UPDATED INFO ABOUT 2008 TRIPS
Hilton Pond Center Offers
To Costa Rica
WEEK ONE: 3-10 February 2007
(Updated 8 January 2007)
For complete reports on our two successful excursions in
2004-05 and one in 2006, please visit
"This Week at Hilton Pond"
for 1-14 January 2005 and 8-21 February 2006.
Download a PDF version of a write-up about our latest trip
in the May/June 2006 Costa Rica Outdoors magazine.
All text & photos © Hilton Pond Center
Adult male Ruby-throated Hummingbird (above),
captured for banding
In conjunction with Holbrook Travel, Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History is offering an exciting and educational field trip in February 2007 to study Ruby-throated Hummingbirds on their wintering grounds in Costa Rica.
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds Archilochus colubris--which occur in 38 U.S. states and across southern Canada from April through early October--are the most widely distributed hummingbird species. Nonetheless, they are poorly studied in Mexico and Central America where they spend their non-breeding months. During our third annual eight-day field trip to Guanacaste Province in northwestern Costa Rica, Center director Bill Hilton Jr. will show participants how hummingbirds are observed, captured, banded, and released and teach how to implement protocols that are part of "Operation RubyThroat: The Hummingbird Project" and The GLOBE Program. Along the way participants will visit diverse habitats and learn about fascinating aspects of Costa Rican natural history and culture--from volcanoes to Pacific coastal ecosystems, from coatimundis to tropical butterflies.
The eight-day expedition will be based at Buena Vista Lodge & Adventure Center (above), used by many international tour companies because of its excellent accommodations, food, and proximity to outstanding Costa Rican nature locales. The rustic-but-comfortable lodge has hot and cold running water, clean towels daily, indoor toilets, and fresh fruit, meats, and vegetables at every meal, so you defintely won't be "roughing it."
Guanacaste Province, in northwestern Costa Rica (red star on map below), borders Nicaragua. Unlike the Caribbean side of the Costa Rica, the west coast is drier; rather than tropical rain forests, Guanacaste has tropical DRY forests--some of which are evergreen--and there are expanses of grassland that even today are used by cattle and horse ranchers. Some ecologsts liken the terrain, climate, and vegetative structure of Guanacaste to that of West Texas in the United States--except there are several active volcanoes overlooking pristine Pacific beaches in Guanacaste!
The trip is open to ANY adult interested in studying and reporting observations of hummingbirds in Costa Rica (and--after the trip--in the the rest of Central America, Mexico, Canada, and/or the U.S.). You do NOT have to be an experienced birder or scientist. We will teach you everything you need to know to participate in the project, including observing and working with hummingbirds, collecting data, etc.
An expedition to the wintering grounds of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds will be offered on 3-10 February 2007. We especially encourage participation by K-12 teachers and will be happy to collaborate with them on efforts to find grants to help underwrite trip costs and/or to work with home institutions if they seek graduate credit for the experience. (NOTE: There's also an option for a teacher to bring an entire high school class for a special eight-day trip; please contact us for details.)
Two English-speaking Costa Rican K-12 educators will receive full scholarships from Holbrook Travel and Hilton Pond Center to join the excursion as active participants. Their involvement will help create connections with fellow educators and students from other countries in which Ruby-throated Hummingbirds also occur.
After reading the information below, please contact Debbie Sturdivant at Holbrook Travel (1-866-748-6146) if you have any questions about enrolling and/or to request enrollment forms. Register early to guarantee you can participate!
WEEK ONE DETAILED ITINERARY
February 3 (Saturday)--Arrival & Buena Vista Lodge & Adventure Center
February 4 (Sunday)--Buena Vista & Canas Dulces
February 5 (Monday)--Buena Vista & Canas Dulces
February 6 (Tuesday)--Buena Vista & Santa Rosa National Park
February 7 (Wednesday)--Buena Vista & Canas Dulces
February 8 (Thursday)--Buena Vista, Canas Dulces & Liberia
February 9 (Friday)--Buena Vista, Canas Dulces & Rincón de la Vieja National Park
February 10 (Saturday)--Buena Vista & Departure
NOTE: The main purpose of the Operation RubyThroat/GLOBE Costa Rica expedition is to learn about Ruby-throated Hummingbird winter behavior; thus, your active participation in making daily observations and collecting data is critical to the trip's success. We will have many wonderful and enjoyable experiences together, but this is NOT a pleasure trip--even though you'll have plenty of free time and are certain to have fun. If you are not willing to work hard all week and follow the expedition's research and education goals, please do not sign up for the trip. Scheduled activities are subject to change due to weather or to take advantage of unexpected learning and research opportunities, but we'll do everything we can to make sure we offer all non-research activities described above.
FIELD TRIP LEADER
BILL HILTON JR. (below left), internationally known educator-naturalist, was twice named South Carolina Science Teacher of the Year and was honored as the state's Outstanding Biology Teacher. In 1998, The Charlotte Observer named him a Carolinas "Guardian of the Environment" for a lifetime of trend-setting work in conservation and environmental education. He has led three highly successful hummingbird expeditions to Costa Rica.
Hilton is executive director of Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History. As principal investigator for "Operation RubyThroat: The Hummingbird Project," he received a 42-month grant from the National Science Foundation to integrate Operation RubyThroat with The GLOBE Program. Since 1982, Hilton has banded more than 48,100 birds at Hilton Pond, including 3,410 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.
Hilton taught in Rock Hill and Fort Mill SC schools, and at the University of Minnesota, St. Olaf College, and Winthrop University. He helped start the residential South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics in Hartsville, which he served as biology instructor and director of student research.
Hilton is a nationally sought-after speaker on diverse natural history topics. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Newberry College, which he serves as past-president on the Alumni Board of Directors. As alumni president, he organized a major international symposium on John Bachman, founder of Newberry College and a contemporary of John James Audubon. He also earned a Master of Arts in Biology Teaching from Winthrop University, and a Master of Science in Ecology & Behavioral Biology from the University of Minnesota, where he conducted a four-year field study of the behavioral ecology of Blue Jays, Cyanocitta cristata. For a complete resume, see Hilton Biographical Sketch.
Hilton and the group will be assisted by ERNESTO M. CARMAN of Talamanca Hawkwatch and Programa Conservacion de Aves. Ernesto, a native-born Costa Rican (tico), speaks fluent English and Spanish, and is one of only a few naturalists with experience observing Ruby-throated Hummingbirds within Costa Rica. Ernesto's sharp eyes, comprehensive knowledge, and terrific personality will greatly enrich our time in the field. Ernesto's family runs Finca Cristina, an environmentally friendly coffee farm that uses shade-grown techniques and recycles processing materials.
LAND PROGRAM COST: $1,425
--Rates are based on: Double occupancy with a full roster of 12 participants and subject to increase with fewer participants. (Any participant may select a single room at a higher rate but we suggest doubling as part of the community experience.)
--Participants must be: In good health, at least 21 years of age by the time the trip begins, and willing and able to participate in field work and all education and research activities. (Special consideration may be given on a case-by-case basis for college students and for advanced, mature high school students accompanied by a parent.)
--Program cost includes: All in-country transportation, accommodations, meals, expert local guide (bilingual), learning activities and field trips, and Operation RubyThroat/GLOBE instructional materials, as stated above.
--Program cost does not include: International airfare (about $600-$700, depending on departure point); meals at airport on arrival/departure days and Thursday lunch in Liberia; any additional optional activities not described above; non-mealtime beverages or snacks; gratuities for local personnel; $26 departure tax; or graduate credit costs. (Please note that because of difficulty with international connections, it may be necessary for you to spend an extra night traveling to and/or from Costa Rica.)
--Payment policy: To confirm your space, send $200 deposit to Holbrook Travel, along with your enrollment form. The deposit is refundable less a $75 processing fee if cancellation is received prior to 60 days. Final payment is due no later than 60 days before departure date; there will be no refunds for cancellations within 60 days of departure.
--Pre-trip activities: You will receive lists of suggested readings and resources that will enhance your trip experience. We expect that you will study and learn all important information related to the trip's research goals.
--Optional graduate credit: Contact Holbrook Travel's Debbie Sturdivant for infomation about how to apply and pay for graduate credit through Weber State University. You may also work with your local college to earn credit there.
--Tax deductions: Since the Operation RubyThroat expeditions to Costa Rica are service projects in support of a non-profit, an estimated $325 of your fees should be tax-deductible. If you are participating as part of a college degree program, additional tax deductions may be taken.
Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History and Operation RubyThroat: The Hummingbird Project derive no financial gain from the Costa Rican excursion; trips are offered as outreach activities and as a way to learn more about winter behavior of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. If you're interested in making a separate contribution to the Center and/or Operation RubyThroat, please see Supporting the Work of Hilton Pond Center.
After reading the information above, contact Debbie Sturdivant at Holbrook Travel by E-mail or phone (1-866-748-6146) if you have any questions about enrolling and/or to request enrollment forms. See you in Costa Rica!
Adult female Ruby-throated Hummingbird (above),
All text & photos © Hilton Pond Center
See a write-up about our latest trip in the May/June 2006
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Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History is a non-profit research & education organization in York, South Carolina USA; phone (803) 684-5852. Directed by Bill Hilton Jr., aka The Piedmont Naturalist, it is the parent organization for Operation RubyThroat. Contents of this Web site--including articles and photos--may NOT be duplicated, modified, or used in any way except with the express written permission of Hilton Pond Center. All rights reserved worldwide. To obtain permission for use or for further assistance on accessing this Web site, contact the Webmaster.