Guatemala February 2022

Guatemala has many unique attractions, and it says something about a country when even its currency is named after a bird - the exquisite Resplendent Quetzal! As a birdwatching destination, this beautiful and relatively compact Central American country is right up there with the best of them.

This exciting tour commences at Guatemala City and mainly focusses on the central highlands visiting the best locations and lodges for a wonderful range of speciality birds. We will explore cool, high-elevation pine-oak forests; a spectacular lake ringed by volcanoes; shade-grown coffee plantations; hot, dry thorn-forest and temperate cloud forests, each with their own set of special birds.

 

Our birding begins around the old Spanish colonial city of Antigua, with a visit to some superb hummingbird feeders. The regionally endemic Green-throated Mountaingem, recently split Rivoli’s Hummingbird and localised Rufous Sabrewing (endemic to the mountains of the Pacific Slope) are among many that await us.

 

In the upper reaches of the pine-oak and cloud forests, the trees can be full of birds: everything from Grey Silky-flycatchers to Rufous-collared Thrushes, while more difficult-to-find specialities could include the spectacular Mountain Trogon and striking Hooded Grosbeak.

 

Each place seems to have its own subtly different avifauna with sought-after regional highland endemics including the fabulous Pink-headed Warbler, unquestionably one of the star birds on this tour, as well as Rufous-browed Wren, Blue-throated Motmot and Black-capped Siskin. There will also be a plethora of colourful Nearctic migrants to enjoy with Townsend’s, Hermit and Red-faced Warblers occurring here, alongside the resident Slate-throated Redstart and Crescent-chested and Olive Warblers.

 

Horned Guan is one of the key ‘target species’ and we have a couple of chances to find this endangered and highly localised bird. As large as a turkey, the adult male is notable for the 3cm scarlet ‘horn’ projecting straight up from its crown. This species is legendary for the difficulty in finding it in the cloud forests above 1,650 metres (5,400ft) but our guides have recently discovered a more easily accessible site and we have our fingers crossed to repeat the success of our February 2019 tour.

 

In Guatemala, the diversity of montane birding is such that every day will bring new species: Crested Guan, White-bellied Chachalaca, Long-tailed Manakin, Tody Motmot, Rufous-breasted Spinetail, the rare Azure-rumped Tanager, Prevost’s (White-faced) Ground Sparrow and many more!

 

Rounding off our exciting tour, we will travel back East to the arid Motagua Valley which offers a contrasting avifauna to the moist cloud forests of Biotopo del Quetzal.

Motagua is the hottest and driest region of Guatemala and the forests are very different to anything else we will see on our tour and complete with their own special birds. The superb Turquoise-browed Motmot is one of the most conspicuous residents and Cinnamon Hummingbird, White-throated Magpie-Jay and Rufous-naped Wren also occur in the valley.

 

For our ‘grand finale’, we visit La Reserva del Quetzal, seeking the smart Azure-hooded Jay, Chestnut-headed Oropendola and, of course, the exquisite Resplendent Quetzal which is widely regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful birds. We also have a chance of finding the rare Golden-cheeked Warbler, a migrant which breeds in Texas and passes the winter here.

 

Guatemala makes for a fabulous destination, with a rich cultural heritage, fine landscapes, and a wealth of special birds and not to mention some of the best coffee in the world to wake up to! Our February tour combines all of this to bring you a memorable Central American holiday, in an itinerary which is jam-packed with exciting and very special birds and, as a bonus, we will be offering an extension to the Mayan citadel of Tikal where even more exciting birding opportunities will await.

 

Our 2022 tour will again be led by Limosa guide Fernando Enrique, returning for his 11th visit to Guatemala. Fernando is a fluent English and Spanish-speaker and, having also studied birds in both Guatemala and neighbouring Belize, his love and enthusiasm for this beautiful country and its birds and wildlife is sure to inspire you!

 

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