Sustainable Bird Tourism Scales Up to Support Tropical Conservation

At Program’s 10-year Anniversary, Bird Reserve Network Spans Almost a Million Acres
Marvelous Spatultail 2011_Dubi Shapiro_U_PR

Marvelous Spatuletail of northern Peru is one of thousands of species that benefit from a network of reserves across Latin America and the Caribbean.

Contact: Mike Parr, Chief Conservation Officer, (202) 888-7486

(Washington, D.C. April 14, 2016) American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and its partners are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Latin American Bird Reserve Network. A successful model for sustainable bird tourism designed to prevent the extinction of some of the Americas' rarest bird species, the network now includes more than 70 tropical reserves spanning close to one million acres.

The reserves were created and supported by ABC and more than 30 partner conservation organizations, as well as governments and local communities, in 15 countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. To date, the reserves have attracted well over 25,000 visitors, including birders, photographers, and trekkers whose entrance and accommodation fees have helped to finance reserve management and protection.

“ABC and our partners have pioneered a successful conservation model for bird tourism, showing that we can both establish nature reserves and create enterprises that finance ongoing reserve management,” said Daniel Lebbin, ABC's Vice President of International Programs.

Local Communities Benefit from Bird Tourism

“The presence of international visitors helps to build local pride in natural resources, especially for unique endemic or charismatic species,” said David Agro, a member of the board of ABC's Ecuadorian partner, Fundación Jocotoco. “Birdwatchers are often at the leading edge of the tourism curve.”

Bird Tourism in Buenaventura, Ecuador, by Mike Parr

Birders view a Club-winged Manakin at the Buenaventura Reserve in Ecuador. Photo by Mike Parr

“Lodges and conservation successes don't fall from the sky—it takes years of dedication and an international team effort,” said Constantino Aucca Chutas, President of ABC's Peruvian Partner organization ECOAN.

The Latin American Bird Reserve Network protects habitat for more than 2,000 bird species, more than 50 of which are listed as Critically Endangered or Endangered under global IUCN Red List criteria. Several reserves also protect Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) sites—locations that contain the entire global population of a species that would face extinction if the habitat were lost.

“Many of the species we are protecting have very restricted global ranges,” said ABC President George Fenwick. “A single reserve financed by bird tourism can prevent a species' extinction.

“The best places in the world to see spectacular birds like Lear's Macaw, Banded Cotinga, and Marvelous Spatuletail are at lodges and reserves supported by ABC and managed by our partners,” Fenwick continued. In addition, more than 200 of the species recorded at the reserves are migratory birds that winter in the tropics but nest in North America, such as the familiar Baltimore Oriole and the rare Cerulean Warbler.

ABC's Conservation Birding website helps birders find destinations within the reserve network, with routes and information on specific lodges, bird lists, and information on how to make reservations at destinations from Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic to Brazil and Peru.

Capturing Birding Dollars for Conservation

Birdwatching has become a major economic driver, bringing in billions in annual revenues from bird-feeding and wildlife watching in the U.S. alone. “Our notion has been to capture some of those dollars for conservation,” said Mike Parr, ABC's Chief Conservation Officer.

Over the last decade, ABC's network has brought substantial benefits not only to rare tropical birds but to other wildlife species and local communities as well. For example, the program has helped reserves and partners to:

  • slow climate change by protecting existing forests and planting millions of additional shrubs and trees in and around the reserves,
  • protect watersheds to sustain agriculture and downstream fisheries,
  • support more than 300 conservation-related jobs, and
  • train and engage more than 7,000 people in reforestation; production and marketing of handicrafts; ecotourism; and renewable energy.

Many of the reserves are exploring other ways to generate revenue to support conservation and the surrounding communities, including research stations for visiting scientists; agro-forestry plots for shade-grown coffee; and sustainable cattle production on grassland sites.

See current lists of ABC-supported reserves and partners below.

Please consider visiting one of these reserves to support conservation while enjoying great birding: See our reserve guide published in 2009 for detailed profiles on more than 30 of the reserves.


 American Bird Conservancy is the Western Hemisphere's bird conservation specialist—the only organization with a single and steadfast commitment to achieving conservation results for native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas.  With a focus on efficiency and working in partnership, we take on the toughest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on sound science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.

Latin American Bird Reserve Network Partners

Amazon Conservation Association, Peru

Amigos de Sian Ka'an, Mexico

ASIDE, Honduras

Asociación Armonia, Bolivia

Asociación Ornitológica de Costa Rica, Costa Rica

AvesChile, Chile

Biodiversitas, Brazil

Bosque Antiguo, Mexico

Centro de Biodiversidad y Genética, Bolivia

Consejo Internacional Para La Preservacion de las Aves, Mexico (CIPAMEX), Mexico


Friends of the Osa, Costa Rica

Fundación Defensores de la Naturaleza, Guatemala

Fundación Jocotoco, Ecuador

Fundación ProAves, Colombia

FUNDAECO, Guatemala

FUPNAPIB, Honduras

Government of the Dominican Republic, Dominica Republic

Government of Honduras, Honduras

Grupo Jaragua, Dominican Republic

Guyra Paraguay, Paraguay

Instituto Ecología, Mexico

Instituto Uiraçu, Brazil

Mindo Cloudforest Foundation, Ecuador

Municipality of Lagarpampa, Bolivia

Municipality of Pasorapa, Bolivia

Panama Audubon Society, Panama

ProNatura Chiapas, Mexico

Pronatura Noreste, Mexico

Pronatura Noroeste, Mexico

Pronatura Sur, Mexico

ProNaturaleza, Peru

REGUA, Brazil

Reserva El Jaguar, Nicaragua

Rio Pucuno Foundation, Ecuador

SalvaNatura, El Salvador

SAVE Brasil, Brazil

Sociedad Ornitológica de la Hispaniola (SOH), Dominican Republic

Tirimbina Biological Reserve, Costa Rica

Wild Sumaco Wildlife Sanctuary, Ecuador

Reserve Name | Network Partner | Country

Abra Patricia – Alto Nieva | ECOAN | Peru

Allpahuayo-Mishana National Reserve | ProNaturaleza & SERNANP │ Peru

Antisana Ecological Reserve | Fundación Jocotoco │ Ecuador

Araripe Manakin Reserve | AQUASIS | Brazil

Ayampe Bird Reserve | Fundación Jocotoco | Ecuador

Bahoruco National Park | Government of the Dominican Republic | Dominican Republic

Barba Azul Nature Reserve | Asociación Armonia | Bolivia

Buenaventura Reserve | Fundación Jocotoco | Ecuador

Canudos Biological Station | Biodiversitas | Brazil

Cerro San Gil Spring Protection Reserve | FUNDAECO | Guatemala

Cerulean Warbler Bird Reserve | Fundación ProAves | Colombia

Chestnut-capped Piha Bird Reserve | Fundación ProAves | Colombia

Dusky Starfrontlet Bird Reserve | Fundación ProAves | Colombia

El Carricito | CIPAMEX | Mexico

El Chorogo | Panama Audubon | Panama

El Ciruelo Wildlife Refuge | ASIDE & Honduran government | Honduras

El Dorado Bird Reserve | Fundación ProAves | Colombia

El Jaguar Reserve | Reserva El Jaguar | Nicaragua

El Paujil Bird Reserve (Blue-billed Curassow) | Fundación ProAves | Colombia

El Poligono – Habitat del Colibri Hondureno | ASIDE & Honduran government | Honduras

El Tokio Grassland Priority Conservation Area | Pronatura Noreste | Mexico

Golden Poison Frog Reserve | Fundación ProAves | Colombia

Gorgeted Puffleg Reserve | Fundación ProAves | Colombia

Gotas de Agua | ECOAN & Lucian Troyes | Peru

Guapi Assu Ecological Reserve | REGUA | Brazil

Guyra Reta (San Rafael) | Guyra Paraguay | Paraguay

Huembo – Marvelous Spatuletail Conservation Easement | ECOAN & local community | Peru

Jorupe Reserve | Fundación Jocotoco | Ecuador

La Hediondilla Ejido Community Protected Area |La Hediondilla Ejido | Mexico

Lagarpampa Municipal Reserve | Municipality of Lagarpampa | Bolivia

Loma Charco Azul Biological Reserve (La Placa) | SOH & DR Government | Dominican Republic

Mirabilis-Swarovski Bird Reserve | Fundación ProAves | Colombia

Mitsubishi Shorebird Reserve      | Pronatura Noroeste | Mexico

Narupa Reserve | Fundación Jocotoco | Ecuador

Niceforo's Wren Bird Reserve | Fundación ProAves | Colombia

Osa Biodiversity Center | Osa Conservation | Costa Rica

Palkachupa Reserve | Asociación Armonia | Bolivia

Pasorapa Municipal Reserve | Municipality of Pasorapa | Bolivia

Pauxi Pauxi Bird Reserve | Fundación ProAves | Colombia

Red-fronted Macaw Reserve |Asociación Armonia | Bolivia

Reserva Natural Santa Isabel-Manabique | FUNDAECO | Guatemala

Río Canandé Reserve | Fundación Jocotoco | Ecuador

Río Sapo | SalvaNatura | El Salvador

Río Silanche Bird Sanctuary | Mindo Cloud Forest Foundation | Ecuador

Serra Bonita Reserve | Instituto Uiracu | Brazil

Sian Ka'an – Yum Balam Corridor | Amigos de Sian Ka'an | Mexico

Sierra Caral | FUNDAECO | Guatemala

Sierra de las Minas | FUNDAECO | Guatemala

Stresemann's Bristlefront (Mata do Passarinho) Reserve | Biodiversitas | Brazil

Tanagers Reserve | Fundación ProAves | Colombia

Tapichalaca Reserve | Fundación Jocotoco | Ecuador

Tapon Creek Reserve | FUNDAECO | Guatemala

Thick-billed Parrot Reserve | Pronatura Noreste | Mexico

Tingo Maria: Monte Potrero Municipal Reserve | ECOAN & municipality | Peru

Tingo Maria: San Marcos PCA | ECOAN & local community | Peru

Tirimbina | Tirimbina Biological Reserve | Costa Rica

Utuana Reserve | Fundación Jocotoco | Ecuador

Valles Centrales, Chihuahua |Pronatura Noreste | Mexico

Vilcanota: Abra Málaga Thastayoc – Royal Cinclodes PCA | ECOAN & local community | Peru

Vilcanota: Choquechaca PCA | ECOAN & local community | Peru

Vilcanota: Hatum Queuña – Quishuarani Ccollana PCA | ECOAN & local community | Peru

Vilcanota: Mantanay PCA | ECOAN & local community | Peru

Vilcanota: Pampacorral PCA | ECOAN & local community | Peru

Vilcanota: Qosqoccahuarina PCA | ECOAN & local community | Peru

Vilcanota: Sele Tecse Ayllu Lares | PCA ECOAN & local community | Peru

Vilcanota: Siete Cataratas-Qanchis Paccha PCA | ECOAN & local community | Peru

Villa Carmen Reserve| Amazon Conservation Association | Peru

Wild Sumaco Wildlife Sanctuary | Wild Sumaco Wildlife Sanctuary | Ecuador

Worthen's Sparrow Reserve (El Cercado, Saltillo) | Pronatura Noreste | Mexico

Yanacocha Reserve | Fundación Jocotoco | Ecuador

Yellow-billed Cotinga Reserve at Rincon | Osa Conservation | Costa Rica

Yunguilla Reserve | Fundación Jocotoco | Ecuador