Birding Todos Santos Cuchumatán

The Sierra Los Cuchumatanes is the Central American mountain range with the most extensive continuous area above 3,000 m (9,800 ft) elevation, with peaks reaching 3,800 m (12,460 ft). The tableland is characterized by an impressive landscape shaped by glaciers during the late Quaternary (115,000-12,000 years ago).

Goldman's Warbler
Male Goldman's Warbler in the Parque Regional Municipal Todos Santos Cuchumatán.

The Parque Regional Municipal Todos Santos Cuchumatán is the largest nature reserve in the area, protecting approximately 70 km2 of the western part of the tableland including steep slopes falling off to the south and to the west.

Parque Regional Municipal Todos Santos Cuchumatán
Landscape shaped by glaciers in the Parque Regional Municipal Todos Santos Cuchumatán.

We at CAYAYA BIRDING have been investigating the birds of Sierra Los Cuchumatanes since 2012. The highest parts are dominated by open grassy and rocky areas, and open pine and juniper woodlands. These are home to Goldman's Warbler, a resident form of the Yellow-rumped Warbler complex, as well as a local subspecies of Pine Siskin. Rufous-collared Robins, Yellow-eyed Junco, Spotted Towhee, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Brown Creeper, and Steller's Jay are common. Broad-tailed, White-eared, and Magnificent Hummingbirds are common hummers in the area. Grassy areas harbor Eastern Meadowlarks and a local subspecies of Savannah Sparrow. We discovered a resident population and documented the first evidence of nesting of this subspecies (Eisermann et al. 2017). With some good luck Common Raven may be seen. Ravens were once common in the Guatemala, but nowadays the Cuchumatanes are the last refuge.

Pink-headed Warbler
Pink-headed Warbler in the Parque Regional Municipal Todos Santos Cuchumatán.

More humid fir and broadleaf forests on the steep slopes harbor a different set of birds, including Pink-headed Warbler, Rufous-browed Wren, and Amethyst-throated Hummingbird. The area is poor in raptors, but Red-tailed Hawk, White-breasted Hawk, a resident form of American Kestrel, as well as wintering Sharp-shinned Hawks and northern American Kestrels may be seen.

Accommodation: There are several options available to stay near the Parque Regional Municipal Todos Santos Cuchumatán, including hotels in Todos Santos Cuchumatán, and the Unicornio Azul Lodge. All visits to the park must be reserved.

When is the best time for a visit to Todos Santos Cuchumatán? Any time of the year.

How do you support conservation and development in the Cuchumatanes?: With your entrance fee to the Parque Regional Municipal Todos Santos Cuchumatán you support the conservation efforts of several village involved in the park management. The park is part of Cuchumatanes Important Bird Area (IBA GT005). The identification of IBAs in Guatemala was coordinated by Knut Eisermann and Claudia Avendaño of CAYAYA BIRDING.

Chiapan Malachite Spiny Lizard Sceloporus smaragdinus
The most obvious lizard in the Parque Regional Municipal Todos Santos Cuchumatán: Chiapan Malachite Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus smaragdinus), endemic to high-elevations of southern Mexico and Guatemala.
White-breasted Hawk
White-breasted Hawk in the Parque Regional Municipal Todos Santos Cuchumatán.

CAYAYA BIRDING contributions to the ornithology and natural history of Sierra Los Cuchumatanes

  • Eisermann, K., Avendaño, C. & E. Matías (2017) Primer registro de anidación de Psiloscops flammeolus en Guatemala. COTINGA 39: 53-59.
  • Eisermann, K., Avendaño, C. & E. Matías (2017) Nesting evidence, density and vocalisations in a resident population of Savannah Sparrow Passerculus sandwichensis wetmorei in Guatemala. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 137: 37-45.
  • Eisermann, K., C. Avendaño, E. Matías & M. Acevedo (2016) Elevational range extension and a new habitat for Thamnophis fulvus (Bocourt, 1893) (Squamata: Natricidae). Mesoamerican Herpetology 3: 1094-1097.
  • Eisermann, K. & C. Avendaño (2017) The owls of Guatemala. Pp. 447-515 in Enríquez, P. (ed.) Neotropical owls: diversity and conservation. Springer, Cham, Switzerland.
Rufous-collared Robin
Rufous-collared Robin
Eastern Meadowlark
Eastern Meadowlark
Savannah Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Pine Siskin
Pine Siskin

Start planning your birding tour in Guatemala here:

Back to Top