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Welcome to our February emailing! 

We hope your 2022 is off to a birdy start. In this issue you'll find a link to our popular Recent Photos Gallery, this time with more than 100 images from participants and guides on recent Field Guides tours to six destinations (Colombia, Mexico, Ghana, Brazil, Ecuador, and Puerto Rico); eight triplists from recent tours (all have some great photos, and the ones from Gulf of California and Brazil's Rio Roosevelt have some cool videos as well); a roster of upcoming departures through August with openings; interesting bird news and notes; and twelve updated itineraries for 2022.

If you've been pondering your upcoming birding travel plans, here's a quick update on our schedule over the next few months. We moved our Nowhere but Northeast Brazil! and Brazil: Bahia Birding Bonanza tours from January into March; both will still be guided by Bret Whitney and Marcelo Barreiros with respective departures now Mar 11 and Mar 26 (these tours can be taken back-to-back); we have 1 space open on NE Brazil and 6 spaces open on Bahia. Open spaces in general on our 39 tours in the Mar-May period are scarce commodities, so here are a few additional suggestions: Brazil Nutshell (Mar 12, Marcelo Padua, 3 spaces), Ghana (Mar 23, Phil Gregory, 3 spaces), Hungary & Romania (Apr 14 & May 3 departures, Terry Stevenson & Lajos Nemeth-Boka, 3 spaces each), Florida (May 7, Jesse Fagan, 1 space), Uzbekistan & Kazakhstan (May 16, Jay VanderGaast, 4 spaces), and Brazil: Minas Gerais & Tocantins (May 21, Marcelo Barreiros, 2 spaces). Contact our office and we can help put your plans in motion. And our thanks to participant Bill Byers for the delightful image above of Ochre-breasted Antpittas, which you might get to see if you sneak away in late June with guide Willy Perez on our Montane Ecuador tour!

Additionally, and not listed in upcoming spaces below, we have a special March Kenya tour with Terry Stevenson (Mar 5-23) that still has a few spaces open. This is a late conversion of our East Africa Highlights tour, dropping Tanzania from the normal route and adding Masai Mara, Samburu, and Kakamega. If you can act on short notice to join this great experience with Terry, contact Tour Manager Sharon Mackie directly to confirm space.

As always, we're excited about seeing you in the field on tour soon! In the meantime, enjoy reading through the text and links below.
Triplists from recent tours
We have triplists from recent tours linked below, each with some lovely images and some with video clips, and all with great annotations by our guides. Enjoy!
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 a few representative recent comments. From all of us at Field Guides, our thanks for all of your valuable feedback.
“Among my friends, Field Guides has a reputation as being very professional and delivering a good portion of the 'birds that really matter.' I selected this tour because southwestern Amazonia has been on my radar for a number of years, so it was a matter of finding a tour to an interesting area with the right dates. Additionally, I also wanted to try out Field Guides for the first time, as well as meeting and birding with Bret Whitney. Besides being one of the most skilled bird guides in the world, Bret was also very professional and nice as a person and tour leader. His way of telling stories and explaining bird taxonomy and evolution in the Amazon was absolutely brilliant. I will definitely keep a close look at coming tours, and I am sure I will be back before too long! I would also like to point out—especially given my short sign-up period—that Ruth Kuhl handled the admin work in a very professional, efficient, and fast way. I think it is a great idea to have an office-based tour manager that deals with the administrative details. It was also very professional by Ruth to make sure that I would be a good fit for the group (e.g. offering Bret to contact me) and not just a ‘random guy who wanted a holiday in Brazil.'" B.A., Brazil's Rio Roosevelt 2021

"My good experiences with previous tours is why I chose Field Guides for this particular tour, and I had an excellent overall experience. Our guide, Willy Perez, was one of the best features of the tour! We also had an excellent driver, a good vehicle, a nice group, and great locations to bird. I am especially thankful to Willy for making sure my specialized diet was accommodated each day. The office staff was great, as usual. Nicole Cannon never complained about the amount of times I forgot something, or didn't find something, and she had to send it to me again. Your staff is a pleasure to work with! I think one of the main reasons I choose Field Guides is the fact that I know that no matter where we are in the world, I will be safe and taken care of. The guides have a vast knowledge of the birds and the environment, but also are excellent working with logistics, time lines, or unexpected problems. The quality of the guides is consistent. You are number one in my list of companies with whom to go birding!" E.L., Ecuador's Wildsumaco Lodge, 2021
“This was a fantastic tour! Great food, comfortable quarters, and drivers/vehicles able to conquer difficult terrain safely. I have been enjoying Field Guides trips since 1989, and from the beginning have appreciated John Coons's expertise in birding, his sense of humor, and the way he cares for participants. The Canopy Lodge is the only one of Raúl Arias's creations that I had not visited. and I consider Panama my second 'home,' so I’ll seek any excuse to return! I went out to the Canopy Tower during one visit and spent a couple of days with one of my friends from Panama. The Lodge is by far the most comfortable to visit due to the cool air, and I was surprised by the extended network of roads extending out of El Valle from my days more than 30 years ago. Tino, the local guide, was fantastic in ears and eyes for finding a bird. I am delighted that many people in Panama have developed expertise and knowledge about the abundance of natural life to be found in the Republic. I have always felt that birding provides the best way to really see and comprehend another country.” C.M., Panama's Canopy Lodge: El Valle de Anton 2021

"I think Field Guides does the best job of any tour company I have been with. I have traveled with 3 other major tour companies, and I keep returning to Field Guides because you excel in every area that is important to me. Your office staff does a tremendous job with all the behind-the-scenes organization. Every guide I have had has been wonderful...superior in every way. I have been with Jesse Fagan before and really like him. He is a wonderful knowledgeable guide and such a nice person. This was my first time with Micah Riegner. I rode in the vehicle with him several times and found him to be a fountain of knowledge and easy to be with. The leaders did a fabulous job, and the other participants were fun. This was my first post-pandemic tour. It was wonderful to be out looking for birds in such beautiful scenery. The desert and the gulf were much prettier than I thought they would be. Micah and Jesse said to especially try to think of any suggestions since this was the first time for this tour. I have nothing negative to say about the tour—I really liked it and would suggest it for anyone." L.R., Gulf of California: Mexico's Rich Desert Coast, 2021
Upcoming tours with openings through August
Tired of winter? Maybe a last-minute getaway to one of our upcoming tours with space to someplace warm and sunny might be the perfect remedy! Check out the tours below that have availability—some departing rather soon—and contact our office to hold a space or if you have any additional questions.

As always, you can find more information about any of the trips below by clicking on them to visit their tour pages. We look forward to traveling with you—and our thanks to guide Marcelo Barreiros for the photo of a Surucua Trogon from Brazil: Bahia Birding Bonanza (which was recently rescheduled to March and still has space available!).

OutBirding with Field Guides: Our latest videos
The excellent OutBirding with Field Guides series has more than 75 videos available covering many areas of interest to birders and nature lovers. We have interviews, discoveries, tips on identification, tour recaps—heck, we even have a video teaching you how to make a Brazilian Caipirinha! All of our videos remain permanently in the library for subscriber access at any time. Have a look at the trailers and descriptions of our videos on our OutBirding Blog. In our two latest videos, you can join guide Jesse Fagan as he takes us on a tour along the Tambopata River in the Peruvian Amazon, or you can join guide Micah Riegner in Arizona while he observes nesting Goshawks and fills you in on the "Cactus" subspecies of the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl. If you still haven't subscribed, you're missing out! Just head on over to our OutBirding home page and check out subscription options, either for yourself or as a gift for someone in the OutBirding Store. Subscribers have access to all videos for just $15 per month (or $10/month if paid annually), and we offer a "Lifer" subscription as well.
Bird news and notes of interest
By now, most birders are aware that a rare Steller's Sea-Eagle has spent some time in Maine this winter. Thousands of birders have gone to see the bird along the Maine coast (including a handful of Field Guides staff!). It is widely believed that this giant eagle has been in the Northeast at several locations since late June of 2021. In fact, a compelling case can be made that this bird was seen in Alaska in late August of 2020. This informative video chronicles the bird's history though late December of 2021 when it was found in Massachusetts. (The video is a bit outdated, as it does not include the eagle's month-long stay in Maine.) The Steller's Sea-Eagle pictured here is not the eagle that has been seen recently. This one is courtesy of participant Becky Hansen from our 2019 Winter Japan: Dancing Cranes & Spectacular Sea-Eagles tour, on which eagle viewing is a definite highlight!

"Wisdom," a Laysan Albatross, is the oldest known banded wild bird on the planet, and she has returned to her wintering grounds on Midway Atoll. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife story linked here has more detail about this remarkable bird.

One of the most imperiled birds on the planet is the Cherry-throated Tanager, with a population believed to be fewer than twenty individuals. As of recently, the species can claim a newly protected home in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. The story (linked above) details some modest success in protecting critical habitat for the species.

For as long as humans have observed birds, the mystery of how they navigate during migration persists. There have been countless theories, and current wisdom suggests that a combination of methods directs them. New research has focused on what elements of Earth's magnetic field birds are able to detect, and how they use the information they gain.

Bird Watcher's Digest, a popular magazine and online resource about birds and birdwatching, unexpectedly closed up shop at the end of 2021. Read their farewell article here. It was a multi-decade mainstay of the birding community that will be missed.

For many years, birders have believed that the Snowy Owls that descend in winter upon southern Canada and the United States are starving or otherwise food-stressed. Research over recent decades has concluded that these visiting owls are largely doing just fine. In fact, the researchers conclude that it’s due to a bumper crop of young Snowies during a very good breeding season—not a lack of food—that sends them south.

Do Crows take extra care of their more valuable tools? Researchers have long studied crows on the island of New Caledonia in the South Pacific. They recently discovered that these tool-using crows will hold or store their tools when they aren't in use. Remarkably, they seem to prize the better, more-efficient tools a bit more.

Are you looking for a dose of the tropics and some colorful birds? Check out the fruit feeders cam at the Canopy Lodge in El Valle de Antón, Panama, and enjoy the sights and sounds of the birds coming and going. As this is being typed, there's a Clay-colored Thrush, Crimson-backed Tanager, and a Buff-throated Saltator on the feeder! If viewing through your screen isn't enough for you, you could always book a trip on our Panama's Canopy Lodge: El Valle de Anton tour and see it for yourself in December!

The Great Backyard Bird Count is just around the corner, and this year marks the 25th anniversary of the project. This year's count is February 18-21. Click here to learn more, and to see some fun features on the website.
Recently posted 2022 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).
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