Honduras is one of the least-known countries in the Americas and remains stubbornly off the beaten track. However, with specialty birds such as Resplendent Quetzal, Lovely Cotinga, Keel-billed Motmot, Wine-throated Hummingbird, and the endemic Honduran Emerald, plus comfortable lodges and beautiful scenery, visitors will quickly realize that the country provides a great introduction to Neotropical birding.
Boasting more square miles of protected area than Costa Rica, the national parks and preserves of Honduras shelter over 700 species of birds. Our tour will cover a wide selection of these protected habitats, from the misty cloud forests of La Tigra National Park to the marshes of Lago de Yojoa and the lowland coastal jungles of the Caribbean coast. Much of the tour will be based at the luxurious Pico Bonito Lodge at the edge of Pico Bonito National Park. From here we’ll make excursions to many different birding locations, each hosting a unique set of birds.
Day 1: Our tour begins in the mid-afternoon at Tegucigalpa Airport, followed by a short drive to our hotel in the foothills just outside the city. If there is time, we may do some late afternoon birding near the entrance to La Tigra National Park. Night near Tegucigalpa.
Day 2: La Tigra National Park offers excellent mountain birding virtually on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa. The network of roads and trails will enable us to see many of Central America’s higher-elevation species. These include a fine variety of hummingbirds, such as Wine-throated Hummingbird, the range-restricted Green-breasted Mountain-gem, and possibly Garnet-throated Hummingbird. Other species we might encounter include Emerald Toucanet, Resplendent Quetzal, Mountain Trogon, Spotted and Strong-billed Woodcreepers, Barred Forest-Falcon, Mountain Elaenia, Bushy-crested Jay, Rufous-browed Wren, Slate-colored Solitaire, Rufous-collared Thrush, Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer, and Yellow-backed Oriole. Night near Tegucigalpa.
Day 3: We’ll spend the morning near the entrance to La Tigra National Park, searching in particular for the striking Blue-and-white Mockingbird before driving northwest to Panacam Lodge at the edge of Cerro Azul Meámbar National Park on the east side of Lago de Yojoa. The lodge grounds are rich in birds, and we’ll be looking especially for the scarce and local Keel-billed Motmot. The hummingbird mix here is somewhat different from that at La Tigra and may include the distinctive Black-crested Coquette and Violet Sabrewing. Night at Panacam Lodge.
Day 4: We’ll spend a pre-breakfast hour birding the grounds, where the cries of both Barred and Collared Forest-Falcons sometimes greet the dawn. Collared Aracaris and Keel-billed Motmots should be in the trees overhead, along with Blue-crowned Motmots, Masked Tityras, Crimson-collared Tanagers, and possibly Collared Trogon and Northern Barred and Wedge-billed Woodcreepers. The trails just off the grounds offer us good chances for a wide variety of other species such as Royal Flycatcher and possibly Black-faced Antthrush and Scaled Antpitta.
We’ll bird areas near Panacam in search of Green-backed Sparrow and Prevost’s Ground-Sparrow along with many other forest and secondary forest species. Later in the day we’ll visit Lago de Yojoa. In the marshes we should see an array of waterbirds, including Fulvous and Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, Northern Jacana, and perhaps Ruddy and Gray-breasted Crakes. The boardwalk at the Los Naranjos archaeological site offers excellent birding, and here we might see Laughing Falcon, Gartered Trogon, Green-breasted Mango, Streak-headed Woodcreeper, Rufous-breasted Spinetail, White-throated Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Gray-crowned Yellowthroat and a wide range of wintering North American migrants. Late in the day we’ll return to Panacam Lodge. Night at the lodge.
Day 5: Depending on our priorities, we may choose to spend another morning at Panacam investigating the trail system or the new tower. After our morning’s birding we’ll depart for Pico Bonito Lodge with lunch en route. Night at Pico Bonito Lodge.
Days 6–9: With its numerous feeding stations, two nearby observation towers, and surrounding trails, Pico Bonito offers exceptional birding. We’ll watch carefully from the platforms for the lodge’s signature species, the striking Lovely Cotinga, whose males are an electric blue with deep dark purple on the throat and chest. Other species might include Gray-headed and Gray-chested Doves, Black-headed, Slaty-tailed, and possibly Black-throated Trogons, Chestnut-colored and Black-cheeked Woodpeckers, Rufous Mourners, White-collared and Red-capped Manakins, Spot-breasted Wren, Long-billed Gnatwren, Tropical Gnatcatcher, and Golden-hooded Tanager. We’ll keep a careful eye on the sky for various raptors, possibly including the superb White Hawk and King Vulture, and for swifts. The aerial acrobatics of hundreds of White-collared Swifts make an impressive sight, but more interesting are the flocks of White-chinned Swifts, which may breed in the Pico Bonito area. Like several other species of swifts in the genus Cypseloides, this species is quite localized in Middle America, and Pico Bonito appears to be its only known location in Honduras.
With luck, we’ll find one or more nocturnal species roosting on or near the grounds, such as Great Potoo and Vermiculated Screech-Owl. Late in the day we should hear both Great and Little Tinamous, and there is a slim chance of seeing either of those species or Slaty-breasted Tinamou.
Apart from the superb accommodations, there is a fine pool to cool off in during the hot periods of the day.
In addition to Pico Bonito there are several excellent birding locations nearby, including Cuero y Salado Refuge, which we’ll reach via slow-moving small train, watching along the way for Groove-billed Anis and Turquoise-browed Motmots. Once there we’ll investigate the various mangrove waterways by boat; we might see Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, Boat-billed Heron, Sungrebe, American Pygmy Kingfisher, Western Slaty-Antshrike and perhaps even a roosting Northern Potoo.. Lancetilla, another first-rate forested park, lies to the west, and we’ll spend one full morning there, stopping at the Rio Santiago Guest Resort after lunch to watch the hundreds of hummingbirds of a dozen or so species. These will likely include both Long-billed and Stripe-throated Hermits, Scaly-breasted Hummingbird, and with luck one or two of the distinctive Band-tailed Barbthroat.
On one day we’ll depart very early for the Aguan Valley, a dry interior valley almost due south of Pico Bonito but taking some 3 hours to reach via road. Our main target will be the endemic Honduran Emerald, which is quite common here. Other species we might see include Salvin’s Emerald, Cinnamon Hummingbird, White-fronted Parrot, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, White-bellied Wren, White-lored Gnatcatcher, Tropical Mockingbird, and Spot-breasted and Altamira Orioles. With great luck we might encounter Crested Bobwhite, Lesser Roadrunner, or even Lesser Ground-Cuckoo. Nights at Pico Bonito Lodge.
Day 10: Depending on our flight departure times, there may be a chance to enjoy another Lovely Cotinga before we depart for San Pedro Sula, a little over two hours away to the west. The trip concludes with flights home from San Pedro Sula.