Honduras, may be Central Americas best kept natural secret. A mid 1990s estimate put Honduras at having the largest percentage of forest covered land in all of Central America, more even than our famous neighbours Costa Rica and Belize. The Honduras geography means that these forest areas cover a wide range of eco systems. Over 30 cloud-forest areas can be found in Honduras, more than in any other Central American country. Honduras is also home to many areas of tropical rainforest, pine forest, savannas, mangroves and coastal lagoons. A lot of the larger forested areas of Honduras have been made into National Parks or Protected Areas over the last 10 years.
Honduras is home to around 780 bird species that cover 58 families, and we are still counting. The Honduran Emerald is our only known endemic bird. The wide range of forested areas in Honduras offer something for the novice, experienced birders or even the most adventurers. There are though, a few hot spots that should not be missed and these are set out below.
Not only is the birding good, but tourist facilities and services in Honduras provide something for everyone. Honduras is also home to some top rate birding guides.
La Tigra National Park is one of the most popular cloud-forests in Honduras. The park is home to 171 species, 42 of which only live in cloud-forests and 27 migratory species. Some of these species are endangered or threatened, as is the case with the great curassow and numerous species of the trogon family, which includes the Resplendent Quetzal. Visitors interested in viewing the Quetzal will have better luck in the breeding season between March and May. They are normally completely hidden in the dense vegetation of the cloud forest, but, during this time both the males and females are very active.
Pico Bonito National Park is one of the most visually spectacular places in Honduras, in recent years tourist developments, which haven`t affected the surrounding environment, have made this area one of the most comfortable and enjoyable places to visit in Honduras. A large variety of species are found in and around Pico Bonito including hawks, eagles, kites, doves, parrots, motmots, hummingbirds, wood-creepers, swallows and loons, which all inhabit the park and surrounding area. Also you will find Keel Billed Tucans, Highland Guan, Turquoise-browed Motmot, Blue-crowned Motmot, Scarlet-rumped Tanager, White-collared Manakin, Slaty-tailed trogon, and many others.
On a more adventurous note the Rio Platano Biosphere offers what may be one of the best nature experiences in all Central America. The Biosphere makes up, with neighbouring national parks and forested areas, one of the largest areas of unfragmented tropical forest north of the Amazon. The Rio Platano and immediate vicinity is home to over 500 bird species. Many migratory birds are found in the area as are many rare species which are hard, if not impossible, to find in any other area of Honduras, Harpy Eagles, Aplomado Falcon, Great Green and Scarlet Macaws, Green and Rufous Kingfisher, Chestnut-mandible Toucan, Yellow-eared Toucanet, Jabiru and the Black and White Hawk Eagle are just a few of the special species found in the Biosphere.
Tela Bay (Map)
Tela Bay and the nearby Lancetilla Botanical Gardens are a must for all birders. Punta Sal and Los Micos Lagoon which are located on Tela Bay, offer excellent birding for lagoon, mangrove and coastal species. These wetlands are a haven for large numbers of Ibis, Herons, Gulls, Egrets, Terns, Sandpipers and the impressive Roseate Spoonbills. The Lancetilla Botancial Gardens are one of the largest tropical gardens in the world, and are home to a wide variety of trees from all over the world and a protected nature reserve. Over 300 species of birds have been recorded in the gardens and surroundings, toucans, tanagers, orioles, trogons, motmots, antbirds, ovenbirds and a variety of colourful parrots are but a sample of the rich bird diversity.
The habitat of Yojoa Lake, it’s surrounding tropical forest and the forested mountains of Santa Barbara and Cerro Azul Meambar are home to over 500 species of birds. The area offers some of the best accessible birding in Honduras. Once an avid bird watcher reportedly was shocked when over the time span of a few hours he was able to sight as many as 37 species in one tree, all from the comfort of his deck chair on his hotel room lake-front terrace!
Major Source: Fatbirder
Map Source: Googlemaps™