Local News & Events

Puerto Vallarta • Riviera Nayarit 

Birding in San Pancho - You Won't Be Disappointed

Kathi Borgmann - Birds of Passion
go to original
August 5, 2013

Luis Morales and family

Josh and I had the great pleasure of meeting and staying with Luis Morales and his beautiful family in San Pancho in southern Nayarit. Luis is the director and founder of San Pancho Bird Observatory. Luis is one of the most passionate people I have met. His enthusiasm and dedication to avian conservation are commendable.

Luis works endless hours (often without pay) to promote avian conservation in western Mexico. Currently the Observatory is housed at his home, but hopefully soon he will have a new beautiful place for the observatory to call home.

Luis is working towards developing community-based education and conservation programs in western Mexico to increase awareness of the plight of birds and provide economic incentives to protect bird habitat. San Pancho Bird Observatory plans to work with 10 communities in Nayarit and northern Jalisco, teaching them how to identify and monitor bird populations, in hopes that communities will work towards protecting important bird habitat. Nayarit and Jalisco, like much of Mexico, are threatened by habitat loss (agricultural conversion), pollution, poisoning, and the illegal bird trade.

This area is also home to many birds that spend their summers in the United States and Canada like the Painted Bunting, Yellow-breasted Chat, Black-capped Vireo, and numerous other warbler species.  Declines in some populations of Neotropical migratory birds in recent years has prompted many researchers to focus on the entire life-cycle of the bird, protecting both breeding habitat in the United States and Canada and wintering habitat in Mexico and points further south. Conserving wintering habitat in western Mexico could have a real positive impact for many species.

The programs that San Pancho Bird Observatory are building are a valuable piece of the conservation puzzle and merit international support.

Josh Bird the Aguacatal-Las Calabazas Trail in San Pancho

While in San Pancho, Josh and I birded at the Estero de San Pancho and a road that heads from town up into the hills (Aguacatal – Las Calabazas trail). There are a few other birding trails in the area and there is a large preserve area that ought to soon be the home of the San Pancho Bird Observatory as well as hosting a few miles of terrific birding trails in coastal hills. For us, the highlight of what we saw in San Pancho was the Aguacatal – Las Calabazas trail along a riparian corridor into the hills. It starts in agricultural areas but quickly heads into a beautiful tropical canyon with largely intact forest.

We birded an entire morning and didn’t get anywhere near the end of the track nor did we bird the adjacent canyon and track which are apparently also excellent.

We had great looks at the endemic Stripe-headed Sparrow all along the trail. Previously we have only seen a couple of these little guys so it was great to see a bunch of them again.

This area is also a great place to see Orange-fronted Parakeets up close and personal as well as Elegant Trogon, Citreoline Trogon, Russet-crowned Motmot, Scrub (Godman’s) Euphonia, Ivory-billed Woodcreeper, Cinnamon Hummingbird, Boat-billed Flycatcher, Blue Bunting, and Pale-billed and Lineated Woodpeckers.

We were also fortunate to spot two San Blas Jays, another western Mexico endemic that, as it turns out, is often easier to see the further south of San Blas you go.

The geography of the San Pancho area is quite unique as the mountains come down to the ocean providing a really interesting mix of species. Some species that you often expect to encounter at higher elevations can be seen just outside of town. For example, Military Macaws can easily be seen around San Pancho.

Golden Vireo, another species more frequently encountered at higher elevations, is quite common here at lower elevations. Parrots are fairly common and there are Thicket Tinamous here as well, though obviously easier to hear than see.

Bat Falcons are also a guarantee around San Pancho as they have been nesting in the communication towers in town. If you are coming from Puerto Vallarta we highly recommend a stop in San Pancho and if you need a guide, be sure to get in touch with Luis Morales at San Pancho Bird Observatory. He is a great birder and you will not be disappointed.

Moreover, his guiding business directly funds the San Pancho Bird Observatory and conservation in the region.

Unfortunately, on our last day in San Pancho it rained most of the day and Josh and I were both quite tired as well as a bit under the weather, so we only managed to get one solid day of birding in around the area. Regardless birding here is great – the coastal mountain range yields a really large list of species in a small area, and as a bonus the heat and bugs here are nowhere near as bad as they can be in San Blas.

  Learn more about San Pancho Bird Observatory

We invite you to add your charity or supporting organizations' news stories and coming events to PVAngels so we can share them with the world. Do it now!

Meet the Charities

Community Services


Animals & Wildlife

Health Care

Youth & Family


Culture & Recreation

Special Interests

How You Can Help

Use Your Powers for Good

Add Your Favorite Charity

Save a Life - Give Blood

Partners for Change

Meet the Partners

Become a Partner for Change


About PVAngels

Add Your Charity

Add Your News & Events

Locate Yourself on Our Maps

Join PVAngels Team

About Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta Local News

Local Event Calendar

Puerto Vallarta Videos

Puerto Vallarta Photos

Historic Puerto Vallarta

Local Area Maps

Important Phone Numbers

Craig's List in Puerto Vallarta

   Stay Connected

    Find PVAngels on Facebook Follow PVAngels on Twitter Sign up PVAngels Newsletter RSS Feeds on PVAngels

PVAngels.com is a unique blend of community awareness through the posting of local news and events, formal introductions to the charities and their needs, online fundraising, social networking and giving back. Ready to change the world? Join us.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance a more in-depth understanding of critical issues facing the world. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 USC Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information click here. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

2018 • m3 • this site is part of a charitable conspiracy