Birdwatching around Ecolodge El Sombrero, Yaxha, Peten, Guatemala

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Lots of birds around the hotel Ecolodge El Sombrero. We spent the entire morning of April 19 photographing the flowers and birds around the hotel. FLAAR is a research institute for about 60 years dedicated to using advanced photographic equipment to achieve a high quality of photographs of flowers of Guatemala, insects, and birds.

The rest of our first day at Yaxha we spent with the park staff to suggest studies of local plants and animals which could help provide information for visitors to the park. We also donated educational material for the Park’s program of helping 11 nearby schools. But that first morning I noticed so many plants and birds around the hotel Ecolodge El Sombrero that I decided to stay and do intense photography the second day.

So at the end of the first day at Yaxha ruins and then boat tour of the south end of the lake plus entering the river Rio Ixtinto south of the park, we moved the rest of the team to the hotel so that we could begin work around the hotel very early in the morning. They had spent the first night as guests of the park in the accommodations there (FLAAR funded and organized the five years of mapping Lake Yaxha in the 1970’s, so we were returning “after half a century” to see all the new features of the park in 2018.

Orioles and Oropendolas of Parque Yaxha Nakum Naranjo

Moisés Daniel Pérez Díaz (Teco, the birdwatcher guide at Yaxha park) told us that Montezuma Oropendola was at Yaxha as well as their relatives, Orioles. It will be helpful to learn how many species or Orioles are at Yaxha. I am curious if the Yellow-winged Cacique (Cacicus melanicterus) is at Yaxha (they also build hanging nests; we found lots in palm trees in the town of Monterrico, near the Pacific Ocean of Guatemala).

We look forward to having enough time to see their nest building capabilities of oropendola and orioles in a future field trip. We did not notice any during our two day visit in mid-April 2018 (perhaps because a hurricane in a recent year knocked down some of their favorite trees).

Register yourself and your group before you do any boat trips around Lake Yaxha

Be sure to follow the park rules to register yourself before you rent a boat for Lake Yaxha. If you have your own boat, ask if private boats are allowed (we use only the boats of the park or of Hotel El Sombrero).


Megaceryle torquata Ringed kingfisher Yaxha, Peten, Rio Ixtinto.
Nikon D5 , 600mm Lens, f/4.0, 1/1250, ISO 1600, Rio Ixtinto, Yaxha Peten, by Erick Flores, FLAAR Mesoamérica.


It’s easy to find birds around the Hotel Ecolodge El Sombrero

Sunlight shines into your bungalow room after 5 am; by 6 am there are birds flying around, feeding up in the treetops.

We recommend going to bed early because the howler monkey males will stage their macho howling contest before sunrise. They are literally in the trees over your room or adjacent to the hotel.

If your iPhone, Samsung or comparable phone has a good voice recorder, go outside to record their howls. Even if you are a birder, there are lots of mammals that you can also enjoy experiencing.

Then when the sunlight lights up the sky, enjoy the birds in the treetops over the hotel.


Phalacrocorax brasilianus, neotropic cormorant Yaxha, Peten, Rio Ixtinto.
NIKON D5, 600 mm, ISO 650 f 4.0, Rio Ixtinto, Yaxha Peten, by Melanny Quiñonez, FLAAR Mesoamérica.


Rupornis magnirostris Yaxha, Peten, Rio Ixtinto.
CANON 300 mm, ISO 1250 f 3.5, Rio Ixtinto, Yaxha Peten, by Erick Flores, FLAAR Mesoamérica.


Pteroglossus torquatus, Collared aracari bird, Cecropia-guarumo Yaxha, Peten, Rio Ixtinto.
CANON, 300 mm ISO 2,500 f 2.8, Rio Ixtinto, Yaxha Peten, by Erick Flores, FLAAR Mesoamérica.


Waterbirds are around the lake and up and down nearby Rio Ixtinto

In addition to birds up in the trees, if you sign up for a boat tour of the lake, you will see waterbirds if you start at the right hours. Teco, an experienced birdwatcher at Yaxha for many years, recommends 5 am in the morning, or in the evening.

We have a separate web page on waterbirds of the Yaxha and adjacent Rio Ixtinto area.


What photography equipment is best for photographing birds?

We (FLAAR) use Nikon D810, Nikon D5, and Canon EOS 1DX Mark II for photographing plants, flowers, animals, birds, and insects. For birds it is best if you have a high-end camera where you can raise the ISO high (without getting fuzz on the digital results). You need a really high ISO to allow a shooting speed of 1/1000th of a second to photography a bird in flight. Sometimes we use 1/2000th.

Since the birds in the tree were often not flying while I photographed them, I used only about 1/250th of a second.

Our web site has tips for photography.

First Posted April 2018

PNYNN and Livingston reports

Downloadable Reports

Visit FLAAR sites

footer logo Maya Ethnozoology

We are dedicated to continue to be a source of information and education about flora and fauna of Mesoamerica today that is related to Classic Maya civilization 2000 years ago.

Contact us

[email protected]

footer logo
footer logo