I have been lucky enough to visit Trinidad & Tobago, Panama, Cayman Isles, Cuba and Jamaica in this region and found some of the best birding anywhere!
Costa Rica has an economy geared to tourism so has managed to rise far up everyone's list of where I would most like to go birding not just because it has a very long list of very beautiful birds but also because it is a small country with many different avifaunal regions. Some of the rest of the istmus would, no doubt, be just as popular if those countries were better known to birders.
For example, Panama is less feted but has a list of nearly 1000 bird species and shares many of these with its more famous neighbour. Moreover, it is the fastest growing economy in Latin America and its good infrastructure and growing number of eco-lodges [such as Canopy Tower voted one of the top 50 eco-lodges in the world!] make it a terrific destination. I stayed at the Canopy Tower and at the equally well located (and certainly more luxurious) Canopy Lodge and have no hesitation in recommending them. It is also regarded as being as safe or safer than Costa Rica and devotes even more of its country [37%] to National Parks and other areas of conservation.
I found the people helpful and friendly and we fell in love with its beautiful wild areas. The birding was terrific and we hope to return to discover more as it too has distinct eco-regions with different avifauna that certainly warrant re-visiting. A photographer I met rated it as better than Costa Rica for photo-opportunities and liked the fact that it isn't yet swamped with eco-tourists.
The Islands of the Caribean are not just tropical paradises but many are home to large numbers of endemics in relatively small geographical areas. Cuba and Jamaica each have more than 30 endemics and are increasingly popular birding destinations often allowing non-birding partners to relax on palm-fringed beaches while the birder can clock up lifers.
Bridging two continents; central America shares many migratory birds with both and must be a wonderful place to be at such times. I saw more 'wood warblers' in Panama than in all my visits to their summer homes in the north, indeed, I have never seen Canada Warbler in Canada, but did so several times in Panama!
It is some time since I visited Trinidad and Tobago but can certainly recommend the birding there and it is easy to explore the islands from few bases as almost anywhere can be reached in an hour or two. The lurid local newspaper reports of crime were a bit intimidating but I cannot comment on tourist safety there.
In case your geography is as bad as mine… Mexico and Bermuda can be found on the North American pages.
Central America Checklist
This Checklist covers all of Central America
Helm Identification Guides: Birds of the West Indies
Herbert Raffaele, James Wiley, Orlando Garrido, Allan Keith, Janis Raffaele, Tracy Pedersen (Illustrator); Kristin Williams (Illustrator) Hardcover - 511 pages (29 May, 1998) Christopher Helm
ISBN: 0713649054Buy this book from NHBS.com
A Photographic Guide to the Birds of the West Indies
Mike Flieg & Allan Sander (Photographer) Paperback - 144 pages 2006 New Holland Publishers (UK) Out of Print
ISBN: 1845375912Buy this book from NHBS.com
Where to Watch Birds ? Central America & the Caribbean
by Nigel Wheatley and David Brewer ? Helm 2002
See Fatbirder Review
ISBN: 071364687XBuy this book from NHBS.com
A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America
Steve NG Howell and Sophie Webb 851 pages, 71 colour plates, 39 line drawings, 1087 maps. Oxford University Press 1995
ISBN: 0198540124Buy this book from NHBS.com
Collins Field Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Central America
Ber Van Perlo 336 pages, 98 col plates. Harper Collins 2006
ISBN: 0007134908Buy this book from NHBS.com
Birds of Mexico and Central America
Ber Van Perlo. Princeton University Press, 2006 - Princeton Illustrated Checklists series - 98 color plates by the author - 336 pp. $29.95 ISBN 0691120706
Field Guide to the Birds of the West Indies
By Norman Arlott - Harper Collins 2010
See Fatbirder Review
ISBN: 0007277180Buy this book from NHBS.com
BirdPlanner is a free site that enables you to generate bird lists for any place in the western hemisphere…
Guides & Tour Operators
Wildside Nature Tours
Adventure Camera, Incs. Wildside Birding Tours offers scheduled, guided small group tours to Central & North America (10 people maximum plus two leaders) as well as custom tours, guided or unguided, for any number of people.
This unique eco-tour is specially design for bird watchers. We will be able to visit the main protected areas in the Yucatan peninsula such as Sianka`an, Holbox, Coba, and El Eden, as well as Guatemala and Belize rainforest. Mexico has around 1,040 different bird species, just in the Yucatan peninsula there are 509 different species in 62 families, from which 12 are endemic, with 4 subspecies, 2 morphos and 14 hipotetical registers. Belize and Guatemala have also more than 550 species of birds.
Lost World Adventures
Lost World Adventures arranges specialised tours and expeditions in South America and other exotic New World destinations. Our company was founded in 1986, when we pioneered our first adventure trips into Venezuela. We now arrange travel throughout Latin America, including Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador and Galapagos Islands, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile and Argentina.
Since 1983 Caligo Ventures has specialized in group travel for natural history clubs and organizations; principally to Trinidad & Tobago, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Panama, Belize, Ecuador, and Peru, as well as Kenya…
Custom-made and set itineraries to Latin America…
CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.
2009 [03 March] - Scott Bowers
Barbara and I started this 10-week trip on the island of Cozumel in Mexico. We followed the Caribbean coast to Belize City. We then made our way inland to Guatemala where we more or less followed the Pan-American Highway to Panama City. For the last two weeks of the trip, we flew into a former mining camp deep in the Parque National Darien (Darien National Park) hiking and boating…
2011 [03 March] - Steve Webb - Lesser Antilles
We visited all the Lesser Antilles islands that had endemics. The length of stay was correct except that we spent 1 day too long on St. Vincent and 1 day not enough on St. Lucia because not the entire group wanted to move off St. Vincent earlier. We did not see Lesser Antillean Euphoria which is more widespread on St. Lucia than most other islands. We did not bother with West Indian whistling duck on Antigua. The 4 of us were: Duncan Brooks, Peter Hayman, Rodney Martins, Steve Webb…
2013 [04 April] - Jesse Fagan - Lesser Antilles
We saw all of the Lesser Antilles' endemics very well including great looks at the tough ones: Grenada Dove (my closest and best encounter ever; and at the last minute!), Imperial Parrot (chasing a pair through the Syndicate forest and eventually having them right over our heads!), St. Lucia Black-Finch (at our feet; and it does have pink feet!), and White-breasted Thrasher (twelve, count 'em twelve! on the island of Martinique). It was an adventure and I want to thank this most excellent group for doing it with me…
2016 [04 April] - Jesse FaganLesser Antilles
10 islands, 14 days, 14 flights, 8 hotels, 1 visit to the emergency room, drive on the right, drive on the left,...you get the picture. It requires a lot of action and movement to see these birds! And see them we did. It was another successful island-hopping adventure this year, and the logistics worked out fine on this logistically complicated tour. Even island time seemed faster. Mark recovered in fine fashion. And we also got all the potential endemics!
2016 [02 February] - David Ascanio
Once again, a sea with pastel blue or green colours, an incredible and rich history, outstanding cuisine, and the beautiful and breathtaking Sea Cloud, combined with exquisite birds resulted in a memorable journey across six of the Lesser Antilles to see all of the endemic parrots, tremblers, hummingbirds, orioles, and bullfinches that these islands offer.
Places to Stay
Ecotourism in America
This is a website entirely devoted to nature based travel in the Americas. Here you can find a detailed description of each establishment organized by name, country or activity…
Welcome to CaribbeanConservation.org. Our site is designed to offer the latest and most useful information about the efforts focusing on Caribbean Conservation. This is purely an informational site and does not promote or endorse any specific brand, product or company…
Welcome to InfoNatura, a source for conservation information on the birds and mammals of Latin America and the Caribbean—more than 5,500 common, rare, and endangered species in 44 countries and territories. InfoNatura is a product of NatureServe in collaboration with Conservation Data Centers in 12 Latin American and Caribbean countries…
Optics for the tropics
Optics for the Tropics, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charity organization providing quality optical equipment in the Caribbean and Latin America where resources are very limited. We distribute equipment to ornithologists and educators working to further bird conservation…
Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds
The Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds (SCSCB) is the largest single regional organization committed to the conservation of wild birds and their habitats in the Greater Caribbean region, including Bermuda, the Bahamas and all islands within the Caribbean basin. The overarching objective of the SCSCB is to increase the ability of Caribbean ornithologists, resource managers, conservation organizations, institutions, and local citizens to conserve the birds of the Caribbean and their habitats…
Neotropical Migrant Birds
Neotropical migrant birds are the songbirds that represent over 50%, more precisely, 340 of the 600 species, of North American birds…
Latin America Bird Song
…a community site for the collection of sounds from all of Central and South America…