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Location Guatemala, Alta Verapaz,Baja Verapaz,El Progreso,Izabal,Zacapa
Central coordinates 89o 41.77' West  15o 6.72' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 426,957 ha
Altitude 50 - 3,000m
Year of IBA assessment 2007





Summary Sierra de las Minas-Motagua is an important site for species restricted to the North Central American and Madrean Highlands, and to the Pacific Arid Slope. The site supports five globally threatened species: Highland and Horned Guan, Keel-billed Motmot, Pink-headed and Golden-cheeked Warbler. This IBA is threatened by forest fires, illegal logging, and unsustainable use of forest resources.

Site description Sierra de las Minas-Motagua includes the Sierra de las Minas mountain range with the largest continuous cloud forest in Guatemala, Sierra de Chuacús, and the adjoining Motagua valley, which is the driest area in Central America. The IBA ranges in elevation from 50 to 3000 m.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Horned Guan Oreophasis derbianus resident  2007  50-249 individuals  poor  A1, A2, A3  Endangered 
Highland Guan Penelopina nigra resident  1999-2007  2,500-9,999 individuals  good  A1, A2, A3  Vulnerable 
White-faced Quail-dove Zentrygon albifacies resident  1999-2007  1,000-2,499 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Red-throated Parakeet Psittacara rubritorquis resident  2004  250-999 individuals  poor  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Orange-fronted Parakeet Eupsittula canicularis resident  2004  250-999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Lesser Ground-cuckoo Morococcyx erythropygus resident  2004  250-999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Fulvous Owl Strix fulvescens resident  1999  1,000-2,499 individuals  poor  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Emerald-chinned Hummingbird Abeillia abeillei resident  1999  1,000-2,499 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
White-eared Hummingbird Basilinna leucotis resident  1999  10,000-19,999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Amethyst-throated Hummingbird Lampornis amethystinus resident  1999  100,000-499,999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Green-throated Mountain-gem Lampornis viridipallens resident  1999-2007  50,000-99,999 individuals  poor  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Garnet-throated Hummingbird Lamprolaima rhami resident  1999  50,000-99,999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Wine-throated Hummingbird Atthis ellioti resident  1999  250-999 individuals  poor  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Mountain Trogon Trogon mexicanus resident  1999  10,000-19,999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Blue-throated Motmot Aspatha gularis resident  1999  1,000-2,499 individuals  poor  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Russet-crowned Motmot Momotus mexicanus resident  2004  2,500-9,999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Keel-billed Motmot Electron carinatum resident  1997  < 50 individuals  poor  A1  Vulnerable 
Greater Pewee Contopus pertinax resident  2004  250-999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Buff-breasted Flycatcher Empidonax fulvifrons resident  1999  250-999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Nutting's Flycatcher Myiarchus nuttingi resident  2004  250-999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Black-throated Jay Cyanolyca pumilo resident  1999  10,000-19,999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Bushy-crested Jay Cyanocorax melanocyaneus resident  1999  50,000-99,999 individuals  poor  A2, A3  Least Concern 
White-throated Magpie-jay Calocitta formosa resident  2004  2,500-9,999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Unicoloured Jay Aphelocoma unicolor resident  1999  10,000-19,999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Grey Silky-flycatcher Ptilogonys cinereus resident  1999  1,000-2,499 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Black-capped Swallow Notiochelidon pileata resident  1999  250-999 individuals  poor  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Banded Wren Thryothorus pleurostictus resident  2004  250-999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Rufous-browed Wren Troglodytes rufociliatus resident  1999  50,000-99,999 individuals  poor  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Blue-and-white Mockingbird Melanotis hypoleucus resident  1999  10,000-19,999 individuals  poor  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Brown-backed Solitaire Myadestes occidentalis resident  1999  20,000-49,999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Slate-coloured Solitaire Myadestes unicolor resident  1999-2007  20,000-49,999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Black Thrush Turdus infuscatus resident  1999  50,000-99,999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Rufous-collared Robin Turdus rufitorques resident  1999  2,500-9,999 individuals  poor  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Olive Warbler Peucedramus taeniatus resident  1999  1,000-2,499 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Crescent-chested Warbler Parula superciliosa resident  1999  2,500-9,999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Golden-cheeked Warbler Dendroica chrysoparia winter  2000  1,000-2,499 individuals  poor  A1  Endangered 
Pink-headed Warbler Ergaticus versicolor resident  1999  2,500-9,999 individuals  poor  A1, A2, A3  Vulnerable 
Painted Redstart Myioborus pictus resident  1999  2,500-9,999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Golden-browed Warbler Basileuterus belli resident  1999  50,000-99,999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer Diglossa baritula resident  1999  50,000-99,999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Blue-crowned Chlorophonia Chlorophonia occipitalis resident  1999  2,500-9,999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Antigua Estancia de los Leones Private Nature Reserve 60 protected area contained by site 0  
Biotopín Private Nature Reserve 22 protected area contained by site 0  
Bocas del Polochic Wildlife Refuge 20,760 protected area contained by site 20,760  
Canjulá-Tocapote-Los Maijones Regional Park 498 protected area contained by site 0  
Cerro de Jesús Regional Park 90 protected area contained by site 0  
Cerro Verde Private Nature Reserve 585 protected area contained by site 0  
Chabiland Cerro Private Nature Reserve 38 protected area contained by site 0  
Chajmaik Private Nature Reserve 278 protected area contained by site 0  
Concepción Private Nature Reserve 2,475 protected area contained by site 0  
El Bosque Private Nature Reserve 849 protected area contained by site 0  
El Ciruelo, Country Delight Private Nature Reserve 22 protected area contained by site 0  
El Naranjo Private Nature Reserve 19 protected area contained by site 0  
El Reformador National Park 60 protected area contained by site 0  
El Roble Private Nature Reserve 26 protected area contained by site 0  
Finca Fernando Paiz Private Nature Reserve 31 protected area contained by site 0  
Hacienda Los José Luises Private Nature Reserve 609 protected area contained by site 0  
Hacienda Pastores Private Nature Reserve 34 protected area contained by site 0  
La Palmilla Private Nature Reserve 920 protected area contained by site 0  
Las Flores Private Nature Reserve 43 protected area contained by site 0  
Las Nubes Private Nature Reserve 764 protected area contained by site 0  
Lo de China Regional Park 38 protected area contained by site 0  
Los Alpes Private Nature Reserve 74 protected area contained by site 0  
Lote 10 Private Nature Reserve 1,326 protected area contained by site 0  
Lote 11 Private Nature Reserve 1,260 protected area contained by site 0  
Lote 6 Private Nature Reserve 1,260 protected area contained by site 0  
Lote 8 Private Nature Reserve 1,360 protected area contained by site 0  
Lote 9 Private Nature Reserve 1,318 protected area contained by site 0  
Luisiana Private Nature Reserve 2,305 protected area contained by site 0  
Mario Dary Protected Biotope 1,022 protected area contained by site 1,022  
Montaña Larga Private Nature Reserve 897 protected area contained by site 0  
Monte Alto Private Nature Reserve 64 protected area contained by site 0  
Montebello Private Nature Reserve 46 protected area contained by site 0  
Niño Dormido Regional Park 180 protected area contained by site 0  
Pataxte Private Nature Reserve 676 protected area contained by site 0  
Peña de Angel Private Nature Reserve 14 protected area contained by site 0  
Posada Montaña del Quetzal Private Nature Reserve 50 protected area contained by site 0  
Ram Tzul Private Nature Reserve 115 protected area contained by site 0  
Refugio de Vida Silvestre Bocas del Polochic Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 21,227 protected area contained by site 21,227  
Río Zarco Chiquito Private Nature Reserve 63 protected area contained by site 0  
San Isidro Private Nature Reserve 730 protected area contained by site 0  
Santa Rosa y Llano Largo Private Nature Reserve 1,083 protected area contained by site 0  
Santa Rosalía Zona de Veda Definitiva 4,061 protected area contained by site 0  
Selempin Private Nature Reserve 35 protected area contained by site 0  
Sierra de las Minas Biosphere Reserve 240,803 protected area contained by site 240,803  
Sierra de las Minas Buffer Zone 94,796 protected area contained by site 0  
Sierra de las Minas UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve 946,504 protected area contains site 240,803  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial Abandoned & fallow farmland, disturbed ground; Forestry & agro-industrial plantations; Improved pasture land; Other urban & industrial areas; Perennial crops, orchards & groves  20%
Forest Gallery & riparian; Montane broadleaf evergreen; Pine-oak; Tropical lowland evergreen  38%
Grassland Second-growth & grazed  2%
Shrubland Arid lowland scrub; Second-growth & disturbed scrub  38%
Wetlands (inland) Rivers  1%

Land ownership State, communal, and private.

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture 19%
energy production and mining minor
fisheries/aquaculture minor
hunting major
nature conservation and research 57%
not utilised minor
rangeland/pastureland 3%
tourism/recreation minor
urban/industrial/transport 1%
water management minor

Protection status About 57% of the IBA are legally protected, including a biosphere reserve, a national park, a protected biotope, six regional parks, and 33 private nature reserves (CONAP 2007). Conservation of the Motagua valley thorn scrub has received attention until recently (Valle et al. 1999, Nájera 2006), promoted especially by Fundación Defensores de la Naturaleza and The Nature Conservancy.

Acknowledgements Workshops to identify IBAs were held in Guatemala City in June 2006, hosted by the Museum of Natural History Jorge Ibarra, and in Cobán in August 2006. Input of unpublished data and suggestions for the delimitation of the IBA were provided during these workshop by representatives of Consejo Nacional de Areas Protegidas (CONAP), Fundación Defensores de la Naturaleza, Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, Biotopo del Quetzal, Centro de Acción Legal – Ambiental y Social de Guatemala (CALAS), and Asociación de Proyectos Evaluados Raxmu (PROEVAL RAXMU). This first assessment of IBAs in Guatemala was conducted by Sociedad Guatemalteca de Ornitología and BirdLife International in the Americas.

References 

Bardolf, J. & G. P. Bauer. 1992. Lista de aves del Biotopo del Quetzal. Ministerio de Comunicaciones, Guatemala.

CONAP. 2007. Lista de áreas protegidas inscritas en el SIGAP. Consejo Nacional de Áreas Protegidas (CONAP), Guatemala. (Database accessed in June 2007)

Dowell B. A., G. L. Holroyd & C. S. Robbins. 1994. Bird habitat survey of Cerro San Gil and Polochic delta, Guatemala, February 1994. National Biological Survey, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, Maryland. (Unpublished report)

Eisermann, K. 1999. Avifaunistisch-ökologische Untersuchungen in einer Nebelwaldregion Guatemalas als Grundlage für die Entwicklung eines Biomonitoringprogamms. Diplomarbeit, Fachhochschule Eberswalde, Alemania.

Eisermann, K. & C. Avendaño. 2007. Lista comentada de las aves de Guatemala - Annotated checklist of the birds of Guatemala. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

MAGA. 2006. Mapa de cobertura vegetal y uso de la tierra a escala 1:50,000 de la República de Guatemala, Año 2003 (Incluye 5 cultivos perennes actualizados al año 2005). Memoria técnica y descripción de resultados. Ministerio de Agricultura Ganadería y Alimentación –MAGA– / Unidad de Planificación Geográfica y Gestión de Riesgo –UPGGR–, Guatemala Ciudad, Guatemala.

Nájera, A. 2004a. Diversidad y estructura de la avifauna en el bosque nuboso primario de Albores, Sierra de las Minas, Guatemala. Tesis de Licenciatura, Univ. del Valle de Guatemala, Guatemala.

Nájera, A. 2004b. Reporte anual integrado de monitoreo biológico 2004, región semiárida del valle del Motagua. Fundación Defensores de la Naturaleza, Guatemala. (Unpublished report)

Nájera Acevedo, A. 2006. La conservación del monte espinoso y bosque seco del Valle del Motagua, Guatemala: promoviendo la protección de una ecorregión única. Lyonia 9 (2): 7-19.

ParksWatch. 2002. Park profile–Guatemala: Sierra de las Minas Biosphere Reserve. ParksWatch Guatemala. Available online at: www.parkswatch.org

Pérez, E. S. 2003. Aves del valle semiárido del Motagua. Propuestas para monitoreo de las fluctuaciones en las poblaciones a largo plazo como investigación deductiva. Fundación Defensores de la Naturaleza, Guatemala.

Pérez, E. S. 2004. Reporte final: Manejo del bosque pino-encino para aves migratorias. Fundación Defensores de la Naturaleza, Guatemala.

Ponciano, J. M. 1998. Comunidades de aves en función de la distancia con la frontera agrícola en la Sierra de las Minas, Guatemala. Tesis de Licenciatura, Univ. del Valle de Guatemala, Guatemala.

Rappole, J. H., D. I. King & W. C. Barrow, Jr. 1999. Winter ecology of the endangered Golden-cheeked Warbler. Condor 101:762-770.

Rappole J. H., King D. I. & P. Leimgruber. 2000. Winter habitat and distribution of the endangered Golden-Cheeked Warbler (Dendroica chrysoparia). Animal Conservation 3:45-59.

Rappole, J. H., D. J. King & J. Diez. 2003. Winter- vs. breeding-habitat limitation for an endangered avian migrant. Ecological Applications 13:735-742.

Rivas Romero, J. A. & A. J. Cóbar Carranza 2005. Distribución actual del pavo de cacho (Oreophasis derbianus) en la Reserva de Biosfera Sierra de las Minas. Pp. 3-7 In J. Rivas, E. Secaira & J. Cornejo (eds.) Memorias II Simposium Internacional Oreophasis derbianus, 7-9 Abril 2005, Reserva Los Tarrales, Patulul, Suchitepéquez, Guatemala. The Nature Conservancy, Guatemala.

Thompson, D. E. 1995. Observations of Golden-cheeked Warblers wintering in Guatemala and Honduras. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Austin, Texas.

Valle, L., R. Soto, P. Negreros, S. Pérez, C. Castañeda. 1999. Áreas prioritarias para la conservación en el sector norte del monte espinoso del Valle del Río Motagua, Guatemala. Fundación Defensores de la Naturaleza, Programa Ambiental Regional para Centroamérica/Central American Protected Areas System, Guatemala.

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