Birdwatching in Xcalak

Xcalak’s unspoiled jungle habitat and clear waters are an ideal place for birds to make their homes. From high-diving sea birds to colorful songbirds, the proportion of birds-to-humans makes for easy, rewarding birdwatching in Xcalak.

Whether you’re a seasoned ornithologist or an opportunistic wildlife-appreciator, it’ll be tough not to spot these common avians when you visit Xcalak.

Pelicans on the Xcalak town pier.


Thanks to their webbed feet, pelicans are strong swimmers, more at home in the water than on land. The sack on their throat is a built-in fishing net that helps them scoop their meals from the water. Pelican’s aren’t too picky, and they eat small fish, crabs, lizards, and crustaceans if they can catch them.

You’ll see pelicans floating on the water where they rest (and take a nap?) before and after diving for a meal. If you don’t see pelicans on the water, look up and you’re likely to see them flying along the coast in a neat line or a “V”. Not the kind of bird that wastes energy, their wings are nearly motionless as they glide on the breeze.

An egret wading through sargasso


Spot these graceful, long-necked, long-legged birds in the shallows at dawn or dusk. An egret’s specialty is standing still and wading carefully so as not to scare away the small fish they love to eat. Once they spot their next meal, they move quickly, extending their neck and stabbing with their long beak.

If you’re out birdwatching in Xcalak, you’ll know you’ve annoyed an egret when you hear a loud squawk, uncharacteristic for this elegant creature. After that, he’ll likely take flight and move farther down the coast, to where the fish aren’t already scared away by your stomping feet.

Click here for an in-depth review of the Xcalak Beach.

A male frigate bird in flight, with his red throat on display.

Frigate Birds

Agile flyers, you can identify a frigate bird by its forked tail, and the males by their red throat. You’re most likely to see the underside of these birds, as they spend most of their lives in the air. Astoundingly, they can stay airborne for months at a time!

Frigate birds, unlike other sea birds, do not have waterproof feathers which means their fishing efforts do not including diving. Rather, they prefer to use their superior flying skills to snatch a tasty morsel from the water’s surface or, better yet, steal it from another bird mid-flight.

A grackle sitting on a palapa roof.


A common sight in southern states like Texas, crow-like grackles can range as far south as Venezuela. In Xcalak, you’ll hear these blue-black scavengers calling at all times of the day. Their song can be sweet or squawky depending on their mood.

If you hear them but don’t see them, look up to the leaves of a nearby palm tree. Often, grackles perch in the shade of the green branches leaving only to investigate a potential food source. An opportunistic eater, grackles eat everything from berries and bugs, to breakfast cereal and nacho chips. (Tip: don’t leave your nacho chips unattended.)

Birdwatching in Xcalak is effortless – you’ll see all types of birds doing what they do best, be it flying, fishing, or scavenging. In remote Xcalak, it’s clear that birds rule the roost.

Meet one of Xcalak’s spookiest animal residents – 7 Facts on the Ghost Crabs of Xcalak