I will be leaving soon for the Caribbean lowlands and foothills of Costa Rica to start a Central America “big year,” a year in which I will attempt to observe as many species of birds as possible in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.
Over the past few years, I have been spending a lot of time in Central America. The first comprehensive bird guide to this entire region, “Birds of Central America,” by Andrew C. Vallely and Dale Dyer, was just released late last year by Princeton University Press. Hours spent pouring through the nearly 1,200 resident and migrant species, as well as rare vagrants, planted in my mind the idea of doing a big year for all of Central America.
The current record of 935 species observed in Central America in a single year was set in 2014 by Kathi Borgmann and Josh Beck (Birds of Passage) as part of their ambitious multi-year birding expedition ranging from California all the way to Patagonia. That’s the number I’ll be trying to beat. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find the idea of being the first to record more than 1,000 species in a single year a tantalizing prospect.
Along the way, I’ll be promoting “Birding for Conservation” and drawing special attention to community conservation initiatives in Central America where your birding dollars directly benefit local communities. I’ll also be submitting all of my bird observations to eBird, an online database providing scientists and researchers with valuable real-time data about bird distribution and abundance.
As I bird my way through Central America in 2019, I will share my adventures with you here, including the birds I see. I’ll also share my thoughts on conservation issues and things you can do to get involved.