</em></p> <p>&nbsp;<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /></p> <p><em>Birds scatter when a Sharp-shinned Hawk arrives</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" />&nbsp;</p> <p><em>We watched as the Canyon Wren belted out its unforgettable song</em></p> <p>In some years eastern warblers are encountered and this year was no exception. The best views one could ask of a wintering Louisiana Waterthrush along the San Pedro River was a highlight for many on the tour, including those whose nemesis bird this was from the east coast.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="428" />&nbsp;</p> <p><em>This Louisiana Waterthrush was a lifer for most</em></p> <p>No tour would be complete without a stroll around the famed Sweetwater Wetlands. This complex is perfectly placed along the Santa Cruz River and attracts lots of birds including some of the rarer marsh species. It didn&rsquo;t take long for us to find a perfectly still American Bittern blending in perfectly with the vertical dead reeds. Even more of a surprise was the Least Bittern that MaryAnn somehow spotted near the top of the vegetation secretly surveying the scene.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" />&nbsp;</p> <p><em>&nbsp;A tiny Least Bittern crept into view for 5 minutes</em></p> <p>Steve Howell on his just-completed tour, <a href="">Mexico: San Blas</a></p> 2019-01-16 13:08:14 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>Steve Howell reports from the conclusion of another wonderful week in&nbsp;San Blas&nbsp;where the birds kept them busy, but in a relaxed way based at a very comfortable hotel with excellent food and hospitality, plus warm and sunny weather all week. Ahh, Mexico&hellip;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" /><br /><em> The first morning, this pair of Lineated Woodpeckers posed on a pole right outside our hotel!</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" /><br /><em> Followed within a block by this stunning male Streak-backed Oriole.</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" /><br /><em> The next morning this tiny female Golden-crowned Emerald sat on her nest right beside a dirt road.</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" /><br /><em> Always popular, Northern Potoos showed exceptionally well on our nocturnal boat ride.</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" /><br /><em> Collared Forest-Falcon usually shows itself somewhere during the week, this time on the last morning&mdash;but what a view!</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" /><br /><em> Among many other highlights, these diminutive Mexican Parrotlets posed for photos, but all too soon the week was gone.</em></p> <p>Rich Hoyer on his recently completed tour, <a href="">Brazil: The Southeast Atlantic Rainforest</a></p> 2019-01-14 17:04:50 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>So many endemic birds &ndash; either stunningly beautiful or with fascinating and evocative vocalizations &ndash; made our tour of the Atlantic rainforests of Brazil&rsquo;s Rio de Janeiro and S&atilde;o Paulo states memorable and fun. Ridiculously colorful tanagers and sparkling hummingbirds vied for our attention, skulking antbirds and gnateaters teased us, and feeders made for some easy birding. The sounds of several Bare-throated Bellbirds echoing across the hillsides with Hooded Berryeater and White-browed Warbler ringing through the forest provided for a sensation that isn&rsquo;t repeated anywhere else in South America. We tallied an impressive 350 species of birds seen and another 20 heard, as well as many interesting plants, insects, reptiles, and other critters. Such a big list means we also worked on teasing out the many obscure tyrannulets, and SE Brazil is full of them. A Pavonine Cuckoo at arm&rsquo;s length on our next-to-last day was voted tour favorite, fantastic to watch it utter its soft song of six whistled notes. Other species getting top votes included a pair of giant Robust Woodpeckers, an exciting flock of Scarlet Ibises, very attractive Bay-chested Warbling-Finches, and a ridiculously cooperative Red-and-white Crake.</p> <p>At our first birding area north of Rio de Janeiro we snagged the very local Three-toed Jacamar and Gray-winged Cotinga with a great deal of luck, despite fog and a sudden shower. The weather was unusually cool, so insect activity was rather subdued, but we did marvel at the beauty of this cicada, <em>Carineta diardi</em>.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="337" />&nbsp;</p> <p>At our birding stop at REGUA, a Chestnut-backed Antshrike pair was feeding a recent fledgling at the close-focus limit of our binoculars.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="385" />&nbsp;</p> <p>A day and a half of rain at Itatiaia National Park &ldquo;forced&rdquo; us to spend more time watching the feeders on the hotel balcony where Green-headed Tanager showed off its colors.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="366" /></p> <p>Red-breasted Toucan also appeared a few times to sample the fruit put out by the restaurant workers.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="409" />&nbsp;</p> <p>The coastal lowlands and foothills of S&atilde;o Paulo were very productive, with antbirds, gnateaters, and many hummingbirds. On one birdy morning walk we took advantage of a break in the bird activity to admire this gorgeous orchid, <em>Gongora bufonia</em>.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="643" />&nbsp;</p> <p>We finished the tour at the amazing Intervales State Park, and our local guide Renato was a fantastic help with his super sharp ear and local knowledge of recent sightings. This Common Potoo was on a roost it had been using for a few days.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="701" />&nbsp;</p> <p>We visited a double lek of Dusky-throated Hermits and Purple-crowned Plovercrests (below), both of which cooperated nicely for us.</p> <p>&nbsp;<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="537" /></p> <p>A feeding station hidden on a narrow forest trail hosted an acclimated family of the rarely seen Spot-winged Wood-Quail, and we had superb looks at these elusive birds.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="553" /></p> <p>Gavin Bieber on his recently concluded tour, <a href="">Panama: Darién Lowlands</a></p> 2018-12-19 09:49:27 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>The vast and sparsely populated Darien Province in the far east of the country contains some of the most remote and wild lowland and montane wilderness remaining in Central America.&nbsp; Our base for the week was the newly constructed and very comfortable Canopy Camp</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" /><br />The Canopy Camp commons area</p> <p>We spent several days exploring the camp trails and various spots along the end of the Pan-American highway, where patches of forest and more open fields revealed widespread birds such as King Vulture, and more localized ones such as the impressive Barred Puffbird, the attractive Spot-breasted Woodpecker and the globally scarce Black Oropendola.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="796" /><br /><em>A splendid King Vulture</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="853" /><br /><em>Barred Puffbird</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="499" /><br /><em>Spot-breasted Woodpecker</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" /><br /><em>A range-restricted Black Oropendola</em></p> <p>A few stray non-birds crossed our path too, such as this placid Craugastor sp. Frog and an impressively large tarantula.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" /><br /><em>An imperturbable frog&gt;</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="853" /><br /><em>A glossily handsome and large tarantula</em></p> <p>Taking dugout canoes out into Embera territory past the end of the road allowed us to visit a known nest site of the incomparable Harpy Eagle, surely the highlight species of the trip for most.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="749" /><br /><em>A magnificent Harpy</em></p> <p>Over the course of the week we encountered 262 species of birds including 16 species of antbirds, an impressive 14 species of herons and 34 species of everyone&rsquo;s favorite bird family; the new world flycatchers!&nbsp; These areas in the Darien are little explored and I am sure that the creation of a comfortable lodge here will produce a lot of new discoveries.&nbsp; I very much look forward to returning next fall!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Borneo - Sarawak Endemics 2018-10-31 15:08:01 Will Russell Recently updated tours Borneo is quite rightly regarded as one of the great storehouses of our planet&rsquo;s incredible biological diversity. Charles Darwin&rsquo;s famous description, &ldquo;one great, wild, untidy, luxuriant hothouse made by nature herself,&rdquo; although often said incorrectly to have been inspired by Borneo, is in fact perfect for Borneo. Sarawak, the legendary land of headhunters and hornbills, is Malaysia&lsquo;s largest state, occupying the northwestern portion of the great island of Borneo. Here, the ever-wet rainforests reach unparalleled diversity and are home to a dizzying array of tropical wildlife - a great portion of Borneo&rsquo;s 650 bird species have been recorded in the state. Peninsular Malaysia 2018-09-28 14:32:04 Will Russell Recently updated tours About 720 bird species have been recorded in peninsular Malaysia, and a large proportion of these are resident, many unique to the area&rsquo;s lush tropical rainforest. Our short tour revolves around three nights in cool highlands at Fraser&rsquo;s Hill, where the first migrants from the north augment the local avifauna, and four nights in the superb Sundaic lowland forest of magnificent Taman Negara, Malaysia&rsquo;s largest national park. We&rsquo;ll be targeting some very special birds, including Malaysian Peacock-Pheasant, Great Argus, Rail Babbler, Giant Pitta, Bamboo Woodpecker and Ferruginous Partridge. This wonderful country remains one of the birdiest in Southeast Asia thanks to a system of excellent, well-protected nature reserves, and its multicultural population, modern infrastructure, great food and small towns with old-world charm help make Malaysia a comfortable and memorable birding adventure.&nbsp; Cruise: Antarctic Peninsula and Around Cape Horn 2018-09-25 11:38:05 Will Russell Recently updated tours Have you dreamed of taking an extended pelagic trip around the southern tip of South America and cruising off the Antarctic Peninsula&mdash;traveling to such legendary places as Cape Horn, the Beagle Channel, the Strait of Magellan, and the Falkland Islands and seeing in the process 30 or more species of tubenoses, 8 species of albatross, 4 species of penguin, and 3 species of diving-petrels, among others? If so, you may not have imagined that this can be done brilliantly on a&nbsp;Princess cruise ship which is of course both comfortable and well-appointed and is also stable enough to permit telescope use even in these turbulent waters. We believe that this cruise&nbsp;offers the best access to a unique and memorable seabirding experience in South America and probably one of the best in the world.&nbsp; Nepal 2018-07-11 14:53:26 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.