Birding Honduras for Avid Birders
This 12-day Birding Honduras Highlights Tour was elaborated for the more avid birders.
We will have time to learn about culture, history, and nature in general, but the focus is clearly on seeing a variety of great Honduran bird species. Also, though you don’t have to be an athlete, the trip does require a general level of fitness, as some of the walks can be a bit more strenuous, especially in La Tigra and Celaque. The trails are not especially difficult, and no special experience is necessary, but you should be able to walk for a couple of hours, partly uphill, on nature/forest trails – of course at a slow pace and with many stops as we will be birding all along the way.
- Day 1 - Arrival at Tegucigalpa airport and birding around the hotel
- Day 2 - Birding in La Tigra NP
- Day 3 - Birding around Cerro de Hula and transfer to Gracias
- Day 4 - Birding at Honduran Emerald and Ocellated Quail locations
- Day 5 - Birding in Celaque NP & transfer to La Esperanza
- Day 6 - Birding in El Consejero private reserve & transfer to Lake Yojoa
- Day 7 - Birding in Santa Barbara NP and visit to La Fuente de Vida project
- Day 8 - Birding in Lake Yojoa wetlands and transfer to Pico Bonito NP
- Day 9 - Birding in Rio Santiago Nature Resort
- Day 10 - Birding in Cuero y Salado mangroves
- Day 11 - Birding at Pico Bonito Lodge
- Day 12 - Transfer to San Pedro Sula airport
Refer to the itinerary tab for more details per day.
The tour begins with afternoon birding close to our hotel. We will look for Rufous-naped Wren, Orange-fronted Parakeet, and several types of Motmots, Orioles, Hummingbirds etc. After nightfall, we enjoy chatting and getting to know each other during a hearty welcome dinner.
La Tigra National Park offers great birding and a wide array of hummingbirds such as the Green-breasted Mountain-gem, Wine-throated Hummingbird, Mexican Violetear and Sparkling-tailed Hummingbird. But we won’t only look out for hummers, there are obviously other interesting species we might encounter too, including the Northern Emerald Toucanet, Singing Quail, Resplendent Quetzal, Mountain Trogon, Spotted Woodcreeper, Barred Forest-Falcon, Mountain Elaenia, Rufous-browed Wren, Slate-colored Solitaire and many more.
This morning we go birding around Cerro de Hula, an area south of Tegucigalpa which is mostly known because of the windfarms. However, there are also some excellent birding spots around. The pine forests interspersed with fields of flowering “pie de niño” and “red salvia” here attract lots of hummingbirds, and if we are lucky, we may even see the elusive Sparkling-tailed Hummingbird or Slender Sheartail! There will also be Olive Warblers, Rufous-browed Peppershrikes, Bushy-crested Jays, Buff-breasted Flycatchers, Ocellated Quail, Crested Bobwhite and many other species to observe.
Afterwards, we drive to Marcala, in the central highlands of the La Paz department. If we arrive before nightfall, we will go birding around our hotel, which offers great habitat for high altitude pine species such as the Black-vented and Yellow-backed Oriole, Red Crossbill, Buff-breasted Flycatcher, Common Black Hawk, Blue-crowned Motmot, Eastern Meadowlark, and there is a pond where we could see a few shorebird species, and Ruddy Crakes. If you not too tired after all of that, we can go owling after dinner, looking for Great Horned Owl, Whiskered Screech-Owl and Fulvous Owl.
All of today we spend in the Opatoro and Guajiquiro highlands. We drive through patches of farmland, coffee plantations, pine-oak forest and cloud forest in search of some northern Central-American specialties such as the Blue-throated Motmot, Green-throated Mountaingem, Black-throated Jay, Rufous-collared Thrush, Fulvous Owl and Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer, Flame-colored Tanager, White-faced Quail-Dove, Highland Guan, Mountain Trogon etcetera.
After morning birding around our highland hotel, we drive to Gracias, in the western department of Lempira. But along the way, we make another birding stop in La Esperanza, at the Bu family’s private reserve and hummingbird garden El Consejero. Beaks and Peaks has helped the owners of this beautiful reserve to create a hummingbird garden that attracts many highland hummers such as Azure-crowned Hummingbird, Amethyst-throated Hummingbird, Rivoli’s Hummingbird, Ruby-throated Hummingbird (during migration), White-eared Hummingbird, Sparkling-tailed Hummingbird etc. The hummingbird garden helps the family gain some extra income and encourages them to keep protecting the property that has in the meantime been recognized by the government as a private reserve! The pine forest trails through the Reserve also offer good opportunities to see several other higher altitude species.
Today we search for the only endemic bird of Honduras so far: the Honduran Emerald! The region is also home to many other drier-country birds, amongst others the Elegant Trogon, Striped Cuckoo, Turquoise-browed Motmot and many more. Along the Río Grande, we will also see some water birds such as Green Herons, Black Phoebes, different Kingfisher species etc. In the afternoon, we drive up into Celaque National Park to get one of our target birds: the elusive Ocellated Quail. A hard bird to get, but Celaque NP offers some excellent opportunities, so keep your fingers crossed that you are one of the lucky few to get a glimpse of this shy quail. Other species we may see up here are King Vulture, Crested Bobwhite, Azure-crowned Hummingbird and many more.
This morning we walk the lower elevation trails of Celaque National Park. We will look out for the Mesoamerican endemic Bushy-Crested Jay, Laughing Falcon, Turquoise-browed Motmot, some resident warblers such as the Common Yellowthroat and Rufous-capped Warbler, and other birds like the Altamira Oriole, Black-headed Saltator, Mountain Trogon, Flame-colored Tanager and Yellow-backed Oriole.
After our morning birding, we drive to Lake Yojoa, home to the biggest variety of bird species in Honduras. We will make a stop along the way to look for herons, ducks and other waterfowl, but also a variety of tanagers, warblers, honeycreepers, flycatchers and more.
Upon arrival at our hotel, it will be time for dinner and rest, so we are fit for another well-filled day tomorrow.
Today we do our early morning birding around the Lake. Local fishermen will take us out in their rowboats on the canal and the lake, where we will search for species such as the Pinnated Bittern, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, Limpkin, and the tiny Yellow-breasted Crake.
In the afternoon, there will be time for birding around Panacam Lodge, a great place to look for Keel-billed Motmot, Black-crested Coquette, Collared Araçari, Lesson’s Motmot, Masked Tityra, Long-billed Hermit, Violet Sabrewing, Tody Motmot, Keel-billed Toucan and so much more.
This morning, we visit the Montaña de Vida ecotourism project that Beaks and Peaks is supporting. Three communities up in the Santa Barbara mountains are trying to protect a beautiful parch of forest for the future. They have decided to make the change from exclusive coffee growing to providing sustainable tourism services. They have for example built a series of beautiful trails that offer excellent birdwatching opportunities.
Very early in the morning, we drive up to the community. That should take us about an hour. Upon arrival we enjoy breakfast with one of the local families and after that we start looking for birds such as the Pheasant Cuckoo, Resplendent Quetzal, Emerald-chinned Hummingbird, White-breasted Hawk, Green-throated Mountain-Gem, Buffy-crowned Wood-Partridge, Slate-colored Solitaire, Rusty Sparrow, Collared Trogon, Spotted Woodcreeper, Scaly-throated Foliage-Gleaner, Buff-throated Foliage-Gleaner, Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush, Chestnut-capped and White-naped Brushfinch, Spot-breasted Wren etcetera.
On our way to the north coast, we stop at one of the most diverse locations for birding. Eco-Finca Luna del Puente is a coffee and cocoa farm and a private nature reserve. Its main objective is protecting the environment by raising awareness of biodiversity and applying sustainable agroforestry practices. The finca has also created some excellent birdwatching trails, which we are more than happy to explore. We will be on the lookout for Northern Potoos, Green Jays, Blue-throated Goldentails, Tody Motmots, White-collared Manakins, White-faced Ground-Sparrows, Yellow-billed Caciques and more.
As the owner of the Finca, Cecilia, also serves an excellent breakfast, we enjoy a traditional Honduran típico before taking back to the road and continuing our way to Pico Bonito National Park.
We get up early in the morning to hike the beautiful trails of Rio Santiago Nature Resort. Here, we will have the chance of seeing some stunners such as White Hawk, Olive-backed Euphonia, Golden-hooded Tanager, Keel-billed Toucan, Yellow-bellied Tyrannulet, Black-crested Coquette, Spectacled Owl, Tawny-winged Woodcreeper, Royal Flycatcher, Sunbittern and many more.
After our hike, we spend the rest of the day ‘lazy birding’ around the dining area. That doesn’t mean, however, that you won’t see plenty of birds. Rio Santiago is also known as Honduras’ ‘Hummingbird Paradise’. Up to 22 different species of hummingbirds have been recorded here, and many of them come to the feeders at the restaurant: White-necked Jacobin, Brown Violet-Ear, Crowned Woodnymph, Blue-throated Goldentail, Blue-tailed Hummingbird, Scaly-breasted Hummingbird, Stripe-throated Hermit, Long-billed Hermit…
On the schedule today is a visit to Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge. We board the only train that is still functioning in Honduras – it dates to the times of the ‘Banana republic’ and was indeed used to transport bananas. What remains now is are two rickety little wagons racing over crooked rails. Lots of fun. And excellent birding opportunities along the way: Glossy Ibis, Bat Falcon, Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, Black-cowled Oriole, Crested Caracara. At the visitors’ center, we board a motorboat that will take us onto the rivers and canals of the Cuero y Salado Mangroves. Top species that we will try to get good looks at here include Agami Heron, White-necked Puffbird, American Pygmy Kingfisher, Black-crowned Antshrike and more. Lunch will be prepared by a local family upon our return from the boat ride.
Pico Bonito Lodge combines the adventure of the outdoors, the beauty of the rainforest, and the personal service of a boutique hotel. In this luxurious setting, we enjoy yet another splendid birding day, as the area offers an incredibly varied array of bird species such as Brown-hooded, White-fronted and White-crowned Parrots, Little and Great Tinamous, Grey-chested Doves, Olive-throated Parakeets, Black-cheeked Woodpeckers, Wedge-billed and Cocoa Woodcreepers, Paltry Tyrannulets, Middle-American Screech-Owls, Great Potoos, Violet-headed Hummingbirds, Purple-crowned Fairies, Slaty-tailed, Gartered and Collared Trogons, Red-capped Manakins, White-breasted Wood-Wrens, White-throated Thrushes, Olive-backed Euphonias, Kentucky Warblers, Giant Cowbirds, Red-throated and Red- crowned Ant-Tanager, Keel-billed Motmot, Green Shrike-Vireos and Black-faced Grosbeaks. And those are just a few examples.
Your trip has come to an end and we will drive you to San Pedro Sula international airport in time for your flight. We hope you enjoyed the tour and wish you a safe journey home.
Some top bird species we are likely to see on this tour: Honduran Emerald, Ocellated Quail, Singing Quail, Fulvous Owl, Resplendent Quetzal, Slender Sheartail, Blue-throated Motmot, Wine-throated Hummingbird, Green-breasted and Green-throated Mountaingem, Bushy-crested Jay, Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, Yellow-breasted Crake, Keel-billed Toucan, American Pygmy Kingfisher, Agami Heron, Black-headed Trogon, White-crowned Parrot, Great Potoo and many more.
What is included?
- 13 hotel nights in double occupancy (for a single room, a 500USD single supplement applies)
- 3 meals per day starting with dinner on day 1 and ending with breakfast on day 14, including non-alcoholic beverages
- In-country transportation throughout the tour in private van/bus
- All guiding fees: 1 bilingual Beaks and Peaks specialist guide throughout the tour, local guides
- All entrance fees to the parks and reserves mentioned
- All activities as described
What is not included?
- Airfare to/from Honduras
- Travel Insurence
- Exit/departure tax (usually included in your airfare)
- Alcoholic beverages
- Additional snacks, souvenirs, laundry, and other personal purchases
Beaks and Peaks is an ethically and ecologically responsible birding and adventure tour company based in Gracias Lempira, Honduras. Sustainability, authenticity and diversity are the core values our company is built on. In combining the extensive knowledge and experience of Honduras’ very best guides and naturalists with the hospitality and authenticity of the local communities we strive to create a successful, productive partnership that benefits all. Living here we have in-depth knowledge of local politics, economics and culture. We are aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the country and the society we live in. In the first place we aim at showing you those strengths: the unspoilt natural beauty, the charming local people, the stunning flora and fauna. But we also need to protect that natural beauty and aim at bettering the lives of the people. We therefore try to involve local communities, businesses and guides into our tours where possible and we support several projects which we believe will contribute to raising the standard of living and protecting our natural resources. Beaks and Peaks does not just offer tours. We seek to offer experiences — unique, authentic, unforgettable experiences. We want to create memories you will want to share with your friends, colleagues and family back home. And in doing so we hope strive to change the world… your world, our world, our people’s world. Honduras is a beautiful, remarkably diverse country that has an extraordinary range of experiences to offer to the adventurous traveler, from discovering the amazing avifauna or visiting spectacular mountains and forests to exploring the Pacific and Caribbean coasts and having a taste of the true Hondureño culture. We at Beaks and Peaks make it our mission to reveal Honduras’ stunning, vibrant true colors to adventurous travelers. And what better way to experience this beauty than by spotting colorful exotic birds, hiking through virgin cloud forests or listening to the enthralling stories of the local people?