eBirding the World Big Year – March Update

By Team eBird April 5, 2015

This has been a good month for hummingbirds, including this Crowned Woodnymph in western Ecuador.

In 2015, Noah Strycker is attempting to become the first person to see 5,000 species of birds—about half of the avian species on Earth—in one calendar year! Noah is now three months through 365 straight days of birding around the globe, with an itinerary covering 34 countries and all seven continents, on one continuous, all-out, global birding trip. To date he has covered Antarctica and most of South America, tallying a fantastic 1,871 species. Noah is using eBird to keep track of his sightings and to help strategize during his quest, as well as to connect with many other birders as he travels. You can see his daily blog accounts on Birding Without Borders. He has been kind enough to write up a summary of his travels on a monthly basis – read on to see his notes from March!

I spent the month of March in various parts of Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia, collectively the most biodiverse region on Earth. This month I submitted 109 eBird checklists and saw 965 bird species, 482 of which were new for the year, bringing my cumulative 2015 total to 1,871.

Noah spent a lot of time in northwestern South America's cloud forests in March - seen here at Colombia's Cerulean Warbler reserve.

Noah spent a lot of time in northwestern South America’s cloud forests in March – seen here at Colombia’s Cerulean Warbler reserve.

Because it is so diverse, this part of the world was a key part of my big year strategy. I allotted a lot of time, relatively speaking, to northwestern South America, even birding some of the same habitats twice between countries. There are so many species in this area that it’s hard to imagine spending too much time here, but the pace began to slow down (in other words, my species accumulation curve started to drop off) once I hit Colombia, which has quite a bit of overlap with Peru and Ecuador. Ironically, the country with the world’s highest bird list has been the one where I have added the fewest new birds per day (so far)!

Still, the birds continue to pile up. Heading into April, the immediate question is whether or not I’ll hit 2,000 species by the time I leave Colombia behind, along with the rest of South America, on April 13. Either way I’m well on track, but this year still has nine months left…

Noah was joined by a diversity of birders in March, including these members of the Panama Audubon Society during an afternoon at Colombia's El Dorado reserve.

Noah was joined by a diversity of birders in March, including these members of the Panama Audubon Society during an afternoon at Colombia’s El Dorado reserve.

It’s impossible to pick five favorites from the month of March, but seeing an adult and two-month-old Rufous Potoo at Ecuador’s Shiripuno Lodge was pretty cool; the male Blossomcrown at Colombia’s El Dorado reserve was unexpectedly inspiring; I had excellent looks at Curl-crested Aracaris from Posada Amazonas’ canopy tower in southeast Peru; seeing six species of anpittas (including the famous Giant Antpitta) at Paz de las Aves in Ecuador was incredible; and the 13 Saffron-headed Parrots at Colombia’s off-the-beaten-track Pauxi Pauxi reserve allowed really close views. I also heard two different “species” of undescribed owls this month – the famous Black-banded/Black-and-white (hybrid?) owl(s) at San Isidro in Ecuador, and the as-yet-undescribed Santa Marta Screech-Owl in northern Colombia. [Though fun to see, these forms don’t “count” as any species on my Clements-compliant list; someone quick, write these birds up!]

These Saffron-headed Parrots, in northern Colombia, were a big highlight for Noah during the month of March.

These Saffron-headed Parrots, in northern Colombia, were a big highlight for Noah during the month of March.

April will take me from Colombia through central America to Mexico. Can’t wait to see what’s around the next isthmus!

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