The 2010 International Bird Watching Encounter in Guatemala is just drawing to an end. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend the Encounters in 2008 and 2009, both of which stand out among my most cherished travel experiences. Alas, I couldn’t make it this year so instead, I’m sitting on the sidelines waiting to hear whether Nate survived his San Pedro Death March (good luck, buddy!)

Thanks to my deep love of the country and its people, cuisine, and natural splendors, I heartily recommend Guatemala to travelers. My friend Renato Fernández Ravelo reminded me why with an e-mail yesterday. Renato, who lives in Guatemala with his wife Bitty (herself a fantastic field guide) and their family, was discussing with some visitors why more people don’t visit Guatemala. Apparently, the three main reasons were:

  1. People don’t know where Guatemala is
  2. People don’t know what Guatemala has to offer
  3. People are frightened off by the Dept. of State Travel Advisory

To this, Renato responds with four reasons of his own, quite compelling ones indeed…

Stalking the pulchritudinous Pink-headed Warbler stands out as one of my favorite birdquests, bar none. Too bad none of my photos came out as well as Renato’s did.

Also inspiring is Renato’s image of an Azure-crowned Hummingbird, a common Feeder Hummingbird of the Guatemalan Central Highlands. Lovely bird, no?

I had no idea that Guatemala had its own race of Yellow-rumped Warbler, called Goldman’s Warbler. Wikipedia notes that Goldman’s resembles Audubon’s but adds a white lower border to the yellow throat and otherwise darker plumage. In addition, the slate blue coloration of Audubon’s males is replaced with black on Goldman’s. I need to go back to my trip lists…

Last but not least, how about a turkey more wild that the Wild Turkey? The Ocellated Turkey, an almost certain tick for visitors to Tikal, blows away the more mundane North American Meleagris species when it comes to resplendent plumage.

If you’d like to see many more of Renato’s phenomenal photographs of Guatemalan birds, you’ll love his book, Birds: Guatemala’s Feathers. If you’d like to see the birds themselves, get thee to Guatemala!

Written by Mike
Mike is a leading authority in the field of standardized test preparation, but he's also a traveler who fully expects to see every bird in the world. Besides founding 10,000 Birds in 2003, Mike has also created a number of other entertaining but now extirpated nature blog resources, particularly the Nature Blog Network and I and the Bird.