Tropical Birding started in 2001 when Iain Campbell and Nick Athanas (from South America) and Keith Barnes and Christian Boix (from Africa) all teamed up to create an American- and UK-focused company based out of Quito and Cape Town. Since the launch, we grew rapidly to one of the largest and most respected bird tour companies with nearly one hundred and fifty tours a year to seventy destinations, based out of four continents.
From our inception, we desired not to follow other companies, but rather develop our own projects and a more holistic ways of doing business. Our projects include events designed to get more people into birding, projects to protect habitat, and projects designed to raise money for bird research organizations.
We are in this business because it is a fun lifestyle and we can do great things. Being able to deliver brilliant bird tours is just icing on the cake.
Thanks for birding with us!
– Iain Campbell, Keith Barnes, Nick Athanas, and Christian Boix
OUR PHILOSOPHY AND PROJECTS
Tropical Birding’s efforts with respect to promotion of birding, bird conservation, promoting youth birding, and generating money for communities living near important birding sites are well documented: Conservation objectives can be achieved in many different ways: land purchase, habitat management, and making conservation economically viable for communities living adjacent to them. Our efforts with the Mindo Cloudforest Foundation in Ecuador and with communities adjacent to Korup National Park in Cameroon continue.
However, that is not the only way to achieve conservation objectives. Arguably, a much more powerful way is to simply get people outdoors, enjoying birds and nature. It is a very simple equation: once people develop an interest in the hobby, there is a good chance that they will become passionate about it, and passionate birders are almost always strong supporters of conservation.
In 2010-11 we are teaming up with the American Birding Association (ABA), US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO), and Houston Audubon Society (HAS) to develop ways to get more people interested in birding.
One of the projects we created in conjunction with USFWS and the ABA is the Birding on Ice festival. This is a combined effort to attract new people to birding through the spectacle of massive concentrations of eagles and ducks at the Detroit River National Wildlife Refuge in winter.
Our Texas High Island project is a joint effort with HAS, which owns several critically important migratory bird reserves on the Upper Texas Coast. Our information center and 42-ft high bird observation tower continue to attract thousands of visitors every spring. Many of these enjoyed the free guided outings, operated in conjunction with HAS, between late March and early May. Others just loved interacting with our good-natured and helpful guides, getting up to the minute site information, and chatting about everything from the status of nearby reserves to international birding opportunities.
Bernice Jackson on Tropical Birding’s High Island Project
The enthusiasm from folks both novice and experienced was amazing and infectious, with many telling us that they would now spend more time birding, or join organizations such as HAS to support local conservation initiatives and causes. Most vowed to return and we look forward to seeing them again.
May 2010 is shaping up to be a massive event; as we go to press, we are working very closely with BSBO and USFWS to bring you “The Biggest Week In American Birding” in the Magee Marsh/Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge area of Ohio. This birding festival will be so jam-packed with workshops, warblers, free guided activities, half day guided trips, keynote speakers, and more warblers that it will have to be held over 11 days. Tropical Birding provides guides and speakers free to get beginners into birding and to inspire seasoned birders into trying new aspects of our hobby. Some walks will even be guided in Spanish to promote birding to the Latino community, the first time this has occurred at any US birding festival. Apart from this huge event, we’ll be supporting BSBO through most of May by providing free guiding for their daily walks at Magee Marsh.
Another novel way in which we helped to promote birding was to give logistical support to The Biggest Twitch, a crazy year-long race around the world by British couple Alan Davies and Ruth Miller. They succeeded in finding more birds in one calendar year than anyone before. Alan and Ruth racked up an astounding 4 341 species, and in the process brought a lot of local communities in touch with their exciting project, and with birding in general. On top of that they did this while giving numerous talks to school groups, bird clubs, and local communities.
Our guides have also been active promoting some of the richest and most unusual birding destinations on Earth. Ken, Keith and Christian wrote a great new site guide called “Birding Ethiopia,” the first comprehensive guide to this diverse and fascinating country. Tropical Birding was a major benefactor of this guide, and by increasing exposure of this great country we hope to generate tourist dollars urgently needed to protect its remaining habitats, and vast numbers of birds.
By supporting education initiatives, youth programs, conservation projects, and direct land purchase, we believe that we can help protect habitat, save birds, and promote birding for future generations using real and successful projects.