Who is Lifer?
LIFER is an experience, is an idea, is a dream... an idea of the most talented, young and passionate naturalists that organized themselves together to create an agency that represents them all, properly, professionally and in a fair way.
That is how a group of the best birdwatchers and bird guides of Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala and Ecuador started Lifer Nature Tours as an association of excellent bird guides that for being in the field finding the good birds could not handle the time of the overwhelming administrative tasks of running an office. So instead of sitting behind and let them be just employees for a relatively small salary, they decided to join this initiative that empower them and give them a fair percentage of the great work they do. The money is spread in more hands but specially also sponsors their own conservation initiatives, so every Lifer Field Guide can use the Lifer Fund to partially sponsor their own research and citizen science initiatives and with this Lifer Nature Tours accumulated a knowledge and passion that surpass the one by any other international agency.
Lifer Field Guides
David studied to be a Naturalist Guide and Biologist but have more than 12 years studying birds. He had the privilege of being exposed to Nature from a young age, as his father was passionate about birds. When he started studying to be a Naturalist Guide in 2006 he got his first pair of binoculars and his life changed from that moment on.
He constantly contributes to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology with pictures for the Neotropical Birds collection owning over 1500 photos of Costa Rican and European Flora and Fauna published. He is also a long-time member of the Ornithologist Union of Costa Rica and also work as a regional reviewer and hotspot reviewer for eBird in Costa Rica.
In his free time he work as an independent researcher with support from two institutions: the Max Planck Institute in Germany and the Monteverde Institute. He have published natural history notes in various scientific journals, mostly focused on but not limited to Avifauna of Costa Rica with an special passion for the mysterious behavior of bird with no previous knowledge in the country, the Oilbird. Currently he lives in the area of Monteverde leading Birding tours locally.
Education: BA in Biology.
Bird List: 730 species for Costa Rica
Birding gear: Swarovski Binoculars and Scope
Birding experience: Considerable in Europe (specially Germany) and extensive in Costa Rica.
Tours he guides for LIFER TOURS: Birding Costa Rica in February and March.
Fun Birding Achievement: He is the first and only person in all Central America that caught an Oilbird with his own hands to put a GPS on it as part of his own pioneer research project on Oilbird nocturnal habits in Monteverde, Costa Rica.
Born in the late 1970s in a family of loggers and developers, he is a living proof of the changes in the Costa Rican society in the last 40 years.
An early childhood surrounded by chainsaws and lumber trucks made a deep impression in his life and at age 15 he flipped the coin becoming a volunteer for the National Parks System. He earned a degree in Ecotourism and since 1998 has been leading natural history and birding tours all around Costa Rica.
His great knowledge of the birds and nature of his country and his understanding and contagious love for the history, politics and culture, together with the passionate way of delivering information makes a tour with him a fun, educational and delightful experience for nature enthusiasts.
His interest for birds has taken him to Panama, Nicaragua, Southern California and Ecuador. He has been an international guest speaker and is part of the organization of the Arenal Annual Bird Count.
Education: BA Ecoturism
Bird List: 738 species for Costa Rica
Birding gear: Swarovski Binoculars and Leica Scope
Birding experience: Western USA, Panama, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Colombia.
Tours he guides for LIFER TOURS: Birding Costa Rica in February and March, Bird Photography in Costa Rica and Birding in NW Ecuador.
Fun Birding Achievement: He started the first Christmas Bird Count in Arenal Volcano area. Nowadays one of the most famous countrywide, still organized by Jheudy.
Ernesto Carman, a native-born Costa Rican (tico), speaks fluent English and Spanish and is one of his country's most outstanding naturalists and bird guides. He conducts research on Cerulean Warbler migration, has tallied migrant raptors at Talmanca, and has studied orchid distribution. Ernesto is one of few scientists with extensive experience observing Ruby-throated Hummingbirds within Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Belize. He has been involved since 2004 with Operation RubyThroat: The Hummingbird Project, the only long-term banding study of RTHU on their Neotropical wintering grounds. Ernesto's family runs Finca Cristina, an environmentally friendly coffee farm near Paraiso that uses shade-grown organic techniques and recycles processing materials.
Bird List: 810 species for Costa Rica over a 1500 worldwide.
Birding gear: Swarovski Binoculars and Scope
Birding experience: Eastern and Western USA, Panama, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, Nicaragua, Trinidad and Tobago, Ecuador and Turkey.
Tours he guides for LIFER TOURS: Birding Costa Rica in April, Birding in Ecuador, Birding in Panama.
Fun Birding Achievement: He is the first person to successfully band and track Unspotted Saw-whet Owls in the world on his own on-going research project.
Juan grew up in a very rural and undeveloped area at the base of the vast Juan Castro Blanco National Park, the only bird influence there was his uncle: an illegal bird poacher who caught Cholorophonias, Solitaires and Euphonias for ilegal trade. As a growing teenager he was getting more and more interest in a deeper study of the birds around his home and had a lot of questions that a bird in a cage was not able to answer, and understood that he needed books and more time observing these birds in the wild. At the age of 15 he was able to get his first bird book, the heavy 1989 “Skutch & Stiles” guide and he was hooked for life.
After he stopped illegally catching birds at the age of fifteen he started watching birds for fun and later went to university to get a BA in Ecotourism and then a Master of Science in Sustainable Development with emphasis in Conservation of Biological Resources. Throughout his undergraduate and graduate career, he continued working during high seasons as a full-time bird-guide with some of the most renowned birding tour agencies in Costa Rica. Since this time, he has also been active in many bird-related projects, from co-founding local NGOs (Cerulean Warbler Conservation Costa Rica) to being Vice Chair of a Working Group for the Convention on Migratory Bird Species of the United Nations Environmental Program. Apart from serving on multiple local committees for rare birds and birding clubs, his career/hobby has taken Juan to bird in many sites including Europe, Asia, Middle East, South America, and several countries of Central America.
Currently he is the country coordinator for eBird.org the largest database of bird sightings in the world.
Education: Lic. in Ecotourism and MSc. in Sustainable Development
Bird List: 805 species for Costa Rica over a 3000 worldwide.
Birding gear: Swarovski Binoculars and Scope; Canon 1d and 300mm f2.8 lens.
Birding experience: Panama, Guatemala, Belize, Nicaragua, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Central Europe, Spain, Tunisia and Southern China.
Tours he guides for LIFER TOURS: Birding and Bird Photography Costa Rica in Feb and April, Birding and Bird Photography in Ecuador, Birding and Bird Photography in Brazil.
Fun Birding Achievement: He got the first voucher for Costa Rica of an Ocellated Poorwill in 2013.