The largest country in Central American covering 130,967 km2 (50,567 sq mi), it is bordered by Honduras to the northwest and Costa Rica to the south. It is also graced with having both Pacific and Caribbean coastlines. Nicaragua has three distinct geographical regions: the Pacific lowlands, the Amerrisque Mountains and the Mosquito Coast, and large areas of Nicaragua remain pristine, with some 17% of the country protected by national parks. In fact nearly one fifth of Nicaragua has designated protected areas like national parks, nature reserves, and biological reserves. The country is also dominated by 24 volcanoes and the two largest freshwater lakes in Central America—Lake Managua and Lake Nicaragua. The latter covers an area of over 8,000 square kilometres and is often referred to by the local people as “the sweet sea”. Amazingly sharks survive here, often referred to as Nicaraguan Sharks they are in fact Bull Sharks which unlike most marine sharks, can tolerate and adapt to freshwater. Compared to other Central American countries such as Costa Rica and Panama, interest in nature and birdwatching is relatively unknown, yet there is wide diversity of flora and fauna that is comparable, and as eco-tourism develops Nicaragua could become one of the new hotspots of the future.
Hotspots & Wildlife:
La Calera Private Reserve: Just a short distance from Granada is the lake-side private reserve of La Calera. Here you can immerse yourself in solitude and nature. The beautifully positioned hacienda sits on a hill-top and provides fantastic views over the surrounding reserve and out to Lake Nicaragua. Working in harmony with nature the farm offers sustainability by growing its Coffee, Cacao and citrus fruits and is set among tropical dry forests where you can observe a great variety of local flora and fauna. With its close proximity to the famous Mombacha Volcano this reserve is a perfect base from which to explore this incredible Volcanic reserve and other notable sites including the shores and waterways of Lake Nicaragua. From the hacienda’s well appointed deck you can watch Grey-headed Kites, Ospreys, Bicolored Hawk, Zone-tailed Hawk, and the magnificent Swallow-tailed Kite. While a walk along the forest trails can get you close to superb species such as the Long-tailed and White-ruffed Manakin, White-fronted Amazon, or even White-whiskered Puffbird. If you are lucky you could spot either Great Curassow or Crested Guan, and up to 4 species of woodpecker and 9 species of woodcreeper. At night the Common Potoo can be heard along with 7 species of owl including Black-and-white Owl, Spectacled Owl, and Pacific Screech-Owl. A short night walk at night with a spotlight may find mammals such as Kinkajou, Four-eyed Opossum and Spotted Skunk.
Selva Negra Private Reserve: Located on a working coffee estate set among beautiful virgin cloud forest, in the mountains of Matagalpa, this private 300-acre reserve offers superb accommodation in the form of the Selva Negra Mountain Resort. Ponds, streams and flowering gardens are home to numerous dragonflies and butterflies, while the dense cloud forest supports almost 200 different species of birds. There are 14 hiking trails that range in difficulty and length, but all lead through habitats that are abundant with birds and small mammals. The most commonly-seen mammal in the reserve is the howler monkey, and there is a good chance of howler monkeys, plus coatis and even armadillos, as well as various reptiles and amphibians. In fact there are 33 species of reptiles and 19 species of amphibians within the park. There are also some 50 species of orchids that grow within the nature reserve. it’s primarily the birds that draw people into this beautiful nature reserve, and Selva Negra is home to over 200 different species. Among the more interesting or unusual are Slate-colored Solitaire, Resplendent Quetzal, Three-wattled Bellbird, Stygian Owl and White-throated Magpie-Jay.
El Jaguar Private Reserve: This is a private, family run farm that produces high quality environmental friendly organic coffee in perfect harmony with the local community. Located at a height of 1,150 meters the reserve experiences a cool mountain climate within its 240 acres of protected cloud forest and 35 acres of managed woodlands. The giant oak and fern trees here provide perfect shelter for a large diversity of plant and animal life. Ancient ferns dating back to Jurassic times, and many rare orchids can be found here along with over 290 species of resident and migratory birds. This is one of the most important wintering locations for the threatened Golden-winged Warbler and ongoing conservation studies are helping understand the needs of this species with hope that it can be protected. Other species include Wood Thrush, Kentucky Warbler, Golden-cheeked Warbler, Canada Warbler and Hermit Warbler, as well as good numbers of other north American passerines. Highland Guan are fairly common, and other birds such as Buffy-crowned Wood Partridge, Great Curassow, and Resplendent Quetzal can all be found while hummingbirds feeding on flowering bushes include Green-breasted Mountain Gem, and Sparkling-tailed Hummingbird. There are 6 different trails to walk through the reserve and things to look for aside the birds include a possible new species of Helicopter Damselfly and mammals such as Paca, Richmond’s Squirrel, Tayra, Vesper Rat, Slender Harvest Mouse, Bushy-tailed Olingo, Alfaro’s Rice Rat, and Great Fruit-eating Bat.
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SPECIES of interest
Rufous-vented Ground Cuckoo
Ornate Hawk Eagle
Whiskered Screech Owl
|Full Bird List|