Bird & Wildlife Watching in Guatemala

Birdwatchers and nature lovers have found their playground in Guatemala. 15% of Guatemala’s land is designated as national parks, national monuments, wildlife sanctuaries and biospheres. Plus, with over 19 different ecosystems: beaches, mangrove swamps, wetlands, flood plains, desert thorn forests, savannas, humid lowland jungles, cloud forests and cool highland pine/oak woodlands – just to name a few – you’ll see amazing flora and fauna.

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Guatemala is quickly becoming a hot bird watcher’s paradise with over 750 species of birds to see. This is the place where birds from North America and South America come to interact and have a ball. Plus, if you know where to go you’ll have plenty of close encounters with over 250 species of mammals, 200 species of reptiles and amphibians, and over 50 species of butterflies.

Best Birdwatching and Wildlife Encounters in Guatemala

Lake Atitlán

The vicinity of Lake Atitlán has forests ranging in altitude from 750 to 2,500 meters (2,500 to 8,200 feet) that include broad leaf and cloud forests.

Birds Species to Look Out For:

  • Horned guan
  • Long-tailed manakin
  • Pacific parakeet
  • Orange-fronted parakeet
  • Several species of hummingbirds
  • Hawks
  • Vultures
  • Falcons
  • Parrots
  • Woodpeckers

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Wildlife to Look Out For:

Pacific Coast

The Pacific coast’s Manchón Guamuchal Wetland Preserve wetlands, canals and mangrove swamps are brimming with all sorts of birds and wildlife.

Birds Species to Look Out For:

  • 350 species of birds
  • Roseate spoonbill
  • Blue heron
  • Belted kingfisher
  • Toucans
  • Black and white hawk eagles
  • Keel-billed motmots
  • Blue-winged warbler
  • Wood thrush
  • Aquatic birds
  • 14 duck species
  • Sparrow hawks
  • Buzzards
  • Falcons
  • 20 species of egrets
  • Boat-billed Herons

Wildlife to Look Out For:

  • 56 species of mammals
  • Tapir
  • Jaguars
  • 50 species of reptiles and amphibians
  • Crocodiles
  • Iguanas

Caribbean Coast

The moist Caribbean coast with protected areas like Punta de Manabique Wildlife Refuge, Cerro San Gil, and Río Las Escobas Park are just some of the amazing ecosystems to see over 350 species of birds and 100 species of wildlife.

Birds Species to Look Out For:

  • Black and white hawk eagle
  • Keel-billed motmot
  • 90 neotropical migrants wood thrush
  • Blue-winged warbler
  • 25 Nearctic shorebirds
  • Yellow-headed parrot
  • Great curassow
  • Herons
  • Pelicans
  • Yellow-headed parrot

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Wildlife to Look Out For:

  • Acutus crocodile
  • Manatee
  • Otters
  • Freshwater turtles
  • Green Iguanas
  • Tapir
  • Howler monkeys
  • Jaguars
  • Green sea turtle
  • Leatherback turtles
  • Olive ridley turtles
  • Green Iguana
  • Caiman
  • Spider monkeys
  • Peccary
  • Jaguar
  • Yellow-headed parrot (Amazona oratrix)

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Highlands and Cloud Forests of Las Verapaces

Sierra de Las Minas Biosphere Reserve, Chelemhá Cloud Forest Preserve, and Mario Dario Rivera Biotope (also know as El Quetzal) are home to Guatemala’s national bird: The Resplendent Quetzal and many more.

Birds Species to Look Out For:

  • Azure-rumped
  • Tanager
  • Pink-headed Warbler
  • Horned Guam
  • Emerald Toucanets
  • Mountain Trogons
  • Harpy Eagle (the only place in Guatemala)
  • Highland Guans
  • Various species of hummingbirds
  • Blue-crowned Chlorophonia
  • Spotted Nightingale-Thrush

Wildlife to Look Out For:

Petén

Tikal National Park is one of the rare places in Central America where you are guaranteed to see wildlife action. Even for the novice wildlife spotters, you will feel like an expert. But Tikal isn’t the only park full of amazing birds and wildlife. You’ll get your share in Laguna Lachuá National Park, Naachtun–Dos Lagunas Biotope, Cerro Cahuí Biotope and the Maya Biosphere Reserve.

Birds Species to Look Out For:

  • Kingfishers
  • Ducks
  • Herons
  • Hawks
  • Parrots
  • Toucans
  • Woodpeckers
  • Ocellated turkey
  • Peregrine falcons
  • Mealy parrots
  • Black-throated Shrike-Tanager
  • Plain Xenops
  • Green Shrike-Vireo
  • Red-Crowned Ant-Tanager
  • Hummingbirds
  • Cichlids
  • King Vulture
  • Black-and-White Hawk Eagle
  • Bat Falcon
  • Wood Thrush
  • Kentucky Warbler
  • Magnolia Warbler Black- and-white Warbler
  • Chestnut-sided Warbler
  • Montezuma’s Oropendola
  • Pied-billed grebe northern jacana

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Wildlife to Look Out For:

  • White-tailed deer
  • Tapirs
  • Jaguars
  • Pumas
  • Spider and howler monkeys
  • Coati
  • Raccoons
  • Paca
  • Rodents
  • Bats
  • Ocelots
  • Armadillos
  • Margays
  • Brocket deer
  • Crocodiles
  • River turtles

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Article by Marina Kuperman Villatoro

Marina Kuperman Villatoro CEO of TravelExperta.com, a travel resource site to inspire families to travel with kids of all ages. Marina has been an expat 10+ years in Central America raising 2 boys in a multicultural, trilingual household. She travels all over the world with her family to give first hand experiences of where to eat, stay and play with kids. Needless to say, it’s never boring! Join Marina on Facebook and Twitter for more unique and boutique family travel!
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One Response to Bird & Wildlife Watching in Guatemala

  1. That alligator looks hungry…YIKES!
    Jenny – Sugar Loco recently posted..Turn on your HOT Light { Krispy Kreme App }My Profile

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