Central America

Blond-crested Woodpecker Celeus flavescen ©Glenn Bartley Website
Birding Central America & the Caribbean

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. (Unfortunately some have a reputation as being unsafe but most are on a par with most nations)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 grasp geography is even worse than mine… Mexico and Bermuda can be found on the North American pages.

This page is sponsored by Rockjumper Birding Tours

This page is sponsored by Canopy Tower

This page is sponsored by Paradise Expeditions

Useful Reading

  • A Birder's West Indies

    | (An Island-by-Island Tour) | By Roland H Wauer | University of Texas Press | 1996 | Paperback | 238 pages, 19 colour photos, illustrations, 2 maps, 1 table | ISBN: 9780292791015 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America

    | By Steve NG Howell & Sophie Webb| Oxford University Press | 1995 | 851 pages, 71 colour plates, 39 line drawings, 1087 maps | ISBN: 9780198540120 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Birds of Central America

    | (Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama) | By Andrew Vallely & Dale Dyer | Princeton University Press | 2018 | Paperback | 560 pages, 260 plates with colour illustrations; 1190+ colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9780691138022 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Birds of Mexico and Central America

    | By Ber Van Perlo | Princeton University Press | 2006 | Paperback | 336 pages, 98 plates with colour illustrations; b/w illustrations, b/w distribution maps, colour maps | ISBN: 9780691120706 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Birds of the West Indies

    | By Mike Flieg & Allan Sander | Bloomsbury Publishing | 2017 | Paperback | 144 pages, colour photos, 1 colour map | ISBN: 9781472938145 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Birds of the West Indies

    | Guy M Kirwan, Anthony Levesque, Mark W Oberle & Christopher J Sharpe | Lynx Edicions | 2019 | Flexibound | 400 Pages | 1600+ colour illustrations, 650+ colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9788416728176 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • The Birds of the West Indies

    | By Herbert Raffaele, James Wiley, Orlando Garrido, Allan Keith & Janis Raffaele | Christopher Helm | 2003 Paperback | 216 pages, 92 colour plates, 181 colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9780713654196 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Where to Watch Birds in Central America & the Caribbean

    | By Nigel Wheatley & David Brewer | Christopher Helm | 2002 | Paperback | 436 pages, Bw illustrations, maps | ISBN: 9780713646870 Buy this book from NHBS.com
Birding Aps
  • *Individual Country Apps

    For apps relating to a single country see the appropriate Country Page

Useful Information
  • BirdPlanner.com

    http://www.birdplanner.com BirdPlanner is a free site that enables you to generate bird lists for any place in the western hemisphere
  • BirdsCaribbean

    The Caribbean is home to over 500 species of bird, including 172 species that are endemic to the region and found nowhere else in the world. In fact, there are over 100 bird species in the Caribbean that only live on one island. Overall, 59% of the resident birds—the ones that don’t migrate—in the region are endemic. The abundance of endemic species is one reason why the region is considered a biodiversity hotspot, and why conservation in the region is so important.
  • Caribbean Conservation

    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
  • InfoNatura

    Welcome to InfoNatura, a source for conservation information on the birds and mammals of Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Optics for the tropics

    Optics for the Tropics builds capacity for bird conservation in the western hemisphere by providing quality binoculars for ornithologists in the Caribbean and Latin America. Binoculars are used for monitoring, research and education.
Guides & Tour Operators
  • Birding Ecotours

    Tour Operator
    Custom-made and set itineraries to Latin America…
  • Caligo Ventures

    Tour Operator
    We are a dynamic travel company committed to conservation. We have stayed small so that we can manage operations on passion and personal vision; we have strong relationships with our travelers, and the host lodges we visit. Originally founded by Phil and Margaret Schaeffer in 1983, Peg Abbott and her company, Naturalist Journeys, carry on the traditions of Caligo: finding sustainable, quality ecolodges, using local guides, and featuring (where possible) local foods to make for memorable travel.
  • Ecocolors

    Tour Operator
    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

    Tour Operator
    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.
  • Naturalist Journeys

    Tour Operator
    Founded in 1998 by owner and lead guide, Peg Abbott, we are a top nature and birding tour company. Our guides are naturalists, ornithologists, biologists, entomologists, geologists, photographers, artists, and more. Collectively, we treasure birding, nature, travel, good food, and good company ― our inspiration in designing unique travel opportunities.
  • Rockjumper Birding Tours

    Tour Operator
    Rockjumper Birding Tours is a dedicated bird tour company specializing in top-quality birdwatching holidays and wildlife safaris throughout the world, guided by passionate and experienced professional tour leaders.
Trip Reports
  • 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

    PDF Report
    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!
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
Other Links
  • Latin America Bird Song

    …a community site for the collection of sounds from all of Central and South America…

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