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Field Guides Tour Report
Colombia: Santa Marta Escape 2017
Mar 4, 2017 to Mar 12, 2017
Richard Webster, Diana Balcazar, & Cory Gregory

Same ol' scene! Boring! Wonderful! The view from the San Lorenzo ridge was dominated one morning by the river of clouds, distracting the viewer from the massif of Colombia's highest peaks in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Photo by guide Richard Webster.

It was a smooth tour while being a very bumpy trip! Really, everything went very well, but our bottoms have not forgotten the road up the mountain. But our minds have not forgotten our route either, because they are full of memories of the views, the birds, the flowers, the forest . . .

Starting in Barranquilla, we enjoyed Chestnut-winged Chachalaca before breakfast, and then moved on to Parque Nacional Isla Salamanca. The mangroves were lovely, and we were thrilled with our views of Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird. New birds came in a rush, including an unexpected Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, Panama Flycatcher, Straight-billed Woodcreeper, Bicolored Conebill, Bronzed (Bronze-brown) Cowbird, and Pied and Russet-throated puffbirds. Those who came a day early had the prize of a pair of Northern Screamers along with a leisurely immersion in the many marshbirds.

Continuing east into the drier areas beyond Santa Marta, we had an afternoon and a morning around P.N. Los Flamencos and Camarones. Landbirds were the specialties, and we saw almost all of the regional endemics, including Bare-eyed Pigeon, Buffy Hummingbird, Chestnut Piculet, White-whiskered Spinetail, Slender-billed Tyrannulet (Inezia), Glaucous Tanager, Orinocan Saltator, and Vermilion Cardinal. Tocuyo Sparrow was only heard and our thick-knee stakeout had cratered after a couple of years, but we were pleasantly surprised by Red-billed Scythebill and were pleased with the local subspecies of White-fringed Antwren, Black-crested Antshrike, and Pale-legged Hornero. The lagoon was also productive, including distant American Flamencos, dark and light Reddish Egrets, and large flocks of gulls and terns plus a few shorebirds.

Then it was on the Sierra, or at least our outlying ridge of it, the Cuchillo San Lorenzo. Starting at the Hotel Minca and its busy hummingbird feeders, we enjoyed great views of Golden-winged Sparrow on the fruit tray, and found a variety of species in the drier foothills woodlands, including Black-backed Antshrike, Pale-eyed Pygmy-Tyrant, Long-billed Gnatwren, Scaled Piculet, and Orange-crowned Oriole. A displaying pair of Gray-headed Kites was a treat.

Our first endemics came as we climbed higher into the wetter middle elevations: Santa Marta Foliage-gleaner, Santa Marta Antbird, and White-lored Warbler en route to the comfortable isolation of the Reserva Natural de las Aves (RNA) El Dorado. Our first evening there introduced us to the many feeders that we were to check often over the next four days, and which were to provide views of Band-tailed and Sickle-winged guans, Black-fronted Wood-Quail (a few times), Sierra Nevada and Santa Marta brushfinches, Blue-naped Chlorophonia, and some dazzling hummingbirds, including that abundant beauty, the Crowned Woodnymph.

We made two trips to the top, with very early starts for the crawl up to the ridge. We were fortunate on both mornings to have some clear time during which we could see the full extent of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, which includes Colombia’s highest peaks. Dawn was action packed, with good views of some of the tougher species, including Santa Marta Bush-Tyrant and Santa Marta Warbler. Our only encounters with Santa Marta Parakeet were tangential, but we did enjoy repeated good views of White-tailed Starfrontlet, Brown-rumped Tapaculo, Santa Marta Wood-Wren, Yellow-crowned Redstart (Whitestart) and Black-cheeked (Santa Marta) Mountain-Tanager. Great views of Flammulated Treehunter was an unexpected treat and one of the highlights was being Kelly’s first clients for her antpitta feeding experiment, a great success for us, and hopefully many more.

We also spent time in the forests around the lodge and down the road from the RNA El Dorado, some of the better finds being Lined Quail-Dove, Groove-billed Toucanet, White-tipped Quetzal, Masked Trogon, Santa Marta Tapaculo, Black-throated Tody-Tyrant, Golden-breasted Fruiteater, and Black-hooded and Yellow-legged thrushes. After much time checking garden flowers, we did see one Santa Marta Blossomcrown (but never did find a Santa Marta Woodstar). After two tries we did see the undescribed screech-owl very well, along with Gray-handed Night Monkeys. Even on our way down the mountain toward home there were still new birds to be seen: Rusty-breasted Antpitta (for some), local forms of Golden-faced and Paltry tyrannulets, Orange-billed Nightingale-thrush, and Golden-winged Warbler.

The smooth handling of the bumps in the lowlands and highlands was thanks to a series of competent and friendly drivers, drivers who also contributed some useful bird knowledge (like that Black-and-white Owl). Smooth handling of logistics was thanks to Caroline and Luisa in the offices. The staffs at the Hotel Minca and El Dorado Lodge turned rustic into pleasant, for which we were very appreciative. ProAves’ reserve is helping keep the forest and its inhabitants alive in the face of great pressure: It is a much-threatened avifauna as we saw in the form of 1 Critically Endangered, 2 Endangered, 7 Vulnerable, and 11 Near Threatened species.

Taxonomy follows the Clements (Cornell) checklist, with comments on other treatments (e.g., International Ornithological Congress) and references to various journal articles and Handbook of the Birds of the World (HBW). Apologies are due the Spanish language for the omission of many punctuation and other marks that do not survive translation across various computer platforms (starting with the accent over the second ‘a’ in Diana’s last name!). Conservation information is drawn from the publications of BirdLife International.


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)
GRAY TINAMOU (Tinamus tao) – A distant, brief voice in the forest below the lodge. It is considered "Vulnerable." [*]
LITTLE TINAMOU (Crypturellus soui) – Heard well, but it took a little while to wrap our minds around which was the real bird and which was the tinamou in the background of the wren tape we were using. Below Minca. [*]

Our Walrus nailed this Black-fronted Wood-Quail!  Fortunately they were coming to the RNA El Dorado feeders, but unfortunately not regularly enough for everyone.  Photo copyright participant Rick Woodruff.

Anhimidae (Screamers)
NORTHERN SCREAMER (Chauna chavaria) – [Pre-tour: Good views of a pair in the marshes on Isla Salamanca, not repeated on our briefer return.] It is considered "Near Threatened."
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
FULVOUS WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna bicolor) – [Pre-tour: two in flight on Isla Salamanca.]
BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Anas discors) – Several small flocks on Isla Salamanca [pre-tour: impressive numbers in the 1,000-1,500 range]. [b]
Cracidae (Guans, Chachalacas, and Curassows)
CHESTNUT-WINGED CHACHALACA (Ortalis garrula) – The first event of the tour, our dawn visit to the outskirts of Barranquilla, where we heard and then saw this endemic, progressively from shapes to some reasonable color as it got lighter and before they slipped away. Some were quite close, but they don't stay for long. This species is less raucous than many Chachalacas. [E]
BAND-TAILED GUAN (Penelope argyrotis) – Increasingly common at RNA El Dorado, where they come to the compost and cracked corn feeders. We also saw a bird on a nest on 9 March, 5 m up along the trunk of a small forest tree at 1700m. [N]
SICKLE-WINGED GUAN (Chamaepetes goudotii sanctaemarthae) – This guan was seen by parts of the group a couple of times on the compost pile at the lodge, and was heard wing rattling up on the ridge.
Odontophoridae (New World Quail)
CRESTED BOBWHITE (Colinus cristatus) – Chuck saw this species while investigating the thicker flora near our breakfast spot at Camarones.
BLACK-FRONTED WOOD-QUAIL (Odontophorus atrifrons) – This secretive forest quail has become easier at RNA El Dorado when they come to feed, but this year they were at the feeders and compost only occasionally (and erratically); seen several times, and by most, but not all. It is considered "Vulnerable."
Phoenicopteridae (Flamingos)
AMERICAN FLAMINGO (Phoenicopterus ruber) – They are seldom close to us at Camarones (PN Los Flamencos), and this was again the case, our best views coming from a distant flock in flight, as opposed to the earlier pink shimmer in the water.
Fregatidae (Frigatebirds)
MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD (Fregata magnificens) – Small numbers were seen along Isla Salamanca and at Camarones, with an additional half dozen over a forested river during a lunch stop, seemingly out of habitat, but from their height still within sight of the ocean.
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax brasilianus) – Small numbers were along the coast from the Rio Magdalena to Camarones.
Pelecanidae (Pelicans)
BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis) – Small flocks were seen along the coast.
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
LEAST BITTERN (Ixobrychus exilis) – [Pre-tour: one was seen in flight in the marshes on Isla Salamanca.]

Bare-throated Tiger-Heron in the mangroves on Isla Salamanca, near the edge of its range. Photo copyright guide Richard Webster.

BARE-THROATED TIGER-HERON (Tigrisoma mexicanum) – We had excellent looks at a young bird on Isla Salamanca, at the very eastern edge of its range (mostly Central America, and Colombia close to Panama); ID thanks to Johnnier Arango, his friend, and Diana (after a certain guide had made an errant assumption!).
GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias) – Three wintering birds were seen on both visits to Camarones. [b]
COCOI HERON (Ardea cocoi) – One was seen in flight over Isla Salamanca [pre-tour: A handful seen well].
GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba) – Common; moderate numbers in the coastal wetlands.
SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula) – Ditto.
LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea) – A few on Isla Salamanca and at Camarones.
TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor) – A few in the freshwater marshes of Isla Salamanca and on the lagoon at Camarones.
REDDISH EGRET (Egretta rufescens) – We had excellent views of perhaps up to a dozen on the lagoon at Camarones, including at least one white-phase bird. It is considered "Near Threatened."
CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis) – Small flocks were seen in coastal pastures and other areas of open country.
GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens) – Mary spotted our first on Isla Salamanca, followed by a couple more; these wintering birds are near the southern end of their range, and were about to head north. [b]

Searching the bamboo at 2600m on the San Lorenzo ridge. Photo copyright guide Cory Gregory.

STRIATED HERON (Butorides striata) – Also in small numbers in the marshes of Isla Salamanca.
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax) – One or two were seen on each visit to Isla Salamanca.
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus) – Small numbers at Camarones; mostly distant.
SCARLET IBIS (Eudocimus ruber) – A couple of birds in flight with a flock of White Ibis at Camarones. One was fairly bright, the other just pinkish; we are not sure whether birds that are not fully scarlet are immatures or hybrids (or have had a deficient diet?).
GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus) – Common in the freshwater marshes of Isla Salamanca.

Dan and Virginia heading for the list as the sun sets over Cienega Grande and the Caribbean. Photo copyright guide Richard Webster.

BARE-FACED IBIS (Phimosus infuscatus) – Small numbers in the marshes on Isla Salamanca; good comparisons with Glossy.
ROSEATE SPOONBILL (Platalea ajaja) – Small numbers around Camarones. Good views.
Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus) – Common and widespread, missed only on the upper slopes on some days.
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura) – Widespread in medium numbers, with only a few on the upper slopes.

Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture is fairly common over the marshes of P.N. Isla Salamanca. Photo copyright participant Rick Woodruff.

LESSER YELLOW-HEADED VULTURE (Cathartes burrovianus) – Fairly common over the freshwater marshes on Isla Salamanca. We enjoyed some good views of the striking head colors and direct comparisons with Turkey Vulture.
Pandionidae (Osprey)
OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus) – From one to three of this migrant were seen daily on Isla Salamanca and at Camarones. [b]
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
PEARL KITE (Gampsonyx swainsonii) – One at Las Acacias and one near Camarones, both fleeting, unfortunately.
GRAY-HEADED KITE (Leptodon cayanensis) – A pair over the slopes below Minca was a pleasant surprise (uncommon in general, not expected at all on this tour) and an aesthetic treat because they were displaying, flying with quivering wingbeats and calling occasionally.
SWALLOW-TAILED KITE (Elanoides forficatus) – Ed spotted a couple of distant birds over a forested ridge well above Minca.
BLACK-COLLARED HAWK (Busarellus nigricollis) – [Pre-tour: Lovely views of a pair on Isla Salamanca, in flight and then perched.]
SNAIL KITE (Rostrhamus sociabilis) – Males and females were seen at close range on Isla Salamanca, where they were fairly common in the freshwater marshes.
SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (PLAIN-BREASTED) (Accipiter striatus ventralis) – We had good views twice at middle elevations, the second time perched. These were of the uncommon, resident "Plain-breasted" type of Sharp-shin.
CRANE HAWK (Geranospiza caerulescens) – One was seen in flight over the slopes below Minca.
COMMON BLACK HAWK (Buteogallus anthracinus) – A pair was seen perched at our lunch spot east of Santa Marta.
SAVANNA HAWK (Buteogallus meridionalis) – After one was seen from a moving bus, we all had good looks at a perched bird in a pasture near Camarones.
GREAT BLACK HAWK (Buteogallus urubitinga) – During a break Dan and Ed saw a sub-adult from the tower above RNA El Dorado.
ROADSIDE HAWK (Rupornis magnirostris) – A distant, soaring bird was at Las Acacias restaurant; not seen by all.

Not just sunsets were enjoyed at El Dorado, but a moonset before one of our very early drives up Cuchillo de San Lorenzo. Photo copyright guide Richard Webster.

WHITE-RUMPED HAWK (Parabuteo leucorrhous) – Ed and Dan also had this species from the tower, including views of it perched.
BROAD-WINGED HAWK (Buteo platypterus) – Two adults were seen over Palo Alto, and another was seen briefly. [b]
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
PURPLE GALLINULE (Porphyrio martinicus) – In small numbers at Isla Salamanca.
COMMON GALLINULE (Gallinula galeata) – Small numbers on Isla Salamanca, including on 11 March an adult with a small young. As split from Common Moorhen of the Old World. [N]
Aramidae (Limpkin)
LIMPKIN (Aramus guarauna) – A couple on Isla Salamanca on the way back [more on the pre-tour].
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus) – A few on Isla Salamanca.
Haematopodidae (Oystercatchers)
AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus palliatus) – A handful were seen on the flats at Camarones on each visit.
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
SOUTHERN LAPWING (Vanellus chilensis) – A few were seen in pastures near Camarones and on Isla Salamanca.
Jacanidae (Jacanas)
WATTLED JACANA (Jacana jacana) – Common in the freshwater marshes of Isla Salamanca, including a male with four chicks (4 & 11 March). [N]
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
WHIMBREL (Numenius phaeopus) – Small numbers were enjoyed on the flats at Camarones. [b]
MARBLED GODWIT (Limosa fedoa) – A rare bird this far south, but fairly regular in small numbers at Camarones, where we saw five. [b]
SANDERLING (Calidris alba) – Small flocks came in from the beach to the tidal flats at Camarones. [b]
LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla) – Part of the group saw one on Isla Salamanca. [b]
SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER (Calidris pusilla) – One was seen by part of the group on the flats at Camarones, which are typically poor for Calidris (must not be the right kind of muck). It is considered "Near Threatened." [b]
SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius) – A few daily in the lowlands. [b]

We usually have at least one great sunset, but this tour had several at El Dorado. Photo copyright guide Richard Webster.

SOLITARY SANDPIPER (Tringa solitaria) – Up to five on our visits to Isla Salamanca. [b]
GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca) – A few on the flats at Camarones the first evening, with more flying over the next morning.
WILLET (Tringa semipalmata) – Fairly common at Camarones, with both western (mostly) and eastern birds present, although we only briefly managed telescope comparisons.
LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes) – A few were flying over with Greaters during our early morning at Camarones.

Laughing Gull and the setting sun at Caramones. Photo copyright participant Rick Woodruff.

Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
LAUGHING GULL (Leucophaeus atricilla) – Common at Camarones.
LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL (Larus fuscus) – A couple of distant adults were seen on both visits to Camarones. A "rarity" that is becoming less rare in the Western Hemisphere, and fairly regular at this location.
LARGE-BILLED TERN (Phaetusa simplex) – This striking and attractive tern was enjoyed at Isla Salamanca.
GULL-BILLED TERN (Gelochelidon nilotica) – Several dozen were in a flock on Isla Salamanca, seen well on the pre-tour, distantly on the main tour.
CASPIAN TERN (Hydroprogne caspia) – Small numbers were at Camarones. [b]
COMMON TERN (Sterna hirundo) – Fairly common to common at Camarones; more than normal were part of the large mixed flock of terns. [b]
ROYAL TERN (Thalasseus maximus) – Common at Camarones. [b]

Scaled Pigeon is hardly a rarity, but this tour was fortunate to have several great views of what is a fine pigeon. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

SANDWICH TERN (CABOT'S) (Thalasseus sandvicensis acuflavidus) – Common at Camarones; good studies. Some lists split Cabot's, of the Western Hemisphere, from Sandwich of the Eastern Hemisphere. [b]
SANDWICH TERN (CAYENNE) (Thalasseus sandvicensis eurygnathus) – We also saw a handful of Cayenne Terns, a yellow-billed form of Sandwich. Some regard this as a color morph of Sandwich, most common as one goes south. There are certainly colonies in the southern Caribbean with many birds of mixed appearance.
BLACK SKIMMER (Rynchops niger) – A single was with the large tern flock on both visits to Camarones.
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) – Feral Pigeons, commensal with humans. [I]
PALE-VENTED PIGEON (Patagioenas cayennensis) – Heard on Isla Salamanca; perhaps seen by some west of Camarones? In any event, this widespread bird was not really nailed down by the group. [*]
SCALED PIGEON (Patagioenas speciosa) – Scaled Pigeon is a widespread bird, but generally uncommon. It is a beautiful pigeon, and we had outstanding views (noteworthy to the guides, too) of them several times on the lower slopes.
BARE-EYED PIGEON (Patagioenas corensis) – We have always seen this species, but most views are in flight, and while we did not obtain lengthy views of close, perched birds, we did have one perch very close for a short while, and others at distance for longer, overall a good showing of this regional specialty (arid Caribbean coast).

Perhaps one of the struggles for Santa Marta Antbird? Photo copyright participant Chuck Holliday.

BAND-TAILED PIGEON (WHITE-NECKED) (Patagioenas fasciata albilinea) – Common on the middle and upper slopes, with song, display flights, and flocks. These are a resident form of South America.
COMMON GROUND-DOVE (Columbina passerina) – A few were seen on Isla Salamanca.
RUDDY GROUND-DOVE (Columbina talpacoti) – Small numbers were observed along the coastal plain.
SCALED DOVE (Columbina squammata) – We had good looks at small numbers on Isla Salamanca and around Camarones. This is the southern replacement of Inca Dove.
WHITE-TIPPED DOVE (Leptotila verreauxi) – Up close and personal at RNA El Dorado, where at the feeders and compost; with more heard and seen from Camarones on up the mountain.

How did you spend your vacation? Checking the compost pile at RNA El Dorado! Photo copyright guide Cory Gregory.

LINED QUAIL-DOVE (Zentrygon linearis) – All those White-tipped were seen at RNA El Dorado because we were checking the feeders for this species, among things. I'm not sure this species was ever seen at a feeder, but fortunately we did have good views of a couple in the forest near the Lodge, and Diana got the rest caught up with one that walked around the curve in front of the vehicles. A good set of sightings of what can be a 'heard only.'
EARED DOVE (Zenaida auriculata) – [Pre-tour: Isla Salamanca. Post-tour: On a tree by the swimming pool at our hotel in Barranquilla.]
Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
GREATER ANI (Crotophaga major) – One was seen in the mangroves at Isla Salamanca (this ani is usually in groups, so more were probably nearby).

Black-and-white Owl was a bonus, thanks to a return to a day roost that had been active two years ago but did not work last year. Photo copyright Chuck Holliday, on his back.

SMOOTH-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga ani) – We did not work on anis, and it shows! This species was seen by some on Isla Salamanca.
GROOVE-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga sulcirostris) – We did study this one as a group, also on Isla Salamanca.
SQUIRREL CUCKOO (Piaya cayana) – Several sightings: Isla Salamanca (in the mangroves), at the Hotel Minca, and on the slopes below Minca.
Strigidae (Owls)
SCREECH-OWL SP. NOV. (Megascops sp. nov.) – Our first encounter was of limited success--heard very well, and seen in flight crossing the road several times. Our second was, with Christian's help, a quick success, with good views of one observed clinging to a trunk. Apparently the distinctive, undescribed screech-owl first collected by Carriker a century ago (but not described by Todd and Carriker because they only had one specimen), the species has been the subject of increasing study, and is expected to be described (fairly?) soon. A genetic study (Dantas et al. 2015 Molec. Phyl. Evol.) shows it is a distinct bird, not at all closely related to Tropical.
FERRUGINOUS PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium brasilianum) – We heard several and had one quite close, but never did spot one. [*]
BLACK-AND-WHITE OWL (Ciccaba nigrolineata) – Our drivers knew that the birds were back where they had been a couple of years ago, so we stopped to enjoy one on a day roost near Minca. Lovely bird, albeit straight overhead.
Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)
LESSER NIGHTHAWK (Chordeiles acutipennis) – A couple were flying around over the coastal scrub at Camarones in the early morning.
BAND-WINGED NIGHTJAR (Systellura longirostris) – Diana had stopped to see the pre-dawn view from the upper ridge, and she pointed one out to her vehicle. [*]
Apodidae (Swifts)
WHITE-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne zonaris) – Not a good trip for swifts. One small, distant group was seen.
Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)
WHITE-NECKED JACOBIN (Florisuga mellivora) – This stunning species was wonderfully prominent at the Hotel Minca feeders.
RUFOUS-BREASTED HERMIT (Glaucis hirsutus) – We observed one feeding on understory flowers above Minca.
LONG-BILLED HERMIT (CENTRAL AMERICAN) (Phaethornis longirostris susurrus) – Quick views of one visiting Heliconia flowers below RNA El Dorado.
PALE-BELLIED HERMIT (Phaethornis anthophilus) – There were periodic sightings of one visiting the feeders at the Hotel Minca, perching nearby, and another was seen down the slope.
BROWN VIOLETEAR (Colibri delphinae) – The RNA El Dorado feeders are a good location for this species. It is impossible to know how many of any hummingbird visit the feeders, but with several in view at a time, this species was certainly not rare. Great views of the gorget and ears.

Lesser Violetear (formerly Green Violetear) is a stunning thug, dominating many feeding situations, although not all the feeders at El Dorado, fortunately. Photo copyright participant Rick Woodruff.

LESSER VIOLETEAR (Colibri cyanotus) – Common at the RNA El Dorado feeders. Green Violetear has been split into this and Mexican.
SPARKLING VIOLETEAR (Colibri coruscans) – Ed and Dan saw one along the road above the Lodge.
BLACK-THROATED MANGO (Anthracothorax nigricollis) – A speck at Las Acacias was followed by good views of a few visiting the Hotel Minca feeders.

Santa Marta Blossomcrown was the subject of all this focused intensity as it fed on the flowers that no other hummingbird was defending. Photo copyright guide Diana Balcazar.

SANTA MARTA BLOSSOMCROWN (Anthocephala floriceps) – A fortunate encounter on our second attempt, thanks to Luis and Diana's perseverance at the flowers at which the Blossomcrown seemed to face no competition. Good views. There had been few sightings this year. Blossomcrown was recently split into two species, both endemic to Colombia, this one to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. The split seems less than compelling, but the genus is certainly distinctive. The unsplit species is considered "Vulnerable," with a population under 7,000. [E]
TYRIAN METALTAIL (SANTA MARTA) (Metallura tyrianthina districta) – Seen on both visits to the upper ridge, with one or two sightings for Rick and others of one at the RNA El Dorado garden. This endemic subspecies has been proposed as a split by some, but seems like a variation on a theme typical of 'leapfrog' variation in the Andes.
WHITE-TAILED STARFRONTLET (Coeligena phalerata) – This stunning bird was only seen a couple of times at the RNA El Dorado feeders, and we had to find them in the wild for better views for all. Fortunately we did have a couple that slowed down and even perched. A striking bird (both sexes). Now known from the Sierra de Perija, it is not endemic to Santa Marta, and may well be found in Venezuela someday, but this is the place to see it. [E]
MOUNTAIN VELVETBREAST (Lafresnaya lafresnayi liriope) – We saw one in the wild, both in flight and perched, and then had even better views at Kelly's feeders.

Mary and Diana talking beneath another El Dorado sunset. Photo copyright guide Richard Webster.

LONG-BILLED STARTHROAT (Heliomaster longirostris) – One was seen by most (all?) at the feeders at the Hotel Minca.
RED-BILLED EMERALD (Chlorostilbon gibsoni nitens) – We saw small numbers in the arid woodland of the Camarones area. This subspecies shows minimal or no red on the bill, versus red-billed populations not far away west of Santa Marta. A study by Gary Stiles (Wilson Bull. 1996) is responsible for this treatment, versus Blue-tailed that occurs nearby to the east; cf. HBW, which lumps them all.
WHITE-VENTED PLUMELETEER (Chalybura buffonii) – Common at the Hotel Minca feeders.
CROWNED WOODNYMPH (COLOMBIAN VIOLET-CROWNED) (Thalurania colombica colombica) – Abundant at the RNA El Dorado feeders, which was fun because this species is spectacular. Woodnymphs have been split and lumped several times; currently, Violet-crowned and others are combined in Crowned, but still split from Fork-tailed (no iridescent crown) east of the Andes, a reasonable treatment.
BUFFY HUMMINGBIRD (Leucippus fallax) – A specialty of the arid Caribbean coast, it can be hard to find, and we were fortunate to have two good sightings in the arid, coastal scrub at Camarones.
STEELY-VENTED HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia saucerottei) – Common at the Hotel Minca, with a few more seen in the same zone up and down the road.
RUFOUS-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia tzacatl) – A regular visitor to the Hotel Minca's feeders, with a few seen up the road from there.

Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird put on a show, thanks to a few of these pink flowers being in bloom. We sometimes find this hummingbird in the mangroves, but these flowers are the best bet. Photo copyright guide Richard Webster.

SAPPHIRE-BELLIED HUMMINGBIRD (Lepidopyga lilliae) – Known only from a couple of specimens from the mangroves of Isla Salamanca, birders have found a similar-looking bird there in the last decade. Perhaps less purple below than the original description, it seems different from the nearby Sapphire-throated, which is greener with even less purple. In any event, we saw whatever this interesting taxon is, and had good looks thanks to the few pink flowers that were in bloom. It is considered "Critically Endangered, " with a population of under 250! [E]
SHINING-GREEN HUMMINGBIRD (Lepidopyga goudoti) – One was seen by part of the group west of Camarones, where we have seen it before, but it is unusual (more common in the Magdalena Valley).
WHITE-CHINNED SAPPHIRE (Hylocharis cyanus) – One was seen perched for a while above Minca.
Trogonidae (Trogons)
WHITE-TIPPED QUETZAL (Pharomachrus fulgidus) – While many species were quieter than normal on this visit, some weren't, in particular these Quetzals, which seemed quite energized at several spots. We had good views by the Lodge, near the station, and on top of the ridge. A stunning bird to see multiple times.

White-tipped Quetzals were relatively conspicuous this year. Photo copyright participant Chuck Holliday.

MASKED TROGON (Trogon personatus sanctaemartae) – There were at least three sightings of this trogon; good views at length. Some, such as Niels Krabbe, have suggested that this form should perhaps be split, and splits are highly likely between some Andean taxa, so perhaps this one, too.
Momotidae (Motmots)
WHOOPING MOTMOT (Momotus subrufescens) – Seen twice, first at Pozo de Azul, then on the fruit tray at the Hotel Minca! This is one of the splits of Blue-crowned Motmot.
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
RINGED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle torquata) – A few were seen on Isla Salamanca.
AMAZON KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle amazona) – Seen along the lovely river behind Las Acacias.
GREEN KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle americana) – Also at Las Acacias, and on Isla Salamanca.
Bucconidae (Puffbirds)
PIED PUFFBIRD (Notharchus tectus) – Ed spotted two in the mangroves on Isla Salamanca, a surprise in general (widespread, but not well known in the Santa Marta area) and for the habitat (normally a forest species).

Sunset at Camarones. Photo copyright guide Richard Webster.

RUSSET-THROATED PUFFBIRD (Hypnelus ruficollis) – This handsome puffbird was seen several times, our first good views coming on Isla Salamanca. Note that some lists, but not Clements, split this form from Double-banded (bicinctus) of the Llanos.
Galbulidae (Jacamars)
RUFOUS-TAILED JACAMAR (Galbula ruficauda) – Our first ones were in the dry woodland at Camarones, followed by another below Minca.
Ramphastidae (Toucans)
EMERALD TOUCANET (SANTA MARTA) (Aulacorhynchus prasinus lautus) – Seen on several days on the upper slopes from just below the lodge on up, mostly above the level of the next, but overlapping a little. Some have suggested splitting this form, but a recent analysis (Winker, 2016, PeerJ) includes it within White-throated (albivitta), which Clements still includes in Emerald.
GROOVE-BILLED TOUCANET (YELLOW-BILLED) (Aulacorhynchus sulcatus calorhynchus) – It took a while, but Virginia got us on our first, and we ended up seeing this species well, twice, at middle elevations. Some have split Yellow-billed from Groove-billed; the two do hybridize in Venezuela; even lumped, it is often a lifer on this tour.
KEEL-BILLED TOUCAN (Ramphastos sulfuratus) – This lovely, striking bird was heard daily and seen several times, a tropical classic. We never quite resolved what sounded like Black-mandibled at Las Acacias, which shouldn't be there (an escape; a Keel-billed sounding novel?).

Scaled Piculet is an uncommon, local species that we often miss, so good views of a respnosive bird were a bonus this year. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

Picidae (Woodpeckers)
SCALED PICULET (Picumnus squamulatus) – An uncommon species of Colombia and Venezuela, and one we do not see every trip. We enjoyed good views of a responsive bird above Minca that Dan spotted.
CHESTNUT PICULET (Picumnus cinnamomeus) – After failing to find it on Isla Salamanca, we did well, seeing one that afternoon near Camarones, and several more the next morning there; more than normal. A very attractive piculet with a limited range in Venezuela and Colombia.
RED-CROWNED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes rubricapillus) – The widespread relative of Red-bellied and Gila.
SMOKY-BROWN WOODPECKER (Picoides fumigatus) – We saw a pair in the burn zone on the San Lorenzo ridge. Genetic studies have removed it from Veniliornis and placed it in widespread Picoides.
RED-RUMPED WOODPECKER (Veniliornis kirkii) – At least three were seen in the mangroves on Isla Salamanca, one at very close range.
GOLDEN-OLIVE WOODPECKER (GOLDEN-OLIVE) (Colaptes rubiginosus alleni) – One surfaced as we did the list on the verandah at RNA El Dorado, and another was heard. An endemic subspecies, but not a likely split.
SPOT-BREASTED WOODPECKER (Colaptes punctigula) – [Pre-tour: Good views of two on Isla Salamanca.]
LINEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus lineatus) – Mary spotted one in open woodland west of Camarones; good views.
CRIMSON-CRESTED WOODPECKER (Campephilus melanoleucos) – One of this beauty was seen with the 'big bird flock' below the lodge and another responsive bird was seen high overhead on our way down the mountain.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
BARRED FOREST-FALCON (Micrastur ruficollis) – It was a team effort of Ed, Diana, and Cory, but a calling bird was eventually seen well = perched. Further research (e.g., Ferguson-Lees et al.'s Raptors of the World) suggests that this brown-backed bird was an immature, rather than an adult color phase (as in Restall et al.), but it is a complicated subject.
CRESTED CARACARA (Caracara cheriway) – Widespread in small numbers in the lowlands.
YELLOW-HEADED CARACARA (Milvago chimachima) – Ditto.

Russet-throated Puffbird is typical of most puffbirds--not easy to spot, sitting like a lump on a log, but once you find one, great views can be enjoyed. Photo copyright participant Rick Woodruff.

MERLIN (TAIGA) (Falco columbarius columbarius) – One interacted with our second Plain-breasted Hawk and then continued on its way (1500m). [b]
APLOMADO FALCON (Falco femoralis) – A falcon flying by the flats at Camarones produced different reactions as folks piled out of the vehicle, the ID confirmed by a couple of quick photos.
PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus) – [Pre-tour: One adult on Isla Salamanca was most likely a boreal migrant.] [b]
Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)
ORANGE-CHINNED PARAKEET (Brotogeris jugularis) – After several quick fly-bys, we had reasonable views at and below Minca.
RED-BILLED PARROT (Pionus sordidus saturatus) – The most common parrot of middle elevations; mostly in flight, but seen perched several times.
BLUE-HEADED PARROT (Pionus menstruus) – This lowland Pionus was seen at Las Acacias, en route to Camarones (the peaje), and around Minca.

It is not often that one can see the detail of the color in the tail of a Scaly-naped Amazon. We were fortunate to have such close and tame birds on the San Lorenzo ridge. Photo copyright guide Diana Balcazar.

SCALY-NAPED PARROT (Amazona mercenarius) – Widespread, but mostly seen flying high over montane forests, so the extremely close, tame birds on the San Lorenzo ridge were a treat for the guides, too. According to Jobling's dictionary of scientific names, mercenarius = mercenary, without further explanation of why it applies, nor any help from HBW.
GREEN-RUMPED PARROTLET (Forpus passerinus) – We had good views during our stop at the bathrooms west of Camarones.
SANTA MARTA PARAKEET (Pyrrhura viridicata) – Disappointing, as we had only a couple of encounters with hurtling birds, the first heard and then seen by many as shapes on the San Lorenzo ridge, the second a vivid bullet crossing the ridge, perhaps seen only by Rick. This bird is rare and seldom easy, and apparently had been extra-difficult in recent months. it is considered "Endangered," with a population under 3,200. [E]
BROWN-THROATED PARAKEET (Eupsittula pertinax) – Fairly common in the lowlands; good views on Isla Salamanca and at Camarones.
BLUE-CROWNED PARAKEET (BLUE-CROWNED) (Thectocercus acuticaudatus koenigi) – We often miss this species, so views of about ten at the peaje west of Camarones were welcome.
SCARLET-FRONTED PARAKEET (Psittacara wagleri wagleri) – A model of behavior for the Santa Marta Parakeets! But it doesn't work that way. Still, we enjoyed some lengthy studies of perched birds along the ridge. It is considered "Near Threatened."
Thamnophilidae (Typical Antbirds)
BLACK-CRESTED ANTSHRIKE (Sakesphorus canadensis pulchellus) – Heard on Isla Salamanca, then seen well around Camarones, enjoying both the male and female color schemes. Note the subspecies: Splits are likely in this species.
BLACK-BACKED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus melanonotus) – This species was a struggle. As it often is. With effort most managed views of a female in the undergrowth and then of a pair in a thicket. Formerly placed in Sakesphorus, but genetically a Thamnophilus.
WHITE-FRINGED ANTWREN (NORTHERN) (Formicivora grisea intermedia) – We had good views of several pairs around Camarones, and then a few more were seen below Minca. Note the subspecies: Some lists, such as the IOC, already split this form as Northern White-fringed Antwren, from Southern (east and south of the Andes).
SANTA MARTA ANTBIRD (Drymophila hellmayri) – We had two encounters, both involving elements of struggle because while the birds hung around, they did not emerge for long, instead ducking in and out repeatedly. Long-tailed Antbird was split (Isler et al., Condor 2012) into four species, including this endemic, which differs little in plumage or voice, but does occupy a different habitat (e.g., bracken) at lower elevations, despite abundant bamboo at higher elevations. It is considered "Near Threatened." [E]

The happy group surrounding Kelly, who had just delivered views of Santa Marta Antpitta to her first takers. It will be interesting to return a year from now and see how this has developed. In any case, it was much fun for us. Photo by Cory Gregory's camera, being taken by one of the drivers!

Grallariidae (Antpittas)
SANTA MARTA ANTPITTA (Grallaria bangsi) – After hearing several, and before struggling again, we encountered Kelly and made an appointment to be her first clients. It was an interesting negotiation and very successful conclusion, leading to great views of a hungry antpitta devouring pieces of worm. What fun! It is considered "Vulnerable," with a population under 10,000. [E]
RUFOUS ANTPITTA (SIERRA NEVADA) (Grallaria rufula spatiator) – A few were heard, only one of which was close, and we could not see it. A likely split, but heard only. [*]
RUSTY-BREASTED ANTPITTA (RUSTY-BREASTED) (Grallaricula ferrugineipectus ferrugineipectus) – A difficult struggle in a dense thicket. The bird sang and sang, and it moved a number of times, but only a third of the group obtained binocular views.
Rhinocryptidae (Tapaculos)
SANTA MARTA TAPACULO (Scytalopus sanctaemartae) – A number were heard, and we eventually found a responsive bird. Views were brief, but at least it was very close. [E]
BROWN-RUMPED TAPACULO (Scytalopus latebricola) – Very good looks at a remarkable bird that seemed to burrow through obstacles! Silently! With thanks to Cacique, who has better eyesight than I do. Another was seen by many on our next visit to the ridgetop, clambering around in a viny tangle. [E]
Furnariidae (Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers)
STRONG-BILLED WOODCREEPER (ANDEAN/NORTHERN) (Xiphocolaptes promeropirhynchus sanctaemartae) – At least three sightings for various parts of the group, including by Ed and Chuck with a small antswarm and by Cory with the end of the line coming back to the Lodge.
COCOA WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus susurrans) – We had a very responsive bird above Minca just after our Santa Marta Foliage-gleaner. A split of Buff-throated Woodcreeper.
STRAIGHT-BILLED WOODCREEPER (Dendroplex picus picirostris) – Good views of several on Isla Salamanca were followed by another near Camarones.

Red-billed Scythebill is always a treat, and was an unexpected treat on this tour route. Photo copyright guide Cory Gregory.

RED-BILLED SCYTHEBILL (Campylorhamphus trochilirostris) – New for the tour and a surprise to us here, but clearly not to Jose Luis, who was guiding us around the area, and intent on spotting the Tocuyo Sparrow that was singing (it remained unspotted!).
MONTANE WOODCREEPER (Lepidocolaptes lacrymiger sanctaemartae) – Unusually scarce; nice views of two with a flock on the ridgetop. Some have suggested the potential splitting of this subspecies, e.g., Niels Krabbe.
PLAIN XENOPS (Xenops minutus) – We had good views of one with a small flock at 1,700m, higher than normal, and just one curve away from our only Streaked.
STREAKED XENOPS (Xenops rutilans) – With a small flock above Palo Alto.

Folks on several of our tours would find this photo hard to believe--sometimes Pale-legged Horneros are just voices out in the woodland, not a bird walking calmly by. Photo copyright guide Cory Gregory.

PALE-LEGGED HORNERO (CARIBBEAN) (Furnarius leucopus longirostris) – We ended up with good views of at least one walking on the ground near a cattle tank at Camarones. Note the subspecies: Splits are likely, with several possible groupings.
MONTANE FOLIAGE-GLEANER (Anabacerthia striaticollis anxia) – We finally started running into this species, and then saw it several times, usually with mid-level little flocks in the montane forest at middle elevations. An endemic subspecies not likely to be split.
SANTA MARTA FOLIAGE-GLEANER (Clibanornis rufipectus) – A great success on our first attempt, with repeated views of a bird in the open. You may think that it was in the deep, dark forest, but with this species, in the open is a great success! This species has been a taxonomic puzzle. Originally described as a Ruddy Foliage-gleaner, allied possibly with Henna-hooded based on voice, and now known to be part, with them, of the Canebrake Groundcreeper genus, Clibanornis (Krabbe, N., Bull. B.O.C.; Claramunt et al. Condor 2013). It is considered "Near Threatened." [E]
FLAMMULATED TREEHUNTER (Thripadectes flammulatus) – This species is a good bird anywhere in the high Andes, and certainly scarce on the San Lorenzo ridge, so to have such good views of a responsive bird in the relative open was one of the hardest to replicate sightings of the trip.
STREAK-CAPPED SPINETAIL (Cranioleuca hellmayri) – This arboreal spinetail was regular with small flocks and was seen several times. Known from one specimen in Venezuela, it is not an endemic, but on a practical level it is always a lifer on the first visit here.

Band-tailed Guans have just about become the RNA El Dorado mascot, so common and conspicuous are they around the cracked corn and compost. Photo copyright guide Diana Balcazar.

YELLOW-CHINNED SPINETAIL (Certhiaxis cinnamomeus) – Seen by some in the marshes on Isla Salamanca.
RUSTY-HEADED SPINETAIL (Synallaxis fuscorufa) – Common by voice, this bird can be hard to see, playback not always helping as much as one thinks it should. Diana finished the job, getting the group on one in the bamboo on the ridge. It is considered "Vulnerable," with a population under 10,000. [E]
WHITE-WHISKERED SPINETAIL (Synallaxis candei) – This lovely spinetail is fairly common by voice in the dry woodland of the Guajira region and it is endemic to the arid littoral of Colombia and Venezuela. We had good views our first afternoon west of Camarones, with another seen the next day during the Tocuyo Sparrow search.
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
SOUTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET (Camptostoma obsoletum) – Heard during our Chachalaca session near Barranquilla, and seen once below Minca.
WHITE-THROATED TYRANNULET (Mecocerculus leucophrys) – Fairly common on the San Lorenzo ridge; distinctive with the puffy white throat.
MOUSE-COLORED TYRANNULET (NORTHERN) (Phaeomyias murina incomta) – We were using playback to a calling Pale-tipped Tyrannulet, expecting it to respond, so when this bird showed up, it was a puzzle for a moment near Camarones.
YELLOW-BELLIED ELAENIA (Elaenia flavogaster) – A few were seen on our morning walk near Minca.
LESSER ELAENIA (Elaenia chiriquensis) – A silent bird seen at 1500m in an open area above Minca looked like this species, which remains something of a mystery here (many specimens from here, few sightings).
MOUNTAIN ELAENIA (Elaenia frantzii) – Fairly common, with a sprinkling heard and seen.
OLIVE-STRIPED FLYCATCHER (Mionectes olivaceus galbinus) – A few of this frugivorus flycatcher were seen in the mountain forests.
OCHRE-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Mionectes oleagineus) – A couple were seen below Minca.

Black-capped Tyrannulet was seen once, with a small mixed flock on the upper San Lorenzo ridge. Photo copyright guide Cory Gregory.

BLACK-CAPPED TYRANNULET (Phyllomyias nigrocapillus flavimentum) – One responsive bird was with a flock on the ridge.
PALTRY TYRANNULET (MOUNTAIN) (Zimmerius vilissimus tamae) – We ended up with telescope views of this obscure flycatcher. The face pattern like a "Solitary" Vireo is not too obscure, but its taxonomic future certainly is! This and the next species are part of a study (Rheindt, Frank, Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 2013) that has split Paltry into Paltry and Mistletoe, and will likely produce more splits, some going by Venezuelan and Specious (did they mean Speciose?); lists are now calling the subspecies endemic to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta "tamae" (which normally refers to a place on the Venezuela-Colombia border??), a change from the checklist we used. And on and on!
GOLDEN-FACED TYRANNULET (COOPMANS'S) (Zimmerius chrysops minimus) – We also had good looks at this uncommon tyrannulet, which can also be split various ways. This subspecies is endemic to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. As split by some lists, but not Clements, minimus and cumanensis are a species, Coopmans's, which is limited to Santa Marta and northern Venezuela.
NORTHERN SCRUB-FLYCATCHER (Sublegatus arenarum) – Fairly common in dry woodland around Camarones and in scrub and mangroves on Isla Salamanca. As split from Amazonian and Southern scrub-flycatchers.
SLENDER-BILLED TYRANNULET (Inezia tenuirostris) – Common by voice in arid habitat of the Guajira around Camarones; a regional specialty that we saw well there. a.k.a. Slender-billed Inezia.
PALE-TIPPED TYRANNULET (Inezia caudata) – Jose Luis heard one, and we eventually had good looks, not in response to playback, but to owl whistles. a.k.a. Pale-tipped Inezia. As split from Amazonian Tyrannulet.
PALE-EYED PYGMY-TYRANT (Atalotriccus pilaris) – Fairly common by voice below Minca, with two eventually seen. Perhaps the joyful event has receded in your memories!
PEARLY-VENTED TODY-TYRANT (Hemitriccus margaritaceiventer) – We had several good looks in the arid habitats around Camarones; better than normal.

Black-throated Tody-Tyrant is perhaps fairly common, but good views are a less common event. Photo copyright guide Cory Gregory.

BLACK-THROATED TODY-TYRANT (Hemitriccus granadensis lehmanni) – Most got good looks at this species, in several installments, including on the lodge grounds (Virginia during a break) and on a side track above the lodge. Note the subspecies: Some are quite enthused about splits in this species (your guides perhaps less so, but . . .).
COMMON TODY-FLYCATCHER (Todirostrum cinereum) – A couple were seen on Isla Salamanca.
YELLOW-BREASTED FLYCATCHER (OCHRE-LORED) (Tolmomyias flaviventris aurulentus) – We had mediocre views of one well upslope from us below Minca.
CINNAMON FLYCATCHER (Pyrrhomyias cinnamomeus assimilis) – We had several sightings in montane forest at middle elevations. This extra-cinnamon endemic subspecies is lovely, but does not seem likely to be split.
OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER (Contopus cooperi) – Ed and Dan set up the telescope to show us one on a distant snag at Palo Alto. It is considered "Near Threatened." [b]
TROPICAL PEWEE (Contopus cinereus) – We saw several above Minca.
VERMILION FLYCATCHER (Pyrocephalus rubinus) – Just a few in the Camarones area; lovely.
SANTA MARTA BUSH-TYRANT (Myiotheretes pernix) – Ed got us on our first, inside the shrubbery along the ridgetop track. We saw another on our next visit and heard one more. This endemic is uncommon and can be difficult to locate. It is considered "Endangered," with a population under 1,700. [E]
PIED WATER-TYRANT (Fluvicola pica) – Good views on Isla Salamanca.
WHITE-HEADED MARSH TYRANT (Arundinicola leucocephala) – Virginia pointed out a male in the marshes on Isla Salamanca.

The view from the forested highlands over the coffee fincas to the well populated coast at Rodadero Beach and Santa Marta (city). Photo copyright guide Richard Webster.

YELLOW-BELLIED CHAT-TYRANT (Ochthoeca diadema jesupi) – After a couple of heard-only birds, we found a responsive one, and enjoyed good views. This is an endemic subspecies, but does not seem especially distinctive.
CATTLE TYRANT (Machetornis rixosa) – A few were seen in open areas of the coastal plain, including one at the peaje that was showing its crown color.
DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tuberculifer) – A few heard off in the forest. [*]
PANAMA FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus panamensis) – Our best views were in the mangroves on Isla Salamanca, with a couple more at Minca.
GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus crinitus) – Two wintering birds were seen below Minca, thanks to Rick. [b]
BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tyrannulus) – Resident birds were seen near Camarones and below Minca.
GREAT KISKADEE (Pitangus sulphuratus) – Common in the lowlands, starting at our hotel in Barranquilla.
BOAT-BILLED FLYCATCHER (Megarynchus pitangua) – Several encounters above and below Minca, including one carrying nesting material at 1,400m on 11 March. [N]
SOCIAL FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes similis) – Seen on Isla Salamanca and around Minca.
GOLDEN-CROWNED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes chrysocephalus) – Daily around the RNA El Dorado, where the birds frequented the buildings in pursuit of insects attracted by the lights.
STREAKED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes maculatus) – Several sightings around the Hotel Minca.
TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus) – Common at lower elevations. One was on a nest at 800m above Minca on 7 March. [N]

Brown Violetears were regular at the El Dorado feeders, this one beautifully backlit on an attractive seedhead. Photo copyright participant Rick Woodruff.

GRAY KINGBIRD (Tyrannus dominicensis) – Not exactly a boreal migrant, but a migrant from the Caribbean, soon to return to the breeding grounds. We saw a couple dipping to the surface of the Hotel Barranquilla Plaza swimming pool, with a couple more near Camarones. [b]
FORK-TAILED FLYCATCHER (Tyrannus savana) – Rick and Cory got some on birds departing over the marshes of Isla Salamanca.
Cotingidae (Cotingas)
GOLDEN-BREASTED FRUITEATER (Pipreola aureopectus) – Only one seen, but it was responsive and cooperative, providing great looks at this beauty.
Pipridae (Manakins)
WHITE-BEARDED MANAKIN (Manacus manacus) – A female below Minca was seen by part of the group.
Tityridae (Tityras and Allies)
MASKED TITYRA (Tityra semifasciata) – Several sightings around clearings on the slopes, and Dan pointed out a pair using a cavity at 1400m on 11 March. [N]
CINNAMON BECARD (Pachyramphus cinnamomeus) – Several sightings around Minca.
Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)
SCRUB GREENLET (Hylophilus flavipes) – We saw this, down to the light iris, in the scrub at Camarones.
BROWN-CAPPED VIREO (Vireo leucophrys) – This relative of Warbling Vireo was heard and seen a few times in montane forest below the Lodge.
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
BLACK-CHESTED JAY (Cyanocorax affinis) – Scattered sightings up and down the mountain (the flock at the top a bit of a surprise, although we have had them up there once before), one of our last sightings being of birds eating the Erythrina flowers!
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
BLUE-AND-WHITE SWALLOW (Pygochelidon cyanoleuca) – A few were seen on both trips up the ridge.
SOUTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx ruficollis) – Seen twice at lower elevations.
GRAY-BREASTED MARTIN (Progne chalybea) – Small numbers were on the coastal plain, including a pair at Camarones and more on Isla Salamanca.
WHITE-WINGED SWALLOW (Tachycineta albiventer) – [Pre-tour: Isla Salamanca, perched and in flight. Post-tour: Barranquilla Airport, from the terminal, some with not so much white in the wing?].
BANK SWALLOW (Riparia riparia) – [Pre-tour: Isla Salamanca.] [b]

Doing the list on the verandah at RNA El Dorado with a lovely sunset in our eyes. Photo copyright guide Diana Balcazar.

BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica) – Flocks were seen on Isla Salamanca and at Camarones. [b]
CLIFF SWALLOW (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) – Ed saw this migrant near Camarones. [b]
Troglodytidae (Wrens)
SCALY-BREASTED WREN (Microcerculus marginatus) – a.k.a. Southern Nightingale-Wren. [*]
HOUSE WREN (SOUTHERN) (Troglodytes aedon musculus) – In small numbers at lower elevations.

Stripe-backed Wren at its mess of a nest, but these messes must work well for them. Photo copyright guide Richard Webster.

STRIPE-BACKED WREN (Campylorhynchus nuchalis) – Fairly common (pre-tour) on Isla Salamanca, where we saw a pair at their nest on our return visit.
BICOLORED WREN (Campylorhynchus griseus) – This striking bird with the strong voice was fairly common in the lowlands, including on the grounds of the Hotel Minca.
RUFOUS-BREASTED WREN (Pheugopedius rutilus) – Seen a couple of times above and below Minca, with more heard.
RUFOUS-AND-WHITE WREN (Thryophilus rufalbus) – Unfortunately only a distant heard only. [*]
GRAY-BREASTED WOOD-WREN (BANGSI) (Henicorhina leucophrys bangsi) – Seen well several times, including around RNA El Dorado. For a long time, two subspecies have been known as altitudinal replacements here. This is the lower elevation one, and based on a series of recent studies (e.g., Caro, L.M. et al. 2013 J Evol. Bio.), the more recent immigrant from the Andes, and is not split by most (it seems quite similar to Gray-breasted).
SANTA MARTA WOOD-WREN (Henicorhina anachoreta) – This is the upper elevation one and the older immigrant population of wood-wren. A recent paper (Cadena, C. D. et al. 2015 Orn. Col.) split it from Gray-breasted (more distinctive vocally, this seems like a good decision). We had good views of a very close pair on the San Lorenzo ridge; not very vocal this visit. [E]
Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)
LONG-BILLED GNATWREN (Ramphocaenus melanurus) – Two were seen in thickets below Minca. The birds here seem vocally quite different from many populations.

Lesser Violetears in action, their violet ears extended as signals of prowess. Photo copyright participant Chuck Holliday.

TROPICAL GNATCATCHER (TROPICAL) (Polioptila plumbea plumbiceps) – Common in the arid lowlands. Note the subspecies: Splits are highly likely in this widespread, variable species.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
ORANGE-BILLED NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (Catharus aurantiirostris) – Several heard, and after brief views for some, Diana took folks who wanted back, and had a great encounter with a close, singing bird.
SLATY-BACKED NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (Catharus fuscater) – One skulking bird was seen briefly, and there were at least two sightings at the RNA El Dorado compost pile.
YELLOW-LEGGED THRUSH (Turdus flavipes) – This species is common in the lower, wet forests, and with time good views were obtained of multiple birds.

Our drivers, Luis, Yoel, and Jesus, waiting while we searched for some LBJ! Photo copyright guide Diana Balcazar.

PALE-BREASTED THRUSH (Turdus leucomelas) – Common on the lower slopes.
BLACK-HOODED THRUSH (Turdus olivater) – Less common than Yellow-legged, the best spot is around the Lodge, where it was seen on a couple of occasions, including a responsive bird out the trail to the Mirador.
GREAT THRUSH (Turdus fuscater cacozelus) – This huge thrush was easily seen in open areas on the ridge.
Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
TROPICAL MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus gilvus) – A few were seen in drier areas to the east, e.g., the peaje.
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis) – Several were heard and seen in the mangroves on Isla Salamanca and another was near the tank at Camarones. [b]
GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER (Vermivora chrysoptera) – Mary spotted a male as we were leaving the mountains the last morning, and many of us were able to partake in her lifebird! It is considered "Near Threatened." [b]

Blackburnian Warbler is one of the more common wintering warblers in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, and certainly one of the most beautiful. Photo copyright guide Cory Gregory.

BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER (Mniotilta varia) – At least three were seen in montane forest. [b]
PROTHONOTARY WARBLER (Protonotaria citrea) – Small numbers were in wet areas (e.g., mangroves) on Isla Salamanca, soon to depart for the breeding grounds. [b]
TENNESSEE WARBLER (Oreothlypis peregrina) – One of the more common wintering migrants, seen mostly at middle elevations. [b]
AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla) – A half dozen were seen on the lower slopes. [b]
TROPICAL PARULA (Setophaga pitiayumi) – Several were seen in forest above Palo Alto.
BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER (Setophaga fusca) – Common in montane forest, mostly at middle elevations, with a few up on the ridge. [b]
YELLOW WARBLER (NORTHERN) (Setophaga petechia aestiva) – One at Las Acacias and several on Isla Salamanca (pre-tour and main tour). [b]
YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (Setophaga coronata) – Dan and Ed saw one on the San Lorenzo ridge, which the rest of us did not get on; rarely reported from Colombia. [b]
RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER (CHESTNUT-CAPPED) (Basileuterus rufifrons mesochrysus) – This beauty was fairly common in disturbed woodland in the Minca area.

Santa Marta Warbler is one of the tougher endemics on the upper ridge, and we were very pleased to have several nice looks at this skulker. Photo copyright guide Cory Gregory.

SANTA MARTA WARBLER (Myiothlypis basilica) – This is one of the tougher endemics of the upper ridge. We were very pleased to have several encounters, with good views on both trips up the ridge. It is considered "Vulnerable," with a population under 1,700. [E]
WHITE-LORED WARBLER (Myiothlypis conspicillata) – The easier of the endemic warblers, we had views on five days, including right around the Lodge. It is considered "Near Threatened." [E]
SLATE-THROATED REDSTART (Myioborus miniatus) – Fairly common at elevations below the next species. a.k.a. Slate-throated Whitestart.
YELLOW-CROWNED REDSTART (Myioborus flavivertex) – This endemic was not really common, but we did see it multiple times on both visits to the top. A lovely and lively bird. a.k.a. Yellow-crowned Whitestart. [E]
Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)
WHITE-LINED TANAGER (Tachyphonus rufus) – A few were seen in disturbed areas at middle elevations.
CRIMSON-BACKED TANAGER (Ramphocelus dimidiatus) – This beauty was seen several times, including on the fruit tray at the Hotel Minca.

Black-cheeked Mountain-Tanager is one of the showier endemics. Usually fairly common, but they follow the fruit, and they have been variously easy or hard. Photo copyright guide Cory Gregory.

BLACK-CHEEKED MOUNTAIN-TANAGER (Anisognathus melanogenys) – It took a little while, but we ended up with good views of this endemic of the upper slopes. a.k.a. Santa Marta Mountain-Tanager. [E]
BLUE-GRAY TANAGER (Thraupis episcopus) – Regular on the coastal plain and the lower slopes, in wetter areas than Glaucous.
GLAUCOUS TANAGER (Thraupis glaucocolpa) – We usually see this regional specialty, but they are not common. Good views of two during our morning at Camarones after one was seen briefly there the day before.

Rufous-capped Warblers in Colombia are at the southern end of their range; this form has all yellow underparts in comparison with those of most of Mexico and, rarely, Arizona. Photo copyright participant Chuck Holliday.

PALM TANAGER (Thraupis palmarum) – Small numbers.
BLACK-HEADED TANAGER (Tangara cyanoptera) – This uncommon bird of middle elevations was seen three times.
BLACK-CAPPED TANAGER (Tangara heinei) – Unusually scarce, with none around the Lodge and just one bird seen by some.
BAY-HEADED TANAGER (Tangara gyrola) – Fairly common.
SWALLOW TANAGER (Tersina viridis) – This distinctive bird was pleasantly common and actively nesting (several nests on roadcut banks) around Minca and up to middle elevations. [N]
BICOLORED CONEBILL (Conirostrum bicolor) – A widespread but local species, here a bird of mangroves, seen on Isla Salamanca, where we observed a recently fledged juvenile on 5 March. It is considered "Near Threatened." [N]
BLACK FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa humeralis nocticolor) – A few were seen on the ridgetop and at Estacion San Lorenzo.
WHITE-SIDED FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa albilatera) – Common in the gardens, starting at RNA El Dorado, where they were constantly working the mermelada flowers.

White-sided Flowerpiercers were common in the El Dorado garden (among places), hyperactively feeding and fighting over the mermelada flowers, using the hooked bill to pierce the corolla. Photo copyright participant Rick Woodruff.

RUSTY FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa sittoides) – About four seen, three females and a male, overall not the most satisfying set of encounters.
SAFFRON FINCH (Sicalis flaveola) – One was seen near Camarones. Seems like there should have been more . . . .
BLUE-BLACK GRASSQUIT (Volatinia jacarina) – A few sightings at Camarones and on the lower slopes.
GRAY SEEDEATER (Sporophila intermedia) – Part of the group saw one at Las Acacias.
YELLOW-BELLIED SEEDEATER (Sporophila nigricollis) – Seen twice by parts of the group.

Paramo Seedeater is uncommon throughout its range, and this subspecies, endemic to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, is an especially good find. Photo copyright guide Cory Gregory.

PARAMO SEEDEATER (Catamenia homochroa oreophila) – This endemic subspecies is distinctive and always a good find on the San Lorenzo ridge; we had good views. And Paramo Seedeater is uncommon and local everywhere in the Andes, so it was new for many.
PILEATED FINCH (Coryphospingus pileatus) – Sometimes hard to find, we saw Pileated Finches several times at Camarones, including good views of a pair, the coronal stripe visible.
BANANAQUIT (Coereba flaveola) – Small numbers on Isla Salamanca, around Camarones, and below Minca.
DULL-COLORED GRASSQUIT (Tiaris obscurus) – A couple were seen at middle elevations while many in the group were concentrating on the Santa Marta Antbirds.
BLACK-FACED GRASSQUIT (Tiaris bicolor) – Several sightings around Camarones, with good views of this bird of dry country.
BUFF-THROATED SALTATOR (Saltator maximus) – Around and above Minca, including right at the Hotel Minca.

Orinocan Saltator is widespread in Venezuela, but Venezuela is no longer an easy place to travel. Fortunately, they do occur in the Guajira region, where we enjoyed lengthy, close views near Camarones. Photo copyright by participant Rick Woodruff.

ORINOCAN SALTATOR (Saltator orenocensis) – This regional specialty can be difficult, so we were very happy after one got away to have lengthy, close views near Camarones. Excellent!
GRAYISH SALTATOR (Saltator coerulescens) – Common around Camarones, Isla Salamanca, and below Minca, including a couple snipping and eating flowers near Camarones.
STREAKED SALTATOR (Saltator striatipectus) – As usual, none in the lowlands, but a series of good views from below Minca up to middle elevations.
Emberizidae (Buntings and New World Sparrows)
TOCUYO SPARROW (Arremonops tocuyensis) – A bird we miss half the time. This year we did hear one, but could not see it, and did not stumble into any (frankly, stumbling into them has been our most common way of finding them). [*]
SIERRA NEVADA BRUSHFINCH (Arremon basilicus) – Most sightings came from around RNA El Dorado, where it was a periodic visitor to the ground feeders and compost, but often slipped away when disturbed at all by us or other birds; one or two other sightings out in the wilds. This is part of the split of Stripe-headed Brush-Finch. It is considered "Near Threatened," with a population under 20,000. [E]

Golden-winged Sparrow is a beauty, and it can be a skulker, so the appearance of a pair on the Hotel Minca fruit tray has been a great way to luxuriate in the bird's beauty. Photo copyright guide Cory Gregory.

GOLDEN-WINGED SPARROW (Arremon schlegeli) – A stunning bird, and a regional specialty. We were very pleased to again have great views on the fruit tray at the Hotel Minca. Although fairly common nearby, it can be a skulker, so seeing from the balcony was a great way to see it.
RUFOUS-COLLARED SPARROW (Zonotrichia capensis) – Small numbers, but seen daily in the mountains, including a juvenile at the Lodge.
SANTA MARTA BRUSHFINCH (Atlapetes melanocephalus) – The common brushfinch, seen daily in the mountains, over a wide span of elevations. We enjoyed the tame birds that the drivers have trained to come for crumbs at breakfast, as well as the birds feeding around the Lodge. [E]
Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)
SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra) – A few daily at lower elevations in moist habitats, starting at our hotel in Barranquilla. [b]

A splash of red that was a most welcome sight. We ended up with one perched on top of a bare tree for even clearer views of this scarce specialty of the arid littoral of Colombia and Venezuela. Photo copyright guide Richard Webster.

VERMILION CARDINAL (Cardinalis phoeniceus) – One of the most sought-after of the birds in the Guajira area, we did well with multiple sightings our morning there, We had lengthy views of males, but while we saw females a couple of times, we did not have lengthy views (too bad--the females are "more different" than the males from N Cardinal). Still, a good show of a bird that has decreased because of the pet trade.
ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus ludovicianus) – A couple of small clusters on the lower slopes. [b]
BLUE-BLACK GROSBEAK (Cyanocompsa cyanoides) – A perched female was seen on the slopes below Minca.
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus) – Common along the coastal slope.
CARIB GRACKLE (Quiscalus lugubris) – Also common. This species has been expanding in response to clearing, moving from the llanos into many parts of Colombia.

This Grayish Saltator has snipped off the flower and will eat some of it and toss the rest. Saltators are moderately herbivorus, unusual for passerines. Photo copyright guide Richard Webster.

YELLOW-HOODED BLACKBIRD (Chrysomus icterocephalus) – Small numbers were in the marshes of Isla Salamanca.
SHINY COWBIRD (Molothrus bonariensis) – Good views of small numbers on the coastal plain.
BRONZED COWBIRD (BRONZE-BROWN) (Molothrus aeneus armenti) – We saw a couple (which promptly flew off) at stables on Isla Salamanca, and then another in the mangroves nearby, the first we have seen in that habitat. We miss this species about half of the time. As for the "species question," some lists do split this isolated form; frankly, this is a poorly-known bird and more complete judgments will take time. It is considered "Vulnerable," with a population under 10,000 (hard to think of a cowbird as threatened, but life is strange).
GIANT COWBIRD (Molothrus oryzivorus) – A couple of briefly seen fly-bys, one of them heading for an oropendola colony!
YELLOW-BACKED ORIOLE (Icterus chrysater) – This bird can be scarce, but we did well this year, with multiple encounters, and got to enjoy the lovely song.
ORANGE-CROWNED ORIOLE (Icterus auricapillus) – This species has a limited range from eastern Panama to Venezuela, and is uncommon on our route. Sharon spotted our first near Minca, and we enjoyed good looks then and later nearby.
YELLOW ORIOLE (Icterus nigrogularis) – Widespread in small numbers in the lowlands, the easiest oriole.

Santa Marta Antpitta was a prize, but was almost secondary to the whole experience of this new antpitta feeding experiment and how it worked so well. Photo copyright guide Cory Gregory.

BALTIMORE ORIOLE (Icterus galbula) – One seen by part of the group near Minca. [b]
CRESTED OROPENDOLA (Psarocolius decumanus) – Small numbers were seen at middle elevations, from Minca to RNA El Dorado, where there were just a couple of pairs around a not-very-active colony. More active colonies were in clearings down the slope.
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
TRINIDAD EUPHONIA (Euphonia trinitatis) – One our first afternoon west of Camarones, with another heard the next day.
THICK-BILLED EUPHONIA (Euphonia laniirostris) – Fairly common above and below Minca.

Blue-naped Chlorophonia was seen regularly coming to the fruit feeder at RNA El Dorado. Photo copyright guide Richard Webster.

BLUE-NAPED CHLOROPHONIA (Chlorophonia cyanea) – This beauty was seen at several spots, but all of our good views came from RNA El Dorado, where a few were coming to the 'fruit cage' (the cage presumably saving the fruit for small beauties like this from depredation by 'fruit pigs,' big birds or mammals that vacuum up the goodies).

NIGHT MONKEY SP. (Aotus sp.) – On our second owling attempt at RNA El Dorado, we had good views of a small troop feeding in trees near the lodge. Night monkeys have recently been split into roughly a dozen species, and this will be one of them, apparently A. griseimembra, Gray-handed Night Monkey.
RED HOWLER MONKEY (Alouatta seniculus) – After a quiet start, we started hearing them regularly. Also, out by the Mirador, we got to see a small troop moving to the trees, as spotted by Dan.

Belly up to the bar for this Red-tailed Squirrel at RNA El Dorado. Photo copyright guide Richard Webster.

RED-TAILED SQUIRREL (Sciurus granatensis) – From the streets of Barranquilla (introduced??) to the feeders at RNA El Dorado, and especially the feeders at El Dorado, this was our squirrel. But they are so cute! Just like the ones in your yard.
CENTRAL AMERICAN AGOUTI (Dasyprocta punctata) – One sighting by part of the group at the compost pile.


Other critters:

Bat spp.

Sac-winged Bat? (the bat on Isla Salamanca with the pale back markings, as noted by Ed)

Caiman/Crocodile (Isla Salamanca; contained??)

Green Iguana

Teid lizards like the genus Ameiva

frog spp., including the din of peepers in the dripping wall at the Hotel Barranquilla Plaza

tarantula sp. (at night at RNA El Dorado)

butterflies, many lovely species, including Morphos

Totals for the tour: 315 bird taxa and 4 mammal taxa