A Field Guides Birding Tours Report


February 4-12, 2023 with Dan Lane & Roger Rodriguez guiding

Finally, Santa Marta! This is one of those places you hear about forever and look forward to seeing for yourself. This mountain range is pretty spectacular and is (as Roger told us) the tallest coastal mountain range in the world, with only 40 km between the beach and the tallest peak in Colombia, Pico Colon (which tops out at almost 19,000 feet (5700m). Being able to see snow and the Caribbean Sea at the same time is pretty impressive, one must say! But the area is also famous for its high rate of endemism, both of birds and other organisms, and that is the big draw for us!

Our visit resulted in a good number of memorable sightings, ranging from the showy Lance-tailed Manakin, Vermilion Cardinal (a particularly desired species by yours truly!), and White-tailed Starfrontlet to more subtly beautiful species such as Tocuyo Sparrow and Hermit Wood-Wren, both of which gave us outstanding views! Tanagers figured highly in our esteem with Black-cheeked and Buff-breasted Mountain-tanagers, Glaucous Tanager, Orinoco Saltator, and Pileated Finch getting votes for the Top Three list. Many of the endemics of the area bear the name of the mountain range, so Santa Marta Woodstar, Parakeet, Screech-Owl, and Tapaculo were favorites. The local Blue-naped Chlorophonia with its distinctive yellow forehead was also in the Top Three thanks to being so friendly at the feeders. White-tipped Quetzal and Golden-breasted Fruiteater were both colorful frugivores we enjoyed around the lodge at El Dorado. Lastly, a few less striking species also won our affection: Pale-eyed Pygmy-Tyrant, Yellow-bellied Chat-Tyrant, and the Bronzed (Bronze-brown) Cowbird, and even the Bright-rumped Attila, which we only heard, made the list.

I truly enjoyed my first visit to the area, where we experienced some pretty varied habitats from the mangroves and the marshes along the Magdalena River near Barranquilla to the dry scrub woodlands on the Guajira peninsula, and from the more humid tropical woodlands around the base of the mountains to the montane forests on the Santa Martas proper. I’m so glad you all were along to enjoy the area with me! Let’s do it again soon!

Until then, good birding!


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) [*]

Anhimidae (Screamers)

NORTHERN SCREAMER (Chauna chavaria)

What a great bird to encounter early on! This species is very local in wetlands along the Caribbean coasts of Colombia and Venezuela. It seems we were lucky to encounter it, as the species can be nomadic, following the ephemeral wetlands.

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)

BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Spatula discors) [b]

Amazingly, our only duck of the tour. A small group in a marshy spot on Day 2.

Cracidae (Guans, Chachalacas, and Curassows)


A cracid that is endemic to the central north coast of Colombia, we had a small group on the outskirts of Barranquilla early our second morning.

BAND-TAILED GUAN (Penelope argyrotis)

Noisy and common around the lodge at El Dorado.

SICKLE-WINGED GUAN (Chamaepetes goudotii sanctaemarthae)

Rarer than the last, but some came in to the lodge compost.

Odontophoridae (New World Quail)

BLACK-FRONTED WOOD-QUAIL (Odontophorus atrifrons) [*]

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]

PALE-VENTED PIGEON (Patagioenas cayennensis)

A lowland species we had in passing.

SCALED PIGEON (Patagioenas speciosa)

Carol spotted this handsome pigeon from the balcony of our lodge in Minca.

BARE-EYED PIGEON (Patagioenas corensis)

What a cool looking pigeon! Like a super-sized White-winged Dove. Very local in the arid desert of the Caribbean coast of Colombia and Venezuela and the ABC islands.

BAND-TAILED PIGEON (WHITE-NECKED) (Patagioenas fasciata albilinea)

A montane species. The tropical form differs from the North American one by having no black tip to the bill and slightly different plumage colors and song.

COMMON GROUND DOVE (Columbina passerina)

RUDDY GROUND DOVE (Columbina talpacoti)

SCALED DOVE (Columbina squammata)

The South American version of Inca Dove.

WHITE-TIPPED DOVE (Leptotila verreauxi)

LINED QUAIL-DOVE (Zentrygon linearis)

Mostly heard, but a few folks may have caught glimpses of this one chugging through along on the forest floor around our El Dorado lodge.

EARED DOVE (Zenaida auriculata)

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

SMOOTH-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga ani) [*]

GROOVE-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga sulcirostris)

So you may have heard me mentioning "new ani" on this one... the population currently called Groove-billed Ani in most of Colombia and Venezuela sounds completely unlike the birds found from the US to Chile. No name yet available, but friends in Colombia are working on the problem!

SQUIRREL CUCKOO (Piaya cayana)

A fancy large cuckoo that is widespread in tropical America. The birds here had green eyerings, making them part of the "trans-Andean" group which differs from the "cis-Andean" group with red eyerings.

Apodidae (Swifts)

CHESTNUT-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne rutila)

Not uncommon over the Santa Martas.

WHITE-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne zonaris)

We had a few large kettles of these huge swifts.

WHITE-TIPPED SWIFT (Aeronautes montivagus)

Encountered on both visits to Cuchilla San Lorenzo.

Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)

WHITE-NECKED JACOBIN (Florisuga mellivora)

Common at the feeders at the Minca lodge.

PALE-BELLIED HERMIT (Phaethornis anthophilus)

Seen briefly in the forest edge along the side road by Minca.

SPARKLING VIOLETEAR (Colibri coruscans)

BROWN VIOLETEAR (Colibri delphinae)

Several seen well around El Dorado and Mountain House.

LESSER VIOLETEAR (Colibri cyanotus)

Until recently considered Green Violetear, but that species was split into the Mexican Violetear, and this form from Costa Rica to Bolivia.

BLACK-THROATED MANGO (Anthracothorax nigricollis)

BLACK-BACKED THORNBILL (Ramphomicron dorsale) [E]

A Santa Marta endemic and one of the shortest-billed of all hummingbirds. We had a very nice female who showed well for us on our visits to San Lorenzo.

TYRIAN METALTAIL (SANTA MARTA) (Metallura tyrianthina districta)

An endemic subspecies of a widespread Andean bird.

WHITE-TAILED STARFRONTLET (Coeligena phalerata) [E]


SANTA MARTA WOODSTAR (Chaetocercus astreans) [E]

As the name suggests, this too is endemic to the Santa Martas. We had several (but no adult males, alas) at the feeders below San Lorenzo.

RED-BILLED EMERALD (Chlorostilbon gibsoni nitens)

The common hummingbird in the deciduous woodland of the Guajira.

COPPERY EMERALD (Chlorostilbon russatus)

One gave us a look on the Minca side road.

SANTA MARTA BLOSSOMCROWN (Anthocephala floriceps) [E]

Some brief views of this endemic at the cafe below Mountain House.

LAZULINE SABREWING (Campylopterus falcatus)

A very handsome large hummer we saw briefly at Mountain House.


Common at the feeders at Minca.


Common at feeders at most elevations in the Santa Martas.

BUFFY HUMMINGBIRD (Leucippus fallax)

One came in at the feeders in Camarones.

STEELY-VENTED HUMMINGBIRD (Saucerottia saucerottei)

At the Minca feeders.



One at the chachalaca spot in Barranquilla.

WHITE-CHINNED SAPPHIRE (Chlorestes cyanus)

One perched high on the Gaviotas side road.

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

COMMON GALLINULE (Gallinula galeata)

PURPLE GALLINULE (Porphyrio martinica)

Aramidae (Limpkin)

LIMPKIN (Aramus guarauna)

Not rare in the Magdalena marshes.

Burhinidae (Thick-knees)

DOUBLE-STRIPED THICK-KNEE (Burhinus bistriatus)

We saw several in a field beside the highway as we drove toward Camarones our first day in the Guajira.

Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)

BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus)

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola) [b]

Most the shorebirds on this list were in the estuary at Camarones.

SOUTHERN LAPWING (Vanellus chilensis)

SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus) [b]

Jacanidae (Jacanas)

WATTLED JACANA (BLACK-BACKED) (Jacana jacana hypomelaena)

A cool "lilypad walker" that we saw around Barranquilla. The form here is black-backed (found from Panama to about here), unlike the rufous-backed forms found elsewhere in the species' range.

Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

WHIMBREL (Numenius phaeopus) [b]

SANDERLING (Calidris alba) [b]

WESTERN SANDPIPER (Calidris mauri) [b]

We had a few mixed in with the Sanderlings at the Camarones estuary, but no doubt many of the peeps along the highway as we drive the northern edge of the lake at Cienaga were these too.

SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius) [b]

SOLITARY SANDPIPER (Tringa solitaria) [b]

GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca) [b]

WILLET (Tringa semipalmata) [b]

These are likely to have been Eastern Willets" which apparently winter exclusively on the Atlantic coast of South America.

LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes) [b]

Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)

LAUGHING GULL (Leucophaeus atricilla)

LARGE-BILLED TERN (Phaetusa simplex)

Mostly along the Rio Magdalena by Barranquilla.

GULL-BILLED TERN (Gelochelidon nilotica) [b]

CASPIAN TERN (Hydroprogne caspia)

COMMON TERN (Sterna hirundo) [b]

One bird mixed in with the roosting gulls and terns at Camarones.

ROYAL TERN (Thalasseus maximus)

SANDWICH TERN (CABOT'S) (Thalasseus sandvicensis acuflavidus)

BLACK SKIMMER (Rynchops niger)

Fregatidae (Frigatebirds)


Seen right along the coast, but Ron spotted one well inland at Mountain House.

Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)

NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Nannopterum brasilianum)

Pelecanidae (Pelicans)

BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis)

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias) [b]

One at the Camarones estuary.

COCOI HERON (Ardea cocoi)

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)

SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)

LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea)

TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor)

REDDISH EGRET (Egretta rufescens)

A white morph seen well, and more distant dark morphs at the Camarones estuary.

CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis)

GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens) [b]

Several at Isla Salamanca. These are wintering North American birds.

STRIATED HERON (Butorides striata)

The South American replacement for the last.

BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)

Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)

WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus)

SCARLET IBIS (Eudocimus ruber)

One distant bird across the Camarones estuary appeared to be pretty pure-blooded.

WHITE X SCARLET IBIS (HYBRID) (Eudocimus albus x ruber)

Unfortunately, the closest pink ibis was not a pure-blooded Scarlet, as it was too dilute and had a whitish neck.

GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus)

BARE-FACED IBIS (Phimosus infuscatus)

Several around the Magdalena marshes.

BUFF-NECKED IBIS (Theristicus caudatus)

A single individual was in the Thick-Knee field near Camarones.

ROSEATE SPOONBILL (Platalea ajaja)

A small group at the Camarones estuary.

Cathartidae (New World Vultures)

BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus)

TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)

We saw birds that were South American ruficollis (with the white nape) and what I suspect were North American migrants (without the white nape).

LESSER YELLOW-HEADED VULTURE (Cathartes burrovianus)

Not rare along the Magdalena riverfront at Barranquilla.

Pandionidae (Osprey)

OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus) [b]

Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

BLACK-AND-CHESTNUT EAGLE (Spizaetus isidori)

Wow, after great views of an adult on Cuchilla San Lorenzo, we had an immature below Minca our last full day.

BLACK-COLLARED HAWK (Busarellus nigricollis)

Several in the Magdalena marshes our first two days.

SNAIL KITE (Rostrhamus sociabilis)

In the Magdalena marshes.

DOUBLE-TOOTHED KITE (Harpagus bidentatus)

Bob pointed out a high-flying individual over Cuchilla San Lorenzo.

PLUMBEOUS KITE (Ictinia plumbea)

A bird out over the ridge in front of Mountain House performed nicely.

BICOLORED HAWK (Accipiter bicolor)

A calling bird as we descended from El Dorado our last day. We only caught a glimpse of it as if flew over the canopy.

COMMON BLACK HAWK (Buteogallus anthracinus)

One flew over us at the chachalaca spot at Barranquilla.

SOLITARY EAGLE (Buteogallus solitarius)

Nice! A fine adult flew by on our side road below Minca.

WHITE-RUMPED HAWK (Parabuteo leucorrhous)

After seeing one in flight over San Lorenzo, we had a perched, calling bird beside the road as we were descending to the lodge.

GRAY-LINED HAWK (Buteo nitidus)

One at Mountain Lodge, flying over the clearings below.

BROAD-WINGED HAWK (Buteo platypterus) [b]

Two calling birds on the Gaviotas side road.

SHORT-TAILED HAWK (Buteo brachyurus)

ZONE-TAILED HAWK (Buteo albonotatus)

Two birds at least that were coursing over the yard of Mountain House.

Strigidae (Owls)

SANTA MARTA SCREECH-OWL (Megascops gilesi) [E]

Well that was easy! Roger pulled in a bird rather quickly on our first ascent to San Lorenzo.

Trogonidae (Trogons)

WHITE-TIPPED QUETZAL (Pharomachrus fulgidus)

At least two females showed well for us, but the male below the lodge at San Lorenzo was probably the one that won the most love.

MASKED TROGON (Trogon personatus sanctaemartae)

After a glimpse or two, we had fine views of a pair below the lodge at El Dorado.

Momotidae (Motmots)

WHOOPING MOTMOT (Momotus subrufescens)

Part of the former Blue-crowned Motmot, this species now is restricted to eastern Panama and along the Caribbean coast of South America to NE Venezuela, and south along the Pacific coast to NW Peru.

Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)

RINGED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle torquata)

This and the remaining kingfisher species were mostly in the mangroves and coastal wetlands the first two days.

AMAZON KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle amazona)


After some work, we finally spotted one well at Isla Salamanca.

GREEN KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle americana)

Bucconidae (Puffbirds)

WHITE-NECKED PUFFBIRD (Notharchus hyperrhynchus)

Roger got us on one in the subcanopy of the Gaviotas side road.

PIED PUFFBIRD (Notharchus tectus)

A pair was sitting very close at the parking lot of Isla Salamanca.

RUSSET-THROATED PUFFBIRD (Hypnelus ruficollis)

Surprisingly common in the coastal woodlands around Barranquilla.

Galbulidae (Jacamars)

RUFOUS-TAILED JACAMAR (Galbula ruficauda)

Fairly common in the Guajira woodlands and foothills around Minca. This form sounds weird to me, and has an enormously long tail!

Ramphastidae (Toucans)

SOUTHERN EMERALD-TOUCANET (SANTA MARTA) (Aulacorhynchus albivitta lautus)

Seen on two days around El Dorado.

GROOVE-BILLED TOUCANET (YELLOW-BILLED) (Aulacorhynchus sulcatus calorhynchus)

Lower elevation than the last, we had them on our last full day.

KEEL-BILLED TOUCAN (Ramphastos sulfuratus)

This is near the southern end of the species' range. Nice views at Minca.

Picidae (Woodpeckers)

SCALED PICULET (Picumnus squamulatus)

A family showed well at the Minca side road.

CHESTNUT PICULET (Picumnus cinnamomeus)

This charming piculet showed for us near Camarones.

RED-CROWNED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes rubricapillus)

Fairly common in the lowlands and foothills.

RED-RUMPED WOODPECKER (Dryobates kirkii) [*]

CRIMSON-CRESTED WOODPECKER (Campephilus melanoleucos)

One our last day.

LINEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus lineatus)

Seen well at Isla Salamanca.

GOLDEN-OLIVE WOODPECKER (GOLDEN-OLIVE) (Colaptes rubiginosus alleni)

Encountered around Minca and up to higher elevations.

SPOT-BREASTED WOODPECKER (Colaptes punctigula)

In coastal lowlands.

Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

BARRED FOREST-FALCON (Micrastur ruficollis)

A pair called as we descended from El Dorado, with one bird zipping by briefly, but we couldn't locate it perched.

CRESTED CARACARA (Caracara plancus)

Common in the lowlands.

YELLOW-HEADED CARACARA (Daptrius chimachima)

Also common in the lowlands.

MERLIN (TAIGA) (Falco columbarius columbarius) [b]

Encountered on three days. These are wintering migrants. The bird at San Lorenzo was intriguing! What was it hunting up there?

Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)

ORANGE-CHINNED PARAKEET (Brotogeris jugularis)

RED-BILLED PARROT (Pionus sordidus saturatus)

More montane, mostly seen as flyovers.

BLUE-HEADED PARROT (Pionus menstruus)

Lower elevations, such as at Minca.

ORANGE-WINGED PARROT (Amazona amazonica)

A pair near Barranquilla our first day was a surprise, but according to what I can find, they are native there.

SCALY-NAPED PARROT (Amazona mercenarius)

High flyovers over San Lorenzo.

GREEN-RUMPED PARROTLET (Forpus passerinus)

A small group was at the toll booth area west of Camarones.

SANTA MARTA PARAKEET (Pyrrhura viridicata) [E]

Great stuff! According to Roger, this species had been AWOL at San Lorenzo until our visit, so we were lucky to get such nice views!

BROWN-THROATED PARAKEET (Eupsittula pertinax)

Widespread in the lowlands.

BLUE-CROWNED PARAKEET (BLUE-CROWNED) (Thectocercus acuticaudatus koenigi)

Basically at the toll both stop on the road to Camarones.


Mostly in the highlands. We enjoyed extended views of a pair near a potential nest at San Lorenzo.

Thamnophilidae (Typical Antbirds)

BLACK-CRESTED ANTSHRIKE (STREAK-FRONTED) (Sakesphorus canadensis pulchellus)

Mostly in the mangroves.

BARRED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus doliatus)

The most widespread member of its family. We saw it best on the Minca side road.

BLACK-CROWNED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus atrinucha)

Also on the Minca side road.

BLACK-BACKED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus melanonotus)

Amazingly, this too was on the Minca side road, but we also had it in the Guajira dry woodland.

WHITE-FRINGED ANTWREN (NORTHERN) (Formicivora grisea intermedia)

Mostly in the Guajira dry woodland, but in the lower foothills in clearings too.

SANTA MARTA ANTBIRD (Drymophila hellmayri) [E]

Formerly part of Long-tailed Antbird, which has been split into four species. This is now endemic to the Santa Martas, found in vine tangles around 1000 m elevation.

WHITE-BELLIED ANTBIRD (Myrmeciza longipes)

A pair give us quick looks on the Gaviota side road.

Grallariidae (Antpittas)

SANTA MARTA ANTPITTA (Grallaria bangsi) [E]

A couple lucky folks got a bit of a look at this endemic as it hopped across one of the paths up on Cuchilla San Lorenzo.

SIERRA NEVADA ANTPITTA (Grallaria spatiator) [*]

One of the forms that made up the former Rufous Antpitta, now split into about 16 species (!). This one is endemic to the Santa Martas, but never gave us views... we heard it only.

RUSTY-BREASTED ANTPITTA (RUSTY-BREASTED) (Grallaricula ferrugineipectus ferrugineipectus)

Fine views of this smallish antpitta on the trail leading up to the Kogihabs above the El Dorado lodge.

Rhinocryptidae (Tapaculos)

SANTA MARTA TAPACULO (Scytalopus sanctaemartae) [E]

The lower elevation of the two endemic tapaculos. We had stonking views of one below El Dorado, with the white crown spot glowing in the understory.

BROWN-RUMPED TAPACULO (Scytalopus latebricola) [E]

The higher elevation of the two endemic tapaculos. A few folks may have seen a dark thing moving through the vegetation along Cuchilla San Lorenzo.

Furnariidae (Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers)

GRAY-THROATED LEAFTOSSER (Sclerurus albigularis)

Wow, fine views of this understory skulker on the day we birded downhill from El Dorado.

BLACK-BANDED WOODCREEPER (Dendrocolaptes picumnus)

Seen below the lodge on the quetzal afternoon.

COCOA WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus susurrans)

Mostly heard, but we had views of this largish woodcreeper on the Gaviota side road.

STRAIGHT-BILLED WOODCREEPER (Dendroplex picus picirostris)

The common woodcreeper in the lowlands.

MONTANE WOODCREEPER (Lepidocolaptes lacrymiger sanctaemartae)

As the name suggests, this is a highland species. The population in the Santa Martas sounds very distinctive, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if it gets split from the Andean form once someone looks at it more carefully!

PLAIN XENOPS (Xenops minutus)

This was the xenops we heard and briefly saw on the Minca side road.

PALE-LEGGED HORNERO (CARIBBEAN) (Furnarius leucopus longirostris)

This is a widespread species in South America, but it comes in several flavors that may well be best split into their own species. This one is mostly found on the Caribbean coast of Colombia and Venezuela.

MONTANE FOLIAGE-GLEANER (Anabacerthia striaticollis anxia)

SANTA MARTA FOLIAGE-GLEANER (Clibanornis rufipectus) [E]

Formerly part of Ruddy Foliage-gleaner, we had one or two pairs "on the hook" but they escaped before we really got good looks. Mostly, we saw dark shapes moving in the thickets.

STREAK-CAPPED SPINETAIL (Cranioleuca hellmayri)

A fairly common species in the mountains, found from below El Dorado up to at least San Lorenzo.

YELLOW-CHINNED SPINETAIL (Certhiaxis cinnamomeus)

Common in the Magdalena marshes and mangroves.


This stunner showed very nicely in the Guajira dry woodland!

RUSTY-HEADED SPINETAIL (Synallaxis fuscorufa) [E]

An endemic to the Santa Martas, and fairly common on San Lorenzo.

Pipridae (Manakins)

LANCE-TAILED MANAKIN (Chiroxiphia lanceolata)

A male showed very well for us on the Gaviota side road, but we saw females near Minca.


Mostly females around Minca.

Cotingidae (Cotingas)


Surprisingly common at El Dorado.

Tityridae (Tityras and Allies)

MASKED TITYRA (Tityra semifasciata)

WHITE-WINGED BECARD (Pachyramphus polychopterus)

Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)

OLIVE-STRIPED FLYCATCHER (Mionectes galbinus galbinus)

Found in the mixed species flocks in the mountains. Despite its name, it is almost entirely frugivorus, not insectivorous.

OCHRE-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Mionectes oleagineus)

SEPIA-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Leptopogon amaurocephalus) [*]

PALE-EYED PYGMY-TYRANT (Atalotriccus pilaris)

After hearing them at Isla Salamanca, we had fairly good views near Minca.

PEARLY-VENTED TODY-TYRANT (Hemitriccus margaritaceiventer)

Good views in the Guajira.

BLACK-THROATED TODY-TYRANT (Hemitriccus granadensis lehmanni)

A bird along the trail to the Kogihabs at El Dorado gave us some views.

SLATE-HEADED TODY-FLYCATCHER (Poecilotriccus sylvia) [*]

COMMON TODY-FLYCATCHER (Todirostrum cinereum)

BLACK-HEADED TODY-FLYCATCHER (Todirostrum nigriceps) [*]

YELLOW-OLIVE FLYCATCHER (EXORTIVUS) (Tolmomyias sulphurescens exortivus)

This is another species that will likely be split 15+ ways some day. But for now, it's just one species.

OCHRE-LORED FLYCATCHER (Tolmomyias flaviventris aurulentus)

Until recently considered part of Yellow-breasted Flycatcher.

CINNAMON FLYCATCHER (SANTA MARTA) (Pyrrhomyias cinnamomeus assimilis)

The Santa Marta form is particularly cinnamon. We ran into a pair just below the lodge at El Dorado one evening.

SOUTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET (Camptostoma obsoletum) [*]

WHITE-THROATED TYRANNULET (Mecocerculus leucophrys)

Common up on San Lorenzo.

YELLOW-CROWNED TYRANNULET (Tyrannulus elatus) [*]

FOREST ELAENIA (Myiopagis gaimardii)

A widespread species in lowland and foothill humid forest. We saw it on the Gaviota side road and near Minca.

YELLOW-BELLIED ELAENIA (Elaenia flavogaster)

MOUNTAIN ELAENIA (Elaenia frantzii) [*]

As the name suggests, it was in the highlands around San Lorenzo.

SPECTACLED TYRANNULET (Zimmerius improbus tamae)

Until recently considered part of Paltry Tyrannulet, which has been split into several species. The current one is now restricted to NE Colombia and NW Venezuela. We had good views while at Mountain House.

GOLDEN-FACED TYRANNULET (COOPMANS'S) (Zimmerius chrysops minimus)


This warbler-like tyrannulet was not rare in the Guajira dry woodland.


Also in the Guajira dry woodland.


Great views at Isla Salamanca and again in the Guajira.

VERMILION FLYCATCHER (Pyrocephalus rubinus)

SANTA MARTA BUSH-TYRANT (Myiotheretes pernix) [E]

One of the harder endemics that we ended up seeing pretty well on San Lorenzo ridge.

WHITE-HEADED MARSH TYRANT (Arundinicola leucocephala)

This and the next species were in the Magdalena marshes.

PIED WATER-TYRANT (Fluvicola pica)

YELLOW-BELLIED CHAT-TYRANT (Silvicultrix diadema jesupi)

Wow! These Silvicultrix chat-tyrants are usually very hard to see... but this one certainly wasn't!

BRIGHT-RUMPED ATTILA (Attila spadiceus) [*]

DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tuberculifer)

Mostly heard until our walk below Minca the last full day.

PANAMA FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus panamensis)

A bird showed well at Isla Salamanca.

GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus crinitus) [b]

A good view of a bird very near a Brown-crested on the Minca side road.

BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tyrannulus)

CATTLE TYRANT (Machetornis rixosa)

Like a Tropical Kingbird had a lovechild with a Tropical Mockingbird.

GREAT KISKADEE (Pitangus sulphuratus)

BOAT-BILLED FLYCATCHER (Megarynchus pitangua)

RUSTY-MARGINED FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes cayanensis)

Seen at Mountain House, where we also had the next species.

SOCIAL FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes similis)

GOLDEN-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes hemichrysus)

Until recently, the South American populations were considered part of Golden-crowned Flycatcher, but vocally they are indistinguishable from the Middle American Golden-bellied (whereas true Golden-crowned is vocally distinct, and occurs from Peru to Bolivia).

STREAKED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes maculatus)

A widespread species from Mexico to Argentina.

PIRATIC FLYCATCHER (Legatus leucophaius)

Named for its habit of hijacking the nests of orioles, caciques, and oropendolas.

TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus)

GRAY KINGBIRD (Tyrannus dominicensis)

Mostly around Barranquilla.


One seen our first morning along the road to Isla Salamanca.

Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)

SCRUB GREENLET (Hylophilus flavipes)

In the Guajira scrub.

GOLDEN-FRONTED GREENLET (Pachysylvia aurantiifrons)

In more humid woodland than the last.

BROWN-CAPPED VIREO (Vireo leucophrys)

South America's version of a Warbling Vireo, and usually montane.

CHIVI VIREO (Vireo chivi)

Recently split from Red-eyed Vireo, and with both austral migrant and resident populations.

Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)

BLACK-CHESTED JAY (Cyanocorax affinis)

Heard or seen most days.

Hirundinidae (Swallows)

SOUTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx ruficollis)

BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica) [b]

Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)

LONG-BILLED GNATWREN (Ramphocaenus melanurus)

Usually pretty durned hard to see, but we had very good luck with multiple individuals on the Minca side road.


Common in the short-stature dry scrub near Camarones.

Troglodytidae (Wrens)

HOUSE WREN (Troglodytes aedon)

STRIPE-BACKED WREN (Campylorhynchus nuchalis)

Seen in the trees amid the Magdalena marshes near Barranquilla. Those white eyes!

BICOLORED WREN (Campylorhynchus griseus)

A rather striking wren with an impressive voice!

RUFOUS-BREASTED WREN (Pheugopedius rutilus)

Eventually we got views on the Minca side road.

RUFOUS-AND-WHITE WREN (Thryophilus rufalbus) [*]

Sadly, heard distantly only.

BUFF-BREASTED WREN (Cantorchilus leucotis)

In the humid woodlands along the highway between Santa Marta and the Guajira.

GRAY-BREASTED WOOD-WREN (BANGSI) (Henicorhina leucophrys bangsi)

The wood-wrens at lower elevations in the Santa Martas.

HERMIT WOOD-WREN (Henicorhina anachoreta) [E]

Fairly recently split from the previous species, and replacing it at higher elevations, such as on San Lorenzo ridge.

Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)


Pretty strictly coastal on this tour.

Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)


After working pretty hard, we eventually had smashing views of one or two of these skulkers as we ascended to El Dorado from Minca.


PALE-BREASTED THRUSH (Turdus leucomelas)

Perhaps the most common lowland thrush.

YELLOW-LEGGED THRUSH (Turdus flavipes)

Seen below Minca our last day.

WHITE-NECKED THRUSH (Turdus albicollis)

A rather random sighting on the side road below Minca our last day.


A bird at our lodge at Minca was nice.

BLACK-HOODED THRUSH (Turdus olivater)

Not rare around El Dorado.

GREAT THRUSH (Turdus fuscater cacozelus)

The common higher elevation thrush.

Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]

Surprisingly rare, we only had these around Camarones.

Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)

BLUE-NAPED CHLOROPHONIA (Chlorophonia cyanea psittacina)

Common at the feeders at El Dorado and Mountain House. This form has a yellow forehead, making it quite distinctive.

TRINIDAD EUPHONIA (Euphonia trinitatis) [*]

THICK-BILLED EUPHONIA (Euphonia laniirostris)

Seen around Minca.

ANDEAN SISKIN (Spinus spinescens)

Several in the Eucalypt on the San Lorenzo ridge.

Passerellidae (New World Sparrows)

TOCUYO SPARROW (Arremonops tocuyensis)

A near endemic (just getting into Venezuela) in the Guajira dry woodland. We had great views!

SIERRA NEVADA BRUSHFINCH (Arremon basilicus) [E]

Formerly part of Stripe-headed Brushfinch (which was split into about 6 or so species). This one is now endemic to the Santa Marta range.

GOLDEN-WINGED SPARROW (Arremon schlegeli)

A really smashing sparrow we had the day we ascended to El Dorado.

RUFOUS-COLLARED SPARROW (Zonotrichia capensis)

SANTA MARTA BRUSHFINCH (Atlapetes melanocephalus) [E]

Common and found over a wide elevational range!

Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)

CRESTED OROPENDOLA (Psarocolius decumanus)

YELLOW-BACKED ORIOLE (Icterus chrysater)

Best views were at Mountain House, where a pair was building a nest.

YELLOW ORIOLE (Icterus nigrogularis)

Fairly common the coast.

BALTIMORE ORIOLE (Icterus galbula) [b]

A few birds around Minca showed well.

SHINY COWBIRD (Molothrus bonariensis)

BRONZED COWBIRD (BRONZE-BROWN) (Molothrus aeneus armenti)

This is a very local endemic form only known from the Colombian coast around Barranquilla. We had great views of a couple of birds at the truck stop along the road near Isla Salamanca.

GIANT COWBIRD (Molothrus oryzivorus)

GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus)

Much more restricted to coastal habitats here than in Middle America.

CARIB GRACKLE (Quiscalus lugubris)

Widespread in much of Colombia now.

YELLOW-HOODED BLACKBIRD (Chrysomus icterocephalus)

Great views in the Magdalena marshes.

Parulidae (New World Warblers)

NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis) [b]

Common in the mangroves.

BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER (Mniotilta varia) [b]

PROTHONOTARY WARBLER (Protonotaria citrea) [b]

Common in mangroves, but also found into the foothills.

TENNESSEE WARBLER (Leiothlypis peregrina) [b]

Common at many sites.

MOURNING WARBLER (Geothlypis philadelphia) [b]

A female put on a good show for us below Minca.

AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla) [b]

TROPICAL PARULA (Setophaga pitiayumi) [*]

BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER (Setophaga fusca) [b]

Fairly common in the mountains.

YELLOW WARBLER (NORTHERN) (Setophaga petechia aestiva) [b]

CHESTNUT-CAPPED WARBLER (Basileuterus delattrii mesochrysus)

Until recently, part of Rufous-capped Warbler of Mexico and northern Central America.

SANTA MARTA WARBLER (Myiothlypis basilica) [E*]

Drat, heard only in the bamboo of San Lorenzo.

WHITE-LORED WARBLER (Myiothlypis conspicillata) [E]

Fairly common around our lodge at El Dorado.

SLATE-THROATED REDSTART (Myioborus miniatus)

YELLOW-CROWNED REDSTART (Myioborus flavivertex) [E]

Our best view may have been of the bird that was interested in its reflection in the side-view mirror of one of our trucks.

Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)

SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra) [b]

VERMILION CARDINAL (Cardinalis phoeniceus)

What a stonker! That crest!

GOLDEN GROSBEAK (Pheucticus chrysogaster) [*]

ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus ludovicianus) [b]

Seen on two days in the middle elevations.

Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)

GRAY-HEADED TANAGER (Eucometis penicillata)

A bird on the Gaviota side road showed well.

WHITE-LINED TANAGER (Tachyphonus rufus)

A pair at Mountain House showed off their strongly dimorphic plumages.

CRIMSON-BACKED TANAGER (Ramphocelus dimidiatus)

A sharp dresser we saw in the more humid foothill habitats.

BLUE-CAPPED TANAGER (Sporathraupis cyanocephala margaritae)

Coming to the fruit feeders at El Dorado.

BLACK-CHEEKED MOUNTAIN TANAGER (Anisognathus melanogenys) [E]

A lovely endemic we saw well on the San Lorenzo ridge.


This subspecies is endemic to the Santa Martas, and will almost certainly be split off at some point here!

BLUE-GRAY TANAGER (Thraupis episcopus)

GLAUCOUS TANAGER (Thraupis glaucocolpa)

Similar to the last, but restricted to the drier Guajira scrub and nearby woodlands of Colombia and Venezuela. We had to work some for this one, but eventually had nice views in Camarones.

PALM TANAGER (Thraupis palmarum)

BLACK-HEADED TANAGER (Stilpnia cyanoptera)

This mostly replaced the next species at Mountain House and Minca.

BLACK-CAPPED TANAGER (Stilpnia heinei)

Common at the feeders at El Dorado.

BAY-HEADED TANAGER (BAY-AND-GREEN) (Tangara gyrola toddi)

A fancy-pants tanager we enjoyed most days in the mountains.

SWALLOW TANAGER (Tersina viridis)

BICOLORED CONEBILL (Conirostrum bicolor)

In the Mangroves of Isla Salamanca.

BLACK FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa humeralis nocticolor)

This and the next were found at higher elevations of El Dorado and San Lorenzo.


PLUSHCAP (Catamblyrhynchus diadema) [*]

Heard only at San Lorenzo ridge.

SAFFRON FINCH (Sicalis flaveola)

Mostly coastal.

BLUE-BLACK GRASSQUIT (Volatinia jacarina)

At Mountain House.

PILEATED FINCH (Coryphospingus pileatus)

An understated beauty we enjoyed around the feeders at Camarones.

BANANAQUIT (Coereba flaveola)

Daily on the first four days of the tour.

BLACK-FACED GRASSQUIT (Melanospiza bicolor)

DULL-COLORED GRASSQUIT (Asemospiza obscura)

Along the side road below Minca.


ORINOCAN SALTATOR (Saltator orenocensis)

A particularly lovely saltator we enjoyed at the Camarones feeders.

OLIVE-GRAY SALTATOR (Saltator olivascens)

Until recently part of the Grayish Saltator complex, now this species is restricted to Northern South America.

STREAKED SALTATOR (Saltator striatipectus)

Around Minca.


GRAY-HANDED NIGHT MONKEY (Aotus griseimembra)

Daily at El Dorado at dusk.

RED HOWLER MONKEY (Alouatta seniculus) [*]

Heard at higher elevations.

EASTERN COTTONTAIL (Sylvilagus floridanus)

This was a surprise to me, I thought only Brazilian Rabbit was in South America!

RED-TAILED SQUIRREL (Sciurus granatensis)

Fairly common on the tour.


GREEN IGUANA (Iguana iguana)

RAINBOW WHIPTAIL (Cnemidophorus lemniscatus)


Boana sp.: the large treefrog we rescued at Camarones.

Santa Marta Ground Robber Frog: a voice we heard often around El Dorado.

Saccopteryx bat: the "thatch bat" we saw under the roof over our table at the restaurant by Tayrona NP.

Totals for the tour: 310 bird taxa and 4 mammal taxa