Banderas Bay Initiative / Taking Flight: The 3rd Vallarta Bird Festival

Pictures By: Greg Homel

March 6-9th will see the 3rd Vallarta Bird Festival. With tours from Bioto Road and Tuito to Laguna del Quelele and the Marietas Islands the Festival offers a great way to immerse yourself in the many habitats of the Banderas Bay with a unique outlook: its amazing bird variety.
The variety of color, shape, song and size we can see in birds in our region is one of the many magical cards Banderas Bay has up its sleeve. Already it contributes to the overall experience which keeps people coming back for more. However it also has the potential to be one of the pillars of a more sustainable development for the region. The bird watching market is flourishing and already extremely lucrative. Although the market in Mexico is still largely untapped, in 2006 it brought in at least $23.9 million dollars, 54 times more than bird-capture. The economic spillover in Costa Rica in 1999 from bird watching was $410 million dollars.
The Banderas Bay region is home to around 350 bird species which means it could and should obtain wide-spread recognition as a world-class birding spot. The first Christmas Bird count scored 202 species with only around 20 observers reporting over the course of a day. The rapid changes in altitude which grant the region its stunning views also create a huge number of different habitats with distinct flora and fauna. Add to that our location as a stop-over for migratory birds and you have a birders paradise.
The Vallarta Bird Festival is organized by a local group effort which is yielding fantastic results. Last year participants collectively saw 2,617 individuals, averaging over 170 species per day. On their third year with 10 different trails the results should be even more impressive.
You can register at: http://www.vallartabirdfestival.org. Simply look at the schedule for each day and add tours and transportation to your cart.
You can also register for the public events, which include Bird Identification workshops for kids, a festival market. They are also offering El Salado and Pitillal River birding tours which are a fantastic opportunity to get started on bird watching (kids $50 pesos, adults $100). Space is limited so make sure to register on their site under Public Tours. There are also some fantastic lectures during the festival which are free for festival participants and only $50 pesos per lecture for the public. If you can’t make it to a full tour or just want to dip your toes in the world of bird watching come down to the festival market on March 9th from 8am-5pm at Estero El Salado (gate 4 across from the Naval Hospital).
Can’t make it this year but love birding? The dates for 2015 and the 4th Vallarta Bird Festival are March 5th-8th. Mark your calendar!
If you have a small business that might be interested in participating as a seller at the market get in touch with the organizers at puertovallartabirdfestival@gmail.com.

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