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Yucatan is a great destination for birding

Yucatan’s great birding destinations

You don’t have to be able to tell the crane from the heron. In Mexico, birding is open to everyone so long as they know what a bird is.

Taking in the sight of hundreds upon hundreds of surprisingly pink feathered flamingoes, as they fly in flocks over Celestun’s marshy lagoons, where they will roost until sunset, will most definitely leave you breathless.

There are several hundreds of bird species to see as they migrate to the wetlands, to Yucatan jungles, during winter. In fact, the Sian Ka’an reserve hosts approximately one million migratory birds.

Eleven of these are species you’re never going to see in any other place. That would include the Yucatan parrot, all in its bright red-feathered glory, the Yucatan nightjar, and the Yucatan wren.

Rio Lagartos Biosphere Reserve

Rio Lagartos Biosphere Reserve is home to the most massive colonies of Mexico’s pink flamingoes. The reserve spreads 140 miles along Celestun Refuge, to the northeast, where tourists gaze at over 40,000 pink flamingoes.

In winter, the mainland feeding and breeding grounds of two sister sites, Rio Lagartos and Celestun, house about 90% of the entire world’s population of pink flamingoes. If you’re lucky, you might spot a wandering crocodile, too.

Ria Celestún Biosphere Reserve

45 minutes away from Merida, Rio Lagartos’ sister site, Celestun, is also a great place to watch pink flamingoes prancing about their natural habitat. You’ll probably see the most numbers of them around March all the way to August.

Apart from flamingoes, keep an eye out for occasional herons and snowy egrets.

Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

The Sian Ka’an Biosphere is a 1.3 million acre wide area teeming with forest animals and birds. Of all the places in Mexico, Sian Ka’an is perhaps the best place to see over 1,200 species of animals in the wild.

Mangrove swamps, lagoons, cenotes, reefs, and rainforests stretch across the land, making the Sian Ka’an Biosphere one of the best places for bird-watching in Mexico.

Isla Contoy

Isla Contoy (Contoy Island) is a small island off some distance from Isla Mujeres.

Contoy Island is one of Mexico’s national parks made specifically into bird sanctuaries. Though some may think it’s a little hard to get in, since only 200 visitors are allowed during the day, this one is an imperative destination.

There are roughly one hundred avian species living over the wetlands, low jungles, and lagoons. Most of them are marine birds like the frigate, the brown pelican, the double-crested cormorant, and who knows what else.


Things to remember: Hang a pair of binoculars over your neck and bring lots of insect repellents, so you can enjoy all the sights without having to swat at mosquitoes every five minutes while in the marshy wetlands.

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