Honduras 2017

Date/Time
Date(s) - 04/06/2017 - 04/19/2017
All Day

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Wine-throated Hummingbird

Wine-throated Hummingbird

The Central American country of Honduras is bordered to the west by Guatemala, to the south by El Salvador, to the east by Nicaragua and to the north by the Caribbean Sea. The peoples of this Spanish-speaking country are exceptionally friendly and welcoming. Honduras is one of the least-known countries in the Americas and until very recently has not been visited by many in the birding community. The availability of comfortable lodges, beautiful scenery and specialty birds, such as Resplendent Quetzal, Lovely Cotinga, Keel-billed Motmot, Wine-throated Hummingbird, and the endemic Honduran Emerald, is an invitation for Talon Tours to offer this new tour. With a large percentage of Honduras protected as National Parks and preserves and with 81% of the country in mountainous habitat we are certain to have access to many of the 738 species and 58 families of birds present here. Our tour will begin in Tegucigalpa and soon move into cloud forest habitat searching for Resplendent Quetzal, Wine-throated Hummingbird, Blue-throated Motmot and Green-throated Mountain-Gem. While in the highlands, the many and varied forest types offer us the opportunity to view Keel-billed Motmot, Black-crested Coquette, Singing Quail and Scaled Antpitta. The Lake Yojoa area, which is a part of the Honduran Depression, will offer a variety of bird species such as flycatchers, waders, raptors and waterfowl. Moving further west we will spend some time at the Maya site of Copan, one of the most important sites of the Mayan civilization. An added bonus in this area is the large number of Scarlet Macaws that are present. From here we will move north towards the Caribbean coast and our home for the balance of the tour, The Lodge at Pico Bonito, located within the Pico Bonito National Park. The lodge is a member of the “Small Luxury Hotels of the World”, one reason we look forward to the last five nights of the tour. In addition, April is within the dry season and the nesting season in Honduras thus ensuring lot’s of access and bird activity.

At Talon Tours we strive to provide the very best of accommodations, food and guiding and that is why we have chosen Alex Alvarado of “Honduran Birds” as our local guide for our time in Honduras. Based on our experience with Alex in 2015, Becky and I are confidant you will enjoy and benefit from your time with Alex as well.

Gartered Trogon

Gartered Trogon

Day 1: April 6th. Our tour begins after our arrival at Tegucigalpa Airport, followed by a short drive to our hotel in the foothills just outside the city. If there is time, we might do some late afternoon birding near the entrance to La Tigra National Park.

Overnight near Tegucigalpa. D.

Day 2: April 7th. 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, Garnet-throated, and possibly Amethyst-throated Hummingbirds. Green-breasted Mountain-Gem is also possible. Other species we might encounter include Emerald Toucanet, Mountain Trogon, Spotted, Strong-billed, and possibly Black-banded Woodcreepers, Barred Forest-Falcon, Mountain Elaenia, Bushy-crested and Black-throated Jays, Rufous-browed Wren, Rufous-collared, Black, and Mountain Thrushes, Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer, and Yellow-backed Oriole. We’ll keep a careful eye out for the spectacular Resplendent Quetzal that inhabits the park feeding on fruiting trees.

Overnight near Tegucigalpa. B, L & D.

Day 3: April 8th. We’ll make an early departure to Las Trancas Nature Reserve in the morning where we hope to find the most rare of the motmots, Blue-throated Motmot. The Blue-throated Motmot is one of 5 species of motmots possible on this tour. Some of the other species that are likely here include White-breasted Hawk, Resplendent Quetzal, Gray-breasted Wood-Wren and Green-throated Mountain-Gem.

Overnight at Marcala La Paz. B, L & D.

Singing Quail

Singing Quail

Day 4: April 9th. We will begin our birding this morning in areas close to the Hotel before leaving for the 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 includes the distinctive Black-crested Coquette and Violet Sabrewing.

Overnight at Panacam Lodge. B, L & D.

Day 5: April 10th. We will 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 are likely to be in the trees overhead along with Blue-crowned Motmots, Masked Tityras, Crimson-collared Tanagers, Northern Barred and Wedge-billed Woodcreepers and possibly Collared Trogon. 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.

After a breakfast in the field just below Panacam Lodge we will take a short hike in search of Green-backed Sparrow and Prevost’s Ground-Sparrow, along with the many other forest and secondary forest species present here. Sungrebe can often be found at a nearby reservoir. We will also visit several sites at Lago de Yojoa. In the marshes we should see an array of water birds-Fulvous Whistling-Ducks, Limpkins, and Northern Jacanas are common, and both Ruddy and Gray-breasted Crakes call frequently from the reeds. The boardwalk at the Los Naranjos archaeological site offers excellent birding, and we might see both Plumbeous and northbound Mississippi Kites, 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.

Overnight at Panacam Lodge. B, L & D.

Day 6: April 11th. Depending on our priorities, we may choose to spend more time at Panacam and/or bird the mountains of Santa Barbara National Park looking for highland Specialties. The cloud forest of Santa Barbara includes Montane Forest plus extensive Broadleaf and Pine-Oak Forest. Many species are easier to find here than in other mountain locations. Some of the birds that are possible are Scaly-throated Foliage-Gleaner, Ruddy Foliage-Gleaner, Pheasant Cuckoo, Golden-browed Warbler, Blue-crowned Chlorophonia, Blue-throated Motmot, Rufous-collared Robin and Black-capped Swallow.

Overnight at Panacam Lodge. B, L & D. 

Band-backed Wren

Band-backed Wren

Day 7: April 12th. After a morning’s birding around the lodge grounds and some new trails we’ll depart for the Clarion Hotel near the Ruinas Copan, stopping for lunch at a restaurant en route. Depending on our arrival time we will do some birding in the grounds of the Hotel.

Overnight at Copan Ruinas Hotel Clarion. B, L & D.

Maya Site of Copan

Discovered in 1570 by Diego García de Palacio, the Maya site of Copan is one of the most important sites of the Mayan civilization. The site is functioned as the political, civil and religious centre of the Copan Valley. It was also the political centre and cultural focus of a larger territory that covered the southeast portion of the Maya area and its periphery.

The first evidence of population in the Copan Valley dates back to 1500 B.C., but the first Maya-Cholan immigration from the Guatemalan Highlands is dated around 100 A.D. The Maya leader Yax Kuk Mo, coming from the area of Tikal (Petén), arrived in the Copan Valley in 427 A.D., and started a dynasty of 16 rulers that transformed Copan into one of the greatest Maya cities during the Classic Maya Period. The great period of Copán, paralleling that of other major Mayan cities, occurred during the Classical period, AD 300-900. Major cultural developments took place with significant achievements in mathematics, astronomy and hieroglyphic writing. The archaeological remains and imposing public squares reveal the three main stages of development, during which evolved the temples, plazas, altar complexes and ball courts that can be seen today, before the city was abandoned in the early 10th century.

The Mayan city of Copán as it exists today is composed of a main complex of ruins with several secondary complexes encircling it. The main complex consists of the Acropolis and important plazas. Among the five plazas are the Ceremonial Plaza, with an impressive stadium opening onto a mound with numerous richly sculptured monoliths and altars; the Hieroglyphic Stairway Plaza, with a monumental stairway at its eastern end that is one of the outstanding structures of Mayan culture. On the risers of this 100 m wide stairway are more than 1,800 individual glyphs that constitute the longest known Mayan inscription. The Eastern Plaza rises a considerable height above the valley floor. On its western side is a stairway sculptured with figures of jaguars originally inlaid with black obsidian.

From what is known today, the sculpture of Copán appears to have attained a high degree of perfection. The Acropolis, a magnificent architectural complex, appears today as a large mass of rubble which came about through successive additions of pyramids, terraces and temples. The world’s largest archaeological cut runs through the Acropolis. In the walls of the cut, it is possible to distinguish floor levels of previous plazas and covered water outlets. The construction of the Great Plaza and the Acropolis reflects a prodigious amount of effort because of the size of its leveled and originally paved expanse of three hectares and the latter because of the enormous volume of its elevated mass, which rises some 30 meters from the ground.

Criterion: The design of the site, with its temples, plazas, terraces and other features, represent a type of architectural and sculptural complex among the most characteristic of the Classic Maya Civilization. The Maya site of Copan represents one of the most spectacular achievements of the Classic Maya Period because of the number, elaboration and magnitude of its architectural and sculptural monuments. The stelae and altars at the Plaza form one of the most beautiful sculpture ensembles in the region. In both the design and execution of monuments, the Maya bequeathed a unique example of their creative genius and advanced civilization at Copan.  The lengthy inscription on the Hieroglyphic Stairway, the longest inscribed text in the Maya region, is of considerable historic significance for the site, and for a wider cultural area.

Integrity: The boundaries of the World Heritage property enclose the key monuments, specifically the Main Group and the residential neighbourhoods around it, that give the Maya Site of Copan its Outstanding Universal Value. All attributes to convey its significance are contained within the Copan Archaeological Park (about 84.7 ha).

Day 8: April 13th. We will begin birding early around the El Rastrojon Archeological site, located two kilometers from the Copan site, before returning to the Hotel for breakfast, then continuing our day with a visit to the main Mayan ruins. The Archeological site is one of the best places to mix birds and culture around Honduras. A large population of Scarlet Macaws, which is a national symbol, has been released during the last decade so that large numbers of these birds fly over the Copan Valley. Other species that are easy to spot around the park include; Orange-fronted Parakeet, Red- throated Parakeet, Altamira and Spot-breasted Orioles as well as Turquoise and Blue-crowned Motmots and Rufous-capped Warbler.

We will have Lunch at the Restaurante Llama del Bosque in town and will either visit the museum or continue birding in the lowlands of La Pintada.

Overnight at Copan Ruinas Hotel Clarion. B, L & D.

Day 9: April 14th. We say farewell to Copán Ruinas this morning, heading back to San Pedro Sulas and then east to The Lodge at Pico Bonito. Lunch will give us chance to stretch our legs as the journey takes about six and a half hours. In addition we will make rest stops and stops for sightings of birds of interest along the way. As we head east from San Pedro Sulas we will notice that both the countryside and the towns and villages get richer as we enter a wetter part of the country with good agricultural land and more light industry. As we approach our destination the mountains appear, virtually running down to the coast.

The Lodge at Pico Bonito is located in the Pico Bonito National Park and will provide views of the mountain peak from the restaurant and grounds over the next 5 days. After arrival we will check in and have time to freshen up and rest a bit before meeting for a pre-dinner drink and a discussion of our plans while here. However, some may be tempted to forgo the rest to spend time getting photos of the hummingbirds at the feeders, including the beautiful White-necked Jacobin, the large and spectacular Violet Sabre-wing and Long-billed Hermit.

Overnight at The Lodge at Pico Bonito. B, L & D.

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

Day 10: April 15th. Our first day at The Lodge at Pico Bonito will begin at 6:00 AM, with an early breakfast/orientation on the spacious front deck of The Lodge’s Itzama Restaurant. For the next several hours our guide will lead us throughout the Lodge grounds, spotting the numerous bird species that are common in the early hours. A climb to the top of the “Toucan Tower” observation platform offers a bird’s eye view of the forest canopy that can include heart-stopping sightings of the coveted Lovely Cotinga. Throughout the morning we will bird areas of tropical, secondary and gallery forest and plantations areas along the Rio Coloradito. Along this route, diversity is the rule and examples of sightings include Lovely Cotinga; Masked and Black-crowned Tityras; Blue crowned and Turquoise-browed Motmots; Tody Motmot; Keel-billed Toucan; Collared Aracari; Ferruginous Pygmy Owl; Black-cowled Oriole; Black-headed, Violaceous, Collared and Slaty-tailed Trogons; Royal Flycatcher; Green, Shining and Red-Legged Honeycreepers; and 16 species of Hummingbirds including Crowned Woodnymph, Blue-throated Sapphire, Violet Sabrewing, Purple-crowned Fairy, Stripe-tailed Hummingbird, Brown Violet-ear, Green Violet-ear and White-necked Jacobin.

Lunch at The Lodge at Pico Bonito

In the afternoon, after lunch and a light siesta, we’ll ascend with our guide along The Lodge’s loop trail system in search of the more interior birds this rain forest paradise has to offer.

In addition to the Toucan tower at the trail’s beginning, this route offers an elevated ridge platform, which overlooks the Rio Coloradito and surrounding forested slopes. Well also visit observation Tower #3 along the way, set amidst an area of bird rich secondary forest and overgrown plantation.

White-collared and Red-capped Manakins occur at various locations here and the Grey-headed Piprites (rare) may be seen as well. Both Keel-billed and Tody Motmots are frequently encountered along this route. Other species here include the Great Curassow, Crested Guan, Slaty-breasted Tinamou, Little Tinamou, Scaly-throated Leaftosser, Keel-billed, Emerald and Yellow-eared Toucanettes, Collared Aracari, a host of Flycatcher species, including the Royal Flycatcher, and many of the Trogon, Woodpecker, Woodcreeper, Tanager and Oriole species on The Lodge’s 420+ bird list.

In addition to superb viewing from The Lodge‟s towers, this route passes several overlooks along the Rio Coloradito and sightings of many Raptor species can be made here.

After dinner, we’ll be guided around the Lodge’s gardens and plantation areas where Mottled Owl, Vermiculated Screech Owl, Black and White Owl, and both Great and Northern Pootoo may be found.

Overnight at The Lodge at Pico Bonito. B, L & D.

Stripe-throated Hermit

Stripe-throated Hermit

Day 11: April 16th. Rio Aguan Valley and The Endemic Honduran Emerald

We’ll begin this full day of birding Honduras’ unique dry forest habitat with an early breakfast at The Lodge, and departure by 4:30 AM. The target of our search, the beautiful but critically endangered Honduran Emerald survives only in remaining pockets of tropical dry forest to the south of Pico Bonito National Park. Descending the “rain shadow”, or southern side of the Park, cloud forested peaks and pine studded slopes give way to an arid, almost desert-like plain, once dominated by tropical thorn or dry forest. Although endangered, the Honduran Emerald is considered common within its habitat. As such, regardless of season, our chances of seeing the Honduran Emerald are very good. Our ride into “Emerald country” can be equally exciting, as a surprising number of bird species inhabit dry forest. Along the way, we’ll also visit localized wet areas within this arid region. These sites can be magnets for wading birds and other species. We’ll go after species such as; Double-striped Thick-knee, Lesser Roadrunner, Lesser Ground-cuckoo, Beardless Tyrannulet, White-lored Gnatcatcher, White-throated Magpie-jay, Banded Wren, White-bellied Wren, Stripe-headed Sparrow and Salvin’s Emerald among others.

We’ll enjoy lunch in the nearby ranching town of Olanchito, and return to The Lodge by 4:00 PM.

Overnight at The Lodge at Pico Bonito. B, L & D.

Lesser Roadrunner

Lesser Roadrunner

Day 12: April 17th. Hummingbirds of Rio Santiago

Rio Santiago Nature Resort is a private preserve located 30 kilometers west of The Lodge at Pico Bonito. The stunningly scenic Santiago River flanks the property, and four crystalline mountain streams tumble over waterfalls through a private nature preserve of over 150 acres.  Its secluded, rain forest location and impressive numbers of hummingbird feeders has earned it the name of “The hummingbird capital of Honduras”. Throughout most of the year, Santiago’s trails and main garden areas abound with bewildering numbers of some of Honduras’ most well-known hummingbird species.

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Cinnamon Hummingbird, Brown Violet-ear, Band-tailed Barbthroat, Violet Sabrewing, Crowned Woodnymph, Stripe-throated Hermit, Long-billed Hermit, Stripe-tailed Hummingbird, White-bellied Emerald, and Scaly-breasted Hummingbird are among those species that frequent Santiago’s feeders. Black-crested Coquette can also be seen on Santiago’s main trail.

The diversity of upland forest habitats and plantation/riparian areas of the lower property provide an immersion into Honduras’ amazingly colorful, and diverse avifauna.  Parrots and Toucans, Trogons and Tanagers, Hummingbirds and high-flying Raptors, and a bewildering variety of other species wait to be discovered and admired. In addition, both the spectacular Keel-billed Motmot and Rufous-tailed Jacamar are frequently seen, along with Red-capped and White-collared Manakins, along Santiago’s trail system.

Overnight at The Lodge at Pico Bonito. B, L & D

Day 13: April 18th. Lancetilla Botanical Gardens.

We’ll meet our guide for breakfast, and depart for The Lancetilla Botanical Gardens by 5:30 AM. Set amidst a coastal valley flanked by low rain-forested hills, The United Fruit Company founded Lancetilla as a station where tropical fruit and wood trees were studied for commercial value. The Gardens were founded in 1925, and some of that work continues. However this diverse tropical treasure, composed of a mosaic of forest and edge habitats, is today best known for its superb birding.

Honduras’ annual Christmas Bird Count is held at Lancetilla, and every December, bird watchers gather to confirm and add to the Garden’s growing list of colorful, tropical species. The current bird list reads like a who’s who of tropical birds, and includes Motmots and Manakins, Woodcreepers and Warblers, Woodpeckers, Toucans, Tanagers, and scores of others.

Thanks to this diversity a typical day of birding here could yield; Little Tinamou, Common Black Hawk, Ornate Hawk-Eagle,  White-fronted Parrot, Red-lored Parrot, Ruddy Crake, Squirrel Cuckoo, Black-headed Trogon, Violaceous Trogon, Collared Trogon, Turquoise-browed Motmot, Blue-crowned Motmot, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Great Antshrike, Barred Antshrike, Long-billed Gnatwren and a host of other resident and migrant species.

We’ll complete our morning at Lancetilla with lunch in the beachside town of Tela, and return to The Lodge by late afternoon.

Overnight at The Lodge at Pico Bonito. B, L & D

Day 14: April 19th. Breakfast and Depart The Lodge at Pico Bonito for San Pedro Sula International Airport.

 

 

Cost

Double Occupancy; $4,850.00
Single Occupancy;   $5,450.00

Tour Includes:

  • Airport transfer
  • Double or twin accommodation
  • Meals as listed
  • Snacks and water on day trips
  • All road transfers/transportation
  • Activities as described in the itinerary
  • Local guides
  • Local birding guide, Alex Alvarado
  • Local bird guides at the lodges
  • Guiding fees
  • Entrance fees
  • Tolls
  • Gratuities while at The Lodge at Pico Bonito

 

Not Included:

  • Items of a personal nature
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Departure tax
  • International flights
  • Tourist Visa
  • Emergency evacuation insurance
  • Tips

Insurance

The purchase of trip cancellation insurance is strongly recommended.  Talon Tours cannot accept liability for airline cancellations or delays or penalties incurred by the purchase of non-refundable airline tickets or other expenses incurred by tour participants in preparing for this tour.

Travel Planning

You are responsible for arranging your flights to and from Honduras.  Plan to arrive in Honduras by evening on April 6th and schedule departures for April 19th or later.



Bookings are closed for this event.




About Ken Wilson

Ken Wilson is the owner of Talon Tours. A native New Zealander, Ken has been leading nature and birdwatching tours worldwide since 1995. Ken has also led focused tours to many national and state parks in the western United States as well as key birding sites during migration. His passion for photography began in the early 1970’s and continues to grow. Ken is known for his easygoing manner and attention to organizational and logistical details.