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Birdwatching in Mexico is a popular pastime for locals as well as tourists. Thanks to geographical good luck, combined with a range of ecosystems from north to south, east to west, Mexico is actually one of just seven countries in the world to claim ‘mega biodiversity’ and is home to more species than Canada and the US combined. Here’s where you can spot some of them.
The humid climate and coastal location of the Yucatan, Mexico makes it a literal breeding ground for a wide variety of avian species (amongst others), and the Celestún Biosphere Reserve is arguably one of the premier places to spot some of them. In fact, there are over 1,120 species of birds in the area alone, so you can practically guarantee that even a day or two there will provide some birdwatching memories that’ll last a lifetime.
Celestún is far from the only spot in the Yucatan to go birdwatching though. In fact, moving slightly north, you can enjoy one of the most impressive sites that Mexico as a whole has to offer when it comes to winged creatures—a flamboyance of flamingos. In Rio Lagartos, best known for then nearby pink lake, the varied habitats give rise to species like the Yucatan Wren, Mexican Sheartail and Boat-billed Heron, amongst many others.
Oaxaca is the Mexican state with the widest variety of bird species, close to 800 in fact, of which 100 are regional endemics (think, Dwarf Jays), and the Cerro San Felipe—sometimes known as La Cumbre—is easily one of the key birding spots. Several birdwatching tours run trips there, so if you’re not sure about going it alone, consider heading out with professional guides who can point out all the hummingbirds, warblers and woodcreepers your heart desires.
The Calakmul Biosphere Reserve is especially cool as far as Biosphere Reserves go, thanks to the Mayan ruins it houses in its midst. In fact, its in and around those ruins that you can get some good birdwatching in on your trip to Mexico. Hidden amongst the dense canopies are herons, warblers and sometimes even the odd Royal Flycatcher. Watch out for the wildcats though!
While Oaxaca might boast the greatest quantity of birds in Mexico, Nayarit is home to what is widely considered the best birdwatching area—San Blas. This coastal haunt has long been popular with birders, both amateurs and hardcore twitchers alike and its easy to understand why when you consider that there are often around 450 endemic species in residence. One especially good spot to consider is La Tovara National Park, particularly in November thru April.
The Pitayal (a.k.a. coastal thornscrub) habitat can be found towards the south of Sonora, one of Mexico’s northern border states, and is an almost unrivalled ecosystem on a global scale. As well as numerous cacti, and their accompanying Cactus Wrens, you’re likely to spot woodpeckers, hummingbirds and roadrunners. If you head a little way out toward the coast, you might even get to take a gander at blue footed boobies.
Finally, we take you back south on this birdwatching tour of Mexico, to Chiapas and one of the biggest natural attractions the state has to offer, the Sumidero Canyon. While this is perhaps not ideal birding territory for more advanced birdwatchers it may well hold interest for more casual onlookers, who can boat down the river at the canyon basin and look out for numerous vultures and the rather more petite streak-backed oriole along the way.