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  • Where to watch BIRDS and

  • other wildlife in the world
  • Photograph of Turquoise-browed Momot

    The fabulous Turquoise-browed Motmot, by Steve Garvie.

  • Where to watch birds and wildlife in

    Photograph of Yucatan Jay

    The stunning Yucatan Jay by Ian Davies.

    Best Birds and other wildlife in Southern Mexico



    Yucatan Peninsula 2
    Yucatan (White-lored) Gnatcatcher and Yucatan Wren.

    Cozumel Island 4
    Cozumel Emerald, Cozumel Vireo, Cozumel Wren and Cozumel Thrasher (may be extinct).

    Other Yucatan Specialities
    Yucatan Bobwhite, Ocellated Turkey, Yucatan (Yellow-lored) Parrot (Amazon), Yucatan Poorwill, Yucatan Nightjar, Mexican Sheartail (endemic to Mexico), Yucatan Woodpecker, Black Catbird, Yucatan Flycatcher, Yucatan Jay, Rose-throated Tanager, Green-backed Sparrow and Orange Oriole.

    Great Curassow, American Flamingo, Bare-throated Tiger Heron, Boat-billed Heron, Reddish Egret, Pinnated Bittern, Magnificent Frigatebird, King Vulture, American Swallow-tailed and Snail Kites, Black-collared and White Hawks, Crested Caracara, Bat and Laughing Falcons, Collared Forest Falcon, Russet-naped (Grey-necked) Wood Rail, Limpkin, Double-striped Thick-knee, Northern Jacana, Black Skimmer, pigeons including White-crowned, parrots, owls including Mottled, Northern Potoo, hummingbirds including Violet Sabrewing, trogons, Blue-diademed (Lesson's) and Turquoise-browed Motmots, Belted, Green, Amazon and American Pygmy Kingfishers, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, White-necked Puffbird, Keel-billed Toucan, Collared Aracari, woodcreepers, Scaled Antpitta, Red-capped Manakin, Lovely Cotinga, Masked and Black-crowned Tityras, many flycatchers including Fork-tailed, Scissor-tailed and Vermilion, Green Jay, wrens, Long-billed Gnatwren, Wood Thrush, wintering warblers including Magnolia, Yellow-throated, Blue-winged, Swainson's, Kentucky and Prothonotary, Ovenbird, Green and Red-legged Honeycreepers, Painted Bunting, orioles, and Chestnut-headed and Montezuma Oropendolas. Also a chance of tinamous, Jabiru, Aplomado Falcon, Spotted Rail, Sungrebe, Crested Owl, Northern Royal Flycatcher and Black-throated Shrike Tanager.

    (Yucatan) Black Howler and Central American (Black-handed/Geoffroy's) Spider Monkeys, Central American Agouti and Grey Fox.

    Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish
    Whale Shark (Jun-Sep, mostly July - one of the largest gatherings on Earth, feeding on fish eggs and plankton, especially around Islas Holbox and Mujeres), Mexican (Morelet's) Crocodile, Manta Ray, Spotted Eagle Ray (usually in large numbers around Isla Cozumel in Jan-Feb), and Green and Hawksbill Turtles.

    Best Sites for Birds and other wildlife in Southern Mexico

    Best Times for Birds and other wildlife in Southern Mexico

    The best time for Whale Sharks is June to September, especially July. Many birds can also be seen at this time but the birdlife is bolstered by wintering birds, notably warblers from North America, between October and March, and March-April is the peak time for birds because many wintering species are still present, migrating birds are moving through and many resident species are breeding and therefore at their most active.

    Recommended Bird Books etc. for Southern Mexico

    Travellers' Wildlife Guides: Southern Mexico by L Beletsky. Arris Books, 2006.

    A Field Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America by S Howell and S Webb. OUP, 1995.

    A Field Guide to Mexican Birds by R Tory Peterson and E Chalif. Houghton Mifflin, 1999.

    Where to watch birds in Mexico by S Howell. Helm, 1999.

    National Audubon Society Field Guide to Tropical Marine Fishes by C L Smith. Alfred A Knopf, 1997.

    A Field Guide to the Mammals of Central America and Southeast Mexico by F A Reid. OUP, 2009 (Second Edition).

    A Swift Guide to the Butterflies of Mexico and Central America by J Glassberg. Sunstreak Books, 2007.

    Where to watch birds in Central America & the Caribbean by N Wheatley and D Brewer. Helm, 2001.

    Don’t know which country/countries/regions to visit in Central America? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author and David Brewer. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them in the region, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.

    Birding and Wildlife Trip Reports for Southern Mexico

    Many trip reports, some for Southern Mexico, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Southern Mexico. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Southern Mexico' below.

    Local bird and wildlife guides in Southern Mexico

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation for birders in Southern Mexico

    Some Organized Tours for birds and other wildlife to Southern Mexico

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who run organized tours or can arrange custom tours to Southern Mexico include the following.