Stopping to observe nature can be a peaceful, relaxing hobby that anyone can appreciate. Observing birds, also known as bird-watching, is just one example of being out in nature and looking to appreciate all of its different aspects. It requires patience and a sharp eye.

Bird-watching's origins can be traced back to the 18th century, and the process has evolved as technology has improved. Some people choose to use the naked eye to find and identify the birds, while others come armed with binoculars that increase the range of vision. Some are content just to observe, while others look to photograph or journal their experiences.

The Caribbean is considered to be a hot spot for observation, as it contains nearly 600 bird species, 150 of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Because of the unique opportunity that the Caribbean affords to bird-watchers, travel increases during certain months of the year.

As the weather cools off in various parts of the world, many birds migrate, looking for a warmer place to call home until the worst of the winter has passed. In the same way, bird-watchers also like to escape from the chill, making travel plans to head for warmer weather. In addition to bird-watching, locations like Playa del Carmen make a great place to enjoy other aspects of warm weather, including scuba-diving and backpacking.

Name of Bird

Brief Description

Bahama Mockingbird

This bird's pale gray underparts are streaked with dark coloring, while the upper parts are a gray-brown color. The white-tipped tail is long, and the bird has darker gray legs and feet.

Bermuda Petrel

This medium-sized bird has white underparts with the exception of a dusky color along the sides of the upper breast. The upper parts are gray-brown shading to black as the tail approaches. The face and forehead are white.

Cattle Egret

Look for an egret with a mostly white body outside of the orange-brown patches that are on the back, neck, and head. The legs, eyes, and bill are all orange, making it the only white egret with yellowish legs and bill.

Common Yellowthroat

This warbler has a pale gray belly complemented by olive-yellow upper parts. The throat and the breast are both bright yellow. Look for a black mask on the head that includes a thick white border along the top. The bill is black, while the legs are pink.


This bird is a mix of deep pink, red, and orange. The legs are long and are pink in color. The knees tend to be a slightly darker pink.

Gray Bunting

Dark gray in color, the bird has black streaks on the underparts as well as the back and shoulders. The bill is heavy and pink with a black tip. Both legs and feet are also pink.

Great Blue Heron

This large heron has a gray-and-white-striped belly with a blue-gray back. The sides are black. While the longer neck is gray in color, there is a white strip along the throat, bordered in black. The face and cap are white with a black crest.

House Sparrow

Considered to be stocky, this sparrow has pale gray underparts with a black upper part streaked with brown. The wings are also brown, although they have a single white bar. Both the throat and the upper breast are black. The bill is short, thick, and black.

Indigo Bunting

This smaller finch has an almost iridescent blue color. The crown is slightly darker and tends to have a purple tint. While the wings and the tail are black, they do have blue edges.

Laughing Gull

Medium in size compared to other gulls, this bird has white underparts and neck, a gray back, and a black hood. The bill is red, while the legs and feet are black.

Least Tern

Look for white underparts and slate-gray upper parts. The forehead is white, while both the nape and the crown are black. This bird is smaller than the Royal Tern and has a forked tail with yellow feet and bill.

Loggerhead Kingbird

Skilled at catching flies, this bird has upper parts that are an olive-brown. The head is dark with a yellow crown patch. Despite the white underparts, the bird also has a pale yellow wash over the lower portion of the belly. The tail is brownish-black.

Magnificent Frigatebird

This seabird is large in size with a long, gray, hooked bill. The legs and feet are dark gray, while the tail is forked. During courtship, look for an orange patch on the throat that inflates to look like a balloon.

Northern Bobwhite

With a build and coloring similar to a quail, look for feathers that are a mottled combination of brown, gray, and black. This bird has a white face and throat with a dark eye stripe.

Northern Waterthrush

Large in size, this bird has white or even pale yellow underparts with dark, heavy streaks contrasted with dark brown upper parts. The eyebrows tend to be white or even pale yellow and very thick.


Heavily spotted underparts are coupled with olive-brown upper parts. This ground-walking warbler has a white eye-ring while the head is a dull orange color with a stripe edged in black on the central crown.

Pomarine Jaeger

This bird can be found in a light and darker version. The lighter birds have a brown back, dark gray flight feathers, and a white breast. The darker birds tend to be darker brown with a white streak along the flight feathers. The central tail feathers in both types tend to be longer than the other tail feathers.

Pied-billed Grebe

Considered to be stocky, this bird has darker brown upper parts and complementary, lighter drown underparts. The under-tail coverts are bright white, as is the bill. Look for a central black ring around dark-colored eyes.

Roseate Spoonbill

This ibis is large in size with a white upper back and pink body. The bill is long and gray. The olive-green head is bare.

Royal Tern

Larger than the Least Tern, it has a white face, underparts, and neck coupled with pale gray upper parts. The crest and cap on the head are black, the head tends to be spiky, and the bill is bright orange.

Snowy Egret

Just like the name implies, this egret is completely white. The bill is long, black, and slender, as are the legs. The feet, along with the eyes, are yellow.


With dark gray-brown upper parts that include black and white streaks, this bird has a gray breast and darker gray belly with white bars. The chin, face, and throat are black, and the bill is dark but yellow-tipped.

Sharp-shinned Hawk

This bird is smaller than other hawks, and the white underparts are contrasted with the blue-gray upper parts. While the eyes are dark red, the legs and feet are yellow.

Thick-billed Vireo

Medium in size, this bird has what looks like dull-looking spectacles around the eyes. The upper parts are olive green, while the underparts tend to be pale yellow. This transitions to white shading that stretches all the way under the tail. The bill is large and gray.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

This woodpecker is medium in size with yellow-washed underparts. The upper parts tend to be mottled with both black and white colors. The throat is red, as is the crown, while the face displays a black and white stripe. The black tail has a center stripe of white.

Yellow-faced Grassquit

Considered a small finch, this bird has a black upper belly, face, and breast with a contrasting yellow throat patch and eyebrow. The upper parts are olive, and the underparts are a slightly paler olive color. The bill is sharply pointed.

The table above shows only a small portion of the birds to keep a look out for while visiting places like Playa del Carmen on the Caribbean. Many of the birds in the area are immediately noticeable because of their bright plumage, while others will take some additional observation to identify. Either way, there is no doubt that the Caribbean is considered to be a bird-watcher's paradise.

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