January 2020 emailing

January 7th, 2020 by Field Guides

Happy New Year! Our January emailing is out, with a fresh gallery of images from recent tours, a fun feature on guide Megan Edwards Crewe, a cool eagle slideshow in a new series, a spring migration spotlight, a Great Rivers of the Amazon opportunity, plus of course recent triplists, fresh 2020 itineraries, and spaces on upcoming tours. Click here or on the image below to have a look. Enjoy!

December 2019 emailing

December 4th, 2019 by Field Guides

Our December emailing is out, with a fresh gallery of images from recent tours, short features on guide Marcelo Barreiros and Karen Turner from our Austin office, a cool antpitta slideshow in a new series, plus of course recent triplists, fresh 2020 itineraries, and spaces on upcoming tours. Click here or on the image below to have a look. Enjoy!

Halloween 2019 emailing

October 30th, 2019 by Jan Pierson

We have a special edition of our monthly emailing just in time for Halloween! Lots of news from recent tours as well as goings-on at Field Guides, plus of course recent triplists, fresh 2020 itineraries, some great video clips, and much more. Click here or on the image below to have a look. Enjoy!

October 2019 emailing

October 9th, 2019 by Field Guides

Hello, Field Guides friends and family! We have been busy behind the scenes, getting our 2020-2021 catalog and fall newsletter prepared, and these will appear in your mailboxes soon. We hope you enjoy them and that they help in planning your next adventure. (Big thanks to participant Myles McNally for his portrait of the Guianan Toucanet that graces the catalog cover, and thanks to all of you who contributed photos in the past year, many of which appear in the catalog!) Not on our mailing list yet? Contact our office to request a catalog, full of good planning (and daydreaming) material!

This emailing includes our September 2019 Recent Photos Gallery, as well as timely news on our 2019 and early 2020 tours that still have spaces available, a feature on our newest Tour Manager, some fun pics from our August annual meeting, news and notes from bird research, and a host of newly released itineraries and triplists from all over the world. We hope to see you all in the New Year, if not sooner. From everyone at Field Guides, thank you for being part of our family, and happy fall migration and festivals!

Our 2020 catalog is arriving in mailboxes across the US (and world) as we write this.

South America: Winter Escapes

At Field Guides, we pride ourselves on the quality and the diversity of our South American tour offerings, which have grown over the decades like a beloved arboretum. We are especially proud of our guides, whose knowledge of and dedication to the avifauna of the bird continent are deep indeed. True, a handful of South American species have yet to be recorded on our tours, but the list is short–and shorter each year! This winter, we still have a few spaces open on two of our most popular Brazil tours: Nowhere but Northeast Brazil with Bret Whitney and Marcelo Barreiros, Jan 21-Feb 7, and Brazil Nutshell: Intervales, Iguazu Falls, & the Pantanal with Marcelo Padua, Mar 7-21. Full of endemics, beautiful landscapes, and delicious Brazilian food and drink, these tours also promise fine photographic opportunities (as the little Hooded Visorbearer by guide Marcelo Barreiros below suggests). On the western side of South America, Ecuador tours that boast lists burgeoning with handsome Andean birds include Southeast Ecuador: Orange-throated Tanager & Foothill Specialties with Mitch Lysinger, Feb 22-Mar 2, and Southwestern Ecuador Specialties: Jocotoco Foundation Reserves with Willy Perez, Mar 1-15. And to the south, The Heart of Chile with Marcelo Padua, Jan 25-Feb 8, will provide a panoply of endemics and banish thoughts of winter. Like Brazil Nutshell, our Heart of Chile tour is perfect for those with limited time but a great desire to see the big highlights of this peaceful country. Join our friendly guides on getaways you’ll long recall with pleasure!

Hooded Visorbearer in Northeast Brazil by guide Marcelo Barreiros
Hooded Visorbearer in Northeast Brazil by guide Marcelo Barreiros

Antarctic Swan Song: Voyage with Dave Stejskal

Say it ain’t so! After guiding more than 300 Field Guides tours, our amazing Roadrunner, Dave Stejskal, will be hanging up his mitt and cleats to enjoy a well-deserved retirement at the end of 2020. Those who know him will not be surprised that Dave has planned his final tour to be one with real style: a cruise to Antarctica with plenty of appreciative friends (who also happen to be clients!), Nov 30-Dec 21, 2020. We still have five cabins reserved for this special event, and if you haven’t yet had the pleasure of Dave’s gentle wit and warmth, not to mention his eagle eye and encyclopedic intellect, this dream cruise would be a golden opportunity to check off the Roadrunner on your Field Guides life list!

Highlights: Field Guides 2019 Annual Meeting

Each year in August, everyone (or nearly everyone) at Field Guides gets together for the annual business meeting, usually in Arizona or Texas. As a company owned by employees, with no majority shareholder, we discuss every aspect of the business in great detail–and particularly our clients’ suggestions for improvements, to which all of us are devoted. We talk about these things not just in meetings but in the field, at the dinner table, during a baseball game (this year, we watched the Arizona Diamondbacks trounce the Colorado Rockies!), or while throwing a baseball around after lunch. But what else goes on at these meetings? Click the photo below or this link to see a slide show of a few highlights of our 2019 get-together!

For Those Who Love Winter Birding

Remember the old ads for Thermawear that invited you to “Laugh at the cold!”? Well, some in the birding tribe do just that, suiting up sensibly to enjoy birding in lovely snowy places where special birds abound. Our winter Owlberta tour (Feb 15-21), which seeks out the northern owls, winter finches, and other boreal specialties in Alberta, offers a great opportunity to laugh at the cold, with Canadian Jay VanderGaast as guide and winter birding guru. Our popular Winter Japan: Dancing Cranes & Spectacular Sea-Eagles tour with Phil Gregory (Jan 17-Feb 1) also has one space open as of this writing. In Alberta, beauties like Great Gray, Snowy, Northern Hawk, and Boreal owls are all real possibilities, while in Japan, the world’s largest owl, Blakiston’s Fish-Owl, will be among the birds we seek, along with Steller’s Sea-Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Hooded, White-naped, and Red-crowned cranes, myriad waterfowl including Falcated Duck, Baikal Teal, and Smew, Spectacled Guillemot, gemlike winter finches and thrushes, and famous hot-springs-loving Snow Monkeys. Yes, many love to escape from winter, but why not escape to winter and some amazing destinations?

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 an exciting tour—we motored in flat-bottomed boats up the Tambopata River through masses of trees lodged in the river and over rapids. The lodges along the Tambopata River were first-rate and beautiful. The food at the lodges was always good. Then, of course, the birding was spectacular and in a spectacular setting. Jesse Fagan is a first-rate guide, combining a great ear and eyes with a congenial personality. He manages the group well while being fun to be with. His organizational skills matched his birding skills. We are already signed up for another tour with Jesse in 2021. The tour manager and staff were great. Field Guides is always the best.” C.B., PERUVIAN RAINFORESTS OF THE TAMBOPATA 2019

“This was a wonderful tour. The itinerary provided much diversity in birds and scenery. The fellow travelers were considerate and compatible. Cory Gregory is a wonderful guide. He is very skilled and knowledgable and manages to be calm and patient as he responds to all our questions. He had obviously given such careful thought to building the itinerary and making the tour of Oregon as complete as possible.” D.M., OREGON: FROM THE COAST TO THE CASCADES 2019

“Papua New Guinea had long been on my list of countries to visit. It is also a difficult country to visit on your own for numerous reasons. Field Guides offered a good itinerary at a good time. Jay VanderGaast is a fantastic guide: very personable, very competent, well familiar with the terrain and local sensibilities, and a fine traveling companion. The birds were superb. The rest of our traveling group was great to be with.” J.T., PAPUA NEW GUINEA 2019

I had been on a previous Field Guides trip and was impressed with the quality of the guide and the smoothness with which everything flowed. I anticipated a similar experience on the Borneo expedition and was not disappointed. It was excellent! It has been such a pleasure to participate on Field Guides tours. Dave Stejskal’s low-key demeanor and humorous anecdotes kept the group in good spirits, and his ability to identify, locate, and predict the behavior/movements of birds enhanced the experience for all of us. Companies are judged by the people that make them up, and Field Guides has some of the best. Everyone in your office was helpful and supportive. Thank you for a wonderful experience in a special corner of the world.” W.G., BORNEO 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 September Recent Photos Gallery for other great images.)

with Willy Perez
with Dan Lane

SPOTLIGHT: Southeast Asia

When pondering the next international trip, does Cambodia call your name? If not, perhaps it should! One of the planet’s great wonders, Angkor Wat, is here, the largest religious monument ever built (and a fine birding location). Our tour enjoys a professional tour of Angkor temples and importantly also works with local bird guides with direct ties to grassroots conservation projects that support critically endangered Southeast Asian birds. Thanks to visiting groups like ours, the extremely rare Giant Ibis, White-shouldered Ibis, Bengal Florican, Milky Stork, and three rare vultures–Red-headed, White-rumped, and Slender-billed–maintain populations here. One of the joys of this tour is that we see our positive effects on bird conservation and local communities directly. Add to this avian A-list an array of beautiful woodpeckers, owls, raptors, barbets, and mammals (including the rare Irawaddy Dolphin), and this tour ranks as one of our most well-rounded for cultural and wildlife experiences. The ever-upbeat Doug Gochfeld writes: “Hey everyone! We have space for two more couples (or four singles) on this fantastic tour Feb 12-27! Come see why good-hearted Cambodia is one of our favorite countries on earth!”

Meet The Tour Manager: Tina Rose!

Don’t you love the name “Tina Rose”? Sounds like a country or blues singer from the good old days. Well, in fact, Field Guides’ newest Tour Manager is indeed an accomplished blues singer, a real-live musician from the thriving Austin scene! After taking her college degree in Environmental Studies, Tina worked in the fields of fundraising, event planning, music production, customer service, and most recently in the coffee business. A lifelong animal lover, she is passionate about volunteer work as a veterinary technician at Austin-area shelters and always has a few rescue animals in her life. After recently selling her coffee business, Tina was casting around for a new venture that involved work with like-minded, committed, positive people when she heard about the opening with Field Guides. Her interview went so splendidly that it was an immediate Yes on both sides! Tina says of the job: “I love working in a company whose mission I can believe in. I love providing great customer service and learning more and more about birds and wildlife. And I definitely feel like I hit the jackpot with Field Guides!” And the feeling is definitely mutual. So if you’re joining the Oregon, Oaxaca, Trinidad & Tobago, Louisiana, Guyana, or Alberta tours, you’ll have the great pleasure of working with Tina, too!

Tour openings: October through April

Our tours from late October 2019 through March 2020 listed below have spaces open. They include a great mix of short and longer tours, some near home, others to farther-flung, wondrous places like Chile, Guyana, India, Brazil, Myanmar, and Cambodia. We still have space available on getaways this fall to Brazil, Louisiana, and Colombia, and merry holiday tours to the Panama, Costa Rica, and Arizona also have room!  Contact our office to request space on any of the tours below.

Bird News & Notes

Chestnut-crowned Babblers are highly social, vociferous birds that inhabit arid parts of eastern Australia. Just this past month, a team of researchers from universities in Zurich, Exeter, Warwick, Macquarie, and New South Wales revealed that they have documented “meaning-generating building blocks of a non-human communication system”–that is, the basic components of language–in the vocalizations of this species. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, this breakthrough paper may shed light on how humans’ more elaborate combinatorial sound system evolved into language. Thrilling!

Recently posted 2020 itineraries

Click on any image or link below to see the detailed itinerary for the following 2020 tours. All of these itineraries are packed with information (and have a few nice photos as well!).

Jun & Jul • Mitch Lysinger • Willy Perez

Labor Day 2019 emailing

September 4th, 2019 by Field Guides

Welcome, friends of Field Guides! We trust your summer has been a grand one, filled with family and friends, garden riches–and of course some great birds. We have a cornucopia of news this month, not to mention a lot of paperwork, thanks to the latest update of the Clements Checklist of Birds of the World! In this email, we are pleased to present our August 2019 Recent Photos Gallery with nifty birds and other creatures from Brazil to Borneo and Kenya to Arizona. Also below, a few notes on banded curlews, videos from Ecuador, as well as the latest on tour spaces available, recently released itineraries, and triplists. We hope you enjoy the show! If your dance card is not completely full for the rest of the year, why not join us for an autumn tour or a holiday tour listed below? Merriment is included! (Thanks to guide Willy Perez for the Rufous-throated Tanagers below from his recent Cloudforests of Ecuador tour.)

Give (yourself) the gift of birding: Holiday Tours

Keel-billed ToucanAutumn is in the air! And as we hear the first tzips of migrating warblers in the morning as we sip our coffee or tea, we look forward to cooler temperatures, the pageant of September and October migration, and, yes, to holiday birding–both before and after the Christmas Bird Counts. Holiday birding before the CBCs? You betcha! Thanksgiving is just as sweet, and far less fretful, when celebrated abroad. Many of our migrating birds select the Yucatan Peninsula as their wintering grounds, so we love joining them and giving thanks on our classic Yucatan & Cozumel tour (Nov 23-Dec 2, with Chris Benesh) and our new Thanksgiving in Belize tour (Nov 23-Dec 1, with Megan Edwards Crewe). On this pleasant peninsula, our migrants mix with resident Neotropical species galore (those incandescent tanagers, hummingbirds, toucans, trogons, and such), and we also explore archaeological wonders, including temples of the ancient Maya civilization.

For the December holidays, we have a few spaces left on Holiday Costa Rica: Rancho Naturalista with Dan Lane, Panama’s Canopy Camp with John Coons, Arizona Winter Specialties with Chris Benesh, and Panama’s Canopy Lodge with Jesse Fagan. This wonderful array of guides and destinations will make the holidays bright: a New Year’s toast in the beautiful mountains of Arizona, or Panama, or Costa Rica would be a fantastic way to begin 2020! (A big thank-you to participant Danny Shelton for the sweet image of the Keel-billed Toucan from the Panama’s Canopy Tower tour!)

Santa Claus in Summer: The new Clements birds

Mount Victoria BabaxEvery year in summer, we find out about decisions that ornithologists have made regarding the taxonomic status of birds. While it is true that our tours seek out avian diversity, no matter what the birds’ status (we all love distinctive subspecies), we do use the Clements taxonomy for our in-house checklists and triplists, and so we keep close track of the splits, lumps, and rearrangements that happen every year. In recent years, the Clements list has grown, as new species are discovered and former subspecies become elevated to the level of species. This definitely keeps both our offices and our guides on their toes, updating databases, catalogue text, itineraries, and checklists! This year, Santa Claus (in this case, Cornell University, which now owns the Clements checklist) brought a sleigh full. For instance, just for our Brazil tours, Roraima Adventure will now seek out Pantepui Thrush and Tepui Elaenia, Northeast Brazil will look for Ceara Woodcreeper, Southeast Brazil will revel in Small-headed Elaenia, and the Great Rivers tour series will sort out Guianan, Inambari, Rio Negro, & Klages’s Gnatcatchers (fortunately, Bret has a head start….). And that’s just in Brazil! In Alaska, we’ll watch for Stejneger’s Scoter, in Myanmar for Mount Victoria Babax and Jerdon’s Minivet, and in Amazing Angola for the new Angola Waxbill. In looking over your past travels, you may find yourself already having an armchair “tick,” with an Iberian Green Woodpecker (if you saw Green Woodpecker in Spain or Portugal), or an Andean Ibis (in the Antisana area of Ecuador), or a Chattering Gnatwren (in Amazonian Peru). Of course, all of these birds were on our guides’ radars before the taxonomy was revised—and in some cases, our guides were the ones who published papers that resulted in these revisions. Thanks to guide Doug Gochfeld for his photo of the Mount Victoria Babax!

Keeping “tabs” on Bristle-thighed Curlews

Bristle-thighed CurlewWe are fortunate to spend lots of time in the field (hence the company name), and during tours we often come across a noteworthy bird or even see a banded bird. In North America, many bands are placed by scientists working under United States Geological Survey permits, and we report our observations to its Bird Banding Laboratory, in part to help the scientists with their work, in part because we’re curious to learn the story behind the bird and the research. On our Alaska and Hawaii tours, we see Bristle-thighed Curlews, one of the great shorebird migrants: after breeding in Alaska, they make a nonstop flight to tropical Pacific islands, even as far as Fiji. On recent Hawaii tours, we have seen a curlew that has leg-flag number 87. We learned from researchers that this bird was tagged in Hawaii (on Oahu) in 2013 and has made the 5000-km journey back to Alaska each spring, verified by a satellite tracking device. These curlews are very consistent in the timing of their flights to Alaska, where they spend the three-month nesting season. At age 10 weeks, the young birds make their first migration mostly unaccompanied by adults. Thanks to guide Chris Benesh (who sees curlews in both of their homes) for this cool information and for the image of Bristle-thighed Curlew #87!

Videos: Ecuador, ¡Mi amor!

I would love to see all the trogons and quetzals of the world” is a sentence that we have heard many times over the years. But how about all of the fruiteaters, or barbets, or toucans, or cotingas, or even waterfowl? Many species in all of these groups have richly colored plumages and wild mating rituals well worth seeing. On our recent Cloudforests of Ecuador: All the Best of the Wild Northwest tour guided by Willy Perez, participant Danny Shelton took some sweet video of displaying male Andean Cocks-of-the-rock, feeding Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, relaxing Toucan Barbets, and torrent-surfing Torrent Ducks. Is it any wonder we love Ecuador so much? It seems that every change in elevation brings a new trove of beautiful species. This welcoming country, in fact, has the greatest species richness per square mile of any on Earth! And in our humble opinion, our guides there—Willy Perez and Mitch Lysinger—are among the best guides on Earth to connect you with the wild beauty of Ecuador. Talented, gracious, witty, and knowledgeable about all things Ecuador, both Willy and Mitch have lived in country for many years and love sharing their knowledge with visitors. Thanks to Danny Shelton for bringing back memories of Field Guides’ first love, Ecuador! (And many thanks to Willy, guide Richard Webster, and participants Charlotte Byers and Gregg Recer for the images below.)

Toucan BarbetPlate-billed Mountain-ToucanTorrent DuckAndean Cock-of-the-rock

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’d always heard good things about Field Guides and was looking for a tour to the Pantanal at this time. It was excellent. Guides Marcelo Barreiros and Marcelo Padua were superb. Perfectly fitted for their positions. Always courteous. Extremely talented! I appreciated the detailed up-front information and the quick response from the office to all questions before the tour.” R.W., ALTA FLORESTA & THE NORTHERN PANTANAL 2019

Point Pelee is famous for spring migration, and we had never been there. We knew that a Field Guides-led trip would be a great experience. Take six compatible, fun, and capable birders, add a superior leader in Jay VanderGaast, factor in his local knowledge as a Canada resident and ‘linked-in’ bird finder, and you’ve got a winner. Jay is a wonderful, caring, thoughtful, smart guide who knows the birds. More importantly, he is a great person and includes everyone while seeing each bird. Your office service was excellent. It is a pleasure to work with Field Guides staff from arranging airline tickets to receiving materials to prepare for the trip.” J.R., POINT PELEE MIGRATION SPECTACLE 2019 

“This was a great experience, as expected. Guides Doug Gochfeld and Chris Benesh were great, adaptable, got everyone onto the birds they wanted to see, and encouraged us to watch bird behavior. They also had great senses of humor. The experience, knowledge, and personalities of our guides were second to none—I would go anywhere with them in a heartbeat. Your office service was super!” D.L., ALASKA 2019

An awesome experience. We had a great time and enjoyed having ‘quality time’ with the birds. The scenery was outstanding as well. We would love to go back. Guide Godfried Schreur did an outstanding job. He is a knowledgeable, enthusiastic, warm-hearted individual with a good supply of patience. The Field Guides office was very helpful.” K.K., ICELAND 2019

“A wonderful tour. Birding with Mitch Lysinger is a blast. He is enthusiastic and energetic, plus he is an expert bird guide. Office service was excellent. Thank you for the pre-tour arrangements and the last-minute changes…” M.W., AMAZONIAN ECUADOR: SACHA LODGE 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 August Recent Photos Gallery for other great images.)

with Tom Johnson & Cory Gregory
with Tom Johnson & Cory Gregory
with Phil Gregory
with Dave Stejskal
with Godfried Schreur
with Godfried Schreur
with Eric Hynes & Mitch Lysinger
with Doug Gochfeld & Eran Banker

Meet Peg Wallace: Superhero!

Peg WallaceDo you ever marvel at the smooth efficiency of the Field Guides office? Our wonderful Peg Wallace is an answer to a prayer in that regard! Peg keeps track of all the moving parts of the paperwork, from payments to itineraries to triplists. After a few decades in the work force, Peg did something bold: she went back to college for her B.S. in Biology, then took an M.S. in Geography from the University of Texas. Peg has more than diplomas on the wall: she’s a bona fide birder-biologist, a veteran of three seasons (2007-2009) as official raptor counter at the Travis County Audubon Society’s Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory and also seasoned surveyor for Golden-cheeked Warbler territories. Can you imagine a person more qualified to generate maps for tour itineraries? Or pore through triplists to make sure that every detail is accurate? Peg’s quick mind, fantastic work, and easy laugh make her an official Field Guides Superhero, and we celebrate her five years as our amiable co-worker!

Tour openings: September through March

?Our tours from September 2019 through February 2020 listed below have spaces open. They include a great mix of short and longer tours, from the incredible north of Japan for sea-eagles and cranes to, closer to home, the Americas, where quick, energizing holiday tours to the Yucatan, Panama, and Costa Rica await. And for tours to your backyard, practically, don’t miss the Cape May, Arizona, and Texas opportunities here! Just contact our office to request space on any of the tours below.

Recently posted 2020 itineraries

Click on any image or link below to see the detailed itinerary for the following 2020 tours. All of these itineraries are packed with information (and have a few nice photos as well!).

Apr • Terry Stevenson & Lajos Nemeth-Boka

July 2019 emailing

July 23rd, 2019 by Field Guides

Summertime…and the birding is easy? If it’s as hot where you are as it is in Austin right now, maybe you’re taking a sensible birding break! Our field guides are currently finishing up tours in Kenya, Borneo, Brazil, Ecuador, and Peru, and on the home front, many “off-duty” guides are checking local shorebird spots for that rara avis that will light up social media and galvanize fellow birders, whether a Little Stint in Maryland or an Oriental Plover on the Cairns Esplanade in Australia. But even our most gung-ho guides confess to doing some “virtual” birding indoors during the heat. In that spirit, we invite you to peruse our July Recent Photos Gallery with a great group of images from Spitsbergen and the Galapagos to the Andes, Israel, Japan, Brazil, Alaska, and France. Also in this emailing are two stunning Antarctica videos that are sure to cool you off (or fire you up?), a blurb about open spaces on a special one-day California pelagic trip, bird news from offshore projects, a note about a small-group tour opportunity, and the latest triplists, itineraries, and spaces available on upcoming tours. Stay cool, drink water, and we hope to see you all soon! (Guide Doug Gochfeld supplied our lead image below, a rascally Galah from the Australia tour.)

Fun 1-day California Pelagic: Space Available!

We’ve again chartered a boat departing Half Moon Bay, California for a pelagic birding trip on September 12 this year, and we have 9 spaces available! Tom Johnson and Micah Riegner will team up with Alvaro Jaramillo for this outing to lead this one-day event, part of our annual Slice of California: Seabirds to Sierra tour. We’ll be looking for Sooty, Pink-footed, and Buller’s shearwaters, Black-footed Albatross, Ashy Storm-Petrel, South Polar Skua, all three jaegers, Sabine’s Gull, Tufted Puffin, Rhinoceros Auklet, and many marine mammals, often including Blue Whale. The pelagic environment is incredibly dynamic, and seabird abundance and species diversity vary year to year. Scarce birds we might encounter include Black-vented and Flesh-footed shearwaters, Laysan Albatross, Black and Fork-tailed storm-petrels, Brown Booby, and Scripps’s Murrelet. The fee is $175 per person and includes just the pelagic trip. If you are interested, contact our office and request more details or a space from tour manager Caroline Lewis. (Tom Johnson’s Laysan Albatross glides above.)

Private Tours: Great Group Getaways

We run many private tours per year in addition to our advertised Field Guides tours. These are groups of six or more people who have decided they’d like to travel together to one of our many regular destinations around the world with one of our guides. We also have relationships with bird clubs, Audubon societies, and natural history groups that organize an annual tour and supply a club field trip leader, to accompany the group along with one of our own field guides. Friend of Field Guides Becky Hansen took this portrait of a Hyacinth Macaw on a recent private tour to Brazil based on our Jaguar Spotting: The Pantanal & the Garden of the Amazon itinerary. If a private tour sounds appealing, just contact our office for the details of how to get started.

What’s the Next Best Thing to a Private Tour?

On our upcoming schedule, that would be the south of France with Jay VanderGaast. How so? It’s rare for us to have a tour 6 weeks out that’s not yet quite a “go” — in fact, only 3 of our 10 other September departures have any space at all. But therein lies the opportunity. We have two folks booked with Jay for France: Camargue & Pyrenees IISep 4-14 (our third France tour of the year), and we need just two more to lock it in. Could that be vous for an optimal guide-to-participant ratio? Well, why not? Birds, fun, and la belle vie await, from the pink flamingos and white horses of the Camargue to Lammergeiers hanging above alpine peaks, with a great diversity of migrants (and gastronomie) in between. Contact our office — we can help with plans and flights.

Bird News: Satellite Tracking of Seabirds

We often wonder: where do these seabirds spend their lives, when they only return to land for nesting? A team of researchers partnered with the venerable pelagic trip company Seabirding to find out not just where the birds go at sea but also where they nest. In May, they captured ten Black-capped Petrels of two different types off Hatteras, North Carolina–one type with a dark mask, the other with a mostly white face (like the one shown here)–and fitted them with satellite tags. On the island of Hispaniola, the birds studied are the dark-masked types. But how about the white-faced birds? Do they nest in Cuba? Or Dominica? The satellite tags should continue working through November, when some Black-capped Petrels return to their breeding areas. Hopefully, a mystery will be solved by the end of the year! To track these endangered petrels, check out this interactive map that shows where they are in real time! A relative of the Black-capped, the Cahow or Bermuda Petrel is likewise the subject of renewed research: Portuguese biologists will be tracking them using new GPS devices. And last fall in Hawaii, researchers fitted nine endangered Newell’s Shearwaters with similar tracking devices, hoping to learn where they forage. (Thanks to Brian L. Sullivan of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for the dreamy Black-capped Petrel.)

Videos: Breathtaking Antarctica

Antarctica–the word evokes different images and emotions for everyone. Whatever those images are, they are but a shadow of what it is like to be physically present in Earth’s icy, vibrant, deep south.” So writes guide Doug Gochfeld of our recent Antarctica tour. Every day, he writes, “I was in awe, transfixed–by the light, the ice, the sea, the islands, the mountains.” Fortunately, for those of us still trying to imagine what it’s like to be there, Doug did yeoman’s work in documenting not just the landscapes and seascapes but the uncountable creatures our group was privileged to observe: whales, dolphins, seals, penguins, petrels, albatrosses, and skuas. (And some very memorable landbirds in Patagonia and the Falkland Islands, too.) Please enjoy Doug’s videos by clicking each of his photos above, and take a moment to read through his thoughtful Antarctica triplist, too. Field Guides has been blessed with many fine writers, and Doug Gochfeld is one of them. (And his triplist has four more videos embedded, so if you’d like to keep going….) We’d like to claim that watching the videos is almost as good as going there, but Doug would point out our error. Next year, Dave Stejskal will be leading the tour (Nov 30-Dec 21), and in 2021 we’ll have a special cruise into the Weddell Sea, in search of the magnificent Emperor Penguin (12-25 Nov). What a thrill!

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.

“A person whom I met on local bird walks and who has used Field Guides repeatedly recommended your company. This was an excellent tour. It could not have been better! The guides were superior and all the arrangements were so carefully made that the travel was easy and efficient and there was very little time spent not birding. I’d absolutely travel with Chris Benesh or Doug Gochfeld or both of them! They are a dynamic team, both very knowledgeable, skilled, personable, and willing to go out of their way to offer the group the fullest experience possible and to make sure that everyone sees the birds. I was impressed that your company could make this tour just as personal an experience for me as the trips I do with guides and clients whom I already know.” D.M., ALASKA 2019

“The tour was wonderful. I’d been very impressed with the Manaus, Brazil tour and guide Dan Lane in 2015. Machu Picchu has been on my travel list, and when I saw this tour with Dan, I decided it was a must-do. I enjoyed the birding and culture tremendously. Without hesitation, I would recommend it to anyone interested. Your office service was timely, friendly, and comprehensive. This was a better experience than other tour companies/guides I have used in the past.” J.A., MACHU PICCHU & ABRA MALAGA, PERU 2019

“Because I have taken so many great trips with Field Guides, and I knew guide Marcelo Padua from the Chile/Argentina trip, I knew this would be good — and it was. And what a delight to meet Megan Edwards Crewe, who is an extraordinary woman, a guide with whom I’d travel any time. Megan and Marcelo are seasoned professionals—great personalities, tons of patience, and fun to be with. It was a grand experience. So nice to have a relaxing trip and enjoy the sumptuous food, excellent wines, and—oh yes—the birding! The visits to the chateaux were outstanding.” D.S., FRANCE’S LOIRE VALLEY: BIRDS, CHATEAUX & WINE 2019

“As always with Field Guides, this was a great experience. Bret Whitney and Marcelo Barreiros are excellent guides, always making sure we see the birds well. They are incredibly patient about this, in fact! Office service was very helpful and timely, as always. In this regard, Field Guides buries the competition! A Field Guides trip is the gold standard for me. I have traveled with other good companies, but you are the best. Best guides, best support. The birds will show up for any good guide, but Field Guides makes it a great experience.” P.P., BRAZIL: MINAS GERAIS & TOCANTINS—BLUE-EYED GROUND-DOVE & 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 July Recent Photos gallery for other great images.)

Meet our awesome Accounting Manager

Say hello to the one & only Flammulated Owl!

Tiara Westcott, known to her Field Guides family as “Flamm” (short for the owl), has been on deck with the company since 2011. She might be a familiar voice if you’ve called the Austin office, where both her sense of detail and her sense of humor are godsends every day of the week. Tiara began as Administrative Assistant and by 2014 had transitioned into the position of Tour Manager. She then began training with Peggy Watson (our Puffin!) to take on the role of Accounting & HR Manager in 2016. As you might imagine, she knows the workings of the company like the back of her hand now! Like everyone at Field Guides, Tiara is a traveler, and she and her husband, John, have a cool scrapbook of past adventures, with a full bucket list that includes Eastern Europe, Bhutan, and East Africa. She and John love to garden, make pottery, hike and ride bikes around the great Austin trails, and cruise the Texas coast during spring and fall migration. The smile in this photo says it all – our Flamm is a bringer of joy and a joy to work with!

Tour openings: August through February

Our tours from August 2019 through February 2020 listed below have spaces open. They include departures that take in autumn migration in the United States and Europe, Thanksgivings To Remember in Belize, Chile, Jamaica, and the Yucatan Peninsula, Happy Holiday tours in Costa Rica, Trinidad & Tobago, Arizona, Panama, and Ecuador, and two-dozen more winter getaways. For fans of a little wintery weather, we have tours to Alberta and Japan in search of owls, cranes, and sea-eagles, so come on! Above, meet our terrific guide Mitch Lysinger with his friend, and our local guide for the Galapagos, Jairo Gusqui. 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 2019 & 2020 tours. All of these itineraries are packed with information (and have a few photos as well).

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!


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