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Republic of Nicaragua

Turquoise-browed Motmot Eumomota superciliosa ©Gábor Orbán Website

Nicaragua, officially the Republic of Nicaragua is a representative democratic republic. It is the largest state in Central America with an area of 130,000 km2. Nicaragua is the least densely populated country in Central America (42/km2) with 5,600,000 people. The country is bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The Pacific Ocean lies to the west of the country, the Caribbean Sea to the east. Falling within the tropics, Nicaragua sits 11 degrees north of the Equator, in the Northern Hemisphere.

The origin of the name 'Nicaragua' is unclear; one theory is that it was coined by Spanish colonists based upon the name of the local chief at that time, Nicarao; another is that it may have meant 'surrounded by water' in an indigenous language (this could either be a reference to its two large freshwater lakes, Lake Nicaragua and Lake Managua, or to the fact that it bounded on the east and the west by oceans.

Nicaragua occupies a landmass of 129,494 km² - roughly the size of Greece or the state of New York and 1.5 times larger than Portugal. Close to 20% of the country's territory is designated as protected areas such as national parks, nature reserves and biological reserves. The country is bordered by Costa Rica on the south and Honduras on the north, with the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west.

Nicaragua has three distinct geographical regions: the Pacific Lowlands, the North-Central Highlands or highlands and the Atlantic Lowlands.

Pacific Lowlands

Located in the west of the country, these lowlands consist of a broad, hot, fertile plain. Punctuating this plain are several large volcanoes of the Marrabios mountain range, including Mombacho just outside Granada, and Momotombo near León.

The lowland area runs from the Gulf of Fonseca to Nicaragua's Pacific border with Costa Rica south of Lake Nicaragua. Lake Nicaragua is the largest freshwater lake in Central America (20th largest in the world), and is home to the world's only freshwater sharks (Nicaraguan shark). The Pacific lowlands region is the most populous, with over half of the nation's population. The capital city of Managua is the most populous and it is the only city with over 1.5 million inhabitants.

In addition to its beach and resort communities, the Pacific Lowlands is also the repository for much of Nicaragua's Spanish colonial heritage. Cities such as León and Granada abound in colonial architecture and artifacts; Granada, founded in 1524, is the oldest colonial city in the Americas.

North-Central Highlands

This is an upland region away from the Pacific coast, with a cooler climate than the Pacific Lowlands. About a quarter of the country's agriculture takes place in this region, with coffee grown on the higher slopes. Oaks, pines, moss, ferns and orchids are abundant in the cloud forests of the region.

Bird life in the forests of the central region includes Resplendent Quetzal, goldfinches, hummingbirds, jays and toucanets.

Atlantic Lowlands

This large rainforest region, irrigated by several large rivers and very sparsely populated. The Rio Coco is the largest river in Central America, it forms the border with Honduras. The Caribbean coastline is much more sinuous than its generally straight Pacific counterpart; lagoons and deltas make it very irregular.

Nicaragua's Bosawas Biosphere Reserve is located in the Atlantic lowlands, it protects 1.8 million acres (7,300 km²) of Mosquitia forest - almost seven percent of the country's area - making it the largest rainforest north of the Amazon in Brazil.

Nicaragua's tropical east coast is very different from the rest of the country. The climate is predominantly tropical, with high temperature and high humidity. Around the area's principal city of Bluefields, English is widely spoken along with the official Spanish. The population more closely resembles that found in many typical Caribbean ports than the rest of Nicaragua.

A great variety of birds can be observed including eagles, turkeys, toucans, parakeets and macaws. Animal life in the area includes different species of monkeys, ant-eaters, white-tailed deer and tapirs.

Wildlife and Biodiversity

Rainforest in Nicaragua covers more than 2,000,000 ha, particularly on the Atlantic lowlands. As well as the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve (in the north) there is the Indio Maiz Biological Reserve (in the south), which protects 2,500km² of the Atlantic Rainforest. These two areas are very rich in biodiversity. There are 5 species of cats, including jaguar and cougar; 3 species of primates, spider monkey, howler monkey and capuchin monkey; 1 species of tapir, called Danto for the Nicaraguans; 3 species of anteaters and many more.



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Number of Species

Number of bird species: 704

National Bird: Turquoise-browed Motmot Eumomota superciliosa


iGoTerra Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web

Useful Reading

A Guide to the Birds of Panama with Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras

Robert S. Ridgely, John A. Gwynne Jr Paperback - 550 pages (31 August, 1992) Princeton University Press

ISBN: 0691025126

Buy this book from NHBS.com


Aves Nicaragua


Esta página está dedicada a divulgar todas las actividades que se llevan a cabo sobre aves en Nicaragua. Está destinada para facilitar el intercambio de información entre los amantes de las aves…


Domitila Private Wildlife Reserve


Satellite View

The reserve has more than 125 species of tropical birds, reptiles, butterflies, and insects. A portion of the reserve borders the southwest shore of Lake Cocibolca (Lake of Nicaragua), drawing numerous migratory neotropical birds…

Indio-Maiz Biological Reserve


Satellite View

The Indio-Maiz Biological Reserve, named after the Indio and Maiz rivers, has an area of 2500 Km2. The Reserve is the refuge for wild species such as turtles, primates, jaguars, birds, reptiles and fish…

Selva Negra


Satellite View

Cloud forest located 87 miles (145 km) from Managua, near the city of Matagalpa (in Nahuatl: confusing town); at more than 4,000 feet (1,455 mt) above sea level. Originally a coffee farm called Hammonia from its German settlers, the farm evolved into a protected forest. Many birds live in these woods, including the Quetzal and the more modest Trogons Elegance…

Wetlands of International Importance


Nicaragua currently has nine sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of 406,852 hectares.

Guides & Tour Operators

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

Birding Pal


Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…


Tour Operator

Rico Tours

Tour Operator

…The tropical country is home to 73 nature reserves, which cover more than 21,000 square km. Nicaragua has the largest expanse of uncut rain forest north of the Amazon Basin…

South American Fiesta

Tour Operator

Mixing culture and nature…

Tours Nicaragua

Tour Operator

Break away from the crowd and consider our peaceful land of sun and volcanoes, lakes and islands, rivers, forests and seas…

Trip Reports

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


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.

2011 [02 February] - Hans Christophersen

Report PDF

2013 [05 May] - Florian Klingel

Report PDF

…Best birds for me: Thicket Tinamou, Gray Hawk and Zone-tailed Hawk, Black-headed and Elegant Trogon, Blue-crowned and Turquise-browed Motmot (which is easy to see even in the city, but always great to see one), White-necked Puffbird from the terrace, Dusky Antbird, Rufous- browed Peppershrike and fantastic views of a Long-tailed Manakin family…

2013 [08 August] - Daniel Watson - Nicaragua, Panama & Costa Rica

PDF Report

The heat and strong sunlight was bearing down on us as we waited at the Nicaraguan bus station, but two things lifted my spirits; firstly were several highly colourful hand painted buses in the bus station – rather sad, but I had hoped to ride on one of these! – and the second was a grackle that flew down to take a scrap of my empanada, a Nicaraguan grackle. The birds more black appearance and shorter tail gave the species away, but I spotted some pallid females nearby as well, just for confirmation.

Places to Stay

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

Domitila Private Wildlife Reserve


We are located in the heart of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, one of the richest biological areas in Nicaragua and the reserve is a refuge for threatened and endangered species of the dry tropical forest. It features a complete representation of flora and fauna for this type of forest. Domitila is a paradise for researchers and nature lovers with 65 species of mammals including howler monkeys and wild cats. The reserve has more than 125 species of tropical birds…

Finca Esperanza Verde


Finca Esperanza Verde (Green Hope Farm) is a cool, green and tranquil paradise located in the lush mountains of central Nicaragua…

Montecristo Riverside Lodge


Montecristo is a riverside lodge in the tropical rainforest, within the Private Montecristo Wildland Reserve…

Nicaragua Guesthouse - Managua


Stay at our family owned and run Guest House in an elegant suburb of Managua, amid a picturesque tree-lined setting just 10 minutes away from the international airport and bus terminals! Managua, our capital city, has a vibrant nightlife!

Selva Negra


Willkommen to the Black Forest of….Nicaragua. At the Barvarian-style gatehouse the guard lifts the red and white stripped bar permitting entrance into the unique world of Selva Negra. Here at more than 3,000 feet you will have to pinch yourself to believe that you are still in Nicaragua.

Other Links

Birds Of The Solentiname Islands


These birds are both on protected and non protected islands and areas. The Solentiname Islands are in Lake Nicaragua and very close to Costa Rica…



Nicaragua is widely regarded as the most 'under-birded' country in Central America. With more than 700 recorded species and large areas of virtually unexplored habitat, it offers huge potential for new discoveries. Given the paucity of published information in English on birding in Central America's largest country, NicaBirds is designed to bridge that gap with information on noteworthy species and useful bird-finding information. We are indebted to the creators of the excellent Panamanian website, Xenornis.com, from which the inspiration for NicaBirds was drawn…

Photographers & Artists

Photographer - Jean Coronel - Birds of Nicaragua


Pictures of the Birds of Nicaragua by Jean Coronel - on Tina MacDonald`s site.