Guyana is a tiny nation, about the size of Kansas, located on the northeastern coast of South America. Though small in size, a bird list of 794 species is quite impressive. And despite having no true endemics, Guyana is a must-visit country for every birder, starting with the fact that it is one of the easiest countries in which to seek the Guiana Shield Endemics (of which there are a staggering 47 bird species – plus stacks of endemic mammals, plants and other taxa). Second, due to a contentious relationship with neighboring Venezuela, Guyana has arguably become a more desirable destination to seek many of the bird species previously sought after in Venezuela. Third, there are a good number of range-restricted birds easily found in Guyana, such as Blood-colored Woodpecker (which is not difficult to find within the capitol city of Georgetown). Forth, Guyana is the only South American country with English as the official language, making communication very easy. Fifth, Guyana is one of a very small handful of countries in the world that is still largely forested (75 % of the country is still carpeted in beautiful, pristine rainforest!), and with hardly any human population pressure (fewer than a million people inhabit Guyana, almost all of whom reside in the capital Georgetown on the Caribbean coast, leaving the vast interior wilderness almost completely uninhabited). Sixth, USAID and the Guyana government have been developing eco-tourism infrastructure very well, in an effective program that has only encouraged sustainable development instead of environmentally-unfriendly land uses. Seventh, it is a stunningly beautiful country – who would not want to see their first lek of Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock near the magnificent Kaieteur Falls, or their first Sunbittern on the rocks at the base of the waterfall?
Guyana is simply fascinating. From watery Georgetown, which is below sea level at high tide and thus needs a sea wall and with many of its houses on stilts, one makes use of rivers, light aircraft, and 4x4 vehicles to access the major inland birding sites of this little country. In fabulous Iwokrama a canopy walkway gives easy access to desirables such as Guianan Toucanet, Guianan Puffbird, various monkeys (such as Black Spider Monkey), and loads more. Jaguars still abound here at this site, although ever-elusive. The awe-inspiring Rupununi Savannah provides a break from the largely forest birding that one does here in Guyana. The famous Giant River Otters of the Karanambu Eco-lodge provide a good excuse for birding this site. Finally, don’t forget the dazzling, Endangered Red Siskin, a healthy population of which was discovered in southwestern Guyana in 2000. Guyana is a country not to be missed. Contributor: Christ Lotz/Birding Ecotours.