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Welcome to our Holiday Season emailing

Happy Holidays, birding friends! We hope you're all enjoying this festive time of year and find yourself busy decorating the house, sipping eggnog, holiday shopping, and participating in a few Christmas Bird Counts!

As we reacquaint ourselves with winter's cold and snow, we can also think about ways to get some respite from the elements. We have various tours to warm and lovely destinations that depart over the next few chilly months. This is also a good time to be looking to spring. We've got the next six months pretty well covered below.

This month's emailing starts with a focus on Ecuador. We have seven tours to this birder's paradise listed below, with brief descriptions of each to help you choose which one might hold the most appeal. We also have a list of spring options for Europe for folks who appreciate an added cultural element to their birding. And we have two short videos from recent tours; a short blurb about a handy feature on our website; a survey from researchers who are interested in what makes a traveling birder tick; as well as a few odds and ends. As always we have our regular features, including our Recent Photos Gallerythis month's collection contains more than 120 pics taken by participants and guides from 13 destinations on 5 continents. Last, we present 6 new triplists from recent tours and 14 updated itineraries for 2024.

Holiday trivia question: Which shorebird species winters farther north than any other North American shorebird species? (Answer at the end of this emailing.)

The festive image of a Red-crested Cardinal above was taken on our Brazil Nutshell: Intervales, Iguazu Falls & the Pantanal tour by guide Marcelo Padua. It's one of our upcoming March birding escapes listed below, and there's still one spot open for you!

The photo of a Spruce Grouse below comes from our dear friend Tom Johnson from last spring's Alaska: The Great Land tour that Tom guided with Doug Gochfeld.
Focus on Ecuador
Ecuador is only about the size of Colorado, yet we currently offer seven distinct tours there. Despite its tiny size, Ecuador is home to about half of South America's avifauna, with nearly 1700 bird species. Numbers like that can only be attributed to dramatic habitat diversity. From desert to humid rainforest, sea level to glaciers at 20,000 feet, and everything in between—not to mention the Galapagos Islands— these features allow Ecuador to boast one-sixth of Earth's bird species.

With such broad habitat diversity, our array of Ecuador tours is designed for you to delve deeply into these biological communities. Several tours are single-lodge itineraries that focus on thorough coverage of the locale. Others are longer and more mobile, providing regional surveys with some targeted species. And all of our land-based trips are designed for small groups, with a typical maximum of eight participants (the Galapagos tour is the lone exception to this group size). Also, in several instances, two tours can be combined back to back for anyone with more time to dedicate to an epic adventure.

Our guides are exceptionally familiar with the country, with two of them (Mitch Lysinger and Willy Perez) having lived there for many years. Our experience in Ecuador is second to none, and we're sure our array of tours offers something for every birder.

Below is a chronological roster of our Ecuador tours, with departure dates for the next two years. Most still have space available.

Amazonian Ecuador: Sacha Lodge—Sacha Lodge is one of the most comfortable lodges in upper Amazonia, known for its fine accommodations and excellent food. Visiting rainforest along the Rio Napo in eastern Ecuador, this week-long, single-site tour takes us birding on an array of trails and platforms, and the canopy walkways add a vertical dimension to the birding, affording close views of many specialty species.

  • 2024: Jan 5-14 with Willy Perez & local guide (fully booked)
  • 2024: Jul 31-Aug 9 with Willy Perez & local guide (space available)
  • 2025: Jan 7-16 with Jesse Fagan & local guide (space available)
  • 2025: Jul 3-12 with Willy Perez & local guide (space available)

Southeast Ecuador: Orange-throated Tanager & Foothill Specialties—Any bird that is included in the tour name is surely something special. The Orange-throated Tanager is no exception: this stunner is known from just a few remote areas of the eastern Andes. Until relatively recently, this untamed region of Ecuador was inhospitable to most bird tours, but it has become much more approachable. Aside from the tour's namesake, there are many other species for us to see in this remote region of Ecuador.

  • 2024: Feb 15-24 with Willy Perez (space available)
  • 2025: Feb 13-22 with Willy Perez (space available)

Southwestern Ecuador Specialties: Jocotoco Foundation Reserves—Another tour with a bird in its name, and like the previous one, this is another extremely range-restricted gem. Jocotoco Antpitta wasn't discovered until the close of the last century, and it's known from just a few locations. This is an in-depth, 11-day tour to where north meets south—the southern limit of humid, Choco-type forest, and the northernmost reaches of the Tumbesian center. This region boasts many diverse habitat types, which leads to endemism that is not easily surpassed.

  • 2024: Feb 24-Mar 7 with Willy Perez (space available)
  • 2025: Feb 22-Mar 6 with Willy Perez (space available)

Galapagos: An Intimate Look at Darwin's Islands—The word "Galapagos" evokes wonder in every birder or naturalist who hears it. We are all familiar with the basics and the pivotal role these islands played in our understanding of evolution. Our tour is 11 days long, and we spend these aboard a comfortable boat with great food and an accompanying Galapagos naturalist-guide. Our boat travels at night, giving us the maximum opportunity to explore these rugged islands, seeking as many endemic birds as possible, as well as the islands' interesting mammals, reptiles, and other critters and flora.

  • 2024: Jun 15-25 with Mitch Lysinger & naturalist-guide (space available)
  • 2024: Jul 13-23 with Willy Perez & naturalist-guide (space available)
  • 2025: Jun 14-24 with Mitch Lysinger & naturalist-guide (space available)
  • 2025: Jul 12-22 with Willy Perez & naturalist-guide (waitlist available)

Cloudforests of Ecuador: All the Best of the Wild Northwest—We are housed in two cloudforest lodges on this tour, giving us ample opportunity to explore the Andean and Choco birding on Ecuador's west slope. We'll encounter a variety of antpittas, up to 30 hummingbirds, leks of Long-wattled Umbrellabird and Andean Cock-of-the-rock, and we'll have a chance to see a cool mammal: Spectacled Bear.

  • 2024: Jul 22-Aug 1 with Willy Perez & local guide (space available)
  • 2025: Jul 21-31 with Willy Perez & local guide (space available)

Holiday at San Isidro, Ecuador—Thanksgiving in Ecuador has a lovely ring to it, and on this holiday escape we head for the humid montane forests on the east slope of the Andes, from the foothills to the high elevations. Our primary base is the famous San Isidro lodge, known for its comfort and fantastic home-cooked meals. We spend very little time birding from vehicles on this tour, usually setting out on foot from the lodge, or driving a short distance to access other trails.

  • 2024: Nov 23-Dec 2 with Mitch Lysinger (space available)

Ecuador's Wildsumaco Lodge—The avian bonanza of the upper tropical zone of the eastern Andes was in the past difficult to access. But in relatively recent years lodges have sprung up in these elevations, and the opening of the Wildsumaco lodge has allowed birders comfortable access to Ecuador's eastern foothills. While staying right in the habitat, this tour offers amazing views—and even better birds.

  • 2024: Dec 28-Jan 7 with Willy Perez (space available)

Nicole Cannon is the tour manager for all of our Ecuador tours, and she would be happy to answer questions or provide additional information. To sign up or to reach Nicole, please contact our office.
Willy Perez
Mitch Lysinger
Atlantic Odyssey news
We just got two bits of good news about our upcoming inaugural Atlantic Odyssey: South Georgia to Tristan da Cunha and St. Helena voyage. We will be permitted after all to land on Ascension Island, which is an unexpected but exciting change. Also, an additional day has been added to the cruise at no extra cost, making this now a 23-day adventure. Doug Gochfeld is the guide, the tour dates are March 26-April 20, 2024, and three spots are still open. For more information, please contact our office.
Tom Johnson honored
The Delaware Valley Ornithological Club (DVOC) has posthumously recognized Tom Johnson with its Julian K. Potter award. This award was established in 1964 and is given annually to a DVOC member for outstanding contributions to field ornithology. See here for more information.
Short videos from recent tours
Many of our triplists contain videos recorded by guides or participants. Sometimes they are fairly short, showing a neat behavior of a bird, while others are longer, edited productions that showcase highlights of a tour.

We have two videos linked in the photos below that give a taste of two of our tours. Click here or on the image below of the singing Pink-headed Warbler for a video filmed by guide Micah Riegner from our Mexico: Enchanted Chiapas tour. There's still time to claim the last spot on our next departure for this tour, which leaves Jan 28. Don't dilly-dally! The other video is from October's Mexico: Veracruz River of Raptors tour by Eric Hynes, who guided the tour with Jorge Montejo-Diaz. This video highlights overhead kettles of migrating Broad-winged Hawks, Turkey Vultures, Swainson's Hawks, American White Pelicans, and Wood Storks. We're offering this tour again next fall, guided by Doug Gochfeld and Jorge. If you are interested in learning more or holding a space, please contact our office.
Research survey on bird tourism
We've been contacted by a team of researchers from the University of California Santa Cruz and the University of Florida to share a survey that will help the researchers better understand "birdwatching tourism, and how birders select international countries as their destination, as well as the role tour companies play in the decision-making process."

If you are interested in participating in the survey, it takes about ten minutes, is fully anonymous, and can be found by clicking here.
Springtime in Europe
April and May in Europe offer pleasant weather and smaller crowds in some places, and much of the the continent is awash in color. If you're traveling to Europe for birding, it is prime time to find many of the continent's breeders. Our European tours offer a blend of culture and birding (that's the Loire Valley's Château de Chambord above); two of them are also part of our Birds & Wine series. Our itineraries are a mix of off-the-beaten-path places and familiar, legendary birding venues that showcase much of Europe's best birding. Some of the birds may be familiar to us by name, as are the destinations. Have a look below at the tours we're offering next spring in Europe and reach out to our office if you have questions or would like to sign up.

To sign up, add your name to the waitlist, or for any additional information, please contact our office.
Triplists from recent tours
We have triplists from past tours linked below, each with some lovely images and some with video clips, and all with great annotations by our guides. Enjoy!
Did you know?
Our website has a handy search function that is easy to use and can be quite helpful. The "Quick Links" option is a simple drop-down menu that allows you to do a quick filtering of our schedule by one of 14 criteria (location, cost, new, etc.). You can search for tours to our most popular US or foreign destinations, or for a type of tour, such as single lodge or a tour under ten days. We also have a "Search Filter" option, where you can click the various drop-down options and sort by a myriad of features, including by guide, group size, date, length, price, or season. If you're unfamiliar with this corner of our website, give it a click and have a look around: Search for Birding Tours
Comments from participants
We carefully read each post-tour evaluation we receive from our participants, so that we can continue to offer the best possible birding experiences and service on Field Guides birding tours. Here are two representative recent comments. From all of us at Field Guides, our thanks for all your valuable feedback.
“I chose this tour because I wanted to visit Big Bend and the Hill Country. Specifically, I also wanted to see the Colima Warbler and the Montezuma Quail. There are not enough adjectives to describe the beauty of Big Bend and the Hill Country...it was truly a magnificent trip! The best features of the tour were being well cared for by the guides and seeing so many birds that I wouldn't have encountered if I was there on my own. Chris Benesh was an excellent guide as he knew the area so well from previous trips. He is passionate about birds and kept the group motivated daily! Clearly he is respected by so many other bird guides in the area! Eric Hynes shared his knowledge with us freely and educated the group on birds and habitat. He has a great personality and dealt with everyone with kindness, patience, and respect. An extra bonus was his wonderful sense of humor. Alex Sundvall was so delightful and kind. He was thoughtful and charming to everyone! He is smart and accomplished, Field Guides is lucky to have him. The service of the tour manager and office staff was excellent! Thanks to Nicole Cannon! The work she does makes it all smooth sailing. Field Guides is the very best!” J.M.,Texas's Big Bend & Hill Country, 2023

“We’ve traveled previously with Field Guides and have been happy with the trips. We had always wanted to go to Brazil and had previously traveled to Portugal with Marcelo Padua. We thought the Pantanal trip would be a good fit for us. The best feature of the trip was birding with Marcelo, who is nothing short of amazing. He is so knowledgeable about the birds, their habits and habitats, and Brazil in general. We learned so much and truly enjoyed the birding experience. We typically feel that Field Guides provides a superior experience on birding tours.” D.P., Safari Brazil: The Pantanal & More, 2023
Tours with openings through June 2024
Every month we present a list of the next six months' departures that still have space available, sorted by major region. The offerings run the gamut from close-to-home domestic tours to others to the opposite side of the globe to boarding a re-positioning cruise and sailing from the New World to the Old. If short-term travel fits your lifestyle, or if getting away for the holidays appeals, there is surely somewhere to visit listed below that offers a new and exciting adventure. You can click any link for more information, and contact our office to book.

That odd bird pictured above right is a White-necked Rockfowl, photographed by participant David Smith on our most recent Ghana: Window Into West Africa Birding tour. This bird is one of the primary targets of the tour, along with a host of other West African specialties, including a long list of hornbills (with the rare West African endemic Yellow-casqued and Brown-cheeked as the cherries on top). Egyptian Plover is on the target list too, and we even hope for African Elephants. Phil Gregory & Tarry Butcher lead this tour to vibrant West Africa, which departs March 16.






Recently posted upcoming itineraries
Click on any image or link below to see the detailed itinerary for the following tours. All of these itineraries are packed with information (and have a few nice photos as well).
Answer to this month's trivia question
Rock Sandpiper winters farther north than any other North American shorebird species.
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