Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and nearby Cozumel Island combine rich tropical birding with a spectacular cultural setting. Here the ways and history of the Maya are reflected in the impressive structures they left behind. We'll have a chance to savor these magnificent ruins at Uxmal and Chichen Itza, as well as to search for some of Mexico's most spectacular birds.

Our birding begins in Merida. We'll make a short drive to the west coast of the peninsula where we'll explore nearby habitats for the striking Black-throated Bobwhite and the endemic Mexican Sheartail, Yucatan Wren, and Yucatan Gnatcatcher, then visit a rich estuary where such prizes as American Pygmy Kingfisher and a huge flock of American Flamingos can be found.

We'll explore some of the great temples and stepped pyramids of the Maya. These are reason enough to travel here, but for birders there is an added attraction: the surrounding semi-deciduous woodland shelters such characteristic birds as Turquoise-browed Motmot, Yucatan Jay, and Orange Oriole (as well as many Neotropical migrants in their winter homes).

We'll also hope to find some more difficult species by day--including Lesser Roadrunner, Ruddy Crake, and the beautiful Gray-throated Chat--and search for Yucatan Poorwill and Yucatan Nightjar at night. A short ferry ride takes us to Cozumel Island, known to most for its sunny shores but to birders for its endemic vireo and hummingbird (the Cozumel Emerald), along with several other distinctive endemic subspecies.

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