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Top Birding Destinations on Earth (1 Viewer)

lgonz1008

Well-known member
Hi Everyone,

I'm currently compiling a list of those countries that I should give priority as a birder to get a chance to truly enjoy the best of global birding and I wanted your input. I know the goal of seeing every bird family is a very tantalizing one that many birders can do these days, but with almost every Caribbean island having it's own family nowadays, I wanted to know what countries would all of you say, these are my top 10 to travel to get the most species and worldwide taste.

Here are my top 10 options:
1. Ecuador (4 trips around Ecuador to the main regions [Choco, Amazon, Andes, and South] will give a large variety of bird including many hard to find monotypic families)
2. Malaysia (Mostly for the hundreds Bornean species but also for the Rail-babbler)
3. Spain (Biggest diversity for European species including some highly endemic or iconic species like Great Bustard, Spanish Eagle, Wallcreeper and Lammergeier)
4. South Africa (Seems like the easiest to get into country of Africa with the most endemic families of the continent, not counting of course Madagascar)
5. Papua New Guinea (Could have also just picked West Papua, but overall it's for the Birds-of-Paradise and the endemic families)
6. Australia (Similar to most of the places listed, the species count is staggering and some of the birds I've always wanted to see before I even was a birder are found there like the Southern Cassowary and Lyrebird)
7. Peru (Similar to Ecuador in many aspects but standouts like Marvelous Spatuletail, Diameded Sandpiper-Plover and the iconic Manu Road make it hard to not pick)
8. India (Many trips will need to be made to fully enjoy this country, but I can't a better country to fit in the best of Asia without having to drill a hole in your wallet)
9. Panama (Land bridge between the North and the South, with everything from Resplendent Quetzal and Wrenthrush in the West and Harpy Eagle and Sapayoa in the East)
10. Uganda (Shoebill and Rift Valley endemics, that is all, Africa has many better locations but Shoebill is only guaranteed here, so it makes the list)

Honorable Mentions:
1. Brazil (Atlantic Forest, Pantanal and the Northeastern Region made it hard to not put in the top 10)
2. China (Probably my substitute for India but my wildlife enthusiast side came out and said tigers and gharials need to be seen)
3. Philippines/New Zealand/Madagascar (All three have some amazing icons of the birding world and amazing island endemism, but couldn't bring myself to pick one over the rest)
4. Ghana (Rockfowl alongside Egyptian Plover and other Ivory Coast endemics made it high but I had to make the cut somewhere)
5. Mexico (Covers many of the endemics and species seen only in nearby regions, but proximity to the US and Panama, dropped it down for me personally)

I want as many people's input so I can plan for better trips in the future, if you have a particular location you think it's extra worth it like New Caledonia for Kagu, please include it, my goal here is to see how people consider the best places to bird on a limited time or budget around the world.
 

dwatsonbirder

Well-known member
I'd echo Steve's suggestion of Thailand, and would add Poland in spring - unmissable in my opinion. Sri Lanka is certainly worthy of consideration, good number of endemics and scarce wintering species, fairly easy and cheap to do independently.

Good to see Uganda made your list, the best of the 5 countries I've been to in Africa.
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
I guess that is a good list if your goal is to see as many species as possible, but for overall 'bucket list' birding experiences Japan deserves serious consideration, specifically Hokkaido in winter, and its also a great country to visit.
Top of my 'bucket list' if I get the opportunity is New Zealand, ideally with a sub-Antarctic island trip, for variety of seabirds plus some cool endemics (and a few more new families), and also ideally with a trip to New Caledonia for Kagu - but this obviously won't net a whole lot of new species overall.
Appreciate Europe isn't too rich in species, but in terms of birding experiences a visit to seabird colonies in NW Europe should be on the list - British Isles, Iceland or Norway; there are of course north Pacific alternatives, although a lot harder to get to.
As far as the neotropics are concerned, I'm sure Ecuador and Peru are fine places to go birding, but you're missing out on the country with the largest number of species in the world - Colombia.
I don't have the world birding experience of many on this forum, but I'd agree with India as a must-visit destination with great diversity.
 

jurek

Well-known member
I would definitely add Thailand and Costa Rica and Poland, which can be done independently.

I agree about e.g. India, Spain, Ecuador, South Africa, Malaysia and Australia. All are pleasure to bird. Not so sure about Uganda or anywhere in Eastern Africa. Lots of nice birds and mammals, but it is not a place to bird independently.

New Guinea for me, both parts, is best birds and worst birding on Earth. Unique combination of punishing climate, poor safety, sky-high costs, poor logistics, many skulkers, inherently tough birding in the jungle with the added problem: all birds are super-shy and purposefully hide from view due to being hunted with catapults. Compare seeing a cassowary in Australia (walks around a campsite) with New Guinea (9 hours in a spiny marsh forest and failure). Nimbokrang is the place which overwhelmed Birdforum's resident budget birder who did Navy Seals training. Sums it all.

I would however look favorably at the United States and Mexico. It is so familiar that people overlook that the birds are really good (for example displaying grouse) and the species add up into a very sizable number.

I did not visit Philippines, but it seems like another birding from hell. One good bird after another becomes impossible, because they are all living dead in habitat patches too small to support them long term.
 
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raymie

Well-known member
United States
Don't forget the US! The species count may not be as high as some tropical counties but the hugs size and so many environments surely put it up there!
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
Thank you for everyone for the advices and personal recommendations. The reason I didn't put any part of the US on this list is simple, I live here (Florida to be exact), so most of the Eastern and Southern specialties of the US can be found on my home state, I've also been able to bird the state of Oregon, and while I contemplated to include a place close to home, the only one that really appealed was Alaska and Arizona, but even those birding hotspots felt a bit unfair compared to similar regions/countries, plus the budget needed for Alaska even leaves a trip to New Guinea seem budget friendly at times.

Looking forward to hearing more responses and thank you for pointing out the birding potential of Thailand.
 
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Steve Babbs

Well-known member
Not so sure about Uganda or anywhere in Eastern Africa. Lots of nice birds and mammals, but it is not a place to bird independently.

I'm curious why you think that. Several countries in East Africa can be done independently, although I can't comment from personal experience as I cancelled independent trips to Uganda and Tanzania this year.
 

DMW

Well-known member
Surprised nobody has mentioned Indonesia (other than West Papua) which surely ranks among the best birding and travel destinations, and arguably has the greatest endemic avifauna on the planet. It's also great for budget birding.

I would prioritise Indonesia, Vietnam and The Philippines simply due to the imminent extinction of so many species.
 

amears

Well-known member
Might the question be more useful if it were per trip rather than per country? Having India for example, or Indonesia on the list doesn’t narrow things down much. If you looked at it this way, you might get answers like Sabah, Atlantic Rainforest Brazil or NE India. Unless you typically travel for 6 months - perhaps you do! Either way, great topic.
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
Might the question be more useful if it were per trip rather than per country? Having India for example, or Indonesia on the list doesn’t narrow things down much. If you looked at it this way, you might get answers like Sabah, Atlantic Rainforest Brazil or NE India. Unless you typically travel for 6 months - perhaps you do! Either way, great topic.
The most travel I can get right now is about 2 weeks per year, so many trips per country, that's why I wanted to see which countries should I give more attention to
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Poland
I would frankly consider trading Spain for Morocco. A lot of the same species, but also some really attractice extras. I fully agree that Spain is the best destination in Europe (despite currently living in a place that I consider a close second) but "Europe" isn't a very important concept in biogeography - WP is and in it, Morocco is really hard to beat.
 

DMW

Well-known member
Might the question be more useful if it were per trip rather than per country? Having India for example, or Indonesia on the list doesn’t narrow things down much. If you looked at it this way, you might get answers like Sabah, Atlantic Rainforest Brazil or NE India. Unless you typically travel for 6 months - perhaps you do! Either way, great topic.
It's a fair point, but then you might as well just look at the Bird Quest tour catalogue! I think it's a reasonable proposition to start at the country level and then figure out which itineraries best suit your time and specific interests.
 

Steve Babbs

Well-known member
It's a fair point, but then you might as well just look at the Bird Quest tour catalogue! I think it's a reasonable proposition to start at the country level and then figure out which itineraries best suit your time and specific interests.
Trawling the tour companies catalogues if a great way to get ideas. I tend to use Nature Quest as I am just as interested in mammals as birds and have a strong interest in many groups.
 

dandsblair

David and Sarah
Would certainly support Indonesia, particularly Sulawesi and Halmahera.
In East Africa Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya are all pretty doable with a driver.
I would also add Ethiopia.
Of the islands Philippines and Madagascar have so many great endemics.
Would also consider Ghana as easy trip for some Iconic birds of West Africa.
 

Steve Babbs

Well-known member
Would certainly support Indonesia, particularly Sulawesi and Halmahera.
In East Africa Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya are all pretty doable with a driver.
I would also add Ethiopia.
Of the islands Philippines and Madagascar have so many great endemics.
Would also consider Ghana as easy trip for some Iconic birds of West Africa.
Uganda and Tanzania - and possibly the others have several 4WD self-drive hire options. Certainly lots of people hire their own car in Uganda.
 

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