San Francisco, better known as San Pancho, is a Mexican town of about 3000 people, in the state of Nayarit on the central Pacific coast of Mexico, approximately 50 km north of Puerto Vallarta on Federal Hwy 200.
The Pacific slope of Western Mexico from the state of Jalisco to Chiapas, including Nayarit, is a great place to spot some of the most beautiful birds in the world.
One organization that facilitates bringing people together with rare and exquisite birds, is the San Pancho Birding Observatory, aka Birding San Pancho.
The San Pancho Birding Observatory began as a club, where local children were able to explore and study birds in their natural habitats.
From 2007 to 2010, the San Pancho Birding Club offered a local bird programme for children, which included field studies. Visitors to the area were eventually invited on some of the bird tours.
At the beginning, the club was transitioning from an observation group to a local nature group, with tours for visitors.
When Luis Morales joined the group in 2011, the small San Pancho bird club shifted again towards conservation and ecological sustainability.
Birding San Pancho Network constitutes a small team of four: Luis Morales is the executive director; Erik Penaloza is the tour guide and scientific partner; Rocio Heurta is the media and communications coordinator; and Enrique Morales is the education advisor.
Today, Birding in San Pancho is considered an international programme.
It is well established and organized such that it is recognized by people from all over the world as a great opportunity to learn how birds play a major role in the health of our planet.
The San Pancho Observatory offers 8 different tours to areas not too far from San Pancho such as …
• San Pancho morning tour, sunset tour, or hiking tour
• San Blas day tour or overnight tour
• San Sebastian day tour or overnight tour
• Puerto Vallarta macaw reserve tour, or the botanical gardens overnight tour
• La Lancha and Marietas islands and marine tour
• Lo de Marcos tour
• Quelele lagoon tour near Bucerias
• Sierra de Vallejo Hot Springs tour
• Petroglyphs tour
Testimonials are available on their website …
December 31, 2015
“Relaxing and interesting bird watching with Luis”
Luis and his two sons made the bird watching experience very interesting and informative… we are novice birdwatchers and this was a great first introduction.
Let’s take a brief look at 3 of the tours …
San Pancho Morning Tour
If you’re staying in Bucerias, Sayulita, or maybe even in the village of San Pancho, you must get up before the sun rises and experience the classic San Pancho morning tour.
Most of this tour takes place at the beach or in the lagoon near the beach. Learn about the birds that make San Pancho their home.
Think about how smart you will feel later in the day, as you sun bathe on the beach and share all your new knowledge about the local birds with your friends.
Luis is famous for his home made breakfasts that each tour offers. The local coffee and Mexican food is a real treat, especially early in the morning in a tropical paradise like San Pancho.
Professional birding binoculars and a birding scope is provided by Luis. Resource books and a bird list are at your disposal as well.
Keep a sharp eye and ear for Blue Buntings, Citroline Trogons, and Military Macaws.
Of course, no tour can guarantee a sighting of any particular bird, but the chances are high that you will see many birds, because the guides have been doing these tours for years and they are experts in ornithology.
Some folks like the variety of birds and their beautiful shapes and colours. Most birders are excited when they hear a bird calling and they get really excited once they spot them.
The climate in San Pancho is perfect in January, February, and March. It is not too hot and not too cold. The birds and the watchers are both very content.
BeachBabyBob and his wife Sue are bird watchers, who are thrilled to be out where the birds are. They love to hear them chatting with each other.
Can you name any of these birds that Sue spotted?
The great egret can be found worldwide in tropical and temperate forests. It eats lots of water foods so it nests not far from water.
It is a member of the stork and heron families. It is elegant and very quiet, and it has great eyesight and hearing.
The military macaw is a large parrot and a medium macaw. You will hear it before you see it. It eats nuts, berries, seeds, and fruit located in the tree tops.
It looks for food most of the day. It’s colours resemble a military uniform.
The yellow winged cacique bird is medium sized and makes lots of weird noises. If you hear a rusty barn door opening, that would be this bird.
Watch it make crazy nests maybe hanging from an electrical wire.
The frigate bird doesn’t have an oil coating on its feathers, so it can’t get wet otherwise it would drown.
It is famous for soaring the skies in search of food for weeks, using the wind currents to hold it up. It will perch on cliffs, treetops and city posts to rest -Always in groups.
Experience the early morning birding tour on San Pancho’s beach with Erik Penaloza.
El Quelele Laguna Tour
The Quelele lagoon is close to Neuvo Vallarta. Only Luis or one of his tour guides would be able to locate the small dusty dirt laneway off Federal Highway 200 to find the Quelele lagoon.
Once there, a local Mexican and one of his sons will escort the birders by motor boat into the swamp.
The area might appear unsavoury, with garbage galore, but the amount of bird life living in this secluded paradise, is well worth it!
This habitat is surrounded by 100 hectares of lushes mangrove forest too. If you don’t experience a bird, (which you will for sure), you will definitely find a crocodile.
Have a look at this video which shows El Quelele lagoon, near Puerto Vallarta, if you want to see a wide variety of water birds.
Sierra de Vallejo Hot Springs Tour
In 2018, BeachBabyBob and BeachBabySue spent February and March in Nayarit Mexico once again, especially because they love birds so much.
They had an opportunity to tour with Luis Morales and another couple from Canada to the Hot Springs in the old Sierra Madre mountains.
They had a great day and this is a video they made to remember this wonderful tour …
Species of Birds
There are 350 species of birds to see across the various locations here on the west coast of Mexico near Puerto Vallarta, San Pancho and beyond.
Woodpeckers, buntings, jays, and lots more. They are all beautiful and special in their own way – just like us..
Other Birding Tour Opportunities
If you’re lucky enough to visit the Botanical Gardens and Military Macaw nesting grounds as part of the all-day tour offered by the “BirdingSanPancho” observatory club, you will be more dazzled than ever!
We recommend that you spend the small amount of money (pesos) for a giant return in birding experiences, and invest in the overnight tours.
You might as well immerse yourself not only in the birds of the area, but the people and their culture. Everyone is so kind and grateful to have visitors from all over the world.
Investing in the Future
If you want to take this experience to the next level, contact Luis Morales, and dialogue about investing in avian conservation with “birdingsanpancho”.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for any type of donation.
Check out this link for more information about donations …
BeachBabySue knows that birds are important in plant reproduction by acting as pollinators or seed dispersers.
BeachBabyBob knows that birds protect our drinking water and slow the spread of disease.
Be careful you don’t get mobbed by the gregarious Magpie Jay!