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Open Mic: How birds change lives…an invitation to Honduras!

At the Mic: Alexander Alvarado

Alexander Alvarado with daughter Debby

Alexander Alvarado with his daughter, Debby

August 2006 and I was seated at reservations office of a Hotel in Copan, my office was facing the parking lot where  many orioles, motmots, tanagers, euphonias, jays and robins were jumping around in the gardens everyday.

I would be distracted by their colors, but just continue my daily activities until I met a guy at front desk who offered me work in his place; a bird rescue center at Copan. His name was Lloyd Davidson.  I had 2 weeks of vacation coming soon so I told him that I would go there to work for free at first and if I liked it I would stay! So my first day, working directly with birds was the greatest experience I ever got in my life.  So in the afternoon I went to him and told him Mr. Lloyd I think I am getting sucked into these beauties, all I need is to surf your bird books and learn more about them, I am quitting my job at the hotel, this place is my new habitat!

At the beginning my family thought my decision was crazy, but now they don’t think like that! After a few weeks studying those books and field guides my interest in wildlife grew, so I started expanding my research in other parts of Honduras on my motorcycle, which I still keep at home like a trophy. At the beginning, I never knew that people would want to watch birds like I did until I met  a couple of people with binoculars along the Copan River and I realized—I am not the only one crazy for birds!

Alexander Alvarado guides birders near Lake Yojoa

Alexander Alvarado guides birders near Lake Yojoa

Years later I was part of birding courses sponsored by the USAID in Honduras and that gave me the opportunity to develop skills for guiding and to begin running trips for birdwatchers. With knowledge of the whole country and all those motorcycle trips under my belt, all I needed now were people to show my birds to.  And that was coming soon! That year I got in touch with the ABA in USA and they donated some binoculars and a birding scope to me through their Birders’ Exchange program, which I eventually passed on to a local birding club in the west of Honduras.

Around 2010, I had made lots of birding friends in Honduras  and somehow  my nickname,  Quetzalito, was mentioned along the North coast near Pico Bonito Lodge.  So the manager there, James Adams, asked about me when his guests wanted to see quetzals in Honduras.  All the lodge’s guides are my friends and knew my passion for birding!  So after the first trip with James and  finding those quetzals, he saw my birding skills James started giving my name to birding companies in USA and EUROPE.   The response was so good, that I formed my own birding tour company HONDURAN BIRDS, and now I have been greeted on my birding trips by the most beautiful people on these planet; BIRDWATCHERS.  Birding made me a different person who is focused in protecting  all natural resources and wildlife in Honduras and elsewhere.   I am a volunteer at MACAW MOUNTAIN, the rescue center I mentioned earlier, and I work in educational projects in the Copan Valley so people can learn to appreciate and protect Honduras’ birds.

At this point my life’s focus is related to protecting our enviroment and preserving hábitat for my  beloved friends; BIRDS!  On my birding tours, I am dedicated to providing rich experiences to people, and sharing the love I have for my country’s tropical birds.

So birding made a whole change in my life and now right by the side of James Adams we are working hard on setting  up the HONDURAS BIRDING FOR CONSERVATION TOUR this November 4 -13.  Together, we know that this will be the one event that shares Honduras’ beautiful, tropical avifauna with the rest of the world, and opens even more opportunities up for Hondurans like me, and the conservation of Honduran birds.

“Honduras is a country where birders can truly play a significant role in changing things for the better. When Liz and I visited the country in 2014, much of the time with Alexander Alvarado as a guide, we were continually struck by how beautiful, friendly, and safe the country was as a birding destination (see some of my photos here). It’s a side of Honduras that doesn’t get nearly the coverage that it should. Fortunately, that’s changing fast as more and more birders visit and share their experiences there. I’m very much looking forward to helping Alexander and many others in the Honduras ecotourism industry shine the brightest spotlight yet on this formerly overlooked gem. Please consider joining us for a wonderful birding and conservation event this November!”

–Jeffrey Gordon, ABA President
Honduras banner 640200

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Alexander Alvarado grew up in Copan Ruinas in the western part of Honduras. He became interested in birds many years ago when he was working for Hotel Posada Real de Copan. In 2006 he started investigating Honduran birds in different habitats traveling all over the country and offering birding tours locally around Copan. He was elected President of the Honduran Ornithological Association in 2013. He leads birding tours all over Guatemala, Belize and Honduras. For more on Alexander, his tours and other work, go to www.honduranbirds.com.