On the outskirts of the tiny town of Copán Ruinas, in western Honduras (less than 10 kilometres from the border with Guatemala), lies the privately operated Macaw Mountain Bird Park and Nature Reserve.
Macaw Mountain cares for hundreds of tropical birds, including 20+ species endemic to Central America.
Most of the birds in the park have been donated by owners who no longer wished to look after their birds (if you think this is coldhearted, remember that macaws can live for 80 years or more – that’s five times longer than a cat or dog – it’s a serious commitment owning a macaw).
Other birds were confiscated from animal smugglers, or are slowly rehabilitating from injuries suffered and psychological disorders acquired from lifetimes spent in ungenerously small cages.
Some of the species that can be found in the park include the Emerald Toucanet (photo above).
The Buffon’s Macaw.
And the Chestnut-mandibled Toucan.
All of these birds can be spotted in the wild with a little perseverance and patience.
But even when I have had the perseverance to travel to remote locales, and had the patience to sit in the forest, and been lucky enough to spot a bird or two, they’ve always been high up in the canopy, silhouetted by the early morning sun, obscured by at least a dozen tree limbs.
A visit to Macaw Mountain might be your only chance to admire some of these highly sought after birds up close and personal. And your walk through the macaw and toucan enclosures will certainly be that (the toucans might even peck at your toes).
And while keeping birds in cages is never ideal, the aviaries here are spacious, the birds are healthy and well-looked-after, and the facility makes a significant contribution towards public education and conservation.
Scarlet Macaw Breeding Program
Macaw Mountain also plays a crucial role in the Scarlet Macaw Breeding Program, which has been breeding and releasing Scarlet Macaws into the grounds of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Mayan city of Copán.
Scarlet Macaws used to be common around Copán, but they are becoming increasingly difficult to find due to habitat loss and capture for sale on the black market.
Ordinarily I wouldn’t promote private enterprises on my website, but I had such a positive experience at Macaw Mountain, and the work they are doing there is so beneficial to the local community – in terms of education, conservation, and sustainable tourism – that I have no qualms doing so.
Visit Honduras. Go to Macaw Mountain. Help save the Macaw.
Practical information and how to reach Macaw Mountain:
Macaw Mountain is located on the outskirts of Copán Ruinas, in western Honduras. There are public buses running to Copán Ruinas from San Pedro Sula (trip time is 4 – 5 hours). You can get a combination of public buses to San Salvador (trip time = 10 hours). Private companies also run shuttle buses from Guatemala City (5 hours) and Antigua (6 hours). More transport info here.