Minnesota Global Birders
I am one of the organizers behind the Minnesota Global Birders group. We have monthly presentations by people about trips that they've taken to various global destinations. Our first few years we had in-person presentations, but with the onset of COVID-19, we switched to an online format. One of the silver linings has been that we can record these presentations so that people can watch them later. This page is where we will house those recordings to make it easy to find and go back to. Click on the date link to get taken to the Eventbrite page for signing up. For past presentations, click on the title of presentation to get to the recording (which is stored on Google Drive).
As a group, we are committed to equity, conservation, travel and a love of birds. For a more detailed mission and values statement, along with best practices and general information about our presentations, please see this document.
With a land area well larger than that of the continental USA, Brazil has an incredible variety of habitats and bird species - even without the Andes mountains entering the country. This past winter, Michael Hurben and Claire Strohmeyer birded three different regions: Amazonas (north-central), Sao Paulo (southeast Atlantic rainforest), and the northeastern states of Ceara and Bahia, recording 672 species over the course of 25 days. This presentation will focus on the first two regions; time permitting a few highlights from the northeast may be covered as well.
Despite its relatively small size, the country of Panama hosts an impressive 1002 bird species. Gerry Hoekstra will report on a trip to Panama made several years ago with five other Minnesota birders. Although the trip lasted only ten days and covered only the eastern half of the country, he was able to chalk up 296 of them (unfortunately, not including the Harpy Eagle).
Ecuador is an inconspicuous and unassuming South American nation with much it could brag about. From its coastal lowlands to the Andes cordillera that cuts down the middle, and down to the upper Amazon Basin—not to forget the Galapagos archipelago located some 600 miles off its Pacific coast—this equatorial country offers a lot in a pint-sized package, and holds what may well be the highest biodiversity on Earth. Only a little larger than Minnesota, it contains more than 1700 species of birds.
Paul Greenfield, illustrator and co-author of the field guide and app "The Birds of Ecuador," will present an overview of this fascinating nation, focusing on its distinct geographical regions through the prism of Ecuador’s National Birding Trail Network and its avian hot-spots, highlighting a sample of bird species that characterize each sector. That network—which he helped create—has sparked a boom in local birding initiatives in even the most remote and least-accessible corners of its territory.
While Colombia is acknowledged as the country with the most bird species in the world, Peru is close behind. In October 2018 Paul was able to join a small group touring the northern part of the country, from the head of the Amazon Basin to the Pacific Ocean. Each mountain ridge and valley brought its own surprises, especially to one who was birding South America for the first time. In all, the group tallied over 750 species with only 50 or so heard-only birds. But more special than the numbers were the introduction to such new families as Antpittas, Tapaculos, and Crescentchests; exploring the incredible diversity of families such as Hummingbirds and Tanagers; and the excitement of finding endemics and birds that have been described to science only within the last few decades. This will be a bit of a whirlwind tour, but should convince you that this area is well-worth visiting or re-visiting.
Kellie Hoyt and Gregg Severson will present on their February 2020 trip to Guatemala. The impetus for the trip was for Kellie to join a group of mosaic artists traveling to San Lucas Tolimán (on the shores of Lake Atitlán) to make and install two mural-size mosaics in collaboration with local artists in one week. Happily, they were able to take extra time to explore Guatemala, and to go birding! They visited Guatemala City, Antigua, and the Lake Atitlán area. Both aspects of their trip (birding with local guides and participating in the mosaic program) gave Kellie and Gregg a unique connection to the local people and their culture.
This month’s presenter for Minnesota Global Birders, Scott Clark, will highlight his two trips to Colombia in 2019 and 2020. These trips collectively covered portions of the central and eastern Andes (up to 13,000 ft.), the Magdalena River valley, the Caribbean coast, and the famous “sky island” of Santa Marta. With its amazing biodiversity, this geographically small country claims almost 2,000 bird species, 20% of the world’s bird population. Each trip netted around 400 species, and after eliminating duplicates the trip lists totaled around 575 species. Colombia’s varied geography affords a remarkably high level of localized speciation, and 45 endemic or near endemics were found, including one of the rarest birds in Colombia.
Although it wasn’t specifically a birding tour, Gerald Hoekstra’s circuit around southern Peru offered many birding opportunities, including stops at Lake Titicaca, the famed Colca Canyon (where one can see the Andean Condor), a ride across the altiplano, and a birding trip with a guide across the Malaga Pass. The last stop of the trip was Machu Picchu. His presentation will include photos of both the sites and the birds.
Guatemala in northern Central America is less visited by American travelers than neighboring Belize or Costa Rica, but has a lot to offer for birders. Over 750 species of birds are found in a range of habitats including volcanic mountains, Pacific and Caribbean coastal lowlands, dry scrub thorn forest, and the tropical lowlands surrounding the Mayan ruins in the north. Our two-week visit yielded more than 320 of those species, as well as other non-avian wildlife. A number of these birds are regional endemics, not found in the more visited countries of Panama and Costa Rica. The presentation will also include some discussion of the challenges of birding in Guatemala.
November 17, 2020 7:00pm
For the October gathering of Minnesota Global Birders, Judith Benka will give a presentation on a 3-week trip to India in February, 2020. She and her family travelled almost 1,800 km overland, mainly in the state of Madhya Pradesh. The trip combined sightseeing (temples, forts, palaces, and ancient monuments) and wildlife viewing. They visited the National Chambal Sanctuary, Bandhavgarh National Park and Tiger Reserve, and Keoladeo National Park/Ghana Bird Sanctuary in Bharatpur. They saw around 180 species of birds (many on local walks and in the grounds of hotels and resorts) and various mammals and reptiles.
October 19, 2020 7:00pm
Belize is a popular travel destination for Americans thanks to its rich Mayan heritage, English language, and proximity to the United States. But few tourists, let alone seasoned birders, know about its hawkcount secret. Join Alyssa in exploring the fall hawk-counting site of Punta Gorda as she describes the raptors and other avifauna of southern Belize.
September 30, 2020 7:00pm
In our August online gathering, Stephen Greenfield will give a presentation on his 2016 birding trip to Taiwan. Though much of the island is densely populated, over half is still forested and wildlife is well protected, which is especially striking in a region that is largely deforested and where birds and other animals are widely threatened by trapping and hunting.
The island is only 1/6 the size of Minnesota, so would not justify a birding trip and the long flight on its own, but is a great addition to a business trip or a visit to other countries in Asia. It also has 29 endemic bird species. This visit was only 6 days, en route to mainland China, so this will be a shorter presentation than the others we have had.
August 25, 2020 7:00pm