Copan Ruinas and Finca El Cisne, Western Honduras, April 6-15, 2007

Published by Bill Tweit (sebnabgill AT

Participants: Bill Tweit, Olympia, Washington, U.S.A.


This was a low-key family vacation to visit the Mayan ruins of Copan in western Honduras, and enjoy some of the countryside. Since we only had a week, and were traveling with three generations of family, we deliberately kept it simple.

We flew into San Pedro Sula, and easily cleared customs and made connection with the Hedman Alas bus company, with whom we had reservations for the three hour ride to Copan Ruinas. They can be contacted over the internet, and have very nice buses. Our plan was to stay for four nights in Copan Ruinas and then three nights at Finca El Cisne, an agro tourism Finca about 25 km north of Copan. In Copan, we stayed at La Casa de Café, a very nice bed and breakfast at the edge of town. We were able to take advantage of the numerous, very cheap, minitaxis for transport to the ruins, and around town when we got hot and tired. La Casa de Café is close enough to the small downtown area that we could easily walk to most restaurants for dinner. It has small grounds, with a great view over the valley, so birding on and near the grounds was pretty good. Copan Ruinas has excellent tourist facilities, several ATMs, internet cafes, reasonably good restaurants and shopping. Some Spanish is helpful, but not necessary. The ruins and associated museums are not very crowded, and are excellent. The glyphs and stella are really stunning.

Birding at the ruins was very good, and there is a nature trail through good quality lowland forest. We also visited the Enchanted Wings Butterfly and Orchid house, which are extremely well done and are run by a very good local birder, Robert Gallardo.

The Finca El Cisne folks picked us up in Copan, and drove us up to the Finca. The agro tourism business is run by Carlos Castejon, who is fluent in English. Their guesthouse is very rustic, lacking electricity at this time although they plan to hook up soon. Showers are cool, and evening light is by candles. The food is excellent, authentic local cuisine, three meals per day. The guesthouse is located in the valley, with good birding on the grounds and nearby. With advance arrangements, they will transport you to their virgin pre-montane forest, and provide a local guide who knows the trails, the spectacular birds such as quetzal and toucanet, has an excellent ear and eyes, and has no English. The trails are rugged, but the forest is excellent quality. Other attractions at the Finca include excellent horse riding, touring their coffee and cardamom operations, nearby hot springs and supporting sustainable agriculture.

Temperatures during the week were on the warm side, some afternoon temperatures reached 100F. This was the dry season. We did not have any rain, except for a brief shower one night, although it threatened once or twice.

Web sites:

La Casa de Café
Finca El Cisne
Robert Gallardo

Species Lists

(most species widespread, except as noted)

Great Tinamou – Finca El Cisne forest
Great Egret
Cattle Egret
Green Heron
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Swallow-tailed Kite
White Hawk - Finca El Cisne forest
Gray Hawk
Roadside Hawk
Zone-tailed Hawk – one soaring over La Casa de Cafe
Crested Caracara
Laughing Falcon – Copan Ruinas nature trail
Plain Chachalaca
Crested Bobwhite
Spotted Sandpiper
Rock Dove
Red-billed Pigeon
White-winged Dove
Ruddy Ground-Dove
Inca Dove
White-tipped Dove
Olive-throated Parakeet
Orange-fronted Parakeet
White-fronted Parrot
Squirrel Cuckoo
Groove-billed Ani
Barn Owl
Mottled Owl – Finca El Cisne guesthouse
Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl
Chestnut-collared Swift
White-collared Swift
Chimney Swift
Vaux's Swift
Great Swallow-tailed Swift - Finca El Cisne guesthouse
Stripe-throated Hermit - Finca El Cisne guesthouse
Violet Sabrewing - Finca El Cisne guesthouse
Green Violet-ear
Green-breasted Mango
Cinnamon Hummingbird
White-bellied Emerald - Finca El Cisne guesthouse
Berylline Hummingbird
Green-throated Mountain-gem - Finca El Cisne forest
Resplendent Quetzal - Finca El Cisne forest
Belted Kingfisher
Green Kingfisher
Blue-crowned Motmot
Turquoise-browed Motmot
Emerald Toucanet - Finca El Cisne forest
Collared Aracari
Keel-billed Toucan
Golden-fronted Woodpecker
Scaly-throated Foliage-gleaner - Finca El Cisne forest
Olivaceous Woodcreeper - Finca El Cisne forest
Ivory-billed Woodcreeper
Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet
Yellow-olive Flycatcher - Copan Ruinas nature trail
Western Wood-Pewee
Tropical Pewee
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Least Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Dusky-capped Flycatcher
Nutting's Flycatcher
Great Kiskadee
Boat-billed Flycatcher
Social Flycatcher
Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher
Tropical Kingbird
Rose-throated Becard
Masked Tityra
Gray-breasted Martin
Mangrove Swallow – San Pedro Sula
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Bank Swallow
Barn Swallow
Cedar Waxwing
Rufous-naped Wren
Spot-breasted Wren
Plain Wren
House Wren
Tropical Mockingbird – San Pedro Sula
Slate-colored Solitaire - Finca El Cisne forest
Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush - Finca El Cisne forest
Swainson's Thrush
Clay-colored Robin
White-throated Thrush - Finca El Cisne forest
White-throated Magpie-Jay
Brown Jay
Yellow-green Vireo
Tawny-crowned Greenlet
Rufous-browed Peppershrike
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Northern Waterthrush
MacGillivray's Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Hooded Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Slate-throated Redstart - Finca El Cisne forest
Golden-crowned Warbler - Finca El Cisne forest
Rufous-capped Warbler
Common Bush-Tanager - Finca El Cisne forest
Red-throated Ant-Tanager
Summer Tanager
Flame-colored Tanager
Crimson-collared Tanager - Finca El Cisne guesthouse
Blue-gray Tanager
Yellow-winged Tanager
Scrub Euphonia
Yellow-throated Euphonia
Blue-crowned Chlorophonia - Finca El Cisne forest
Golden-hooded Tanager - Finca El Cisne forest
Red-legged Honeycreeper
Blue-black Grassquit
White-collared Seedeater
Yellow-faced Grassquit
Stripe-headed Sparrow
Rusty Sparrow
Grayish Saltator
Black-headed Saltator
Black-faced Grosbeak - Finca El Cisne forest
Indigo Bunting
Painted Bunting
Eastern Meadowlark
Melodious Blackbird
Great-tailed Grackle
Bronzed Cowbird
Spot-breasted Oriole
Altamira Oriole
Streak-backed Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
Orchard Oriole
Chestnut-headed Oropendola
Montezuma Oropendola
House Sparrow