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YOUR TURN: The Avian Unicorns of Middle America

The recently released March 2015 issue of Birder’s Guide to Travel features an article by Josh Beck entitled “Finding and Seeing the Avian Unicorns of Middle America”. Josh lists what he believes are the 12 hardest-to-find bird species between the U.S.-Mexico and Panama-Colombia borders, as well as the best bets of finding them for yourself. And he should know. He just spent a year there with his partner doing nothing but birding!

As you can see below, Bare-necked Umbrellabird made the cut, but if you want to find out what other 11 species Josh picked, you’ll have to read the article, which is available online along with the rest of the issue. (And best of all, it’s free!)

Just to drive home how rare these birders are, this article includes what may be first published photos of two species, and two others had to be painted because they have likely never been photographed before!

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Michael Retter
Michael L. P. Retter is the editor of the ABA's newest magazine, Birder's Guide. He also wears his ABA cap while working as a Technical Reviewer for Birding magazine. When not at home, Michael is often leading tours in Middle America (Mexico through Panama). He currently lives with his fiancé, Matt, in Fort Worth, Texas. In his fleeting free time there, he pursues interests in horticulture (especially orchids), music, cooking, and numismatics. Michael also runs GBNA, the continent's informal club and email list for LGBT birders.
  • Cool article. As Rara Avis was mentioned in the article I wanted to give some advice on finding Gray-headed Piprites there. I’ve spent a few months there and had seen the Piprites there only a couple of times. Most of my time was spent at higher elevations than this species typically occurs at. The couple times I hiked the Platanilla trail to the Mirador Vencejo I had this species (as well as other goodies such as Black-crowned Antpitta), with a pretty high success rate (more than 50% of times on that trail). I’ve also heard the trails around El Plastico (below Rara Avis) are good for this species as well. My recommendation for this species there is to hike the trails that head down slope from the lodge itself. Bare-necked Umbrellabird also occurs at Rara Avis and people have also had good luck with the Umbrellabirds in the non breeding season just below the gate at El Plastico on the road up while at Rara Avis proper they are most often found in migration typically in mid March as they move up slope.

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