Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Birding in Guatemala

This past February, I was lucky enough to go on my first birding trip - and it was in Guatemala! Birding, I've learned, is a great way to see new countries and cultures, get a lot of exercise and very little sleep.

I was invited along with 25 or so other people - videographers, tour operators, photographers, artists and writers - to attend the 2nd Annual International Bird Watching Encounter hosted by INGUAT, Guatemala's Tourism Board. For seven days, we were carted around the country to various birding destinations that included Retalhuleu on the Pacific coast, Flores in the north and the Chicabal Volcano near Quezaltenago. Guatemala is a beautiful country that is filled with black sand beaches, numerous volcanoes (active and inactive), cloud forests, Mayan ruins and friendly people - oh, and don't forget the pollo! I swear we had chicken for lunch and dinner every day. Breakfast was mostly ignored, because who wants to eat at 4 AM? That's when we got up most days. And I thought pet-bird people were an early lot with their 8 AM seminars. See, the thing is, birds are most active at dawn so that's when we had to be in the field. We hiked all morning, took a break for lunch and went back for more later. But it was worth it most days.

At Tikal, I saw so many red-lored Amazons that they actually got a little boring. I was on the hunt for a mealy, which finally came into sight while at the top of a ruin in the middle of the Park. It was perfect. I also saw white-fronted Amazons, Pacific parakeets, yellow-naped Amazons, collared aracaris, toucans and orange-chinned parakeets. No wild scarlet macaws though. Oh well, on the next trip?

I'll post more photos as I get them. This one was taken by my new friend, Mae Cheung, who I met on the trip. She was the only other non-birder on the trip, so we hung together while the rest were building their life lists at a rate of 5 per second. Of course, everyone was generous with their spotting scopes, extra binocs (mine broke in my luggage) and jackets, so I certainly felt one of the group despite my limited - er, no - experience.


Check out more info on birding in Guatemala here.


Coffee Talk

I have found as I get older that it has become more difficult to make new friends. I believe people, in general, may be less open to new friendships as they leave their 20s. After all, the teens and 20s are all about meeting new people, making new relationships. By the time people get to their 30s, 40s, 50s on up, their focus has changed. Making and maintaining frienships are probably not the focus, instead family and career have taken center stage.

Which is why when I received a letter from Michele, owner of Feedback the Amazon that I e-mailed her back and we made a date to meet for coffee. After all, we both had pet birds, we were both involved in the avian community -- chances were that we'd have a good time. And we did. I know I talked a lot. I love to talk about the avian community. I get to talk about it at work, but we are always on deadline. My fiance just doesn't find it as interesting. I find it fascinating from a business, personal and community perspective.

I won't write here about Michelle specifically, as she may not appreciate my thoughts and conversation with her being put on a blog. But I just wanted to say that I was happy that I took the time to meet her. It was fun. Since our pet of choice is such a flock creature, it stands that pet bird owners should be flock creatures too.


More, more, more

We have so much going on that we can't fit it all into our magazine, so ta-dum, here comes the blog. There are four editors on the BT staff, and you will be hearing from all of us as we go out and about. Our managing editor, Laura Doering, is still on maternity leave. She had her second son, Shea, a couple of months ago, but we expect her back sometime in June or July. Rose Gordon, our associate editor has traveled a bit more because of this. She has gone to both Guatamala and Williamsburg, Virginia in the past few months, which I'm sure she'll be talking about. Connie Cho, our assistant editor, joined the team three months ago. She'll be attending her first parrot conference -- Parrots International -- next month along with the rest of the team. And then there is me, Melissa Kauffman, the editor of Bird Talk magazine, which is both privilege and pleasure.

Our blog will cover pet bird news, avian community news and our travels on behalf of Bird Talk magazine. We hope you enjoy it and invite your comments.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?