So far around 1100 species of birds have been identified in Mexico (sources differ in exact number), of which almost 10% are endemic to this country. Mexico has a rich mixture of Nearctic (North American) and Neotropical (Central and South America) avifauna.

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So far 9,720 species of birds have been described worldwide.


Lightweight bodies covered with feathers. Mastery of flight, although there are many species that became flightless. Birds lay eggs, which are incubated usually by one or both parents. Intensive parental care. No birds have teeth.

Illegal trade

An immense amount of birds are being caught to feed the illegal wildlife trade demand. Mexican parrot species for instance have suffered large losses over the last decades with some species – such as Amazona oratrix, being driven to almost extinction by poaching.

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Birds of Western Mexico


Banderas Bay harbors a very rich avifauna; the bird checklist for the area counts more than 300 species. The existence of a large variety of habitats within the area, and the fact that Banderas Bay lies on migration paths of many bird species from the north, are the most important factors contributing to the very rich avifauna. Migration accounts for a much greater number of species in the winter as compared to summer. Nationwide, around 1,000 bird species can be found, making Mexico the tenth most diversely populated country in the world in terms of bird species (Howell & Webb, 1995).

Coast and sea birds

Some of the largest birds in the area can be spotted in the sky above the sea. Magnificent Frigatebirds (Fregata magnificens) and Brown Pelicans (Pelecanus occdentalis), both year- round residents, are certainly the most prominent ones. The Marietas Islands, in the north part of the bay, are listed among the most Important Sites for Bird Conservation (AICA) in Mexico, and are home to one of the largest Mexican colonies of Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster). The extensive local checklist counts 85 species (both resident and migratory) just on these islands (Rebón–Gallardo, 2000).

Long stretches of sandy beaches in the north, and smaller and rockier beaches of the south, attract a variety of shorebirds and gulls. Crashing waves offer perfect conditions for the surf-gliding specialists—the pelicans. Pelagic species, such as boobies, petrels and shearwaters, which are rarely seen from mainland, inhabit less accessible offshore ocean waters.

Fresh and brackish water birds

Ameca, the largest river owing into the Banderas Bay and a natural border between Jalisco and Nayarit states, enters the ocean through a wide estuary, known as Boca de Tomates. Like other estuaries in the area, it is surrounded by mangroves. This dense habitat provides food and safe nesting sites for populations of wading birds, such as egrets and herons, as well as dozens of other birds species. There are few permanent water bodies in the region. The most notable one is Laguna Quelele, which can be found in between Mezcales village and the coast. This shallow lagoon provides perfect conditions for resident birds, and functions as an important stop- over for many migratory ducks and shorebirds.

Forest birds

Biological processes of the tropical forest found around the Banderas Bay have been shaped by the annual occurrence of a prolonged dry period. Towards the end of the dry season, many species of fauna and ora start preparing for the long-awaited rains, with the onset of their reproductive activities. At this time, many resident species of birds are at their busiest, building nests and looking for mates. Although many migratory birds have departed, spring months are possibly the best months for bird-watching activities in the forested areas, due to enhanced bird activity. fewer leaves in the canopy towards the end of dry season also make bird-spotting easier. As the first torrential rains arrive in early summer, the habitat changes profoundly, resembling, in just a few days, a humid evergreen forest. fruit is produced, insects hatch, and both birds and other animals have their young. The tropical forests of the Mexican Paci c Slope belong to the most biodiverse regions in the Americas, and many endemic species of birds, such as San Blas Jay (Cyanocorax sanblasianus) or Lilac-crowned Parrot (Amazona finschi) can be found only in this region.

How to find birds

Birds are generally the easiest vertebrates to observe. Typically, they are quite prevalent in the natural environment, and tend to be active during the day. They often have striking colors and produce a variety of sounds, all of which makes them easier to perceive. In the Banderas Bay area, birds can be observed all year round. Different habitats will contain different sets of species – so choose the location according to what species of birds you want to observe. Color photo tabs on the outer edge of each species’ plate indicate the habitat type and where this particular species can be observed most frequently. To successfully observe birds, carry a good pair of binoculars, stay quiet, and arm yourself with patience. The best time for bird watching, especially for forest and water birds, is early morning right after sunrise. The Vallarta Bird festival, hosted by the Vallarta Botanical Gardens, takes place annually in early March.

Endemic Birds

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