Events & Newsletters

Nicaraguan Bird Expert's Tour a Success


A Promotional Tour in Minnesota for

A Guide to the Birds of Nicaragua / Una Guía de Aves


Objective: To promote bird tourism and A Guide to the Birds of Nicaragua / Una Guía de Aves in Minnesota.

Dates: April 23 to May 16, 2016.


1. Introduction

I decided to accept an invitation to visit Minnesota in light of a suggestion from Keith Olstad about the importance of promoting both bird tourism in Nicaragua and sales of the book A Guide to the Birds of Nicaragua/ Guía de Aves, with the support by Project Minnesota/León for handling financial matters. I also thought about the various people who visited Nicaragua at the beginning of the project and supported it by paying for eighty of the bird paintings for the guide book.

Mr. Olstad organized and coordinated activities with groups of birders in various settings around Minnesota. For the promotional events, I developed a PowerPoint presentation about the birds of Nicaragua in which I included: the national bird; a map from the guide book with the zones and principal reserves of Nicaragua; a chart that shows the dates of the first checklist of birds of Nicaragua, the second list, and A Guide to the Birds of Nicaragua/ Guía de Aves; a chart giving the distribution of bird species in Nicaragua, including both resident and migratory species; a detailed accounting of the bird species shared by Nicaragua and Minnesota; a description of general problems and various field studies; bird species in danger of extinction in Nicaragua and their conservation; settings for bird watching and illustrations of the A Guide to the Birds of Nicaragua/ Guía de Aves and other guides.

As well as having copies of A Guide to the Birds of Nicaragua / Guía de Aves, we used a display board designed by Jim Gindorff. He generously gave it to us to use in all of our presentations. It uses photos by Keith Olstad. 



1. 36 copies of Guide to the Birds of Nicaragua were sold in the first five presentations.

2. Six presentations were made, as illustrated in the following chart:


3. Three guided birding hikes with birders who speak Spanish were offered in the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge with the goal of promoting bird watching among Spanish speakers.


4. As a result of these presentations, Project Minnesota/León is organizing a group of members and bird watchers who are interested in visiting Nicaragua to explore social development projects in León and observe birds at various sites around Nicaragua.

5. A meeting was held with four members of the National Parks of the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica who were in Wisconsin for an encounter or partnership between parks of Costa Rica and parks of the United States. It was interesting to see what they are doing to promote conservation activities with youth and organizing competitions of bird paintings and local festivals. 


6. Other

a. On April 30 we participated in a fair at Anoka-Ramsey Community College with Robert Walz of Tropical Wings. He works with Eastern Bluebirds and was in the Miraflor and El Jaguar observing birds. I was his guide there for five days, and he said that I was the best of his guides, so we have a great spokesperson in him.

b. I had a dialogue with Carrol Henderson, author of four books about birds, biodiversity, insects, and mammals of Costa Rica. He has been Director of Non-game Wildlife Division of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for forty-three years. He is very well-known in the conservation community of Minnesota. We had a public conversation with eighty participants, birders and members of Project Minnesota/León about birds, climate change, and ecotourism related to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Minnesota . The conversation included questions at the end.



To Keith and Libby Olstad for hosting me in their home for this whole stay, covering the costs of food and other necessities, for their friendship and the work of organizing the program for the entire time in Minnesota. Many thanks.

To Kara Beckman, president of the board for Project Minnesota/León, for handling the funds to cover the costs of this tour.

To friends Gary and Claire Nelson, Janeen and Mike McAllister, Mike and Sue Engh, Mike Troutman and Amy Blumenshine, Chet and Miriam Meyers, Peter Thiel and Maryellen Skan, Steve and Lois Parker, Jim and Sonya Gindorff, Doug and Sheila Grow, who contributed funds and donations.

To the interpreters who worked with me in the different sessions: José Tori, Hana Bibliowicz, Lucia Abolafia, Joan and Marcela Estibill.

To Doug and Sheila Grow for inviting us to spend time with them observing birds at their cabin in Wisconsin.

To Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union, Savaloja Fund, for granting funds to cover the cost of the interpreters.

To Ken and MaryLou Larson for hosting us at their farm near Salt Lake.

To Jim Gindorff for designing, producing, and printing the poster used for the presentations. I should mention that if some member of cabe ALAS and the team of co-authors of the field guide need to promote the guide, it would be good to solicit from Keith Olstad the digital cache of the poster design in order to make changes that are considered necessary. Jim would provide the poster cache. I should mention that the photos are by Keith Olstad and the authorship of the poster and photos should be mentioned on the poster. Jim also printed a half-sized copy of the poster that can be carried to Nicaragua with the larger poster, for use in presentations. Thank you, Jim. 




We used the rest of the time to search for birds, for which I am enormously grateful to Keith, with whom I traveled to many sites. Equally, I am grateful to Mike Engh, Mike Troutman, Jim Gindorff, and Chet Meyers, who helped me identify 181 bird species of the 314 species that are documented in Minnesota, approximately 57 percent of the bird species of Minnesota. It is interesting to note that in the sessions we spoke often about climate change and its impact on birds, their habitats, their nesting seasons, food, migration, and so forth. During this same time we observed that birds were arriving in their reproduction territories very late. For two weeks everyone was waiting for the birds’ arrival; we were looking for them everywhere. The numbers of individuals and of species were well below normal compared to previous years.

To everyone: many thanks and much, much appreciation.

Francisco José Muñoz

Alianza Para Las Areas Silvestres (ALAS), Nicaragua

May 16, 2016