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Catch up on the latest news from Victor Emanuel Nature Tours by reading the latest VENTflash.

Spring in South Texas


Barry Zimmer: May 25, 2018

On a tour filled with one successful day after another, the seventh day of our trip stood out above all others. It began along Highway 100 west of Port Isabel with wonderful scope views of an Aplomado Falcon. This striking species has become a fairly regular fixture on recent tours to this area, but such exceptional views of this highly sought bird seemed to be an auspicious beginning to our day. Whooping Crane— Photo: Barry Zimmer   We were headed out to South...

Cuba: A Relaxed & Easy Tour


David Ascanio: May 25, 2018

Our Relaxed & Easy Cuba tour wasn’t much different from a regular tour, except that we enjoyed more rest time and saw birds in a very relaxed style. Upon arrival in Santa Clara, we nailed the common and widespread Antillean Palm-Swift, as well as the endemic Cuban Blackbird. This blackbird’s closest relatives are found in Mexico–Central America and the northern Pacific Coast of South America. Besides seeing some endemic and restricted range distribution birds, we noticed...

Colorado Grouse


Brian Gibbons: May 23, 2018

We braved 16 to 86 degrees, prairie winds, thunderstorms, sleet, and the more mundane spring snows of Colorado this year. The grouse, for the most part, performed on schedule their ritual displays, as they have for eons. The sage-grouse were strutting in the sage of North Park, the prairie-chickens dancing and fighting on the plains, and the Sharp-tails spinning in the mountains. Stunning mountain scenery and stark prairies illustrated our trip across Colorado and Kansas. Greater...

Panama: Bocas del Toro Archipelago


Jeri Langham: May 21, 2018

Tranquilo Bay Eco Adventure Lodge was built on Bastimentos Island adjacent to the large Parque Nacional Isla Bastimentos in Panama’s Bocas del Toro Archipelago. I scouted this location in January 2011 and immediately knew it was a fantastic location for VENT tours. Participants also have opportunities to snorkel, kayak, visit the bat cave, paddleboard, and fish or swim in the warm Caribbean waters. An enticing example of what awaits visitors to this marvelous birding paradise can be fou...



Ann Haynes-Sutton: May 21, 2018

Jamaica is a very large island for its size—not just because of its 28 endemic species, but also for the outstanding variety of landscapes, climate, food, and culture. From the dry coastal plains, where cacti grow in close proximity to mangroves, to the moist karst limestone hills of the Cockpit Country, and the rain forests of the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park and World Heritage Site, we got great views of wonderful birds and experienced Jamaican hospitality, culture, and ...

The Best of Costa Rica


David Wolf: May 21, 2018

Even after many trips over many years we continue to be amazed by Costa Rica, so small in size but huge in possibilities!  There are few other places in the world where such a diversity of birds and other wildlife can be seen so readily, in such a compact area, and our 2018 Best of Costa Rica tour took full advantage of this wealth as we roamed from one side of the country to the other.  Costa Rica has done much to promote conservation, and this really paid off for us with an astoun...



David Ascanio: May 17, 2018

The Santa Clara airport was packed with Cubans greeting their relatives who had brought an endless amount of stuff, from plasma televisions to duffle bags loaded with clothes, electronics, and much more. The luggage belt at the airport arrivals seemed more like a storage house than an international airport! Once out of this chaotic situation, we were already searching for Cuban birds. Our goal was to see something special, but the ubiquitous Turkey Vulture showed up right away and was followe...

Rick Wright speaks at Nebraska Ornithologists' Union Meeting

May 16, 2018

  Rick Wright, VENT tour leader and the designer of VENT’s Birds & Art tour program, will be the featured speaker Saturday evening, May 19, at the Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union Meeting. Rick’s presentation is titled, “Brown is Beautiful: Discovering the American Sparrows and their Discoverers.” Rick Wright  

Northern Ecuador Hummingbird & Tanager Extravaganza


Paul Greenfield: May 16, 2018

COLOR—all varieties and qualities of color: bright, glistening, shimmering, glowing, shining, iridescent, opalescent, glossy, velvety, opaque, pastel, gaudy, subdued, contrasting, blended, primary, secondary, terciary and on and on—could well have been the underlying theme of this year’s first Relaxed & Easy Northern Ecuador Hummingbird & Tanager Extravaganza. During this weeklong Andean adventure, we found ourselves fully immersed in a spectacular feathered festival...

Rafael Galvez in Birding magazine, April 2018

May 16, 2018

  The cover of the April 2018 issue of Birding magazine featured the beautiful artwork of VENT tour leader Rafael Galvez in a watercolor titled Tidal Flats at Snake Bight, Everglades.  In the same issue, Rafael was the subject of the “Birding Interview” in which he talks about his spark birds (herons and egrets), his raptor research along the Black Sea of Georgia, his involvement with the Florida Keys Hawkwatch migration monitoring project, his advice for young birders o...

Erik Bruhnke appears in "This Birding Life"

May 16, 2018

  In March 2018, VENT tour leader Erik Bruhnke led VENT’s Honduras: The Lodge at Pico Bonito tour. While there, Erik was interviewed by Bill Thompson, III for This Birding Life, a podcast series produced by the folks at Bird Watcher’s Digest.  Learn more about Erik during this 17-minute interview with "The World's Happiest Birdman" – and be sure to stay tuned in for the “Lightning Round” towards the end! Erik Bruhnke     &...

Northern Tanzania


Kevin Zimmer: May 15, 2018

As has become the routine, the entire group arrived in Tanzania at least a day early to recover from the international flights and enjoy some relaxing birding on the lovely grounds of Ngare Sero Mountain Lodge, an old estate converted to an intimate tourist lodge.  Here, amidst the spectacular gardens and remnant forest bordering a lily-covered pond and trout stream, we gained an introduction to African birds, including several species that we would not see elsewhere on the trip. ...

Amazon River Cruise


David Ascanio: May 15, 2018

Every time we lead the Amazon River Cruise we have great expectations because we know that it will not only give us the opportunity to show you great birds, but it will also enhance your life. This year was no exception. Every day, the sunrise greeted us with pale red clouds blending with pink and some with yellow stripes. By the end of the afternoon, it seemed as if the sun was hiding below the tumultuous river that was always carrying huge trees, branches, water hyacinths, and mud. And, whe...

Cloud Forests of Northern Peru Pre-trip


Andrew Whittaker: May 15, 2018

WOW! This fabulous tour truly is the real Mecca of Andean Cloud Forest birding with almost 300 species recorded, including a staggering record-breaking 42 dazzling species of hummingbirds, many colorful mind-blowing tanagers, and some very exciting endemics! Voted top two birds of the trip (with outstanding views of both) were the outrageous Spatuletail and, of course, the magnificent looks at the rarely seen White-tipped Sicklebill, making it number one! Sadly, we were unable to try for the ...

Colombia: The Central & Western Andes


Steve Hilty: May 12, 2018

Last year I summarized this trip with the following comments (here paraphrased in part) “. . . many curvy roads, landslides, massive road construction projects, masses of tractor-trailer trucks, out-sized meals for carnivores, enchanting cloud forests, spectacular mountain scenery, hummingbirds, antpittas, colorful tanagers, mixed species flocks, and friendly, helpful, out-going people. And now, after a near two-decade period of unrest lasting until the very early 2000s, a young generat...

El Triunfo


Brian Gibbons: May 12, 2018

From the desiccated woodlands of Sumidero Canyon to the moss-encrusted oaks of the cloudforest, Chiapas provided a wonderful array of eye candy in the form of birds, mammals, vistas, and butterflies. Our transect of the Sierra Madre de Chiapas took us from the relative comfort of a modern hotel and new bus to camping and hiking for a week. Arriving in Tapachula was a welcome return to civilization, with our amazing experiences along the trail and a few bug bites in tow. Horned Gu...

Spring Hawaii


Erik Bruhnke: May 11, 2018

Our Spring Hawaii tour pursues a vibrant birding adventure throughout three Hawaiian Islands. During a full week of birding we explored glistening blue waters, vast grasslands, ancient forests, cliffs and canyons, outstandingly birdy residential areas, and even an active volcano. Every day was filled with some unique birds, a variety of them being island-specific endemics. Iiwi— Photo: Erik Bruhnke   On our first day we headed out to the nearby Kapiolani Park j...



Victor Emanuel: May 10, 2018

Dear friends: For several years I've wanted to spend most of April at my beach house on the Bolivar Peninsula on the upper Texas coast. My house is situated close to the famed Bolivar Flats and High Island bird sanctuary, two of the premier places in North America for experiencing the magic of spring migration. Every spring this region plays host to millions of shorebirds, hawks, and songbirds that pass through or linger in the area, and my house is right in the middle of it! There is no othe...

Belize: Relaxed & Easy


Michael O'Brien: May 10, 2018

While the eastern U.S. was enduring four nor’easters in a row, our happy group was meandering through paradise, enjoying Belize’s diverse natural beauty. It’s never a hardship to visit Belize, but the weather at home made this trip a particularly welcome getaway!  Slaty-tailed Trogon— Photo: Michael O'Brien   A short walk at our hotel near Belize City yielded 30+ species, providing a nice introduction to Belizean birds, including Cinnamon...

Belize's Hidden Treasures


Michael O'Brien: May 09, 2018

Our inaugural Belize’s Hidden Treasures tour was a wonderful immersion into the deep forests of Western Belize. Based at two fabulous lodges, Pook’s Hill and Black Rock, our visit to the Maya Mountain Foothills and Mountain Pine Ridge was not only birdy, but also extremely comfortable, and accompanied by some of the country’s best guides. Northern Emerald-Toucanet— Photo: Michael O'Brien   Our first morning at Pook’s Hill began with a da...

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