Talamanca Hummingbirds
Debbie Jordan

Debbie Jordan on Costa Rica with Mario Cordoba, her Birding Passion, and Traveling Now

Debbie Jordan on Costa Rica with Mario Cordoba, her Birding Passion, and Traveling Now

Aug 19, 2021|BirdingHolbrook in the Field| by Holbrook Travel
Back from the Field: Debbie Jordan on Costa Rica with Mario Cordoba, her Birding Passion, and Traveling Now

Holbrook caught up with our birding expert Debbie Jordan just as she was headed to Maine for a birding adventure, then on to Hog Island Audubon Camp. Debbie’s interest in birding was “seeded” long ago and she has grown into being an expert on organizing birding adventures. Earlier this year, she traveled to Costa Rica on a birding trip with expert guide Mario Córdoba.

 Group picture at Los Cusingos

Q: Can you share how birding became such a big part of your life that led you to be an expert?

Debbie: Well, you mentioned being an expert and I'm, by far, not an expert. However, I have learned a lot since I started getting interested in birds. That started from longtime Holbrook traveler Barry Rossheim, a high school science teacher from Venice, Florida. In addition to the student trips he was planning, he asked me to organize a Costa Rica birding trip for him and his local Audubon. I learned so much from him and what goes into a good birding expedition. I realized this type of trip is my type of trip! I began paying more attention to behaviors and learning about field marks and ID, which I guess turned me into a birder! I love being outside to appreciate incredible wildlife experiences every day.

 Talamanca Hummingbird by Debbie Jordan

Q: How have you become so involved in working with leaders in the birding world to provide expeditions all over the world?

Debbie: It's mainly evolved because of the people I work with. I love them. The thing about birders is they are typically extremely nice people who want to share their experiences and their knowledge with the people around them. When I started getting into it so long ago I was being embraced by everyone that I came into contact with, so I really learned from my clients who were guiding me and teaching me how to design these trips.

 Fiery-billed Aracari by Debbie Jordan

Q: Tell us what is special about being on a birding expedition with a group?

Debbie: Just that like mindedness, the kindness and knowledge people share and just the fact that everyone is so enthusiastic about what we are getting to see! At the end of the day, sitting down at the table and going over all the cool birds that we saw and picking a favorite. It's just life changing, I guess. Every trip I go on, I feel changes my life and I like to hope that that happens for everybody else who travels.

 Photo by Debbie Jordan

Q: How did the trip with Mario Cordoba come about?

Debbie: Well, I try to set up an annual trip with Mario. We've had a really long relationship going back to a teacher trip we did in 1998 when he was one of the guides. He's just an amazing birder, and kind of has the nickname “Super Mario” because of his superhuman eyes and ears, and the dazzling speed at which he deploys the scope when he gets on the bird! I have learned an incredible amount from him on the many trips we’ve done together over the years.

 American crocodile on the Tárcoles River by Debbie Jordan

Q: What’s it like traveling now during the pandemic? What were some of the concerns before you traveled?

Debbie: I didn't really feel any concerns other than dealing with wearing a mask on the plane. And in airports it wasn't bad at all. I don't think our people were that concerned about Covid being an issue for us.

 Blue-gray Tanager by Debbie Jordan

Q: Specifically, how did the country adopt safety protocols where you traveled?

Debbie: People have to know that Costa Rica and other Latin American countries are extremely fastidious when it comes to following the latest safety protocols, with mask-wearing and hand-washing wherever you go. Each of the lodges is required to have hand-washing stations, so once you arrive and/or go into public spaces like the dining room or lounge, you wash your hands, sanitize and wear masks. I never felt unsafe anytime.

Q: Do you think it is safe now for birders to travel, depending on the country?

Debbie: Based on my experience, I feel it is safe, using the precautions as directed. As I said, I never felt at any time that I was putting myself in any kind of danger. I hope to reassure people that you should not be afraid of traveling. It shouldn't stop you from following your passion if you follow the right protocols.

 Common Tody-Flycatcher at Las Cruces Biological Station by Debbie Jordan

Q: Can you provide a summary of the overall trip itinerary and where you went?

Debbie: We started in San José at the Bougainvillea with its 10 acres of lovely gardens, then went headed down to the Pacific coast to Esquinas Rainforest Lodge. We then left the lowlands for OTS Las Cruces Biological Station. En route to Savegre we stopped at Los Cusingos sanctuary, then returned to San José to bid farewell and head home. This southern route was new for me and one that I'm definitely going to offer again. Next March we will be doing lowland rainforest, Pacific coast and high elevation cloud forest from, March 10-19, 2022.

Q: Were there any memorable experiences that you want to share?

Debbie: Sure, one of our travelers had been to Los Cusingos Bird Sanctuary where he met Alexander Skutch over 20 years ago. It was fun to help him relive that special visit, see Skutch’s house as it’s preserved now with all their furnishings and books, and the beautiful property where he and his wife lived for over 40 years. I’d always heard about this place but had never been before. We got good views of a couple gorgeous manakins here!

 Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher by Debbie Jordan

Q: How about commenting on any of the birds that you saw and captured in your photos.

Debbie: One of the ones that I was so happy to get was a good picture of the Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher, that's one of my favorite birds in the Savegre area. I first saw it many years ago, never have been able to get a good picture. They seemed to be everywhere this year. Which reminds me, early May is an excellent time to be birding in Costa Rica! Because it is nesting season, you’ll see a lot of mating displays and fledglings with parents, great for catching birds in good poses out in the open.

 Clay-colored Thrush by Debbie Jordan

Q: What about every morning, what did you feel like to wake up in Costa Rica.

Debbie: No alarm clock needed! Costa Rica’s ubiquitous national bird, the Clay-colored Thrushes (CCT) start singing about 3:30 a.m. and are joined by the rest of the dawn chorus about 4:30-4:45! A great wake-up for our 5:30 before-breakfast walks. Mario told us Costa Rican farmers say that the CCTs are calling in the rains for a productive growing season.

 Birding at Paraíso Quetzal by Debbie Jordan

Q: Are there any other moments or items from your trip that you want to share?

Debbie: Yeah there's so many. I think another really fun place that I had heard a lot about and had not been to was Paraiso Quetzal. It was a big surprise to me when we showed up for lunch after our visit to Los Quetzales National Park (another place I had not been). At about 9,000 feet above sea level, the hummingbird feeders are just amazing. I got a couple of nice action shots and I know the other participants on our trip did as well.

 Fiery-throated Hummingbirds by Debbie Jordan

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