Do you remember World Bird Cup from last year? We had different birds around the world put up against each other for popularity. In the final Marvelous Spatuletail against Philippine Eagle, the eagle won a narrow win at the deadline. But votes kept on coming in after the deadline resulting in more votes for the Hummingbird. In any case. Philippine Eagle is the undisputed champion of 2012.
I had originally thought to just do the same concept again this year. However, I sent off this Facebok Question to Birdingblogs Facebook Page about which is the best birding destinations worldwide – partly because of curiosity which destinations I should target myself in the future for my own pleasure, but also partly something like a market survey to know where my company Kolibri Expeditions should focus if/when we start offering tours outside of South America.
All of a sudden I had sort of blocked the space for starting the World Cup of bird species again. It would have been way too much to immediately do another survey on Facebook. This one had already hit most Facebook groups about birding that I belong to. Another survey like that from me? Spare us!
World Bird Destinations Cup
Then it hit me. Why not do a world cup of birding destinations? After all, the option of choosing 10 destinations on Facebook does not say anything of rank between them. Even though SE Peru with Machu Picchu, Tambopata and Manu road got most votes, it is not given that it would be the most popular destination if there were fewer choices and you could only pick one. I dread to have to choose between Papua New Guinea/West Papua and Peru. It’d be a tough call for me. And I could think of many other scenarios. How about you? Which destination will the birders rank as number one?
32 contestants in the Best Birding in the World Cup
Facebook questions was ideal to get the nominees. The Facebook users simply marked 10 options and could add destinations I had not thought of. At the end (Christmas Day) I had picked the 25 destinations which had most votes and then added and additional 7 destinations that were suggested by the participants in the comment section, but could not be added for voting since Facebook only allows 100 options for the question function.
Here are the results for the top 25 birding destinations in the world according the Birdingblogs Facebook fans:
- SE Peru – i.e. Machu Picchu and Manu 111 votes.
- Ecuador 98 votes.
- Australia 89 votes.
- Papua New Guinea 88 votes.
- Costa Rica 82 votes.
- North Peru (Marvellous Spatuletail) 80 votes.
- Kenya 78 votes.
- Madagascar 70 votes.
- Colombia 62 votes.
- South Africa 55 votes.
- Alaska 55 votes.
- Galagagos 46 votes.
- Arizona 44 votes.
- Texas 43 votes.
- Antarctica 41 votes.
- Borneo 41 votes.
- Thailand 33 votes.
- Panama 32 votes.
- Pantanal, Brazil (Hyacint Macaw) 31 votes.
- SE Brazil (packed with endemics) 31 votes.
- Point Pelee/Magee Marsh (spring migration – warblers) 30 votes.
- California 27 votes.
- Bulgaria 25 votes.
- Ethiopia 24 Votes
- Philippines 24 votes.
The 7 destinations which were mentioned in the comment section on the Facebook question are: Guyana, Rwanda, Gambia, Scotland, Iceland, Veracruz (Mexico – raptor migration), and Saint Lawrence Island (migration hotspot for ABA rarities, Alaska). Since, they did not make it for voting, I thought it could be interesting to throw them in as dark horses. Let’s see if any of them makes it past the first round.
We shall play this as if was the world cup – or more like a tennis cup. There shall be no group plays, but a cup from the start. 32 teams to start with in 16 matches. This means the game will run over 5 rounds in total. The first round starts today.
I have chosen to use a PollDaddy survey. I had to pay $58 for the service, but I am justifying the expense of providing a link my company (hint, hint). There are differences in this year’s approach compared to last year. Last year consisted of individual polls, with the effect that not all the people who participated answered all the polls. Having everything in a survey will make it a fairer game. Even if everyone on a local Texas birder list would vote for Texas they would still have to vote all the other matches, as would the birders on the Ecuador Facebook group which have voted for Ecuador. Thus the local favoritism that we saw last year, will have less effect. By using a pay for service I also think there should be some valuable statistics that I can share.
One VERY IMPORTANT difference is that the results will not be viewed, until I post them in the next post. I would have liked to have the data displayed, but it is not possible. I will however post updates almost daily with stats as the survey progresses on BirdingBlogs and Kolibri Expeditions Facebook pages.
The 16 first destinations above will play the following 9 plus the 7 additional. I have introduced some seeding, so that number 16 (Borneo) shall play number 17 (Thailand), number 15 (Antarctica) plays number 18 (Panama), number 14 (Texas) plays number 19 (Pantanal) and so forth. The top 7 will play the dark horses in an order that has been picked randomly.
Here are the 16 matches:
- South East Peru vs The Gambia
- Ecuador vs Saint Lawrence Island, Alaska
- Australia vs Scotland
- New Guinea (PNG/West Papua) vs Guyana
- Costa Rica vs Veracruz, Mexico
- North Peru vs Rwanda
- Kenya vs Iceland
- Madagascar vs Philippines
- Colombia vs Ethiopia
- South Africa vs Bulgaria
- Alaska vs California
- Galapagos vs Point Peele/Magee Marsh spring migration.
- South East Brazil vs Arizona
- Texas vs Pantanal
- Antarctica vs Panama
- Borneo vs Thailand
I have added videos or photos to the survey to give you some additional information. Some of these are better than others. Some will promote specific companies, while others will be tourist board directed to a wider audience. My posting of these videos are by no means an endorsement for the services offered by the producers of the same.
If you know of videos which better illustrates the birding destination than the ones I have selected, please let me know in the comments below, and perhaps I shall use these in the second round
Finally, I know! 16 multiple questions are too many! I am truly sorry to take your time. But you don’t have to watch all the videos. Just tick off one alternative on each question and it should not take you more than 2 minutes to do the survey. It is a relief that the next round will only have 8 matches. And the following only 4. The more people who participate in the first round the fairer the ultimate selection for the second round will be.
I think you probably pretty much have made up your mind anyway, but the videos posted in the survey, could be a help to remind you of specific highlights. In the end you are not voting for the quality of the video&photo illustrations or just one singular species mentioned, but your perception of the destination as a whole for birders.
Different people will use different parameters. Some will value endemism, some will value spectacular species. Others will value spectacular scenery or what kind of comfort one can expect while birding. Some will put bang for the buck as most important i.e. species per dollar.
There is one final parameter. Although most hard-core birders find this completely off topic and if they were to decide, it would for orthodox birders be best to leave out of consideration. Some people value the birding destination by the amount of other activities that can be shared on the same trip, be that:
- indigenous culture
- spectacular mammals such as Gorilla or the Big Five,
- Gourmet food
- or much feared by old school conservative birder – good prolonged opportunities for great bird photography. 😉
So in the end, just as with the world bird cup last year, it is totally possible that your parameters are not the same as the majority. Stick to what is best for you. Hopefully, this exercise will help promote some lesser know localities. And for newbies and non-birders who are less initiated in the wonderful world of birds, let me just remind you after you watched all the videos, to check yourself in the mirror to make sure you have closed your mouth before leaving your desk or put aside the tablet or the smartphone.
There is some jaw/dropping, awe-inspiring footage of some fantastic creatures presented in these videos and photos and they are all great destinations. (Now, close your mouth). Best maybe to plan to visit all of them over the next 36 years.
Not sure you will have 36 years? Do it in 18 years. Two destinations per year.
Not sure you will have 18 years? Do it in ….
…Man! You do the math..
Not enough money? Check out all the videos again, get your field guides and start a new life list. Birds seen and identified on Birdingblogs.
Totally free.. and no bugs, no heat, no cold, no rain, no snow and no….the list goes on …and you can lead a normal life again, hug your spouse and your kids and maybe take up golf – or …..
Anyone into Second Life? or Geocaching?
Bottom line: This is just a game – and a little bit of fun. But at least birdwatching in the tropics most of the time gives incentives for bird conservation and sustainable eco-tourism opportunities for the local economy.
Let’s play! Click the link!
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I just noticed that after you have voted the videos are not accessible. That sucks! So I have prepared a Playlist on YouTube containing all the YouTube videos displayed on the survey. Maybe you want to check some of these before you start the voting process.
Click on the embedded video here to see all videos.
Top Photo: Philippine Eagle by Voltaire Malazarte and Marvelous Spatuletail by Max Waugh.
Click the link to vote until 7 PM Easter Time, Jan 7:
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