Ventures Birding Heads to South America to Discover Exotic Birds - TribPapers

Ventures Birding Heads to South America to Discover Exotic Birds

A team of knowledgeable and experienced guides are planning to take birding tours to South America this year and next. Photo Courtesy of Ventures Birding.

Asheville – As spring arrives here in North Carolina, one can’t help but notice the arrival of a robin or two on the lawn, pulling at a worm, or a few unexpected birds at the feeder. Could that be a common yellow-throated warbler? Perhaps some of our readers participated in the February Great Backyard Bird Count, when birders from more than 200 countries gathered to share bird sightings for four days. Here in Asheville, an incredible birding organization, Ventures Birding Tours, owned and operated by Simon Thompson, is well worth knowing about and familiarizing yourself with his incredible birding tours internationally as well as locally. At long last, health restrictions have been lifted, so this coming year, Ventures Birding is opening the tours to a number of countries in South America. A safe and enjoyable travel experience to many places in the world has opened up again, as all travelers are able to find and see exotic birds.

To be sure you are able to join in on the fun, one must sign up now for a spectacular trip to South America, as the tours do fill up rapidly. April road trips in the United States are already totally booked. Birding on the South American continent is unparalleled, as one-third of the world’s birds are found there. The landscapes are overwhelmingly beautiful and incredibly diverse. Ventures Birding is planning tours to Peru, Columbia, Suriname, Brazil, Ecuador, and Trinidad and Tobago all in 2023 and 2024. You will be traveling with a knowledgeable and experienced team of guides.

2023 trips to South America

The tour to Peru is with Johnny Wilson and Simon Thompson from August 1–9, 2023. Peru boasts an astronomical list of more than 1,840 bird species, 113 of which are found nowhere else on Earth. A highlight of the tour will be a visit to the world’s largest macaw clay lick, where up to sixteen species of parrot congregate daily to forage for minerals.

The trip to Columbia is with Clifton Avery, October 29–November 6, 2023. Clifton was born and raised in the foothills of western North Carolina. After college, Clifton worked on various ornithological research projects where he banded and nest searched for a wide range of avian species in Peru, Colombia, and Nicaragua. With nearly 2,000 bird species recorded within its boundaries, Colombia is home to more birds than any other country in the world. The Santa Marta Mountain Range is the highest coastal mountain range in the world and home to 26 species of endemic birds. Highlights will include seeing American Flamingos at Flamencos National Park, searching for critically endangered and endemic Blue-billed Curassows at Tayrona Forest, and finding the southern-most species of the Cardinalis genus, the Vermilion Cardinal. All told, we expect to encounter 400–500 bird species on this trip!

Two trips to Brazil are planned, one to Southeast Brazil and the other to Bahia, both with Simon Thompson as the guide. Thompson, owner and operator of Ventures Birding Tours, has lived in North Carolina for over 20 years. He is originally from Suffolk, England. Prior to moving to the US, he lived in Lebanon, Kenya, Yemen, and Ghana, where his interest in birds and natural history began. In addition to traveling extensively in the United States, Simon spent six months in China studying the crane and bird of prey migration as a member of the British “China Crane Watch” expedition. He has been on the board of the Blue Ridge Audubon Society (formerly the Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society) in Asheville, NC. Simon has led many birding trips all over the world.

The Southeast Brazil tour with Simon as a guide takes place from November 8–16, and Bahia, Brazil, is from November 17–25. This tropical birding trip to Southeast Brazil will focus on finding the Cherry-throated Tanager, one of the most endangered birds in the world with perhaps fewer than 20 individuals in existence. The exploratory trip to Bahia in the northeast starts in Salvador, the capital of Brazil’s northeastern state of Bahia. This region is known for its Portuguese colonial architecture, Afro-Brazilian culture, and tropical coastline. The tour will be looking for the beautiful endemic hummingbird, the Hooded Visorbearer. Blue-winged and Lear’s Macaws, and other Caatinga specialties

Suriname is located on the northeastern Atlantic coast of South America and is located in the Guianan endemic zone. Aaron Steed is guiding the trio from November 27 to December 6. Aaron has been interested in birds and natural history his entire life. Originally from Wilmington, NC, Aaron holds a B.S. in General Biology from the University of North Carolina at Asheville and has worked numerous ornithological field positions.

Although rarely visited by birders from the USA, over 700 species of birds have been observed in Suriname, and the tour is hoping to see over 300 of them in this 10-day trip, perhaps such iconic birds as the capuchin bird, the crimson topaz, the crimson fruitcrow, the pompadour cotinga, and even the harpy eagle.

For complete information on the many tours being offered, go to

Local day trips

In addition, Ventures Birding offers many day trips with knowledgeable guides for a fee of $60.00. Locally, Kevin Burke took a group to find two seldom-seen birds, whip-poor-wills and woodcocks, at the Town Park in Mills River. This coming Friday, April 14th, he is taking a group to the Green River Gamelands in Saluda. Apparently, this should be an excellent day full of warblers, vireos, tanagers, and other spring migrants. In fact, throughout the spring, Ventures Birding is offering a number of day trips in the area. Just go to to find out when and where. But do sign up early, as these trips fill up fast.