There are not many countries in the world that organize festivals especially devoted to the indigenous wildlife. However, one particular bird has the whole  Motmot Festival in Yucatan, Mexico. The brightly colored motmot bird was the inspiration for this festival as the people recognize it is one of the most important birds in their country. For those who are involved in nature-based tourism they know how important birdlife is to this industry. The Yucatan Motmot Festival was organized fifteen years ago in order to make this this part of Mexico an example of sustainable ecotourism and the little bird Motmot became a superstar.

The Motmot Festival

Although the festival has taken many forms since the first time in 2002, its metamorphosis has been because of its success. Originally the festival was just a weekend affair, while later it lasted almost a month. Since 2010, the festival starts in March and actually ends in November. This is nearly eight months of birdwatching activities with a wide range of events for tourists, schools, students, and nature guides. Visitors can choose between many different workshops, drawing or photography competitions as well as just relax lowland forests, explore mangroves, and coastal dunes.


Yucatan was chosen to be the host of this prestigious festival of birds as it has the most diverse ecosystem. The peninsula is home for over five hundred different species of birds. This is more than half of all of bird species found in Mexico.

Fifty percent of these birds are migratory and find the Yucatan Peninsula as the perfect strategical spot to stop and rest. The great temperature, various plants and friendly landscape make this place   to the huge bird reserve to replenish their energy levels before continuing the long journey to other parts of Central and South America. Over one hundred species of birds live permanently in Yucatan which is one of the main reasons that the festival is held in this part of Mexico.

The Bird Marathon

The end of the festival takes place during November in Merida, Yucatan. It is probably the most popular event of this festival and it is called the bird count. All participants are divided into many smaller teams up to eight people that explore the swampy wetlands, rainforests, and beaches to count as many species of birds as possible during the period of twenty-nine hours. Each team has its own bird expert, so all beginners can simply enjoy the walk with a pair of binoculars if they want to. This marathon is perfect for bird photographers as they can capture these exotic creatures in their natural habitats.

The festival is not just a tourist attraction, it provides a platform for local communities to share their knowledge and promotes the ecotourism here in Yucatan. Do you wonder if the enigmatic motmot bird is aware of what it has started? Maybe not. However, these little birds had an incredible contribution to the ecological improvements that the festival has brought.