Bird Travels

There is a bird-watching tour to match every kind of bird you want to see, from owls like this to parrots in the jungles of Tobago

copyright 2007
Lin Stone

Bird watching tours are a popular form of alternative vacation. Bird watching itself is one of the world's most fascinating hobbies, especially in America, Europe, and Asia. There are actually many different kinds of tours you can take specifically for birdwatching.  Some of these will mix bird watching up with wildlife viewing in general, while others are exclusively dedicated to avians.   For example, the more than 24,000 acres of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve protect homes for the golden-cheeked warbler and the black-capped vireo -- as well as the Tooth Cave pseudoscorpion, the Tooth Cave spider, the Tooth Cave ground beetle, the Kretschmarr Cave mold beetle, the Bone Cave harvestman, and the Bee Creek Cave harvestman.

Tours hosted by wildlife preserves provide great opportunities for concentrated, close up bird watching. It doesn't take long for birds and other wildlife to realize they are safe and protected while they are on preserves. 

This means you'll be able to see the birds in their natural environment, as well as enjoy the spectacle of their interaction with other forms of wildlife in the area.  A good set of binoculars are still needed, and if you are an avid photographer you'll still want to carry telephoto lens as well.

  The City of Austin operates two types of preserves. The Preserves are sanctuaries for native plants, native animals and unique natural features. They provide educational and scientific opportunities for the people of Austin.

They are managed in perpetuity for the primary benefit of their wildlife communities, unique species, and natural terrain. 

To get yourself consistently up close and personal with the wildlife on a preserve you can offer to work as a volunteer.

Just as governments work hard to maintain a heritage of wildlife for the coming generations you need to work on providing a legacy for your heirs. 

Bird Ecolodges

Tobago is found in the gentler half of the nation state of Trinidad and Tobago.  It is the most southerly islands of the Caribbean island chain.  The island is 16 miles long and 7 miles wide. 

Tobago is famous for: White-tailed Sabrewing, Magnificent Frigatebird, Green-backed Heron, Little Blue Heron, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Broad-winged Hawk, Great Black Hawk, Merlin, Rufous-vented Chachalaca, Pale-vented Pigeon Eared Dove, White-tipped Dove, Green-rumped Parrotlet, Orange-winged Parrot, White-tailed Nightjar, Gray-rumped Swift, Short-tailed Swift, Rufous-breasted Hermit Hummingbird, White-necked Jacobin hummingbird, Black-throated Mango Hummingbird, and the Ruby Topaz Hummingbird

  Aviaries and Bird Sanctuaries provide dedicated tours for birdwatchers that take place inside special forms of wildlife preserves that house only birds. These tours are fun because the tours are designed specifically to showcase the birds.

While wildlife preserves show a variety of animals, aviaries showcase birds in huge screen cages, making it easier to see them up close.

Take a break from your bird watching and watch a thousand movies or so on your iPod.  

Wildlife Bird Watching Tours are guided tours through wilderness areas which mostly hold a concentrated population of different indigenous species of birds.  One tour I took had us eyeball to eyeball with thousands of humming birds.  We were invited to hold up feeders to get them to move in even closer.

These tours are similar to a trip taken through a wildlife preserve, except that this type of tour actually takes you on an extended jaunt into a jungle, a forest, desert, or some other area of wilderness. This could be a bit uncomfortable if you're not an outdoors type person, but if you come dressed and prepared for the environment they offer one of the most fascinating, rewarding and personal experiences you can have.

Personally, I prefer to take out on a self-paced and self-guided tour if I am at all familiar with the kind of birds I am likely to see.  But to maximize the pleasure I get, that tour must have a brochure -- in full color -- that will tell me IN ADVANCE where I am likely to see each species, and which species I should be looking for in each area I am going through.  At my age I also look for frequent watering holes and comfortable resting stations. 

One thing birds love is water.  Running water is even more fascinating.  In countries like Malaysia just finding a comfortable spot on the river could flood your soul with breathtaking experiences.  Near Kuala Koh there are more than 300 species of birds that are exotic to American eyes.

For even more excitement you can go Bamboo Rafting. Other options are 1. Boating, 2. Canoeing, 3. Rafting, and 4. Inflatable boats.  The Canopy Walk where you walk (and swing) from tree to tree will give you a bird's eye view of the birds eyeing you.

One friend of mine acquired the world's largest collection of exotic reptiles simply by trading the reptiles near him for reptiles near the friends he made around the world.  "I'll take ANYTHING you can find.  Just go out and snag any ten reptiles near your home and you can have... ? from me."

YOU can do the same with pictures, of course, always entertaining the thought of actually GOING where you find the birds you love best.

  Bird Ecolodges are living quarters which can be booked in advance just like you do hotel rooms. What makes them so special is that they are situated in an outdoor area where flocks of birds tend to congregate heavily; allowing the people in the lodge to view the birds to their heart's content. An added feature of the better-designed ecolodges is that their exteriors are built to appear as part of the landscape, so that animals will not be shy of the presence of concrete and steel. While this doesn't work on fur-bearing animals that can detect foreign things by scent, birds are generally fooled by the appearance of an ecolodge, and will actually land within meters of it without alarm.

Don't forget to attend as many Annual Conventions as possible. These constantly offer unique opportunities for all bird watchers. Aside from the privilege of socializing with your fellow enthusiasts, you will discover that some bird watcher conventions are held at times and places that coincide with the migrations of certain birds.

This provides the added bonus of gleaning information from your colleagues at these conventions often who often go to them just for the chance to see the migrating flocks of birds that they would not see at regular times.

the end

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About the Author:  Independently less than wealthy, Lin Stone is an author, writer and photographer 3262 Watergate Road
Clinton, Arkansas 72031 His writing has appeared in almost one hundred national magazines and
Browzer Books has published seven of his books so far with more in the works.  He writes about anything from the waterfowl of Arkansas to the Monsters of MoabRobbers Cave is probably his favorite resort. You will discover the article has dozens of terrific photos illustrating the action and terrain.

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