Birding Honduras

By Ilana DeBare

In a dozen years of leading nature trips in Honduras, not once has Robert Gallardo run into another birding group in the field.

“There are just so many areas to go running around here,” he said. “Honduras could hold many groups at one time and they’d never cross paths.”

Gallardo should know. A co-founder of the Honduras Ornithological Society, he has personally added 30 species to the list of Honduran birds and is writing the definitive Field Guide to the Birds of Honduras, to be published in 2014.

Next Thursday August 16, he’ll be sharing his stories and photos of Honduran birds with Bay Area residents at Golden Gate Bird Alliance’s monthly Speaker Series in Berkeley.

The best-kept secret about Honduras, Gallardo says, is that despite years of news about political turmoil in Central America, it is actually quite safe to bird there. Plus the country has an extensive but under-utilized reserve system that doesn’t yet draw the crowds found in places like Costa Rica.

One such reserve includes the Rio Platano — an area of virgin rain forest that is accessible only by raft and is home to tapirs, Great Green Macaws, Scarlet Macaws, monkeys and jaguars.

Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve / Photo by Robert Gallardo

Gallardo first came to Honduras in 1993 as a Peace Corp volunteer. He fell in love with the landscapes, flora and fauna and the opportunity to make a real difference in local avian knowledge and birding. Since then, he’s started butterfly farms and a small eco-lodge, and led numerous birding trips including two sponsored by GGBA in 2011.

Ocellated Qual / Photo by Robert Gallardo

His own favorite bird? The wren family. There are 18 species of wren in Honduras, and sometimes you can find five species living in the same area.

Of the thirty bird species Gallardo has added to the country’s list, three have been wrens.

In-between writing the field guide, conducting eco-tours and speaking to groups like Golden Gate Bird Alliance, he is working on finding a fourth.


Join us for Robert Gallardo’s slides and presentation on Thursday August 16th.

Birds of Honduras presentation:
Date:   Thursday August 16
Time:   7 p.m. refreshments
              7:30 presentation
Place:  Northbrae Community Center
              941 The Alameda (between Marin & Solano) – Berkeley
Cost:   Free for GGBA members, $5 for non-members