Guatemala Nature

Birding Guatemala

At the heart of both the culture and nature of Guatemala stand the Mayan ruins at Tikal. Imagine stone-hewn, turn-of-the-first-millennium pyramids poking out from lush tropical jungle, with bird sounds filling the canopy, Ocellated Turkey wandering at your feet, and Howler Monkeys irrupting in the forest. Tikal is located in the Guatemala’s most diverse region, the Caribbean Slope, where 520 bird species have been recorded.

Beyond Tikal, Guatemala is a birder's delight and a land full of cultural and natural wonders. The country can be divided into three primary regions: the Caribbean Slope, the Pacific Slope, and the Highlands. With a total of 732 bird species, and 33 regional endemics, you can’t go wrong anywhere in this tropical paradise. Start your quest for endemic birds around Lake Atitlán, in the Highlands region, at 5,125 feet. The deepest of all Central American lakes, Lake Atitlán is actually a collapsed volcanic crater, or caldera. From here, you can access protected cloud-forest reserves for such highland specialties as Highland Guan, Bushy-crested Jay, and Azure-rumped Tanager. Highland reserves also host Guatemala's national bird, the Resplendent Quetzal. Here also, quests for the fabled and hard to reach Horned Guan are the stuff of legend. On the Pacific Slope, visit San Rafael Pie de la Cuesta for Blue-crowned Chlorophonia or Sibinal for the elegant little Pink-headed Warbler. If you visit Guatemala during Semana Santa, the time preceding Good Friday, expect an amazing cultural experience. Streets become an artist's palette with stunning displays of alfombras, or carpets, designed out of colored woodchips and plants and created to be destroyed by street processions, highlighted by human-powered floats. And don’t leave the country without a sample of Guatemala’s renowned colorful textiles, crafted from the skilled hands of indigenous Guatemalan women.


What to See in Guatemala

Notable Birds in Guatemala (click species name to see related articles)

Notable Mammals and Other Wildlife

  • Silky Anteater
  • Northern Tamandua
  • Mantled Howler
  • Geoffroy's Spider Monkey
  • Central American Agouti
  • Lowland Paca
  • Ocelot
  • Margay
  • Cougar
  • Jaguarundi
  • Jaguar
  • White-nosed Coati
  • Kinkajou
  • Baird's Tapir
  • Collared Peccary

Other Attractions

  • Antigua Guatemala
  • Lake Atitlán
  • Petén, Mayan Ruins
  • Tikal National Park, Petén

Where and When to Go

Nature & Birding Hotspots in Guatemala

  • The country has developed five tourist routes for birdwatching. Such routes are: Center of the Highlands, Pacific-coast line, Caribbean-West, the Verapaces, and Petén which together conform a total of 42 destinations with facilities for birdwatching.   Among the bird species that stand out are: Ocellated Turkey, Horned Guan, Pink-headed Warbler, Resplendent Quetzal, and Cabanis Tanager.
  • Lake Atitlán (Highlands)
  • Rafael Pie de la Cuesta (Pacific Slope)
  • Fuentes Georginas (for Pink-headed Warbler)
  • Ixpanpajul Nature Park, Petén
  • Los Tarrales (for Azure-rumped Tanager)
  • El Pilar
  • Estación Biológica Las Guacamayas

Guatemala Ecolodges/Accommodations

Best Time to Go

March – April: Species abundance

  • High bird activity
  • Main breeding season for resident birds
  • Molted plumage in Neartic migrants

April - September: Resident bird specialties

  • Breeding and nesting season
  • High abundance of flying insects that optimize chances for bird sightings

September – March: Neartic migrant arrival

  • High neartic bird activity
  • Opportunity for seeing East and West Coast Neartic migrants

Visit Guatemala

  • Inguat
  • The Guatemala Bird Watching Roundtable was formed in February 2004 by a group of private and public institutions with a shared vision to develop bird watching tourism in Guatemala via a National Bird Watching Strategy document.

Scroll Up