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    Originally from England, Terry Stevenson has made Kenya his home since 1977. He is the senior author of the Field Guide to the Birds of East Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, ...Read complete biography

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  • NEWS ARCHIVES


July 2016 emailing

July 26th, 2016 by Field Guides

Mid-summer–what a great time of year. Field Guides tours to Newfoundland, New Guinea, Iceland, Brazil, Ecuador, Spitsbergen, East Africa, Peru, and Galagagos have just wrapped up, and we have a busy slate of other trips ahead of our annual business meeting in Arizona in mid-August. This month we have some fun birding info, 10 fresh itineraries for 2017, 16 triplists from recent tours, and a beautiful assortment of trip photos in our July Recent Photos gallery — 70 new images from 9 departures spanning Alta Floresta to Ethiopia and Montana to Alaska. The Black-billed Barbet from Ethiopia participant Becky Hansen below is just a sample. Enjoy reading, and good birding to all.


Cool birding info: Peru app, Feather Atlas & more

  • Hot off the press: There’s now an iPhone and iPad app for the Birds of Peru field guide, co-authored by our own Field Guide Dan Lane. Now you can take all those great birds with you into the field in a small pocket…amazing! Check it out here on the iTunes store.
  • We’re always spotting dropped feathers when we’re out birding, and it’s fun to try to I.D. them. If you enjoy doing the same in North America and haven’t seen it yet, check out the online Feather Atlas from the US Fish & Wildlife Department. You can key out your find using some pattern and color characteristics, and on your way to identifying your feather you’ll pick up some cool comparison points, too. Have fun being a feather sleuth!
  • In the birding-related department, if you enjoy learning about the mammals you’re bound to encounter while out in the field, explore this North American Mammals website from the Smithsonian where you can search for species by name, by location, by taxonomic relationship, and more…pretty cool.
  • Love ID tips? Pick up helpful hints on identifying Solitary Sandpipers from guide Tom Johnson’s informative piece in Cape May Bird Observatory’s July View from the Cape.

Birding from 9 to 13 days for the 2016 Holidays

We have a diverse array of choices with those 8 great guides shown above if you’re looking for a birding escape with space still open over the Thanksgiving or December breaks:

Above, some images from our upcoming 2016 holiday itineraries, which include a visit to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula with Chris Benesh, where in addition to plenty of landbirds we’ll see American Flamingos lighting up a lagoon; some beautiful landscapes and plenty of local and regional endemics like Cactus Canastero and the striking Inca Tern on Jesse Fagan’s Holiday Southern Peru; and the ever-regal Resplendent Quetzal on Holiday Costa Rica I with Megan Edwards Crewe. Thanks to participants Johanne Charbonneau and Paul Bisson for the great flamingo and quetzal images.


Fresh tour galleries

We’ve continued to add new slideshows to some of our tour pages. You can see examples on the pages listed below. Note too that on each page there’s a link to a larger version of the slideshow that has a fullscreen option. Enjoy!


Triplists from recent tours

Click on any image below to see our annotated and illustrated online triplist. (And be sure also to see our July Recent Photos gallery for other great images.)

Ecuador birding tour with FIELD GUIDES

Borneo birding tour with FIELD GUIDES

Arizona birding tour with FIELD GUIDES

Greece birding tour with FIELD GUIDES

Dominican Republic birding tour with FIELD GUIDES

Costa Rica birding tour with FIELD GUIDES

Point Pelee birding tour with FIELD GUIDES

Colorado Grouse birding tour with FIELD GUIDES

Arizona birding tour with FIELD GUIDES

Arizona Nightbirds birding tour with FIELD GUIDES

Montana birding tour with FIELD GUIDES

Northern Arizona birding tour with FIELD GUIDES

Texas on tour with FIELD GUIDES

Texas Coast birding tour with FIELD GUIDES

Puerto Rico birding tour with FIELD GUIDES

Maine birding tour with FIELD GUIDES


Recent comments (thanks!)

Your post-tour comments on our evaluation form help us ensure that we offer the best possible tour experience and service, in the field and from our office.

“An excellent experience. Great birds, lovely habitats, delightful lodge, good group of participants, and superb guiding by Bret Whitney.” J.S., Brazil’s Rio Roosevelt: Birding the River of Doubt 2016

“As my first birding tour, it was fantastic. Eric Hynes is so very knowledgeable and patient especially since most everyone else was experienced. I could not have imagined a better experience.” C.A, Iceland 2016

“This was one the best birding tours I have taken. Particularly, the careful organization exhibited by the company to every aspect of the trip. I would like to mention the excellent birding guiding services of Mitch Lysinger and local guide Oscar Tapuy. No question about it, I will be with you again in the future.” P.L., Amazonian Ecuador: Sacha Lodge III 2016


Tour openings: September to December

California birding tour with FIELD GUIDES

This image by guide Tom Johnson shows a small part of a massive Sooty Shearwater flock of about 80,000 birds seen in Half Moon Bay on our September 2015 Slice of California: Seabirds to Sierra tours. There’s one space left on Tom’s Sep 13-22 tour.


Recently posted 2017 itineraries


June 2016 emailing

June 21st, 2016 by Field Guides

Hi, birding friends! What a busy time of year, with 11 tours from Alaska and Arizona to Brazil, Borneo, and more since our May emailing. There’s lots of cool news and fresh info to report. See below for our new hummingbird slideshow, Dave Stejskal’s Pine Flycatcher find, a bunch of new tour galleries, 11 fresh itineraries and 8 triplists, and a beautiful assortment of trip photos in our June Recent Photos gallery (56 new images from 9 tours from Arizona to Greece; that’s a Yellow-breasted Brushfinch from our Southwestern Ecuador Specialties tour by participant Randy Beaton as a sample below; also, above is a female Purple-throated Mountain-gem by Costa Rica participant Reg David). Enjoy reading, and good birding to all.

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Cool birding news: Pine Flycatcher, State of the Birds

Dave-Stejskal-Lyssa-zampa-swallowtail-moth-box-16-Chuck-Holliday-croppedBig news on the birding front! Guide Dave Stejskal discovered what appears to be the first US record of Pine Flycatcher, a Mexican species of Empidonax. Congrats, Dave! You can read Dave’s original post here, see a photo on our post (and there’s a link in that post to the Arizona Field Ornithologists site for even more pics), and check out an article about the find in the Arizona Daily Star. What a great find!

In other news, the State of the Birds 2016 report is out. It covers 1154 species from Canada, the US, and Mexico, detailing population status and trends, conservation issues, a watch list, and more. It’s a must read for North American birders.


New slideshow: Hummingbirds II

Many of you watched our original Hummingbirds slideshow and let us know how much you enjoyed it, so we’ve created a second one with all new images of these fantastic gems. Our fresh Hummingbirds II slideshow includes 55 images from our participants and guides — that’s a Scintillant Hummingbird by participant Bill Byers below as a sample. Click to this page to get started; if you’d like to see the show in larger format still, there’s a link on the page for that, too. Enjoy!

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Last options for summer birding with us: 4 tours

If you are still hoping to get away birding this summer somewhere cool or warm, we have three choices in July and one in late August, each with 2 or 3 spaces open:


Fresh Tour Galleries

We’ve been working on putting together some slideshows to use on our tour pages, with more to come. You can see examples on the pages listed below. Note too that on each page there’s a link to a larger version of the slideshow that has a fullscreen option. Enjoy!


Triplists from recent tours

Click on any image below to see our annotated and illustrated online triplist. (And be sure also to see our June Recent Photos gallery for other great images.)

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Recent comments (thanks!)

Your post-tour comments on our evaluation form help us ensure that we offer the best possible tour experience and service, in the field and from our office.

“Just about the best experience! Dave Stejskal is a fantastic and very skilled leader, and we couldn’t have asked for better tour mates. Locations were all well chosen, and Dave was extremely knowledgeable about the birds and natural history of each area. Office was very easy to work with.” D.A., Arizona: Birding the Border 2016

“Excellent tour, terrific companions and a superb leader. Megan’s birding skills are amazing and she diligently gets everyone on the bird. Her sense of humor, wonderful stories, and dedicated professionalism are assets. The Field Guides office staff were great as usual.” S.C., Classical Greece 2016

“I always go with Field Guides. In particular, the guides are phenomenal and superior.” E.C., Spring in Cape May 2016


Tour openings: September to December

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The lovely Ross’s Gull above is the main quarry on our October tour to Barrow, Alaska. Photo by guide Eric Hynes.


Recently posted 2017 itineraries


A fresh hummingbird slideshow!

June 5th, 2016 by Field Guides

If you love hummers, as we do, we think you’ll enjoy our new slideshow of 55 images of these small gems. The photos are from our guides and participant on Field Guides tours. Click here to see the slideshow and also a listing of our best tours for up to 50 or more species of hummingbirds. Have fun watching!


May 2016 e-mailing

May 24th, 2016 by Field Guides

Hi, birding friends! Spring migrants have been flooding northward, and we’ve been intercepting them along the way, with a broad range of tours from the Texas Coast and Big Bend to Hungary & Romania, Arizona (10-day tours and 5-day nightbirds trips), Point Pelee, and Greece. Up next, Ethiopia, Maine, Alaska, Borneo, and much more to get the summer rolling. Lots of newsy bits below, of course: an interesting piece on dinosaur feathers, another on our Mountains of Manu tour, some cool birding items, the Brazil visa waiver, 15 fresh itineraries and 14 triplists, and a beautiful assortment of trip photos in our May Recent Photos gallery (79 new images from 8 tours from Colorado to Bhutan; that’s a beautiful Iiwi from our recent Hawaii trip by guide Dan Lane as a sample below). Enjoy reading, and good birding to all.

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“Birding” (sort of) way back when!

OK, we’re kidding, sort of…but check out this piece from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology on dinosaurs and feathers. If we’d lived back then, with feathered creatures that big we wouldn’t have needed binocs or scopes! Of course, we’d have been watching over our shoulders all the time when out in the field…and checking our eSaur app for latest sightings, right?


Cool birding items: videos & bird names

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In the miscellaneous cool bird stuff department this month:
Another video clip in guide Bret Whitney’s series from N.E. Brazil, this time of the magnificent Hooded Visorbearer hummingbird.
Curious about bird names? Here’s a great resource from the folks at Handbook of the Birds of the World to explore the source and meaning of a bird’s scientific name.
–And a second video clip from Bret, this time of a pair of Rufous-winged Ground-Cuckoos his April Guyana group saw…

Fantasy birding? No, the Manu road is for real!

Looking for a fall tour? Wouldn’t mind visiting one of the most biologically diverse areas on the planet with an astounding list of bird possibilities (like the Gould’s Jewelfront below by participant Steve Wakeham)? We’ve got just the ticket: our Mountains of Manu tour, hitting a birder’s dream come true, the spectacular Manu road. Check out guide Pepe Rojas’s recent post on the highlights of this tour — there’s still space to join him!

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No Brazil visa needed for September in paradise!

Yep, it’s true — the Brazilian government has put in place a visa waiver through September 18 for citizens of the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Japan! That means you’ll spend $160 less to reach our Rio Negro Paradise I tour, which is based primarily on our fantastic boat! It’s scheduled (perfectly) for Sep 3-17 with our Field Guides experts Marcelo Padua and Dave Stejskal. You could be home…or instead be catching the breeze on the top deck in late afternoon as you reminisce with the “Manakin” and “Roadrunner” about the day’s fantastic birds with a chilled caipirinha in hand. Sound appealing? Heck, yea! Just 4 spots still open — we’ll see you at the Meeting of the Waters!

Triplists from recent tours

Click on any image below to see our annotated and illustrated online triplist. (And be sure also to see our May Recent Photos gallery for other great images.)

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Recent comments (thanks!)

Your post-tour comments on our evaluation form help us ensure that we offer the best possible tour experience and service, in the field and from our office.

“This was the finest bird tour experience I’ve ever had. Megan Crewe is by far the most dedicated, skilled, thoughtful and congenial guide I’ve experienced. And she cultivated an easy-going camaraderie among the tour participants.” E.F., Greece 2016

“When deciding to go with a company, we most prefer to travel with Field Guides because we think the guides are first class birders and excellent with people. In addition, we appreciate the types of choices made on itineraries with places to explore and stay. I’d travel with Mitch Lysinger again anytime!” R.B., Southwestern Ecuador Specialties 2016

“My four prior excursions with Field Guides were terrific experiences, so choosing this one was a no-brainer. And it was outstanding. Best feature was the efforts of guides Chris Benesh and Tom Johnson. It was apparent how much pride they have in their work. Your office service was terrific as usual.” C.D., Colorado Grouse 2016


Tour openings: June to November

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The magnificent Frilled Coquette male above is one of myriad eye-catching species possible on our three Brazil tours listed below, from “Rio Negro Paradise” and “Serra dos Tucanos” in September to Spectacular Southeast Brazil in late October — the tour on which participant Ken Havard captured this lovely image.

2017 itineraries now ready


The Manu road in October: A birder’s dream

May 17th, 2016 by Pepe Rojas

Few places on the planet offer birders the opportunity to explore as amazing an altitudinal gradient as the Manu road in southeastern Peru. In an ecologically complex mosaic of habitats ranging from about 2600 feet elevation in the foothills up to tree line at 11,150 feet, researchers have found nearly 1000 species of birds. Imagine the birding potential–there are new species waiting at every turn!

Magnificent forest along our Manu route, looking down toward the Amazonian lowlands. Photo by guide Rose Ann Rowlett.

Magnificent forest along our Manu route, looking down toward the Amazonian lowlands. Photo by guide Rose Ann Rowlett.

Our trip starts in the city of Cuzco, nestled at about 12,000′ feet. To reach our destination on the east slope we must first drive through a very dry and barren landscape where bird diversity is low, yet we have a chance to find interesting endemics such as Bearded Mountaineer, Rusty-fronted Canastero, Chestnut-breasted Mountain-Finch, and Creamy-crested Spinetail, to mention a few.

Field Guides Mountains of Manu tour image

Andean Cock-of-the-Rock and Golden-eared Tanager, two stunning birds we should see. Photo by participant Steve Wakeham.

At the Accjanaco pass at treeline elevation, the landscape starts to change dramatically. The heart of our route will span from the high elfin forest all the way down to the forested foothills at the base of the Andes. But where to begin our description? In the higher sections, Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucans, Grass-green and Hooded tanagers, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager, Barred Fruiteater, Masked and Moustached flowerpiercers, and White-collared Jays are certainly highlight species. At lower elevations mixed flocks can appear at any bend in the road, adding a burst of excitement as we scan each of these gatherings. In addition to Golden-headed and Crested quetzals, there can be Masked Trogon, Black-streaked Puffbird, Lanceolated Monklet, and Versicolored Barbet to delight us.  And at a lek we should see the unofficial national bird of Peru, the colorful Andean Cock-of-the-Rock.

The delightful Versicolored Barbet, photographed by participant Steve Wakeham.

The delightful Versicolored Barbet, photographed by participant Steve Wakeham.

At our lowest elevation, in the foothills, the birds we’ll find are a mix of lowlanders reaching up the slopes and species from above occurring at their lowest elevation. Military and Blue-headed macaws, Scarlet-hooded Barbet, several species of antbirds, bamboo birds and, if we are lucky, even Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo are all possible!

I can’t guarantee we will see 1000 birds, but I can assure you an exciting and thrilling trip. Come join me for the Mountains of Manu tour October 1-16, and let’s have some fun!

Enjoy looking through an illustrated and annotated triplist from our 2014 tour!


Our April Recent Photos gallery is up!

April 12th, 2016 by Field Guides

We’ve just posted a fresh gallery of 85 images contributed by our guides and participants from 8 of our recent Field Guides tours, from Namibia & Botswana to Costa Rica, Cambodia, Brazil, Jamaica, and more. Have a look for some great armchair birding! Click on this link or the sample image below.

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April 2016 e-mailing

April 12th, 2016 by Field Guides

Hello, all! Spring at last, and our guides and groups are off to the Texas Coast, Big Bend, Bhutan, Colorado, Ghana, Lesser Antilles, and Hungary & Romania, among others. For a small and fun taste of spring, watch guide Tom Johnson’s unexpected recent video of a Greater Prairie-Chicken (check the background about half way through) — very cool! Lots more below, of course: an added September France II departure, many fresh itineraries and triplists out, a beautiful assortment of trip photos in our April Recent Photos gallery (85 new images from 8 tours; that’s a Wire-crested Thorntail from “Ecuador’s Wildsumaco Lodge” by guide Willy Perez as a sample below — and there’s still space on Willy’s June Southwestern Ecuador Specialties tour).

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2016 schedule addition: France II with Jay
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One of our in-house Francophones, guide Jay VanderGaast, has added a France: Camargue & Pyrenees II tour for Sep 3-13, 2016 (our first tour is full). It’s the famed wetlands and nearby steppes of the Camargue contrasting with the glorious mountainscapes of the Pyrenees on the border with Spain, with everything from avocets and choughs to flamingos and the walled city of Carcassonne along the way.

Might we mention, too, as a bonus, some fabulous French food and wine when we are not out birding? Check out the itinerary and in particular Jay and Eric’s lovely 2015 triplist (that’s a White-throated Dipper as a sample at right). À bientôt!


Need to renew your U.S. passport in 2016-2018?

Here’s some useful traveler info: Word from the U.S. State Department is that demand for new passports is higher than usual for several reasons, and it’s expected to remain so through 2018. So you may need to allow some extra time for a new passport or a renewal. Have a look at the State Department’s news release as well as this additional informative piece. If you plan ahead, this could help keep your birding travel moving along without a hitch!

Cool bird news: parrots, cockatoos & more

With more than 300 species around the world, parrots and their kin are important features of our birding adventures, from Hyacinth Macaws in Brazil to pygmy-parrots in New Guinea. If they catch your fancy as they do ours, check out this recent New York Times article on parrots that touches on everything from tool use and clay licks to vocal abilities.

Fresh slideshows from recent tours

We’ve put together some slideshows of highlight images from participants and guides on three of our recent tours for you to enjoy (click the full-screen arrows for best effect):


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So many beautiful places to see on our birding adventures! Here’s the scene at historic Castillo San Cristobal in Puerto Rico by participant Larry Wright from our recent tour.


Fresh triplists from recent tours

Click on any image below to see our annotated and illustrated online triplist. (And be sure also to see our April Recent Photos gallery for other great images.)

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Tour openings: May to October

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Guide Terry Stevenson has two great Africa tours coming up this summer — his East Africa Highlights tour covering Kenya and Tanzania in July, and Kenya Safari Spectacular in late August and September. Each is a chance for some fantastic birding under the expert guidance of the guy who wrote the book! Participant Don Fallon brought home from one of our 2015 Kenya tours the image of a Secretary-bird above.

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We have two spaces still open on guide Megan Edwards Crewe’s Sri Lanka tour this fall. Check out her entertaining and well-illustrated triplist from our 2014 tour for a review of all the possibilities, including the endemic Yellow-fronted Barbet above.


2016 & 2017 itineraries recently released

The itineraries for these 2016 & 2017 tours have recently been posted to our website:


March 2016 e-mailing

March 15th, 2016 by Field Guides

Hi, birding friends! Another month gone by, with various fun tours completed, many fresh itineraries out, and an amazing assortment of fresh photos to share. In this e-mailing: added departures for May Point Pelee and October Cape May, two short new Colombia itineraries for 2017, fresh details of our Rio Negro Paradise (Brazil) tour, two cool video clips, bird news, and our March Recent Photos gallery of 118 fresh images from 14 tours (that’s a photo of Hooded and White-naped cranes from “Winter Japan” by guide Phil Gregory as a teaser below). Also, of course, some upcoming tour spaces and recently posted triplists and 2016 itineraries. And if you’ve got a hankering to get away in May, we have just a few spaces still open on three small-group tours: that added Point Pelee plus Morocco and Spain (for great birds, wine, and landscapes with guide Marcelo Padua and local expert Godfried Schreuer!). Enjoy reading, and good birding to all.

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2016 schedule additions: Point Pelee & Cape May II

Blackburnian Warbler by participant Sue arrGuide Jay VanderGaast has added a Point Pelee Migration Spectacle tour for May 9-16, 2016 for a great diversity of beautiful warblers (that’s a Blackburnian by participant Sue Carr at right) and other spring migrants. Note that our fee is $250 lower than in 2015 due to the favorable exchange rate! Check out the itinerary and 2015 triplist. The tour is limited to just 7.

Guide Megan Edwards Crewe‘s first Cape May Megan’s Way departure is full at 7, so to accommodate interest she’s added a second one for Oct 2-8, 2016Contact our office to hold space on either of these two great migration tours!


Bolivia: a stealth birding treasure

Bolivia should be on every birder’s radar, and guide Dan Lane has put together a nice post on our News page to explain why (spoiler alert: there are 100 or so specialty birds!). Add some spectacular landscapes (that’s famous Lake Titicaca in Dan’s photo below) and, well, why not visit this jewel? We’ve been going for decades, and Dan will be guiding our 2016 Bolivia’s Avian Riches group Sep 3-19.

Lake-Titicaca on Field Guides Bolivia tour


Two new short Colombia tours for 2017!

Our short tours to tropical destinations are very popular, and guide Richard Webster has just developed two more 10-day choices for you: Colombia: Cali Escape and Colombia: Medellin Escape. Just hop on a flight from Miami to Baranquilla and you’re there! His Medellin Escape in February 2017 spans Colombia’s rich forests from foothills to treeline and some of the country’s best private reserves, for many Colombian endemics plus a rich dose of Andean birds.The Cali Escape over Thanksgiving 2017 features cloudforests of two Colombian cordilleras and their rich assortment of hummingbirds, tanagers, and more.


Rio Negro Paradise, Brazil: great boat, great birding

It’s no accident that our tour to Manaus, Brazil is titled Rio Negro Paradise…we’re indeed based on the river itself on our fantastic boat, and the birding is terrific. Guides Marcelo Padua (heading to our boat on the Rio Negro, below) and Dave Stejskal are joining forces for our earliest 2016 tour, Sep 3-17, a two-week getaway easily reached via a five-hour flight from Miami on American Airlines. We’ve swapped the 3 nights in hammocks from previous years to a new, air-conditioned pousada (lodge) in the forest where there is a Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock lek! And we’ve added a day to the boat trip, so it’s now 8 days in live-aboard luxury. If your interest is piqued, check out the fun, 4-minute video of Bret Whitney doing a walk-through of our boat (there’s one spot still open on his Sep 11-25 departure, too). And for a rundown of the great birding possible, our triplists from 2015 (first tour & second tour) should do the trick, with lots of great media! (Check out the cool Rufous Potoo clip linked below, too.)

Rio Negro on Field Guides Manaus, Brazil tour


Cool recent videos: Lear’s Macaw & Rufous Potoo

Two recent video clips from Brazil by guide Bret Whitney you’ll want to see:

Visiting the spectacular nesting cliffs of Lear’s Macaws on the Nowhere but Northeast Brazil tour

Watching a Rufous Potoo rock its entire body when the wind starts to rustle nearby vegetation — crazy camouflage on our Rio Negro Paradise: Manaus, Brazil tour!


Birding books: world bird families

Any birding traveler will likely find this new book of interest: Bird Families of the World, co-published by Lynx Edicions and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. As the description notes, “Here in one volume is a synopsis of the diversity of all birds.” There are family-by-familly accounts as well as a review of recent ideas about family relationships. The book is pricey — $99.95 — but could provide some fun and interesting background reading for your world travels.


Fresh triplists from recent tours

Click on any image below to see our annotated and illustrated online triplist. (And be sure also to see our March Recent Photos gallery for other great images.)

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Tour openings: May to September

Alaska means great birds like the Tufted Puffin above and much more, and guide Dave Stejskal can’t wait to get back (after 25 years of AK tours, Dave detoured to our Borneo trip the past few Junes!). Our “Roadrunner” needs an Alaska fix, as does guide Tom Johnson, who’ll join Dave for our visit to the Pribilof Islands and Denali on their Alaska II (Part One) trip, Jun 2-10, which still has a few spaces open (our three other Alaska sections are full, so this is it!). Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

2016 itineraries recently released

The itineraries for these upcoming 2016 tours have recently been posted to our website:


Bolivia: a stealth birding treasure

March 7th, 2016 by Dan Lane

South America is universally known as the “bird continent,” and rightly so: nearly half of the world’s birds are found there alone! Five of the birdiest countries (the countries with the biggest bird lists) in the world are in South America: Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia. Bolivia, you ask? Who ever thinks about birding Bolivia? Well, we do! Field Guides has been leading tours to Bolivia for decades, providing our participants with great experiences in one of the world’s great unsung birding destinations. Bolivia is not yet famous for its ecotourism, but it should be–there are fabulous birds and landscapes, we can stay in comfortable lodgings in the main cities, and there are even some ecotourism-geared lodges closer to our birding destinations.

Wedge-tailed Hillstar and Black-hooded Sunbeam by guide Dan Lane

Special hummingbirds? Yes, Bolivia has a bunch, including the Wedge-tailed Hillstar at left above, and the fabulous aqua-rump-flashing Black-hooded Sunbeam at right! Photo by guide Dan Lane.

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Hooded Mountain­Toucan is a large and attractive species of the humid mid­-elevation forests. Photo by participant Keith Betton.

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Bolivia has some fantastic mountains! Here’s an aerial view looking west across the impressive Cordillera Real (on the north side of La Paz city), with Lake Titicaca in the background.

Bolivia is replete with incredible scenery: from the open plains within sight of the “bend in the Andes” near Santa Cruz city, to the striking arid landscapes of the intermontane valleys at the border of Santa Cruz and Cochabamba departments, to the (quite literally!) breathtaking beauty of the high Andes of Cochabamba and La Paz. Those with cameras and a good eye will have their hands full if they want scenics! These settings are a fine backdrop for the amazing biogeography that has generated the country’s avian wealth. Bolivia, near the very center of the South American continent, is also at the nexus of many of the continent’s characteristic habitats, from the Altiplano and high, snow-capped peaks of the Andes, and the humid cloudforests on the Amazonian-facing slopes, to the arid rainshadow valleys that harbor many of the country’s true endemics, to the mixture of Amazonian and semi-deciduous forests at the foot of the Andes and out into the open grasslands in the lowlands of Santa Cruz and Beni departments.

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The interestingly named Scribble-tailed Canastero lives a solitary lifestyle in the high-elevation open country. Photo by participant Terry Baltimore.

La Cumbre breakfast by participant David and Judy Smith

One of our groups stops for a picnic breakfast in the stark landscape of La Cumbre above the city of La Paz. Photo by participants David & Judy Smith.

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But Bolivia is not just the high Andes. As we head down the eastern slope of the mountains we’ll move through humid temperate and subtropical forests, eventually reaching the eastern palm­studded lowlands, shown here from our extension to the Beni. Photo by participants David & Judy Smith.

These habitats provide Bolivia with an extraordinarily rich avifauna that compares well to any of its better-known neighbors as a birding destination…only its lack of a coast prevents it from climbing the list into the top-most tier! “Endemism” is a term known to many world birders, and though Bolivia has not fared well “officially” in the endemism game (fewer than 20 species that are true endemics), the fact is many near-endemic species just barely spill over political borders into neighboring countries, and in many cases these species are far easier to find within Bolivia than in the remote mountains of Peru or the border regions of Brazil or Argentina. Taking such species into account, the number of specialties in Bolivia suddenly jumps up to about 100 or so — essentially stealth endemics. Plus, there are still distinct forms within Bolivia that may be separated as species and may cause the Bolivian specialties list to swell yet more.

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Barred Fruiteater is another attractive species,. It is found with mid­-elevation flocks in montane forest. Photo by guide Dan Lane.

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Famous Lake Titicaca, straddling the border between Bolivia and Peru and by volume the largest lake in South America. Photo by guide Dan Lane.

Gray-breasted Seedsnipe by guide Dan Lane

After we’d seen Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe, one of our sharp-eyed group members spotted this pair of Gray-breasted Seedsnipe from the same viewpoint! Photo by guide Dan Lane.

The birdlife of Bolivia features some real stars that will captivate your imagination with their beauty and charm: from the mind-blowing aqua rump of the Black-hooded Sunbeam to the stealth of the Rusty-faced Antpitta, from the garrulous flocks of Bolivian Blackbirds to the solitary lifestyle of the Scribble-tailed Canastero. Bolivian birds are also quite varied in their coloration. In the dusty, semi-arid habitats such as in the intermontane valleys, humble brown and gray birds abound, such as the Bolivian Earthcreeper or Gray-crested Finch, but when you enter more humid forests, eye candy such as Hooded Mountain-Toucan and Orange-browed Hemispingus brighten up the list. Hummingbirds are well-represented, too, such as the fantastic Red-tailed Comet and the impressive Wedge-tailed Hillstar. And of course, we can’t leave out parrots, such as the endemic Red-fronted Macaw and the endemic intermontane forms of Monk Parakeet and Blue-crowned Parakeet, both of which are likely distinct enough that they will be split once research has exposed their differences from other populations of those species!

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The impressive Cream-­backed Woodpecker is one of more than twenty species of woodpeckers possible on our tour. Photo by guide Dan Lane.

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The habitat in the dry intermontane valleys around Comarapa features complex stands of cacti. Photo by guide Dan Lane.

White-collared Jay by guide Dan Lane

The nominate form of the lovely White­-collared Jay is nearly endemic to Bolivia, occurring only in neighboring Peru. Photo by guide Dan Lane.

We’ve revamped our Bolivia tour with visits to a few more foothill localities that should increase our chances at finding rare specialties such as Bolivian Recurvebill and Ashy Antwren, at the same time getting us out of the bustling cities and closer to our birding sites. We still offer an extension to the Beni, a region of incredible diversity with habitats similar to the llanos or Pantanal, but with birds all its own such as Blue-throated Macaw, Unicolored Thrush, and endemic forms of Plain Softtail and Velvet-fronted Grackle, as well as a huge potential list of other open country and gallery forest species!

Why not join us to discover Bolivia’s bird bounty? Our tour this year is scheduled for September 3-19, with the optional pre-tour to the Beni beginning on Aug 29. There are still a few spaces left to join me!

Read more about Dan and his upcoming schedule on his bio page.


Point Pelee tour added for May 2016!

February 15th, 2016 by Field Guides

Just in from the lemons-to-lemonade department: Guide Jay Vandergaast was hoping to spend the month of May in China, and sadly that didn’t work out — so instead he will offer a departure of our ever-popular Point Pelee Migration Spectacle tour. We were able to secure rooms for this migration hotspot and, to make the lemonade even sweeter, the price has gone down from the 2015 fee by $250 due to the favorable exchange rate! The tour is limited to just 7 participants and the dates are May 9-16, 2016. Check out the itinerary and Jay’s 2015 triplist, and contact us if you would like to hold a space.

Blackburnian Warbler by participant Sue Carr

A Blackburnian Warbler from our Point Pelee tour by participant Sue Carr


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