Mexico has more bird species than the USA including Hawaii and it has double the amount of bird species found in Canada. The Yucatan Peninsula is one of the best Bird Watching spots in Mexico. It has 548 different species including 11 endemic varieties; in the wintertime one finds even more species as migratory birds visit the warm region. The Yucatan offers great Bird Watching year round due to its subtropical position. Renowned birding sites near the Riviera Maya are:
• Sian Kaan Reserve
• Cozumel Island
• Rio Lagartos Biosphere Reserve
• Botanical Garden Dr. Alfredo Barrera Marin
• Coba Ruins
• Punta Laguna
All these bird watching sites can be visited on one day tours from the Riviera Maya. The Riviera Maya is an excellent birder destination as it allows the visitor to enjoy its tourist infrastructure and comfortable hotels while going out on day trips to specialized birding sites. One can also choose to stay in rural areas with less comfort but many more birds!
This is a short introduction to these 6 Bird Watching Destinations that can be visited from the Mayan Riviera:
With a list of 345 species, Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve is surely well worth a visit by birdwatchers. Due to the great diversity of aquatic habitats, marine and wading birds are well represented. The species found here represent 33% of all species identified for the entire country of Mexico and 67% of those reported for the Yucatan Peninsula. Two-thirds of its species breed inside the reserve.
Only 5 to 10% of this beautiful island has been developed which leaves plenty of habitats for exotic bird species. Cozumel -which means island of swallows – has subtropical forests, mangroves and dune vegetation. 214 Species of birds have been registered of which 71% are residents and 29% are migratory birds. Among the most common species we find: herons and egrets, Magnificient Frigatebird, Black and Turkey Vultures, Osprey, American and Brown Pelican, parrots, fishing eagle, sea swallows and tanagers. Special attention endemic species are the Cozumel Thrasher, the Cozumel Vireo, the Cozumel Wren, the Cozumel Great Curassow, which is highly endangered and the Cozumel Emerald - a species of hummingbird in the Trochilidae family.
Rio Lagartos Biosphere Reserve
Rio Lagartos is considered outstanding for bird watching, with a total of 72 migratory and 141 resident species. The reserve protects an area covering approximately 120,000 acres of protected land, comprised of mangrove forest, coastal dune vegetation, low deciduous forest, savannas and hummocks. The reserve is famous for its large groups of Greater Flamingoes as the area is an important nesting site for this species. Birding tours are commonly done by boat although trials are also available.
Botanical Garden Dr. Alfredo Barrera Marin
The 150-acre Yaax Che Jardín Botánico del Dr. Alfredo Barrera Marín is the largest botanical garden in Mexico. It is situated south of Puerto Morelos. A nature walk goes directly through the mangroves for some great birding. More than 220 species have been identified here and the garden has tree house lookouts for an even better bird watching experience.
The only Mayan ruins dating back to the Classical period in Quintana Roo, the site is well worth a visit in itself. Temples, pyramids and structures are build wide apart and the park is of immense dimensions with plenty of forest for excellent bird watching. The site was build next to a lagoon and so provides habitats for both terrestrial and aquatic bird life.
Punta Laguna is a small Mayan village where roosters and pigs have the right of way and the smoke from women making tortillas over an open fire filters through the thatched roofs of their houses. Along with some four other villages, Punta Laguna is part of a 5,000 hectare, government-protected nature reserve called Ma'ax Yetel Kooh. In addition to the unique subspecies of spider monkey that inhabits the area, the preserve is also home to howler monkeys, pumas, coatis and a large variety of birds.
The best way to enjoy your birding and natural history experience is to be accompanied by a local guide who has been trained to identify birds with their English names. This permits you to visit places you never would have found on your own.
Contact Duende Tours to arrange your Bird Watching Tour or your Birding Guides in the Mayan World.