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Bird Sightings in Puerto Vallarta

By Griffin Page
Naturalist ~ Eco-guide


Puerto Vallarta is considered to be a paradise by the locals as well as by those who visit. Why do you ask? The answer is simple: The large town (as we’d rather call it because it retained most of its Mexican flavor) offers all the luxuries of a big city while allowing you to enjoy the beauty of pristine nature only 10 minutes away.


The area surrounding the Bahía de Banderas can only be described as a natural outdoor concert hall. Over 360 different species of birds either migrate to or reside in this area. Talk about an orchestra!


Because the bay is surrounded by 3 different types of mountain ranges (including the famous Sierra Madre), we profit from a wide variety of vegetation ranging from the sub-tropical jungles on the east and south sides to the low deciduous type vegetation found in the north. And if you drive to higher altitudes within these mountains, the vegetation changes again to offer you pines and oaks.


What does that have to do with birds? Well, depending on their usual habitat, behavior and diet, some birds will choose different areas to live and nest in. For example, rarely will you see a Frigate bird far inland, or see a Yellow-winged Cacique standing on a sandy beach.


The north side of the bay is dryer in comparison the east and south sides. There, you may encounter lagoons, small rivers and arroyos, agricultural areas as well as a costal environment. A lagoon is the perfect place to enjoy the beauty of a Purple Gallinule, an American Coot or a Green Heron. Near arroyos and in forests, you may come across a Vermilion Flycatcher, a Rufous-backed Robin, a Squirrel Cuckoo and even most likely see lots of Orange-fronted Parakeets.

On the coast of the entire bay, Brown Pelicans and Magnificent Frigatebirds display their aerial acrobatic talents. A show you will surely appreciate. Also found on the coastal area is a wide variety of sea gulls, my favorite being the Heermann's Gull for it’s 2 tone gray body, white head and beautiful red beak. At sunset, the beaches, mangroves and estuaries provide dinner for the Snowy Egrets and Great Blue Herons while the Neothropic Cormorants perch in preparation for a night’s rest.


South and east, because of the abundance of rivers and lush sub-tropical vegetation, we can more easily find San Blas Jays, Green Jays, Yellow-winged Caciques, Barn Swallows, White-winged doves, and if your lucky, you’ll even spot an Elegant Trogon, which displays most vibrantly, the colors of the Mexican flag: Green, white and red. As you go up in altitude, Military Macaws may be sighted; resting in a tree or flying in pairs, and their strident unique voice will surely attract your attention.

Raptors such as Hawks, Ospreys and Turkey Vultures may also be seen soaring over ocean cliffs, islands and mountains.


Very common to the area is the infamous Great-tailed Grackle. This bird can easily be recognized by its iridescent black body, purple shimmer and yellow eyes (females are smaller in size and of a mate darkish brown). It got its name for its long fan-shaped tail and is locally known as the “Zanate”. It will boldly steel your peanuts or dog food if you leave it out on the balcony, and here, I speak from experience.


Our little corner of paradise has lots to offer to the novice or experienced bird watcher. If you’ve never been on a bird watching tour, try it. You won’t be disappointed as most become enthralled by the beauty and lovely music these lovely creatures provide. Besides, an easy stroll in a musical and peaceful environment may just be what the doctor ordered.



Puerto Vallarta Mexico is  home to some of the finest dining in the WORLD. No kidding, Puerto Vallarta's restaurants have been featured repeatedly in the most prestigeous culinary publications, and for good reason...the fine dining in Puerto Vallarta is WORLD CLASS! Some of Puerto Vallarta's best restaurants aren't on the normal 'tourist track', but that shouldn't keep you from finding them thanks to local residents who share their secrets with you! Puerto Vallarta Mexico's nightlife, filled with clubs, discos, and till-dawn cocktail bars will keep you out till the sun rises again, if you like.

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