One of the most exciting activities for all nature lovers traveling to Tropical Latin America is birdwatching, which offers fun, relaxation, and an escape from the busy city. This paradise, which holds more than ⅓ of the birds in the world, offers you some the most stunning and colorful species no matter the country you go. So, whether you do this activity as a hobby or in a professional way, pack your camera and be ready to see at least one of the following birds in your next tropical tour.
This eye-catching emerald bird was highly regarded by prehispanic cultures. The Mayan legend says the quetzal was created with the breath of the gods. Supposedly, it had the most beautiful voices of all birds, but it stopped singing after the Europeans conquered the continent. The Aztec emperor who ruled at the arrival of the Spaniards wore a crown of quetzal feathers sewn on together with gold, and in this language, the word quetzal means brilliant feather.
Macaws inhabit all Tropical Latin America, including many Caribbean islands. Regardless of the species, all of them have vibrant feathers that inspired legends in most prehispanic cultures. The scarlet macaw, for example, is supposed to be an incarnation of the fire of the sun. Because of their flashy feathers and their ability to repeat words, they are one of the most threatened birds by illegal trafficking.
Birdwatching is not only reserved for the tropical forest. The Galapagos Island is home to many one-of-a-kind maritime birds, including the blue-footed booby. The striking blue feet are meant to attract the females, and in mating season they stride to show them off and find their other half. When fishing, these surprising birds speed up to 90km/hour to dive up to 30 meters under the water.
There are more than 300 hundred species of hummingbirds, all native to the Americas. The bee hummingbird holds the title of the smallest bird in the world, with 5.5 cm long, and the ruby-throated hummingbird has the fastest wings, with 200 wingbeats per second during mating season. In the Aztec cosmology, hummingbirds were the reincarnation of their warriors fallen in combat.
More than 40 different species of toucans live from the south of Mexico to the north of Argentina. They have small wings, which keeps them from flying long distances, and have one of the loudest voices of the tropical forest. However, their most special treat is their colorful bills, that can measure more than half the length of their body. Some tribes of the Amazon consider the toucans a channel of communication between our world and the world of spirits.
Birdwatching offers you the great opportunity of getting close to these and other mesmerizing birds without the need of caging them. That’s why we highly encourage you to enroll in this activity on your next trip to Tropical Latin America. Apart from contributing to saving many species threatened by trafficking and habitat loss, you’ll be able to see these wonders of nature free in their original habitats.