A San Blas Birding Trip


Date of Visit: December 4, 2006

One of the highlights of a visit to San Blas is the opportunity to take a panga ride through the mangroves and swamps to Tolvara Spring. If you plan to spend any time in San Blas before heading south to the campgrounds near Puerto Vallarta or on the Costa Alegre this should be on your list.

It's a particularly rewarding trip for birders, and very easy to arrange. As we arrived in the San Blas area in the late afternoon we made a stop at the visitor center and boat docks. When we asked for a guide who would be knowledgable about birds we were introduced to a young man who specializes in birding trips, Jose Ortiz. A 7 a.m. departure was quickly arranged. The price - 360 pesos, about $35 US for four of us.

With such an early morning departure we were the first boat away from the docks - by quite a margin. This was important since normal trips to the springs are pretty much full-throttle affairs. Chances to see birds later in the morning when there are more boats on the river are very limited.

Here's a listing of the birds we spotted. In addition to the birding we also visited the springs and had a cerveza at the restaurant there before the return trip.

  • Magnificent Frigatebird
  • Neotropic Cormorant
  • Anhinga
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Great Egret
  • Cattle Egret
  • Green Heron
  • Boat-billed Heron
  • Tiger Heron
  • Yellow-crowned Night-heron
  • Louisiana Heron
  • White Ibis
  • White-faced Ibis
  • Roseate Spoonbill
  • Wood Stork
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Gray Hawk
  • American Coot
  • Limpkin
  • Black-necked Stilt
  • White-winged Dove
  • Rock Dove
  • Squirrel Cuckoo
  • Rufous Hummingbird
  • Belted Kingisher
  • Green Kingfisher
  • Gila Woodpecker
  • Tropical Kingbird
  • Yellow-winged Cacique
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Purple-backed Jay
  • Yellow Warbler
  • American Redstart
  • Great-tailed Grackel

See below for pictures of the trip. For more information about RV destinations, things to do, and campgrounds throughout Mexico see our book Traveler's Guide to Mexican Camping.

The Docks

An early morning departure is essential.

San Blas Boat Landing
Jose Lopez

Jose Ortiz

Jose speaks excellent English, and also knows his birds. He's one of he few guides who specializes in birders.


Really .... It just looks like a Cormorant!

Roseate Spoonbills
Roseate Spoonbills
Tiger Heron
Tiger Heron
Yellow-crowned Night-heron
Yellow-crowned Night-heron
Wood Stork
Wood Stork

A Little Research

Was that really a Squirrel Cuckoo?

Looking at Bird Book


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