What dogs and Townsend’s Warblers have in common

On a recent spring morning at Upper San Leandro Reservoir in northern California, I was helping to lead a group of intrepid bird watchers on a guided tour to locate Wood Ducks, hummingbirds, and other species.

At one point just before mid-day, I found myself engaged in a discussion about dogs with one of the tour participants. Just as I was about to respond to one of his questions, I heard it:

That dainty little chip – somewhat similar to a Yellow-rumped Warbler but finer, cleaner.

“Townsend’s Warbler!” I shouted while encouraging the other participants to join me in the search for this beautifully colored bird. The man with whom I had been speaking was one of the first in the group to spot the male Townsend’s Warbler which cooperatively made his appearance a few seconds later.

If you are wondering how I could identify a Townsend’s Warbler based on a single chip note while in the middle of an animated discussion about dogs, then I invite you to Join My Free Webinar on How to Identify Warblers which will be held 9:00 PM Eastern on Tuesday, 5 March 2013.

Not only will we be giving away a free gift valued at over $40.00, but I will also share with you how I used these same bird identification techniques when I was recently in Ecuador and only had a few short seconds to identify a Spectacled Whitestart, a picture of which I have included here.

The Online Workshop on Warbler Identification I will be delivering on Tuesday, 5 March 2013, will teach you how to identify warblers based on a few seconds worth of observation time, even if you have never seen that particular species ever before in your life.


/s/ John C. Robinson
President, On My Mountain, Inc.
Author, Birding for Everyone

Birding in Ecuador

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to visit Ecuador for a vacation filled with birding in the cloud forests. I’ve assembled a short video, featured here, that includes some of the birds that I found and more photographs are presented below.

Please note that I am indebted to the professional guide services offered to me by Edison Buenano of Sword-billed Expeditions. The film footage provided here was taken in the Yanacocha Reserve, a 6,668 acre conservation area located near Quito, Ecuador. The focus of the work here is the protection of the Black-breasted Puffleg — a type of hummingbird.

In addition to the birds featured in the film provided with this post, we also saw many additional species, including Eared Dove, Great Sapphirewing (which appears at timestamp 1:29 in the video), Buff-winged Starfrontlet (timestamp 1:07), Sword-billed Hummingbird (timestamp 3:12), Sapphire-vented Puffleg, Golden-breasted Puffleg, Black-tailed Trainbearer, Tyrian Metaltail, Rainbow-bearded Thornbill, Bar-bellied Woopdpecker, Azara’s Spinetail, White-browed Spinetail, Rufous Antpitta, Tawny Antpitta (timestamp 3:29), White-throated Tyrannulet, Rufous Wren, Grass Wren, Spectacled Whitestart, Masked, Black, and Glossy Flowerpiercer (Masked appears at timestamp 2:24), Golden-crowned Tanager, Scarlet-bellied Mountain Tanager, Black-chested Mountain Tanager, Buff-breasted Mountain Tanager, and Rufous-naped Brushfinch, not to mention many others.

By the way, the “Spectacled Whitestart” is a South American warbler found in the Andean forests. Although you may not be ready to start identify birds in South America, you may be interested in My FREE Webinar on How to Identify North American Warblers.

See below for additional exclusive pictures of birds that were taken by my guide while he was with me in the cloud forest.

 Barred Fruiteater:










Sapphire-vented Puffleg

Sword-billed Hummingbird

What is “Ecotourism”?

Every few weeks, someone asks me what is meant by the term ecotourism.

Since 1979, I’ve been leading people on a path of discovery in the natural world. Perhaps it was to parks and refuges in their own community, or maybe to an exotic land in a foreign country. As I think back to all the work I’ve done in this area, I realize that the key to understanding what ecotourism is lies in first offering a definition of the term. So here it is:

Ecotourism: ”Low-impact, nature-based tourism involving education and interpretation of the natural environment in regions of unique natural or ecologic quality; ecotourism should be managed as an ecologically sustainable recreational activity that promotes conservation or protection of the environment.”

I realize other definitions may be found on the Internet; but this is how I define it based on having been immersed in this field for over 30 years. I believe there are five key elements that further augment this definition:

  1. It’s Nature-based Travel
  2. It’s Environmentally Sustainable — meaning it has little or no harm to the environment
  3. It’s Educational
  4. It provides Enjoyable Recreation for the participants; and
  5. It Promotes Conservation
Here is an audio recording I did a few years ago that explains all this in more detail and also shares with you our vision for ecotourism in the future:



/s/ John C. Robinson
President, On My Mountain, Inc.
Author, Birding for Everyone