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Welcome to our March emailing!

Happy spring, everyone! By now there are signs of spring just about everywhere in the northern hemisphere. Daylight is extending deeper into the evening, mornings are met with more birdsong, and flowers and buds are popping up. Indeed, spring is spreading its wings and showing off all its beauty. With spring comes the return of color, so we thought we'd give you a nice splash of it above—our thanks to participant Kevin Watson for the brilliant image of a showy Lilac-breasted Roller from our Namibia & Botswana last fall. Another departure is coming up October 28-November 16!

As we write, we have two groups in Africa: one exploring Kenya and Tanzania, and the other in Ghana. We've also got tours operating in Brazil, Costa Rica, and Hawaii. If you don't have any birding adventures planned for this year (and even if you do!), take a look below for some inspiration.

In this month's edition we're eager to tell you about a new tour to Colombia in 2025, and we also present our entire program to that country, with a short description of each tour. After that you'll find a section listing some trips to take you to a cool place at the height of summer. There's also a plug for this summer's Papua New Guinea tour with Doug Gochfeld and Alex Sundvall. You'll discover some information on our two-parted fall Alaska adventure. And, as always, we have a new set of triplists and itineraries, a listing of all our tours with space through late summer, and our monthly Recent Photos Gallery with images from ten countries on four continents. Enjoy clicking your way through this emailing, and see if there is something that tempts you into the field on a birding vacation this year.

Our thanks to participant Gregg Recer for the fine image of Madagascar Hoopoes below, taken during our Madagascar tour last fall; our next departure is coming up October 26 with Phil Gregory.
Participant Daphne Gemmill titled the picture below, "'Tis a rainy place." Indeed, this photo comes from our Colombia's Cloudforests: The Western & Central Andes tour, which spends some of its time in one of the wettest places on earth. Despite the rain (or perhaps because of it?), the cloudforest birding is outstanding. You can read more about this tour—and all of our Colombian offerings—in the section below.
Field Guides Colombia Tours
If South America is the "Bird Continent," then Colombia is the "Bird Country," boasting the most species of any country on the planet. Birders have long known what awaits in Colombia: soaring summits, lush Amazon rainforest, some 2000 miles of coastline (nearly equally divided between the Caribbean and the Pacific), bustling cities, and vibrant culture. Indeed, Colombia offers just about everything that can be found anywhere in South America, and it's all just a short hop across the Caribbean.

We have five regular tours to Colombia—and next year we are excited to add a new tour to this roster. Each of these itineraries brings us to a unique region with its own distinct habitats and suite of birds. As the Andes stretch north into Colombia, the range divides into three long, distinct cordilleras (parallel chains of mountains). The cordilleras are separated by two deep valleys carrying the Rio Cauca and the Rio Magdalena. These geological features dictate the weather, making both the Central Andes and the Western Andes rich in moisture-laden cloudforest (and fantastic birds). The westernmost slope is in the Choco, one of the five wettest areas in the world.

Below is an introduction to our new tour, as well as a brief description of each of our exciting Colombia adventures. For more information, please click the links.
NEW TOUR! Colombia's Inirida: Land of Many Waters—Our newest offering in Colombia, coming in November of 2025, explores the far-eastern part of the country at the confluence of the Guaviarae and Inirida rivers. More than 500 species have been recorded in this transition area between the Venezuelan and Colombian llanos (savanna) and the Amazon Basin. We will target several limited-range species such as Yapacana Antbird, Spot-backed Antwren, Yellow-crowned Manakin, Azure-naped Jay, Orinoco Piculet, Orinoco Softtail, and White-naped Seedeater. In addition to these species, there is a host of other must-see birds like Ruby-topaz Hummingbird, Capuchinbird, both Purple-breasted and Pompadour cotingas, Black Manakin, Spotted Puffbird, Brown, Bronzy and Paradise jacamars, Bare-necked Fruitcrow, Plumbeous Euphonia, and Opal-rumped and Flame-crested tanagers. If the exciting birds and habitats aren't enough of an enticement, the tour will also include unique experiences with the regional culture and indigenous groups (like the Curipaco Indians) and a tasting of local delicacies.

Colombia's Cloudforests: The Western & Central AndesWith this itinerary we explore the Western and Central Andes with their plethora of hummingbirds and tanagers—including the dazzling and endemic Multicolored Tanager (pictured below). We are based in good hotels and one ecotourism lodge as we traverse the valleys and access the Andean forests, as well as dry woodlands, marshes, and the paramo (alpine meadow). This tour is provisionally full for our fall 2024 departure, but it is worthwhile to put your name on the waitlist if interested—space may open up!

Colombia's Eastern Cordillera—This tour spends time around the easternmost Andes, based at over 8000 feet in Bogota for half of it, with the remaining four nights in outlying small cities. We'll take in Colombia's spectacular landscapes while birding forests and paramo searching for a bounty of endemics. We also stop by for an incredible hummingbird show at the Jardin Encantado—the Enchanted Garden—where an unforgettable experience awaits. Our next departure is in January.

Colombia's Marvelous Magdalena Valley—Oilbirds are the birds that think they're bats, using echolocation to navigate at night to locate fruit. A visit to a cave with the spectacle of hundreds of them emerging awaits us on this adventure. We'll spend time along the Magdalena River between the Central and Eastern cordilleras, scouring the valley floor and foothills for a wide variety of species—more than 400 on our inaugural run of this itinerary in 2023.

Colombia's Santa Marta Mountains & Caribbean Coast—In northern Colombia sits an isolated, snow-capped mountain range: the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. This is the tallest coastal mountain range in the world, with a mere 25 miles separating the beach and Colombia's highest peak, the 18,800-foot Pico Cristóbal Colón. There aren't many places around the Caribbean where you can see snow and sandy beaches at once! The elevation and isolation combine to create a region rich in endemism. More than a dozen species that we hope to see bear "Santa Marta" in their name, alongside many other endemics that don't.

Colombia's Central Andes: The Wild, Wonderful NorthThis itinerary visits the Central cordillera, which we access from several good hotels and comfortable ecolodges. We explore the forests from the foothills to treeline, replete with gobs of birds of the Andes—and quite a few endemic species thrown in too. We next offer this tour in 2026.

If you have questions or would like to sign up for any of these tours, please contact our office. We'll be happy to help.
Get away to someplace...cool?
Though the first day of spring is upon us, we all know that in just a few months it's going to be hot—and if you live somewhere that specializes in summer, it's going to get really hot. Now is a good time to think about getting a break from it all by escaping to somewhere cool. Why not make it somewhere with puffins, polar bears, or seabird colonies with unimaginable numbers of birds to boot? Each of these tours has space available for 2024.

Alaska: The Great Land—This is our flagship Alaska tour. It is over two weeks long and visits all of the birdy places you've heard about: the Pribilofs, Nome, Utquiagvik (Barrow), and Kenai Fjords. As for the wildlife, we should see Orcas, puffins, Bristle-thighed Curlews, Ancient Murrelets, four species of eider, Bluethroats, and Muskox, among so many others. We have a great highlights video of some of the wildlife you can watch by clicking here. Our two departures this year have space available:

  • Jun 1-17 with Chris Benesh & Alex Sundvall
  • Jun 8-24 with Micah Riegner & Sam Wilson

Alaska: No Place Like Nome—One of the most exciting places to bird in North America is Nome. While we do pay a visit there during our Great Land tour above, this itinerary gives us a full week to explore the riches of Nome and the surrounding Seward Peninsula. We'll seek a mixture of migrants and breeders during our visit, with species such as Bristle-thighed Curlews, Bluethroats, Aleutian Terns, as well as cool mammals such as Muskox, Grizzly, and Moose.

  • Jun 25-Jul 2 with Cory Gregory

Newfoundland & Nova Scotia—Our return to a popular, annual destination that we have visited since the mid 1990s (but haven't gotten to since 2018). We'll spend time at some of the continent's most awe-inspiring seabird colonies on Newfoundland (like the Common Murre colony pictured below), then we'll explore the forests and bogs of Nova Scotia for boreal birds and nesting warblers. There will also be plenty of great seafood to enjoy. For those who are looking for a break from sweltering temps, the region's July temperatures average in the mid-60s!

  • Jun 30-Jul 10 with Chris Benesh & Jay VanderGaast

Spitsbergen & Svalbard Archipelago: A Cruise to the Norwegian Arctic—Join us on this Arctic cruise around the Svalbard Archipelago—making several landings along the way—as we immerse ourselves in the scenery and abundant wildlife of this fantastic and little-visited portion of the globe.

  • Jul 2-14 with John Coons (only one space left!)

Please contact our office if you have any questions or would like to sign up!
Papua New Guinea
Why is this bird carrying rose petals in its bill? A closer looks shows that these pink and floppy things are actually attached. This is Wattled Ploughbill, an endemic species in New Guinea. This monotypic enigma is just one of the many weird birds we seek on our Papua New Guinea tour. Birds-of-paradise are the stars of this show—nearly all New Guinea endemics—with a good chance at encountering 18-20 species of them. Some of those include King-of-Saxony, Twelve-wired, Raggiana, and Blue birds-of-paradise, Ribbon-tailed Astrapia, and Brown Sicklebill. We'll also have a chance at a handful of bowerbirds, including the unforgettable Flame Bowerbird (pictured below). There are seven endemic avian families on New Guinea, and we have a good opportunity to see a representative of each one. Our triplist should exceed 300 birds, with well over 100 of them found nowhere else on the planet! Often people have the impression that a birding tour to Papua New Guinea must be unusually demanding or uncomfortable. For all of Papua New Guinea’s remoteness, however, travel is surprisingly easy and food and accommodations are mostly good to very good. While we spend some time in the humid lowlands, more than half of our birding is done in the wonderfully comfortable foothills and highlands, with cool nights and pleasant days.

Please contact our office if you have any questions or would like to sign up!
Alaska in fall
If a summer getaway isn't in the cards, we do have two other cool Alaska departures that we think are fun. These comprise our two-parted Alaska Fall Goldmine, and you can take just one part or combine both. Part One seeks Asian waifs and migrants on St. Paul Island in the Pribilofs with Doug Gochfeld—who knows every inch of St. Paul. October is the prime month to find these wanderers, so we'll be on the lookout for Jack Snipe, Siberian Accentor, Little Bunting, and Gyrfalcon, just to name a few. While the summer nesting seabird spectacle will have passed, we'll still spend time seawatching for Red-faced Cormorant, Short-tailed Shearwater, and Red-legged Kittiwake.

Part Two heads to Utqiagvik (known to many birders by its old moniker, Barrow) with Cory Gregory in search of specialties at the top of the continent. The star of this show is Ross's Gull (Cory and his group tallied a whopping 500 of them in 2023!). We'll scour the Beaufort Sea for these pink-breasted beauties and anything else we can set our eyes on. Spectacled Eiders are around, along with their King and Common cousins. We'll also keep hopes high for a Yellow-billed Loon or an Ivory Gull (we got lucky with this in 2019), and who knows, there might be Snowy Owls or Polar Bears around too.

Please contact our office if you have any questions or would like to sign up!
Doug Gochfeld
Cory Gregory
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!
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 love Field Guides tours and this was the best tour yet! It was perfect. The lure of iconic birds and snow monkeys, plus the draw of a cold climate and wonderful food and culture made me choose this particular tour. Phil Gregory and local guide Jun Matsui were outstanding guides and kept us all from stressing when the weather was not cooperative. I loved the two short boat trips, especially the nature tour in Hokkaido to see eagles and orcas. The snow monkeys were memorable and I enjoyed them beyond my expectations. I will absolutely travel with Phil again; I am already signed up for his Mongolia tour later this year, and I hope to go on the Japan In Spring tour with him at the next opportunity.” D.P., Winter Japan: Cranes & Sea Eagles, 2024

“Field Guides is my go-to choice of a tour company. I picked this particular tour because I wanted to meet Jay VanderGaast, as I am on an upcoming tour with him. Turns out he's easy to like and a great guide. Like all of the Field Guides guides I've had, he is top-notch. Both Jay and Vernon Campos really made sure the tour was birdy, memorable, and fun. I'd met Vernon before and he is awesome. I enjoyed spending my holiday with both of them. I like the holiday time slot. Rancho was very nice too, with really good food and service. The best feature of the tour for me is always the birds with the guides as a close second. I can't wait to see Jay in Thailand later this year, and then again in 2025 for New Guinea & Australia. Caroline Lewis was our tour manager, and as always the office staff and tour manager were excellent. Great guides, great tour managers, great destinations, always a great experience...why go elsewhere?” M.T., Holiday Costa Rica: Rancho Naturalista I, 2023
Tours with openings through September
Each month we present a list of tours departing in the next six months that have space available. If you've got a little wanderlust and free time, have a look. We're sure there is something that appeals.

Perhaps Brazil? We have a bunch of tours to that magnificent country. One in particular we think is a good introduction to birding in Brazil: our Safari Brazil: The Pantanal & More tour, guided by Brazil native Marcelo Padua. The Pantanal is the world's largest tropical wetland, and it's home to iconic wildlife such as jaguars, anacondas, Greater Rheas, Jabiru, and Hyacinth Macaws (pictured), among many other specialties. Click the link to our tour page, and see what else this destination has to offer. Our thanks to group member Maureen Phair for the excellent macaw photo, taken during our most recent visit. For more information or to claim a space on any of these tours, please contact our office.



  • (No open spaces on Middle America & West Indies tours during this period. See our tour schedule for more options after September.)



Featured itinerary
To many birders Bolivia is an overlooked South American destination. While places like Colombia and Brazil steal the birding headlines, land-locked Bolivia boasts an impressive 1300 species. While fewer than 20 of them are country endemics (like the Bolivian Earthcreeper above), that's a bit misleading as we expect around 100 species that are regionally endemic—barely spilling over political boundaries into neighboring states. Last year's triplist notched a robust 494 bird species, all while enjoying the jaw-dropping scenery of South America's most mountainous country.
Other 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).
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