Birds of Guatemala

More than 750 bird species have been recorded in Guatemala. Of the bird species breeding in the highlands, about 10% are endemic to the North Central American Highland (northern Central America and southern Mexico), including species such as Highland Guan, Green-throated Mountain-gem, Wine-throated Hummingbird, Rufous-browed Wren, Blue-and-white Mockingbird. The range of some species is even more restricted to only western Guatemala and the south Mexican state of Chiapas, such as Horned Guan, Bearded Screech-Owl, Black-capped Siskin, Pink-headed Warbler, Goldman's Warbler, and Azure-rumped Tanager (seeing endemic birds).

Endemic birds of Guatemala
Some regional endemic birds of Guatemala.

The Guatemalan lowlands are less distinct and have many birds in common with southern Central America. However, the Atlantic slope is Guatemala's region with the highest species richness. More than 500 species have been recorded there.

The highlands are also home to Guatemala's national bird, the Resplendent Quetzal. It lives mainly in cloud forests between 1000 and 3000 m.

Resplendent Quetzal: national bird of Guatemala
Resplendent Quetzal Pharomachrus mocinno: national bird of Guatemala.

Some highland forests harbor extensive populations of Chusquea bamboo, which temporarily attract birds specialized on bamboo such as Blue Seedeater, Slaty Finch, and Maroon-chested Ground-Dove.

Birds of Guatemala: bamboo specialists Maroon-chested Ground-Dove, Blue Seedeater, and Slaty Finch
Some of the bamboo specialists in Guatemala: Slaty Finch, Blue Seedeater, and Maroon-chested Ground-Dove.

Nocturnal birding and pelagic birding belong to the most enigmatic birding realms. Guatemala harbors 20 species of owls, 11 species of nighthawks, and two species of potoos. Many of them are regularly seen during CAYAYA BIRDING tours. Of the birds of Guatemala, more than 40 are mainly pelagic including tubenoses, tropicbirds, frigatebirds, boobies, jaegers, as well as some gulls and terns.

Nocturnal birds of Guatemala: Bearded Screech-Owl, Northern Potoo, and Buff-collared Nightjar
Some nocturnal birds of Guatemala: Bearded Screech-Owl, Northern Potoo, and Buff-collared Nightjar.

Pelagic trips to the Guatemalan Pacific Ocean can be rewarding with breeding birds from the south-eastern Pacific such as Galapagos Shearwater, Pink-footed Shearwater, and Nazca Booby, from the sub-tropical northeastern Pacific Ocean such as Black Storm-Petrel and Least Storm-Petrel, as well as Arctic breeders such as Sabine's Gull and Pomarine Jaeger.

Birds of Guatemala: Galapagos Shearwater
Galapagos Shearwater off the Guatemalan Pacific coast.

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More information on birds of Guatemala


Update on the inventory, distribution, and residency status of birds in Guatemala

Knut Eisermann and Claudia Avendaño of CAYAYA BIRDING published in 2018 a major update on the inventory, distribution, and residency status of birds in Guatemala:

Eisermann, K. & C. Avendaño (2018) An update on the inventory, distribution and residency status of bird species in Guatemala. Bulletin British Ornithologists' Club 138: 148-229.
Knut Eisermann & Claudia Avendaño (2018) An update on the inventory, distribution and residency status of bird species in Guatemala. Bulletin British Ornithologists' Club 138: 148-229.

Fully referenced checklist of the birds of Guatemala

Knut Eisermann and Claudia Avendaño of CAYAYA BIRDING published the first annotated and fully referenced checklist of the birds of Guatemala in 2007. The checklist is bilingual (English/Spanish) and was published by Lynx Edicions, Barcelona (ISBN 84-96553-40-X).

Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Guatemala
Knut Eisermann & Claudia Avendaño (2007) Lista comentada de las aves de Guatemala - Annotated checklist of the birds of Guatemala. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

An overview of avian diversity of Guatemala, with an extensive ornithological bibliography for Guatemala, 1577-2004

Biodiversidad de Guatemala
Knut Eisermann & Claudia Avendaño (2006) Diversidad de aves en Guatemala, con una lista bibliográfica. Pp. 525-623 In: E. Cano (ed.) Biodiversidad de Guatemala, Vol. 1. Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, Guatemala.
More on our contributions to the ornithology of Guatemala...
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