Birds in the Yucatan Peninsula

Birds in the Yucatan Peninsula


For those of you visiting the wonderful Yucatan Peninsula on your holidays, it is worth mentioning that Yucatan isn’t just famous for its beautiful islands, beaches and diving. It has also become a haven for bird lovers and watchers. You will be surprised to know that there are many types of birds found in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Bird Refuge in the Yucatan Peninsula

There are popular bird reserves in the Yucatan, where you can spot a score of birds of the Yucatan and other wildlife. The wildlife in Yucatan is nothing short of marvelous and exhilarating, giving you a whole new perspective in regards to Mother Nature. With up to 700 species of birds that are of different colors, shapes and sizes, you will be absolutely astonished by the winged creatures.

Tropical Forest Birds

Motmot: The turquoise motmot is undoubtedly a sublime bird. The Mayans named called this bird ‘Toh’. The motmot has a unique multi-colored layer of feathers and the pattern of the feathers. The motmot is a cave dweller species, a rarity. They have nests in caves as well as in the cenotes of Yucatan.

Parrots: You will also spot a variety of Yucatan parrots. The Mayans called parrots as “T’utt”; these endemic, exotic and multi-colored birds can only be found in the peninsula. The parrots here fly from different feeding grounds and the fly back in flocks to their roosting areas. They feed mostly on fruit and flowers and absolutely love to fly in flocks.

Toucan: The toucan or Rainbow toucan is found mainly in the tropical rainforests of Yucatan. These exotic birds are nothing less than beautiful with a colorful beak and a black body. Toucans prefer to fly in small flocks and are quite friendly.

Sea Birds

Cormorants: Cormorants are big water birds that have an elongated neck and green eyes. They almost look like a reptilian species of some kind. They are very commonly found near shore lines of the beaches of Yucatan.

Pelicans: American white pelicans are most found in Rio Lagartos. You can spot the near piers and the shore line. Pelican dive underwater to catch fish.

Frigate: Also known as Magnificent Frigate, are exotic beach birds that like to steal food from other birds. The first size-up their prey, if they see that the bird carrying food is a slow flier, they will whip in close and steal food.

Mangrove Birds

Storksherons: Storksherons are primarily mangrove birds that feed of small fish and insects. You can spot them at the mangroves of the Riviera Maya.

Flamingos: Flamingos too are mangrove birds that feed on fish and prefer to travel in flocks. There are plenty of flamingo reserves in Yucatan peninsula, Rio Lagartos for example where you can take a boat tour from their feeding grounds to observing their natural habitat.

Birds and the Mayan Culture

The Mayans used to worship a plethora of bird species and held them in high regards. Birds were an important part of their culture and were represented in various kinds of artistic expressions. The primary bird deity of the Mayans was represented as being a big winged creature, known as Snake Wing. Some of the most commonly found bird representations of the Mayan civilization that you will observe at various archeological sites include eagles, parrots, hawks, vultures, owls, turkeys, macaws, etc.

Monkey Sanctuary in the Riviera Maya

monkey sanctuary


Howler and spider monkeys

Monkeys are one of the most famous animals in the animal kingdom. We share a lot of things with them, from the skills to build a community, to the abilities to use different tools to get food.

On the Mexican Caribbean we have two species of them. You may see some of them, playing, getting close to you! This reminds us the importance of conservation… The best place to encounter monkeys during your stay in the Riviera is to go to the national park of Punta Laguna, a natural Monkey Sanctuary located next to Coba ruins.

Howler Monkeys, the loudest animals!

If you are lucky enough you will encounter or at least listen to the Howler Monkey, the loudest animal in the world (according the Record Guinness). It can be heard 2 miles away (3.2 km) in the jungle and almost 3 miles away (4.8 km) in open areas. They use this magnificent sound to delimit their territory from other troops and basically to them to back off.

Other facts about howling monkeys are:

  • They are the second laziest animals in the wild (after the sloths). Spending the 80% of their time resting in the treetops.
  • They live in groups of 10-20 individuals called “Troops”
  • They are folivores (specialized in eating leaves)
  • This specie has a trichromatic color vision, helping them to choose the best leaves for their diets
  • Howling monkeys have a highly developed sense of smell- they can smell their food from 1-2 miles away
  • The females help to take care of other young monkeys

Most of the howling monkey species are found in abundance in the wild. But Mexican howling monkeys are critical endangered due deforestation and development.

Spider monkeys, the strongest tail!

We have the loudest one but also the strongest tail one in the animal kingdom!

Spider monkeys are the acrobats of the trees! Their prehensile tail is longer than the rest of their body and can measure around 35 inches/90 cm in length. The tail is strong enough to support more than the animal’s body weight.

Some other interesting facts about spider monkeys are:

  • They prefer to sleep in the trees to avoid predators, using the branches to alarm them in case of danger.
  • They don’t posses thumbs to grasp branches better.
  • Males raise the young ones.
  • Spider Monkey´s diet mayor is ripe fruits and seeds.
  • They are responsible for scattering seeds and are indirectly responsable in pollination.
  • The mexican spider monkey is critical endangered due deforastion and lost of the habitat.

If you want to have a chance to get around these monkeys, the best way is to get a tour to Punta Laguna, Monkey Sanctuary and help the local community to protect these species!

Punta Laguna

Punta laguna

Punta Laguna National Park

Are you interested in experiencing a living Mayan community and discovering aMonkey Sanctuary?

With a population of approximately 30 families, Punta Laguna Monkey Sanctuary is a thriving area that welcomes tourists! These natives welcome all individuals to visit and learn by participating in historic day to day activities.

Otoch Ma’ax Yetel Kooh, or Punta Laguna, has been a protected area since 1982. It is home to the spider monkey and the puma cat. Spreading across 5,367 hectares, it is the perfect adventure for families and nature lovers alike. You can be sure you will be able to enjoy the beautiful landscape in a safe and respectful way.

Punta Laguna offers five possible activities:

  • A hike suitable for all ages in the jungle to get a glimpse of the spider monkey and hear the howler monkey’s famous cry. (encountering them is not guaranteed)
  • A relaxing canoe trip through the lagoon
  • An adrenaline packed zip-line tour over the lagoon
  • A descent into a cenote by way rappel rope (max weight 210 lbs / 95 kg)
  • A historic Mayan purification ceremony

This national park is a few miles from Coba ruins.  So it's a great idea to combine the visit of Punta Laguna with these ancient mayan ruins in one day trip!