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Field Guides Tour Report
Colombia: Santa Marta Escape 2014
Mar 15, 2014 to Mar 23, 2014
Richard Webster & Gustavo Bautista

A dawn view from our little 9,000' ridge to the main massif, and Colombia's highest peaks (Photo by guide Richard Webster)

Barranquilla is a large, bustling city out of sight of Colombia's tallest peaks, but close to them. We started with coastal marshes, mangroves, and deserts before moving gradually to 2600m on a wet ridge offering views of those highest mountains.

The first endemic was Chestnut-winged Chachalaca before breakfast. Heading east, we were soon on Isla Salamanca, with a national park of the same name. Coastal marshes provided a quick hit of widespread birds such as Limpkin and Snail Kite, and the adjacent uplands Russet-throated Puffbird and Bronzed (Bronze-brown) Cowbird. With persistence we found the Critically Endangered Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird at the park entrance station.

Ending our first day in Riohacha, we birded that evening and again the next morning around Camarones, an area with a vast coastal estuary and surrounding desert scrub and dry woodland. This area is the beginning of the arid Guajira Peninsula, and shares a special avifauna with neighboring Venezuela. Specialties included Bare-eyed Pigeon, Chestnut Piculet, White-whiskered Spinetail, Slender-billed Tyrannulet, Tocuyo Sparrow, and Vermilion Cardinal (but missed Buffy Hummingbird), along with Orinocan Saltator, (Northern) White-fringed Antbird, and Black-crested Antshrike. Our two visits to the lagoon had no close concentrations of birds, but with a telescope many could be enjoyed, including the spectacular Scarlet Ibis and a few American Flamingos. Double-striped Thick-knee was a fun bonus.

Our first step up the San Lorenzo ridge, an outlier to the inaccessible Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, was the small community of Minca, where the comfortable Hotel Minca was an immediate success with its hummingbird feeders jammed with beauty. Birding in the area added considerably to our list, with specialties including Black-backed Antshrike and the lovely Golden-winged Sparrow. Continuing up the road introduced us to some of the montane endemics, including White-lored Warbler and Blossomcrown.

We had four nights at ProAves' El Dorado lodge, wonderfully situated at 1900m. Our first evening was overwhelming, with busy hummingbird feeders thronged with a different set of beauty, including the spectacular, endemic White-tailed Starfrontlet and the simply stunning Crowned Woodnymph; the wood-quail feeder attracting absurdly close Black-fronted Wood-Quail and the two endemic brush-finches; and the antpitta feeding program providing close views of Santa Marta Antpitta.

We twice journeyed to the top of the ridge, and were fortunate to have both mornings at least briefly clear and reasonably calm. We did well with the birds special to the upper elevations, although many took some time. Especially fortunate were our encounters with Santa Marta Bush-Tyrant and Santa Marta Parakeet. Santa Marta Warbler took some time, and they remained skulky. Other specialties included Yellow-crowned Redstart and Black-cheeked Mountain-Tanager, and we worked on, and eventually saw, many skulkers, including Rufous Antpitta, Brown-rumped Tapaculo, Gray-breasted Wood-Wren (anachoreta), and Rusty-headed Spinetail. Bonuses included two prize hummingbirds around the eucalyptus trees (Black-backed Thornbill and Santa Marta Woodstar), the seldom-seen local subspecies of Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager, and a large flock of swifts including the unexpected Spot-fronted and White-chested.

We also spent much time in the moist forests at middle elevations, finding such other endemics as Santa Marta Tapaculo and Santa Marta Foliage-gleaner, the local subspecies of Masked Trogon, Montane Woodcreeper, and Spotted Barbtail, and a number of special birds mostly shared with the cordillera of Venezuela: White-tipped Quetzal, Rusty-breasted Antpitta, Golden-breasted Fruiteater, and several thrushes and tanagers. On an evening foray we heard a terrific chorus from an undescribed screech-owl, and then had good views.

It was also an opportunity to see many migrants from North America in their winter homes, ranging from beautiful Blackburnian Warblers in the montane forests to Mourning Warbler in thickets on the lower slopes to Prothonotary Warbler in the mangroves. Surprises included Black-whiskered Vireo and Magnolia Warbler.

Mammals were typically few, highlights including seeing a troop of Red Howler Monkeys and a surprise Northern Tamandua near Camarones.

Those fine dawn views of the Sierra were views over a landscape that has been greatly altered over the centuries. BirdLife International estimates that only 15% of the Sierra's vegetation is intact. BirdLife's assessment of the conservation status of the species we saw is that we encountered 1 Critically Endangered, 3 Endangered, 7 Vulnerable, and 5 Near Threatened species.

Our tour was made easy by the efforts of many ProAves and EcoTurs employees at the lodges, and the drivers who got us back and forth safely -- our thanks to them!


P.S.: The taxonomy tries to follow the recent Clements (Cornell) changes. Apologies to the Spanish language for omitting certain punctuation marks that do not survive cross-platform computer usage.

One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

Tinamidae (Tinamous)

Black-fronted Wood-Quail were being fed at El Dorado, making viewing this secretive forest bird a delightfully easy task. (Photo by guide Richard Webster)

GRAY TINAMOU (Tinamus tao) – A distant voice in the mid-montane forest. It is considered "Vulnerable." [*]
Anhimidae (Screamers)
NORTHERN SCREAMER (Chauna chavaria) – Fabulous and heart breaking. On our return to Isla Salamanca, we saw one, but it was in flight, low, and quickly disappeared behind some tall cattails before all could get on it. We searched the area where we thought it might have landed, and saw nothing. It is considered "Near Threatened."
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
WHITE-FACED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna viduata) – One on a shrinking pond on our return visit to Isla Salamanca.
BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna autumnalis) – One flock in flight on Isla Salamanca.
FULVOUS WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna bicolor) – A few distant, flying birds on Isla Salamanca; marginal.
BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Anas discors) – Many wintering flocks on Isla Salamanca. [b]
Cracidae (Guans, Chachalacas, and Curassows)
CHESTNUT-WINGED CHACHALACA (Ortalis garrula) – Our dawn foray near Barranquilla produced good views in the early light of a couple of calling groups. [E]
RUFOUS-VENTED CHACHALACA (RUFOUS-VENTED) (Ortalis ruficauda ruficrissa) – Heard distantly by part of the group near Camarones. [*]
BAND-TAILED GUAN (Penelope argyrotis) – Vivian got us on a pair walking on the road on the top of the ridge. This year we did not see any near the lodge, where we heard them every night calling in several directions.
SICKLE-WINGED GUAN (Chamaepetes goudotii) – Sandy found one under some hummingbird feeders on the lodge grounds, and Vivian spotted two more on the ridgetop the next day.
Odontophoridae (New World Quail)
CRESTED BOBWHITE (Colinus cristatus) – One covey flushed close to us while walking through the dry scrub near Camarones; well-known from the area, but we don't often see it.
BLACK-FRONTED WOOD-QUAIL (Odontophorus atrifrons) – It is amazing that wood-quail can be fed just feet from the back steps of the lodge, and yet the wood-quail seem to love it. This easily-heard, normally-hard-to-see bird put in several fabulous appearances at the El Dorado feeder, and we lapped it up just like they inhaled the cracked corn. It is considered "Vulnerable," with a population under 7,000.
Phoenicopteridae (Flamingos)
AMERICAN FLAMINGO (Phoenicopterus ruber) – One bird in a pond on Isla Salamanca seemed a little odd, and at Camarones we saw a few at medium distance, plus some pink shimmer in the back of the estuary.
Ciconiidae (Storks)
WOOD STORK (Mycteria americana) – One circling overhead near Camarones.
Fregatidae (Frigatebirds)
MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD (Fregata magnificens) – Hank was our frigatebird spotter, and showed us several at Camarones.
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax brasilianus) – Hundreds on distant mudbars at Camarones, and smaller numbers on Isla Salamanca.
Pelecanidae (Pelicans)
BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis) – A few at Camarones and from the bus along Isla Salamanca.
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
RUFESCENT TIGER-HERON (Tigrisoma lineatum) – A beautiful adult was fishing in a hyacinth-choked pond on Isla Salamanca. Probably regular there, but we don't usually see it.
COCOI HERON (Ardea cocoi) – A couple of this attractive heron on both visits to Isla Salamanca.

Tapaculo viewing does not get much easier than having a seat on a convenient bank and waiting for the bird to go right to left and back. And it is seldom this easy! (Photo by guide Richard Webster)

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba) – Fairly common in coastal wetlands.
SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula) – Common in coastal wetlands.
LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea) – One was along the river at our first lunch stop, and a couple more were seen on Isla Salamanca the last afternoon.
TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor) – A handful at both Isla Salamanca and Camarones.
REDDISH EGRET (Egretta rufescens) – Common at Camarones; about 3/4 were dark phase, 1/4 light phase. It is considered "Near Threatened."
CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis) – A few flocks were seen in pastures.
STRIATED HERON (Butorides striata) – One or two on both visits to Isla Salamanca.
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus) – Small numbers both times we checked the lagoon at Camarones.
SCARLET IBIS (Eudocimus ruber) – Our first one was pink, but still exciting, and then we did find a few in brilliant color on the lagoon at Camarones.
GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus) – Common in the freshwater marshes of Isla Salamanca.
BARE-FACED IBIS (Phimosus infuscatus) – A few on Isla Salamanca on both visits.
ROSEATE SPOONBILL (Platalea ajaja) – A lovely flock on our evening visit to the estuary at Camarones.
Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus) – Common and widespread, from the coast to soaring over the San Lorenzo ridge on a clear day.
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura) – Ditto.
LESSER YELLOW-HEADED VULTURE (Cathartes burrovianus) – A few over the freshwater marshes on Isla Salamanca, with some especially good views of the multi-colored heads of perched birds.
KING VULTURE (Sarcoramphus papa) – Hank and some others had an immature go by them on the lower slopes.
Pandionidae (Osprey)
OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus) – About seven seen along the coast, plus one above us at 2600m on the San Lorenzo ridge (the second we have had there; migrants??). [b]
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
PEARL KITE (Gampsonyx swainsonii) – Two good views of this uncommon raptor, the first on Isla Salamanca, the next a hovering bird Hank spotted near Camarones.
HOOK-BILLED KITE (Chondrohierax uncinatus) – Known from the lowlands of the area, we were surprised to see three soaring above 2600m on the San Lorenzo ridge; local birds catching a ride on thermals, or long-distance migrants?
SWALLOW-TAILED KITE (Elanoides forficatus) – Two spotted by Hank above Minca at 1000m went over the ridge quickly. Widespread in Colombia, but perhaps somewhat rare here.
BLACK-COLLARED HAWK (Busarellus nigricollis) – Brief or distant singles on Isla Salamanca.
SNAIL KITE (Rostrhamus sociabilis) – Common over the freshwater marshes at Isla Salamanca.
PLUMBEOUS KITE (Ictinia plumbea) – Several were seen, perched and in flight, on the lower slopes.
SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (PLAIN-BREASTED) (Accipiter striatus ventralis) – One fly-over for part of the group below the lodge.
COMMON BLACK-HAWK (Buteogallus anthracinus) – We had telescope views of a perched bird at our lunch stop the first day, and another was seen over the lower slopes a few days later.
SAVANNA HAWK (Buteogallus meridionalis) – One was seen circling high over the toll booth stop en route to Riohacha.
GREAT BLACK-HAWK (Buteogallus urubitinga) – An adult and an immature were seen together along a channel in the dry woodland behind Camarones.

A Black Flowerpiercer about to steal a little nectar with its specialized bill. (Photo by participant Sandy Paci)

ROADSIDE HAWK (Rupornis magnirostris) – One was seen on Isla Salamanca and another was heard above Minca.
WHITE-RUMPED HAWK (Parabuteo leucorrhous) – Quick views of a close bird in flight over the top of the ridge.
BROAD-WINGED HAWK (Buteo platypterus) – At least four individuals, all adults, from 1200 to 2600m; the species winters here, although some of these could have been migrants. [b]
GRAY-LINED HAWK (Buteo nitidus) – Two adults were seen circling over the lower slopes. As split from Gray Hawk.
ZONE-TAILED HAWK (Buteo albonotatus) – One was seen circling over our tollbooth stop en route to Riohacha.
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
PURPLE GALLINULE (Porphyrio martinicus) – Small numbers in the marshes of Isla Salamanca.
COMMON GALLINULE (Gallinula galeata) – Common on Isla Salamanca.
Aramidae (Limpkin)
LIMPKIN (Aramus guarauna) – Good views of a few in the snail-rich marshes of Isla Salamanca.
Burhinidae (Thick-knees)
DOUBLE-STRIPED THICK-KNEE (Burhinus bistriatus) – A bonus. Resident in the area, but hard to find, so we were fortunate to have good looks at two near Camarones.
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus) – Small numbers on Isla Salamanca.
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola) – Three at Camarones the first evening. [b]
SOUTHERN LAPWING (Vanellus chilensis) – A few pairs on Isla Salamanca and around Camarones.
SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus) – Two at Camarones. [b]
Jacanidae (Jacanas)
WATTLED JACANA (Jacana jacana) – Good looks on Isla Salamanca and near Camarones; in both areas we saw some of the black (morph? subspecies?--do they move around?) plumage, as well as more chestnut individuals.
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius) – A few in coastal wetlands. [b]
SOLITARY SANDPIPER (Tringa solitaria) – Two along the river at our first lunch stop, and another on a seasonal pond near Camarones. [b]
GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca) – More than a dozen on the estuary. [b]
WILLET (Tringa semipalmata) – About ten on the estuary at Camarones; looked like "Western" Willets, but they were distant. [b]
LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes) – One on the coastal slope for part of the group. [b]
WHIMBREL (Numenius phaeopus) – Ten to twenty on our visits to the estuary at Camarones. [b]
LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla) – Two on small ponds on Isla Salamanca. [b]
WESTERN SANDPIPER (Calidris mauri) – One on Isla Salamanca, and a small flock of Semipalmated/Western at Camarones.
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
LAUGHING GULL (Leucophaeus atricilla) – Common at Camarones.
HERRING GULL (Larus argentatus) – Between our two visits, at least one adult and two first-winter birds on the estuary in Camarones. In general, rare this far south, but regular here in winter recently. [b]
LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL (Larus fuscus) – At least one on both visits to the estuary. Rare in South America, but regular recently at this location. [b]
LARGE-BILLED TERN (Phaetusa simplex) – One was seen briefly in flight by some on our return to Isla Salamanca.
CASPIAN TERN (Hydroprogne caspia) – Tidal conditions did not produce any close gull and tern flocks, but with a telescope we saw several dozen of this species. [b]

Double-striped Thick-knee is resident in the area, but it takes some luck (and good spotting) to find. (Photo by guide Richard Webster)

COMMON TERN (Sterna hirundo) – Small numbers seen coming in from fishing on the ocean. [b]
ROYAL TERN (Thalasseus maximus) – Common on the estuary. [b]
SANDWICH TERN (Thalasseus sandvicensis) – The most numerous tern at Camarones. [b]
BLACK SKIMMER (Rynchops niger) – Two distant birds at Camarones.
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]
PALE-VENTED PIGEON (Patagioenas cayennensis) – Seen once in the lowlands.
BARE-EYED PIGEON (Patagioenas corensis) – We saw them frequently, mostly in flight, in the arid areas around Camarones; a regional specialty.
BAND-TAILED PIGEON (WHITE-NECKED) (Patagioenas fasciata albilinea) – Daily in the mountains, seen well perched and heard singing.
EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto) – Gustavo spotted two perched on Isla Salamanca. Possibly escapes or "pets" at some level, but potentially also colonizers from the vast arrival to the north.
COMMON GROUND-DOVE (Columbina passerina) – Widespread in the lowlands, seen best on the beach at Camarones.
RUDDY GROUND-DOVE (Columbina talpacoti) – Small numbers on the coastal slope, and Trish had an uplsope wanderer at El Dorado.
SCALED DOVE (Columbina squammata) – Good looks at small numbers on the coastal slope; the relative of "our" Inca Dove.
BLUE GROUND-DOVE (Claravis pretiosa) – Two fly-bys were seen by a few above Minca.
WHITE-TIPPED DOVE (Leptotila verreauxi) – Daily in small numbers, occurring well upslope in clearings and also in forest.
LINED QUAIL-DOVE (Geotrygon linearis) – Mostly heard as a distant voice on the forested slopes, plus one, responding to a recording, was seen in flight crossing the road, well enough to see some field marks.
Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
SQUIRREL CUCKOO (Piaya cayana) – A few in the lowlands and near Minca.
SMOOTH-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga ani) – Sympatric with Groove-billed on Isla Salamanca.
GROOVE-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga sulcirostris) – Along with Smooth-billed, good views on Isla Salamanca.
Strigidae (Owls)
SCREECH-OWL SP. NOV. (Megascops sp. nov.) – This can be a very difficult screech-owl, but we were fortunate to have an exciting encounter, first with a great concert as multiple pairs were vocalizing, and then as a responsive bird finally perched where we could enjoy it. This is presumably the distinctive bird first reported by Todd & Carriker a century ago, and recently well documented around the lodge. It still awaits formal description. [E]
FERRUGINOUS PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium brasilianum) – Heard at length, and then seen taking off as soon as Gustavo spotted it! Grrrr, although it was sort of funny.
Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)
BAND-WINGED NIGHTJAR (Systellura longirostris) – Vivian had a glimpse of one flushing from the road during an early-morning drive.
Apodidae (Swifts)
WHITE-CHESTED SWIFT (Cypseloides lemosi) – A rare and poorly known species not reported from this area before to our knowledge. We had a great opportunity to observe hundreds of swifts along the San Lorenzo ridge, and about three birds seen with Chestnut-collared and White-collared looked convincingly like this species. While possibly local birds, they may also have wandered from afar during a period of very dry, clear conditions in Colombia.
SPOT-FRONTED SWIFT (Cypseloides cherriei) – Another rarity in general and perhaps not known from this spot. We had repeated views of perhaps as many as 15 birds mixed in with three other species of swift above the San Lorenzo ridge, and could regularly see the distinctive "headlamps" on them.
CHESTNUT-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne rutila) – At first it was a struggle to see the chestnut collar, but by the end of the second visit to the ridge top, we had had many great views of it.
WHITE-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne zonaris) – Less numerous than Chestnut-collared, but still common, and often the lowest swift.
Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)

White-tailed Starfrontlet is one of the most spectacular of the endemics, and we very much enjoyed watching it at the El Dorado feeders. (Photo by guide Richard Webster)

WHITE-NECKED JACOBIN (Florisuga mellivora) – This spectacular hummingbird was constantly in view at the Hotel Minca feeders, and was otherwise unseen by us.
RUFOUS-BREASTED HERMIT (Glaucis hirsutus) – One or two made regular visits to the Minca feeders.
LONG-BILLED HERMIT (Phaethornis longirostris) – We saw large hermits twice from 1300 to 1500m elevation, with different rump colors and overall tones, and they probably included this species and perhaps Sooty-capped, but the ID remains uncertain. a.k.a. Western Long-tailed Hermit.
PALE-BELLIED HERMIT (Phaethornis anthophilus) – This was the (fairly) large hermit visiting the Minca feeders in small numbers.
BROWN VIOLETEAR (Colibri delphinae) – A few were regular visitors to the El Dorado feeders, making for a three violetear collection.
GREEN VIOLETEAR (Colibri thalassinus) – The common violetear on the San Lorenzo ridge, common at the El Dorado feeders and regular in the "wild."
SPARKLING VIOLETEAR (Colibri coruscans) – One was seen periodically at the El Dorado feeders. Apparently common in the main Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, it is rare (a wanderer?) on the San Lorenzo ridge.
BLACK-THROATED MANGO (Anthracothorax nigricollis) – A few were periodic visitors to the Minca feeders.
BLOSSOMCROWN (Anthocephala floriceps) – We spent much time looking for them in flower gardens (and saw none in the wild). At one garden, one made a brief appearance, and at another, it stayed low and inconspicuous, but good looks were eventually obtained. It is considered "Vulnerable." [E]
BLACK-BACKED THORNBILL (Ramphomicron dorsale) – This rarity (it is considered "Endangered") was seen several times in the flowering eucalyptus on the ridgetop, but as a result always at some distance, and it was not an aesthetic treat (but we were fortunate to see it at all). [E]
TYRIAN METALTAIL (Metallura tyrianthina districta) – The commonest hummingbird at upper elevations, with a couple visiting the El Dorado feeders. Some would split this subspecies, but the differences seem minor to me.
WHITE-TAILED STARFRONTLET (Coeligena phalerata) – Only a couple were seen in the wild, but fortunately the El Dorado feeders had more than normal, and we were thrilled to see brilliant males and lovely females repeatedly. [E]
MOUNTAIN VELVETBREAST (Lafresnaya lafresnayi) – One made a brief appearance in the middle of our group during breakfast on the ridgetop.
LONG-BILLED STARTHROAT (Heliomaster longirostris) – Good views of one at the Minca feeders on our return trip.
SANTA MARTA WOODSTAR (Chaetocercus astreans) – A memorable thrill, especially for Hank, who found it as his 7,000th bird. We had been searching gardens, checking out flowering trees, watching the feeders, and had not had a whiff. So this tiny female, perched in the top of the eucalyptus, was a great relief; good telescope views. [E]
RED-BILLED EMERALD (Chlorostilbon gibsoni nitens) – We saw a number around Camarones, mostly females (sometimes the reverse is the case), but at least one glowing male. The taxonomy is a puzzle. Based on Gary Stiles in a 1996 Wilson Bull. article, the subspecies nitens that we saw is part of Red-billed, for reasons apart from bill color (the bills of these birds is either black or with a small amount of red at the base; they look more like Blue-tailed in that regard, which is what they were called in earlier publications).
COPPERY EMERALD (Chlorostilbon russatus) – After a brief and frustrating encounter for some in one of the gardens, we had some quick, decent views of an adult male feeding in flowers on the way down our last morning. Always a difficult bird.
LAZULINE SABREWING (Campylopterus falcatus) – The second year we have seen this species at the El Dorado feeders. This male made many appearances, most of them for just a few seconds. Unknown historically from here, it may just be a wanderer from the Eastern Andes. It is a pretty good bird no matter what, but of course we would like to see the endemic Santa Marta Sabrewing that we have never encountered.
WHITE-VENTED PLUMELETEER (Chalybura buffonii) – Common at the Minca feeders; a few in the wild.

Crowned Woodnymph was also a constant and spectacular presence at the El Dorado feeders. (Photo by guide Richard Webster)

CROWNED WOODNYMPH (Thalurania colombica) – Simply stunning at the El Dorado feeders, with a few others down the slope. We saw the "Violet-crowned" type, which has recently been re-lumped with "Green-crowned" as "Crowned" (a good decision).
STEELY-VENTED HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia saucerrottei) – Common at the Minca feeders, and others were on the lower slopes, with one as high as 1700m in a garden.
RUFOUS-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia tzacatl) – Fairly common at the Minca feeders, with a few elsewhere at lower elevations.
SAPPHIRE-BELLIED HUMMINGBIRD (Lepidopyga lilliae) – We ended up seeing a female and perhaps as many as three males, but it took quite a while, and we were fortunate to end up with good looks. As for what we saw, Sapphire-bellied was described a century ago from a couple of specimens from where we saw them (Isla Salamanca), but the birds we see are a little less sapphire than the description (but more sapphire than Sapphire-throated, known from a little farther west.) It is considered "Critically Endangered," with a population under 250! [E]
Trogonidae (Trogons)
WHITE-TIPPED QUETZAL (Pharomachrus fulgidus) – We enjoyed several good views of males and females of this striking bird, and heard more. It also occurs in the ranges of coastal Venezuela.
GARTERED TROGON (Trogon caligatus) – We had a responsive pair (it took a while) at middle elevations. The northern and western part of the split of Violaceous Trogon.
MASKED TROGON (Trogon personatus sanctaemartae) – We eventually saw this species several times at middle elevations; good views of a lovely bird. Some (e.g., Niels Krabbe) have suggested the potential for a split of this subspecies based on the voice (a longer song).
Momotidae (Motmots)
WHOOPING MOTMOT (Momotus subrufescens) – A few at and above Minca, our last, spotted by Alison, our best view in the telescope. As split from Blue-crowned Motmot (Gary Stiles in Orn. Colombiana).
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
RINGED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle torquata) – A few on the coastal slope.
AMAZON KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle amazona) – Ditto.
GREEN KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle americana) – Hank saw one along a coastal river.
Bucconidae (Puffbirds)
RUSSET-THROATED PUFFBIRD (Hypnelus ruficollis) – A fancy bird that was especially conspicuous this visit, seen well on Isla Salamanca and around Camarones. Note: some split Russet-throated (mostly in Colombia) from Double-banded (bicinctus group) of farther east and Venezuela.
MOUSTACHED PUFFBIRD (Malacoptila mystacalis) – A good find, with a pair seen well at middle elevations; it seems even less common in Santa Marta than in the Andes.
Galbulidae (Jacamars)
RUFOUS-TAILED JACAMAR (Galbula ruficauda) – This group liked tropical birds! And what a fine tropical bird, seen several times around Camarones and at and above Minca.
Ramphastidae (Toucans)
EMERALD TOUCANET (SANTA MARTA) (Aulacorhynchus prasinus lautus) – Seen daily at upper elevations, overlapping a little with the next species. Some split this subspecies as Santa Marta Toucanet (not something about which I am enthused).
GROOVE-BILLED TOUCANET (YELLOW-BILLED) (Aulacorhynchus sulcatus calorhynchus) – We saw this toucanet a couple of times in moist forest at lower elevations. This subspecies with the yellow bill is generally lumped with Groove-billed of Venezuela.
COLLARED ARACARI (Pteroglossus torquatus) – We had two encounters our last morning as we descended the mountain.
KEEL-BILLED TOUCAN (Ramphastos sulfuratus) – A great tropical family, and this was the best of the best. Heard almost daily and seen regularly, with one terrific encounter with a displaying pair, calling, bowing, and breaking off twigs.
Picidae (Woodpeckers)
SCALED PICULET (Picumnus squamulatus) – An uncommon species in this area and one that we do not routinely see (and somewhat local overall); good views of a family group at 1200m.
CHESTNUT PICULET (Picumnus cinnamomeus) – A distinctive and beautiful piculet with which we were lucky, finding it twice in the arid woodlands near Camarones.

The female White-tailed Starfrontlet is lovely as well. And the feeder is realism -- the other hummingbird photographs were made possible by nearby feeders at the ProAves lodges. (Photo by guide Richard Webster)

RED-CROWNED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes rubricapillus) – Widespread at lower elevations; a familiar genus.
RED-RUMPED WOODPECKER (Veniliornis kirkii) – We saw a pair in the mangroves on Isla Salamanca.
GOLDEN-OLIVE WOODPECKER (Colaptes rubiginosus) – We saw a couple at middle elevations. C. r. alleni (endemic but not all that distinctive?).
SPOT-BREASTED WOODPECKER (Colaptes punctigula) – We had good views of this open-country woodpecker on Isla Salamanca.
LINEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus lineatus) – We saw one our last morning, giving us a chance for not only a mental comparison of Lineated and Crimson-crested Woodpeckers (similar but different), but of Tom's reactions to large woodpeckers (identical exuberance).
CRIMSON-CRESTED WOODPECKER (Campephilus melanoleucos) – Good views of this lovely creature twice in the middle elevation forests.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
BARRED FOREST-FALCON (Micrastur ruficollis) – Mostly heard, but for some one evening at the lodge, a bird perched for an instant and its mate in flight.
CRESTED CARACARA (Caracara cheriway) – Common around Camarones, and at least one other in the lowlands.
YELLOW-HEADED CARACARA (Milvago chimachima chimachima) – Widespread in small numbers in the lowlands, including in Barranquilla.
AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius) – Hank spotted one from the bus.
MERLIN (Falco columbarius) – One took a bat at dawn as we were watching the Chestnut-winged Chachalacas, and another was seen near Camarones. [b]
PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus) – Hank spotted an adult at Camarones, most likely a migrant or wintering bird (though there are resident populations in Colombia). [b]
Psittacidae (Parrots)
SANTA MARTA PARAKEET (Pyrrhura viridicata) – We were fortunate one morning to have repeated sightings, including some perched birds of this "Endangered" species (population under 10,000), because on our second visit we had just a couple heard/glimpsed. We wanted more (our encounters were not long), but we were happy to have had good looks. [E]
SCARLET-FRONTED PARAKEET (Aratinga wagleri wagleri) – Mostly in flight, but we had several amusing encounters with this loud bird, and some nice behavior (nape nibling, kissy-kissy, etc.).
BROWN-THROATED PARAKEET (Aratinga pertinax) – In the lowlands, with some telescope views of perched birds, starting in Barranquilla and continuing along the whole coastal transect.
MILITARY MACAW (Ara militaris) – It did not last long, but it was a thrill to have a fly-over above Minca of a bird we see less than half the time. Although it has a huge range, it is local and threatened, considered "Vulnerable" with a population under 15,000.
GREEN-RUMPED PARROTLET (Forpus passerinus) – We had some great views of this lovely parrotlet, including coming to drink below us in the Camarones area.
ORANGE-CHINNED PARAKEET (Brotogeris jugularis) – Seen well above our lunch table the first day, and again near Minca.
RED-BILLED PARROT (Pionus sordidus saturatus) – Seen daily in flight in the mountains, and we had them perched near the lodge once.
BLUE-HEADED PARROT (Pionus menstruus) – A couple briefly in flight near Minca.
SCALY-NAPED PARROT (Amazona mercenarius) – None perched (as usual), but some good visual-vocal encounters with pairs moving along the ridgetop in the early morning.
Thamnophilidae (Typical Antbirds)
BLACK-CRESTED ANTSHRIKE (Sakesphorus canadensis pulchellus) – We had some nice looks at males and females on Isla Salamanca and again around Camarones. This subspecies (including phainoleucus) is noted as being vocally and morphologically distinctive (e.g., Handbook of the Birds of the World).
BARRED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus doliatus) – Heard above Minca, where some saw a female.
BLACK-BACKED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus melanonotus) – We worked on this bird near Minca, and found a pair, getting good views of both the male and female inside the semi-deciduous woodland.
WHITE-FRINGED ANTWREN (NORTHERN) (Formicivora grisea intermedia) – We saw several in the arid scrub around Camarones, even feeding on the ground. This subspecies is split on some lists as Northern White-fringed, F. intermedia; the female is especially different in plumage, being white below with black streaks, rather than plain buffy.
SANTA MARTA ANTBIRD (Drymophila hellmayri) – We saw this endemic twice, first in tall bamboo (Guadua), then in low bracken. Recently split (Isler et al., Condor 2012), this was formerly part of Long-tailed Antbird. What intrigues me is that it lives in lower elevation bracken rather than the higher-elevation, low, dense Chusquea type bamboo that is abundant at the top of the San Lorenzo ridge, and is used by other populations. [E]
Grallariidae (Antpittas)

Santa Marta Antpitta is, like the wood-quail, hard to see in the wild but, thanks to a feeding program, views like this are possible (but not a sure thing -- antpittas have minds and stomachs of their own). (Photo by guide Richard Webster)

SANTA MARTA ANTPITTA (Grallaria bangsi) – Fortunately, the feeding program was working well at El Dorado, at least the first day!, and we had good looks at one worm-devouring bird. Otherwise, we heard a few. [E]
RUFOUS ANTPITTA (Grallaria rufula spatiator) – We failed a few times, then tried again, and were delighted when a bird popped up in front of Vivian, and allowed everyone to slide slowly toward her. This subspecies is vocally distinctive, and is likely to be split (along with about six other types of Rufous Antpitta) in a detailed paper that is under preparation.
RUSTY-BREASTED ANTPITTA (RUSTY-BREASTED) (Grallaricula ferrugineipectus ferrugineipectus) – Quite common by voice at middle elevations, we found a responsive pair after modest effort, and had good views. This subspecies group, shared with Venezuela, is likely to be split from leymebambae of S Ecuador to Bolivia.
Rhinocryptidae (Tapaculos)
SANTA MARTA TAPACULO (Scytalopus sanctaemartae) – After not connecting a few times, we found a very responsive bird, with good enough looks to see the few white crown feathers (not vital, but nice; the voice is most distinctive). [E]
BROWN-RUMPED TAPACULO (Scytalopus latebricola) – We were also having trouble with this upper-elevation endemic, but then had good looks in the comfortable situation of perching on a roadbank! [E]
Furnariidae (Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers)
GRAY-THROATED LEAFTOSSER (Sclerurus albigularis) – One of the best aesthetic experiences of the tour was a subtle one--a leaftosser tossing leaves, with gusto, even abandon, as spotted by Sandy during a walk away from the lodge one afternoon. It is considered "Near Threatened."
BLACK-BANDED WOODCREEPER (Dendrocolaptes picumnus) – Well, it was responsive, but mostly vocally, and not easily seen, or for long.
STRONG-BILLED WOODCREEPER (Xiphocolaptes promeropirhynchus) – We had a couple of encounters, although only fair looks overhead, and heard several others, including right around the lodge. X. p. sanctaemartae, part of the nominate, Andean group.
COCOA WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus susurrans) – An almost instantaneous response for eye-level views (a Good woodcreeper!). As split from Buff-throated Woodcreeper.
STRAIGHT-BILLED WOODCREEPER (Dendroplex picus) – Several around the Camarones area and Isla Salamanca; quick views.
MONTANE WOODCREEPER (Lepidocolaptes lacrymiger sanctaemartae) – One spotted by Tom with our first mixed flock, and several more seen later. This is regarded as a candidate for a split (e.g., by Niels Krabbe).
PLAIN XENOPS (Xenops minutus) – Two were seen with a mixed flock on the lower slopes.
PALE-LEGGED HORNERO (CARIBBEAN) (Furnarius leucopus longirostris) – We heard a few, and saw one responsive bird near Camarones. This northern population is split in some lists as Caribbean Hornero.
MONTANE FOLIAGE-GLEANER (Anabacerthia striaticollis anxia) – Several views of birds dead-leaf searching while traveling with mixed flocks.
SANTA MARTA FOLIAGE-GLEANER (Automolus rufipectus) – We had to work on this skulker a couple of times, but eventually had views for all, some of them quite close. A series of papers (Krabbe, Bull. B.O.C.; Claramunt et al. 2013 Condor) have detailed the voice and genetics of what was a subspecies of Ruddy Foliage-gleaner. It is most closely related to Ruddy (but is a good split), and then to Henna-hooded; expect it to become Clibanornis rufipectus in a generic realignment. It is considered "Near Threatened." [E]
SPOTTED BARBTAIL (Premnoplex brunnescens) – Gabo got us on one traveling with a mixed flock near the lodge. Widespread, it is uncommon on the San Lorenzo ridge. P. b. coloratus.

Participant Sandy Paci captured this great view of a difficult endemic, Santa Marta Bush-Tyrant, at San Lorenzo.

STREAK-CAPPED SPINETAIL (Cranioleuca hellmayri) – We saw fewer than normal, but did see several of this arboreal spinetail, and heard more with mixed flocks. It occurs in the Sierra de Perija of Colombia and Venezuela, but for birders it is effectively a Santa Marta endemic!
YELLOW-CHINNED SPINETAIL (Certhiaxis cinnamomeus) – An unusually bold pair on Isla Salamanca provided good views of this marsh-loving furnariid.
PALE-BREASTED SPINETAIL (Synallaxis albescens) – We heard and then saw one on a disturbed hillside above Minca.
RUSTY-HEADED SPINETAIL (Synallaxis fuscorufa) – This relative of Rufous Spinetail was fairly common by voice at higher elevations, and, once we weren't trying very hard, showed up even better for good views. It is considered "Vulnerable," with a population of under 10,000. [E]
WHITE-WHISKERED SPINETAIL (Synallaxis candei) – A lovely spinetail, endemic to the coastal desert of the region. We had good views near Camarones, including of birds feeding on the ground.
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
SOUTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET (Camptostoma obsoletum) – One seen below Minca.
WHITE-THROATED TYRANNULET (Mecocerculus leucophrys) – On the top of the ridge, where fairly common and easily viewed, at least early in the morning.
YELLOW-CROWNED TYRANNULET (Tyrannulus elatus) [*]
YELLOW-BELLIED ELAENIA (Elaenia flavogaster) – Seen at several lowland spots.
MOUNTAIN ELAENIA (Elaenia frantzii) – Fairly common by voice in the mountains, with periodic sightings, e.g., at a fruiting sapling in the El Dorado clearing.
OCHRE-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Mionectes oleagineus) – Good views around and above Minca.
SEPIA-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Leptopogon amaurocephalus) – One near Minca.
SOOTY-HEADED TYRANNULET (Phyllomyias griseiceps) – Wonderfully responsive above Minca, coming down to near eye level, calling all the time.
BLACK-CAPPED TYRANNULET (Phyllomyias nigrocapillus) – One along the ridge, seen fairly well in the low canopy there; a rather yellow subspecies (flavimentum).
PALTRY TYRANNULET (MOUNTAIN) (Zimmerius vilissimus improbus) – We saw this uncommon bird twice (we usually miss it), most remarkably a bird that dropped to the ground to drink from a ditch (some photos!). After a series of papers by Rheindt et al., tyrannulets of this genus have increasingly been split, and this taxon is called Specious Tyrannulet (a sense of humor) or Venezuelan, Z. improbus, in some lists. This Santa Marta population is very poorly known, and its status versus Venezuelan ones is uncertain.
GOLDEN-FACED TYRANNULET (GOLDEN-FACED) (Zimmerius chrysops minimus) – Also uncommon, we had more and better views than normal above Minca. The same series of papers has resulted in splits in this species as Coopmans's Tyrannulet, Z. minimus, this being the endemic subspecies of Santa Marta (status versus Venezuelan populations not well resolved). What seems strange to me is how quiet they are versus other Colombian populations of "Golden-faced."

Alison and Gabo collecting memories of our visit to El Dorado (Photo by guide Richard Webster)

NORTHERN SCRUB-FLYCATCHER (Sublegatus arenarum) – Seen well in the mangroves on Isla Salamanca and in the dry woodland near Camarones.
SLENDER-BILLED TYRANNULET (Inezia tenuirostris) – Common by voice, and seen several times in the dry scrub near Camarones. A regional endemic. a.k.a. Slender-billed Inezia.
PALE-TIPPED TYRANNULET (Inezia caudata) – We had one responsive bird come right overhead in dry woodland near Camarones. a.k.a. Pale-tipped Inezia.
PALE-EYED PYGMY-TYRANT (Atalotriccus pilaris) – It took several attempts, but eventually we had fairly good looks in moist woodland at and above Minca.
BLACK-THROATED TODY-TYRANT (Hemitriccus granadensis lehmanni) – Good views of one in wet forest above the lodge.
COMMON TODY-FLYCATCHER (Todirostrum cinereum) – Briefly for some at our first stop on Isla Salamanca.
YELLOW-BREASTED FLYCATCHER (OCHRE-LORED) (Tolmomyias flaviventris aurulentus) – Good views twice, first near Camarones, then near Minca.
CINNAMON FLYCATCHER (Pyrrhomyias cinnamomeus assimilis) – A few at middle elevations, including along the road outside the lodge and near the Tienda. A very cinnamon, endemic subspecies that doesn't seem fundamentally different.
BRAN-COLORED FLYCATCHER (Myiophobus fasciatus) – We saw a couple in the Minca area.
TROPICAL PEWEE (Contopus cinereus) – One in a coffee plantation above Minca.
VERMILION FLYCATCHER (Pyrocephalus rubinus) – Common in the arid Camarones area, almost the Scarlet Ibis of the land!
STREAK-THROATED BUSH-TYRANT (Myiotheretes striaticollis) – We saw one high on the San Lorenzo ridge. Not an endemic, but generally even scarcer than the (difficult) endemic.
SANTA MARTA BUSH-TYRANT (Myiotheretes pernix) – One of the more difficult endemics, we were lucky with a quick appearance and re-appearance of two, ending up with good looks our first morning up high. It is considered "Endangered," with a population under 1700. [E]
PIED WATER-TYRANT (Fluvicola pica) – Seen well on marshy Isla Salamanca and along channels near Camarones.
WHITE-HEADED MARSH TYRANT (Arundinicola leucocephala) – One male on our return through Isla Salamanca was seen well.
YELLOW-BELLIED CHAT-TYRANT (Ochthoeca diadema jesupi) – A responsive bird came in close on the ridge top, and a couple more were heard; an endemic subspecies that does not seem all that different.
CATTLE TYRANT (Machetornis rixosa) – Good views of this terrestrial flycatcher, first on Isla Salamanca, later around Camarones.
BRIGHT-RUMPED ATTILA (Attila spadiceus) – Heard once, and seen by Hank.
DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tuberculifer) – In small numbers, but seen (and heard) on several days.
PANAMA FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus panamensis) – Your guide will admit to some uncertainty versus Venezuelan Flycatcher, but the birds of this type near Minca looked and sounded like Panama.
BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tyrannulus) – Several in the expected area of Camarones; one near Minca looked perfect (it was silent), but was at a new area for this tour (but may not be a big deal).
GREAT KISKADEE (Pitangus sulphuratus) – Sitting on chairs by the pool in Barranquilla, and regular thereafter at lower elevations.
BOAT-BILLED FLYCATCHER (Megarynchus pitangua) – Several good views on the moist lower slopes of the range.
RUSTY-MARGINED FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes cayanensis) – A couple of pairs were studied (versus Social) near Minca.
SOCIAL FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes similis) – A little more widespread than the previous; like it, a lowland bird with a huge range.
GOLDEN-CROWNED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes chrysocephalus) – A couple of encounters, and more heard in the mid-montane forest; medium-distance views.
STREAKED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes maculatus) – Seen very well, including on utility lines, at Minca.
PIRATIC FLYCATCHER (Legatus leucophaius) – Very vocal around Minca, with several seen on our morning walk.
TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus) – Small numbers along the coastal plain.
GRAY KINGBIRD (Tyrannus dominicensis) – Sandy saw one wintering bird; others may already have headed north into the Caribbean. [b]
Cotingidae (Cotingas)
GOLDEN-BREASTED FRUITEATER (Pipreola aureopectus) – Not uncommon, but hard to see well, and we had better views than normal, with both female and male enjoyed.
Pipridae (Manakins)
WHITE-BEARDED MANAKIN (Manacus manacus) – Good views of several females near Minca.
Tityridae (Tityras and Allies)
MASKED TITYRA (Tityra semifasciata) – Three sightings; perhaps none especially great for the whole group?
Vireonidae (Vireos)

Cuchillo San Lorenzo is an interesting mix of forest, wax palms, bamboo, and scrub. (Photo by guide Richard Webster)

BROWN-CAPPED VIREO (Vireo leucophrys) – This relative of Warbling Vireo was heard singing and seen several times in the mid-montane forests.
RED-EYED VIREO (Vireo olivaceus) – Birds seen above Minca looked more like boreal migrants than local breeders, but there was no certainty on this. [b]
YELLOW-GREEN VIREO (Vireo flavoviridis) – We saw one above Minca on 18 March, probably also a northbound migrant (or do a few winter?) (if a migrant, heading for a southerly, early-arriving population?). [b]
BLACK-WHISKERED VIREO (Vireo altiloquus) – Gustavo spotted a bird that turned out to be a Black-whiskered Vireo at 800m above Minca. This is the second time in March that we have seen this bird on this tour; it may be a regular time of passage from the wintering grounds in NW Amazonia to Caribbean breeding areas. [b]
SCRUB GREENLET (Hylophilus flavipes) – Several seen well around Camarones.
GOLDEN-FRONTED GREENLET (Hylophilus aurantiifrons) – Several in the Minca area came in closely.
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
BLACK-CHESTED JAY (Cyanocorax affinis) – Common by voice, and seen periodically in small groups in the montane forests, highest around clearings, but also well into the forest at middle elevations.
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
BLUE-AND-WHITE SWALLOW (Pygochelidon cyanoleuca) – It occurred in small numbers over the upper ridge.
SOUTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx ruficollis) – Widespread in small numbers throughout lower elevations.
PURPLE MARTIN (Progne subis) – Single males were seen at two spots on Isla Salamanca on 16 March. Common in North America, most winter (disappear to some extent) in south-central Brazil, and northbound migration is not well documented, although records are hardly a surprise in Colombia. [b]
GRAY-BREASTED MARTIN (Progne chalybea) – A few were seen around Camarones.
WHITE-WINGED SWALLOW (Tachycineta albiventer) – Tom spotted several perched on fence posts on our return through Isla Salamanca.
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica) – Small numbers were seen in the lowlands; sometimes we have seen hundreds moving along the coast at this time of year. [b]
CLIFF SWALLOW (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) – One with our large concentration of swifts over the upper ridge at 2600m was a northbound migrant. [b]
Troglodytidae (Wrens)
HOUSE WREN (SOUTHERN) (Troglodytes aedon musculus) – Several heard singing, and a couple of quick visuals at lower elevations (admittedly, we probably never tried all that hard).
STRIPE-BACKED WREN (Campylorhynchus nuchalis) – Pleasantly numerous along our walk on Isla Salamanca, with several family groups seen well.
BICOLORED WREN (Campylorhynchus griseus) – First seen on Isla Salamanca, and a rather bold yard bird at the Hotel Minca.
RUFOUS-BREASTED WREN (Pheugopedius rutilus) – Mostly heard, but we saw them well a couple of times, with work near Minca, and then with luck on our last morning down the mountain.
RUFOUS-AND-WHITE WREN (Thryophilus rufalbus) – Heard singing a little (we would have welcomed a full concert by this great singer), and seen well near Minca after playback, and again briefly above there on our return.
BUFF-BREASTED WREN (Cantorchilus leucotis) – A real skulker, we were happy to have a silent bird pop out along a channel near Camarones, and feed along the open bank.

Cuchillo San Lorenzo on a misty morning, bringing back memories of parrots and parakeets on the move at dawn (Photo by guide Richard Webster)

GRAY-BREASTED WOOD-WREN (Henicorhina leucophrys anachoreta) – It has long been known that there are two types of wood-wren in Santa Marta. A recent genetic study (Caro et al., J. Evol. Bio. 2013) shows that they are not each others closest relatives, hence the result of independent colonizations from the Andes by Gray-breasted Wood-Wren. A paper is in press splitting this upper-elevation form, which we saw well on the San Lorenzo ridge, from Gray-breasted, a result I really like.
GRAY-BREASTED WOOD-WREN (Henicorhina leucophrys bangsi) – The lower elevation taxon, it seems more similar (genetically and vocally) to Gray-breasted than the preceding, and perhaps less deserving of a split. We had good views several times.
Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)
LONG-BILLED GNATWREN (Ramphocaenus melanurus) – A couple were seen above Minca; good views for some, less so for others, as they were hard to see in the tangles.
TROPICAL GNATCATCHER (TROPICAL) (Polioptila plumbea plumbiceps) – Common around Camarones, easily seen, one of the first responders to Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls. Note the subspecies: Splits are highly likely in this widespread species.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
ORANGE-BILLED NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (Catharus aurantiirostris) – Common by voice, we were fortunate to have one move around us and climb up a viney tangle with some good viewing holes.
SWAINSON'S THRUSH (Catharus ustulatus) – A couple of birds were seen briefly by some on our last morning. [b]
YELLOW-LEGGED THRUSH (Turdus flavipes) – A common canopy voice, and somewhat shy, but common enough that with time one ends up with good views of multiples. Formerly in the genus Platycichla, but genetic studies show it is a Turdus.
PALE-BREASTED THRUSH (Turdus leucomelas) – Common in the lowlands, and in disturbed areas at middle elevations.
CLAY-COLORED THRUSH (Turdus grayi) – One seen by Hank at our hotel in Barranquilla.
BLACK-HOODED THRUSH (Turdus olivater) – Uncommon at middle elevations; several good views.
GREAT THRUSH (Turdus fuscater) – In small numbers on the upper ridge, and easily seen.
Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)

The peachy Orinocan Saltator, photographed by participant Sandy Paci

TROPICAL MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus gilvus) – We saw several around Camarones.
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis) – One along the river at lunch our first day, and a couple near Camarones, where they were even walking around on the old road we were birding. [b]
BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER (Mniotilta varia) – At least four of this migrant, from Minca up to middle elevations. [b]
PROTHONOTARY WARBLER (Protonotaria citrea) – Two were in the mangroves on Isla Salamanca; most wintering birds had probably already departed. [b]
TENNESSEE WARBLER (Oreothlypis peregrina) – One of the most common wintering warblers, with up to ten in a day in the montane forests. [b]
MOURNING WARBLER (Geothlypis philadelphia) – We had two at 1200m, an uncommon winterer this far south. One was quite responsive, and provided good views of what is often a skulker. [b]
AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla) – A fairly common winterer, seen almost daily as we went up and down the ridge. [b]
MAGNOLIA WARBLER (Setophaga magnolia) – One was in the forest canopy at 2100m on 19 March, seen by Meredith and perhaps a few others. Magnolia winters primarily in Central America, and is rare this far south. [b]
BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER (Setophaga fusca) – One of the more regularly encountered winterers, and a lovely one, some getting quite ready for a trip back to the breeding grounds. [b]
YELLOW WARBLER (NORTHERN) (Setophaga petechia aestiva) – A few along the coastal slope in open or disturbed areas. [b]
RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER (Basileuterus rufifrons) – This attractive bird was seen at several stops on the lower slopes. We saw B. r. mesochrysus in the delatrii group.
SANTA MARTA WARBLER (Myiothlypis basilica) – We probably had four encounters with this warbler, all involving typical skulking behavior; eventually seen well by most, but for some just some quick views. After genetic studies, about half of Basileuterus was moved into Myiothlypis. It is considered "Vulnerable" with a population under 2,500. [E]
WHITE-LORED WARBLER (Myiothlypis conspicillata) – Fairly common, and much easier to see than the preceding. Occurring at lower elevations, we saw them each day we birded down from the lodge in the moist forest. It is considered "Near Threatened." [E]
SLATE-THROATED REDSTART (Myioborus miniatus) – Farily common on the lower slopes.
YELLOW-CROWNED REDSTART (Myioborus flavivertex) – This beauty was less apparent than normal, but we had good views both times we reached the upper elevations, including a very confiding bird near our breakfast spot. [E]
Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)
WHITE-SHOULDERED TANAGER (Tachyphonus luctuosus) – We saw males twice. It is an uncommon bird in this area, although widespread in the tropics.
WHITE-LINED TANAGER (Tachyphonus rufus) – A few of this strongly dimorphic tanager were seen in disturbed areas on the lower slopes, up to 1700m in a garden.
CRIMSON-BACKED TANAGER (Ramphocelus dimidiatus) – A brilliant bird, seen around and above Minca.
BLACK-CHEEKED MOUNTAIN-TANAGER (Anisognathus melanogenys) – We had good views, but only of one little group, of a bird that we normally encounter more often. a.k.a. Santa Marta Mountain-Tanager. [E]
BUFF-BREASTED MOUNTAIN-TANAGER (BUFF-BREASTED) (Dubusia taeniata carrikeri) – Widespread in the Andes, but one of the rarer montane species on the San Lorenzo ridge, and we were fortunate to have good views of two birds of the endemic subspecies (the voice of which is similar in pattern, but different in quality, from Andean populations).

Afternoons at El Dorado provided an opportunity to read as well as bird, Trish and Raymond demonstrating. (Photo by guide Richard Webster)

BLUE-GRAY TANAGER (Thraupis episcopus) – Common at lower elevations. Most of the members of Thraupis are genetically in the middle of Tangara, and may be merged into Tangara.
GLAUCOUS TANAGER (Thraupis glaucocolpa) – We had good views of several at a bathroom stop en route to Riohacha; a specialty of the arid northern coast of South America.
PALM TANAGER (Thraupis palmarum) – A few at lower elevations.
BLUE-CAPPED TANAGER (Thraupis cyanocephala) – A few of this widespread Andean tanager were seen at middle elevations. A recent genetic study shows that it is not related to other "Thraupis" but is part of the mountain-tanager group, and may be returned to its old generic name, Sporathraupis, or lumped more generally into Anisognathus/Buthraupis.
BLACK-HEADED TANAGER (Tangara cyanoptera) – An uncommon tanager of the lower slopes; we had two encounters above Minca.
BLACK-CAPPED TANAGER (Tangara heinei) – In small numbers at middle elevations, including on the fruit feeders at El Dorado.
BAY-HEADED TANAGER (Tangara gyrola) – Fairly common at lower and middle elevations.
SWALLOW TANAGER (Tersina viridis) – This beautiful bird was fairly common on the lower slopes, and appeared to be nesting in some of the road banks. Many good views.
BLUE DACNIS (Dacnis cayana) – Two near Minca.
RED-LEGGED HONEYCREEPER (Cyanerpes cyaneus) – Nice views of a few on our morning walk near the Hotel Minca.
BLACK FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa humeralis nocticolor) – Notably common this year, mostly seen on the upper ridge, but also a couple in gardens downslope to 1900m (El Dorado) and 1700m.
WHITE-SIDED FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa albilatera) – Fairly common, mostly occurring in the gardens at middle elevations, where we had close views of birds piercing the flowers.
RUSTY FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa sittoides) – Singles were seen at several spots on the lower slopes, in gardens and around plantations.
BLUE-BLACK GRASSQUIT (Volatinia jacarina) – Several were seen in grassy areas near Minca.
YELLOW-BELLIED SEEDEATER (Sporophila nigricollis) – Several above Minca.
THICK-BILLED SEED-FINCH (Oryzoborus funereus) – We saw one singing male above Minca. Lesser Seed-Finch has been split into this western form and Chestnut-bellied of Amazonia.
PILEATED FINCH (Coryphospingus pileatus) – We had a better encounter than normal, with one bird showing off its usually recumbent red crest.
BANANAQUIT (Coereba flaveola) – Fairly common around Camarones.
BLACK-FACED GRASSQUIT (Tiaris bicolor) – Typically scarce; we saw two near Camarones, and two on the lower slopes of the ridge.
ROSY THRUSH-TANAGER (Rhodinocichla rosea) – We heard one of this skulker on our way up, and, on our way back, Vivian and Tom got some of us on a briefly responsive bird above Minca, a real beauty. Its taxonomic placement is still uncertain; it may end up in a monotypic family.
STREAKED SALTATOR (Saltator striatipectus) – Fairly common on the lower slopes.
GRAYISH SALTATOR (Saltator coerulescens) – Common on the coastal slope, starting at breakfast at our hotel in Barranquilla.
ORINOCAN SALTATOR (Saltator orenocensis) – Always a tough species to find around Camarones, but we did find a pair, and enjoy good views of this attractive species, shared with Venezuela.
BUFF-THROATED SALTATOR (Saltator maximus) – Several on the lower slopes.
Emberizidae (Buntings and New World Sparrows)
GOLDEN-WINGED SPARROW (Arremon schlegeli) – A real beauty, at which we had good looks twice on the lower slopes at and above Minca.

Sierra Nevada Brush-Finch is a split of the widespread Stripe-headed Brush-Finch. (Photo by guide Richard Webster)

SIERRA NEVADA BRUSH-FINCH (Arremon basilicus) – Seen best at the wood-quail feeder at El Dorado, with another good look in the forest below there. As split from Stripe-headed/Gray-browed Brush-Finch (formerly Buarremon torquatus basilicus). [E]
TOCUYO SPARROW (Arremonops tocuyensis) – One of our luckier finds of the tour, one popping up as we searched for cardinals near Camarones. Brief, good views.
BLACK-STRIPED SPARROW (Arremonops conirostris) – A couple were seen on our morning walk near Minca.
SANTA MARTA BRUSH-FINCH (Atlapetes melanocephalus) – Many good views, most memorably of the ones that shared breakfast with us high on the ridge. Or the one eating banana at the Tienda. Or the ones sharing the wood-quail feeder. [E]
RUFOUS-COLLARED SPARROW (Zonotrichia capensis) – In small numbers, mostly in the scattered gardens at middle elevations.
Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)
SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra) – At least eight wintering birds at lower and middle elevations on the ridge. [b]
SCARLET TANAGER (Piranga olivacea) – Brief views on 22 March for some of two males in breeding plumage; perhaps wintering, but more likely northbound migrants? [b]
VERMILION CARDINAL (Cardinalis phoeniceus) – A struggle this year near Camarones, eventually seen three times (two males, one female), but somewhat shy and unresponsive.
ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus ludovicianus) – About ten wintering birds. [b]
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus) – Widespread along the coastal margin.
CARIB GRACKLE (Quiscalus lugubris) – Seen only at lunch stops, although the causation is uncertain! First along the river on Day 1, then on the beach on Day 2.
YELLOW-HOODED BLACKBIRD (Chrysomus icterocephalus) – We saw some in the marshes on our return trip to Isla Salamanca.
SHINY COWBIRD (Molothrus bonariensis) – On the coastal slope.
BRONZED COWBIRD (BRONZE-BROWN) (Molothrus aeneus armenti) – A scarce bird, not seen every trip; some stables can be a good spot, and were this visit, with two birds seen. This southernmost population is sometimes split, although I am not aware of any real analysis of display or vocalizations.
YELLOW-BACKED ORIOLE (Icterus chrysater) – Uncommon on this range. We saw two that Gabo heard and then located on the lower slopes our last morning.
YELLOW ORIOLE (Icterus nigrogularis) – Several encounters on the coastal slope.
BALTIMORE ORIOLE (Icterus galbula) – Three seen (Isla Salamanca, en route to Riohacha, and near Minca). [b]
CRESTED OROPENDOLA (Psarocolius decumanus) – Trish loved this bird. With good reason. As she said, they are hilarious. To the birds, it is really serious, but the amazing range of noises and elaborate displays, wonderfully in view at El Dorado, are, well, hilarious!
Fringillidae (Siskins, Crossbills, and Allies)

We saw some of our most interesting hummingbirds when visiting the not exactly native eucalytpus, which was flowering during our tour. (Photo by guide Richard Webster)

TRINIDAD EUPHONIA (Euphonia trinitatis) – This euphonia occurs across the northern edge of South America. We saw several pairs near Camarones.
THICK-BILLED EUPHONIA (Euphonia laniirostris) – Fairly common on the lower slopes.
BLUE-NAPED CHLOROPHONIA (Chlorophonia cyanea) – Trish found our first, at El Dorado, where there were several more sightings of this lovely bird, along with a few more downslope.
LESSER GOLDFINCH (Spinus psaltria) – A few our last morning.
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) – Hank saw one in Camarones while making a photography foray. [I]

RED HOWLER MONKEY (Alouatta seniculus) – We heard them regularly, including way below us from the ridge top, and were then lucky to see a group moving through the crowns on an afternoon walk near the lodge, including a mother with a baby strapped to her belly ("strapped" meaning the youngster's arms wrapped tight!).
NORTHERN TAMANDUA (Tamandua mexicana) – This is not a good trip for mammals, but we did have one extra-lucky encounter, with a Tamandua anteater near the northeastern edge of its range, moving through the low canopy of dry woodland near Camarones. Good views, although photography was not easy with all the vines and branches in the way.
RED-TAILED SQUIRREL (Sciurus granatensis) – We saw squirrels regularly, of various colors, although similar builds. Eisenberg et al. list this species for this area, and we are taking that, while acknowledging that squirrel taxonomy is a huge mess in South America.
KINKAJOU (Potos flavus) – Some folks saw this nocturnal mammal after our owling venture; ID courtesy of Gustavo, who double-checked it.


Other critters:


various Ameiva type lizards (Teiidae)

Morphos, several times, but overall not all that many butterflies

Cicadas, fewer than sometimes, thank heavens, but some formidable ones, physically and, especially, stridulationally!

some special fish, like Robalo, Sierra, Mojarra, and Pargo, all recently deceased, and on our plates!

Totals for the tour: 328 bird taxa and 4 mammal taxa