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Rincon Suizo, Tecpan, Guatemala

Bird Trips

AaronOn my first morning in the Guatemala highlands, we stopped in Tecpán for breakfast. The restaurant, Rincón Suizo, looks like a Swiss chalet, tucked into the side of a mountain.

I had a fine breakfast, yogurt from a nearby dairy, fresh fruit, and an extraordinary cup of hot chocolate. It was served in a pottery cup and made only of hot water, cinnamon, sugar, and locally grown chocolate, it had a flavor so delicious that it may have ruined ordinary chocolate for me forever.

If you have only a few days for birding in an unfamiliar country, it’s well worth engaging a knowledgeable guide. I was doubly lucky to have the help of two. Maynor Ovando, of Birding Expeditions is an expert birder and teacher of birding guides. He also manages the Guatemala Birding Club. Our driver, Aarón de Leon, who was trained by Maynor and is now his colleague at Birding Expeditions, displayed an uncanny talent at locating birds.

The jewel in the crown of Rincón Suizo is the nature preserve out back. We followed an easy walking trail up the canyon. The descending trill of brown-backed solitaires filtered through thick woods.

Wilson's Warbler Red-faced Warbler Pink-headed Warbler
Slate-throated Redstart Crescent-chested Warbler Black Thrush

Flitting at all levels, from ground to treetops, were warblers and other woodland species I knew from home, as well as many I was seeing for the first time.

Mountain Trogon
Mountain Trogon at Rincón Suizo, Tecpan, Guatemala

A mountain trogon watched us from the shade of the canopyAfter a couple of leisurely hours in the canyon, I'd added a dozen birds to my life list, including blue-throated motmot, blue-and-white mockingbird, slate-throated redstart and crescent-chested, rufous-capped, and golden-browed warblers, as well as pink-headed warbler, emblematic of Guatemalan birding.

We also found many warblers who might soon migrate to North America. There were American redstarts, and Tennessee, MacGillivray’s, Townsend's, black-throated green, red-faced, and Wilson's warblers. It hit me how much our countries support each other’s birds.

What would happen to the dawn chorus in the US if these species’ winter habitat were to disappear in Central America?




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