Birds of Isla Mujeres & Isla Contoy
The Reserve of Isla Contoy is a sanctuary to many tropical marine birds, and approximately 152 species have been counted. Half of the species are residents of the island and the others are migratory species from the north.
Isla Contoy is located at the confluence of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 30 kilometers north of Isla Mujeres. The island is only 8.5-Km in length Isla Contoy is considered the most important nesting place of sea birds in all of the Mexican Caribbean. Protected by the Mexican government since 1961, and declared a National Park in February 1998, the island is jointly run by the Isla Mujeres-based NGO "Amigos de Isla Contoy" and the Secretary of Environment, Natural Resources & Fishing (SEMARNAT).
|Photo: by Bruce Roberts, In Isla Mujeres|
Tours are available to Isla Contoy with local boats & the daily number of visitors to the island is limited to 200. Trips usually include lunch and snorkeling.
Isla Contoy is the "Isle of Birds" & Isla Cozumel is the "Isle of Swallows". Cancun is the "Isle of Snakes/Serpents"
Brown Pelicans: One of the largest populations of Brown Pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) in the Caribbean can be found on Contoy island.
The Brown pelican has a wingspan of ~90 inches. With their huge bills and deep pouches, they look as though they must be clumsy, but their short sudden dives are as effective as they are dramatic. They build stick nests overlooking the ocean, and lay two or three eggs at a time. Pelican photos in Isla Mujeres by Bruce Roberts.
|Frigate by Bruce Roberts, Isla Mujeres|
|Frigate by Bruce Roberts, Isla Mujeres|
Frigate birds can neither walk nor swim. They spend their time either in the air or perched on a limb of the mangrove bushes where they build their nests.
Male Magnificent Frigate photo at left by Tony Garcia, who spent part of his childhood on Isla Contoy, and takes tours there. His FB page is HERE.
Comorants: Approximately 3 thousand double crested cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) nest & reproduce on Isla Contoy.
|by Bruce Roberts, in Isla Mujeres|
Link to video above
Link to video below
Here is a tool to identify birds of the Yucatan, narrowing them down by their shapes, with descriptions and photos.
|by Bruce Roberts|
There are an estimated 546 species of birds in the Yucatan, 11 of which you will not see anywhere else in the world. These species include the bright red Yucatan parrot, the Yucatan night jar and the Yucatan wren. HERE is a slideshow of birds of the Yucatan peninsula and their names. Here is a guide to birds of the Yucatan peninsula with descriptions & photos. Here are videos & photos, with names, of birds from the state of Quintana Roo
Like expats & tourists, many birds migrate to Isla Mujeres in January & February
Two-thirds of bird species in the United States migrate. The United States and Great Britain (for Canada) ratified the Migratory Bird Treaty in 1918, which permanently closed hunting for non game birds that migrated across their mutual borders. Game birds (including ducks, geese and cranes) were given protection except for an annual hunting season that could not exceed three and a half months. Additional treaties were signed with Mexico (1936), Japan (1972), and the USSR (1976) protecting migrants between the United States and those countries.
Migration over water is one of the most hazardous times for birds. Wildlife experts say about 100 million waterfowl head south each fall, and about 40 million return. Of those that don't return, about 20 million are killed by hunters and about 40 million fall victim to predation, accidents, environmental factors, and disease.
Swift, strong fliers and hunters are often daytime migrants and include pelicans, herons, birds of prey, hummingbirds, swifts, swallows and finches. Some of these birds can feed on the wing. Nighttime or nocturnal migrants usually are birds that live in thick vegetation and rarely venture out of it, including waterbirds, cuckoos, flycatchers, thrushes, warblers, orioles and buntings. Excerpted from Migration and The Migratory Birds of Texas: Who They Are And Where They Are Going
The very common "Bar Bird" (a grackle)
|At Buho's by Ronda Winn Roberts|
Your average frigate...who have been mistaken for UFO's at night because light reflects off their white patches as the soar and circle above in the dark...
|Frigate by Ronda Winn Roberts|