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Birding Tours and Trips

Birding enthusiasts can choose from among a variety of tours and trips. The trips may be as simple as a day trip on land or as comprehensive as a trip of a week or more to an exotic locale. To see sea birds, there are day and overnight trips on the ocean (pelagic trips), and there are weekend excursions. There are even trips geared to find rare species.

When selecting among these, the chief considerations include:

  • Leader and equipment - Who will lead you in the field? What are their birding credentials and experience? How big will the group be? What will be the ratio of tour leaders to participants? Will the tour leaders bring scopes? How many participants will share each?
  • Time - What will be the typical starting time each day and are you comfortable with this? As a general rule, prime birding is at dawn. Late starts can greatly reduce your opportunities to find birds. And how much of the day will be spent birding? Will birding be the main focus of the tour, or is it just one among many activities? How much time will be allocated for meals? Will this cut into too much birding time for you?
  • Pacing and comfort - What will be the pace of the tour? Will it be too hurried or too slow for you? What will be the quality of the accommodations and meals?
  • Getting to and from viewing sites - Will the tour include a lot of hiking? If so, how strenuous will it be? Will the tour include a lot of driving? Will you spend too much time in vehicles?
  • Tour operator - What is the track record of the tour organizers for smooth organization and quality of the birding experience? Can they get references and independent testimonials? Do fellow birders recommend them?

Finally, understand their satisfaction policy. If the tour focuses on finding certain species, what happens if it fails to do so? Will you get a rebate, whole or partial credit for a future tour, or nothing?

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