Mexico is home to more migratory bird species than any other country in Latin America.
Due to its geographical location, there are over 1,000 species of birds in Mexico. It is also estimated that more than 200 species of long-distance migratory birds make migratory movements through Mexico at some time in the year.
In fact, the realization of natural cycles of migration in Mexico are of global importance. Throughout Mexican territory there are migratory routes with corridors that create concentrations of millions of birds. In one migratory corridor, in the Center of Veracruz, millions of waterfowl, raptors and transients pass during their migration each year.
Migratory bird species in Mexico
There are four types of migratory bird species in Mexico:
Winter residents: These are bird species that reproduce in the northern American continent (Alaska, Canada, United States, and northern Mexico) and spend the winter in Mexico. There are about 200 species. An example is the golden-cheeked chipe of the United States, that spends the winter in the mountains of Chiapas.
Summer residents: These are bird species that reproduce in Mexico and spend the winter further south. There are about 30 species. This includes the Lucifer hummingbird (Calothorax lucifer) that does not leave Mexico when migrating. It breeds in the Sierra Madre Oriental and Occidental mountainous regions of Mexico and spends the winter in the Balsas Basin, further south.
Transients or passing: There are about 35 species that reproduce north of the Mexican territory, migrate through it, then spend winter in Central and South America. An example is the palyero pectoral (Calidris melantos) that breeds in Alaska and Northern Canada and winters in South America.
Migratory with resident populations. These northern bird species migrate, but there are populations in Mexico that do not migrate. There are about 140 bird species. An example is the bugged dive (Podiceps nigricollis) that reproduces in Canada and the United States and winters in Mexico, and other populations that reside all year round in the states of Durango and Zacatecas.
In winter, migratory birds form groups composed of resident species that protect them from predators. In their journey through Mexico, migratory birds pass through different environments, and stop and stay in places that provide them with shelter, food, and rest.
Below are listed beautiful birdwatching areas in Mexico. The priority bird migration environments in Mexico are spectacular exhibitions of nature!
Celestún Biosphere Reserve, Yucatan
Celestún Biosphere Reserve is one of the premier places to spot a variety of birds. The humid climate and coastal location of the Yucatan, Mexico makes it a breeding ground for a variety of bird species. There are over 1,000 species of birds in the area.
Cerro San Felipe, Oaxaca
Cerro San Felipe, also known as La Cumbre, is a key birding spot. It is located in Oaxaca, the Mexican state with the widest variety of bird species. There are close to 800 bird species, of which 100 are endemic. Professional guides can point out hummingbirds, warblers and woodcreepers.
Island of the Holy Spirit is a favorite spot for birdwatching. Here you can spot endemic species, such as the Xantus hummingbird. Woodpeckers, sea cocks, hawks, troglodytes, and the peninsular huitlacoche can also be spotted. Migratory birds, such as diving ducks, albino pelicans and green-necked can also be observed.
Río Lagartos, Yucatan
Río Lagartos is famous for birdwatching. It is located in the Gulf of Mexico, and is surrounded by lagoons and estuaries. Seabirds, such as cormorants, American storks and ring-billed gulls can be observed. The pink flamingo is famous. Birdwatching tours are by boat through the estuaries or by hiking through the jungle.
San Blas is considered a popular birdwatching area. There are about 450 endemic species. November thru April.
San Jose Estuary, San José del Cabo
San José Estuary is a marshy freshwater lagoon stretching over 2,000 acres. It is host to a variety of bird species.
Sian Ka’an Biosphere, Quintana Roo
Sian Ka’an Biosphere has more than 350 bird species. There are jungles, mangroves, lagoons and it is close to the Caribbean Sea. It is a natural reserve, key to the reproduction and preservation of some threatened species, such as the white heron, the ibis, the jabiru, the hairy heron and the American stork.
Sumidero Canyon National Park
Sumidero Canyon National Park is a favorite birdwatching site. The state of Chiapas has close to 700 bird species. The walls of the canyon host a variety of beautiful birds, including parrots, toucans, toucancillos, parakeets, yellow-billed cuckoos, necklace coas, and owls. It is also not to visit Las Guacamayas, where, living up to its name, it is possible to observe and listen to colorful scarlet macaws in their natural environment.
Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Biosphere, Oaxaca
Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Biosphere is one of the largest birdwatching reserves. It consists of a large territory that covers 400 thousand hectares. Birdwatchers can observe up to 754 different bird species. It is common to see species of colorful plumage, including endemic species such as hummingbirds and magpies, and green macaws.
Macaws can be admired in the Sumidero Canyon National Park and Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Biosphere.
The Pitayal, Sonora
The Pitayal is a habitat in the south of the state of Sonora, in northern Mexico. Globally, it is almost unrivalled as an ecosystem. Birdwatchers can spot Cactus Wrens, woodpeckers, hummingbirds and roadrunners, and even blue footed boobies.
Birdwatchers can spot roadrunners at the The Pitayal.
Check out these bird sanctuaries and reserves in Mexico!
Komchén Bird Sanctuary, Yucatan
Komchén Bird Sanctuary is a private non-profit organization located in an Hacienda.
There are large number of bird species. You can observe hummingbirds, owls, herons, cardinals, tanagers, flamingos, and motmots. Rare tropical bird species can also be admired, as well as migrating birds that pass through.
Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
Puerto Vallarta is called El Paraiso. It has a huge bay with more than 300 bird species, and small rocky islands where sea bird species nest.
Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve, Baja California
Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve is in the northern part of the peninsula. Here you can spot many species of migratory birds.
Xaman-HA Bird Sanctuary, Playa Del Carmen
Xaman-HA Bird Sanctuary features endemic bird species of the Yucatan Peninsula.
You can observe a variety of tropical birds. Some birds come in to roost in the late afternoon.
Migratory birds: wall-proof. Humberto Berlanga, Vicente Rodríguez. North American Bird Conservation Initiative.