Bird watching is a fun and relaxing way to feel closer to nature and what better place to do it than Puerto Vallarta. The lush vegetation surrounding the region provides the perfect habitat for a great variety of endemic and migratory birds to feed, nest and rest. Here are some tips to help you enjoy your wildlife observation better.
Tips for successful bird watching
The key to successful bird watching is being quiet because they can be easily spooked by loud noises and fly away. They have funnel-shaped ears that enable them to focus on different sounds which make them sensitive to the different sounds around them.
Keep in mind that chatting is usually frowned upon by other watchers so it’s advisable to minimize conversations and whisper whenever you need to talk to your buddy. Although spotting a feathered creature can be very exciting, bird watching requires that you resist the temptation of calling out to your companions to alert them of its presence. To prevent disturbing the animal, you can use hand signals to let your group know that you have a sighting.
Another thing to remember is to be mindful of your steps, especially if you’re walking through the jungle. For instance, avoid stepping on fallen branches because the cracking sounds can disturb nearby birds. If you hear your bag clanking, it’s best to stop and find the source. Perhaps the noise is produced by a certain object that is clashing with another item in your bag which can be avoided by fixing your things beforehand.
Don’t forget to put your phone on silent mode because a text alert or a ring will surely scare the creature out of its wits. You’ll be amazed that being stealthy allows you to see a wide range of species and observe them longer in their natural setting.
Sudden movements can frighten birds as much as loud noises and trigger them to flee from the area. Abrupt actions such as swinging your arms to get something from your bag or taking a sudden step can ruin the sighting not just for you but for your fellow watchers as well. When you are close to one, the best thing to do is keep still so you can observe it peacefully. If you need to move, do it slowly and quietly to avoid stressing the animal.
Stay out of sight
When you are observing these animals, avoid wearing bright colored clothes that make you stand out and amplify your movements. For better observation opportunities, choose garments that blend well with your surroundings like green and brown tones to harmonize with the plants and trees.
Your goal is to stay inconspicuous as possible so that the feathered creatures do not detect your presence. An ideal way of doing this is by finding a good spot like under the foliage so you can freely observe the natural behavior of your subject. In addition to this, it’s recommended that you position yourself where the sun is behind you so that you can enjoy a clearer view. Keep in mind that when the bird is between you and the sun, you are more likely to see a silhouette rather than the actual colors.
Bird watching involves waiting to spot one and patience definitely plays a vital role during the waiting game. If you want to enjoy this activity, you must be willing to spend time going around the area to spot different varieties.
You can bring your own binoculars so that you can have an enhanced sight of your subjects. Using binoculars make it easier to see the unique physical traits of your subject and observe their natural behavior even from afar.
Do some reading beforehand
Find out what species you are likely to see so you can read about them before the actual trip. Doing so will make it easier to identify them when you encounter them in the wild. If you have a passion for this kind of activity, you can record the different breeds that you see in a notebook.
Species that you might encounter
The blue-footed boobies are one of the feathered attractions of the Mexican Pacific Coast. Their striking blue feet are a big advantage during mating season because females are inclined to choose males with deeper blue colored feet as mates. The vibrant blue color signifies good health and stands out during funny courtship dances.
They may seem clumsy on land but when they take to the air, their awkwardness is overshadowed by their excellent diving skills. When they spot their prey, they fold back their wings and dive into the water from as high as 80 feet which is a real treat for watchers to witness. They also have the ability to plunge from a sitting stance on the water.
Magnificent Frigatebirds are known for a string of nicknames such as the “pirate”, “condor of the oceans”, and “Man-o’-War” because of their amazing wingspan and reputation for stealing food from other bird. They do so by going after other species including boobies and forcing them to throw up their food then catching it before landing in the water. If you’re lucky, you might witness an actual aerial robbery take place.
The brown pelicans are noted for their wide wingspan of around 6 ½ feet, huge bill, and incredibly flexible pouch which changes color during mating. Although they look funny, they are graceful in the air and they are often seen flying in groups just above the water’s surface.
They were considered an endangered species in the early 70s, a time when it was fashionable to use feathers as decorative components of women’s hats and jackets. When the Migratory Bird Treaty Act was passed in 1918, it became illegal to hunt and kill migratory species which helped save the brown pelicans from becoming extinct.
The herons are long-legged creatures with large wings and long tapering bill that usually feed while wading in the shallow waters. When they fly, they keep their legs behind losely and put their head back against their body unlike most species that normally put their head and neck in front. Get the opportunity to see boat-billed herons and green herons in Puerto Vallarta.
Wood storks are tall species with featherless heads, extended legs, and prominent bills which they use as a special fishing tool. They submerge their bill in the water and keep it open while waiting for an unwary fish to come close. When the wood storks feel the presence of a fish, they instinctively close their bill in a split second to catch the prey.
Experience this fun activity
The period from the last week of January to early February is an ideal time to observe endemic and migratory species that make their journey to this region to seek warmer grounds. Get a chance to see these unique birds by booking a private sailing yacht charter in Puerto Vallarta.