Semi-finals World Bird Destination Cup 2013

Helmeted Vanga Paul French

by Gunnar on April 1, 2013 · 8 comments

in Competitions and Contests.

Long time.

It is time to wrap up the Bird Destination World Cup for 2013.  Last round had over 100 votes in each game, which is the highest number of participants so far. I chose to have the polls open and untied to each other, because it is is more exciting to see how the score changes, even though it invites for “cheating”

Cheating?  Perhaps a bit strong, but one can easily see tendencies of local campaigning which perhaps are not relevant to the opinion world birders have.  The idea is that voters SHOULD VOTE IN EACH GAME – not only for their native country.

On the other hand, this is just a game, so if anyone feel the need to use this World Cup to promote birding and conservation in their own country, please, you are welcome to do so. In fact it is inspiring if a simple game like will have such effect.

Just tell your people to vote in both games in the semifinal, please. 

Results from the Quarter finals.

  • Borneo 36 Madagascar 66
    It was a surprise that Madagascar won against Borneo.  Borneo was top seeded after SE Peru with Machu Picchu and Manu had fallen out in the previous round. 
  • Ecuador 64 Kenya 88
    Again a fallen favorite. Obviously some campaigning in Kenya added votes to this game. More birders need to vote to make local campaigns less decisive. 
  • Australia 52 North Peru 51.
    Congratulations to Australia to win this thriller. Fairy-wrens, colorful parrots, Cassowary and Lyrebird kicked Marvelous Spatuletail ass!. 
  • New Guinea (PNG/Irian Jaya) 78 Costa Rica 32
    New Guinea continues its winning streak in grand style. Birds of Paradise rule! Seriously, what can match that?  Costa Rica did not have a chance.

Semi-finals 4 contenders.

You could just jump this section and run straight down to the voting. If you are a well traveled birder you already know how to vote. But if not, I think it is a good idea to present the assets of the four semi-finalists. As we have mentioned earlier in this series, the top world birding destination is more than just the birds. Infrastructure and additional non-birding experiences also play a role. Perhaps not for all birders, but still for most.
The challenge for me is to describe these destinations for you. I have only been to Kenya and that was as a transfer to get to Tanzania. Therefore, I probably will need some of your help to portrait these destinations. I am grateful for your comments below, which will be added to each account as they come in.


Rufous Vanga. Endemic to Madagascar. Paul French

Rufous Vanga. Endemic to Madagascar. Paul French. Check more of Paul’s pictures from his trip report  from Madagascar, Reuniom and Mauritius.

A huge island off South East Africa with unique fauna, but few bird species – only 256 species, serious conservation issues with lots of already destroyed habitat and poor English knowledge (they speak French).  But  50%  (102 species) of the breeding birds are endemic, and another 10% (23 species) are shared with Mauritius and Reunion.
Many of the endemic species are big and colorful. Perhaps the biggest attraction on Madagascar, even for birders, are not the birds, but the 20 species of lemurs one may see on a trip.  The combination of seeing most lemur species and over 100 endemic birds, including 5 regional endemic bird families makes Madagascar a top destination.


Hartlaub’s Turaco en is an endemic bird  to North East Africa perhaps easiest seen in in Kenya. Photo by Kenichi Nobusue -Flickr.  Creative Commons.

What can be said about Madagascar, that the mammals is the main draw, can be said of Kenya.  The East African savanna is magic and the mammals are the main reason why you choose to go there.  There are over 1000 species but only 6 endemics. The endemics are not particularly colorful, but there are a quite a few regional near endemics that are worth a detour such as Hartlaub’s Turaco, Somali Bee-eater and Heuglin’s Bustard,


Blue-breasted Fairy-wren by Alex Vargas

Blue-breasted Fairy-wren by Alex Vargas, Australia 2009. Originally appeared in Alex Vargas report from Western Australia.

Even if Australia’s marsupials also is a major attraction, the aviafauna in it own right is spectacular.  I have already mentioned Fairy-wrens, colorful parrots, Cassowary and Lyrebird. Add a couple of Pittas and Honeyeaters, plus excellent infrastructure, friendly people, and English qualify Australia as a top birder destination. Birding should always be this straight-forward.

Papua New Guinea/Irian Jaya.

Birds of Paradise!  Every birders dream. But travelling can be a challenge. Safety  is still concern for independent travelers on PNG and infrastructure is lacking in many places on Irian Jaya.

If you want to get more photos, videos and info from these destinations, have a look at the previous installments of this series.  


We follow the seeding from the beginning which gives that winner of game 1 plays winner of game 4. We get:

  • Madagascar vs New Guinea
  • Kenya vs Australia. 

It is Africa vs AustralAsia in both games.  It shall be very exciting to follow.

Vote until midnight (-5H GMT) Sunday April 7 .



Top photo: Helmeted Vanga by Paul French.

Gunnar Engblom was born in Sweden and lives in Peru. He is’s webmaster. He is a birder, runner, post-punkrocker and blogger and he is especially keen on social media for birders – which is how this project started in the first place. Gunnar Engblom organizes birding tours in Peru and the Neotropics with Kolibri Expeditions. Gunnar is passionate about new Peru tours that support community based ecotourism and conservation and has initiated several project this way. Gunnar blogs on his own blog - A birding blog from Peru.
Connect with Gunnar on Twitter and Facebook.

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  • mad_birder

    Where in the world did you get your statistics on Madagascar? NONE of those numbers are correct. 20 species of lemurs?? There are a couple genera of lemurs that have that many species in each! And poor English knowledge? Ironic.

    • Gunnar Engblom

      I checked a tour company saying one can see around 20 species of Lemurs on a tour. I have changed the phrasing.
      I am Swedish, so my English is probably better than your Swedish, but far from perfect… but I look forward to your corrections. :-)

      • Gunnar Engblom

        The other info is from the somewhat dated Where to Watch birds in Africa by Nigel Wheatley,

  • Paul French

    There are over 100 sp of lemur in Madagascar I think, although on a birding trip to the standard locations you’ll do well to see over 20. Interesting that Madagascar is (in my experience) a rather difficult country for birding, with low bird densities even in the few pockets of pristine habitat left. Some of them are truly outstanding though, and Scaly Ground Roller, Helme Vanga and Yellow-bellied Sunbird Asity will probably feature in my all time top 10 for many years to come. From what I’ve heard about PNG, it is even harder! A friend who shall remain nameless inserted more profanities when describing th ebirding experience in PNG than is healthy for one man to utter, yet he still said that the birds were simply awesome and you had to go. Make of that what you will!

    • Gunnar Engblom

      Thanks for the input Paul.

  • Anne Smith

    Go Australia

  • DonGato

    Voted! and although it is my image in Australia, I can´t deny the fascination I feel for Kenya and its birding… ;)

    • Gunnar Engblom

      Just kidding, Alex! Australia is far behind right now with only 8 hours to go!

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