ABOUT KINGBIRD TOURS


KingBird Tours has been reorganized to provide private birding tours that cater to individuals and small groups whose main interest is to see as many of the birds as possible in the area covered. The itineraries are planned for birding to occupy most of the daylight hours of the tour, with some occasional owling as well. All habitats and the best accessible birding areas will be covered to ensure a balanced representation. Tours are planned for the time of the year that is the most productive for each place visited. We concentrate on finding those species which are only, or best, seen in the tour area. Groups will be kept small for more enjoyable birding and to make it possible for each member of the group to see more of the species found. We will operate tours for groups consisting of 1-10 participants.


I am concentrating on Asia because that is the area of my greatest expertise. I have been studying Asian birds since 1960 and have lived and/or traveled in Asia for 23 years since then. As of January 2014, I have seen over 95% of the species recorded in nearly every country of Asia, for an Asia-wide total of over 2,100 species. I have led 144 birding tours to various Asian destinations. I have traveled and/or lived in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Turkey, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Micronesia, Philippines, New Guinea, Australia, and New Zealand. I have written A Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia, published by Harper-Collins in 1975 and Checklist of the Birds of Eurasia published in 1997, as well as over 120 scientific papers and popular articles about birds. The Explorer's Club has elected me a Corresponding Member, the Royal Geographic Society a Fellow and the American Museum of Natural History a Research Associate in recognition of my Asian bird research and exploration. The tours I operate finance my research and writing.


Recently, I have made birding visits to Colombia and Costa Rica with a view to expanding KingBird Tours’ offerings.


A main objective of KingBird Tours is to provide comprehensive coverage of the areas visited. This is done by confining a tour to a single zoogeographic entity rather than skimming several. Our tours typically spend an extra day or two in the better areas to increase our chances of seeing some of the species that are more difficult to find. We also make efforts to see some of the more interesting but secretive species that require more time to locate. Staying a little longer in some areas helps to make a more relaxed tour because it increases the time between hotel shifts.


We usually use first-class hotels where available and the best we can get where they are not. On many of our tours you can expect that we'll be staying in some grubby hotels or resthouses, which are not that comfortable and where the food is far from gourmet-style, in order to be near a good birding area. If there is a choice between a good hotel an hour from the birding site and poor accommodation at the site, we'll normally stay near the birds. Less driving and more sleep makes for a more enjoyable and relaxed tour.


Read the itineraries carefully to find out how difficult a tour is. They range from easy and comfortable to physically demanding. The easy ones could be enjoyed by anyone with moderately good health, while a more demanding one might require good physical condition. Also, check carefully to see what the accommodations are like. They range from good to excellent on some tours to primitive on others. Ask us if you have questions about any aspect of a tour.


The main question to ask yourself when considering a KingBird Tour is whether you'll be happy doing little else but birding. Your level of birding expertise is irrelevant. Our tour members range in birding experience from nearly none to extensive, with most folks falling in between. What they all share, however, is a keen interest in continuous birding. If you are not that keen, such intense birding can be boring. We've had a number of not so keen birders, and even non-birders on our tours and most were happy they came. However, those who enjoyed the experience were those who were able to derive pleasure from looking for and at birds all day, every day.


We visit some marvelous areas that are usually well off the beaten tourist routes. The scenery, the wildlife and the keen excitement of the birders are infectious and make for a joyful experience. Of course, anyone may simply take a day off from birding and relax or check out the sights or shop. We will be happy to assist any of the tour members in alternate activities and we usually have a local tour company representative who will also be able to help. The daily bird-watch goes on regardless.


KingBird Tours can be tiring in the sense that there is no letup to the birding, the days can be long and it is often necessary to drive long distances to get to the birds. However, we normally maintain a slow pace while walking to enable us to spot the birds before they get away. We like to cover an area deliberately rather than with haste. When a special bird shows up, we might spend a half hour just soaking it up. And we do take time to enjoy the sights and sounds of other aspects of nature.


A relaxed, unhurried ambiance is a core goal of all KingBird Tours. We want the experience to be enjoyable and fun, something to be remembered with pleasure. While we try to see all the birds, we recognize that as impossible and concentrate on enjoying those we do see rather than suffering over those we don't.


A typical birding day begins with a substantial breakfast well before dawn so that we can reach our birding destination by sunrise. A packed lunch in the field is common. On hot or long days, a rest period might be taken at midday. Birding normally continues until the last light of day. Every effort will be made to ensure the possibility of eight hours sleep/night, but occasionally it won't work out. Rest days will average perhaps ½-day/week.


We do not organize or operate independent travel.


In each country we operate in, we choose the best tour operator available and make them responsible for every aspect of the tour. This is somewhat more expensive but makes for a smoother tour. Having a separate contract with each hotel and bus driver is cheaper, but often leaves gaps which make for a bumpy tour. We do everything we can to ensure a smooth operation.


KingBird Tours' vast experience running birding tours in Asia assures you of a superb birding experience. We know where the birds are and where we might be able to find whatever comfort is available to the birder. We also know and utilize the best tour operators in each area. Join us for one of the finest birding adventures of your life.

        
Ben King