A Birder’s Itinerary: World Locations Where Rare Birds Gather


If you love bird watching, then you need a birder’s itinerary to make sure you get to see the most wonderful species around the Globe. Luckily, we’re here with some great tips.

The Andes

This is the place where you can spot magnificent bird species, like the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock. This mostly looks like a combination between an orange stuffed Muppet and a parrot, so it’s really worthwhile.

You can easily spot it if you get binoculars under 200, but choose a good pair for that so you can really admire all its vibrant colors. As its name suggests, this little fellow loves hiding in the rocks, so it won’t attract predators.


The Turquoise-Browed Motmot is another bird you’ll adore, with its colorful blue feathers and a tail that looks like a small bell. Its long, sharp beak and brown-looking eyebrows actually make it look quite scary, though.

You can find it in other tropical areas like Costa Rica, but it mostly dwells around the Yucatan Peninsula. Believe it or not, this specimen actually came here from Switzerland – talking about a drastic change of weather and landscape. Now it thrives in lush rainforests, but it still has a pretty hard time hiding from predators with its colorful plumage.


If you’re after really rare birds that are hardly ever seen and you’re still in South America, you can go to Cuba. This is where the Zapata Rail, an endangered bird that hasn’t been spotted in about 40 years, was seen again this year in Zapata Swamp.

With about 400 individuals left that can’t even fly so well, it’s obvious that they become an easy prey. Besides, they can’t even migrate in case their homes are affected. This bird isn’t spectacular looking, it has a motley brown plumage and a long, thin orange beak, but it should definitely be on your bucket list because it’s so rare.

New Zealand

Have you ever wondered what a combination of a parrot and an owl might look like? Well, go no further than New Zealand, the dwelling place of the playful kakapo. This is a parrot that can’t fly but likes roaming around at night.

Weighing about 7.5 pounds, the Kakapo can reach a venerable age, it’s very smart and can easily make friends with people. The bad news is that ornithologists deem it critically endangered, so you might not have many chances to admire it.

New Guinea

This is an amazing country, especially because you can admire the Hooded Pitohui here. With its orange feathers and black head and neck, it looks like a wizard. And no wonder you get an eerie feeling looking at it, it’s also poisonous.

That’s because it eats a specific type of poisonous beetles, which make its orange feathers irritant. So having found a way to assimilate the poison, this fearsome little devil can now fight off its own predators.

You can also see the Ribbon-Tailed Astrapia here, with its black plumage and huge ribbon-like tail which reach as much as 40 inches. So that explains why it’s been so hunted before.


This is where you can find the Quetzal, a sacred Mayan bird that was believed to be the incarnation of the God of Air. And that doesn’t surprise us considering how imperial it looks with its huge green tail and a very colorful, red, green, white, blue and brown plumage. Besides, it can fly as high as 10,000 feet, so no wonder it was personified as a God.

African Sahara

Get here as fast as you can if you want to spot the cute Malachite Kingfisher. This can be found along the rivers in the African Sahara, with its blue crest and back, and a brown chest and belly. You’ll love seeing it plunge into the river water after its prey. And if you look at it carefully, you’ll see the protective skin that covers its eyes, enabling it to see underwater.


Home to the Helmeted Hornbill, or more likely the Horned Hornbill, Sumatra should definitely be on your itinerary. This bird can be found in different spots in the Malay Peninsula, and it looks like having developed a huge horn on its forehead.

Besides, its beak is made entirely from bone and it’s incredibly heavy. Its head is very colorful, producing a stark contrast with its black body, and you’ll love the trill it makes, almost like a melodic guffaw.

Sri Lanka

Having seen what a combination of a Muppet and a parrot looks like, you should also see a bird with a frog mouth instead of a beak. And that’s its actual name, the Indian Frogmouth. Hopefully, its face isn’t what makes it hide in the tropical forests, but it can really camouflage itself. So make sure you get that awesome pair of binoculars, you’ll need it.

South Africa

Another bird with a long tail, which is actually named the Long-tailed Widowbird for an extra plus of originality inhabits the South African savannah. It’s just half the total length of the Ribbon-Tailed Astrapia, but 20 inches is still quite a lot, so the males use it for mating rituals.


If you can’t get in Japan this winter, you can also try Russia and China the rest of the year. But the Mandarin Duck is a very colorful bird that will amaze you with its plumage. A vibrant blue for the body, with dashes of red and white, make a good contrast with its mostly brown plumage.

But that’s not the only thing that will amaze you. Seeing it take off is like watching a rocket fly straight into the sky. However, there are slim chances to see it dive for food, and mostly you’ll just spot it relaxing in a tree or on a rock.

Where will you go?

With so many wonderful destinations around the world to see extremely rare and wonderful-looking birds, we’re curious where you’ll be headed. What bird watching destinations have you visited before? Leave us a comment below.