The Best Spots for Birding in the Yucatan

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Birding is very popular in Yucatan and many people visit the peninsula to observe birds and their natural habitat. You do not need to be an expert to enjoy watching birds – and it is a suitable activity for people of any age.

Whether you are going to lie in your hammock with a good book and binoculars or join one of the tours that take you to places where thousands of birds nest, your time spent birding in Yucatan will be something to remember.

Birding in Yucatan

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When it comes to Birding, Yucatan is definitely a place to be. During the migration periods hundreds of species of birds come to the jungles and wetlands. The most popular bird reserve, Sian Ka’an, is reported to host millions of migratory birds alone.

However, it is not only the migrating birds that form the diversity. There are over 546 species of birds who inhabit the zones in the Yucatan all year round, eleven of which are endemic (living only in Yucatan and no place else in the world). Some of these rare local species also carry the name of the region: the Bright Red Yucatan parrot, the Yucatan night-jar and the Yucatan wren.

Yucatan Bird Watching Destinations

Some of the top destinations in Yucatan when it comes to birding are The Sian Ka’an Biosphere reserve, Celestun, Rio Lagartos and Isla Contoy.

Sian Ka’an Biosphere

The Sian Ka’an Biosphere reserve is located a few miles south of Tulum, Mexico and a little over 40 miles south of Playa Del Carmen resort. There are many small hotels on the coastline, so accommodations are easy to find all year round.

This large reserve covers more than 1.3 million acres of land, tropical forests, cenotes, lagoons, mangrove swamps and wetlands. It was made to protect not only the native species of birds, but also over 1200 other species of animals – reptiles, insects and mammals.

There are over 360 species of birds that roost in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere, and for nature lovers there are non-profit community birding tours. The groups can be small or big, with the smallest group being formed when at least two people want to take the tour. Some of the birds that are easiest to see are ibises, vultures, herons and orioles, etc.

Celestun

Celestun is located about 45 minutes drive from Merida. It is a small fishing village, but there are a few basic hotels where you can stay. Additionally, Eco Paraiso Xixim, a beautiful 280-room Eco-resort is just six miles north of Celestun.

One of the species of birds that can be seen in this area is the pink flamingo, with its numbers being greatest from March through August. Other birds, such as snowy egrets and herons can also be seen, especially if you take a tour with one of the fishing boats.

The Rio Lagartos Biosphere reserve

The Rio Lagartos Biosphere reserve is located on the Yucatan’s northern Caribbean coast, five miles north of Valladolid and about an hour away from Chichen Itza. Here you can find the largest colony of pink flamingos – over 40,000 flamingos call this place home. Together with the flamingos that inhabit the areas around Celestun, the reserve houses over 90% of the world’s population of pink flamingos during the winter months.

Isla Contoy

Isla Contoy is located just 18 miles north of Isla Mujeres and is a national park. It is a bird sanctuary and one of the top destinations for birding in Yucatan. There is a limit on how many visitors can visit Isla Contoy per day, so if you are interested in visiting this place, make sure you join an organized trip where all arrangements are made for you.

The birds you can see on Isla Contoy are mostly marine birds, such as the double-crested cormorant, the frigate, and the brown pelican. You can also see birds which nest on this island.

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Visiting the Yucatan Peninsula

You can choose to visit one or all of these birding destinations in Yucatan. Arrange your trip and do not forget good shoes, binoculars and insect repellent if you are visiting an area with marshy wetlands and jungle.

More information can be found at our Bird Watching Tours page.