Field Guides
Home Tours Guides News About Us FAQ Contact Us
Field Guides Tour Report
Colombia: Santa Marta Escape 2016
Mar 5, 2016 to Mar 14, 2016
Richard Webster & Carlos Villa

One of our glorious early mornings on the San Lorenzo ridge, admiring sunrise coming from behind the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta before the clouds billowed up from the lowlands. Photo by guide Richard Webster.

It was a wonderful escape from winter weather. While the Caribbean coast was lovely, folks seemed happiest at El Dorado, where the climate was perfect, the feeders were hopping, and we were within striking distance of the incredible view to the full Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

Many came a day early and enjoyed a half day of birding in the shrinking marshes on Isla Salamanca, highlighted by unprecedented numbers of Northern Screamers.

The tour started with dawn with the Chestnut-winged Chachalacas chorusing and continued with a different venue on Isla Salamanca, where we saw Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird, Chestnut Piculet, and Golden-green Woodpecker (oh yes, and Prothonotary Warblers!).

An afternoon and a morning around Camarones produced a better than average selection of specialties of the arid coast, including Vermilion Cardinal, Tocuyo Sparrow, White-whiskered Spinetail, Buffy Hummingbird, and Slender-billed Tyrannulet. The lagoon was birdy this visit, featuring an excellent variety of terns and gulls, including several rarities.

On this longer version of the tour we had a day for Parque Nacional Tayrona, always lovely, but not always packed with birds. However we had a truly great hour that featured a female Blue-billed Curassow in the road, a fabulous display by Lance-tailed Manakins, and a close troop of Cotton-top Tamarins. The Red Howlers later that morning were special, too.

From there we headed up the mountain, starting with a night at the Hotel Minca, its busy feeders (including a Golden-winged Sparrow on the fruit tray), and the nearby woodlands. The birding became tougher, and while on the San Lorenzo ridge we were perhaps a little under average because of extra-dry conditions (El Nino in northern Colombia), all those cicadas, and two small fires on the top, one of them still smoldering.

Even so, we saw almost all the endemics, missing two difficult hummingbirds and only hearing two of the skulkers, while having good looks at most of the rest. The Santa Marta Parakeets were the closest ever and Santa Marta Warbler as cooperative as could be imagined, and we enjoyed fine views of the stunning White-tailed Starfrontlet, Yellow-crowned Redstart, Santa Marta Bush-Tyrant (a close call), Black-cheeked Mountain-Tanager, and Santa Marta Tapaculo.

While the endemics are a focus, there are many other great birds on the mountain. In addition to the hummingbirds, the lodge was feeding Black-fronted Wood-Quail, Band-tailed Guans, and Blue-naped Chlorophonias. Other lovely birds included White-tipped Quetzal, Masked Trogon (so tame), Crowned Woodnymph, Emerald and Groove-billed toucanets, Black-chested Jay, and Crimson-backed and Swallow tanagers. In the good fortune department were day-roosting Black-and-white Owls and the undescribed screech-owl.

We saw a landscape that has been greatly altered by humans. BirdLife estimates that perhaps only 15% of the Sierra's forests remain (the ProAves El Dorado reserve is, indeed, an important one). We saw 2 Critically Endangered species, 2 Endangered, 6 Vulnerable, and 7 Near Threatened, along with many range-restricted birds.

Our trip was made easier by ProAves' great places to stay on the mountain (thanks to Elizabeth and colleagues), and all of our logistical help (Virgilio, Antonio, and their friends). Apologies to the Spanish language for all the orthographic marks dropped because we use multiple computer platforms. Conservation information is drawn from the publications of BirdLife International. The underlying taxonomy follows Clements/Cornell with comments.


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

Anhimidae (Screamers)
NORTHERN SCREAMER (Chauna chavaria) – Pre-tour: Cheri pointed out the first bird overhead, and they kept coming in amazing waves. We probably saw some of the same birds repeatedly, but there were obviously a bunch out there (30?) of a species that we normally don't see, and just see one or two when we are lucky. Perhaps the very dry conditions had concentrated them. It is considered "Near Threatened," with a population under 7,000.
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
WHITE-FACED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna viduata) – Pre-tour: Good numbers in the marshes on Isla Salamanca, about 75 total, including one large, pure flock.
BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna autumnalis) – Pre-tour: The least common of the three species of Whistling-Duck.
FULVOUS WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna bicolor) – Pre-tour: The most common of the three, perhaps 350, mostly distant flocks in flight, but some going overhead.
BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Anas discors) – Pre-tour: Common in the shrinking marshes of Isla Salamanca. [b]
Cracidae (Guans, Chachalacas, and Curassows)
CHESTNUT-WINGED CHACHALACA (Ortalis garrula) – Our first morning near Barranquilla provided a fine concert from multiple flocks of this endemic, and as it got brighter we had some OK looks as well as birds foraged in the taller trees. [E]
BAND-TAILED GUAN (Penelope argyrotis) – Our best views at El Dorado were in the evening when a few would emerge to eat fruit on the lodge's platform feeders.
SICKLE-WINGED GUAN (Chamaepetes goudotii sanctaemarthae) – There may have been four different encounters, ranging from a bird running across the road to two in a tree next to the road at dawn, plus Cheri and Susie heard one displaying out a lodge trail and Mary and Max saw them from their balcony.

The biggest surprise of the tour: Blue-billed Curassow in the road in PN Tayrona. This Critically Endangered species is known from here, but was thought to be miles out trails, so it was a thrill to see one on our short visit. Photo by participant Max Rodel.

BLUE-BILLED CURASSOW (Crax alberti) – One of the highlights of the trip: A striking female foraging on fallen fruits in the road at PN Tayrona was admired at length. This Critically Endangered species has an estimated population of under 700 individuals. Tayrona NP is a well-known site, but the birds have generally been long hikes away from where we saw ours; hopefully an encouraging sign for the future. [E]
Odontophoridae (New World Quail)
CRESTED BOBWHITE (Colinus cristatus) – We miss this species on most trips, so it was very nice to see a large covey coming to water near Camarones. Good views.
BLACK-FRONTED WOOD-QUAIL (Odontophorus atrifrons) – A prize yet one more time, as two or three birds were coming to the El Dorado lodge's cracked corn feeders to feed, providing excellent views of a bird that we otherwise only heard way out in the forest. It is considered "Vulnerable," with a population under 7,000.
Fregatidae (Frigatebirds)
MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD (Fregata magnificens) – This tropical classic was enjoyed several times along the Caribbean beaches.
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax brasilianus) – Abundant at Camarones, where large flocks were on the mudflats, and smaller numbers were seen elsewhere in marshes, rivers, and coastal habitats.
Pelecanidae (Pelicans)
BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis) – Small flocks were seen frequently along the Caribbean coast.
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
COCOI HERON (Ardea cocoi) – Pre-tour: A half dozen of this lovely relative of the Great Blue were seen in coastal marshes.
GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba) – Fairly common in the coastal marshes and common on the mudflats at Camarones.
SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula) – Common in coastal wetlands.

Crimson-backed Tanager was one of many lovely visitors to the Hotel Minca fruit tray. Photo by participant Max Rodel.

LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea) – Adults were along the Rio Piedras by our restaurant, and a few were, pre-tour, on Isla Salamanca.
TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor) – Pre-tour: A half dozen at Isla Salamanca.
REDDISH EGRET (Egretta rufescens) – About five, all dark, were foraging (lurching and dancing) at Camarones. It is considered "Near Threatened."
CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis) – A few small flocks with domestic stock.
GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens) – One on Isla Salamanca on 5 March (Pre-tour) and one along the Rio Piedras at our restaurant on 6 March; near the southern end of its wintering range. [b]
STRIATED HERON (Butorides striata) – Singles along the Rio Piedras by the restaurant (across from Tayrona).
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus) – Common at Camarones, with nice views of birds coming to drink at a stock pond and others feeding on the flats.
SCARLET IBIS (Eudocimus ruber) – Small numbers, with a few orange and several pink, but none in full scarlet. It is not clear whether this reflects immaturity, hybridization with White, or diet.
GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus) – Pre-tour: Common in marshes on Isla Salamanca.
BARE-FACED IBIS (Phimosus infuscatus) – Pre-tour: Small numbers on Isla Salamanca.

Waterbirds are not a major component of the tour, but we have some nice moments, such as this collection near Camarones: Roseate Spoonbill, White Ibis, and Snowy Egret, with what looks like a Carib Grackle in back. Photo by participant Ron Majors.

ROSEATE SPOONBILL (Platalea ajaja) – Many lovely birds were feeding on the lagoon at Camarones (about 60).
Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus) – Common at lower elevations.
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura) – Daily, with a few well up on the ridge and many more in the lowlands.
LESSER YELLOW-HEADED VULTURE (Cathartes burrovianus) – Some good views of this marsh-loving vulture on Isla Salamanca.
KING VULTURE (Sarcoramphus papa) – Jay spotted two distant adults above Minca, and one of them came nicely closer.
Pandionidae (Osprey)
OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus) – Four wintering birds, including two above the Rio Piedras , one at Camarones, and one along the coast at La Jorara. [b]
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
PEARL KITE (Gampsonyx swainsonii) – One at the toll station en route to Riohacha; distant, but nice in the telescope, then seen in flight.
HOOK-BILLED KITE (Chondrohierax uncinatus) – Jay spotted a distant bird that soared higher and then by us on the San Lorenzo ridge; nice views of a rufous morph bird, widespread in South America but unusual on this tour route and at 2600m.
SWALLOW-TAILED KITE (Elanoides forficatus) – Three were seen in flight over the coffee plantations above Minca (scarce on this tour).
BLACK-COLLARED HAWK (Busarellus nigricollis) – Three pre-tour on Isla Salamanca, and Jay saw a couple there the next day.
SNAIL KITE (Rostrhamus sociabilis) – Small numbers were on the shrinking marshes of Isla Salamanca (pre-tour) and others were seen from the bus on our return to Barranquilla.
DOUBLE-TOOTHED KITE (Harpagus bidentatus) – Two soaring birds were seen at middle elevation near El Dorado.
PLUMBEOUS KITE (Ictinia plumbea) – Telescope views of a perched bird above Minca.
COMMON BLACK HAWK (Buteogallus anthracinus) – One was seen perched on Isla Salamanca (pre-tour) and an adult was seen soaring over PN Tayrona.

The Caribbean, as surveyed by Cheri, Kathe, and Carol at La Jorara. Photo by guide Richard Webster.

ROADSIDE HAWK (Rupornis magnirostris) – Two in Barranquilla (at the chachalaca spot) and one above Minca.
HARRIS'S HAWK (Parabuteo unicinctus) – Several were seen, perched and in flight, around Camarones.
WHITE-RUMPED HAWK (Parabuteo leucorrhous) – One was seen briefly near El Dorado.
BROAD-WINGED HAWK (Buteo platypterus) – About ten birds, all adults, including a couple on the coast, but mostly well up the mountain, where they winter. [b]
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
GRAY-NECKED WOOD-RAIL (Aramides cajaneus) [*]
PURPLE GALLINULE (Porphyrio martinicus) – Pre-tour: fairly common at Isla Salamanca.
COMMON GALLINULE (Gallinula galeata) – Pre-tour: also common on Isla Salamanca.
Aramidae (Limpkin)
LIMPKIN (Aramus guarauna) – Pre-tour: Several at close range on Isla Salamanca.
Burhinidae (Thick-knees)

Double-striped Thick-knee was a bonus, thanks to a spot near Riohacha known to Virgilio. Photo by participant Ron Majors.

DOUBLE-STRIPED THICK-KNEE (Burhinus bistriatus) – Virgilio had a stakeout in a pasture near Riohacha; great telescope studies.
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus) – Pre-tour: Two on Isla Salamanca.
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola) – About 15 on the flats at Camarones.
SOUTHERN LAPWING (Vanellus chilensis) – This striking shorebird of the pastures was seen well in lowland areas.
SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus) – A few on the lagoon at Camarones. [b]
Jacanidae (Jacanas)
WATTLED JACANA (Jacana jacana) – Pre-tour: Good views of the very black local population on Isla Salamanca, with more seen from the bus on our return to Barranquilla.
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius) – Ones and twos in coastal wetlands. [b]

Masked Trogons were wonderfully tame at least three times near RNA El Dorado; this is an endemic subspecies. Photo by participant Ron Majors.

SOLITARY SANDPIPER (Tringa solitaria) – Small numbers on wetlands and rivers of the coastal slope. [b]
GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca) – Perhaps 75 on the lagoon at Camarones was a high number for this spot (spring migrants?); another was on the Rio Piedras. [b]
WILLET (Tringa semipalmata) – A flock was on the flats at Camarones, looking like "Western" Willets. [b]
LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes) – Several stopped by a water hole (stock tank) near Camarones. [b]
WHIMBREL (Numenius phaeopus) – At least two were on the mudflats at Camarones. [b]
SANDERLING (Calidris alba) – Perhaps a dozen came off the beach onto the lagoon at Camarones. [b]
LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla) – Pre-Tour: Two were on a marshy pool on Isla Salamanca. [b]
SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER (Calidris pusilla) – Less than 10% of the Calidris flock at Camarones appeared to be Semipalmated. [b]
WESTERN SANDPIPER (Calidris mauri) – The common Calidris at Camarones (on some visits we see none). [b]
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
LAUGHING GULL (Leucophaeus atricilla) – A few hundred were around, plus a couple small flocks dipped down to drink on the wing from a stock tank near Camarones.

What a stunning lizard (Ameiva?), and further proof that no matter how good a photographer you are, you may be stuck with the environment it chooses. Photo by participant Ron Majors.

HERRING GULL (Larus argentatus) – One bird, about three years old, on the flats with the other gulls; rare here in Colombia, although annual. [b]
LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL (Larus fuscus) – Also an annual rarity; about four birds mixed in with other gulls. [b]
KELP GULL (Larus dominicanus) – The most noteworthy gull species of an excellent gull group, at least five birds. First recorded in Colombia by Jesse Fagan and Trevor Ellery a few years ago, this record-setting influx had been noted the day before by Alvaro Jaramillo and George Armistead. [a]
LARGE-BILLED TERN (Phaetusa simplex) – Pre-tour: At least 30 around the shrinking freshwater marshes on Isla Salamanca.
GULL-BILLED TERN (Gelochelidon nilotica) – Pre-tour: Five feeding over the wetlands on Isla Salamanca.
CASPIAN TERN (Hydroprogne caspia) – A couple dozen were with the large tern flocks at Camarones, providing good comparisons with other large terns. [b]
COMMON TERN (Sterna hirundo) – Around 75 at Camarones were many more than we have seen on other visits here. [b]
ROYAL TERN (Thalasseus maximus) – Hundreds were present on the flats, the commonest tern at Camarones. [b]
SANDWICH TERN (Thalasseus sandvicensis) – Several hundred made this the second most common tern resting on the mudflats at Camarones between fishing trips on the Caribbean. We saw about five "Cayenne" Terns with all yellow bills; these are currently treated as a morph of Sandwich. [b]
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) – A city bird, but someone at 1600m on the way up the mountain has a pigeon coop, too! [I]

Band-tailed Guans came for food every evening at RNA El Dorado. Photo by participant Max Rodel.

PALE-VENTED PIGEON (Patagioenas cayennensis) – Several were seen at the toll booth en route to Riohacha.
SCALED PIGEON (Patagioenas speciosa) – We had several good looks at this attractive pigeon in the telescope from the Minca area up to 1500m.
BARE-EYED PIGEON (Patagioenas corensis) – This distinctive pigeon, a specialty of the Guajira region, is often only seen in flight, but this year we managed telescope views of a perched bird near Camarones.
BAND-TAILED PIGEON (WHITE-NECKED) (Patagioenas fasciata albilinea) – Seen daily at middle and upper elevations on the ridge. Some were singing, and we also observed a long display flight from the El Dorado tower.
COMMON GROUND-DOVE (Columbina passerina) – In small numbers in dry areas along the coast.
RUDDY GROUND-DOVE (Columbina talpacoti) – Widespread in small numbers in the lowlands and on the lower slopes.
SCALED DOVE (Columbina squammata) – This attractive relative of the Inca Dove was seen at several locales on the coastal slope, including Isla Salamanca, where one was on a nest on 5 March. [N]
WHITE-TIPPED DOVE (Leptotila verreauxi) – Daily; everywhere up to the El Dorado lodge, where the clearing has been colonized and the feeders and compost are great viewing spots.

Lined Quail-Dove was heard regularly but made only one or two appearances at the feeders at RNA El Dorado. Photo by participant Ron Majors.

LINED QUAIL-DOVE (Zentrygon linearis) – Common by voice in the forest around El Dorado, they are more reluctant than most everything else to visit the feeders. Several of us were lucky to have good looks at one bird visiting a feeder one evening.
EARED DOVE (Zenaida auriculata) – Pre-tour: One on Isla Salamanca.
Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
SQUIRREL CUCKOO (Piaya cayana) – Several were seen along the coastal margin; Camarones, La Jorara, and PN Tayrona.
GREATER ANI (Crotophaga major) – We saw one at Isla Salamanca (usually we see none or a flock, not just one).
SMOOTH-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga ani) – Pre-tour: Isla Salamanca.
GROOVE-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga sulcirostris) – A few flocks on Isla Salamanca and at Minca.
Strigidae (Owls)
SCREECH-OWL SP. NOV. (Megascops sp. nov.) – We were fortunate to be able to visit a day roost of two birds near El Dorado. The birds were close but hard to observe well; we had two telescope angles that provided a composite of faces, tails, wings, and backs. This screech-owl was originally noted by Todd and Carriker about a century ago, but with only one specimen they were reluctant to describe it. That work is now in progress, and a recent genetic study (Dantas et al. Molec. Phyl. Evol. 2015) has confirmed that it is indeed a distinctive taxon, most closely related to Tawny-bellied and West Peruvian, not Tropical. Others were heard around the lodge most nights. [E]
FERRUGINOUS PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium brasilianum) [*]
MOTTLED OWL (Ciccaba virgata) – Heard briefly, and not responsive. [*]

Black-and-white Owl was a bonus thanks to our drivers, who knew about this stakeout, probably thanks to some other bird tour. Photo by participant Ron Majors.

BLACK-AND-WHITE OWL (Ciccaba nigrolineata) – Thanks to Antonio and colleagues we were taken to a day roost of two birds. They were not easy to see well, but we still managed pretty good telescope views of this striking, large owl.
Apodidae (Swifts)
CHESTNUT-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne rutila) – A few were seen high overhead at Minca, probably satisfactory only for those with prior experience with the species.
WHITE-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne zonaris) – Just a few were seen and not close or for long.
Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)
WHITE-NECKED JACOBIN (Florisuga mellivora) – Abundant at the Hotel Minca feeders, which was just fine with us. A spectacular bird, with a great variety of plumages leading up to the adults. Did we see any in the wild?

What a prize for a Red-crowned Woodpecker. Photo by participant Ron Majors, who loves his woodpeckers.

RUFOUS-BREASTED HERMIT (Glaucis hirsutus) – One or two were visiting the feeders at the Hotel Minca, and with time we ended up with good looks, including at the showy tail pattern.
LONG-BILLED HERMIT (CENTRAL AMERICAN) (Phaethornis longirostris susurrus) – We saw a half dozen of this species in moist, mid-montane forests. This taxon is part of a much-split group of Long-billed/Long-tailed Hermits.
PALE-BELLIED HERMIT (Phaethornis anthophilus) – Generally at lower elevations than Long-billed; seen first at La Jorara and PN Tayrona, seen best in Minca.
BROWN VIOLETEAR (Colibri delphinae) – As usual, this uncommon and local violetear (though widespread) was regular at the El Dorado feeders, with at most two at once.
GREEN VIOLETEAR (Colibri thalassinus) – The common violetear of Santa Marta, seen over an extensive altitudinal range, and locally common in flowering trees or abundant at feeders (El Dorado).
SPARKLING VIOLETEAR (Colibri coruscans) – Seemingly just seasonal on the San Lorenzo ridge, visiting from the main Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. One was Chief Thug at the El Dorado feeders, owning a feeder, changing if it went dry. In addition to thwacking hummingbirds that came to its (his?) feeder, Ron observed it chasing off a wasp as well.
BLACK-THROATED MANGO (Anthracothorax nigricollis) – A few were regular at the feeders at the Hotel Minca (mostly males).

Santa Marta Blossomcrown is one of the tougher endemics, but we have so far always found one or two, always at gardens, never in the wild. Photo by participant Ron Majors.

SANTA MARTA BLOSSOMCROWN (Anthocephala floriceps) – We seem to be dependent on finding this in one of three gardens in the mid-elevation forest, and fortunately one of the gardens was hosting one, which we enjoyed after a wait (and some help from our human hosts, who pointed it out a couple of times). "Blossomcrown" has been split into two species, in a paper that did not impress your guide at all; the genus is still endemic to Colombia, and this one to the mountain range where we were. It is considered "Vulnerable," with a population of under 7,000 (unsplit). [E]
TYRIAN METALTAIL (SANTA MARTA) (Metallura tyrianthina districta) – Common on the upper ridge, with a few as low as the El Dorado feeders. The subspecies is endemic to the range, but the variation seems minor (leapfrog in nature).
WHITE-TAILED STARFRONTLET (Coeligena phalerata) – This stunning endemic is one of the showiest of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. We were fortunate to have several (mostly males, but also females) visiting the lodge feeders repeatedly; we saw only a few very briefly in the wild. [E]
LONG-BILLED STARTHROAT (Heliomaster longirostris) – Seen at the feeders at the Hotel Minca, a last-minute save with great looks.
RED-BILLED EMERALD (Chlorostilbon gibsoni nitens) – We had good looks at a number of females and one male in the Camarones area, and had another female below Minca. This subspecies, which has little red in its bill, is allocated to Red-billed by Gary Stiles (a paper in the Wilson Bulletin), but there seems still to be much fluidity in the classification of emeralds.
COPPERY EMERALD (Chlorostilbon russatus) – This difficult regional specialty was seen twice, once at La Jorara (a female at an unusually low elevation) and once below El Dorado, a perched male in a clearing seen by Ron and several others.

Crowned Woodnymph is simply a stunning species and it was omnipresent at the RNA El Dorado feeders, making enjoying the beauty easy. Photo by participant Ron Majors.

LAZULINE SABREWING (Campylopterus falcatus) – Kathe and Jay described very well a male of this species at one of the El Dorado feeders. Not known from the Santa Marta region historically, it has been documented here several times, but this is only the second year that we have seen it. Are these wanderers/migrants, or just a tiny population? (And we can't find Santa Marta Sabrewing at all.)
WHITE-VENTED PLUMELETEER (Chalybura buffonii) – This big hummingbird was first seen at La Jorara and then repeatedly and well at the feeders of the Hotel Minca.
CROWNED WOODNYMPH (COLOMBIAN VIOLET-CROWNED) (Thalurania colombica colombica) – This hummingbird is common at middle elevations, and was, as usual, on spectacular display at the El Dorado feeders. One of the most beautiful of a beautiful family. The taxonomy is one of splits and lumps, currently (wisely) lumped; if split again, note the subspecies.
BUFFY HUMMINGBIRD (Leucippus fallax) – A specialty of the arid Caribbean coast, and one that we have missed on several tours, so it was nice when Jay spotted our first, and even better when Juan took us by a flowering tree that turned out to be hosting a couple.
STEELY-VENTED HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia saucerottei) – Common at the Hotel Minca feeders. A little bird, but big enough to use the feeders with the big brutes.

White-tipped Quetzal is not uncommon, but it's hard to find on some trips; the species was quite vocal this visit, and we saw it a couple of times. Photo by participant Ron Majors.

RUFOUS-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia tzacatl) – Fairly common at the Hotel Minca feeders, but common enough to be in view most of the time; also seen at La Jorara and PN Tayrona.
SAPPHIRE-BELLIED HUMMINGBIRD (Lepidopyga lilliae) – This Critically Endangered species is still known only from around its type locality of the mangroves on Isla Salamanca. We again saw birds that closely match the original description (although a little more green on the lower underparts). We missed the species two months earlier, so it was great to reconnect. Its status versus Sapphire-throated, which occurs not far to the west, remains to be studied thoroughly. [E]
WHITE-CHINNED SAPPHIRE (Hylocharis cyanus) – One female was at La Jorara, and it was common in PN Tayrona, where males were singing from perches high overhead.
Trogonidae (Trogons)
WHITE-TIPPED QUETZAL (Pharomachrus fulgidus) – We have had a tough time with this bird on some trips, but they were relatively vocal and conspicuous this visit, with at least three sightings and more heard. Its limited range in N Colombia and N Venezuela is similar to some other species, such as Band-tailed Guan and several of the thrushes and tanagers.
GARTERED TROGON (Trogon caligatus) – Seen twice, first a lovely bird Carlos pointed out in the fruiting fig above Minca, then a pair our last morning as we descended the mountain. As split from Violaceous Trogon.
MASKED TROGON (Trogon personatus sanctaemartae) – There were several encounters, including the one that Ron pointed out over my shoulder, which stayed so close for so long, and another similar close female the next day for part of the group while Susie and Cheri had yet more. This subspecies is endemic, and some knowledgeable observers (e.g., Niels Krabbe) have suggested it may be split.
Momotidae (Motmots)
WHOOPING MOTMOT (Momotus subrufescens) – Several were seen around Minca, most memorably on the Hotel Minca fruit tray, where two fought for the right to plunder. One of about five splits of Blue-crowned Motmot.
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
RINGED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle torquata) – Good views on four days at lowland wetlands.

Not all eye candy was avian. Photo by participant Ron Majors.

AMAZON KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle amazona) – Pre-tour: Two were seen on Isla Salamanca.
GREEN KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle americana) – Several sightings in the lowlands, perhaps best along the Rio Piedras at our lunch stop.
AMERICAN PYGMY KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle aenea) – One was seen briefly by several folks in the mangroves at PN Tayrona.
Bucconidae (Puffbirds)
RUSSET-THROATED PUFFBIRD (Hypnelus ruficollis) – This puffbird was pleasantly common in the lowlands, with multiple lengthy views, starting on Isla Salamanca. The taxonomy varies; this is the one-banded type versus the Double-banded of the Llanos.
Galbulidae (Jacamars)
RUFOUS-TAILED JACAMAR (Galbula ruficauda) – Our first was a gem at Camarones, followed by more at PN Tayrona and above Minca.
Ramphastidae (Toucans)
EMERALD TOUCANET (SANTA MARTA) (Aulacorhynchus prasinus lautus) – This toucanet was reasonably common in forest from El Dorado to the top of the ridge. It occasionally overlaps the next, but is consistently higher up. Note the subspecies; some split this form (but your guide is not at all impressed with the split).
GROOVE-BILLED TOUCANET (YELLOW-BILLED) (Aulacorhynchus sulcatus calorhynchus) – This is the lower elevation toucanet, occurring in moist forest generally below the elevation of El Dorado.
COLLARED ARACARI (Pteroglossus torquatus) – Part of the group saw one near the Hotel Minca as we returned from a walk.
KEEL-BILLED TOUCAN (Ramphastos sulfuratus) – First seen below Minca, and then several times well up the slope, as high as the Lodge.
Picidae (Woodpeckers)

Chestnut Piculet is a regional specialty and a very attractive one (and a small one for participant Max Rodel to capture).

CHESTNUT PICULET (Picumnus cinnamomeus) – So far we have managed to find this lovely specialty on each tour, but it is often a close call. This tour we managed to see two, the first on Isla Salamanca, the second near Camarones. Great views.
RED-CROWNED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes rubricapillus) – The common, widespread woodpecker of the lowlands and lower spots, adapting well to human activity.
GOLDEN-GREEN WOODPECKER (GOLD-THROATED) (Piculus chrysochloros xanthochlorus) – This sighting was a prize, a pair on Isla Salamanca. We had good views of both male and female of this small subspecies that occurs west of the Andes.
GOLDEN-OLIVE WOODPECKER (GOLDEN-OLIVE) (Colaptes rubiginosus alleni) – A woodpecker of mid-elevation forests on the San Lorenzo ridge, seen on four days, several times very well.
SPOT-BREASTED WOODPECKER (Colaptes punctigula) – Pre-tour: One put in a vivid appearance, but a short appearance, and it declined invitations to return.
LINEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus lineatus) – One was seen in the mangroves of Isla Salamanca, and a couple more were heard.
CRIMSON-CRESTED WOODPECKER (Campephilus melanoleucos) – Heard twice, but not responsive, and only Carlos managed a view. [*]
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
BARRED FOREST-FALCON (Micrastur ruficollis) – Carlos and Ron spotted one in forest near El Dorado and then saw it fly off.
CRESTED CARACARA (Caracara cheriway) – Common in the arid lowlands.

Whooping (Blue-crowned) Motmot was another aesthetic treat at the Hotel Minca fruit tray. Photo by participant Max Rodel.

YELLOW-HEADED CARACARA (Milvago chimachima) – Also common in the lowlands; often seen patrolling roadways for carrion.
MERLIN (TAIGA) (Falco columbarius columbarius) – One was seen on Isla Salamanca on 6 March and another was seen that afternoon en route to Camarones. These are wintering/migrating birds from the north. [b]
PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus) – Pre-Tour: Ron spotted an adult perched high on a communications tower on Isla Salamanca. It was almost certainly a boreal migrant, but there are resident and austral migrant populations in South America as well.
Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)
ORANGE-CHINNED PARAKEET (Brotogeris jugularis) – Small numbers were seen several times along the coastal plain.
RED-BILLED PARROT (Pionus sordidus saturatus) – This Pionus occurs at middle elevations, and we saw it from El Dorado down to about 1200m. We had several telescope views.
BLUE-HEADED PARROT (Pionus menstruus) – A few were seen in flight below Minca.
YELLOW-CROWNED PARROT (Amazona ochrocephala) – A third of the group saw one in flight below Minca.
SCALY-NAPED PARROT (Amazona mercenarius) – As usual, we did not see it perched, but we had repeated good views at El Dorado (flocks of up to 13 overhead) and at eye level from the San Lorenzo ridge.
GREEN-RUMPED PARROTLET (Forpus passerinus) – A bit of last moment luck produced four in a tree by the lagoon at Camarones.

Santa Marta Parakeet is an endangered endemic that always involves an element of luck to see; we had good luck this year with parakeets that moved around early and perched near us. Photo by participant Max Rodel.

SANTA MARTA PARAKEET (Pyrrhura viridicata) – This Endangered parakeet (population under 6,700) is missable, but we were fortunate to have several appearances by small flocks on the top of the ridge, and to have our closest approaches ever. Excellent views in the sorry context of the smoldering fire. [E]
BROWN-THROATED PARAKEET (Eupsittula pertinax) – This parakeet was common, even occurring in downtown Barranquilla.
MILITARY MACAW (Ara militaris) – A pair was heard high above La Jorara, and we had several views of them flying back and forth. They were not close, but it was still an exciting encounter. It is considered "Vulnerable."
BLUE-CROWNED PARAKEET (BLUE-CROWNED) (Thectocercus acuticaudatus koenigi) – We often miss this species, but this visit we had a handful of cooperative birds near Camarones.
SCARLET-FRONTED PARAKEET (Psittacara wagleri wagleri) – They were fairly common on the high ridge, where we had great views of amorous pairs on palm trunks, and also saw a few in flight above Minca. It is considered "Near Threatened."
Thamnophilidae (Typical Antbirds)
BLACK-CRESTED ANTSHRIKE (Sakesphorus canadensis pulchellus) – We had nice looks at several on Isla Salamanca, and again around Camarones. This subspecies (now including phainoleucus) are a distinct group of populations that are likely to be split from those farther south.
BLACK-CROWNED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus atrinucha) – We had good views at PN Tayrona. a.k.a. Western Slaty-Antshrike, as split from Northern/Eastern Slaty-Antshrikes.

Brown Violetear is uncommon to rare, but one or two have been at the El Dorado feeders on most visits, like this one. Photo by participant Ron Majors.

BLACK-BACKED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus melanonotus) – This was a struggle below Minca, first hearing one with just glimpses, then gradually seeing a female, and for some, her mate.
WHITE-FRINGED ANTWREN (NORTHERN) (Formicivora grisea intermedia) – This antwren was much enjoyed in the dry woodland around Camarones--good views of an attractive bird, seen feeding on the ground. Note the subspecies: Splits are likely in this species.
SANTA MARTA ANTBIRD (Drymophila hellmayri) – We had two encounters, our first on the way up the mountain, our second on the way back down. This species prefers scrub and bracken at lower elevations than its relatives. As recently split from the Long-tailed Antbird, which is similar in voice and appearance, but differing especially in habitat and elevation (Isler et al., Condor 2012). [E]
Grallariidae (Antpittas)
SANTA MARTA ANTPITTA (Grallaria bangsi) – We heard several, one of them close and loud, but failed to see one in several attempts. It is considered "Vulnerable." [E*]
RUFOUS ANTPITTA (SIERRA NEVADA) (Grallaria rufula spatiator) – We heard a number, and Jay and Carlos saw one at the edge of the track, after we had walked by.
RUSTY-BREASTED ANTPITTA (RUSTY-BREASTED) (Grallaricula ferrugineipectus ferrugineipectus) – We heard several, but did less well than normal, perhaps only Kathe getting a view.
Rhinocryptidae (Tapaculos)
SANTA MARTA TAPACULO (Scytalopus sanctaemartae) – One of our best encounters with a skulker, Blue-tooth playing a role, plus it was a very responsive individual: Repeated good views, down to even a few white crown feathers. A great show. [E]

Russet-throated Puffbirds are fairly common, and we had more than our share of encounters of what can be a retiring bird. Photo by participant Ron Majors.

BROWN-RUMPED TAPACULO (Scytalopus latebricola) – Not the star that Santa Marta was, but we did have two visual encounters, with views for most, although more often naked eye than in the binoculars; many more heard. [E]
Furnariidae (Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers)
PLAIN-BROWN WOODCREEPER (Dendrocincla fuliginosa) – We saw two at PN Tayrona.
STRONG-BILLED WOODCREEPER (ANDEAN/NORTHERN) (Xiphocolaptes promeropirhynchus sanctaemartae) – We had several sightings, first for some on the way up, then again near the Lodge.

Cocoa Woodcreeper, part of the Buff-throated group, was seen well at PN Tayrona. Photo by participant Max Rodel.

COCOA WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus susurrans) – Heard several times, and we had excellent views of a very responsive and cooperative bird in PN Tayrona.
STRAIGHT-BILLED WOODCREEPER (Dendroplex picus) – Fairly common both on Isla Salamanca and around Camarones.
MONTANE WOODCREEPER (Lepidocolaptes lacrymiger sanctaemartae) – Seen several times with mixed flocks in the montane forest. Note the subspecies, which has been proposed as a split by some (a judgment call; certainly similar to Andean forms).
STREAKED XENOPS (Xenops rutilans) – One was seen with a mixed flock below El Dorado.
PALE-LEGGED HORNERO (CARIBBEAN) (Furnarius leucopus longirostris) – This species can be furtive, but this visit we had several encounters on Isla Salamanca and around Camarones. This species has several distinct populations, among which splits have been proposed, so keep track of the subspecies.

Montane Foliage-gleaner was seen with several mixed flocks; an endemic subspecies, it does not seem significantly different from Andean subspecies. Photo by participant Ron Majors.

MONTANE FOLIAGE-GLEANER (Anabacerthia striaticollis anxia) – Regular with flocks, especially below El Dorado. The subspecies is endemic, but seems unremarkable.
SANTA MARTA FOLIAGE-GLEANER (Clibanornis rufipectus) – Our first one was a struggle, seen by just a few. Our second one was also a struggle, but a vintage one, heard within a meter or two and seen repeatedly, but mostly naked eye. This species was originally described as a Ruddy Foliage-gleaner, to which it is related, along with Henna-hooded, all of which are now placed, based on genetics, in the genus with Canebrake Groundcreeper (Krabbe, Bull. B.O.C.; Claramunt et al. Condor 2013). It is considered "Near Threatened." [E]
STREAK-CAPPED SPINETAIL (Cranioleuca hellmayri) – Daily in the montane forest, often with mixed flocks. Not technically an endemic of Santa Marta or Colombia (a specimen from Venezuela), it is an endemic on a practical basis: This is the only place most people will ever see it.
YELLOW-CHINNED SPINETAIL (Certhiaxis cinnamomeus) – Pre-tour: On Isla Salamanca, where even its lightly yellow little chin was seen.
RUSTY-HEADED SPINETAIL (Synallaxis fuscorufa) – This endemic relative of Rufous Spinetail is a skulker, but it was especially so for us. We did finally close the gap, and translate "heard" into "seen." It is considered "Vulnerable," with a population under 10,000. [E]
WHITE-WHISKERED SPINETAIL (Synallaxis candei) – A beautiful bird and a specialty of the arid Caribbean habitats of Colombia and Venezuela. We saw several, mostly feeding on the ground in the dry woodland near Camarones.
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
SOUTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET (Camptostoma obsoletum) – Just a few heard and seen near Camarones and at Minca.
WHITE-THROATED TYRANNULET (Mecocerculus leucophrys) – Several small groups were seen on the San Lorenzo ridge.
YELLOW-CROWNED TYRANNULET (Tyrannulus elatus) [*]

Rufous-collared Sparrow is one of many common birds that we enjoyed watching, here bathing at RNA El Dorado. Photo by participant Max Rodel.

FOREST ELAENIA (Myiopagis gaimardii) – One was seen near Minca.
YELLOW-BELLIED ELAENIA (Elaenia flavogaster) – Several sightings, with more heard: La Jorara, Isla Salamanca, and above Minca.
MOUNTAIN ELAENIA (Elaenia frantzii) – Small numbers were seen in scrubby areas on the upper ridge.
OLIVE-STRIPED FLYCATCHER (Mionectes olivaceus) – A few were seen in forested areas, where often feeding on fruit.
OCHRE-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Mionectes oleagineus) – A few were seen at and below Minca.
SEPIA-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Leptopogon amaurocephalus) – About half of the group saw one near Minca.
SOOTY-HEADED TYRANNULET (Phyllomyias griseiceps) – We had a very responsive pair near Minca; good views, although not exactly memorably stunning.
PALTRY TYRANNULET (MOUNTAIN) (Zimmerius vilissimus improbus) – We had two encounters with overall very good views of this canopy tyrannulet (as noted by Kathe, a head pattern somewhat like a "Solitary" Vireo). Paltry Tyrannulet has been the subject of a preliminary study (Rheindt, Frank et al. Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 2013) that suggests that a three- or four-way split is in order; this population does not have a separate name, and is presumably part of Z. v. improbus. More will come!
GOLDEN-FACED TYRANNULET (COOPMAN'S) (Zimmerius chrysops minimus) – We also saw this uncommon tyrannulet, eventually getting decent looks. The same study also found much population structure in this species, and splits are likely. This subspecies is endemic, and is part of a group split as "Coopman's" in some lists.

Golden-green Woodpecker on Isla Salamanca was a good find (we miss it more often than not). Photo by participant Max Rodel.

NORTHERN SCRUB-FLYCATCHER (Sublegatus arenarum) – Daily in small numbers along the coastal plain. This is the northern of three splits of the original Scrub Flycatcher.
SLENDER-BILLED TYRANNULET (Inezia tenuirostris) – We had several good views in the arid scrub of the Guajira region around Camarones; a regional specialty. a.k.a. Slender-billed Inezia (using its generic name).
PALE-EYED PYGMY-TYRANT (Atalotriccus pilaris) – This tiny bird was heard and seen well in the semi-deciduous forest around Minca.
PEARLY-VENTED TODY-TYRANT (Hemitriccus margaritaceiventer) – Juan pointed out a couple of birds in the scrub behind the coast at Camarones.
BLACK-THROATED TODY-TYRANT (Hemitriccus granadensis lehmanni) – Heard well, and seen by about half of the group on an afternoon walk near El Dorado. Note the subspecies: Suggestions of splits are percolating.
SLATE-HEADED TODY-FLYCATCHER (Poecilotriccus sylvia) – Heard and seen by perhaps a third of us in the mangroves on Isla Salamanca.
COMMON TODY-FLYCATCHER (Todirostrum cinereum) – Also in the mangroves at PN Isla Salamanca.

From the expressions it is a mixture of bemusement and wariness directed at a guide with a camera. We did have a good time! Photo by guide Richard Webster.

YELLOW-OLIVE FLYCATCHER (SANTA MARTA) (Tolmomyias sulphurescens exortivus) – We saw this bird at PN Tayrona and above Minca. Many splits are likely, so note the subspecies, although it is not especially a bird of (the Sierra Nevada de) Santa Marta, contra the Clements group name.
YELLOW-BREASTED FLYCATCHER (OCHRE-LORED) (Tolmomyias flaviventris aurulentus) – Good views of one near Camarones.
CINNAMON FLYCATCHER (Pyrrhomyias cinnamomeus assimilis) – We saw it twice below El Dorado, enjoying the brightness of this extra-cinnamon subspecies (splits not likely).
OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER (Contopus cooperi) – Jay pointed out a bird above Minca that was using a distant transmission line as its perch. It is considered "Near Threatened." [b]
VERMILION FLYCATCHER (Pyrocephalus rubinus) – Lovely as always in small numbers in dry and open areas of the coastal slope.
STREAK-THROATED BUSH-TYRANT (Myiotheretes striaticollis) – The more widespread bush-tyrant, but the less common one here; we saw one bird at a traditional spot, as spotted by one of our drivers.
SANTA MARTA BUSH-TYRANT (Myiotheretes pernix) – The endemic bush-tyrant, and a real struggle this time (not the first time), but thanks again to one of our drivers (Cesar) and Carlos, we ended up with quick but good looks. One of the fires had burned part of their territory, the most easily viewed part! It is considered "Endangered," with a population under 1,700. [E]

Not the birdiest location, but a lovely one, the beachfront at PN Tayrona; of course, a half kilometer inland, we'd had some memorable moments! Photo by guide Richard Webster.

PIED WATER-TYRANT (Fluvicola pica) – Pre-tour: Good views on Isla Salamanca.
WHITE-HEADED MARSH TYRANT (Arundinicola leucocephala) – Ditto.
YELLOW-BELLIED CHAT-TYRANT (Ochthoeca diadema jesupi) – Ron (photo) and Jay saw one, and we were then interrupted (quite happily) by the Santa Marta Bush-Tyrant's appearance; heard by all.
CATTLE TYRANT (Machetornis rixosa) – Most memorably around the egg station at the Hotel Barranquilla Plaza, but also seen in wilder settings.
DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tuberculifer) – Seen once and heard a few times in mid-elevation forest.
PANAMA FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus panamensis) – Several were seen near Minca.
GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus crinitus) – Several wintering birds were heard and seen in PN Tayrona. This is near the southern end of the wintering range. [b]
BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tyrannulus) – A few were on the coastal slope at La Jorara and PN Tayrona.
GREAT KISKADEE (Pitangus sulphuratus) – Common on the coastal slope.
BOAT-BILLED FLYCATCHER (Megarynchus pitangua) – A couple of sightings on the lower slopes.
SOCIAL FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes similis) – Widespread on the coastal slope, occurring up to 1,400m in plantations.
GOLDEN-CROWNED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes chrysocephalus) – Heard more often than seen, but seen several times, including on the lodge roof as we were leaving El Dorado.

Streaked Flycatcher was seen well at La Jorara and PN Tayrona. Photo by participant Max Rodel.

STREAKED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes maculatus) – We had excellent views of our first at La Jorara, with a few more at PN Tayrona and around Minca.
PIRATIC FLYCATCHER (Legatus leucophaius) – Two were singing near Minca.
TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus) – Common at lower elevations.
GRAY KINGBIRD (Tyrannus dominicensis) – Not exactly a boreal migrant, but a migrant from the Caribbean breeding grounds. We saw one at Camarones; most were probably already en route back. [b]
Cotingidae (Cotingas)
GOLDEN-BREASTED FRUITEATER (Pipreola aureopectus) – Always hard to find (or see well), but we did less well this visit than most with only Cheri and Susie seeing a female during a walk from the lodge.
Pipridae (Manakins)
LANCE-TAILED MANAKIN (Chiroxiphia lanceolata) – One of the highlights of the tour was our encounter with displaying birds that included butterfly flights and dances on perches, plus a good variety of calls. Fabulous. We expect to see the species when we visit PN Tayrona, but we don't expect to see such a show.
WHITE-BEARDED MANAKIN (Manacus manacus) – We also had good views of both males and females of this species at PN Tayrona and near Minca. We heard a little bit of display, but did not see any.
GOLDEN-HEADED MANAKIN (Ceratopipra erythrocephala) – One female was seen above Minca.
Tityridae (Tityras and Allies)
MASKED TITYRA (Tityra semifasciata) – Small numbers, but seen on four days.
CINEREOUS BECARD (Pachyramphus rufus) – One female at PN Tayrona.
Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)
YELLOW-THROATED VIREO (Vireo flavifrons) – Jay spotted one in a coffee plantation at 800m above Minca on 9 March; this species is rare but regular in Colombia, but seems even scarcer on this tour. [b]
RED-EYED VIREO (Vireo olivaceus) – Several around Minca.
SCRUB GREENLET (Hylophilus flavipes) – We saw two in the dry woodlands near Camarones.
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
BLACK-CHESTED JAY (Cyanocorax affinis) – Heard at least daily in the mountains, and with time seen very well in small flocks. A handsome jay.
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
BLUE-AND-WHITE SWALLOW (Pygochelidon cyanoleuca) – Scarce on the San Lorenzo ridge, seen only at one transmission tower nesting site.

A good example of a woodcreeper's tail structure, the curved end spines serving as a brace. And yes, it is a strong bill on a Strong-billed Woodcreeper. Photo by participant Ron Majors.

SOUTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx ruficollis) – In small numbers on the coastal slope.
GRAY-BREASTED MARTIN (Progne chalybea) – We saw one pair at Camarones.
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica) – A few northbound migrants, but not many; seen on Isla Salamanca and around Camarones. [b]
Troglodytidae (Wrens)
HOUSE WREN (SOUTHERN) (Troglodytes aedon musculus) – Widespread at lower elevations.
STRIPE-BACKED WREN (Campylorhynchus nuchalis) – Pre-tour: We had good views of this large wren on Isla Salamanca.
BICOLORED WREN (Campylorhynchus griseus) – Fairly common at lower elevations. We saw them well several times, including on the fruit tray at the Hotel Minca.

Vermilion Cardinal is uncommon in the arid woodland, but reliable so far, and we ended up with several sightings of both males and females. Photo by participant Ron Majors.

RUFOUS-BREASTED WREN (Pheugopedius rutilus) – Seen twice above Minca; a lovely song.
BUFF-BREASTED WREN (Cantorchilus leucotis) – Seen first at La Jorara and again at PN Tayrona.
GRAY-BREASTED WOOD-WREN (ANACHORETA) (Henicorhina leucophrys anachoreta) – This is the upper elevation subspecies of wood-wren; we had good views on Cuchillo de San Lorenzo. There have been studies of genetics and song, (e.g., Caro et al., J. Evol. Bio. 2013) supporting splitting this as Santa Marta Wood-Wren.
GRAY-BREASTED WOOD-WREN (BANGSI) (Henicorhina leucophrys bangsi) – This is the lower elevation subspecies, which we also saw well, e.g., Carol and Ron on the El Dorado compost pile, Susie and Cheri on a lodge trail, the birds carrying nesting material. This is the more recent colonist from the Andes, less differentiated than the preceding, but still a potential split as well.
Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)
LONG-BILLED GNATWREN (Ramphocaenus melanurus) – With a struggle we saw this bird below Minca, though not well; an interestingly different local vocal type, but overall familiar.
TROPICAL GNATCATCHER (TROPICAL) (Polioptila plumbea plumbiceps) – Common around Camarones, one of the first responders to pygmy-owl whistles. Note the subspecies: Splits are likely in this widespread, varied species.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
ORANGE-BILLED NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (Catharus aurantiirostris) [*]

White-tailed Starfrontlet is a stunning endemic, and on this visit we had frequent appearances at the RNA El Dorado feeders, providing great views. Photo by guide Richard Webster.

SLATY-BACKED NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (Catharus fuscater) – There were a couple of sightings, first on top of the ridge, where it showed up in a hole while we were playing the tape of something else, and then again near the Lodge.
YELLOW-LEGGED THRUSH (Turdus flavipes) – Common at middle elevations, many singing strongly. They were furtive, but with time one gets good views.
PALE-BREASTED THRUSH (Turdus leucomelas) – Common at lower elevations, e.g., La Jorara and Minca.
BLACK-HOODED THRUSH (Turdus olivater) – A few at middle elevations, e.g., around El Dorado.
GREAT THRUSH (Turdus fuscater) – A few were seen on both trips to the top.
Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
TROPICAL MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus gilvus) – Common around Camarones.
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis) – A regular wintering species in this area, both in the mangroves and along forested streams. [b]

This is a birding tour, but there are some interesting cultural moments as well, such as this round-up on Isla Salamanca. Photo by participant Ron Majors.

BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER (Mniotilta varia) – Jay spotted one with a mixed flock near El Dorado. [b]
PROTHONOTARY WARBLER (Protonotaria citrea) – Still common in the mangroves at PN Isla Salamanca, with a few also in broadleaf forest at La Jorara and PN Tayrona. Most will be headed north soon. [b]
TENNESSEE WARBLER (Oreothlypis peregrina) – Fairly common on the forested slopes and in plantations. [b]
AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla) – Fairly common in shade coffee above Minca. [b]
BAY-BREASTED WARBLER (Setophaga castanea) – We saw one below Minca and another above it; wintering birds are regular in Colombia, although scarce at Santa Marta. [b]
BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER (Setophaga fusca) – A fairly common wintering bird at upper elevations on the San Lorenzo ridge; many were in fine color. [b]
YELLOW WARBLER (NORTHERN) (Setophaga petechia aestiva) – A few were in the lowlands. [b]
RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER (CHESTNUT-CAPPED) (Basileuterus rufifrons mesochrysus) – We had great looks at several above Minca; a lovely warbler, this subspecies group part of the southern set with fully yellow underparts.

Santa Marta Warbler is an uncommon, skulky, threatened endemic of upper elevations, and such a crisp photo is a rarity. Photo by Ron Majors.

SANTA MARTA WARBLER (Myiothlypis basilica) – Often a difficult, skulking species, we saw more than normal in the bamboo tangles on the ridge. This is one of the more distinctive endemics. It is considered "Vulnerable," with a population under 1,700. [E]
WHITE-LORED WARBLER (Myiothlypis conspicillata) – Common in the forests, especially at middle elevations. It is considered "Near Threatened." [E]
SLATE-THROATED REDSTART (Myioborus miniatus) – Fairly common with mixed flocks at lower elevations than the next.
YELLOW-CROWNED REDSTART (Myioborus flavivertex) – This lovely endemic was seen well several times on the upper ridge. [E]
Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)
GRAY-HEADED TANAGER (Eucometis penicillata) – Good views of two in PN Tayrona.
WHITE-LINED TANAGER (Tachyphonus rufus) – Both males and the very different females were seen well in disturbed areas at and above Minca.
CRIMSON-BACKED TANAGER (Ramphocelus dimidiatus) – This stunning bird was much admired daily at lower elevations.

Black-cheeked Mountain-Tanager was uncommon, but we had several encounters with good views. Photo by participant Max Rodel.

BLACK-CHEEKED MOUNTAIN-TANAGER (Anisognathus melanogenys) – Kathe got us on our first ones on the San Lorenzo ridge, and we saw a few more. Good views of this uncommon (but expected) endemic. [E]
BLUE-GRAY TANAGER (Thraupis episcopus) – Common in the lowlands.
GLAUCOUS TANAGER (Thraupis glaucocolpa) – This uncommon specialty of the arid coast was seen well our first afternoon near Camarones.
PALM TANAGER (Thraupis palmarum) – Fairly common on the lower slopes.
BLUE-CAPPED TANAGER (Thraupis cyanocephala margaritae) – Scarce, just one seen near the El Dorado lodge by part of the group.
BLACK-HEADED TANAGER (Tangara cyanoptera) – Two were seen in plantations above Minca, briefly and perhaps not by all; scarce this year, usually a little more common.
BLACK-CAPPED TANAGER (Tangara heinei) – Also unusually scarce, with just a couple of sightings at El Dorado.
BAY-HEADED TANAGER (Tangara gyrola) – Fairly common at lower to middle elevations.
SWALLOW TANAGER (Tersina viridis) – Fairly common, including carrying nesting material on 9 March. [N]
RED-LEGGED HONEYCREEPER (Cyanerpes cyaneus) – A distant male near Minca was seen by about a third of the group.
BICOLORED CONEBILL (Conirostrum bicolor) – We had good views of several in the mangroves at PN Isla Salamanca. This species is widespread in limited habitats such as mangroves and river islands. It is considered "Near Threatened."
WHITE-SIDED FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa albilatera) – Daily on the mountain, especially in gardens with mermelada flowers.
RUSTY FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa sittoides) – A couple were seen in gardens.

Sickle-winged Guans were less common around the lodge than Band-tailed, but they still showed up regularly. Photo by participant Max Rodel.

PLUSHCAP (Catamblyrhynchus diadema) – A widespread, uncommon species in the Andes, it is rare on the San Lorenzo ridge, so it was an exciting surprise to see two on this trip.
SAFFRON FINCH (Sicalis flaveola) – Pre-tour: One on Isla Salamanca.
BLUE-BLACK GRASSQUIT (Volatinia jacarina) – A few were seen near Camarones and at La Jorara.
GRAY SEEDEATER (Sporophila intermedia) – One male was seen by some at La Jorara.
BLACK-AND-WHITE SEEDEATER (Sporophila luctuosa) – This migratory species is widespread in the Andes, but this may be the first time we have had it here. Max spotted several feeding with Yellow-bellied in seeding grass near the school.

Another lovely evening at RNA El Dorado, as the sun sets behind the feeding Band-tailed Guan. Photo by guide Richard Webster.

YELLOW-BELLIED SEEDEATER (Sporophila nigricollis) – A flock was in seeding grass at middle elevations.
PARAMO SEEDEATER (Catamenia homochroa oreophila) – Our normal spot had burned (not that we always see it), but we did find two at another place near the top of the San Lorenzo ridge. Note the endemic subspecies.
PILEATED FINCH (Coryphospingus pileatus) – We saw small numbers around Camarones, including one with its crest up.
BANANAQUIT (Coereba flaveola) – Common in the lowlands, especially at the yellow-flowering tree that was also hosting the Buffy Hummingbirds.
DULL-COLORED GRASSQUIT (Tiaris obscurus) – Only Ron got on a female above Minca.
BLACK-FACED GRASSQUIT (Tiaris bicolor) – We saw several around Camarones, including a male in good plumage.
ROSY THRUSH-TANAGER (Rhodinocichla rosea) – Jay had been particularly hoping to catch up with this one, but we did no better than hearing one briefly (and barely, given the din of the cicadas). [*]
BUFF-THROATED SALTATOR (Saltator maximus) – Several sightings at PN Tayrona and around Minca.
ORINOCAN SALTATOR (Saltator orenocensis) – We had not been able to find one, but Juan had a site, and we enjoyed good looks at two.
GRAYISH SALTATOR (Saltator coerulescens) – Common at lower elevations.
STREAKED SALTATOR (Saltator striatipectus) – A few were seen at and above Minca.
Emberizidae (Buntings and New World Sparrows)
TOCUYO SPARROW (Arremonops tocuyensis) – Carol and Susie got us on this scarce regional specialty near Camarones. It stayed in good view only for a short while, but long enough for the group.
SIERRA NEVADA BRUSHFINCH (Arremon basilicus) – There were multiple sightings on the El Dorado lodge grounds, where pairs were appearing irregularly at the ground feeders. As split from Stripe-headed/Gray-browed Brush-Finch. [E]

Golden-winged Sparrow is usually seen as a skulker lured from a thicket; here is its full beauty on the fruit tray at the Hotel Minca. Photo by participant Max Rodel.

GOLDEN-WINGED SPARROW (Arremon schlegeli) – We usually see this lovely bird in thickets, so it was a wonderful surprise to have one on the Hotel Minca fruit tray (several times) and then to have one in a fruiting tree above Minca. Wow!
RUFOUS-COLLARED SPARROW (Zonotrichia capensis) – A few were seen in gardens at middle elevation and on the top of the ridge.
SANTA MARTA BRUSHFINCH (Atlapetes melanocephalus) – The easiest sparrow/brush-finch, delightfully even coming to feed from the hand at our ridgetop breakfast spot. [E]
Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)
SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra) – Fairly common, especially in plantations, from Minca up to mid-slope. [b]
VERMILION CARDINAL (Cardinalis phoeniceus) – It took some patience, but several Vermilion Cardinals eventually emerged and provided good views near Camarones (for a while there were more birding groups than Cardinals!).
GOLDEN GROSBEAK (Pheucticus chrysogaster) – One male was seen briefly by part of the group on the top of the ridge. a.k.a. Golden-bellied Grosbeak, as split from Yellow Grosbeak.
ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus ludovicianus) – Wintering birds were quite common, especially in the shade coffee, on the middle slopes. [b]
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus) – Common in the lowlands.

Pileated Finch is one we usually see, but seeing the crown well is a less frequent event. Photo by participant Ron Majors.

CARIB GRACKLE (Quiscalus lugubris) – Small numbers, e.g., at Camarones.
YELLOW-HOODED BLACKBIRD (Chrysomus icterocephalus) – Pre-tour: Good views at Isla Salamanca.
SHINY COWBIRD (Molothrus bonariensis) – Seen best at our restaurant near Tayrona.
BRONZED COWBIRD (BRONZE-BROWN) (Molothrus aeneus armenti) – Pre-tour: Easily missed, we had good views of a group on Isla Salamanca. This subspecies is the only South American population.
GIANT COWBIRD (Molothrus oryzivorus) – One was seen in flight well above Minca, where it had probably been visiting a colony of Crested Oropendolas.
YELLOW-BACKED ORIOLE (Icterus chrysater) – We had several at middle elevations, where we heard the wonderful song as well.
ORANGE-CROWNED ORIOLE (Icterus auricapillus) – A bird we do not always see, but we had multiples this trip in the palms at La Jorara and another at Minca.
YELLOW ORIOLE (Icterus nigrogularis) – Fairly common around Camarones, with others on Isla Salamanca.
BALTIMORE ORIOLE (Icterus galbula) – One was on Isla Salamanca and several were above Minca. [b]
YELLOW-RUMPED CACIQUE (Cacicus cela) – Seen only at the toll station en route to Riohacha; this species is oddly local on this tour route.
CRESTED OROPENDOLA (Psarocolius decumanus) – These huge birds put on a great show around their small colonies, including on the grounds at El Dorado.
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
TRINIDAD EUPHONIA (Euphonia trinitatis) – Good looks at a pair near Camarones.
THICK-BILLED EUPHONIA (Euphonia laniirostris) – Common at one spot above Minca, where a fig was in fruit.
BLUE-NAPED CHLOROPHONIA (Chlorophonia cyanea) – This was one of the stunning yardbirds at El Dorado, where bananas were attracting them.
ANDEAN SISKIN (Spinus spinescens) – One perched briefly on the San Lorenzo ridge and was seen by part of the group; this species is rare or erratic in this area, and we do not usually see it.


Cotton-top Tamarin is a threatened endemic we were fortunate to see at all, let alone so well, in PN Tayrona. Photo by participant Ron Majors.

COTTON-TOP TAMARIN (Saguinus oedipus) – One of the highlights of our visits to PN Tayrona was the fortuitous passage of a troop of this striking small monkey; a great series of views. It is threatened. [E]
NIGHT MONKEY SP. (Aotus sp.) – Luis Uruena kindly called our attention to a group at El Dorado; they were seen briefly, mostly as shapes and shaking branches, as they departed.

Red Howlers are heard regularly, even from the top of the ridge, but are seen on less than half of our tours. This encounter was a fine (and fortunate) one. Photo by participant Ron Majors.

RED HOWLER MONKEY (Alouatta seniculus) – Usually only heard, this trip we had great views of a troop that Carlos spotted at PN Tayrona and then Cheri and Susie saw them on the trail beyond their cabin at El Dorado.
RED-TAILED SQUIRREL (Sciurus granatensis) – The daily real mammal of the tour.


Many other critters caught our eye, including:

Ameiva, perhaps Ameiva ameiva, for the blue-toned lizard on Isla Salamanca.

Iguana iguana: several, including at our restaurant on the Rio Piedras and at Minca.

Geckos, mostly heard

Butterflies, many, including lovely morphos

Tarantula: One discovered by Mary on our night walk.

Totals for the tour: 320 bird taxa and 4 mammal taxa