“Birds of Nicaragua: A Field Guide” has Arrived: Goldmine of a resource for birders in the country

Birds of Nicaragua: A Field Guide, by Liliana Chavarría-Duriaux, David Hille; and Robert Dean

Long awaited birding guide finally available for twitchers in Nicaragua

Bird nerds, rejoice! There is a new resource for Nicaragua travelers that has been in the works for many years. Birds of Nicaragua: A Field Guide (Comstock Publishing Associates,  Zona Tropical Publications, Cornell University Press, 2018) by Liliana Chavarría-Duriaux, David Hille, and Robert Dean is shipping. The first advance copies are hot off the presses, and the book should be available in online and brick-and-morter booksellers in the US and Canada, and hopefully in bookstores in Managua soon too.

Nicaragua is a Birder’s Paradise

From the casual bird watcher to the extreme birding “lister” (or “twitcher” if you’re from the UK), Nicaragua is an ideal destination to spot a large diversity of birds. The country provides excellent birding locations that range between easily accessible spots near tourist locations in the Pacific region; cloud forests and pine and oak forests in the north; and more inaccessible destinations (but well worth the time to get there) in the Caribbean regions of the country. In short, wherever you are, there are birds to see and enjoy. To date, 764 species of birds in 77 familieshave been observed here, but more will undoubtedly be recorded in the upcoming decades as birding activity increases. Although Nicaragua has no country endemic bird species, it is home to 18 regional endemics. And because of its location in Central America, it is home to 47 species that range no farther south than Nicaragua, and 31 species that range no farther north than Nicaragua.

Highlights begin with Nicaragua’s elegant and colorful national bird, the Guardabarranco Común (Eumomota superciliosa), easily found throughout the Pacific region. This “Guardian of the Stream” (as its Spanish name translates) can even be found catching insects in urban gardens in the capital. It captures the imagination with its colorful and long, racket-tipped tail, which it carefully preens to catch the eye of the opposite sex. The Urraca Copetona(Calocitta formosa) is a bigger, meaner version of the Blue Jay commonly known in North America, with a wispy black crest on the top of its head. It’s one of the larger of the common birds in Nicaragua and scolds humans from the treetops. Although found throughout much of the country, when exploring in Las Isletas from Granada, look for the bright colors and listen for the mechanical-like vocalizations of the Montezuma Oropendola(Psarocolius montezuma), which is often discovered by finding groups of thatch nests, hanging from treetops around the lakeshore that gives away their colonial nesting sights. Of course, some of the more sought after species are also those that take more effort to get to and find, as is the case of the Resplendent Quetzal(Pharomacrus mocinno). This majestic bird is only found in the cloud forests of the northern highlands and Bosawas, and unfortunately, its habitat has been steadily dwindling.

Birds of Nicaragua: A Field Guide

Congratulations to the authors, Liliana Chavarría-Duriaux, David Hille, and Robert Dean, on their book, which is worth every penny of the $39.95 cover price, and contains descriptions and illustrations of 763 bird species that have been identified in the country, plus info on “44 additional species that are likely to appear in the coming years”. It has bird body measurements, key identification details, range explanations, habitat and behavioral notes, vocalization descriptions, color-coded range maps, a country checklist, a visual guide to vultures and raptors in flight, and a helpful quick-find index. In short, an extremely practical field guide for one of the most under-rated activities in Nicaragua: birding. 

Additional Resources

Birders planning a trip to Nicaragua, should check the country’s stats on ebird.org, and then start studying up at a www.birdsofnicaragua.com, created by one of the authors of the new Nicaragua birding field guide“to promote birding, research, and conservation in Nicaragua” and “to make it easier for birders to plan trips into the country.”

And of course, you’ll want to pair your copy of Birds of Nicaragua with the latest edition of Moon Nicaragua to help you plan and navigate the journey between so many remote birding spots throughout the countries extremely varied habitat.

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