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



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...

Nebraska: Platte River, Sandhill Cranes & Prairie Grouse


Rick Wright: May 06, 2018

Birders are often accused of being obsessed with the singular, the unusual, the rare. Our short March week in Nebraska offered us plenty of that. Most notable, perhaps, was an early-arriving Whooping Crane, which we were fortunate enough to see not once but twice, first on a field with its gray cousins on our arrival along the central Platte River on the second day of the tour, and then, thanks to Danny’s eagle eye, at roost on our last day among the tens of thousands of Sandhill Cranes...

Easy Philippines


Dion Hobcroft: May 06, 2018

Adri and I were back on the road in the Philippines for our 2018 tour, and it was good to be back birding with my good friend in this friendly and exotic tropical country. Our first day of birding started at Candaba Marshes, this year suffering from a very low water level. It was still remarkably active, and we had very good views of the two key endemics we were targeting here—the handsome Philippine Duck and equally handsome Philippine Swamphen. Plenty of other species kept our gaze oc...



Barry Zimmer: April 25, 2018

Our first morning on the veranda of the Asa Wright Nature Centre was a literal whirlwind of activity. As the first light of dawn crept into the Arima Valley, activity began at the feeders off the veranda. At first it was a trickle; a male Silver-beaked Tanager arrived and sampled a piece of papaya, as did a handful of raucous Crested Oropendolas. A Rufous-breasted Hermit zipped into one of the many hummingbird feeders and was quickly chased by a White-chested Emerald. A pair of White-lined Ta...

Short Costa Rica: Toucans to Quetzals


David Wolf: April 23, 2018

Costa Rica continues to amaze us, even after many trips over many years.  There is such an astounding wealth of things for the naturalist to see and do in this small, efficient, bird-friendly country!  Our 2018 “Short Costa Rica” tour took full advantage of this abundance for an action-packed week of birding, enjoying the spectacular scenery and fabulous vegetation almost as much as the birds themselves as we explored three very different environments, from the Caribbean...

Best of Belize: Crooked Tree & Chan Chich Lodge


Barry Zimmer: April 20, 2018

On the last evening of our tour, as we were doing our final checklist session, Emil, the bartender at Chan Chich Lodge, approached me and in a quiet voice said, “Would your group like to see a Spectacled Owl?” With an emphatic, “Oh my god, of course!”, we poured out of the bar to the driveway outside, where Emil shined his light on a tree right next to the road, illuminating a fabulous Spectacled Owl. I ran to my cabana to get a scope, while others went back for binocu...



David Ascanio: April 20, 2018

We took our first Cuba style meal at the Miami airport with plenty of fried plantains, black beans, and moros y cristianos (rice with black beans).  As we boarded the plane, it seemed to everyone that so many years of waiting had become reality: Cuba was only 103 miles away! Cuban Grassquit— Photo: David Ascanio   Soon after the plane touched the runway in Camaguey airport, we were introduced to a Cuban tradition: explosive hand-clapping and smiles erupted...

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