Birding Antigua Guatemala with CAYAYA BIRDING

The colonial town of Antigua Guatemala is located in the heart of an Important Bird Area (IBA GT016) in southern Guatemala. The area has been designated as such because of a high number of endemic bird species restricted to the highlands of northern Central America and southern Mexico.

Bar-winged Oriole near Antigua Guatemala
Male Bar-winged Oriole Icterus maculialatus near Antigua Guatemala.

Antigua is located at an elevation of 1500 m (4900 ft) and the surrounding skyline is dominated by mountain ridges over 2500 m and the towering volcanoes Agua, Acatenango, and Fuego. Hillsides are covered with plantations of shaded coffee, avocado and macadamia trees, small corn fields, and forest patches.

Antigua Guatemala
Antigua Guatemala at the foot of Agua volcano.

These are mainly pine-oak and arid forests because the valley of Antigua is rather dry. Only some hilltops receive enough humidity for cloud forests to flourish. Some of these forests between 1500 and 2600 m (4900 - 8500 ft) are easily accessible from Antigua within a short drive. Numerous regional endemic bird species can be observed at sites such as Finca El Pilar, Finca Filadelfia, and Cerro Alux.

Guatemalan Pygmy-Owl Glaucidium cobanense
Guatemalan Pygmy-Owl Glaucidium cobanense in pine-oak forest near Antigua Guatemala.

Antigua is a perfect base for birding day trips to nearby areas.

Accommodation: Antigua Guatemala can be reached from Guatemala City within a 40-min drive. The city has a large variety of hotels and restaurants.

Belted Flycatcher Xenotriccus callizonus
Belted Flycatcher Xenotriccus callizonus near Antigua Guatemala.

When is the best time for a visit to Antigua Guatemala? Any time of year. The view to the surrounding volcano landscape can be affected by the smoke of fires for preparing the corn fields from February to April. But in these months bird activity is tremendous, because it is nesting season.

Gray Silky-flycatcher Ptiliogonys cinereus
Gray Silky-flycatcher Ptiliogonys cinereus near Antigua Guatemala, restricted to the highlands of Mexico and northern Central America.

How do you support conservation and development in Antigua Guatemala? Some of the mountain slopes around Antigua are still covered with forest. With your birding visit you will put a value to these habitats, which is an important motivation for conservation. Antigua is part of the Antigua Guatemala Important Bird Area (IBA GT016). The identification of IBAs in Guatemala was coordinated by Knut Eisermann and Claudia Avendaño of CAYAYA BIRDING. They also organized the Antigua Guatemala Christmas Bird Count 2009-2015.

Day trips Guatemala City

Birding day trips from Antigua

Pink-headed Warbler
Pink-headed Warbler Cardellina versicolor is endemic to the highlands of Guatemala and the neighboring Mexican state of Chiapas. It can be seen during day trips from Antigua Guatemala.
Rufous-collared Robin near Antigua Guatemala
Rufous-collared Robin Turdus rufitorques is endemic to the highlands of northern Central America and southern Mexico.
Highland Guan near Antigua Guatemala
Highland Guan Penelopina nigra is endemic to the highlands of northern Central America and southern Mexico.
Green-throated Mountain-gem near Antigua Guatemala
Green-throated Mountain-gem Lampornis viridipallens is endemic to the highlands of northern Central America and southern Mexico.

Learn more about birding day trips from Antigua on our dedicated website about Birding Antigua Guatemala

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