I returned this week from a birding FAM trip for almost 2 weeks in Guatemala, where I saw some amazingly beautiful birds and got to visit some of the coffee fincas and preserves that are working to protect, preserve, and create habitat for birds so that they can attract international birders to come and visit this beautiful country.
On several occasions I was asked for my advice about how they can make their farms more attractive to birds (and to birders by extension).
My advice? The same thing I’ve been teaching wildlife gardeners around the US: plant your garden to supply all of the essential elements for birds and other wildlife, and learn to create welcoming habitat for birds so that you will attract more of them to take up residence in your yard.
This means going beyond bird feeders and adding those plants to your garden that supply food and shelter to birds.
Bird feeders require a lot of maintenance, which for these fincas (farms) can add up to significant labor costs as well as the cost of bird seed, food, and sugar to make nectar for hummingbird feeders.
When you plant a garden to attract birds, you reduce these costs significantly.
I was reminded of my recent trip to visit Trinidad and Tobago and my stay at the Asa Wright Nature Center because this place has been providing an amazing tourist experience for birders for many decades now, and I would be great if some folks from the Guatemala Birdwatching Roundtable (the association of farmers, fincas, and environmental groups working so hard to attract visiting birders to Guatemala) went to visit Asa Wright to see what has made them so successful.
Asa Wright Nature Center is a world-famous birding destination, probably best known for the huge number of birds that can be observed in the gardens from the veranda while having breakfast.
While Asa Wright does utilize a large number of hummingbird feeders and fruit feeding stations, they have also planted the surrounding gardens to attract birds, and installed quite a few natural perches so that birds will feel at home.
You could actually spend a whole morning (or even all day) just watching the beautiful birds that come to visit this wildlife garden. But you’d also want to take a walk on the trails that wind around this nature preserve because the Motmots, Trogons, Manakins, Bearded Bellbirds, and Oilbirds are simply not to be missed!
When birders see a lot of birds right outside their lodging doors they are very happy!
And in Guatemala where there are so many beautiful hummingbirds (over 30), it’s kind of a no-brainer to plant this area with native hummingbird attracting plants so that visiting birders will be inspired to just pull up a chair and enjoy the show!
So my recommendation is that these farmers follow the 7 Steps to Birdscaping a Garden so that they will beging to attract more birds, which means that they will definitely attract more birders!
(a FAM trip is when you are brought into a country by a tourist board to show you around in hopes that you will promote them as a tourist destination so others will visit).
Many thanks to Bitty Ramirez-Portilla of Guatemala Nature Tours (also on Facebook), the Guatemala Birdwatching Roundtable (like them on Facebook), and INGUAT (the Guatemala Tourist board) for inviting me to share Guatemala’s beauty.
Follow all of my birding adventures in Guatemala:
- The View From Temple #4
- Extreme Birding: The Quest to See the Horned Guan in Guatemala
- Birding Tikal
- Farmers Saving Bird Habitat
- Turning Farms into Wildlife Habitat
- Attracting Birds and Birders
Carole Sevilla Brown lives in Philadelphia, PA, and she travels the country speaking about Ecosystem Gardening for Wildlife. Check out her new free online course Ecosystem Gardening Essentials, 15 free lessons delivered to your inbox every week.
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