Last week’s column discussed elements of bird migration. This week I will be flying south on a big bird – Delta Airlines! I am excited to announce that, about the time you are picking up your copy of the Daily Courier from your driveway, I will be arriving in Brazil!
I have been making plans for more than a year now to go to Brazil to pick up my son Merritt, who is completing two years of missionary service. It would be foolish to go to Brazil without incorporating some serious bird-watching into the trip – after all, I have never been to South America, and chances are I will never go there again.
Last fall, when Eric‘s Bird Barn had its seven-year anniversary event, our guest was Rick Taylor, author of the “Birds of Southeastern Arizona” book. It turns out that Rick owns a birding tour company and leads bird-watching trips all over the world. It just so happens that every other year Rick leads a trip to Brazil – in September, which coincided perfectly with when Merritt was due to come home.
When I arrive in Brazil, I will participate in a two-week guided tour of the Pantanal region of southern Brazil. The Pantanal is the world’s largest wetlands – an area the size of France! The diversity of bird species in this region is mind-boggling. The last time Borderland Tours led a trip to the Pantanal, they saw more than 400 bird species. That is 100 species more than I saw on my trip to South Africa two years ago!
I am plan on writing my weekly column while I am on the road, so that you may read about my bird watching adventures in Brazil. I feel extremely blessed that I have this opportunity to see a part of the world that I have only dreamed about visiting. South America has more species of birds than any other continent in the world! Here in North America, we have less than 1,000 species of birds, whereas South America has more than 3,000.
After the birding tour, I will meet up with my wife, Gayla, and we will travel to Manaus and join with Merritt. Manaus is in the heart of the Amazon, in northern Brazil. The habitat in Manaus is very different from southern Brazil, so there will be different species there compared to the Pantanal region. I plan to do as much bird-watching as I possibly can in this area as well, and I hope to add many more species to my life list.
As far as birds in the Prescott area, be on the lookout for migrating birds. In the last week, I have had both western tanager and Wilson’s warbler in my yard. I am also seeing a lot of turkey vultures passing through the area right now. One place where the turkey vultures congregate at dusk before they settle down to roost for the night is just off South White Spar Road near Peterson Lane.
Hummingbird numbers are peaking right now, and so are the lesser goldfinches. If you feed the birds in your yard, I am not telling you anything that you don’t already know – the birds are ravenous right now.
A quick reminder that our third annual wild bird photography contest submission period begins today and ends Sept. 30. We have fliers available at the store with the photo contest guidelines, and you can view the information on line at www.jaysbirdbarn.com. I hope you will consider participating – last year’s event brought in a wonderful collection of amazing bird pictures.