Giancarlo Ventolini is the newest addition to our Neotropical team. Giancarlo has been in love with birds and nature all his life. We spent some time getting to know him and how his passion for birding and guiding was started in Colombia.
Give us a brief history of your childhood and what fueled your passion for birds and birding?
Giancarlo – My first memories of my childhood that are related to birds are from my grandmother’s house. My grandmother lived all her life in the rural area near the city of Cali and fed birds with bananas. I remember sitting for hours and watching how they fed.
What are some of your favorite countries you have birded?
Giancarlo – My favorite country is Colombia; it is difficult to think of visiting other countries with so many bird species. I have focused on knowing as much as I can about my country, but there still is a lot to learn. Another incredible country that I have come to value highly, thanks to the birds, is Peru; the northern part of the country has great scenery and a unique avifauna.
What countries rank the highest on your ‘to bird’ list?
Giancarlo – Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, U.S, Peru, China, Indonesia, India, Philippines, Malaysia, Madagascar, Congo, South Africa, Australia, Papua New Guinea
Do you have a favorite bird or bird family?
Giancarlo – It is really very difficult to choose, but hummingbirds and tanagers particularly fascinate me.
Star Wars or Star Trek, and why?
Giancarlo – I like both very much, but I think I’ve had a little more fun with Star Wars. I don’t know if it is the characters, but I enjoy it slightly more.
Are you a scope or binocular type of guy?
Giancarlo – I think it’s important to use both, depending on the type of habitat in which you are birding. For example, in open areas it is very useful to use the scope.
Do you have any other hobbies or interests?
Giancarlo – I really like plants, insects, mammals and reptiles. I also like movies, playing and watching soccer, running, dancing, and spending time with my family.
If you had one more day left to live, what would you spend it doing?
Giancarlo – I would spend all day with my family after a couple of hours of birdwatching in the morning.
Do you have a favorite non-bird-related book?
Giancarlo – One River by Wade Davis
What formal training have you undertaken?
Giancarlo – I am a publicist of the Professional Drawing Academy Foundation in Cali. I have taken some courses related to rural tourism and nature tours with SENA, the government-run Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje (“National Training Service”), and I am currently studying to attain my certificate as a professional guide. I have also been working for five years as a guide for several birdwatching companies in Colombia.
The craziest thing you have ever done to see a bird?
Giancarlo – Travel more than 900 kilometers: A flight from Cali to Bogotá, then take a van to San José del Guaviare (it took us more than 10 hours because of landslides on the road), from San José another couple of hours to get to the spot where the bird had been seen, and a 30-minute walk, all to see the Guianan Cock-of-the-rock.
What do you enjoy most about being a guide?
Giancarlo – Seeing the customers happy to observe the birds, share time with people from different parts of the world and different cultures, see the sunrise in the different types of forests, and hear the sounds of nature.
Your life motto and how you apply this to your day-to-day life?
Giancarlo – I do not have a life motto, but what I try is to be happy every day and have the best attitude and disposition at work and day to day.
The top five birds you want to see the most?
Giancarlo – Bearded Vulture, Harpy Eagle, Shoebill, Red Bird-of-paradise, Fiery Topaz
Describe yourself in three words?
Giancarlo – Kind, helpful, and attentive.
Your best birding experience to date?
Giancarlo – The north of Peru and the Santa Marta Mountains.
Do you have a bogey bird, and what is it?
Giancarlo – The Black-tipped Cotinga is one of the birds that almost all my friends have seen and I have not.
What’s the list you work on the most, and what’s its total?
Giancarlo – I’m still working on my list of birds from the north of Peru, but at the moment the total is 1075 species.
What excites you most about Birding Ecotours?
Giancarlo – They have tours in almost the entire world, and it the work team is like a family.
What advice would you give to a budding young birder?
Giancarlo – Practice a lot in the field to improve your skills, be friendly, and enjoy every outing to the maximum.