Birding, or bird watching has gained much popularity as a sport and hobby over the last decade. This mindful and highly enjoyable outdoor activity is part of a growing trend in travel called eco-tourism. This is a trend we can get behind! As a longrunning jungle eco-lodge in Nicaragua’s famous Laguna de Apoyo, we are dedicated to incorporating more eco-tourism activities to our list of offerings and sharing about them here. Birding is one of our favorites! Have you ever observed the curious life of our flying friends? Below we will highlight three magnificent birds of Nicaragua that should convince you to give birding in Nicaragua a try!
Eco-toursim is defined as, “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education” (TIES, 2015). As a major benefit, the financial income gained from eco-tourist guests is used to fund conservation and education efforts. By offering tours through protected natural areas, local hosts can impart knowledge and wisdom about the surrounding ecosystem and our impact on it. Birders are part of a community of low-impact eco-tourism, a fun and sustainable way to adventure and appreciate the wonderful world of birds!
Benefits of bird watching include the many psychological benefits that are found with deep presence in, and connection with nature. It’s no wonder bird watching has soared! Here in Nicaragua there are amazing coastlines, jungles, and rainforest habitats for over 700 bird species to thrive. Nicaragua is at the crossroads of bird species in the Americas with more species unique to Central America than any other country.
In Nicaragua, Managua is a city many tourists hit as they make their way around the country, since it is home to the International Airport (Augusto C. Sandino International Airport). Managua offers birding as a great eco-tourism activity since it is surrounded by lush bird life with its surrounding crater lakes, volcanoes and jungle. As an intrepid traveler, the closest destination to Managua is the Laguna de Apoyo, a 26,000 year old crater lake which offers rich wild and plant life. The lagoon is a destination for popular GAIA Birdwatching Tours that go to other areas such as Masaya Volcano or Peñas Blancas. Many distinct species flock to the shores of the Laguna. We are blessed to observe the daily happenings of many spectacular bird species native to the region here in Laguna de Apoyo, Nicaragua.
One of the first species you will notice here at the Laguna is the national bird, the brown MotMot, or the Guardabarranco. With its captivating blue and brown feathers, this species is so revered that the blue headed MotMot appears on the $200 Cordoba bill. Its name references the protector of cliffs, likely because of the way these birds find home in holes on the side of rock walls.
Another species of bird found on Laguna de Apoyo which birder’s marvel at is the Montezuma Oropendola. This bird is brown in color with an orange tipped beak and yellow typically found at the end of the tail feathers. These birds are known for their hanging nests, which only the female Montezuma Oropend olas make. Another distinct feature of this species is their unique, turkey like mating call and dance.
The vibrant indigo and white colored bird, the white throated magpie, is sure to capture your attention while bird watching. If not for their rich color, the “mobbing” calls and predator alarms these birds make can be startling! If you find yourself desiring a closer look, a pair of binoculars will come in handy to get an intimate look at the the expressions these birds make.
The third bird we will highlight is the Pacific Screech-Owl, a magnificent owl found in the Laguna de Apoyo in Nicaragua. The large ear tufts and magnetic bright yellow eyes make this owl look very dignified.
In the evenings as the sun goes down the Pacific Screech-Owl can be heard making its signature screech howl, alerting us all that bedtime is approaching here in the Laguna de Apoyo. Birders will enjoy searching for this bird hiding in the trees during the day, as they sometimes can be spotted on low hanging tree branches. An evening bird walk could result in multiple Pacific Screech-Owl sightings!
These are just a few of the hundreds of incredible bird species here in the Laguna de Apoyo. Like most of Nicaragua, there is still much undocumented wildlife and untouched parts of nature. With birding as ecotourism, it is our hope that these magnificent creatures can remain protected in their home environment and be enjoyed by respectful observers for many years to come!