Eastern Michigan University in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands
May 3, 2008 - May 20, 2008
Trip Report
prepared by Bill Sverdlik

    On most birding expeditions, the keeper of the birding list typically compiles and produces a "trip report" at the end of the journey. Please consider this such a report. However, this report will be a little different than what usually appears in bird journals. I have made the jump into digital photography, and this trip represents my first efforts at nature photography. Thus, photos are enclosed. I have included not only bird photos, but also random shots of rare and endangered EMU students experiencing wonders south of the equator.
    Uli and I discussed the possibility of me giving a talk about birds and birding. For whatever reason, it did not occur. So I will also use this opportunity to give you all some more perspective of birds and birding.

Why keep a bird list ??
    A good question! There are two reasons for keeping a list. The first may seem a little silly: for the sport of it! Birders are notorious listers: they keep lists of everything. Most birders in the United States compile at least one list: his/her ABA (American Birding Association) life list. This is a list of all birds one has seen in continental United States north of Mexico. A point  of interest: the individual with the longest ABA life list is a resident of Ann Arbor. I believe his list has approximately 890 species on it. Other lists that people might maintain: state lists (e.g. birds seen in Michigan, birds seen in Nebraska, etc.) . Locals in Michigan sometime maintain a MOO list (Michigan/Ohio/Ontario). I am aware of another Ann Arbor birder that consistently turns down offers to go birding anywhere outside of Michigan because he is only interested in enlarging his Michigan List . Here are two really strange lists I've heard of: the C-list ( a list of birds seen copulating) , and the TV-list (see that Kildeer on the field of Monday Night Football? Add it to your TV-list).

bill    So what is the seond reason to maintain a bird list ? Quite simply, to maintain an historical record of bird patterns. So why might this be important ? I'll give an example. In the 1970's , serious bird listers were noticing a decline in the number of Bald Eagles in the United States. Let's think about this. The serious bird lister lists EVERY bird seen on every outing (approximations are OK....at least they are better than nothing). So a birder in Michigan may have noted 10 Bald Eagles at Erie Metropark in June of 1970, 8 Bald Eagles at Erie Metropark in June of 1971 and 4 Bald Eagles at Erie Metropark in June of 1972. See a pattern ? Note that number of species, date and location were recorded. Some birders also list weather conditions, ages of birds, gender, or many other "variables" (incidentally, I made the Eagle/Erie Metropark numbers up. But the problem was real). Now birders tends to share their lists. In the 1970's, shared lists showed a dramatic decline in Bald Eagles around the country. Why ? After much investigation, it was determined that the insecticide DDT was causing Bald Eagle egg shells to be too soft; many eggs were not hatching. This led to the eventual elimination of DDT in farming here (I know....some would say that was a bad decision. But that is a different matter. The point here is that a problem was INDENTIFIED via detailed bird listing).  Migration patterns (whether it be birds, fish or any other animal) and habitat alteration can only be revealed via copious record keeping. Listing IS good.
    After this small introduction, it may come as a surprise to hear that I am NOT a lister. I almost never keep a list when birding in the US . Fortunately for me, I often bird with an excellent lister (my hat is off to you, Bruce). I do tend to keep a list on trips. They serve as another momento of the trip, and I have found as I collate this list I can recollect details of the trip I would otherwise have forgotten.

How this site is organized
    I have not written down every bird we saw. I definately *did* write down every new species. On accasion, not knowing if a bird had previously been seen or not, I wrote it down. In the lists that follow, birds previously seen will be denoted with a double asterisk (**) after the name. You will find commentary from me, as well as randon photos interspersed in the pages. I have broken this down into several pages to lessen the load time of any individual page. Please let me know of any errors or omissions!
    So is this list biologically useful ?  Sure. Uli has made this trip often, and may offer this class for some time to come. So this list can certainly serve as a baseline of species encountered in Ecuador during the month of May.

The Tally
    We saw a total  of 168 species in 16 days. Recall that Ecuador has a total of approximately 1800 bird species, so I guess we all need to return soon to see the others.

Links to other pages

The "Coast" Days (Serro Blanco, Andaluz, Machalilla National Park, etc) May 4-6
Galapagos Islands-Santa Cruz 
Galapagos Islands - On the High Seas  (including Bartolome, South Plazas ,Seymour and Isabela) 
The Cloud Forest (Mindo)
The Rain Forest ( La Selva)
Flying over the Forest Canopy
Things that Crawl
Some candids
Some favorite photos
Parting Words