Tropical and Montane Forests

The tropical lowland and montane forests of Mexico and Central America harbor many millions of overwintering migrants from North America, in addition to dozens of endemic bird species found nowhere else on Earth. These forests are critical to biodiversity conservation in the Americas and are therefore a key focus of the Bird Conservancy’s international work.

Western Mexico

Western Mexico is likely the exclusive wintering location for the majority of western North American-Neotropical migrant landbirds. The region supports the greatest number of Partners in Flight Watch List species in winter and is also the epicenter of avian endemism in Meso-America, supporting well over 100 endemic and near-endemic species. The incredible biodiversity and richness of the region reflects the intersection of several major ecosystems. Increasing human populations and related threats underscore the need for proactive conservation to educate the public and protect the region’s habitats and landscapes while they are still relatively intact.

The Bird Conservancy, in collaboration with the Universidad de Guadalajara’s Manantlán Institute for Ecology and Conservation of Biodiversity (IMECBIO) and the National Forest Commission (CONAFOR), has implemented a pilot program to monitor migratory and resident birds in CONAFOR’s “Western Corridor” biodiversity priority region in Jalisco as part of their national forest biometrics monitoring program called “INFyS”. The results of this pilot effort demonstrate the importance of managed forests for biodiversity conservation and the influence of forest management on priority bird species.

The Bird Conservancy first began work in western Mexico in the winter of 1991-1992, focusing on the five Pacific coastal states of Jalisco, Colima, Michoacán, Guerrero and Oaxaca. This work resulted in a manuscript, Status and Needs of Western Mexico Parks and Protected Areas, a compilation of information on the protected natural areas of seven states in western Mexico. Much of it was written by Mexican specialists who work toward conservation and understanding the biology of the areas and their faunas and floras. These are the people who best understand the situation at each site and across each state. Although the information presented in the manuscript is incomplete, we hope it remains sufficient to spark an impulse for gathering more information and for protecting natural habitats across western Mexico.

Find out how you can visit western Mexico with the Bird Conservancy and learn firsthand about the incredible biodiversity of this region.

Read about experiences from the field in West Mexico.

Sierra Madre Oriental

The Sierra Madre Oriental extends from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, south to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in southern Mexico. Like the Sierra Madre Occidental in western Mexico, this extensive mountain range supports vast pine-oak forests and other diverse habitats ranging from deserts to cloud forests. It is a primary destination for millions of wintering migrant forest birds from western North America.

The Bird Conservancy, in cooperation with the Institute for Bird Populations (IBP) and Los Guías de Aves de El Cielo, in January 2006 established six bird monitoring stations in El Cielo Biosphere Reserve, located in the Sierra Madre Oriental in southern Tamaulipas. The project trained local bird guides to employ mist-netting protocols developed by IBP to monitor survival of wintering birds.

The goals of this project are to increase capacity for bird conservation in the reserve, increase awareness and engage local stakeholders in bird conservation, and provide scientific data to guide land management in the reserve. The program is now being run in cooperation with researchers from the Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas in Ciudad Victoria, and has served as the basis for academic studies while continuing to train and employ local people from the reserve in bird monitoring.

For more information:
Arvind Panjabi
Senior Research Scientist
(970) 482-1707 x 20
[email protected]

Photo Credit:
Ken Rosenberg