Important Bird Areas in Nicaragua

Home to more than 700 species of birds, Nicaragua is an ideal destination for birding enthusiasts. BirdLife International has identified a number of Important Bird Areas (IBA) in Nicaragua that feature various habitats critical to the conservation of species diversity. These IBAs include Momotombo Volcanic Complex, Wetlands of Northern Lake Managua, Tisma Lagoon, Domitila, Mombacho Volcano, Los Guatuzos and Maderas Volcano and are included in the more than 10,000 sites around the world that form a network of bird conservation areas.

The wetlands of northern Lake Managua include second growth forest, tropical deciduous forest, abandoned farmland, freshwater marshes and swamps, and lagoon habitats which are home to a variety of bird species. Among these are the orange-fronted parakeet (Aratinga canicularis); Hoffmann’s woodpecker (Melanerpes hoffmannii); and the Nicaraguan grackle (Quiscalus nicaraguensis). Also known as orange-fronted conures, orange-fronted parakeets are gregarious birds that gather and feed in flocks of up to one hundred birds. One of the biggest threats to these birds is being captured for the pet trade, but they are not considered to be endangered. Named for the German naturalist, Karl Hoffman, the Hoffman’s woodpecker favors second growth forest and is a familiar sight in the wetlands of northern Lake Managua. Endemic to Nicaragua and the northernmost regions of Costa Rica, the Nicaraguan grackle nests in marshland, foraging in wet pastures and along lakeshores. They are jet-black in color with iridescent feathers and bright yellow eyes.

The Tisma Lagoon IBA includes the reservoir area and wetlands along the Matagalpa River, as well as the El Genizaro marshes and lagoons. Bird species highlighted in this area include the plain chachalaca (Ortalis vetula); black-bellied whistling-duck (Whistling autumnalis); lesser ground-cuckoo (Morococcyz erythropygus); Hoffmann’s woodpecker (Melanerpes hoffmannii); white-throated magpie-jay (Calocitta Formosa) and the Nicaraguan grackle (Quiscalus nicaraguensis). Although this is not a protected area of Nicaragua, it is a Ramsar site, having been identified under the criteria of the Ramsar Convention as being a vital wetland area.

Domitila Private Wildlife Reserve is located on the Pacific coast and is dedicated to preserving the tropical dry forest of the region, along with its flora and fauna. In addition to promoting low-impact ecotourism and the sustainable development of local communities, the reserve is involved in scientific research and environmental education. Along with many of the birds mentioned above, resident bird species monitored by BirdLife International include the yellow-naped Amazon (Amazona auropalliata); blue-tailed hummingbird (Amazilia cyanura); long-tailed manakin (Chiroxiphia linearis) and Montezuma Oropendola (Psarocolius Montezuma).