Birdwatching Pelican Landing

Yucatan Birds - Birdwatcher's Locations Guide to Birding in Mexico

Your Birdwatching Adventure in Rio Lagartos, Yucatan, Mexico

Like many others have done, travel to the Yucatan Peninsula to experience excellent birdwatching and once here be sure to visit the Ria Lagartos Biosphere Reserve, a fabulous location along the north coast of the state of Yucatan in the peninsula. Here you will enjoy world class birdwatching and have a better chance of seeing 2-4 endemic birds that are either hard or impossible in the forest sites elsewhere in the Yucatan.

Rio Lagartos is a small, picturesque and laid back fishing village built in the mangroves which is easily accessed by car or bus from Cancun or Merida, roads from either place are well made and signaled, or if you prefer, bus service is comfortable and timely. At the Ria Lagartos Biosphere Reserve you will be able to do mangrove birding and see many water birds. The Reserve is also famous for its large population of pink flamingos, American Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) that live and breed there, and for its crocodiles, which are, Morelet's Crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii).

Once in Rio Lagartos the best place to lodge is Hotel Villa de Pescadores which is located on the sea front Malecon avenue. This small (11 rooms + 1 suite), very clean, comfortable and well priced hotel is personally attended by its owners. The hotel has a restaurant - Buddha Rio Cafe - with a fantastic view of the sea, that serves outstanding "catch of the day" fish specialties, seafood & vegetarian dishes, and the best tasting organic Chiapas coffee you will find in Rio. And yes, on request, the restaurant may open before dawn to provide breakfast for the early rising bird-watchers.

rio lagartos hotel villa de pescadores

Your birding adventure may begin very early the morning after your arrival. Most guides will take you to the Reserve by boat; finding a knowledgeable English speaking guide / boat capitan is easy with the assistance of the hotel owners. Although many waterbirds and even mangrove birds like the Mangrove Warbler or the Mangrove Swallow can easily be seen while walking the malecon avenue where the hotel is located.

The best spots to try for the endemics could be anywhere on the other side of the mangrove belt in the dry coastal scrub. A good local guide will take you to find locations that host Turquoise-browed Motmots in the summer. The scrub might be all it takes to see the endemics, but you may also be guided to the best piece of habitat that is supposed to be around (according to Howell’s book).

The two most sought-after endemics, Yucatan Wren and Mexican Sheartail were easy to find in this area of scrub after a short while, and so is the Cinnamon Hummingbird, Canivet’s Emerald, Yucatan Woodpecker and Mangrove Vireo. Other notable birds included Plain Chachalaca, Yucatan Jay, and the Yucatan Flycatcher. Actually, Myiarchus flycatchers are quite commonly seen in the before-mentioned area of scrub in the mornings, although many of them are really Dusky-cappeds. Gray-crowned Yellowthroats and Southern House Wrens should be sought after.

The whole area of scrub is outstanding for orioles, Orange, Hooded and Altamira Orioles may be seen almost in the same tree. Any stone walls along the tracks/roads may attract sun-bathing Lesser Roadrunners during the midday heat. Yucatan Bobwhite is hard (though not impossible) to see well, and most sightings will be of flushed birds. If you still miss them, looking for them along the margins of abandoned fields will pay off more than trying to cover as much scrubby ground as possible.

The whole area is excellent for birds of prey, weather can be windy due to a "norte" (=northerly), but you may get some views of soaring raptors (White-tailed Hawk, Gray Hawk, Great Black Hawk and Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture – the latter can also be found right in town).

With a car of your own, it is well worth continuing to Las Coloradas. On your way there, you cross a bridge whence Kelp Gull has been reported in a few winters (according to Howell’s book) and beyond there you get into some peculiar coastal bush habitat that has the potential of being very interesting (bird-wise) in fair weather.

Guia Diego Nunez
Diego Núñez, Río Lagartos: Río Lagartos Adventures
Tel.  986-1008390 y 986-1008390
English, Italian and Spanish

Guia Alberth Rosado

Alberth Rosado, Río Lagartos: Flamingo Tours
Cel. 986-8620126 y 986-1054714
English (Intermediate) and Spanish

Guia Diego Nunez
David Salas, Mérida:
Cel: 044-999-1271685 y 999-9855991
English and Spanish

Guia Diego Nunez
David Bacab, Mérida: Celestun Expeditions
Nextel ID: 92*1041471*3; Cel 999-2785941
English and Spanish
Ecoturismo Yucatan
Contact: Diego Antonio Núñez Martinez
Cel: 01-986-100 83 90

Calle 9 #105 x 14, 50 meters from the light house, seaside on the Malecon.

Ecoturismo Yucatan
Contact: Christopher Arroyo
Tel: (999) 920 27 72
Toll Free from Mexico: 01800 288-18-44
Contact: David Salas Pacheco
Telephone: 999 985-59-91
Cel number: 9991 27-16-85


Your Bird List for Rio Lagartos, Yucatan Peninsula

American White Pelican – Pelecanus erythrorhynchos
Brown Pelican – Pelecanus occidentalis
Magnificent Frigatebird – Fregata magnificens
Great Blue Heron – Ardea herodias
Great Egret – Egretta alba egretta
Snowy Egret – Egretta thula
Little Blue Heron – Egretta caerulea
Tricolored Heron – Egretta tricolor
Cattle Egret – Bubulcus ibis ibis
Green Heron – Butorides virescens
Yellow-crowned Night Heron – Nycticorax violaceus
White Ibis – Eudocimus albus
Roseate Spoonbill – Platalea ajaja
Wood Stork – Mycteria americana
American Flamingo – Phoenicopterus ruber
Blue-winged Teal – Anas discors
Black Vulture – Coragyps atratus
Turkey Vulture – Cathartes aura
Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture – Cathartes b. burrovianus
Osprey – Pandion haliaetus
Northern Harrier – Circus cyaneus hudsonius
Great Black Hawk – Buteogallus urubitinga ridgwayi
Gray Hawk – Buteo nitidus
Roadside Hawk – Buteo magnirostris
White-tailed Hawk – Buteo albicaudatus hypospodius
Crested Caracara – Caracara plancus
Laughing Falcon – Herpetotheres cachinnansPlain Chachalaca – Ortalis vetula
Yucatan Bobwhite – Colinus nigrogularis
Black-bellied Plover – Pluvialis squatarola
Semipalmated Plover – Charadrius semipalmatus
Killdeer – Charadrius v. vociferus
Black-necked Stilt – Himantopus m. mexicanus
Greater Yellowlegs – Tringa melanoleuca
Lesser Yellowlegs – Tringa flavipes
Spotted Sandpiper – Actitis macularia
Western Sandpiper – Calidris mauri
Least Sandpiper – Calidris minutilla
Stilt Sandpiper – Calidris himantopus
Laughing Gull – Larus atricilla
Caspian Tern – Sterna caspia
White-winged Dove – Zenaida asiatica
Common Ground-Dove – Columbina passerina
Ruddy Ground-Dove – Columbina talpacoti
Aztec Parakeet – Aratinga astec
Squirrel Cuckoo – Piaya cayana
Lesser Roadrunner – Geococcyx velox
Groove-billed Ani – Crotophaga sulcirostris
Lesser Nighthawk – Chordeiles acutipennis
Canivet’s Emerald – Chlorostilbon canivetii
Cinnamon Hummingbird – Amazilia rutila
Mexican Sheartail – Calothorax eliza
Yucatan Woodpecker – Centurus pygmaeus
Ladder-backed Woodpecker – Picoides scalaris
Least Flycatcher – Empidonax minimus
Vermilion Flycatcher – Pyrocephalus rubinus
Bright-rumped Attila – Attila spadiceus
Dusky-capped Flycatcher – Myiarchus tuberculifer lawrencei
Yucatan Flycatcher – Myiarchus yucatanensis
Great Kiskadee – Pitangus sulfuratus
Social Flycatcher – Myiozetetes similis
Tropical Kingbird – Tyrannus melancholicus
Mangrove Swallow – Tachycineta a. albilinea
Barn Swallow – Hirundo rustica erythrogaster
Green Jay – Cyanocorax incas
Yucatan Jay – Cyanocorax yucatanensis
Yucatan Wren – Campylorhynchus yucatanensis
Southern House Wren – Troglodytes musculus
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – Polioptila caerulea
Clay-colored Thrush – Turdus grayi
Tropical Mockingbird – Mimus gilvus
White-eyed Vireo – Vireo griseus
Mangrove Vireo – Vireo pallens
Yellow-throated Vireo – Vireo flavifrons
Rufous-browed Peppershrike – Cyclarhis gujanensis (+insularis)
Northern Parula – Parula americana
Yellow Warbler – Dendroica petechia (bryanti)
Magnolia Warbler – Dendroica magnolia
Palm Warbler – Dendroica palmarum
Black-and-white Warbler – Mniotilta varia
American Redstart – Setophaga ruticilla
Ovenbird – Seiurus aurocapillus
Northern Waterthrush – Seiururs noveboracensis
Kentucky Warbler – Oporornis formosus
Common Yellowthroat – Geothlypis trichas
Gray-crowned Yellowthroat – Chamaethlypis poliocephala
Hooded Warbler – Wilsonia citrina
Northern Cardinal – Cardinalis cardinalis
Rose-breasted Grosbeak – Pheucticus ludovicianus
Indigo Bunting – Passerina cyanea
Painted Bunting – Passerina ciris
Blue-black Grassquit – Volatinia jacarina spendens
White-collared Seedeater – Sporophila torqueola morelleti
Eastern Meadowlark – Sturnella magna
Great-tailed Grackle – Quiscalus mexicanus
Hooded Oriole – Icterus cucullatus
Orange Oriole – Icterus auratus
Altamira Oriole – Icterus gularis