Birder’s delight: a Central American getaway for birdwatching to Honduras

This Northern Potoo is nocturnal insectivore. During the day, it roosts and its feathers make it look like a broken branch. (Photos by Sharon Stiteler)

As much as I love winter sports, sometimes it’s fun to visit someplace warm. Last year I headed south to Honduras and Pico Bonito Lodge and Spa, which offers several trails to explore on the edge of Pico Bonito National Park.

Honduras has lovely birds you can’t find in the United States like blue-crowned Motmots, Montezuma oropendolas and chestnut-colored woodpeckers. But some of our breeding birds can be found there in winter like golden-winged warblers, wood thrushes and Baltimore orioles. And the grounds were teeming with hummingbirds and lizards.

The prize bird at the lodge is a lovely cotinga, a sky-blue bird with a large purple throat patch. But I was just as wowed by the violet sabrewings and white-necked jacobins sipping out of the many hummingbird feeders. The guides can take guests on night hikes to look for owls and red-eyed tree frogs.

The golden-hooded tanager is a colorful find in the trees.

Our birding guide took us to the delightful open-air bar at Rio Santiago Lodge. The staff keeps over 200 hummingbird feeders stocked, so while you re-hydrate, hundreds of hummingbirds zip around you to the feeders.

The manager of the lodge at Pico Bonito is an American named James Adams and he provides a lot the personality of the place. James has a love of reptiles, archeology and movies so bad that they’re good. If a guest looks squeamish about snakes he asks, “How many people have hurt you in your life? Think about that and then tell me how many snakes have hurt you? People are way worse than snakes.”

The white-necked Jacobin, a blue-and-white hummingbird, is a common visitor to hummingbird feeders.

He asked me how I felt about bats, and when I answered that I loved them, he advised me to check under the eaves of my cabin in the middle of the day. I did and discovered dozens of fruit bats huddled together.

Honduras is not a wealthy country, but it offers some of the most gorgeous and rugged landscapes you’ve ever seen. If you’re ever looking to leave the United States for a week during the heart of winter, consider a birding trip to Honduras or another Central American destination. You can view many of our most popular migratory songbirds while enjoying the region’s weather, too.

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