I first met Robert Gallardo on my first trip to the neotropics, a wonderful experience at the first Mesoamerican Bird Festival in Honduras in 2009. Robert was briefly a Beat Writer on 10,000 Birds and he has also contributed a guest post. He is a great birder and has found over thirty new species in Honduras since he moved there in 1993. He is also a nice guy, a dedicated conservationist, and an ambitious project manager. Robert’s latest project, with the artist John Sill, is to produce and self-publish a field guide to the birds of Honduras in both English and Spanish. Robert is currently crisscrossing the United States fundraising for the field guide and we caught up via email to conduct this interview.
Why are you creating a field guide to the birds of Honduras?
Honduras has a unique blend of birds unlike any neighboring country where more than 100 species end their normal southern and northern ranges, including many Mesoamerican endemics. I feel it is finally time for the world to know what is really here in one comprehensive volume.
Who is working with you to make the field guide happen?
I have teamed up with a wonderful bird illustrator, John Sill, whom I met last year at a bird festival. Many of you may have already seen his art and it is extremely beautiful. His talents will make for a wonderfully illustrated field guide-all 74 plates worth!
Why do you think publishers have been reluctant to work with you to publish the guide?
Unfortunately we could not get a single publisher interested in our book because they are already tied up with other regional projects and perhaps in part because some may feel there is no real market or need for such a book. However, this doesn´t mean that there aren´t people and organizations out there who aren´t interested or are already helping.
Long-billed Hermits like Honduras
Why would birders want to come to Honduras?
As you knows firsthand there is some incredible birding in Honduras. It is the second largest country in Central America and nearly everywhere one goes there are great birds to see. For example, we can nearly guarantee to see birds like Ocellated Quail in Olancho, Lovely Cotinga, Keel-billed Motmot and many regional endemics.
What is the most surprising thing that someone who has never birded Honduras will come across?
As impoverished as much of Central America is, there is much natural beauty throughout the Honduran countryside. In fact, Honduras still has the highest percentage of forest cover in all of Central America and contains the bulk of the largest tract of lowland rainforest in the region-La Mosquitia. Great Green Macaws are still common there and a few weeks ago I saw a Crested Eagle.
Is it safe to bird Honduras?
Very good question, especially as the U.S. news portrays the country as a virtual war zone. Most of this
is related to the drug traffic trade and rarely, if ever, involves tourists. I have guided bird groups for over twelve years now and have never had a security incident. We all know that the cities are the most dangerous places to be and there aren´t too many good birds to see there anyways!
How can birders help you get the field guide published?
For a numbers of months I have been setting up mechanisms in which people can donate toward the
publication of the field guide. There is even an option to make a tax-deductible donation through a
U.S. based conservation group. Just contact me for all the details. [Details on how to donate are at the bottom of the post.]
What will birders get in return for financially helping get the guide published?
There are a number of benefits for those who want to donate. Larger donations through businesses or
other organizations can get their logos and websites placed on the inside front and back sleeves. For
others interested in John’s art one can actually “pre-purchase” his original color plates once we have
used them to produce the book, but they are going quickly! Other donations will reward you with a copy signed by John and me.
Why do you think it is important to do a Spanish-language guide as well?
A simultaneous Spanish edition would greatly enhance the conservation value of birds in Honduras.
It is rare (if at all) that a field guide produces a simultaneous edition in a country’s native language
as there is little interest (and actuality little market value) in doing so. A Spanish edition would be utilized by a wide array of people from biologists, field technicians, teachers, Honduran birders…I hope we will have the opportunity to make this happen.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Do come down and see the great birds that Honduras offers as well as the beautiful countryside, great
food and warm people. You won´t regret it.
There are a number of ways you can donate toward the book which are the following:
1. A direct wire transfer to Robert. Email him for those details at rgallardo32 AT gmail DOT com
2. A tax-deductible donation can be done through the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation. Contact Rick Thom at Rick.Thom AT mdc.mo DOT gov or Mindy Kremer at Mindy.Kremer AT mdc.mo DOT gov for details.
3. Indiegogo- An on-line funding campaign has been set up using their services. Go to www.indiegogo.com Enter the website and click on “Browse Campaigns” in the upper right hand corner. On the left you will see an “Advanced Search” box. Click on it then under the “Keywords” box type in “Birds of Honduras” then click on the “Search” box below. It will take you to the book logo. Click on the logo and follow their instructions to donate.
4. PayPal- For those who like to do on-line transactions. In your on-line search type in my bird website: www.birdsofhonduras.com Enter the home page section and on the lower left just below the front cover mock-up of the book you will see where it says “Donation Categories” where there are four choices. Pick one of those and press the “Buy Now” button then follow the PayPal instructions from there.
5. Personal check- For those who want to simply write a check. It can be made out to “Eleanor Gallardo” to the following address: P.O. Box 1166, Shasta Lake, California, 96019.
All names of those who donate will be mentioned in the book. If you don’t want your name there please let me know.