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June 2019 emailing

June 26th, 2019 by Field Guides

Summer’s here, a time for us to exhale! A handful of our guides are still in the field in Alaska and Iceland, while others have just finished up tours to the Galapagos, Machu Picchu, and the mountains of northern Peru. Today, guides will set out to take travelers toward Spitsbergen in Arctic Norway and to lovely Sacha Lodge in Ecuador. But the solstice lull is the time that most guides get caught up on life, sleep, and paperwork. Then July brings fresh departures to Papua New Guinea, Borneo, Kenya, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador–and Arizona, where the monsoon season ushers in the marvelous “second spring,” a season in which, it so happens, we meet many of our tour participants for the very first time. Summer is also a great time to break out the books and study for your next adventure. What’s that — no travel plans yet? Well, perhaps some vicarious travel through our June Recent Photos Gallery will inspire a notion or two. Also in this emailing, an added Thanksgiving Belize departure with Megan, a welcome word about Brazil visas, our new hummer slideshow, the latest bird research news, videos from South America, a Meet The Tour Manager feature, and our usual updates on tour openings, new itineraries, and recent triplists published. (Thanks to participant Myles McNally for the inspirational Whitehead’s Broadbill above, from the Borneo I tour!)

Just added: Thanksgiving in Belize with Megan

What better way to avoid cranberry stains than to celebrate Thanksgiving in Belize this year (Nov 23-Dec 1)? Guide MeganEdwards Crewe began taking folks to Chan Chich and Hidden Valley in 2001 and loves this corner of the New World. At Chan Chich, Megan writes, it’s “luxury in the rainforest, with parrots, tanagers, and oropendolas right over the cabins and nine miles of walking trails fanning out from the clearing the cabins sit in. We might even see Ocellated Turkeys like this one gobbling on the grounds! Hidden Valley, where we stay in the Maya Mountains, boasts Thousand Foot Falls on the property, with Orange-breasted Falcons and King Vultures among the many highlights here in the higher elevations.” Contact Karen Turner in our office to request space; the fee is $4550, and the detailed itinerary will be ready in a few days. (Full disclosure: There might be cranberry sauce one night!)

Visa-free travel to Brazil!

Pick up a compadre & head to Brazil

We are delighted to report that as of last week, U.S. tourists traveling to Brazil no longer need to have a visa. So now is the easiest time in years to come on down! We still have a few spots on the Roraima Adventure with guides Micah Riegner and Tom Johnson (Oct 23-Nov 3), on Parrots & Cotingas: The Mouth of the Mighty Amazon with Marcelo Padua (Aug 2-15), and on Safari Brazil: The Pantanal & More with Marcelo Padua & Dan Lane (Sep 21-Oct 6). Roraima, like many remote parts of Brazil, is quite underbirded, with many exciting possibilities and certainly some surprises in store. Roraima offers new birds, among them Sooty-capped Hermit, Green-bellied Hummingbird, and Tepui Swift, as well as the critically endangered Rio Branco Antbird and Hoary-throated Spinetail. And spots are also still open on Colombia: The Llanos & More tour with Dan Lane (Nov 10-20), which also explores habitats much like those of Venezuela; birds like Orinoco Goose, Pale-headed Jacamar, White-bearded Flycatcher, Double-banded Puffbird, Red-capped Cardinal, Purple-throated Euphonia, and Chestnut-eared Aracari are all likely in the llanos portion. And who doesn’t love a mother Giant Anteater with pup? We see them, and so much more, in Roraima, the Pantanal, and the Colombian llanos.

Trochilidae on Tour: our new hummer slideshow

Nature’s Works of Art (1899, Kunstformen der Natur) by Ernst Haeckel features hummingbirds, shown in the illustration above, that are all part of our tours 120 years later. Ornithologists recognize up to 363 hummingbird species, and that number will grow, with analysis of birds currently classified as subspecies and with more exploration of remote areas. There are a few species of hummingbirds that our tours (and guides) have not yet encountered, but not very many! From Colombia to Chile, we offer 21 tours in the Andes, the epicenter for hummingbird diversification, which occurred simultaneously with the uplift of that mountain range over the past 10 million years. (And we offer another 65 tours with hummers in addition to the Andean ones!) Our New Hummingbird Slideshow presents an array of hummingbirds of all sizes, shapes, and colors (and maybe a few surprising facts). At the very end of the slideshow, you can check your identification of Haeckel’s flock of hummingbirds!

Birds of a Feather

Plumage makes our theme this month:

  • The endangered Gouldian Finch is a bird that some of you have encountered on our Australia tour over the past 25 years. We have often wondered why on earth males can have different plumages, with black, red, or reddish-orange faces. Polymorphism of this sort is rare in birds, to say the least. In a new paper in the journal Nature, a team of scientists reveals that they have discovered the gene that controls whether a male will have a black or red face (the rarer reddish-orange type, here seen at center, is still a mystery). They speculate that “balanced selection” maintains these two plumage types: although female Gouldian Finches much prefer the scarcer red-faced males, which are dominant in the flocks, the cost for having a red face is high, with much higher levels of stress hormones, for instance. Thus the advantages of having the more colorful (and preferred) plumage do not outweigh the disadvantages. It isn’t easy, it seems, being a redhead!
  • When did birds, as we know them, arise–that is to say, when did the dinosaurs start to get feathers? A recent paper in Trends in Ecology and Evolution presents evidence, based on analysis of Chinese fossils, that feathers arose far, far earlier than in Archaeopteryx–and apparently as far back as the early Triassic period, when terrestrial life was just recovering from Earth’s most severe extinction event. Feathers may have evolved to meet the need for insulation, rather than flight, and this research suggests that feathers may have evolved before scales, perhaps present even in the first dinosaur! Scientists have long considered the scales on modern birds’ legs to be modified feathers, so maybe they’re onto something!

Videos: Beauties from the Bird Continent

On our recent Southwestern Ecuador Specialties tour with guide Willy Perez, well-traveled friends David & Judy Smith captured rare video of a foraging Crimson-bellied Woodpecker, a large Campephilus that can be quite scarce and unpredictable in occurrence over its range from the Andes of Bolivia to Panama. Thanks to David & Judy and dozens of other folks for sending us photos and videos from the tours! We all get a vicarious thrill.

Bret Whitney has compiled video clips from his recent Nowhere But Northeast Brazil tour, including some lovely footage in the state of Bahia from the famed Raso da Catarina, the red-rock gorge where the deep-blue Lear’s Macaws roost, also known as Indigo Macaws. The birds are splendid, but the scenery alone is worth a gander!

Comments from participants

We read carefully each post-tour evaluation we receive from our participants, so that we may continue to offer the best possible birding experiences and service on Field Guides birding tours. Here are a few representative recent comments. From all of us at Field Guides, our thanks for all your valuable feedback.

“This was my sixth Field Guides tour, and all have been very enjoyable. I was interested this time in trying some tropical birding, and I’d understood that Costa Rica was a good place to start. It worked our very well! I would like to say that Jay VanderGaast did a really great job for us on our trip. He’s very personable and encouraging, fields questions with aplomb, is an incredible birder and just fun to be around. I hope we can travel with Jay again, and I hope he feels the same about us!” E.D., COSTA RICA 2019

“We have now done 12 tours with Field Guides and have been pleased with all of them. We chose the South Florida tour to ‘bag’ some hard-to-find North American lifers. It was a wonderful tour. Good group experience. Everyone got along well, observed good birding etiquette, and was punctual. I enjoyed the wit and camaraderie of guides Doug Gochfeld and Jesse Fagan and definitely benefited from their extensive knowledge of the birds. They really worked hard to make sure that everyone got to see the target bird, including scope views if possible. I also appreciated the timely review of group etiquette and splitting the group into three for seating – it was a system that seemed to work well.” J.C., FLORIDA 2019 

“The experience was just wonderful. This is the first time that I have ventured out on a tour, and I was very impressed with guide Cory Gregory. Even though he does these trips with some frequency, it doesn’t seem to get old for him. He is hard-working, patient, informative, humorous, desirous that his group should see and learn…?the birds were his gift to all of us. I hope that there will be more adventures with your company, and it is thanks to Cory. He made the experience so delightful that I would like to go to Big Bend again next year if I can.” S.S., ARIZONA: BIRDING THE BORDER 2019

“I have always wanted to see more species of warblers so this trip looked interesting. I chose it primarily because Tom Johnson was the leader. I went to Cape May with him a few years ago and really enjoyed that tour. This experience was awesome! The best feature was birding with Tom. He is a top-notch birder and has an amazing ear. I loved the detail he gave about each species… plumage, habitat, migration, etc. I learned a lot about birds and places to bird in Pennsylvania. Office service was excellent. I will take another tour soon.” K.M., PENNSYLVANIA’S WARBLERS & MORE 2019

Triplists from recent Field Guides tours

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

Lucky Field Guides: we found Caroline Lewis!

Meet the Tour Manager

Caroline Lewis has been a part of the Field Guides family for nearly five years now, and the time has just flown by! “I love working at Field Guides,” she says, and we add: It sure shows! Caroline manages tours across Central and South America, as well as all the summer Arizona tours. Over the years, you might have heard her cheery “hello” if you called to inquire about a Costa Rica tour. Caroline began visiting Costa Rica with her family in 2009 and even lived there for a while, getting to know the many facets of that enchanting country. From her home office now, she manages all four Costa Rica tours as well as our private tours there. Caroline comes by her love of travel honestly! As the daughter of first-generation Polish immigrants to the United States, she and her parents often spent summers in Europe, traveling and visiting with family. Now married, and with a son Austin and daughter Lucy (and a dog!), she delights in sharing her love of Europe and the Americas, of cultural treasures and wilderness adventures, with the next generation.

Tour openings: July through December

?Our tours from July through December 2019 listed below have spaces open. They include departures that take in Arizona’s wondrous “second spring” season, splendid autumn migration on East Coast, West Coast, and the south of France, Thanksgivings To Remember in Belize, Chile, Jamaica, and the Yucatan Peninsula, and a great variety of other adventures, from Colombia to Papua New Guinea. Contact our office to request space on any of the tours below. If you have a group of 6 or more people and would like to arrange a private group tour, we’ll be happy to chat about that, too.

Recently posted 2019 & 2020 itineraries

Click on any image or link below to see the detailed itinerary for the following 2020 tours. Lots of info in these, and some great images as well.


May 2019 emailing

May 29th, 2019 by Field Guides

Hello birders and friends, near and far! Where has the spring gone? Migration is winding down for most of us, here at our work stations in the Texas Hill Country and on the East Coast, and most of our field guides have begun their nesting-season tours. This post-Memorial Day breather is the optimal moment to consider your plans for the fall, for the holidays, and for the next year or so. In this post we’ll attempt to tempt you with the May Recent Photos Gallery‘s 96 photographs from recent trips spanning Ghana to Bhutan to Florida (as a teaser, guide Megan Edwards Crewe with participant Suzi Cole in Bhutan below), news of new tours in Uruguay and Brazil, and squibs on autumn and holiday departures. We also include another Meet the Tour Manager feature, news from the world of bird research and publishing, and 13 recent triplists and 10 recently posted itineraries for 2020 tours below, plus a roster of remaining spaces on our June-November tours, including some that depart soon, like Alaska, Papua New Guinea, and Iceland. We look forward to your company in the field!

Fall Birding Hither & Yon

Autumn is the relaxed season for migration, when birds might take months rather than mere moments to pass toward their ultimate destinations. Though we forgo some of the flashier plumages in fall, the opportunity to study birds at leisure is ample compensation. For many of us, fall migration is comfortable like a favorite old sweater, or like a long meal enjoyed with dear friends. Why not invite a few new friends along, species you haven’t seen in a while, or perhaps ever? We still have space on some great adventures. For Easterners, how about taking a big Slice of California with Chris Benesh, Sep 10-19, or an Oregon: Coast to Cascades run with Cory Gregory and Doug Gochfeld, Sep 4-14? Or add a few pink Ross’s Gulls to your season with Doug on the Alaska Fall Goldmine dash up to Barrow, Oct 5-9? For Westerners, maybe it’s a good year to refresh your affection for eastern migrants and Fall For Cape May with Cory Gregory and Micah Riegner, Sep 21-27, or with Tom Johnson, Sep 29-Oct 5. Or start even earlier, on Maine in Fallwith Eric Hynes, Sep 9-18? Alternatively, as those Neotropical migrants approach their wintering grounds, you could be there to greet them, on Machu Picchu & Abra Malaga (Peru) with Dan Lane, Oct 11-20, or in wild Roraima (Brazil) with Micah Riegner and Tom Johnson, Oct 23-Nov 3, or in the llanos of wonderful Colombia with Dan again, Nov 10-20. And would it be cheating to skip “fall” and take a second helping of spring migration—in Australia with John Coons and Doug Gochfeld, Oct 22-Nov 6? We think not. These world-class guides can all show you a new way to do fall. Our thanks to Chris Benesh for the male White-headed Woodpecker below to put a pep in our step. (And this news just in: With our first tour fully booked, we’ve added a second departure for Louisiana: Yellow Rails & Crawfish Tails, Nov 7-10 with Cory Gregory.)

The rise of passerines & iterative evolution

Two pieces in particular caught our eye this month:

  • Many of us have suspected, and scientists opined, that the passerines—more than 6400 species of perching birds in the order Passeriformes—arose in South America, the bird continent, where the proliferation of passerines is unparalleled on Earth at present. But a new study in the Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences offers genetic and biogeographic evidence that passerines share a common ancestor that arose in Australia! Granted, this ancestor might have lived 47 million years ago, but this paper provides yet another reason (as if we needed one) to be agog at Australia’s role in the evolution of all sorts of life on this planet. Himalayan Black-lored Tit (in a Tom Johnson photo here) is, well, sort of from Australia, then…
  • Aldabra White-throated Rail is not a bird one hears much about. But a recent paper in the Zoological Journal of the Linnaean Society demonstrates that this species became extinct about 136,000 years ago, during a period of high sea levels—but then evolved back into existence, as presumably the same forebears from Madagascar re-colonized the atoll of Aldabra after the seas subsided. This phenomenon, called iterative evolution, had not been described in birds previously but was known in aquatic species such as sea turtles and sea cows. Who knew?

New tours & an added departure for 2020

For 2020, we are thrilled to announce the addition of two new itineraries that we know fans of South American adventures will want to jot down. Our latest addition to the Birding Plus series, Uruguay: Birds and Wines in the Land of the Gauchos, Nov 28-Dec 10, 2020, will be guided by sunny Marcelo Padua (see above), whose birding and wine-tasting tours have enjoyed your rave reviews. A small, sometimes overlooked country between Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay is home not just to an outstanding bird list but to Garzon, a winery dubbed by Wine Spectator as the best in the New World! For those enamored of the Amazon, and for our many Bret Whitney followers, his latest opus is Great Rivers of the Amazon III: Mamiraua, Amana & Tefe, an exploratory tour to the pristine forests around the Rio Japura and Rio Tefe (tributaries of the Rio Solimoes) that he’s co-leading with Micah Riegner, Dec 1-14, 2020. If Bret’s comment “extraordinarily poorly known ornithologically” makes you daydream, well, take a look at the itinerary. (Hint: Bret has a knack for changing that “poorly known” part…)

And in itinerary & added tour news: Field Guides has been visiting Suriname since the 1980s, but next Jan 18-29 we’re offering a Succinct Suriname: Cotingas & Trumpeters with veteran Dave Stejskal and (once again!) Micah Riegner, whose affable nature and command of South American birds continue to astonish us equally. The interior of Suriname incorporates one of the truly great wilderness areas in all of South America, and our itinerary (just out) includes over a week in lowland rainforests around Brownsberg Nature Park and nearby Fredberg in search of some of the continent’s most colorful, showy, even bizarre species. And before we leave the subject of fine wines, we should point out that we’ve just added a second departure for Marcelo Padua’s Beyond The Ports of Portugal for next year, Apr 13-24. In vino, veritas (et aves), may we say?

Holiday Tours: Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day

June is the time for holiday planning, especially for air travel, as there are still plenty of flight options. We have eight departures with openings between Thanksgiving and the New Year, all to wonderful locations. Celebrate Thanksgiving on the Yucatan & Cozumel tour with Chris Benesh, Nov 23-Dec 2, on the Jamaica tour with Cory Gregory, Nov 24-30, or even on the majestic Chile tour with Willy Perez, Nov 10-30. Christmas and Hanukkah would be mighty festive in Costa Rica on the Holiday Costa Rica tour at Rancho Naturalista with Dan Lane, Dec 21-29. Or ring in New Year in Trinidad & Tobago with Tom Johnson, Dec 27-Jan 5, in Arizona with Chris Benesh, Dec 28-Jan 3, at Ecuador’s Wildsumaco Lodge with Willy Perez, Dec 28-Jan 7, or in Panama—whether with John Coons at Panama’s Canopy Camp, Dec 27-Jan 4, or Jesse Fagan and Micah Riegner at Panama’s Canopy Lodge, Dec 28-Jan 4. That’s a lot of options for a holiday birding escape…

New book with a few familiar faces

David Brewer’s Birds New to Science, newly published in late 2018, has just arrived in the mail here! The 416-page book presents 288 species discovered or described since 1960. We were delighted to see our own Dan Lane’s Scarlet-banded Barbet on the book’s cover. Dan’s discovery of this distinctive species in Peru is detailed in the text, along with our other guides’ fortuitous finds over the years, including Richard Webster and Rose Ann Rowlett’s Spectacled Flowerpecker in Borneo and Bret Whitney and Jan Pierson’s Cryptic Warbler in Madagascar. Dan’s rediscovery of White-masked Antbird and description of Rufous Twistwing are also cited. And then, of course, there are Bret’s many contributions to the study of the South American avifauna. Bret is cited in the accounts for (hold onto your hats) Plain-tailed Nighthawk; Western Striolated Puffbird; Yungas, Chico’s, and Mishana tyrannulets; Acre Antshrike; Rondonia Bushbird; Caatinga, Ancient, Aripuana, Predicted, Bamboo, and Sincora antwrens; Manicore Warbling-Antbird; Allpahuayo Antbird; Diademed and Rock tapaculos; Pink-legged Graveteiro; Iquitos and Inambari gnatcatchers; and a few species-in-development, Sucunduri Flatbill and Roosevelt Stipple-throated Antwren. And let us not forget the fetching Bahia Spinetail, originally named in Bret’s honor, Synallaxis whitneyi, although Bret subsequently published a note pointing out that the bird had been named S. cinerea in the 1800s, thus synonymizing his own name. We live in an age of discovery, and all of us at Field Guides read this roster of new species with joy and with appreciation for the hard work our colleagues have put in over the decades to bring these birds to the light of ornithology and birding alike. Go, team!

Videos: Colorado Memories & Texas Bat Cave

Guide Doug Gochfeld compiled a short video of highlights from the Colorado Grouse tour—here, not the stars of the show, like Greater and Gunnison sage-grouse or Greater and Lesser prairie-chickens, but the supporting cast: Clark’s Nutcracker, Mountain Plover, American Three-toed Woodpecker, Dusky Grouse, Evening Grosbeak, American Dipper, Pine Grosbeak, Cassin’s Finch, Brown-capped and Black rosy-finches (some cool clips), and a few nice mammals. Click on guide Cory Gregory’s Mountain Bluebird to enjoy.

To the south, on our Texas’s Big Bend & Hill Country tour, participant Dixie Sommers made this video of (many of) the millions of Brazilian Free-tailed Bats leaving the Rio Frio cave at sunset. North America abounds with great wildlife spectacles, and we love showing them to you.

Comments from participants

We read carefully each post-tour evaluation we receive from our participants, so that we may continue to offer the best possible birding experiences and service on Field Guides birding tours. Here are a few representative recent comments. From all of us at Field Guides, our thanks for all your valuable feedback.

“I always travel with Field Guides because of the excellent guides and office support. I chose this tour to see the lekking grouse. I hesitated to sign up for a tour in the US (I prefer to “guide myself” in my home country!), but I am so glad I did. I could never had found the incredible grouse on my own, or come even close to the variety of birds our guides found for us. I can’t wait to travel with either Doug Gochfeld or Cory Gregory again, and will look for tours which they lead. Both are superb birders, skilled guides, and best of all interesting, caring, and funny guys! Your office service was excellent, as always. Field Guides is always the gold standard in my book. Another perfect experience.” P.P., COLORADO GROUSE 2019

“A great tour, one of the best ever. Great birds, excellent guide in Megan Edwards Crewe, really great tour group. Plus beautiful, clean country, good food, fun cultural visits, happy people. Especially noteworthy was the ground crew providing in-the-field hot meals for every breakfast and lunch, a superb effort. Your office service was very good, no problems for me and they were very helpful to other tour members who had major flight disruptions by the airlines.” D.M, BHUTAN 2019

“I’d enjoyed two previous trips with Field Guides and was impressed with the quality and organization I’d seen. This tour was exceptional. Guide Dave Stejskal was amazing. His knowledge and ability to find and bring in the birds was incredible. The information and facts he shared about particular birds were always interesting. Tour Manager Caroline Lewis’s responses to questions and requests were always prompt and helpful. Her service in making our flight reservations was informed, thorough, and much appreciated!” J.L., BELIZE: TROPICAL BIRDING SHORT & SWEET 2019

“I have traveled with Field Guides before and know that you do a great job. I chose this particular tour as I not only have an interest in birds but also wine. I thought this would be a fun way to see Portugal, and it did not disappoint. This was an excellent tour! Marcelo, JT, and Pedro make an awesome team. They saw to our every need, made things run smoothly… We laughed our way through the country. This tour has to be in the top three of the many tours that I have taken.” J.F., BEYOND THE PORTS OF PORTUGAL 2019: A BIRDS & WINE TOUR

Triplists from recent Field Guides tours

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

Christine Boilard is in the house!

Meet the Tour Manager

Christine Boilard is new to the Field Guides team as of April 2018, but in her first year she has hit the ground running—and fast! In addition to handling office work on all 150+ tours we offer, Christine is the primary Tour Manager for tours in Florida, New Jersey, Alberta, Holland, Iceland, and Great Britain, plus our Arizona winter trips, and she’s now tackling five key South American tours in Brazil, Ecuador, and Peru as well. Whew! Christine has a lifelong love of the outdoors and enjoys central Texas birding, especially in the context of camping trips, rock-climbing, off-roading, and hiking. Like many on staff, she’s an aficionado of local breweries, so if you have the pleasure of a phone conversation, feel free to get the inside scoop on Austin’s latest and greatest!

Tour openings: June through November

Our tours from June through early November 2019 listed below have spaces open. They include departures from the Andes to the Amazon, from top of the world in Alaska to down under in Australia, with guides who love showing people the places and birds they adore themselves. Contact our office to request space on any of the tours below. And, as ever, if you have a group of 6 or more people and would like to arrange a private group tour, we’ll be happy to chat about that, too.

Recently posted 2020 itineraries

Click on any image or link below to see the detailed itinerary for the following 2020 tours. Lots of info in these, and some great images as well.


April 2019 emailing

April 24th, 2019 by Field Guides

Hello again, birding friends! Spring has sprung over most of the temperate zone, and we’ve been seeking out migrants, and Easter eggs, as trees and flowers change the palette of our surroundings daily. What an exhilarating time of year! Our spring migration tours are well underway, with only a few spare spots remaining on our Pennsylvania, Idaho, Point Pelee, and Spain tours (if you’d like to be a migrant too). This April emailing contains a cornucopia: videos of grand Ghanaian birds, a new Meet The Tour Manager feature, bird conservation news, and the April Recent Photos Gallery with 84 nifty images from recent trips. Linked below too are a fresh batch of 11 recent triplists and 10 recently posted itineraries for 2019 tours and a roster of remaining spaces on our May-early September tours, including some near-term ones to incomparable Alaska, the grand canyons and grand condors of Northern Arizona, and even Machu Picchu, Mongolia, and Iceland. Take a gander, or two. We look forward to seeing you all again soon!

Click on the image below to see the April Recent Photos gallery (that’s a Vermilion Cardinal from Colombia by guide Tom Johnson as a special bonus).

Alaska: Spring Through Fall

How many of you have never set foot in the forty-ninth state? Perhaps you’ve heard from friends how astonishing the landscapes, birds, and mammals are and thought: they must be exaggerating. Well, they aren’t! But don’t take our word for it. Come put Alaska to the test this year–on either our traditional May/June two-parted tours or for fantastic Ross’s Gulls in October. We can still fit a couple of you on Part I of our first Alaska tour (May 30), or either part (or both) of our second Alaska (June 6 and June 13). In autumn, when Asian vagrants are unpredictable but very likely, our Alaska Fall Goldmine (Part Two): Ross’s Gulls in Barrow still has two spaces available. It’s difficult to imagine seeing flocks of Ross’s Gulls, mostly bright pink, passing along Point Barrow, the northernmost point in the United States, but this tour offers an excellent opportunity to see this phenomenon, still witnessed by few people on earth. Think pink! And Asian strays. The adult Ross’s Gull at Barrow (a city now called by its Inupiat name, Utqiagvik) is by guide Tom Johnson.

Good News: Rediscovery & Expansions

These articles have buoyed our spirits this season:

Rarities: Open Spaces on Brazil Tours!

Our Brazil tours (18 this year) remain very popular: the foods, the drinks, the lodgings (some that float!), the landscapes, the local people’s warmth all complement the fantastic birding perfectly. And our outstanding guides and ground crews are the coup de grâce! Although our tours to Brazil typically fill well over a year in advance, we sometimes have cancellations. For 2019, we now have a few spaces available on tours from July through December with guides Bret Whitney, Marcelo Padua, Marcelo Barreiros, Dan Lane, Micah Riegner, and Tom Johnson (four of them shown above alongside Amazonian boat master Junior Fortes). These include both classic and exploratory tours, something for everyone! Two spaces each remain on Rainforest & Savanna: Alta Floresta & the Northern Pantanal (Jul 3), on Parrots & Cotingas: The Mouth of the Mighty Amazon (Aug 2), and Safari Brazil: The Pantanal & More (Sep 21). Three spaces remain on the short Serra dos Tucanos tour (Oct 24), based at one lodge in the Atlantic Forest, a perfect tour for first-time Brazil birders. For the intrepid explorers, you birders who really dig it when the guide says “Holy cow!” (or something similar), we also have space on Paradise Revisited: Birding the remote Upper Rio Negro (Dec 17) and on Roraima Adventure (Oct 23). Check your calendar to see if you can sneak away for some of the most bracing birding on earth!

Videos: Ghanaian marvels

Western Africa has so many unforgettable birds. Our recent Ghana: Window into West African Birding tour was fortunate to spend time with many of them, including this inquisitive White-necked Rockfowl (one of two members of the incredible passerine family Picathartidae) and a displaying male Standard-winged Nightjar! Click on the rockfowl or the postage stamp below below to see these two great birds in action in these videos by participant Craig Caldwell and guide Phil Gregory. Spaces still remain on our March 2021 departure, with Phil Gregory guiding. (And thanks to Alex Martin Ros for the nice nightjar image!)

Comments from participants

We read carefully each post-tour evaluation we receive from our participants, so that we may continue to offer the best possible birding experiences and service on Field Guides birding tours. Here are a few representative recent comments. From all of us at Field Guides, our thanks for all your valuable feedback.

“This tour was up to Field Guides’ high standards. Of course I was just thrilled to see thousands of Snow Geese rise from the water, swirling flocks of rosy-finches, beautiful sunrises. But our guides, Doug Gochfeld and Cory Gregory, were certainly among the best features of this trip. They are superb young men, passionate about what they do. Not just first-class birders but competent in the more mundane aspects of running a tour. And both are educators as well. Office service was excellent as usual. Field Guides is superior in all respects.” J.P., NEW MEXICO 2019 

“An excellent trip: great birds, fine travel companions, superb guide, good to great accommodations. Guide Marcelo Padua was simply amazing. His knowledge of the birds was extraordinary. HIs was especially adept at getting ALL of us on to a bird: his patience was greatly appreciated by all. His demeanor with all of us was courteous and kind, and he drove us hard, while making the birding fun. I especially was impressed with the way he treated the local staff and the local guides. He is a gifted guide, and I feel very fortunate to have had the chance to experience some of the birds of Brazil with him. The Field Guides office was most attentive to all of our requests and questions.” G.G., BRAZIL NUTSHELL 2019

“This tour was wonderful and unforgettable. Phil Gregory is a superb, patient, unflappable guide, with tremendous knowledge of Madagascar and a great sense of humor. I will never forget the marvelous flora, fauna, people, accommodations, and other exotic sights: all those lemurs and beautiful, exotic birds in families that I had never heard of: couas, vangas, ground-rollers, cuckoo-rollers, mesites, asities. Great guides and compatible fellow participants. Your office service was superb. Sharon Mackie worked so hard, and answered every question promptly.” E.C., MADAGASCAR 2019

“This was a wonderful tour. It met or exceeded all my expectations. I would definitely travel with guide Tom Johnson again — he did a fantastic job. He obviously has the birding skills to guide, but as importantly, he has very good people skills and was a pleasure to travel with. He communicated the plans for the day very well, made a point of explaining what we were going to be doing every day, worked hard to make sure everyone had a good experience, and made it a fun adventure generally. The office service was very good. They helped with getting me signed up, were prompt in returning any emails or calls I made with questions, and made it a smooth process to prepare for the trip.” G.J, PUERTO RICO 2019

Triplists from recent Field Guides tours

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


Say hello to a really Kuhl person

Meet the Tour Manager!

Ruth Kuhl might be a familiar voice on the telephone if you’ve called about tours to Brazil, Panama, France, Portugal, or Maine, for which she is the Tour Manager. Ruth is always ready to help with your tour planning and prep, of course, and in the past few months she’s also been working with Peggy Watson to become a central player on our Scheduling Committee. This committee is responsible for everything to do with planning our array of tours for the coming years (Ruth and Peggy, Dave, Megan, and Doug are currently focused on 2021 details). Ruth has been part of the FG family since 2015, and in her spare time, among other things, she loves traveling and working on her language skills, most recently her (rusty, she says!) Spanish in Ecuador.

Private tours for your group or organization

Want to organize your own tour with a group of special birding friends and one of our staff guides or for your local birding club? We regularly put together private departures for groups of 6 or more to many different destinations, and they are invariably a big hit. Just contact our office to start planning your group’s next great birding trip.

One example? Our Ecuador: Rainforest & Andes tour, for which group leader Denis Kania, a frequent Field Guides traveler, put together a private group and Mitch Lysinger guided in 2018. Participant Wally Levernier captured this image of a male Blue-crowned Trogon, a scarce species, along a small stream near Sani Lodge.

Another recent private tour was to the Mexican state of Oaxaca for Maine Audubon, guided by Cory Gregory and Maine Audubon’s Doug Hitchcox in March. Alongside birding, we enjoyed a traditional rug-weaving demonstration, a mezcal factory tour, a visit to the ancient Zapotec ruins of Monte Alban, and very fine local cuisines from the cultures that come together in the Valley of Oaxaca.

Tour openings: May through early September

Our tours from May through early September 2019 listed below have, for the most part, just a few spaces still open. They include departures from France (a country dear to us!), the wonderful North–Newfoundland, Iceland, and Alaska–as well as South America, Papua New Guinea, Mongolia, Borneo, and the American West. Could you guess that this group was looking at a perched Harpy Eagle with guide Megan Edwards Crewe on our recent Guyana II tour? In the tours below, there are Bearded Vultures, White-tailed Eagles, California Condors, Spanish Imperial Eagles, and Andean Condors. What big-time bird awaits your binocular? Contact our office to request space on any of the tours below.

Recently posted 2019 & 2020 itineraries

Click on any image or link below to see the detailed itinerary for the following late 2019 and 2020 tours. Lots of info in these, and some great images as well!


March 2019 emailing

March 28th, 2019 by Field Guides

Greetings, friends of Field Guides! If you’re currently north of the tropics, as most of us Field Guides folks are, you’re eagerly anticipating spring migration. Though it can be difficult to leave the home turf as the warblers return, the months of April, May, and June hold magic around the globe, and what better way to appreciate the Big Picture of bird movements than to travel to another corner of the continent—or another continent entirely? Migration meccas such as Point Pelee, Cape May, and Alaska await (each tour has 1-2 spaces available), and for a touch of spring farther afield, our tours to Spain, Hungary & Romania, and Northeast India also are options. If these seem too far flung, why not get to know the birds of beautiful, green Pennsylvania intimately, through the eyes of native son Tom Johnson? We have a lot to share in this emailing, including new departures, bird news, video clips from Brazil, an Emperor Penguins cruise cabin discount, and a March Recent Photos Gallery with 102 fresh images (a sample is the stunning Steller’s Sea-Eagle above, photographed on our Winter Japan tour by participant Becky Hansen). Also linked: 14 recent triplists and 10 recently posted itineraries for 2019 tours, as well as remaining spaces on our April-July tours. If you have questions about any of our tours or guides, feel free to contact our office any time. We look forward to seeing you in the field!

Click the magnificent Steller’s Sea-Eagle below to see our March Recent Photos…


The Allure of the North

Spring is the time to plan for the dog days of summer! Our Newfoundland & Nova Scotia tour with Chris Benesh is a perennial favorite, beloved for the captivating scenery as well as the fine mix of boreal birds and mammals—and this year’s small-group tour still has a few open spaces. Alaska, a peerless place to beat the heat, promises visitors both throngs of migrants and dapper nesting birds. Our Alaska II tour also still has space: Part One (Jun 6-14) visits the Pribilofs and Denali; Part Two (Jun 13-23) visits Nome, Seward, and Utqiagvik (formerly Barrow). Tom Johnson and Cory Gregory will be delighted to guide you through the wonders of the 49th state. We expect mild temperatures on our Iceland II departure as well; now in its twentieth year, this tour gets glowing reviews for the seabird spectacles, excellent cuisine, and wildflower show. Godfried Schreur will guide there again this year. Barely in the northern hemisphere, but often pleasantly cool in the mountains, northern Ecuador makes a fascinating alternative to high-latitude summer getaways. Our July Cloudforests of Ecuador tour with Willy Perez will search for hummers, tanagers, Long-wattled Umbrellabird, and Spectacled Bear. Come cool off (and bird) with us!


Birds news: Bristlefront(s) and more

These articles caught our eye recently:

  • Stresemann’s Bristlefront is among the world’s rarest birds. Colleagues at the Alliance for Zero Extinction report that just one bird, a female, has been found on recent surveys in Bahia, Brazil, where drought and fires have damaged the species’ stronghold, the Reserva Mata do Passarinho. There are also rumors of possible sightings from a nearby refuge, which we certainly hope turn out to be accurate.
  • Friend of Field Guides Ella Sorensen has received well-deserved recognition for her long-time work in management of the Gillmor Sanctuary, critical wetland habitat on the Great Salt Lake, where she monitors bird populations and works to restore habitats negatively affected by population growth and rising demands for water. Our hats are off to Ella for decades of grassroots good work!
  • Many of us were amazed when a vagrant Great Black Hawk, normally a bird of the New World tropics, took up residence in Portland, Maine (near Field Guides’ own Jan Pierson) after a brief appearance in coastal Texas in April 2018. This bird survived well into the winter on a diet of squirrels but eventually succumbed to the cold weather. Why more and more tropical birds are turning up far north of their usual range is a question that merits investigation.
  • The highest levels of avian endemism are found on islands, as we know. But what are the mechanisms by which such rich biodiversity comes to be? Most of us know about Darwin’s finches, but our biology teachers might not have touched on Madagascar’s vangas or Hawaii’s honeycreepers, whose relationships have come to be understood much better in the age of biochemical study of birds. Cornell University’s Irby Lovette provides a useful overview in a recent article.
  • Good news for Whooping Cranes and other species that sometimes collide with power lines: American Bird Conservancy reports that Kansas power companies have joined forces to make power lines more visible to birds by marking them with devices designed specifically for birds. Kudos to those involved!

New tour: Roraima in October 2019

This October, Micah Riegner and Tom Johnson will team up for a new tour, Brazil: Roraima Adventure. Rarely visited by birders, Brazil’s northernmost state, bordering Venezuela and Guyana, is among the most biogeographically rich regions in the Neotropics, incorporating Amazonian lowlands, cloudforest-cloaked tepuis, Mauritia Palm swamps, savannas, gallery forests, vast marshlands, and isolated campinas. This tour, building on our 2018 explorations here (see the triplist for a great taste of the tour), will concentrate on the areas of greatest endemism: the Guianan, the Imeri (west of the Rio Branco), and the Pantepui. Among the range-restricted species we’ll seek are Crestless Curassow, Sun Parakeet (endangered), Hoary-throated Spinetail, Rio Branco Antbird (check the antbirds video in the triplist), Yapacana Antbird, Tepui Swift (art lovers click Micah’s painting below for proper appreciation), Caica Parrot, Crested Doradito, Sooty-capped Hermit, and Green-bellied Hummingbird. We will of course watch for more widespread species such as Guianan Cock-of-the-rock, Capuchinbird, Gray-winged Trumpeter, Willis’s Antbird, Bare-necked Fruitcrow, Sharp-tailed Ibis, and the enigmatic Dolospingus, White-naped Seedeater. And the mammals should be equally impressive: Giant Anteater, monkeys such as Guianan Bearded Saki and Golden-handed Tamarin, and those unforgettable Pink River Dolphins, which we may see well from our day on a live-aboard river boat on the Rio Branco. If you’d like to join Micah and Tom, be sure to contact our office; we expect this, like so many of our new offerings, to be popular.


Added 2019 Departures: Uganda with Megan and Arizona with John

“I’d go to Timbuktu or anywhere on earth with Megan Edwards Crewe,” so many of our Field Guides regulars say. Well, how about to Uganda, the pearl of Africa, where Mountain Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Great Blue Turaco, and the awe-inspiring Shoebill await? Check out Megan’s itinerary for Essential Short Uganda, running Nov 16-29, and contact our office to get a spot on this new offering. Megan was recently scouting in Uganda and reports that the wildlife experiences were “superb–beyond bucket list!” This two-week offering (one week shorter than our big tour here) provides a chance to see the “megastars” of the Albertine Rift in a comparative jiffy!

Closer to home, but still truly jaw dropping, are the vistas on the Northern Arizona’s Canyons & Condor tour, for which we have added a second departure, Jun 8-14. In addition to the regal, endangered California Condor (oh, and the Grand Canyon!), we should see many birds typical of the Rocky Mountains, Great Basin, and southern Arizona deserts: Zone-tailed Hawk, Lewis’s Woodpecker, Williamson’s Sapsucker, Gray and Cordilleran flycatchers, Mountain Bluebird, Green-tailed Towhee, and Black-chinned Sparrow. John Coons and Micah Riegner will guide this second departure as well.


Videos: From Brazil, with love

Our four-decades-old love affair with the birds of Brazil continues, with more guides and destinations than ever before. Below, the fetching Rhopornis ardesiacus, Slender Antbird, is the sole member of its genus. Guide Bret Whitney writes (and the video reveals) that our group had lovely looks at this endangered endemic bird, found only in mata-de-cipo (vine forest), on the recent Southern Bahia Extension. Also below, and in Brazil’s new Boa Nova National Park, this Giant Snipe of subspecies gigantea, the largest snipe in the world, put in a rare appearance, to the enjoyment of all. Click on each of the images below to see videos of these two great birds in action on the extension to our recent Nowhere but Northeast Brazil! tours. (And stay tuned for a new itinerary to Bahia to be guided by Bret and Marcelo Barreiros…)

Click the image for the Slender Antbird video.
Click the image for the Giant Snipe video.

Fall Emperor Penguins cruise cabin discount

First, check out guide Tom Johnson’s update on our Emperor Penguins in the Weddell Sea tour page noting that the company operating the cruise, Oceanwide Expeditions, made successful visits to the Snow Hill Island Emperor Penguin colony in the Weddell Sea in both 2017 and 2018. We are hopeful that conditions will allow for this again in 2019. Tom, one of our seabird experts, is really jazzed about this dream tour.

Second, Oceanwide has let us know that it is offering the twin porthole cabins at the quadruple cabin rates for this cruise. The regular price for a twin porthole cabin is $12,950 per person, and the new rate is $11,350 per person. So for a twin porthole cabin there is a $1600 fee reduction. We also have a share available for a female participant looking for a roommate. Contact our office for more information.


Comments from participants

We read carefully each post-tour evaluation we receive from our participants, so that we may continue to offer the best possible birding experiences and service on Field Guides birding tours. Here are a few representative recent comments. From all of us at Field Guides, our thanks for all your valuable feedback.

“This was my 7th tour with Field Guides. I like everything about the company and its trips. Panama has long been on my list of places to visit, and I was ready for a shorter flight than my last trip, which was to Borneo! It was a great experience. Guide John Coons and the local guides were amazing, and John made certain that everyone saw each bird. We had special visits to the Panama Canal and the local market in El Valle. Your office service was great as usual.” S.M., PANAMA’S CANOPY TOWER 2019

“This was a beautiful, fun, and productive tour. Jesse Fagan is a great guide and we had a good group. Beautiful scenery and good birds. What’s not to like? I have had many enjoyable tours with your organization, and Field Guides is my go-to birding group. Office staff service was great.” P.H., GUATEMALA: SHADE-GROWN BIRDING 2019

“I chose this winter tour as it featured the target birds I wanted to see. And Field Guides has a good reputation in the birding community. It was one of the best tours that I have taken…small group size, fantastic guides with great birding skills and pleasant personalities, relaxed pace during day to find species, comfortable lodging. Both Jay VanderGaast and Dan Arndt worked hard to find target bird species. The group dynamic was very pleasant.” C.E., OWLBERTA: ALBERTA’S OWLS & MORE 2019 


Triplists from recent Field Guides tours

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


New slideshows: Pennsylvania and Cape May

Enjoy some fine images for two tours that are coming up soon: first, a slideshow from our Pennsylvania Warblers & More, which is scheduled for May 21-26, 2019, with Tom Johnson guiding; and Spring in Cape May, which is scheduled for May 12-18, 2019, also with Tom. Have a look at Tom’s remarkable photography!

Click the image above for the Pennsylvania’s Warblers & More slideshow.
Click the image above for the Spring in Cape May slideshow.

Private tours for your group or organization

Want to organize your own tour with a group of special birding friends and one of our staff guides or for your local birding club? We regularly put together private departures for groups of 6 or more to many different destinations, and they are invariably a big hit. Just contact our office to start planning your group’s next great birding trip.

A recent example was our private Costa Rica: Rancho Naturalista getaway for frequent Field Guides traveler Bruce Sorrie and his organization’s group, for which Megan Edwards Crewe was all too happy to serve as a guide. A whole lot of great birds (like the Lesson’s Motmot by Bruce below) seen with friends…sounds like fun! Let us know if you would like to create a custom group experience with one of our guides.

Tour openings: mid-April through July

Our tours from mid-April through July 2019 listed below have a few spaces still open. They span from Old World departures in Kenya, India, and Mongolia to the New World tropics. Contact our office to request open space or information on any of these tours.

Recently posted 2019 itineraries

Click on any image or link below to see the detailed itinerary for the following 2019 tours. Lots of info in these, and some great images as well!


What we look for in a guide

March 26th, 2019 by Field Guides

We are always on the lookout for great guide prospects. Don’t see yourself represented on our guide page, and therefore wonder if this is a job where you might not be welcome? Nothing could be further from the truth. At Field Guides, we believe that diversity fosters strength in any community, in any organization.

Our excellent guides are the cornerstone of the Field Guides on-tour experience, and we invite potential career-oriented birding guides from all walks of life (and corners of the world) to get in touch, talk with us, and explore the wonderful opportunities that Field Guides offers.

Here’s the deal: We are looking for perhaps one or two new guides per year who meet our criteria for offering our clients the best possible tour experience – that special mix of birding, social, logistical, and teaching skills that will make you a treasured part of our Field Guides family. If you or someone you know might fit the bill, we would love to hear from you.

Check out our page about employment opportunities for new guides to read a more complete description.


Photo gallery: a preview of upcoming Spring in Cape May highlights

March 17th, 2019 by Field Guides

From the famous Red Knot/Horseshoe Crab spectacle to a rush of northbound warblers (20+ species possible) and other landbirds, our upcoming mid-May Spring in Cape May tour should record more than 160 species as we bird our way around North America’s premier migration hotspot. Guide Tom Johnson has assembled 11 images of highlights to be expected on this upcoming Field Guides tour in this gallery. The tour is scheduled for May 12-18, 2019 with Tom guiding, and space is still available for this exciting spring getaway.

Click this link or the image below to see the gallery and enjoy the images in their full-screen glory.

You can see complete info about the tour, including the itinerary and past triplists, on our tour page.


Warbler dreams: Pennsylvania in May

March 7th, 2019 by Field Guides

Brighten up your day by checking out guide Tom Johnson’s images of spring warblers and other highlights expected on the upcoming Field Guides Pennsylvania’s Warblers & More: From Cerulean Warbler to Henslow’s Sparrow tour in this gallery. The tour is scheduled for May 21-26, 2019 with Tom, and space is still available for this lovely spring getaway.

Click this link or the image below to see the gallery.

You can see complete info about the tour, including the itinerary and past triplists, on our tour page.


February 2019 newsletter

March 5th, 2019 by Field Guides

Our February 2019 newsletter is making its way to the mailboxes of everyone on our mailing list. It features a look forward in our schedule, an update on 10 of our staff guides, and recent images from 23 of our recent tours in our Fresh From the Field section. You may also now see it online at this link.

Enjoy the new issue!

Interested in our past issues? See our Newsletter Archive.


February 2019 emailing

February 27th, 2019 by Field Guides

Greetings, fellow birders! Even up north, where winter is still hanging on, the sun is getting stronger and the days longer every day…there’s definitely the promise of spring in the air! That has us jazzed for the months ahead, and though many of our March-April tours are fully booked, you can still sneak away in the next 8 weeks or so if you choose carefully for some of the still-available spaces…to the Texas Coast, Lesser Antilles, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guyana, Hungary, Bhutan, or Northeast India! See our openings listed below. There’s much in the links in this emailing, including lots of interesting bird news, video clips of two great Neotropical birds, and a fresh February Recent Photos Gallery with 80+ great images from recent trips (two teasers here: the fabulous Crested Owl trio above at Ecuador’s Sacha Lodge from guide Willy Perez, and guides Doug Gochfeld and Cory Gregory enjoying the white geese as they inaugurated our New Mexico tour in January). Also linked below: a fresh batch of 13 recent triplists and 11 recently posted itineraries for 2019 tours, as well as remaining spaces on our late March-June tours. We look forward to seeing you in the field!


Vive La France…or better yet, Les Frances!

Chenonceau, one of the chateaux on our June Birds & Wine route in France
Birding in the Pyrenees, a major focus on our September France itinerary

How about birding this year in June through the Loire Valley with fabulous chateaux and wine-tasting stops, or in September from the famed Camargue in the Rhone River delta to the towering Pyrenees on the border with Spain? It’s a tough choice, but someone’s gotta make it! The first option is of course our France’s Loire Valley: Birds, Chateaux & Wine tour, inaugurated to great success in 2018, the second our long-running and popular France: Camargue & Pyrenees itinerary; click on either image above to see a slideshow of highlights for each. We have two departures of each of these tours in 2019, and the first of each is fully booked. Our second departures, though, still have availability! You can join guides Marcelo Padua and Megan Edwards Crewe Jun 12-22 on the Loire Valley birds & wine route, or instead head to the Camargue and Pyrenees Sep 4-14 with Jay VanderGaast & Willy Perez. Either way should be a lot of fun, some fabulous scenery, plenty of delicious food, and lots of great birds…À bientôt!


Recent bird news of note: spoonies & more

These articles caught our eye this month:


New tour: Myanmar in 2020

Guide Doug Gochfeld, who has been co-leading our Vietnam tour in recent years and is a big fan of the region, did some very productive scouting in Myanmar this past fall and has developed an exciting itinerary for our new tour, just added for next year. It’s scheduled for Feb 27-Mar 12, 2020 and limited to 8. Check out Doug’s description of the trip on our tour page. Be sure to have a look, too, at a slideshow of Doug’s images from his scouting trip (that’s the Bagan temple complex above, one of our birding stops along the route). If you’d like to join Doug, be sure to contact our office; we expect this, like so many of our new offerings, to be popular.


Videos: eye-catching, ear-grabbing birds

Guianan Cock-of-the-rock in northern Brazil…click for guide Marcelo Barreiros’s video.
Musician Wren in northern Brazil….clcik for guide Bret Whitney’s clip.

Here’s a study in contrasts: a male Guianan Cock-of-the-rock in blazing orange with visual impact as the lure, and a forest-understory Musician Wren that relies on its voice. Click on each of the video thumbnails above to see these two great birds in action on one of our Rio Negro Paradise: Manaus, Brazil tours last fall in these clips by guides Marcelo Barreiros and Bret Whitney.


Comments from participants

We read carefully each post-tour evaluation we receive from our participants, so that we may continue to offer the best possible birding experiences and service on Field Guides birding tours. Here are a few representative recent comments. From all of us at Field Guides, our thanks for all your valuable feedback.

“We chose this trip because we’ve traveled with Field Guides many times and know the excellence of the guides and overall management. The overall tour experience was excellent.The guides, Doug Gochfeld and Cory Gregory, although younger and relatively new to Field Guides are every bit as capable at all the aspects of guiding as the founders and veterans of the company. As always, office service was prompt, accurate, efficient, friendly, etc.” S.B., NEW MEXICO 2019

“Mitch Lysinger was a superb tour leader. His knowledge of the birds, their calls/songs, and natural history was astonishing. His sense of humor kept things light. This tour had high quality and attention to detail, as I knew to expect from my two previous Field Guides trips.” N.R., JEWELS OF ECUADOR 2019

“This was one of the best tours ever! Megan Edwards Crewe is an extraordinary guide. Megan is not only knowledgeable about birds, she is a font of facts about all sorts of flora and fauna and historical detail. She is also kind and fair. She is able to keep order effortlessly — she has the uncanny ability to make each and every member of the tour feel like the most important member of the tour. As usual, your office staff was helpful and thorough.” A.W., GUYANA 2019

“We chose this trip for the small group size, the location of the tour, and the fact that the timing fit with our calendar. And Field Guides came highly recommended. The overall experience was great. Guide Chris Benesh was great — I’d look forward to another trip with him!” W.S., SOUTH TEXAS RARITIES 2019


Triplists from 13 recent Field Guides tours

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


New slideshows: NZ Islands & Michigan

Enjoy some fine images for two tours that are new or returning to our schedule: first, a slideshow for our New Zealand’s Subantarctic Islands cruise, which is scheduled for Nov 10-Dec 2, 2019 with Doug Gochfeld guiding; and second, a slideshow for our new Michigan: Great Lakes Grandeur tour, which is scheduled for May 16-24, 2020 with guide Cory Gregory. Have a look!


Private tours for your group or organization

Want to organize your own tour with a group of special birding friends and one of our staff guides or for your local birding club? We regularly put together private departures for groups of 6 or more to many different destinations, and they are invariably a big hit. Just contact our office to start planning your group’s next great birding trip.

One example? Our Ghana itinerary, for which group leader Denis Kania, a frequent Field Guides traveler, put together a private group and Joe Grosel guided in 2018. Denis did the cool painting below of a White-spotted Flufftail as a memory from the tour. Let us know if you would like to create your own group experience!


Tour openings: late March through June

Our tours from late March through June listed below have, for the most part, just one or two spaces still open. They include departures from Bhutan and Hungary and Kenya across North America to the New World tropics. Included below are a few spaces on our two-parted Alaska tours spanning late May to Jun 23. Part I hits the Pribilofs and Denali, Part II heads to Nome, Seward, and Utqiagvik (formerly Barrow). Pick your great duo of guides: Chris Benesh with Doug Gochfeld or Tom Johnson with Cory Gregory. Either way will be a great trip to our most spectacular state (and spectacular birding). Contact our office to request open space on Alaska or any of the open tours below.

Recently posted 2019 itineraries

Click on any image or link below to see the detailed itinerary for the following 2019 tours. Lots of info in these, and some great images as well!


January 2019 emailing

January 29th, 2019 by Field Guides

Hello, birding friends! January is winding down along with our 14 departures for the month. We hope your year is off to a good start—it has certainly been busy here at Field Guides. There’s much to see in the links below, including recent bird news, a conservation note, a video from one of our Brazil tours, and a fresh January Recent Photos Gallery with 80+ great images from recent trips (guide John Coons’s image below of Guyana participant Jan Shaw at Kaieteur Falls is a teaser from the gallery). Also linked below: a fresh batch of 6 recent triplists and 9 recently posted itineraries for 2019 tours, as well as remaining spaces on our February-May tours. We look forward to seeing you in the field!

Birding the Scottish Highlands, May 20-25: 4 spaces left with Megan & Willy

We have a Scottish Highlands Extension to our upcoming May Birds of Britain tour (co-led by our dynamic duo of Megan Edwards Crewe and Willy Perez shown at right). The main tour is fully booked, but we have 4 spaces on the extension still open that we can offer to you as a standalone option. If you’d like to join Megan and Willy, contact our office ASAP to confirm a space. We have a hunch this will be popular.

The extension begins in Inverness on May 20, then heads to Aviemore for some great birding in the famous Speyside area, returning (with a stop at Loch Ness) to Inverness for a final night before the group flies out on the morning of May 25. You of course may choose to extend your stay in Scotland for some extra time and birding on your own if you wish.


Recent bird news of note: beauty & hornbills

These two pieces caught our eye:

  • First, a thoughtful feature on a recent subject of much debate in the field of evolutionary biology: the evolution of beauty. There’s lots about birds and much else in a piece by Ferris Jabr in the New York Times.
  • Second, a spotlight article from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Living Bird magazine on the Critically Endangered Helmeted Hornbill, a species we still see on our Borneo tours. There’s a beautifully produced and compelling video at this link and an article with text and images here.

Conservation gift: Rainforest Trust

Field Guides recently made a $10,000 contribution to Rainforest Trust. As our own John Rowlett notes, we were drawn to the organization and their efforts for the following reasons:

  • Rainforest Trust board members cover the majority of all operating expenses. Thus the Trust is able to allocate 100% of a project donation “directly to conservation action. Rainforest Trust holds Charity Navigator’s highest 4-Star rating for its commitment to transparency, accountability, and efficiency.”
  • The organization relies on local partnerships and community engagement. This serves to collaboratively affirm the global value of tropical ecosystems and the life they hold while providing legal grounds to avert immediate and direct threats of colonization, typically from loggers, miners, ranchers, oil and gas extractors, and soybean farmers.
  • At the time we made it, donations for our selected project were being quadrupled through matching contributions. The price per acre in the target area is $0.76, an astonishingly low figure. Our gift of $10,000, quadrupled, will net $40,000 and protect more than 50,000 acres of Amazonian forest.

If you would like to find out more about Rainforest Trust and this particular project or others they manage, we encourage you to click on this link to their website.


Aerial video: Gazing down on Itatiaia

Guide Marcelo Barreiros recently began making some aerial videos along some of our Brazil tour routes. Click on the image below to see one of his early efforts, a fly-over of the Hotel do Ype, our lodging in Brazil’s Itatiaia National Park on the Spectacular Southeast Brazil itinerary. Makes us want to jump down to gaze at a Saffron Toucanet or a Brazilian Ruby!


May “rarities”: Tour openings on Spain & a new Brazil tour

It’s not often we have space still open this close to a May departure on either our Spain tour or any new Brazil offering. Right now there are still four spaces open on Spain (May 4-16) if you would like to tilt at a few windmills while you bird La Mancha with Chris Benesh and Godfried Schreur in the lead, then continue in a rich loop including Extremadura, famed Coto Doñana, and a stop in beautiful Cordoba. There should be lots of great birds and landscapes along the way.


And Brazil? Guides Bret Whitney and Marcelo Barreiros on our new Brazil: Minas Gerais & Tocantins itinerary (May 25-Jun 9) will take you in search of the recently rediscovered Blue-eyed Ground-Dove plus numerous other prizes, from Golden-capped Parakeet and Chestnut-capped Foliage-gleaner to Sao Francisco Sparrow plus many more, and possibly the newly described “Dry-forest Sabrewing.” Two spaces open there. Contact our office for more information on either trip.


Comments from participants

We read carefully each post-tour evaluation we receive from our participants, so that we may continue to offer the best possible birding experiences and service on Field Guides birding tours. Here are a few representative recent comments. From all of us at Field Guides, our thanks for your valuable feedback.

“I chose Field Guides, in part, because the company had great reviews. My tour experience was great. The group gelled well and we had a lot of fun. Chris Benesh was a fantastic guide — he brought a supreme birding knowledge and wealth of guiding experience along with patience and a sense of humor. He made the trip fun as well as informative. This was my first birding trip and it was fantastic! I would definitely go on another Field Guides tour.” R.H., PANAMA’S CANOPY LODGE 2018

“I chose Field Guides because of previous trips that have all been enjoyable, successful, and carefully planned. Your guides and office personnel are top-notch, and we have never had anything to worry about. This was a very good trip. It was our second tour with Jay VanderGaast who, in our opinion, is one of the top guides anywhere from any company. The office service was excellent as usual.” – L.W., JAMAICA

“Megan Crewe was a bird in her former life, and will be again in her next incarnation. She knows them intimately, loves and respects them (wonderful to witness), and never, never loses composure. Megan sets an unattainably high bar as a guide and is a fine representative for Field Guides.” M.L., HOLIDAY COSTA RICA 2018

“I had a wonderful time. Willy Perez is great — enthusiastic, easy to get along with, great at locating birds and wildlife. Your office did a great job. I have been with quite a few birding tour companies. Field Guides is equal to the best I have travelled with and of a much higher quality than others.” K.C., CHILE 2018

“An excellent experience! It was fantastic. I can’t wait to go on another trip! Guide Dave Stejskal was super knowledgeable, fun, professional. Office service was very good…they always promptly replied to my email inquiries.” D.G., ARIZONA WINTER SPECIALTIES 2018


Triplists from 6 recent Field Guides tours

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


Private tours for your group or organization

Want to organize your own tour with a group of special birding friends and one of our staff guides or for your local birding club? We regularly put together private departures for groups of 6 or more to many different destinations, and they are invariably a big hit. Just contact our office to start planning your group’s next great birding trip.


A private-group Panama participant noted: “We were so pleased to do this tour with our friends and with John Coons as leader. Everything went smoothly. All we have to do now is decide where we all want to go next!”


Tour openings: February through May

Our tours from February through May listed below have, for the most part, just one or two spaces still open but include options from Alaska and the New World tropics to Spain, France, and India. Included below are two spaces on our Hawaii tour, Apr 2-11 with guides Chris Benesh and Dave Stejskal. There are of course numerous island endemics and ABA-area specialties to be seen there, among them the Nene, Hawaii’s state bird, shown beautifully in an image above by 2018 participant Scott Harvell. Contact our office to join this tour or to request open space on Hawaii or any of the open tours below.

Recently posted 2019 itineraries

Click on any image or link below to see the detailed itinerary for the following 2019 tours. Lots of info in these, and some great images as well!


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