bird watching mexico

bird watching mexico
Path of the Military Macaw
at Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico
bird watching mexico
bird watching mexico
bird watching mexico
bird watching mexico

bird watching mexico
bird watching mexico
bird watching mexico
bird watching mexico

 Puerto Vallarta is one of Mexico’s liveliest and most sophisticated resort destinations. It is located in the easternmost point of the sparkling blue Bahía Banderas (Banderas Bay), Puerto Vallarta is backed by lush palm-covered mountains. Bahía Banderas is the largest bay in the Mexican Pacific. The coastline is marked by small inlets at the mouths of rivers such as Yelapa, Tomatlán, Mismaloya, Cuale and the Ameca. There are some rocky islands in the mouth of the bay (Marietas Islands) and another very small island near Mismaloya where snorkeling is a great pastime.
 Bahía Banderas is carved out of the surrounding mountains and the cut extends inward in a northeasterly direction to the Valle de Banderas (Valley of Flags). The Valle de Banderas represents an ecosystem isolated from the mountains that surround it. The mountains to the southeast (Sierra Cuale) and northwest (Sierra Vallejo) rise quite sharply, sometimes precipitously. The vegetation changes from tropical dry forest to tropical semi-deciduous forest and pine-oak and pine forest within a few kilometers.

 These unique characteristics of Bahia Banderas form a biological zone extraordinarily rich in flora and fauna. There are around 300 bird species with very strong components of migratory and endemic birds. Much of the migratory movements are altitudinal only, up into the mountains, but some are latitudinal. These unique characteristics of Bahia Banderas form a biological zone extraordinarily rich in flora and fauna. There are around 300 bird species with very strong components of migratory and endemic birds. Much of the migratory movements are altitudinal only, up into the mountains, but some are latitudinal.

bird watching mexico
bird watching mexico
bird watching mexico
bird watching mexico

 Military Macaw is one breeding species in the region. This species is protected by Mexican laws and is considered endangered. Here in Bahia Banderas, there is an ongoing conservation project through ecotourism, scientific research and community work. Ten percent of the tour fees benefits the Macaw research-ecotourism project. In this tour you will see some of the avian richness of the region and learn a little bit about the macaw’s conservation project.

bird watching mexico
bird watching mexico
bird watching mexico
bird watching mexico
© photos by Frank Mc Cann

Through our tours you will be directly supporting the local conservationists
that are working hard to preserve our natural beauty and the
endangered species that inhabit our region.


The path of the Military Macaw Tour Information

Price: $1075 per person
Tour limit: 10-12 persons
Operations Manager: Alejandro Martínez

All meals mentioned in the agenda and accommodations as stated in the itinerary. The tour includes certified and specialized bilingual guides, full and fresh continental breakfasts in great spots for birding, energetic snacks throughout the tour, fresh fruit, soft drinks and purified bottled water are provided. Also included are ground transportation, first aid kit, binoculars and spotting scope use, checklists for the birds of the area, plasticized plates for quick ID´s, and all manner of field guides for North American and Mexican birds are available for reference. Each tour participant will receive one copy of “The Birds from Paradise” book, and one T-shirt with the logo and motives of the Military Macaw Conservation Program, or another type of bird T-shirt. It does not include airfare from your home to Puerto Vallarta and return, airport departure taxes, alcoholic beverages, special gratuities, phone calls, laundry, or any personal items. Rates are based upon group tariffs; if the tour does not have sufficient registration, a small party charge may be added.


Alejandro Martinez Rodriguez
Mexican Conservationist and certified specialized birding guide, has been leading tours for over 15 years and introduced 100`s of birders to their first contact with the wonders of neo-tropical forests. Also has been leading other related eco-tours, such as Whale watching and Marine turtles camp grounds, although his main focus remains on bird watching. In 1999, along with his mentor D.W. Boddy, he published the checklist and birding guide for Puerto Vallarta and Banderas Bay "The Birds from Paradise”, and a 2nd Edition, updated and reviewed, was published in 2004. By 2008, alarmed by the current situation of so many endangered species in Mexico, a nonprofit local group was organized (Guacamayas por siempre) to prevent the threat faced by the Psittacidae family, particularly the Military Macaws, that live in the area. Since then, he became the president of the organization and he has actively participated in several strategies to protect and conserve these and other threatened wild species in the Banderas Bay area.

Carlos Raúl Bonilla Ruz
Mexican biologist with a masters degree in animal biology. Researcher from CIIDIR-Oaxaca, of the National Polytechnic Institute. He has worked for 28 years mainly in the State of Oaxaca, Mexico, in biodiversity and conservation of wildlife. As a result of his studies, he has published scientific articles, books, a field guide of birds from the coast of Oaxaca, and makes presentations in congresses and symposia. His studies are based on birds and mammals, especially bats distribution, scientific collections, biological databases, biodiversity and conservation. He has worked with Military macaws since 2002 in Oaxaca and since 2008 in Jalisco. He has obtained basic information about its reproduction, home range, use of habitat, feeding habits and sexual dimorphism in Oaxaca and actually he is working in a project focused on Military macaws, concerned with reproductive success, population size and ecotourism in Jalisco, Mexico.

Claudia Cristina Cinta Magallón
Mexican veterinarian with a master degree in conservation and management of natural resources. She has done research about biology of wildcats--mainly jaguar and cougar--and Military macaws. She has also developed environmental education, giving information about wildcats to communities. She also wrote a story for children about how Military macaws live, so that children know these great parrots and learn to protect them. She is currently working with a project focused in Military Macaw reproductive success, population size and ecotourism in Jalisco, Mexico.

Breakfast included each day of the tour, beginning on Day 2. Throughout the tour, we will be making stops to choose the best options for lunch, bird-wise and quality-wise.

Transportation from the airport to Rancho la Primavera is included in the price. We’ll spend the night in the beautiful Rancho Primavera, a private Reserve surrounded by tropical forest inhabited with healthy bird populations. We will attend a presentation giving information about the tour and the logistics for the following days. You will also be introduced to the area´s highlights. Flights into Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico (PVR) should be scheduled to arrive before 2:00 PM. There a lot of hummingbirds in Rancho La Primavera. This dinner is also included in tour price.

(Breakfast and dinner are included in the price of the tour. Lunch is on your own at the Botanical Gardens.)
We’ll spend the morning seeing a great variety of birds around Rancho Primavera. Around noon we will visit the Botanical Gardens for lunch. In the afternoon we will travel to the small town of Las Juntas y Los Veranos to spend the night.
List of possible species for Day 2 includes:
White ibis, White-faced ibis, Masked duck, Hook-billed kite, Black-shouldered kite, White-tailed Hawk, Crested Caracara, Long-tailed wood partridge, Purple gallinule, Northern jacana, Thrush, Ruddy ground dove, Ruddy quail dove, Lesser ground cuckoo, Mottled owl, Flammulated owl, Colima pygmy owl, Lesser and Common nighthawks, Buff-collared nightjar, Mexican whippoorwill, White-eared hummingbird, Violet-crowned hummingbird, Magnificent Hummingbird, Plain-capped starthroat, Sparkling-tailed woodstar, Bumblebee hummingbird, White-striped woodcreeper, Tufted flycatcher, Dusky-capped flycatcher, Flammulated flycatcher, Thick-billed kingbird, Grey-collared becard, Spotted wren, White-bellied wren, Brown-backed solitaire, Ruddy-capped nightingale, Russet nightingale-thrush, Chestnut sided shrike vireo, Colima warbler, Townsend´s warbler, Grace´s Warbler, Painted redstart, Fan-tailed warbler, Ruffous-capped Warbler, Red-Breasted chat, Blue-Hooded euphonia, Flame-colored tanager, Rosy thrush tanager , Rufous-capped brushfinch, Green-striped brushfinch, Black-vented oriole, Black-headed siskin, and many others.

(Breakfast and dinner are included. Lunch is on your own.)
Early in the morning we’ll go to a small town called Las Juntas y Los Veranos to meet our guide. We’ll walk upland about 30 minutes to reach our blind (hidden by camouflage) to look at a nest of Military macaws. You should be able to take great photos! You will learn about the reproductive behavior and sex differences. We’ll eat our breakfast while watching the nest and their occupants.
Around noon we’ll return to Las Juntas y Los Veranos to have lunch (on your own) and later we’ll be back in Puerto Vallarta for a free afternoon, then we’ll meet again for dinner.
Optional routes: Depending on birds’ behaviors, we can take an optional trip to

  1. Jaguar Management Unit - Bioto’s Macaws south from El Tuito.
    We can possibly make an early try in the morning to spot the Mottled wood owl, usually found within walking distance inside the Ranch property. Then we will drive south through the Cabo Corrientes area to reach the Bioto area seeing the avian activity, then continue down toward the jaguar reserve to learn more about the conservation projects and status of this endangered species. We will return to El Tuito or Hacienda El Divisadero for lunch (on your own).
    In the afternoon, we will be birding around the various habitats in Rancho Primavera.
  2. Sierra Madre near the town of Los Otates.
    Here we can observe a variety of habitats from deciduous tropical forest to pine-oak and pine forests. It’s a great place to observe endemic species of high altitudes from temperate and semi-temperate forests. It’s a good place to possibly observe nesting macaws. In this area the landscape is some of the best thing to appreciate and it offers good opportunities to find many species of birds. Note: We will stop for lunch (on your own). Our recommendation is the Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens But there are several good options around the town of El Tuito.
DAY 4. Paso Ancho or Boca de Tomatlán
(Breakfast is included in the price. Lunch and dinner are on your own.)
Early in the morning we will be at your hotel to start our adventure. Depending on the movement of birds in the area, we have two options on how to spend the day:
Paso Ancho, southeast of Puerto Vallarta, we can see many birds and count an entire population of Military macaws when they leave their night sites and fly to their feeding sites.
Upriver from Boca de Tomatlán is an excellent site for migratory and endemic birds (maybe we’ll see some Military macaws, too). By noon, we’ll go to Boca de Tomatlán for lunch (on you own). After lunch we will ride a boat to Yelapa, a small town where the river touches the sea. The beach is beautiful and the food is great. It is a good place to relax, only accessible by boat. In the afternoon we’ll have a meeting to give instructions about Day 5.

(Breakfast is included in the price. Lunch and dinner are on your own.)
Early in the morning we’ll meet at your hotel and walk upland to an excellent point of observation for birds and macaws. Don’t forget your camera; we’ll spend the morning in a photographic safari where you may observe many behavioral traits. You may see the San Blas jay, the Elegant trogon, the Red-billed pigeon, the Orange-fronted parakeet, and many others. Additional species for Day 5 include: Little blue heron, Tricolored heron, Roseate spoonbill, Common black hawk, Short-tailed hawk, Collared forest falcon, Bat falcon, Black-necked stilt, Mexican wood nymph, Bright-rumped attila, Nutting´s flycatcher, Rose-throated becard, Black-throated jay, Orange-billed nightingale thrush, Blue mockingbird, Yellow-breasted chat, and Orange-breasted bunting, to name only a few. Around noon we’ll walk down across the river (there is no bridge) to admire the waterfalls, and eat lunch (on your own). After lunch, we will return to the hotel to freshen up, pick up our things, and leave Yelapa by boat to El Tuito to spend the night in the beautiful Rancho Primavera. Dinner is on your own.

Feel free to explore Puerto Vallarta, ask to the guides for activities and facilities in Puerto Vallarta. You can take a trip by boat, or visit the old downtown Zona Centro, visit the church with its big crown, walk along the bay, go shopping, or just watch the sea. Near the area is Río Cuale, with a small Island called Cuale in the middle of the river. Two vehicle bridges and a pedestrian bridge allow easy passage between the island and the town. There are many good restaurants, an arts and craft market with handcrafts from many places of Mexico, and a beautiful path along the beach to enjoy the sunset.

We will pick you up at the hotel, take you to the airport and tell you, "Good bye and come back soon!"


These are only some of the species that can be found in the area. We will be updating our list of species each day of the tour.
Brown pelican, Magnificent frigatebird, Blue-footed and Brown boobies, Neoptropic cormorant, Fulvous and Black-bellied whistling ducks, Grey hawk, great black hawk, Laughing falcon, Red-billed pigeon, Rufous-bellied and Western chachalacas, Crested guan, White-tipped dove, Orange-fronted parakeet, Lilac-crowned parrot, Mexican parrotlet, Military macaw, Squirrel cuckoo, Ferruginous pygmy owl, Black swift, Vaux´s swift, Golden crowned Emerald hummingbird, Beryline hummingbird, Cinnamon hummingbird, Citreoline trogon, Elegant trogon, Russet-crowned motmot, Green kingfisher, Golden-cheeked woodpecker, Lineated woodpecker, Pale-billed woodpecker, Ivory-billed woodcreeper, Northern beardless tyrannulet, Greenish elania, Greater pewee, Ash-throated flycatcher, Social flycatcher, Great kiskadee, Boat-billed flycatcher, Masked tytira, Gray-breasted martin, Groove-billed ani, Green and San Blas jay, Rufous-backed robin, Happy and Sinaloa wren, Golden vireo, Tropical parula, Black-throated grey warbler, MacGillavry´s warbler, Scrub euphonia, Hepatic tanager, Western tanager, Grayish saltator, Yellow grosbeak, Blue bunting, Varied bunting, Rusty-crowned ground sparrow, Blue black grassquit, White-collared seedeater, Striped-headed sparrow, Yellow-winged cacique, Lesser goldfinch.

These tours are designed for all levels of expertise from beginners, casual observers and nature lovers to the more experienced birders. However, the exercise level is strenuous to moderate, particularly on the hike from Yelapa to the waterfalls, although hiking mules will be available at an additional charge. You will also need to understand that you will need to get in and out from boats by the beach. Other than that, hikes are quite moderate and most birding takes place around the parking areas. To get to the macaws’ nesting sites, we might need to hike quite a way, although, mules could be available at an additional charge.

Puerto Vallarta hosts a wide variety of lodging accommodations for all kind of budgets, from five star beach resorts such as 4 seasons to the Bed & Breakfast family owned type of accommodations, will pick up the best of both worlds to ensure birding logistics and leisure is on balance.
Rancho primavera has been the main birding destination for many birding tours in western Mexico, and has the experience and facilities to give you the best experience.

The fee for The Path of the Military Macaw at Puerto Vallarta is in US Dollars per person in double occupancy rooms in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. There will be an additional charge if you desire single accommodations, or if you prefer to share but have no roommate and we cannot provide one for you. Single accommodations will be granted on a first-come first-serve basis, and cannot be guaranteed at Rancho Primavera, due to the limited number of rooms available. You will be refunded the additional single charge if you are in a shared room.
To register for this tour, please contact the Operations Manager Alejandro Martinez Rodriguez. or The deposit for the tour is $450 per person. The registration form should be completed, signed, and returned to the Operations Manager. Full payment of the tour fee is due 120 days prior to the tour departure date.

Cancellation penalties and refunds are based on the following schedule:
If you cancel - Your refund will be
120 days before departure date - 50% deposited
120-60 days before departure date - 40%
60-30 days before departure date - 30%
30 days before departure date - No refund

Please limit your luggage to one suitcase or duffel bag and one carry-on bag. We suggest you pack a change of clothes, your binoculars, medication, toiletries, walking shoes, and documents in the carry-on bag. Laundry service is available at Rancho Primavera for a fee. There are several laundry services available in Puerto Vallarta.

Dress will be casual. Participants should bring lightweight, cool, well-ventilated clothing. Many people now prefer designer field shirts that most outdoor stores and mail order companies are carrying. A typical shirt is usually long-sleeved and buttoned down the center. The material is lightweight and usually of earth tones or pastel coloration. Mesh for ventilation is a standard feature as are several pockets for personal affects. In the winter even at the tropics, early mornings or nights could be chilly, so we recommend bringing a sweater, sweatshirt, or lightweight jacket. Mosquitoes will certainly be a nuisance at some sites so lightweight long pants and long-sleeved shirts will be preferable and some may want to pack mosquito netting just in case. Rancho Primavera is known for its biting midges as well, so bug spray may help with them, too. Sandals and shorts are not recommended. Bring a sun hat or baseball cap to provide shade from the sun, and sunglasses will be indispensable. Heavy hiking boots are not necessary, but you will want to have a light hiking boot or shoe (some days you will walk across rivers and the shoes will get wet). For down time or during periods around towns or hotels, sandals or other open-toed shoes are a good idea if you prefer them. Don’t forget to bring a swimsuit and towel if you plan to swim at the beach or snorkel at Yelapa or the Marietas Islands. Rancho Primavera also has a nice swimming pool.

To make the tour most enjoyable for yourself, other participants, and your leader, it is important to use common sense and show proper etiquette while in the field. Birds tend to be shy. Loud noises and bright colors can scare them. We encourage clothing with earth tones. Try to avoid colors like oranges, yellows, and reds. Always keep your voice down. Shouting is not conducive to extended looks at a given species. When looking through the spotting scope, always wait your turn and look briefly the first time so that others may have the opportunity to get a look. If you are a smoker, please do so at a distance.

At this time of year we can expect mild temperatures which can range from the low 40’s at night, to the high 80’s during the day. Rain is very rare during the dry season, December – May.

Large amounts of cash are not easily exchanged in Mexico, but if you have an international debit card, you can get money from any ATM at a best rate of change; an amount of about 400 dollars (5,000 pesos) each day can be retired. You would probably get a better rate of exchange in Mexico City, but keep in mind that, once again, money is easily exchanged in the USA. There are several banks in the airport where money can be exchanged. All places visited on this tour accept US Dollars; Pesos are not a necessity as shopping opportunities are very limited in the field.

Travel into Mexico for citizens of the United States requires a passport valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure. Non-US citizens should check with their consulate/embassy for instructions. Additionally, a tourist card, which may be filled out aboard your flight to Mexico, is required. Both the passport and the tourist card must be carried with you while in Mexico.

You will want to have sunglasses and sunscreen first and foremost. You should pack a pair of binoculars that are in good repair, along with a belt pack or day pack (for carrying books, sunscreen, extra film, etc.). Other important travel items must include a headlamp (some of the hiking is in the dark before sunrise), travel alarm clock, water bottle, and a bathing suit. A camera is highly recommended as there is much to see. As a precaution, it is a good idea to pack your binoculars, a change of clothing, toiletry items, medications, and travel documents in your airline carry-on bag. Your leader will have a spotting scope, but if you have one and wish to bring it, please feel free to do so. Plastic bags or dry bags are recommended to avoid electronics and optics getting sprayed by the sea breeze.

When traveling, becoming seriously ill is never expected nor anticipated, but is always a possibility, especially when in a foreign country. As standard travel precautions, you should always be up to date with tetanus shots, and strongly consider inoculations against Hepatitis types A and B. Hepatitis A is a disease of contaminated food and water. Hepatitis B is a disease transmitted through unsanitary needles and contaminated blood. Hepatitis vaccinations are standard travel precautions. Traveling in western Mexico does not necessarily mean your chance for exposure is greater or less than anywhere else. You should also know your blood type! In addition to your physician, a good source of general health information for travelers is the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. The CDC operates a 24-hour recorded Travelers’ Information Line 877-FYI-TRIP (394-8747) or you can check their website at If you are taking prescription medication or over-the-counter medicine, be sure to bring an ample supply that will allow you to get through the tour safely. Please consult your physician as necessary. Remember to pack all medication in your carry-on baggage, preferably in original containers or packaging. As airline baggage restrictions can change without warning, please check with your airline for procedures for packing medication. Standard travel items include such stand-bys as aspirin/Advil/Tylenol as well as Pepto Bismol and Immodium. Sunscreen is a necessity on this tour! Your leaders will always let you know when it is or is not appropriate to drink the local water. In places where it is not appropriate, bottle or purified water will be provided.

Mosquitoes, chiggers and ticks can be a problem and insect repellent is strongly recommended.

The Agents of The Path of the Military Macaw at Puerto Vallarta Tour act only as agents for the passenger in regard to travel, whether by motorcar or boat and assume no liability for injury, damage, loss, accident, delay, or irregularity which may be occasioned either by reason of defect in any vehicle or for any reason whatsoever, or through the acts or default of any company or person engaged in conveying the passenger or in carrying out the arrangements of the tour. The Agents of The Path of the Military Macaw at Puerto Vallarta Tour can accept no responsibility for losses or additional expenses due to delay or changes in air or other services, sickness, weather, strike, war, quarantine, or other causes. All such losses or expenses will have to be borne by the passenger, as tour rates provide for arrangements only for the time stated. The right is reserved to substitute hotels of similar category for those indicated and to make any changes in the itinerary where deemed necessary or caused by changes in air schedules. The right is reserved to cancel any tour prior to departure, in which case full refund will constitute full settlement to the passenger. The right is reserved to substitute leaders on any tour. Where this is necessary, notification will be given to tour members. No refund will be made for any unused portion of the tour unless arrangements are made in sufficient time to avoid penalties. The prices of the tours are based on tariffs and exchange rates in effect at the time of publication and are subject to adjustment in the event of any change therein. The right is reserved to decline to accept or to retain any person as a member of any tour. Baggage is at owner's risk entirely.

Departure tax - $28 USD as of January, 2008 and included in the cost of your air ticket.
Electricity - 110 volts; US two pin (flat) plugs are usual.
Language - Spanish is the official language.
Time - Central Standard Time.

Our website, and offer information about the area and many other things. You may also visit other online stores such as ,and for those out-of-print or hard-to-find titles, or which specialize in ornithology books.

Field guides:
Howell, Steve N.G. and Sophie Webb. 1995. A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America. Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford. This is the main field guide for the area, and is far more than a simple field guide in size (2 inches thick). In addition to exceptionally good plates, it offers information on distribution (the only Mexico field guide with range maps), vocalizations, subspecies, and natural history information.
National Geographic Society. 1999. A Field Guide to the Birds of North America. Washington D.C. Sibley, David S. 2000. The Sibley Guide to Birds. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY.
Peterson, R y E. Chalif. 1998. Aves de México. Ed. Diana. México. This guide is in Spanish and it is the translate of Peterson’s guide. It has ALL the illustrations’ of T, E and W Peterson’s guide.

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bird  watching mexico
2nd Edition
The Guide & Checklist of the
Birds of Puerto Vallarta
Compiled by Dennis W. Boddy
© Birding Mexico. All Rights Reserved.

Birding Mexico
Calle Sol Num. 591
Fraccionamiento Villasol
Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico C.P. 48315
U.S.A. & Canada Telephone:

US/Canada: 011-521-322-130-3028
Local: 044-322-130-3028
nova puerto vallarta