Dates and Cost

February 2-11, 2019
$3300 per person ($500)


About This Trip

By combining a visit to the northern Sierra Madre along the Durango Highway with some time in the tropical lowlands surrounding San Blas, it is possible to see more than 25 percent of the bird species that exist in the entire country of Mexico, including more than a third of Mexico’s 100 endemic birds!

An extensive variety of habitats are available in this rather small geographic region. Moving from low elevation to high we will visit large estuaries with extensive mudflats, to the vast stands of dry, tropical deciduous forests in the foothill region of Concordia and Copala, one of the richest plant communities on earth. Then on to gallery oak forests that hold dozens of the 200 plus oak species found in Mexico. Finally, reaching the coniferous forests at the highest elevations with more a dozen species of pines, including the rare “Sacred Fir” (abies religiosa). By visiting all of these distinct habitats in one trip, it is not unreasonable to expect more than 300 species of birds!

We begin our trip in Mazatlan, where we enjoy a night in the vibrant and historic heart of the city. Leaving the city behind, we will spend time in the dry, tropical deciduous forest, searching for birds like Happy and Sinaloa Wrens, Mexican Parrotlets, Citroline Trogon, Purplish-backed Jay Black-throated Magpie-Jay, Rufous-bellied Chachalaca, Elegant Quail, Crane Hawk, Yellow-winged Cacique, and Yellow Grosbeak. This habitat is also a botanist’s paradise, as it is home to an incredible array of interesting plant life.

We then head into the mountains on the famed Durango Highway, one of only two paved routes over the vast and wild Sierra Madre mountain range (the other is Hwy. 16 in Sonora). The extreme elevation changes found along the highway, coupled with significant rainfall amounts, rugged topography and diverse habitats offer the potential to see upwards of 20 Mexican endemics, many which are not possible or very difficult to find in the San Blas area. We will focus primarily on exploring the higher elevations in search of the incredibly showy and very regional endemic, the Tufted Jay. The Durango highway offers the only easy access for locating this fantastic bird. These highlands also offer an amazing number of other interesting birds, including Eared Quetzal, Green-striped Brush-finch, Red-headed Tanager, Golden-browed and Red Warbler’s to mention a few. Our final morning on the Durango highway will be spent at lower elevations, where we might find Red-breasted Chat, Blue Bunting, Black-capped Vireo, Golden-crowned Emerald, Rusty-crowned Ground-sparrow, and Russet-crowned Motmot. This area is also a very good place to see Military Macaws very closely, which nest in the area and are often seen flying from their night roost to their feeding grounds!

From the mountains, we’ll back down and then south to the relaxed coastal town of San Blas, long recognized for its plethora of bird diversity. Even on the 4-hour drive from Copala to San Blas there is a probability to see birds, namely the White-naped Swift, which is the largest Swift in the world, often found while drive through the agricultural fields on along the coast. San Blas is a comfortable place to view cool tropical birds at their northern limit, as well as a large number of neo-tropical migrants at their wintering grounds. Bird watching in the San Blas area generally tends to be easy on the birder, as the best sites are very local and close in, requiring only short driving distances. Combine all this with one of the most birder friendly hotels in Mexico that serves up amazing gourmet meals, and it becomes a perfect destination for a multiple day stay!

Some of our goals will be to find the Collared Forest-falcon, Lilac-crowned Parrot, Colima Pygmy Owl, Fan-tailed Warbler, Blue Mockingbird, Golden Vireo, Black-vented Oriole, and Godman’s (Scrub) Euphonia. One day we will visit a higher elevation area that gets into excellent humid pine and oak forest. We’ll be looking for high elevation specialties like Gray-collared Becard, Crescent-chested Warbler, White-striped Woodcreeper, Black-headed Siskin, Gray-crowned Woodpecker and Spotted Wren. This area is also excellent for hummingbirds, including the endemic Bumblebee Hummingbird and the Mexican Woodnymph.


The three hotels on the tour are all Mexican owned and operated, very clean and well run. In Mazaltan, we stay at a great, small hotel in the heart of the historic city center with a view of the ocean. In Copala, we stay at Daniel’s, a simple hotel in the quaint town of Copala, a stone’s throw from excellent habitat and visited nearly every afternoon by fly-over Military Macaws. Our home away from home in San Blas is the Hotel Garza Canela, run by our dear friends, the Vasquez family. Our meals range fresh seafood to traditional Mexican to gourmet meals prepared by a Cordon Bleu chef!

This trip starts and ends in Mazatlan.

To book your trip or for more information, please contact us by email or call 888-383-0062.