Oaxaca Mexico is the 5th-largest of the country’s 31 states, but it ranks first on the list of having the greatest number of animal species.
For example, 741 bird species have been found in Oaxaca – about 67% of species found in Mexico overall. There are also hundreds of native mammals here and the state is home to more reptiles and amphibians than anywhere else in the country.
This high level of biodiversity is due to Oaxaca’s rugged topography, its diverse ecosystems, and its position close to a narrow “pinch-point” on the North American continent: the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. This is the narrowest stretch of land that separates the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean, and is perfect for some quintessential Oaxaca hiking. Dispersing birds and other animals from the north and south, as well as plants, have been funneled through this region for millions of years.
Oaxaca is the convergence point for several major bird migration routes: the Pacific, Central, and Mississippi flyways. Millions and millions of migratory birds pass through Oaxaca every year as they move between North, Central, and South America.
Interesting animals of the local pine-oak forests include several mammals: White-nosed Coati, White-tailed Deer and Central American Red Brocket Deer. Rarely seen wildcats like the Puma and Margay also stalk prey in the undergrowth.
Bird watching tours might expose you to Mountain Trogon, Blue Mockingbird, Elegant Euphonia, Red Warbler, Berylline Hummingbird, Azure-crowned Hummingbird, and the nearly endangered endemic Dwarf Jay. The latter species is found only in Oaxaca.
Delicate amphibians are abundant in the right micro-habitats. The Shiny Peeping Frog hunts small insects among dry leaves on the forest floor. Many amphibians, like Cochran’s False Brook Salamander, are vulnerable to habitat loss because they strongly depend on pine-oak habitats, which has been lost in many places because of logging.
Oaxaca has long been a destination for Mexican travelers and foreigners seeking a quieter, preserved version of the country’s indigenous and colonial history. And away from wildlife-focused adventure, Oaxaca is home to a vibrant Mayan culture, traditions, art, ancient textile techniques, mezcal, the Mitla ruins and the glorious Pacific coast.