Guatemala is situated in the extreme north of Central America. It is bounded by the Yucatan Peninsula to the north, Belize, the Caribbean Sea, Honduras, El Salvador to the east, Chiapas to the west, , and the Pacific Ocean to the south.
The territory covers an area of 108,889 km2, divided into the following 3 regions: The Petén Lowlands in the country’s northern area is a flat land just above sea level made up of limestone substrate.
There is a system of volcanoes and mountains in the center of the country with peaks that reach 4,220 meters above sea level; the land on the coastal plains in southern Guatemala is lowland with volcanic soil
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Birds of Guatemala
Guatemala inhabits 775 species of birds distributed in 83 families and 427 genera, with at least 35 of them geographically restricted from southern Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. These species are related to significant regions declared Endemic Bird Areas: the North American Pacific Slope and the North American Highlands.
Guatemalan birds are represented by 5 bird species considered nearly endemic to the country. They are only located in Guatemala and the Mexican state of Chiapas. The representative bird of the North Pacific slope of Central America is the Azure-rumped Tanager.
Birds related to the highlands of northern Central America are the Horned Guan, Belted Flycatcher, Pink-headed Warbler, and Black-capped Siskin.
There are some subspecies of birds that some ornithologists recognize as species; of those, we can separate them into two groups. The first group is a broad assemblage of birds in the Neotropics. They cannot reproduce with the groups separated by long distances.
Some examples of these birds are:
Northern Flicker (Guatemalan Flicker)
Northern Pygmy-Owl (Guatemalan Pygmy-Owl)
Hairy Woodpecker (Guatemalan Hairy Woodpecker)
Golden-fronted Woodpecker (Velasquez’s Woodpecker)
Yellow Grosbeak (Golden Grosbeak)
Pine Goldfinch (Chiapas Pine Siskin)
A second group includes migratory species that find a resident breeding population in Guatemala. Unfortunately, these birds cannot breed with overwintering species, so genetic drift goes in separate directions. As a result, the characteristics become diverse that it is difficult to compare them with the original species.
Two species of birds in this situation are:
Goldman’s Warbler from Yellow-rumped Warbler
White-breasted Hawk from Sharp-shinned Hawk
Mitochondrial DNA Research work during 2006 shows that Goldman’s warbler is not a subspecies of the Yellow-rumped Warbler but a species. So, we have a new endemic bird from Guatemala recognized by the IOC.
Guatemala Endemic Regional Bird Areas by region
As one of the best Central American birding destinations, the country has great diversity with a high degree of regional endemism distributed in four main zones. The blend of these four areas in such a small region creates a desirable offer for bird watchers by adding archaeological and cultural attractions that complement bird watching.
The highlands of northern Central America
Comprises parts of Oaxaca and Chiapas (Mexico), Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. Some species that are endemic to these regions are the Horned Guan (Oreophasis derbianus), the Pink-headed Warbler (Ergaticus versicolor), and the Cabanis’ Tanager (Tangara l. Larvata).
The tropical savannas of the northern Pacific slope of Central America
Cover parts of Chiapas (Mexico), Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua along the Pacific coast. Among the endemic species, we can mention the Yellow-naped Parrot (Amazona auropalliata), the American green Parakeet (Aratinga strenua), and the White-throated Magpie-jay (calocitta formmosa).
The tropical rainforest on the Caribbean slope of Central America
Lies mainly in Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. Still, it also includes the northwestern part of Guatemala (Izabal), extending to Panama along the Caribbean coast.
In Guatemala, this region represents a high diversity (more than 500 species) and specialties such as the Wedged-tailed Sabrewing (Campylopterus curvipennis), Keel-billed Motmot (Electron carinatum), and Gray-headed Piprites (Pipritis griseiceps), among others
The lowlands of the Yucatan Peninsula
Includes the states of Yucatan, Campeche, and Quintana Roo in Mexico, and northern parts of the department of Peten (Guatemala) and northern Belize.
Containing species such as Ocellated Turkey (Meleagris ocellata), the Grey-throated Chat (Granatellus sallael), and the Rose-throated Tanager (Piranga roseogularis).
Birdwatching in Guatemala
Here we present ideas of itineraries that can be booked as they are or that can be easily customized to meet your expectations
We will visit Guatemala’s lowlands including two of the best destinations located within the Peten province (Tropical Rainforest) Tikal and Las Guacamayas Station.
This tour is a mixture of the best destinations in Guatemala including the best locations to appreciate ecosystems that inhabit endemic bird species.
Highlands & Mayan World
We will visit the colorful destinations within Guatemala’s highlands and Peten province in Guatemala’s lowlands. Destinations that inhabit exciting bird species.