Birds of Paradise: The Avian Songs and Colors of Central America
Tuesday, February 12th, 2019
Central America is a birdwatcher’s dream come true. In a compact space replete with tourist amenities and a friendly atmosphere, you will find rainforests, mountains, coastal habitats, swamps, jungles, and dry forests populated by a technicolor rainbow of biodiversity. It is almost impossible for a bird-watching enthusiast to come away from an ecotour of Central America without some crown-jewel additions to their birding journal, including many rare and endangered species.
Whether you are looking for a touch of bird watching to enhance your journey or looking to embark on a more serious avian expedition Central America will not disappoint, here are some of our favorite birding destinations, suitable for both the amateur and experienced birdwatcher. As Central America specialists we are happy to help you find the best accommodations, transport, and guides for each location.
Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, Belize
Established by the Belize Audubon Society in 1984, these 16,400 acres encompass forest, savanna, swamp, creeks, and lagoons. From November on you can catch glimpses of the endangered Jabiru stork, the largest flighted bird in the western hemisphere.
Half Moon Caye National Monument, Belize
Lighthouse Reef Atoll is the only breeding ground in the western Caribbean of the red-footed booby. From Half Moon Caye on the atoll, you can strike out between the months of December and August and see a noisy colony so busy with the job of raising a brood that they let you walk right up to them.
Mayflower Bocawina National Park, Belize
The Belize Bird Conservatory hosts their annual Lodge Bird-a-Thon here in April, a high point of the birding season in Belize. A trek through Mayflower Bocawina in April can lead you face to face with a spectacled owl, scarlet tanager, band-tailed barbthroat, or northern shoveler.
Palo Verde National Park, Costa Rica
The wetlands, grasslands, and dry forests located along the Rio Tempesque make Palo Verde the perfect habitat for numerous stunning species of bird. Highlights of a trip here could include sightings of a scarlet macaw, three-wattled bellbird, glossy ibis, roseate spoonbill, blue-wing teal, or green-backed heron.
Monte Verde Cloud Forest Reserve, Costa Rica
Over thirty species of hummingbird alone call this cloud forest home, including the dazzling ruby-throated hummingbird. Keep your eyes peeled for toucans, eagles, owls, cuckoos, or the giant endangered curassow, three feet tall and glossy black.
Los Quetzales National Park, Costa Rica
The name says it all. If you seek the elusive Resplendent Quetzal, three feet of red and green magnificence, the fourteen ecosystems located within this inland mountain park are a great place to start.
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
Lake Atitlan is popular with tourists, but for a reason. Against stunning natural beauty, you can observe such exotic species as the azure-pumped tanager and the violet saberwing.
The cobbled streets of Antigua boast unparalleled charm and thriving nightlife. Just two miles from the center of town you can encounter a dazzling array of hummingbird species in El Pilar Nature Reserve. Drive an hour to Tecpan and you will find some of the best birdwatching in all of Guatemala, chancing an encounter with the threatened pink-headed warbler.
Come for the world-famous Mayan ruins; stay for over 400 species of birds that make their home in the environs of the 2,000-year-old pyramid complex. Here you may find ocellated turkeys, keel-billed toucans, and the elusive orange-breasted falcon.
Darien National Park, Panama
This half-million hectares of rainforest is habitat for four different species of colorful macaw, as well as the rare golden-headed Quetzal, many colors of tanager, oropendolas, and black-tipped cotingas. Consider the priceless cultural opportunity to quarter in an indigenous Emberra village, where you will break bread with, sleep among, and interact with a pre-Columbian rainforest-dwelling culture.
Soberania National Park, Panama
Soberania National Park is world-famous among birders as home to over 500 species. Spot a Quetzal here between the months of December and May, either along Pipeline Road or from the twin birding resorts of Canopy Lodge and Canopy Tower.
Achiote Road, Panama
For birders in the know, take the road less traveled – Achiote Road, to be exact. Less overrun by tourists, Achiote Road rewards the patient birder with up to 390 species in one day, including chestnut-mandible toucans, blue cotingas, barbets, orange-chinned parakeets, and swallowtail kites.
La Tigra National Park, Honduras
This popular cloud forest is home to numerous threatened and endangered species, including the Quetzal and the great curassow. Come during the trogon breeding season of March-through-May and you’ll think you died and went to bird heaven.
Pico Bonito National Park, Honduras
The stunning scenery of Pico Bonito National Park has been remarkably unspoiled by the addition of tourist services, making the unforgettable experience of birding here accessible and comfortable. Multiple species of hawk, eagle, toucan, wood-creeper, swallow, dove, kite, and loon make their homes here.
Tela Bay, Honduras
Come to Tela Bay to encounter numerous lagoons, coastal, and mangrove species, including ibis, terns, egrets, sandpipers, motmots, ovenbirds, antbirds, and numerous rare additions to your collection of bird encounters.
Fly like the wind
Central America offers so much depth when it comes to bird watching and enjoying the natural beauty and geography of the tropics. Striking the right balance of locations, timing, activities, and amenities can be tricky. As Central America ecotourism and eco-adventure specialists, we’re here to help!
If your wanderlust is calling, why not start by filling in our travel inquiry form or give us a call at (877)509-6033. We take the stress out of planning and deliver highly personalized travel packages and concierge service for individuals, families, and groups. Thanks again!
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