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Birdwatching Guatemala

American Birding Association Code of Ethnics

American Birding Association Code of Ethnics
American Birding Association Principles of Birding Ethics

  1. Promote the welfare of birds and their environment.

1(a) Support the protection of important bird habitat.

1(b) To avoid stressing birds or exposing them to danger, exercise restraint and caution during observation, photography, sound recording, or filming.

Limit the use of recordings and other methods of attracting birds, and never use such methods in heavily birded areas or for attracting any species that is Threatened, Endangered, or of Special Concern, or is rare in your local area.

Keep well back from nests and nesting colonies, roosts, display areas, and important feeding sites. In such sensitive areas, if there is a need for extended observation, photography, filming, or recording, try to use a blind or hide, and take advantage of natural cover.

Use artificial light sparingly for filming or photography, especially for close-ups.

1(c) Before advertising the presence of a rare bird, evaluate the potential for disturbance to the bird, its surroundings,

and other people in the area, and proceed only if access can be controlled, disturbance can be minimized, and

permission has been obtained from private land-owners. The sites of rare nesting birds should be divulged only to the proper conservation authorities.

1(d) Stay on roads, trails, and paths where they exist;

Otherwise, keep habitat disturbance to a minimum.

  1. Respect the law and the rights of others.

2(a) Do not enter private property without the owner’s explicit permission.

2(b) Follow all laws, rules, and regulations governing use of roads and public areas, both at home and abroad.

2(c) Practice common courtesy in contacts with other

people. Your exemplary behavior will generate goodwill with birders and non-birders alike.

  1. Ensure that feeders, nest structures, and other artificial bird environments are safe.

3(a) Keep dispensers, water, and food clean and free of decay or disease. It is important to feed birds continually during harsh weather.

3(b) Maintain and clean nest structures regularly.

3(c) If you are attracting birds to an area, ensure the birds are not exposed to predation from cats and other domestic animals, or dangers posed by artificial hazards.

  1. Group birding, whether organized or impromptu, requires special care.

Each individual in the group, in addition to the obligations spelled out in Items #1 and #2, has responsibilities as a Group Member.

4(a) Respect the interests, rights, and skills of fellow birders, as well as those of people participating in other legitimate outdoor activities. Freely share your knowledge and experience, except where code 1(c) applies. Be especially helpful to beginning birders.

4(b) If you witness unethical birding behavior, assess the situation and intervene if you think it prudent. When interceding, inform the person(s) of the inappropriate action and attempt, within reason, to have it stopped. If the behavior continues, document it and notify appropriate individuals or organizations.

Group Leader Responsibilities [amateur and professional trips and tours]

4(c) Be an exemplary ethical role model for the group. Teach through word and example.

4(d) Keep groups to a size that limits impact on the environ- mental and does not interfere with others using the same area.

4(e) Ensure everyone in the group knows of and practices this code.

4(f) Learn and inform the group of any special circum- stances applicable to the areas being visited (e.g. no sound devices allowed).

4(g) Acknowledge that professional tour companies bear a special responsibility to place the welfare of birds and the benefits of public knowledge ahead of the company’s commercial interests. Ideally, leaders should keep track of tour sightings, document unusual occurrences, and submit records to appropriate organizations.

Please follow this code. Distribute it and teach it to others.

Additional copies of the Code of Birding Ethics can be obtained from ABA. The ABA Code of Birding Ethics may be reprinted, reproduced, and distributed without restriction. Please acknowledge the role of ABA in developing and promoting this code.

Horned Guan

Amazing Encounter with Horned Guans Mating in the Wild

By Andrea Schneibel

The amateur photographer was on his first trip to Chiapas’ Sierra Madre earlier this year when he documented the endangered birds’ behavior.

Apolinar Basora never thought he would get so lucky. He was on his first birdwatching trip to El Triunfo, a biosphere reserve in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, and his group was looking for an entirely different bird. But then they saw it: a Horned Guan, an IUCN endangered bird with a possible population of only 600 individuals, according to BirdLife International.

Just seeing one guan, a turkey-like bird with a red horn on top of its head, would be enough to make any birder’s trip, but Basora’s luck didn’t stop there. He and another birder actually got to see two guans—a male and a female—and watch them consummate. On top of that, he managed to snap the only known photograph of two Horned Guans mating in the wild.

The trip, which took place this past March, was organized by the Mexican Community of Nature Photographers with the intention of finding another rare bird, the Resplendent Quetzal. Basora, a 42-year-old information technology specialist, has been a member of the group for about five years and travels with them all over Mexico looking for new birds and landscapes. “I’m a big enthusiast of nature photography,” he says.

Pavo de Cacho-

The sighting and photograph didn’t come without work. The journey to El Triunfo is long and exhausting. From Mexico City, you first must fly to the southern city of Tuxtla Gutierrez. Then, you take a seven-hour trek in a 4×4 vehicle into Chiapas’ Sierra Madre, a mountain range that goes through Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico. From there, Basora and his group hiked for five hours with a mule carrying their equipment just to reach base camp.

“The next morning, we woke up ready to go,” he says, excited to relive his story. The trip’s party totaled 14 people, and that day they had planned to form smaller groups and scatter in different directions to cover more territory. In Basora’s group of four was Luis Felipe Lizama, an experienced birder who had been to El Triunfo before and was familiar with the area’s rare birds.

The group’s first walk of the day started early in the morning but proved fruitless. They returned to the camp, had lunch and some rest, and went out again at around 2:00 p.m. After having walked only one mile, Basora’s says they stumbled upon the first Horned Guan perched on a branch about 100 feet off the ground.

“We later realized it was the male,” he says. ”He was singing so loudly. So we stopped and photographed it.

After a few minutes, Basora and Lezama decided to go deeper into the woods to try to find a better angle. On their way back to meet with the rest of the group, they saw the female. She was sitting low in a tree and singing the guan’s distinct song, one that Basora describes as “an old Nokia cellphone ringing on vibration mode.”

Stunned by their good fortune, the two stopped to watch the female. And then, a few seconds later, they heard wingbeats: The male they had seen earlier had found the female. “I was in awe,” Basora says. “But Luis Felipe immediately told me: ‘I think they are going to mate. Get ready.’”

Regretting not bringing his tripod, Basora readied his Nikon D610 equipped with a 200-500mm lens. “The mating only took about eight seconds,” he says.  “I was shooting at a fast speed, but it was so dark there that at some points I wasn’t sure of what I was doing.”

Lezama also tried to photograph the moment. He had a tripod and a much more powerful zoom lens, but he could not get a clear image. “The whole time I just heard him whispering: ‘I can’t focus . . .  You have to make this shot,’” Basora says.

Back at camp, they eagerly checked Basora’s pictures to see if he captured the rare moment. He did. “None of us could believe it,” he says.

And neither could Fernando González, an ornithologist at the National Institute of Ecology of Mexico. González has spent the last 25 years studying Horned Guan populations in Mexico and is currently working on a population monitoring project. This bird is so rare that his calculations show there are less than five per square mile in Chiapas tropical forests.

“I have never seen a picture like this in my life,” González says. “It has tremendous scientific value, because even though we have extensively described how Guans mate, we can now show it. Apolinar did a great job.”

Basora also documented the post-coital ritual of the birds, giving scientists another important record. “After mating, the male picks up bromeliads fruits, a plant of the same family of pineapples, and feeds the female,” González says.

Basora’s story might be as rare as the bird he photographed, but he has a message for other birders out there: “Don’t quit. If you go somewhere and don’t see anything, go back, insist.”

The best part of this whole tale, though? The day Basora took the picture was also his birthday, March 20th. A lucky guy, indeed.

Pacific slope

Working for the birds of the Pacific

2017 brings hope for Pacific birds

By Mike Britton

A new year always brings new hope – but 2017 is a big one for conservation in the Pacific. The last big leap forward in 2015 was the restoration of the islands of Acteon and Gambier in French Polynesia. In 2017 we are on the countdown for the next big step forward, the restoration of up to 18 islands of the Marquesas and at Rapa, again in French Polynesia. In January a team including BirdLife French Polynesian partner, SOP (Société d’Ornithologie de Polynésie) Manu, BirdLife Invasives Programme staff and Island Conservation will head to the Marquesas to begin the all-important step of assessing the current state of nature on the Islands, the technical issues associated with a restoration programme and continuing consultation with the local people. This work is being funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. The Marquesas is one of the most important archipelagos for bird conservation in the world. It is home to 22 species of seabird including three globally threatened (Tahiti Petrel, Phoenix Petrel, Polynesian Storm-Petrel) and at least two globally threatened land birds (Marquesas Ground-Dove, Marquesas Monarch).Read More

Lesser goldfinch

Birder’s Epic “Big Year” Ends, Fittingly, on Cape Cod

By Mark Faherty

With the end of another year comes the results of the latest American Birding Association Big Year competition – and I’m sure you’ve been holding breath waiting to hear the winner. They haven’t announced the official results yet, so you’ll just have to wait. But one of the top competitors chose Cape Cod to make his last stand in his quest to see more US and Canadian birds in one year than any birder in history.


A dovekie – the bird that Christian Hagenlocher hoped to spot on the last day of his Big Year.
Mark Faherty

Read More

Birdwatching Guatemala

Código de Ética de la American Birding Association

Código de Ética de American Birding Association
Principios de Ética de Observadores de Aves

De la Asociación Americana de Observadores de Aves (American Birding Association – ABA)

Todos aquellos que disfrutan de las aves y de su observación deberán siempre respetar la vida silvestre, su ambiente y los derechos de los demás. Si surgiera algún conflicto de interés entre aves y observadores de aves, el bienestar de las aves y su ambiente es prioritario.

Código de Ética de Los Observadores de Aves

  1. Promover el bienestar de aves y su ambiente.
  2. Apoyar la protección de habitat importante para las aves.
  3. Para evitar provocar tensión o exponer a las aves a peligros, proceda con cuidado y respeto durante sus observaciones, toma de fotografías, grabación de sonidos o filmaciones.
  4. Limítese al usar grabaciones y otros métodos de atracción de aves.
  5. Nunca utilice tales métodos en áreas altamente visitadas por observadores de aves; o para atraer especies en peligro de extinción, de interes para la conservacion o que sean raras en el área.
  6. Manténgase alejado de nidos y colonias de anidacion perchas, áreas de exhibición de cortejo e importantes sitios de alimentación. Si es necesario extender el tiempo de observacion, fotografiar, filmar o grabar aves en áreas tan especiales como las descritas, intente camuflajearse con la vegetación natural.
  7. Restrinja el uso de luz artificial al filmar o fotografiar, especialmente cuando intente lograr tomas de cerca.
  8. Antes de publicar la presencia de un ave rara , considere si ello ocasionará molestias al ave, sus alrededores o a otras personas en el área. Sólo proceda al anuncio si considera que puede controlarse el acceso, minimizar las molestias y si ha obtenido el permiso expreso de los propietarios del terreno. Los sitios de anidado de aves raras deberán reportarse sólo a las autoridades de conservación respectivas.
  9. Manténgase en carreteras, senderos y caminos donde los haya; si no, procure perturbar mínimamente el hábitat.
  10. Respete la ley y los derechos de los demás.
  11. No ingese a propiedad privada sin el permiso del dueño.
  12. Siga todas las leyes, reglas y normas que gobiernen el uso de carreteras y áreas públicas, tanto en su país como en el extranjero.
  13. Sea cortés al establecer comunicación con otras personas. Su comportamiento ejemplar generará buena voluntad tanto hacia los observadores de aves como hacia el público en general.
  1. Asegúrese que los comederos, estructuras de anidado y otros ambientes

artificiales para aves son seguros.

  1. Mantenga limpios recipientes, agua y comida. Vigile que estén libres de enfermedades o descomposición. Es importante alimentar continuamente a las aves durante temporadas de clima adverso.
  2. Brinde mantenimiento y limpie regularmente las estructuras de anidado.
  3. Si intenta atraer aves hacia determinada área, asegúrese de que no estarán expuestas a depredadores como gatos y otros animales domésticos, ni a accidentes artificiales.
  4. La observación colectiva de aves, ya sea organizada o simple casualidad,requiere de especial cuidado.

Cada individuo del grupo, además de observar las normas de los numerales 1 y 2, tienen ciertas responsabilidades como miembros de un grupo:

  1. Respetar los intereses, derechos y habilidades de sus compañeros observadores de aves, así como de las personas que participan en otras actividades legítimas al aire libre. Comparta con libertad sus conocimientos y experiencia, excepto en ocasiones en que aplique la norma 1(c). Sea especialmente colaborador con los observadores de aves novatos.
  2. Si es testigo de comportamiento no ético de observación de aves, examine la situación e intervenga si lo considera prudente. Si decide intervenir, informe a las personas que sus acciones no son las apropiadas e intente, dentro de los términos de la razón, hacerlos desistir de dicho comportamiento. Si continúan, anótelo y notifique a los individuos u organizaciones apropiados.

Responsabilidades del Líder del Grupo (viajes y paseos amateur y profesionales):

  1. Sea modelo de ética para su grupo. Enseñe por medio de platica y ejemplo.
  2. Intente que sus grupos sean de un tamaño que no ejerza impacto negativo al ambiente y que no interfiera con los demás que utilizan la misma área.
  3. Asegúrese de que todos los miembros del grupo conozcan y practiquen este conjunto de normas.
  4. Conozca e informe a su grupo de circunstancias especiales aplicables a las áreas que visiten (por ejemplo, que están prohibidas las grabadoras).
  5. Esté consciente de que para las compañías de viajes profesionales deberán tener mayor importancia las aves y la divulgación al público que sus intereses comerciales. Idealmente, los líderes deberán llevar un registro de

avistamientos de aves, documentar presencias inusuales y enviar sus registros a las organizaciones respectivas.

Agradeceremos que Sigan Estas Normas y que las Distribuyan y Eduquen a los Demás.

El código de ética de la Asociación Americana de Observadores de Aves (American Birding Association – ABA) puede ser reproducido libremente para su distribución/ diseminación. Les rogamos que den a ABA el crédito que se merece con respecto del desarrollo y promoción, por medio de la inclusión del nexo a la página web de ABA,