This program highlights Martin Selzer’s first two trips to Colombia, the country with the largest list of birds on the continent with the most birds in the world, South America. And you can be sure there will be more trips to Colombia as you cannot see everything in one or even two visits to Colombia. These shorter itineraries took advantage of direct flights from the U.S. to Colombia and targeted a terrific variety of birdy habitats with many endemic birds across regions of the Western and Central Andes and the Llanos.
Colombia is arguably the most biodiverse country on the planet. With three distinct mountain ranges, two different Ocean coastlines, high Andes and the Amazon Basin, birding opportunities are endless. Birding in this fabulous country was lost to ornithologists and birders for decades amidst the strife for which the country became so well-known. But times have changed in the last decade or so with a steady growth in Colombian ornithology and the establishment of many private nature reserves to complement public ones, all making locating many of the special birds more practical. While Colombia has not yet had time to catch up to the ecotourism standards of many of its neighbors the situation is constantly improving and these trips did support the growing in-country infrastructure.
Martin began birding back in first and second grade when his aunt first took him to the bird banding demonstrations at Washington’s Crossing State Park and to the Spring and Fall New Jersey Audubon Cape May Weekends. Besides these trips, his early birding adventures were on many local Wyncote Audubon and Academy of Natural Sciences field trips.
Martin’s first trip outside the mid-Atlantic region was a Northeast Birding Workshop to Corpus Christi, TX in the spring of 1979. For some people, it is a single bird or birding experience that hooks them on birds. For Martin, it was his aunt’s early influence on: “I would not have been bitten by the birding bug without her influence and her willingness to take me on all these trips.”
Since that initial trip to Corpus Christi, Martin has birded across North America, now taken 23 trips to the Caribbean, Central and South America, 9 trips to Europe, two trips to Africa and even managed to fit some birding in during a business trip to Australia. Although he considers shorebirds and raptors to be his favorite families of birds when home, it is really the spectacle of nature that he finds truly the most appealing and attractive part of birding. Whether watching Sandhill Cranes along the Platte River in Nebraska, witnessing the wonders of the Galapagos Islands or seeing 10,000s of geese in the Netherlands, these overwhelming wonders of nature are what make travel and birding so appealing.
Martin is an active local and world birder, is a member of ABA, DOS, and a life member of DVOC.