This exciting tour in the Field Guides schedule, inaugurated in 2020, promises top-notch birding from mountains and meadows around Mexico City to the coastal deserts and mangrove lagoons near the tip of Baja. Along the way we'll search for some sweet endemics (Xantus's Hummer, Belding's Yellowthroat, and Sierra Madre Sparrow, to name a few) and a multitude of other Mexican specialties. This tour also highlights two of the most remarkable long-distance migrants in the animal kingdom: the Gray Whale and Monarch Butterfly.

Every year Monarchs find their way to the conifer forests of Central Mexico, where they congregate in the tens of thousands to form hanging baskets that cloak the trees. This is truly one of the most impressive butterfly spectacles in the world. It takes several generations to complete this migration from Mexico to Canada, each generation moving a little farther north, step-by-step, and, incredibly, it is the fourth generation of Monarchs that returns to Mexico, having never been there before. How do they accomplish this incredible feat?

At the same time of year, Gray Whales migrate from Arctic waters to the warm lagoons off the coast of the Baja Peninsula. They make the longest migration of any mammal on Earth, a distance of 11,000 miles. February is the best time of year to see mothers and calves in these coastal lagoons. As if that weren't enough, Whale Sharks, the largest fish in the world (average adult length is 32 feet), also congregate off the coast of Baja in February. These gentle plankton-feeders can be seen cruising the waters near the port city of La Paz, where you can even swim alongside them, weather permitting of course. This activity is highly regulated by the Mexican government for the protection of the Whale Sharks.

And we haven't even mentioned the birds yet (or the tacos, tamales, and cold beer)! This itinerary offers a fine array of endemic sparrows. In our days of exploring the highlands around Mexico City, we'll search for the Sierra Madre Sparrow, a bird restricted to alpine meadows in the volcanic belt, and recently placed in its own genus, Xenospiza. Another species in a monotypic genus we hope to encounter is the Striped Sparrow, a spectacular Mexican endemic of high-elevation bunch grass. And of course, we'll keep our fingers crossed for Black-chested Sparrow, found in arid thorn scrub and weedy fields at lower elevations, and just about the best-looking sparrow there is! Other birds we hope to find in the mountains include the range-restricted Black-polled Yellowthroat, Red and Golden-browed warblers, Golden Vireo, Golden-crowned Emerald, Bumblebee Hummingbird, Strickland's Woodpecker, Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo, Gray Silky-flycatcher, Green-striped Brushfinch, Black-vented Oriole, Rusty-crowned Ground-Sparrow, Elegant Euphonia, and, with a bit of luck, we may stumble upon a Lesser Ground-Cuckoo...who knows!

The state of Baja Sur hosts six endemic birds, these being Cape (Baja) Pygmy-Owl, Xantus's Hummingbird, Gray Thrasher, San Lucas Robin, Belding's Yellowthroat, and Baird's Junco. Both the San Lucas Robin and Baird's Junco are found only at the highest elevations within the Sierra de la Laguna mountains (a hard day's hike involving camping), and, though the robin is known to occasionally descend to lower elevations, it is unlikely we will see it on this tour. However, we should see the remaining endemics plus the San Lucas Cassin's Sparrow, which has yet to be split, and loads of other desert dwellers like Gila Woodpecker, Greater Roadrunner, Verdin, and Scott's Oriole.

We would be remiss not to mention Mexico's colorful culture and delicious food. Make sure you bring an appetite, as we will be sampling authentic enchiladas, sopes, and tlacoyos. So, grab your binocs and prepare for awe as we explore deep forests, high mountains, arid deserts, and open waters in search of Mexico's most spectacular natural wonders!

Select the KEY INFO tab or click here for our itinerary plus space requests, status, fees, limits, and guides for any departure.

Client comment
"A great experience, and a great group. I was concerned about the night of camping on the beach, but that company really handled it well with a clean, well-organized camp in a beautiful location. This was my fourth trip with Jesse Fagan as guide and my first with Micah Riegner. Both are great guides and a lot of fun to travel with...the easy relationship the guides had, it made it fun for us as clients." J.L., CENTRAL MEXICO & BAJA: BIRDS, BUTTERFLIES & WHALES 2020