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Worldwide Birding Tours - Birding Ecotours





By Eduardo Ormaeche

Birding is amazing, no matter where you go and what kind of birds you prefer. For me, highlights are walking down a montane forest road such as the incredible Manu Road in Peru or the equally amazing Santa Marta Road in Colombia, or looking at massive mixed flocks of colorful tanagers and other treasures, or observing more subtle species that are however rare or of major ornithological value. Or watching dozens of canopy dwellers and witnessing a spectacular sunrise from a 165-foot-tall canopy tower in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, or doing a 26-day trip driving through the Andes of northern Peru, ticking a plethora of country endemics. No matter what country, I enjoy birding in South America very much. But, one of my absolutely top favorite highlights of birding is to stand or sit in front of a hummingbird feeding station watching swarms of hummers buzzing all around me while sipping a good cup of tea.

 

Sparkling Violetear by Niall Perrins

Sparkling Violetear by Niall Perrins

Hummingbirds are among the most beautiful, fancy and diverse birds in the world and South America has become an obligatory destination to see these exclusively New World species. Despite controversies as to whether feeding hummingbirds is bad from a conservation point of view, I believe that the frenzy of hummingbirds flying all over and around the feeders is not only one of the greatest shows on earth, but it is also an invaluable learning experience for getting to grips with hummingbird identification. It allows birders to observe the different plumages of males, females, and juveniles of the same species feeding at the same time, to recognize the similarities and differences (sometimes only slight!) between species, and last but not least to have excellent views of some of the most elusive hummingbirds that are much harder to see in the bush than on a feeder. These include impressive things like Booted Racket-tail and in fact (these days) Marvelous Spatuletail.

Booted Racket-tail

Booted Racket-tail          

Marvelous Spatuletail by Ken Logan

Marvelous Spatuletail by Ken Logan                                      

The most famous hummingbird-watching destination has arguably always been northern Ecuador due to its compact size, excellent birding infrastructure, long ecotourism industry history, and of course the sheer number of hummingbird species (and individuals) that visit some of the well-established feeding stations there. A three-week trip to Ecuador might yield the spectacular amount of 74 hummingbird species, a true record. Recently, since Colombia’s violent times are over and thousands of birders put their radars on this fantastic destination, birding has become popular among the locals of Colombia, who realize that birding is a good way to obtain benefits from ecotourism. New lodges and private reserves are widespread throughout the country, providing the most spectacular bird species, including a long list of 69 hummingbird species on a three-week trip. Costa Rica is also one of the top countries for seeing hummingbirds at feeders.

For many years, Peru was a famous destination because of Machu Picchu, the Manu Biosphere Reserve, the unbelievably bird-rich Tambopata National Park and other famed sites. But Peru offers much more than these classic destinations. Today, northern Peru has become a fantastic destination to see some of the most sought-after birds in the world, including the most spectacular of all hummingbirds, the Marvelous Spatuletail.

Marvelous spatuletail Niall Perrins

Marvelous spatuletail Niall Perrins

If you visited northern Peru over ten years ago, you might remember some good birds but also how difficult it was to track them down and how bad the roads were. But today, northern Peru allows some of the easiest (and least expensive) birding in the country, with 90% of all the roads paved. Today you can reach Chiclayo, the classic rendezvous point for northern Peru birding tours, with a direct flight from Panama City, or from Tarapoto after a one-hour domestic flight (daily) from Lima. The stretch of road between Tarapoto in the Amazon and the Pomacochas cloudforest, which is the habitat of Marvelous Spatuletail, is only 280 kilometers (174 miles) and today holds eight hummingbird feeding stations. At the best of times, these can provide between 40 and 45 other hummingbird species in three days only compared to 74 species in Ecuador but given three weeks, not three days!

Amethyst Woodstar by Charly Sax

Amethyst Woodstar by Charly Sax

You can easily join our existing northern Peru tours to see these hummers, or you can book a special three-day visit to this area to enjoy a spectacular selection of hummingbirds, including the endemics Koepcke’s Hermit and Marvelous Spatuletail, and also Royal Sunangel, Blue-fronted Lancebill, Gould’s Jewelfront, Wire-crested Thorntail, Ecuadorian Piedtail, Rufous-crested Coquette, Black-throated Hermit, Rufous-vented Whitetip, Emerald-bellied Puffleg, and Little Woodstar, among many others.

Rufous-crested Coquette by Ken Logan

Rufous-crested Coquette by Ken Logan

We invite you to join an easy trip to relax with many brilliant hummingbird species and all the classic Birding Ecotours treats: friendly leaders, comfortable vehicles and hotels, and a few cold beers and nice ginger tea.

Black-breasted Hillstar by Niall Perrins

Black-breasted Hillstar by Niall Perrins

Northern Peru is also one of the best places to see a large number of owl species, so we also offer an “Owls of the World” trip there – see details, including a photo gallery from previous “owls of northern Peru” tours, at http://birdingecotours.com/tour/northern-peru-owl-birding-tour?type=country&where=Peru

Black-throated Mango by Janice Petko

Black-throated Mango by Janice Petko

However, to combine hummingbirds, owls and all the many endemic birds of northern Peru, its best just to join one of our standard trips to this area – either the comprehensive one or the short one (in which we also avoid the highest altitudes, good for those who don’t tolerate these well!) – see http://birdingecotours.com/tour/birding-tour-peru-north-and-cordillera-blanca-2017?type=country&where=Peru and http://birdingecotours.com/tour/birding-tour-peru-northwest-abra-patricia-mountains-2016?type=country&where=Peru respectively for the long and short Northern Peru birding tours we offer annually.

Booted Racket-tail

Festive Coquette by Charly Sax

Festive Coquette by Charly Sax

All our other Peru bird tours are shown at http://birdingecotours.com/tours/destination/country/peru – these include the classic southern routes as well.

Fork-tailed Woodnymph by Alan van Norman

Fork-tailed Woodnymph by Alan van Norman

Rufous-crowned Coquette by Niall Perrins

Rufous-crowned Coquette by Niall Perrins

White-bellied Woodstar by Niall Perrins

White-bellied Woodstar by Niall Perrins


Cuba Birding Tours

The tour starts in Cuba’s famous Zapata Swamp, one of the richest single sites throughout the West Indies, and continues across much of the western two-thirds of this island, which is widely regarded as the last bastion of communism in the world but is now gradually becoming slightly more liberalized. We will have good chances of finding all of Cuba’s endemics with the exception of the near-mythical Zapata Rail, whose voice is still not definitely known, and the extremely rare Cuban Kite, which is restricted to the extreme east of the island and requires a trip of near-expedition proportions for any chance of seeing it.

Birding Tour Cuba - Cuban Green Woodpecker - William Price

Birding Tour Cuba: Great Caribbean Birding and Endemics 2018

Duration: 11 days
Limit (Group Size): 5 - 9
Date Start: March 02, 2018
Date End: March 12, 2018
Tour Start:: Havana, Cuba
Tour End:: Havana, Cuba, or Santiago de Cuba
Price: £3370 per person sharing, assuming 5-9 participants
Summary: The smallest bird on the planet, Bee Hummingbird, a myriad Cuban Todies and Cuban Trogons in every patch of scrub, and a host of other endemics and regional specials – all on an island paradise that is s...

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What our clients say

My brother John and I joined Chris on a tour of KwaZulu-Natal. As scientists, we were difficult customers, constantly being distracted by plants and rocks instead of birds. Chris tolerated these diversions with unflappable grace. And when our attentions were finally engaged fully in the bird watching we could not have asked for a better guide who knew the calls, where to look for tricky sightings, and had all the necessary local contacts to help us find the truly strange and wonderful. My favorite example of the “strange and wonderful” category was the African Broadbill which was displaying, but in the midst of impenetrable vegetation. Despite this, Chris and the guide managed to get us amazing views in the spotting scope. It was my most memorable bird of the trip. He accompanied us just across the border into Swaziland, past guards with guns (because we wanted to say we’d been there), and to a truly dodgy neighborhood in Durban to look at a rock outcrop, and never once complained – at least not out loud. We’ve been on several other international birding trips, and Chris is still our standard of comparison to all our other guides. And he’s still number one. We will be doing a pelagic trip off South Africa in the not too distant future, and will plan it so Chris can lead us there.

Wil Taylor (University of Wisconsin), on a South African tour guided by Chris



We can run any of our tours privately any time and we can also arrange custom itineraries - send us your wish-list and we'll put the itinerary together! Please click here.

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