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From tiny green hermits to elegant swallow-tailed kites, a remarkable diversity of birds inhabits El Valle's sky and forests. More than 350 bird species have been spotted in the area—compared with 426 species in all of Canada. The best viewing season is October to March, when northern migrants such as the yellow warbler and northern waterthrush boost El Valle's bird diversity. The migrants are especially common in the gardens of the valley's hotels and homes, whereas the forests of Cerro Gaital and surroundings hold such tropical species as the tody motmot and sun bittern. El Valle's avian rainbow includes 5 kinds of toucans, 6 parrot species, and 25 hummingbird species. Though you can only hope to see a fraction of those birds, your chances will be greatly increased if you hire an experienced guide.
Canopy Lodge. Guests at the Canopy Lodge enjoy the services of the area's best birding guides. El Valle. 507/983-6837. www.canopylodge.com.
Mario Bernal. El Valle's most experienced guide is Mario Bernal, who has written a guide to the birds of El Valle. But he is often on the road guiding groups during the dry season. El Valle. 507/6693-8213.
Mario Urriola. The nature guide Mario Urriola, a biologist who owns the Serpentario (a reptile zoo), has trained a cadre of local guides and can arrange bird watching, general nature, or hiking tours, for surprisingly low rates. Serpentario, Calle el Hato, El Valle. 507/6569-2676.
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