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Free and Sovereign State of Baja California Sur

Xantus' Hummingbird Hylocharis xantusii ©Tom Haglund

Birding Baja California Sur

Baja California Sur hasn't been a known birding hotspot for a couple of pretty good reasons; want of information because all major promotion is for other activities, and ease of access is recent and yet a touch rustic for many. Not, repeat, NOT for want of birds.

The peninsula's southern half hosts dozens of species of shorebirds and pelagics, three of doves, multitudes of raptors and scavengers, hummingbirds, songbirds, swallows, thrashers, quail, flycatchers, orioles, woodpeckers, wrens, cardinals, sparrows, waterfowl, corvids, and many, many others. There are endemics and migrators, nesters and vagrants, the bold and the very shy.

The northernmost major town in the state is Guerrero Negro, whose vast wetlands are seasonally alive with Black Brant, ducks and teal, and all the waders and fish chasers found on the central stretch of the Pacific coast. At the other end, San Jose del Cabo is divided by an estuary that is already one of the very few regularly visited birding spots in the state. Between lie more than a thousand miles of coastline, both Pacific and Gulf, that have been pretty much off the path of birders.

Bahia Magdelena is hundreds of square miles of salt water between barrier islands and mangrove channels and supports an astounding number and variety of birds. Mulegé is on the Gulf of California at the mouth of the river of the same name and is another flyway stopover and year-round water bird haven. Loreto is where we can see it almost literally rain pelicans, boobies, terns, cormorants, and gulls as they bombard huge shoals of sardines all along the waterfront every morning and evening. The islands of both the Pacific and especially the Gulf teem with seabirds.

The desert and mountains that separate the seas are not a sprawl of sameness as many believe but are varied in elevations, micro climates, and vegetation zones providing habitat for large populations of wildlife, including birds, birds, and more birds.

This recently opened up setting is perhaps different than the regular birder is used to. If you like to prop your scope on the hood of your car and spot in comfort and ease, BCS is perhaps not your dish. If you know about rough trails, good shoes, and proper hydration, you may have found here that magical place where you're not standing right where some other person has stood and looking at the same bird.

Contributor

Tom Haglund

bcsbirds@cox.net

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 543

(As at June 2018 for whole peninsula)

Endemics

Number of endemics: 7

Guadalupe Storm-petrel Hydrobates macrodactylus Guadalupe Murrelet Synthliboramphus hypoleucus Yellow-footed Gull Larus livens Guadalupe Caracara Caracara lutosa Xantus's Hummingbird Hylocharis xantusii Belding's Yellowthroat Geothlypis beldingi & Gray Thrasher Toxostoma cinereum

Useful Reading

Fieldguides, CDs etc.

For a selection of appropriate fieldguides and CDs etc see the general Mexico page of Fatbirder…

Guides & Tour Operators

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Independent Guide - Maria Elena Muriel

Guide

I lead bird-watching groups based in Cabo san Luca to see the endemics such as the Belding’s Yellowthroat, Xantus Hummingbird and Gray Thrasher. For people who don’t have much time it take us just 4 hours to see at least those three birds, and many other such as Cactus Wren, Phainopepla, Cassin's Kingbird and others. I can also lead you to see the other endemics such as Cape Pygmy Owl and San Lucas Robin on full-day trips or over several days…

Trip Reports

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CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

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.

2008 [02 February] - Scott Bowers

Report

I took a flight to San Jose del Cabo where I met up with a friend of mine. We rented a car and checked out sites in the area. This trip included two nights on Isla Espiritu Santo…

2013 [07 July] - Petri Hottola

PDF Report

Among the subspecies/species, only Baird’s Junco was missed. Le Conte’s Thrasher, or whatever the eventual identity of the Baja subspecies/species (Vizcaino Thrasher?) may be, occurs only in the Central Baja. Baja California Sur is also relatively good for mammals. The following species were recorded: Black-tail Jackrabbit 1 Punta Arena, 2 Sierra La Laguna, Brush Rabbit 2 La Paz Sewage Works (LPSW), White-tail Antelope Squirrel 2 Punta Arena, 3 LPSW, California Sea Lion 2 at Punta Coyote, and 3 Sperm Whales, a Fin Whale and a pod of two hundred Bottle-nosed Dolphins also at Punta Coyote…

2016 [04 April] - Kathie Claydon

Report

...We then boarded the Spirit of Adventure for an 11-night voyage down the Pacific coast of Baja peninsula and into the Sea of Cortez...

2017 [03 March] - David Wimpfheimer & Scot Anderson

PDF Report

...We had good views of Black-throated Sparrow, Verdin and Blue-grey Gnatcatcher. There were a few wildflowers blooming and the desert plants seemed bright and healthy. After hearing the boat’s engine for a week, the desert seemed very quiet...

2018 [01 January] - Michael O'Brien

PDF Report

Amazing natural beauty, delightful weather, and spe ctacular sunrises and sunsets were hallmarks of our 2018 Baja cruise aboard the National Geographic Sea Bird . With fascinating wildlife sightings at every turn, and a n accomplished and friendly team of naturalists on board, our group had a fun-filled, r elaxing, and educational vacation.

Places to Stay

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Club Cabo Hotel Resort & Campground

Accommodation

We hope your stay will be very pleasant as we invite you to stay with Club Cabo Hotel and Campground Resort, a very unique place to stay. We are nestled under a canopy of mesquite trees in the center of a bird sanctuary, close to the beach.

Hotel Oasis

Accommodation

Hotel Oasis has been the sport fisherman's and nature enthusiast's favorite since being established in 1960. Located right on the beach at the South end of the main boardwalk (malecon) in Loreto, Baja California Sur, Hotel Oasis offers easy access to local shops, restaurants, and historic sites. The town's international airport is only 4 miles away and has a daily flight from Los Angeles through Aerocalifornia.

Other Links

Baja & the Gulf of California

Website

Wedged between the peninsula and the mainland of Mexico is the Gulf of California—better known in the U.S. as the "Sea of Cortez." This region is characterized by rugged coastlines, cardon cactus, sandy beaches, coastal lagoons, coral reefs and palm oases…

Endemic Birds of Baja California

Website

Baja California is home to six endemic birds. Although many of the North American Birds can be found in Baja California there are six birds that can be found only in Baja….