Charisma, Color, and the Birds of Borneo: Susan Myers
In this episode, Barry sits down with Susan Myers of WINGS Birding Tours Worldwide. She has been birding, traveling, and leading tours in Asia for over thirty years, and has written dozens of papers and articles on ornithology and general ecology in a variety of respected magazines, scientific journals, and books.
Susan is the author of the Field Guide to the Birds of Borneo, published in 2016, and has recently finished a general guide to the wildlife of Southeast Asia.
Listen in as Susan shares her experience and knowledge of the natural world. Her deep affection for and appreciation for Asia and its wildlife is palpable in today’s conversation.
She dives deep into how she conducts a typical birding tour in Asia and her personal thoughts on what makes a great guide and leader.
Susan touches on her decades-long career as a naturalist, must-see birds in Asia and the American Northwest, and her favorite places to travel.
Finally, Susan shares what she is most looking forward to when she can jump back into the field post-COVID.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
● [2:57 ] How Susan became a naturalist and got started guiding bird watch tours
● [6:46 ] Susan’s favorite destination in Asia
● [8:55 ] Susan takes us through one of her typical tours
● [12:27 ] How many birds you can expect to see during one of Susan’s tours in Borneo
● [15:02 ] Where Susan finds inspiration as a leader
● [16:31 ] Susan speaks on the camaraderie among the guides at WINGS
● [17:07 ] The unique intimacy of a birding tour
● [22:21 ] How many birds has Susan seen in her lifetime?
● [24:59 ] Documenting birds on research trips
● [27:02 ] Possible reasons for the huge decline in migratory birds in the past few months
● [29:05 ] Susan’s favorite stories from one of her trips
● [31:17 ] Susan’s go-to places in Japan
● [32:23 ] Tips for amateur bird watchers
● [34:22 ] Hard-to-find birds in the U.S.
● [37:12 ] What Susan has been working on ever since the pandemic halted her tours
● [39:44 ] What Susan misses about leading birding tours
Key Quotes by Susan:
● “One of the things you’ve got to know about birding is that the mornings are really important. That old adage really is true: ‘The early bird catches the worm.’ In this case, ‘The early birder catches the bird.’”
● “Birding requires patience, full stop, whether you’re talking about the birds or other birders. It should be mutual—hopefully the clients are patient with me because sometimes it’s frustrating when you can’t find the bird you’re looking to show them.”
● “The most important thing for people who want to come on a birding tour is to have a good pair of binoculars. Very occasionally, we’ve had people come on tours with a cheap pair of binoculars. It’s a bit crazy because you’re spending a lot of money on this tour but you’re not spending money on the equipment you need to enjoy the trip. You wouldn’t go snorkeling without a mask; you don’t go birding without binoculars.”
● “One of the blessings of being a naturalist is that you will never be bored. Not in your whole life will you ever be bored. It doesn’t matter where you are; there will be some sort of critter that is going to give you hours of fascination and keep you busy.”
Wings Bird Tours
Susan Myers Profile
Birds of Borneo - Susan Myers
eBird - Cornell University
Waxwings (Songs and photos)
Sounds of the Bornean Jungle
The Ready State