Year of the Bird

A very special year to explore with us.

From the beginning of time, birds have captured the human imagination with their elegant beauty, the music of their songs, and their power to soar into the heavens while we watch longingly from below. Birdlife proliferates in every corner of the globe, in every kind of habitat, including every one of the remote destinations where our ships explore.

And now, we pay special tribute: 2018 has been designated the Year of the Bird (YOB) by National Geographic, in partnership with a broad range of conservation organizations, to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act—the most powerful and important bird-protection law ever passed. One of the first related to environmental protection, this visionary act of legislation has saved the lives of millions, if not billions, of birds.

We invite you to join us in celebrating (and bringing awareness to) our feathered friends with these exclusive opportunities available on select 2018 departures across our fleet.


    • White "bonnet-like" marking across the top of the head.
    • Bright orange-red beak.
    • Peach-colored feet.
    • 30-inches high—the 3rd largest of all penguins


    • Antarctic Peninsula
    • Subantarctic islands
    • Ice-free areas like sheltered valleys & cliffs.


    Gentoo tails are almost 6-inches long — the most prominent of all penguin species.



    • Large, stocky, crow-like songbird
    • Prominent triangular crest
    • Charcoal black head & all-blue body
    • Long, straight bill with slight hook


    Steller’s prey on the eggs and nestlings of smaller birds—hummingbirds are a favorite target.


    • Western North America
    • Parts of Central America
    • Conifer and pine-oak forests
    • Typically at elevations of 3,000-10,000 feet


    Steller’s can imitate hawks, cats, dogs, squirrels & even some mechanical objects!


    • Striking, spoon-shaped patch of orange-gold on cheeks
    • Paler orange upper chest & silvery grey back
    • Longest beak of all the penguins
    • 35 inches high—2nd largest of all the penguins


    • The Falklands, South Georgia, & other subantarctic islands
    • In huge colonies on slopes near the beach
    • Traveling up to 1,200 miles off the coast to feed


    Kings incubate their egg on their feet under a flap of skin or “brood patch.” No nest required!


    While choosing mates, both sexes strut, shake, bow, call, and engage in high-pointing—standing face-to-face they slowly rise to their full height before relaxing again.

Meet the Fiery-Billed Aracari

    • Distinct, hollow bill—vivid orange & red upper half, black lower half
    • Wide, red band across the belly
    • Trademark large black spot on breast
    • One of the smaller and most brightly colored species of toucan

Where to Find Them

    • Endemic to the Pacific side of southern Costa Rica down to western Panama
    • Lowland forests and clearings
    • Taking over abandoned woodpecker nests

It Takes a Village

    Nestlings are cared for by up to 6 adult aracari—2 parents and up to 4 non-breeding siblings from a previous brood.

Birds of a Feather

    Aracari forage together in bands of 6-10 individuals and sleep in groups of up to 5 birds.

Meet the Brown Pelican (Pacific)

    • Smallest of all pelican species
    • Short-legged with large, stocky body
    • Crested head & enormous gray bill with expandable throat pouch
    • Breeding adults have light yellow heads & red skin on pouch

Where to Find Them

    • Along Pacific coast from central California to central Mexico
    • Sheltered salt bays, beaches, and over shallow waters along coast
    • Breeding on dry, rocky offshore islands
    • Resting on sandbars, jetties, pilings, or mangrove islets

Bombs Away

    Foraging brown pelicans plunge-dive into the water from as high as 65 feet. Special air sacks beneath their skin inflate before impact to cushion the blow.

What a Mouthful

    Their massive pouch can hold three times more than their belly—three gallons versus one. Once the water drains out, pelicans swallow their catch whole. 

Meet the Bald Eagle

    • North America’s second largest bird of prey
    • Striking white head, dark brown body & piercing yellow eyes
    • Young eagles have brown bodies mottled with white
    • Massive wing span of 6-7 feet
    • Dive speed: up to 100 miles an hour

Where to Find Them

    • Throughout North America
    • More in Alaska than any other U.S. state
    • Wherever fish are abundant—from Florida’s swamps to Arizona’s rivers
    • Soaring up to hundreds of miles a day when young
    • In much higher numbers of late! (They’re no longer endangered)

Modern Family

    Both parents build an enormous stick nest together (one of the biggest in the bird world!) and rotate who sits on the eggs. But when the female is home, she usually takes over the duties.

Risky Romance

    Although oddly monogamous (for the bird world), eagles are anything but boring. When ready to mate, couples meet midair, lock talons, then twist, tumble, and cartwheel together—a stunning and sometimes dangerous display to show their mate how fit they are.

Meet the White Tern

    • Elegant, graceful, medium-sized tern, with a wingspan of 27 to 34 inches  
    • Pristine all-white plumage and large, dark eyes
    • A forked tail and a dark, long, pointed bill for catching fish
    • Also referred to as fairy terns, angel terns, or white noddies (they’re more closely related to noddies than other tern species) 

Where to Find Them

    • Across the tropical regions of the world, including the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and some islands in the tropical Atlantic
    • Honolulu, Hawaii, where the white tern is the official bird
    • Hovering over water, often for extended periods, as they wait for prey to approach the surface
    • On coral atolls, in bushes and trees on wooded islands, and even found in some urban settings  

No Nest Is Best

    White terns will lay their eggs practically anywhere, without building a nest—typically on the fork of a tree branch but eggs have been spotted on window sills, air conditioning units, and even on a bicycle seat!

Tern This Way

    Polynesian seafarers learned to rely on the white tern to assist with navigation. Since the birds typically sleep ashore every night, sailors would follow them towards land after spotting them at sea in the late afternoon or early evening.

Meet the Arctic Tern

    • Pale gray allover coloring
    • Full, black cap extending down the back of the neck
    • Thin, bright red beak
    • Extremely short red legs
    • Deeply forked tail and long, angular, pointed wings

Where to Find Them

    • Open, treeless areas such as sand, moorland, and heathland
    • Open boreal forest
    • Islands and beaches on the northeast Atlantic coast
    • Pack ice during the Southern Hemisphere summer

Going the Distance

    Arctic terns make the longest migration in the animal kingdom, traveling the equivalent of four trips to the moon and back over the course of their lifetime!

Snoozing En Route

    To fly those long distances nonstop, Arctic terns engage in unihemispheric slow-wave sleep—half the brain remains awake while the other half rests.

Meet the Hooded Grebe

    • White neck and flanks with a black back and striking black crown
    • White wings with dark wingtips
    • Bright red eyes
    • Grows to about 13 inches tall and up to 1.2 pounds

Where to Find Them

    • Endemic to Patagonia
    • On the steppes and plateaus in the spring and summer
    • On the coast in Atlantic estuaries, small lagoons or lakes that remain unfrozen in fall and winter

No Place Like Home

    Only discovered in 1974 by Lindblad’s very own naturalist Edward Shaw, the now critically endangered grebe’s dwindling population spurred the creation of Parque Patagonia, a wildlife reserve that protects many rare species.

Two to Tango

    Hooded grebes are known for the flashy, synchronized moves that accompany their courtship ritual which bears quite a resemblance to a certain seductive dance made famous by their homeland.

Meet the Cape Petrel

    • Black head and neck with distinctive black-and-white dappled wings and body
    • Mostly white underparts with black legs, feet, and bill 
    • About 15 inches long with a 34-inch wingspan
    • Also known as cape pigeon, cape fulmar, or pintado petrel

Where to Find Them

    • Throughout the Southern Ocean
    • Usually on level rocky ground or rocky cliffs near the water

Surprise Attack

    Like other members of the Procellariidae family, Cape petrels produce oil in their stomach which they can spit with astounding accuracy to deter predators.

It's a Sign

    Cape petrels often signal a vessel’s entrance into Antarctic waters. The birds escort ships through the region, ready to snap up food or fish waste thrown overboard.

Meet the Waved Albatross

    • White head tinged with creamy yellow
    • Brownish body with long, white neck
    • Long, yellow beak and bluish legs and feet
    • Derives its name from wave-like pattern of feathers
    • Largest bird in Galápagos: ̴ 3 feet tall with a wingspan of more than 8 ft.

Where to Find Them

    • Endemic to Galápagos
    • On the cliffs, rocky shores, and shrubland of Española Island
    • Soaring above the open ocean

Young, Wild & Free

    When ready to leave the nest, fledglings head out to sea and spend six years feeding and scavenging before returning to land to find a mate.

Sparring Partners

    Waved albatross mate for life after a fascinating courtship display that involves precisely coordinated movements like beak fencing, low bowing, beak clapping, and head bobbing.

Meet the Gartered Trogon

    • Blue-black and yellow with black-and-white stripes under the tail (males)
    • Females are similar with slightly duller colors
    • Bright, yellow eye-ring (males)
    • About 9 in. tall

Where to Find Them

    • Central America—from Belize down to Panama
    • Mexico
    • Northern South America
    • In a variety of habitats—forest edges, semi-open clearings, forest canopies, regenerating forest land

Uninvited Guest

    The gartered trogon may be the only bird that lays eggs inside an active wasp nest—they eat some of the wasps, dig a large cavity, then make themselves at home.

Fancy Feet

    Also unique among birds is the trogons’ heterodactyl toe arrangement—digits 3 and 4 point forward and digits 1 and 2 point backward.


Veteran Lindblad naturalists, designated YOB Ambassadors on the basis of their expertise, will be aboard to answer all your bird-centric questions and provide insight and guidance. Whether you’re a beginner learning to spot and identify species as you hang out on the Bridge, kayak along idyllic coastlines, or hike along trails; or an experienced birder looking to add to your life list and deepen your ornithological knowledge, our ambassadors are sure to enrich your expedition experience. Use the search tool below to discover more about each ambassador and find the select departures when you can travel with them.


To note: Renowned international bird expert and illustrator, David Allen Sibley is a Global Perspectives Guest Speaker on our Oct 22, 2018 South Georgia and the Falklands expedition.


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