March 2010

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Aves de Peru

Friday March 19, 2010 was a day of bird history for Peruvian ornithology and birdwatching.

The book Birds of Peru by Schulenberg et al was published in Spanish and presented during a full day of lectures and build up to the final presentation of the book in which Environmental Minister Antonio Brack Egg was present. Key lectures were held mostly in Spanish by the original authors Tom Schulenberg, Dan Lane, John O’Neill and Doug Stotz. All made tribute to legendary Ted Parker who laid the foundation to the idea of a field guide to the birds of Peru.


Having a birdbook in Spanish will make ornithology and birding in Peru explode. Specifically, shall it become an incentive for locals to learn about birds to show to visiting birdwatchers. Hoards of new birding guides will make Peru more prepared for the increasing avi-tourism. But also more Peruvians will find birdwatching as a hobby more rewarding with this book. Finally, the book incentivates more biologists being formed with prime interest in birds. This will take Peruvian ornithology to a new level followed by a stream of publications in scientific journals.


I could unfortunately only be present during the first part of the day, so I missed a lot of good lectures and presentations but three particular mentions have to be made, as they involve new species to Peru. In total 4 new species to Peru were mentioned within two hours. Colombia best watch out for the number one position of most species in the world.

Reddish Egret and White-winged Coot – New birds to Peru

Tom Schulenberg was first out mentioning that new species can be found also along the coast of Peru in spite being relatively well covered by ornithologists and birders. The main reason is because there traditionally is less activity in the field during the Austral summer (Dec-February).

Two extra-ordinary new records were mentioned. Marshall Iliff’s White morph Reddish Egret south of Chiclayo a couple of weeks ago and White-winged Coot found at Mejia lagoons in the South during last part of 2009. The coot was still present there during a survey in February.

New Thrush in Peru

New Thrush in Peru

Dan Lane dedicated his full speach to the “gray-tailed form of Hauxwell’s Thrush” which turns out to be a good species, which certainly was indicated in the first edition of Birds of Peru. What comes as a complete surprise is that the form is not at all closely related to Hauxwell’s Thrush. A phylogenetic tree was presented showing the New Thrush being closest relative with the Ecuadorian Thrush and Bare-faced Thrush – and other thrushes that share a cat-like call. It is quite amazing that the call could show this much genetic relationship within Oscine passerines, in which the song is learnt. It seems some calls may nevertheless be genetically defined. The paper describing the new thrush is submitted, so we can soon expect the thrush being officially described. An important parenthesis is that the new thrush was the 11th bird that John O’Neill collected in Peru outside of Pucallpa. Since then he has described 13 species. It turns out his 14th new species described was actually his first new species to science! Dan also showed distribution maps showing that the distribution of the new Thrush is quite widespread along the upper Amazon and its tributaries and at many sites sympatric with Hauxwell’s Trush. Me thinks this will not be the last time a cryptic species will be described from the Peru.

Another Barbet – again.

John O’Neill held his lecture in English and with Spanish translation. He presented all the birds he has been involved in describing as new species. One of the most spectacular was the Scarlet-banded Barbet in the Cushabatay, Cordillera Azul area. In fact, the expedion had wanted to reach the main Cordillera Azul and the highest peak, but had to settle for the slightly lower, but closer Cushabatay area since the river held very little water.

Remote areas do still turn up new birds. During a recent expedition further south in the Sira Range and the Gran Pajonal a new Barbet was once again found. Clearly it is closely related as it is similar in colors but have bright red-flanks. This new Barbet intrigues me. I have some time free in July to go and look for it. Any takers?

Photo credits. Reddish Egret. Copywright. Marshall Iliff.
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25 things to make Facebook better

Dear Facebook,

There are at least 25 improvements we would like to suggest to Facebook. While we are happy users, there are still small annoying limitations that could be improved.

  1. Group Feed. In spite that there are millions of groups and the average user belongs to several dozens of groups, there is yet no effective way to monitor the groups. A group feed of the groups you belong to would take care part of the problem.
  2. Add friends to your different lists while looking at their profiles.
  3. Custom feed when opening Home. Before the change in which Home opens with Top News with the ability to wobble to Most Recent, I could have the feed of selected friends show when opening Facebook.
  4. Download the emails of your friends
  5. Possible to write more than 20 friends at the time.
  6. Send a friend request to fans of pages you manage
  7. Send friend requests to members of groups that you manage
  8. Upload sound files that would play on your Page.
  9. See Friends Status in a list, which also include the hidden friends.
  10. Able to edit lists of friends in Home as well as in Profile.
  11. A filter to be able to hide texts like ‘X became a fan of Y’ or ‘X became friend of Y’ or ‘X joined to group of Y.
  12. Search for your friends in geographic area and then a function to select all to add to a list or create a new list.
  13. Send personal event invites to all of your friends at once w/o receiving a SPAM warning.
  14. Option to comment like yourself to your fan page. So when I comment to Kolibri Expeditions Fan page, it will show as Gunnar Engblom is commenting (or other admin person) rather than the long SEO optimized Kolibri Expeditions Birdwatching Tours – Birding Peru.
  15. Search function for your own wall and for home feed for keywords on topics that interest me as well as being able to find stuff that you enjoyed in the past.
  16. Taking this search engine further with multi-level search for example categories, friends or not, country, etc
  17. Better analytics for Facebook Pages.
  18. In Peru availability to advertise by cities and nearby, just as you can in other countries.
  19. Polls built within Facebook, not as an app people need to accept for it to be able to work.
  20. Commenting with video within FriendFeed and Google Buzz.
  21. Drag and drop for images, files and videos.
  22. Voice and Video Chat not only text
  23. Searchable Chat like on Messenger and Skype
  24. To be able to see Fans in alphabetic orders, not only in the order they signed up.
  25. Your suggestion! Please leave comment below. Which should be the 25th improvement that could be done to Facebook?


300 million Facebook users all over the world


If you help Retweet, share on Facebook and Google Buzz and use all sorts of bookmarking services such as Digg, Stumble Upon and Delicious, maybe before we know it, Facebook will notice and listen. Just use the various button below . Thanks!

Thanks to Janet Zinn, Gyorgy Szimuly, Jill Routh Rucker, Debbie Blair and especially Daniel Falcon for helping me coming up with so many suggestions on how Facebook could become better.  Also thanks to Grahame Boath, Kim Allen, Peter Gustas, Cathy McArthur and Chris West for additional discussion.

Photo from Flicker by Creative Commons license by Joe M500.
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Easter birding.

A holiday is coming up.  That means birding time.  We usually get many trips around the major holidays but not this time. It is quite amazing. Not a single tour over Easter week (March 29-April 4) has any bookings. We have 3 cars, 3 drivers and 5 guides all ready to go. One of the cars is brand new! What a waste of resources, don’t you think?

Well, to overcome this, we offer 20% discount on the tour part of all of our tours (this means we would subtract the cost of flights, train and entrance fees and then apply the discount).  How about it?  See anything you fancy on our web page?

Or maybe you would just want to hire a car and an experienced driver and do some birding on your own.

Here is sample what you could do. All trips can be combined with day-trips in Lima at either end.

And if you can’t come yourself, be sure to send this link on to your friends. Use the share buttons to share on Facebook, Twitter and Buzz.  I would appreciate it, my co-workers would appreciate it and the local communities with incipient eco-tourism initiatives will appreciate it. And I am sure your friends will appreciate seeing this unique offer, which would give over 300 species of birds at a very reasonable price.  When most businesses increase their prices over the holidays we do the other way around.

If you want to do a longer holiday and not be caught by high air fares for the holiday there is a Satipo road and Carpish tour for 8 days starting on March 21 and a Satipo road trip for 7 days starting on April 5. Both trips are confirmed.  Air fare to Lima  is as low as 450 dollars from Miami.

Bearded Mountaineer. Huacarpay lake, Cuzco. Photo Alex Durand

The lekking males can be seen December to April at our private reserve. Marvelous Spatuletail. Photo: Alejandro Tello

Diademed Sandpiper Plover. Photo: Alex Durand

Golden-backed Tanager - one of the star birds possible during Kolibri Epxeditions Give-Away of 15 birding tours during 2010. Photo: Gunnar Engblom

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Why weekly Twitter-links?

  1. Twitter can be notoriously difficult to search for specific things that you read that you like. So if you instead re-tweet and have a weekly summery, this works essentially as a book mark.
  2. Twitter Tools WordPress app automatically makes this summery for you – in an unedited list form.
  3. I chose  to edit my list that is published every Monday in a more accessible form and place the tweets into categories and delete the personal updates that don’t contain links. Sorry for not having done this for a while with previous deliveries the last couple of months.
  4. It will also load my blog with keywords, which may help Search Engines find my blog.
  5. These posts don’t  get a lot of readers, but I still think it is worthwhile to post them here.

Here is the edited version of my Twitter links the last week. Enjoy!! Hope to go back to edit some of the earlier editions if I can find some time for it.

Peru birding and news from Kolibri Expedions.

  • Looks like we shall arrange a spring break 8 days Satipo road and Carpish trip after all. We got 3 people so far….
  • Short Marvelous Spatuletail, Abra Patricia, White-winged Guan and Peruvian Plantcutter trip comfirmed for May 7….


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Google Buzz for birders

The last post in this series indicated that it would be great for birders to try to get up to 5000 birder friends on Facebook to be better connected. The Social Media workshop continues, but not at the pace I had proposed. After Colombia vacation simply too many loose ends to tie up. One of these days I will become a real blogger and I shall submit a post every day.

I had a plan for the deliveries of the 31 day workshop Social Media for Birders, but the plan broke with the introduction of Google Buzz some three weeks ago and trying out the email blogging service Posterous (- more on Posterous in a later post). These two tools should definitely also be part of the Social Birders arsenal, because they are ridiculously easy to use. I am now re-writing the schedule and inserting the hot pancake Google Buzz for birders.

John Haydon said it well:
If Facebook and Twitter had sex the baby would be named Google Buzz

If Facebook and Twitter had sex, their baby would be like Google Buzz. Google Buzz combines features from both these platforms.

This is Google Buzz

  • Only for Gmail users. It is likely Google over-rides this in the near future.
  • Not limited to 140 characters. Links get a nice long excerpt
  • Buzz  functions much like the somewhat dormant FriendFeed as you may comment posts and make a conversation.
  • You may import your feeds from Flickr and Twitter, as well as your blog. In order to add a non-Blogger blog housed by yourself, you need to enter and add your website/blog, and then verify it. It will show up as a connected site in buzz after that. (Thanks Debra Askanase for the tip).
  • Contrary to Friend Feed it does not seem to be indexed in the regular Google Search, but posts can be found in Buzz search
  • It is easy to use in the Gmail inter phase. There is a Buzz folder just below your mail-box. Fast and easy to use.
  • Replies to your buzzes come to your mail box. If you become a very active user this can become a little bit too much, but you may make folders where Buzz messages are sent directly.
  • Easy to share your photos and links with a great interphase. Especially easy to share from Google Reader.
  • Potential to reach birders that have not yet jumped on the Twitter and Facebook bandwagon, but use gmail.

By all means check out the official presentation video from Google.

Birder friendliness?

Here are a few examples. Check  how link sharing is done on Twitter, Facebook and Buzz. Which is most user friendly for birders?

Sharing a birding link of Twitter

Sharing on Twitter

This is from Tweetdeck. Using the PowerTwitter plug-in for Firefox gives a nicer display, but you can’t organize in columns as with TweetDeck

Sharing a birding Link of Facebook

Sharing on Facebook

Sharing on Facebook allows for one picture and add text describing what you are sharing.

Sharing a birding Link on Buzz

Sharing with Google Reader to Buzz

Far superior link sharing for a blog post with a lot of photos of birds. Google Buzz is the winner. Furthermore the size of the pics  is much larger. Click the image to see how the post would show in the application. Sweet, huh?

Google Reader and Feedly

Buzz is far superior platform to share blogs with other birders.  What is great is that it is very tightly connected with Google Reader.  Sign up for Google Reader immediately. Google Reader is an RSS reader to which you direct all those RSS feeds of blogs and news you enjoy reading. You may even feed forums like Bird Forum and Surfbirds Forum or feeds from your favorite Twitter friends or even a feed for a keyword search on Twitter.

Don’t worry if you don’t know what RSS stands for or what it means. All you need to know is that you can read a copy of the newly published text from a web-site or a blog.  You basically collect all yoru favorite dynamic websites (blogs, news and web-sites that update frequently) in one place. Look out for this RSS logo which if you use Firefox as browser you will find in the address bar on the right hand side or you may have to look for it  in the sidebar.

Fill your Google Reader with all the stuff you like. Sort the stuff into different folders. Play around with it. It is pretty self-explanatory. If you get problems, let us know in the comment section. There will always be someone who can help you.

The Reader will be your prime source to find stuff to share. If you decide to share something on Reader it will automatically also be fed to Buzz.

In spite of the greatness of Google Reader, it is still a bit stiff, why I recommend to check out Feedly. Your favorite feeds and the latest posts will be organized into a newspaper like mode. And you may share directly from Feedly, not only to Buzz, but to a range of different platforms such as Twitter and Facebook , as well as various bookmarking sites.

Buzz as a blog?

Well almost! According to Peter Campbell of Techcafeteria Google Buzz is already 80%  a full-fledged blog.  Here are the points that Peter mentions

  • You can edit, format and embed media just like a blog
  • Commenting
  • You can subscribe to any one’s Buzz via RSS
  • Google profile works like the blog homepage, with links, contact pages and about the author.
  • It works great on the mobile.

Google Buzz mobile.

In fact, maybe it is on the phone that Google Buzz will have most relevance. Why? Because it does not only give all the sharing abilities but also location. So in a near future with loads of birders as Google Buzz users, you should be able to get updates from complete strangers of what they are seeing at the birding site you are approaching.

Google is only a month old, but check this video and  imagine what Google Buzz would mean on your phone with GPS ability.

What shall I post on Buzz?

I tried first to feed my Twitter Feed to Buzz.  But to tell you the truth it does not look too impressive to duplicate the content also on Buzz. Many of the Social Media gurus have pointed out that it makes no point in following someone on Twitter and Google Buzz if it is the same content. I think manual sharing may be what Buzz is best for. Especially things that you pick up on Google Reader. It is also great place to hold discussions on any topic. Certainly more user friendly than Twitter.

It shall be interesting where Buzz takes us. I am interested in hearing your comments.  How are you using Buzz?

If you want to learn more about Buzz, I suggest you take a look at John Haydon’s Google Buzz blogpost which also have several links to other Buzz resources.


  • Get a gmail account!
  • Check out Google Buzz
  • Add some friends. If you want to add me, my email is
  • Get Google Reader and add some RSS feeds.
  • Get Feedly.
  • Comment below.

Previous posts in Social Media for birders

If you still have not signed up for the workshop, which will give you an email notice when there is a new post, please do so below. It is not too late. there are still 25 posts to go! Set up a folder in your mail program to which you import each delivery to have it handy for future reference.

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