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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

Tours by destination



Austria

Long-eared Owl

Austria is a landlocked country of roughly 8.5 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Hungary and Slovakia to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. The territory of Austria covers 83,855 square kilometres (32,377 sq mi) and has a temperate and alpine climate. Austria’s terrain is highly mountainous due to the presence of the Alps; only 32% of the country is below 500 metres (1,640 ft), and its highest point is 3,798 metres (12,461 ft). Austria has six national parks, almost 60 nature preserves and „nature parks“, about 35 „hot spots“ for bird-watching, 20 Alpine gardens and many other opportunities to admire nature in its undisturbed, pristine beauty. With 425 bird species, it is a wonderful destination for bird watchers to enjoy the exciting Central European avian riches.

 

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Bulgaria

Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker

Despite being a relatively small country, together with Spain Bulgaria boasts the highest biodiversity in Europe, with the birds contributing greatly to this. Bulgaria’s biodiversity is conserved in three national parks, 11 nature parks and 17 biosphere reserves. The vast tracts of different habitats make it a pleasant country to bird, and the country plays host to several scenically beautiful areas, adding to its splendor. 

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Finland

Boreal Owl - Jari Peltomäki

Finland is a land of interesting contrasts, such as the four seasons, the Midnight Sun and the winter darkness, urban and rural, east and west.  As you look out from the plane, the first impression you may have is that there are a lot of trees, an endless carpet of forest, with many lakes and small towns in between. It’s kind of a surprise when you land in Helsinki to find that the airport is so modern and efficient: not a polar bear in sight. It’s truly amazing how uniquely exotic each season can be. Four times a year, nature changes its uniform completely, color, light, temperature, sounds and smells. Everything changes in a way that happens nowhere else.

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France

European Crested Tit - Thomas Hochebner

France  is a country located in Western  Europe.  Clockwise from the north, France borders  Belgium, Luxembourg, and  Germany to the northeast,  Switzerland to the east, Italy to the southeast, and Spain to the southwest across the Pyrenees mountain range (the small country of Andorra lies in between the two countries). The Mediterranean Sea lies to the south of France, with the Principality of Monaco forming a small enclave. To the west, France has a long Atlantic Ocean coastline, while to the north lies the English Channel, across which lies the last of France’s neighbors, England (part of the United Kingdom).

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Greece

Rock Partridge

Greece lies in the south of the Balkan peninsula and is part of the European East Mediterranean Region. Its territory expands in approximately 132.000 km2, its coast line is 15.000 km long, and has a great variety of geomorphological formations and rocks. In general, the climate can be regarded as Mediterranean, with mild and wet winters, and hot and dry summers. The country’s geomorphology is diverse. Greece is primarily a mountainous country, with seventy per cent of its territory covered by mountains. It has a very long coastline, with a plethora of peninsulas and islands. The fauna consists of a rich mixture of European, Asian and African species, including a considerable number which are endemic. Greece has one of the highest bird densities in Europe and is a fascinating country ornithologically: About 407 bird species have been recorded, of which 240 nest in Greece (59% of the total). Some species (e.g. the Dalmatian Pelican, Pelecanus crispus) nest only in Greece of all EU countries.

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Hungary

White-tailed Eagle

 

Hungary is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. Slightly more than one half of Hungary’s landscape consists of flat to rolling plains of the Pannonian Basin: the most important plain regions include the Little Hungarian Plain in the west, and the Great Hungarian Plain in the southeast. The country is well established as one of the very best birding nations in Europe. With 416 species, including such treasures as Saker Falcon, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Pygmy Cormorant, Lesser White-fronted Goose, Ferruginous Duck, Great Bustard, Corncrake, Ural Owl, Aquatic Warbler, and nine species of woodpecker, it certainly deserves a place on any world birder’s wish list to enjoy the exciting Central European avifauna.

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Iceland

Atlantic Puffin - Jari Peltomäki

Iceland, thanks to its remote location and harsh winters, has a relatively small population, leaving vast parts of this island nation untouched. Some amazing scenery of glaciers, volcanic peaks, steep cliffs, waterfalls, and steaming geysers make this an amazing panorama for a birding destination.

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Italy

Wallcreeper

Italy is a “must-visit” country to most travelers, this is where both the Roman Empire and the Renaissance began, and no other Western country can quite compete with the incredible historical depth of this one. Even if you are not a history buff, your jaws will still drop when you first set eyes on the beautiful cities of Florence, Venice, and Rome. Combined with its art and history, Italy also has some of Europe’s most magnificent scenery.  We acknowledge the fact that many people will want to visit Italy at some stage or another, and we hereby present you with the opportunity of combining birding with seeing the main sights and also experiencing the culture of modern Italy.

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Romania

Western Yellow Wagtail

Romania is a country very rich in biodiversity. It contains 98% of Europe’s bird species, a large majority of them found the Danube Delta. In this delta alone, over 320 species of birds are found during summer, of which 166 are hatching species and 159 are migratory. Over one million individuals (swans, wild ducks, coots, etc.) winter there. The last three days of Birding Ecotours’ Bulgaria and Romania tour are spent in this magnificent birding wonderland.

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Spain

White Stork - Ian Merrill

Spain has long been an extremely popular destination for birders, offering as it does a wide range of typical Mediterranean habitats, along with easy, safe, and excellent birding. Many sites are in beautifully scenic settings, featuring Romanesque architecture and ancient, fortified hilltop villages.  Much of interior Spain is very rural and way off the tourist trail. This is the finest region to sample a large array of southern European species and is especially good for raptors, with 23 species possible.

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Sweden

Hazel Grouse - Birding Tour Sweden

Sweden’s Taiga forests and wetlands around Svartådalen make for fantastic birding in the springtime. The Black River Valley of Västmanland hosts waves of migrating birds that arrive from late April, the number of species increase around the wetlands and in late May, and even the speciality species become common. Sweden in spring truly boasts an abundance of birdlife and photographic opportunities. One thing is for sure: Sweden will leave a lasting impression on you with its scenic beauty and serenity, and for the fantastic birding encounters you will enjoy.

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Turkey

Brown Fish Owl

Turkey is a richly historical land with some of the best cuisine you will ever taste, one of the world’s greatest cities and scenery from white-sand beaches to soaring mountains and fairy-like natural formations. With a checklist of approximately 500 birds, it should also be on any world birder’s wish list.

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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! See more here.



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