A Field Guides Birding Tours Report

Colombia's Santa Marta Mountains & Caribbean Coast 2024

February 2-10, 2024 with Dan Lane & Hugo Vides guiding

Field Guides Birding Tours
The views from El Dorado Lodge of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta are quite astonishing! Image by Dan Lane.

Endemism is one of those buzzwords that get a birder’s heart pounding. Colombia is home to over 80 endemic bird species, and one place that holds a large number of those is the isolated mountain range called the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, reportedly the tallest coastal mountain range in the tropics. This is the reason that so many birds on our checklist have “Santa Marta XXX” or “Sierra Nevada XXX” as the name. (By the way, “Sierra Nevada” literally means “snow-covered mountain range”, so this name doesn’t infringe on California’s Sierra Nevada… there are simply several mountain ranges called that); we encountered 8 species of “Santa Marta XXX” and two of “Sierra Nevada XXX” and there has been some restraint on recent English name coining to try to limit the number of species with one or the other of these names. Nevertheless, this phenomenon speaks to the importance of isolation of geographic and habitat features, mountains particularly, to the promotion of endemism—that is: speciation resulting in distinctive species that are highly range-restricted. If you recall, the lowlands around the Santa Martas are mostly semi-arid or full-on desert, yet the effect of the mountain range’s rain production, resulting in glorious wet forest (and we certainly experienced the *wet* aspect!) should make clear that birds, and other organisms, that cannot survive in drier habitats are effectively limited to the humid forests of the mountains, and over time speciate until they are endemic to this biome. In fact, there are quite a few species which are not limited to the Santa Martas, but in nearly every case, the population on the mountain range is still an endemic subspecies (meaning: a population that has differentiated perceptibly on its way to becoming a species, but not yet quite distinct enough for us to call it one). Conversely, the isolated nature of the arid habitats of the Caribbean coast of Colombia and Venezuela, particularly the Guajira Peninsula (in conjunction with a few other coastal features in northern Venezuela) help make them yet another region of endemism, though not one circumscribed by political boundaries. Nevertheless, these two centers of endemism mean that this tour route guarantees visitors quite a few new birds for their lists!

TLDR: This tour guarantees some cool birds!

So, this tour had its challenges, from some unseasonable rains to boisterous Carnaval celebrations, but it also had some memorable highlights as well! Among these were three species named “Santa Marta”… the recently-described Screech-Owl, the recently split population of Blossomcrown, and the Tapaculo with the white crown blaze. A few of the favorites from the trip are not exactly eye-catchingly colored, such as the Red-billed Scythebill, which makes up for this with its comically long and decurved bill, and the Flammulated Treehunter, with a cool name and rather attractive plumage composed of buff streaks on a brown background and rufous wings and tail. Of course, several of the favorites are very much colorful, some a uniformly gaudy color such as the lovely Vermilion Cardinal of the coastal desert, the glowing green-and-red White-tipped Quetzal, or the candy-colored Blue-naped Chlorophonia… but the top pick was the stunningly cobalt-throated Lazuline Sabrewing that awed us at Mountain House! The rare and local Rosy Thrush-Tanager, now in its own family, was a fine surprise as a family group allowed us looks near Minca. The opalescent Black-headed Tanager, another species we enjoyed at Mountain House, also garnered a vote for top three birds of the trip. Then two other birds of predominantly green colors were considered favorites: the Masked Trogon, a widespread species in South American mountains which is a complex likely to be divided up in the near future, and a single flyby Military Macaw that was a nice find our final day. Finally, two top three picks weren’t birds at all: one was the Savage’s Mushroom-tongued Salamanders we saw in the bromiliads around our rooms at El Dorado, and the other was the absolutely stunning sunset that marked the end of the three-day rain!

I thank you all for joining me on this tour, and hope that you will enjoy the memories it provided (editing out the Carnaval noise, and muddy hikes up to the Kogi restaurant, perhaps), and I hope that we will meet again on a forest trail with binoculars in hand again soon! Until then, enjoy an arepa and keep on 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) [*]

Heard around El Dorado in the evenings.

LITTLE TINAMOU (Crypturellus soui) [*]

We heard one of these on our walk on the Pozo Azul track near Minca.

Anhimidae (Screamers)

NORTHERN SCREAMER (Chauna chavaria)

A local specialty of the Caribbean coast of Colombia and Venezuela, and one we saw well along the Magdalena.

Cracidae (Guans, Chachalacas, and Curassows)


We enjoyed this Colombian endemic species in the woodland along the road in the NW part of Barranquilla.

RUFOUS-VENTED CHACHALACA (RUFOUS-VENTED) (Ortalis ruficauda ruficrissa)

Scope views of one of these on our walk in the Guajira desert.

BAND-TAILED GUAN (Penelope argyrotis)

Common and boisterous around El Dorado.

SICKLE-WINGED GUAN (Chamaepetes goudotii sanctaemarthae)

Sheila managed to spot one of these blue-faced guans as we descended from lunch one afternoon at El Dorado.

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Here the group is scanning for an antpitta in the cloudforest. Image by Jeff Hopkins.
Odontophoridae (New World Quail)

CRESTED BOBWHITE (Colinus cristatus)

A few scattered around the base of the trail of the arid woodland at the Guajira.

Phoenicopteridae (Flamingos)

AMERICAN FLAMINGO (Phoenicopterus ruber)

One bird in the estuary at Camarones.

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]

BARE-EYED PIGEON (Patagioenas corensis)

Another species restricted to the Caribbean coast of Colombia and Venezuela (and the ABC islands). Looks like a pigeon-sized White-winged Dove.

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

COMMON GROUND DOVE (Columbina passerina)

Mostly around Camarones.

RUDDY GROUND DOVE (Columbina talpacoti)

SCALED DOVE (Columbina squammata)

Nice views of this Inca Dove relative around Camarones.

WHITE-TIPPED DOVE (Leptotila verreauxi)

LINED QUAIL-DOVE (Zentrygon linearis)

Mostly heard (a lot!), but a few folks caught glimpses of this large dove as it flushed or chugged across the slope around El Dorado.

EARED DOVE (Zenaida auriculata)

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

SMOOTH-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga ani)

GROOVE-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga sulcirostris)

Nice views of this bird on our Burrowing Owl walk at Camarones. This is the "new" form that sounds very distinctive from the true Groove-billed Ani found from the southern US to the Pacific slope of Chile.

SQUIRREL CUCKOO (Piaya cayana)

Apodidae (Swifts)

WHITE-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne zonaris)

GRAY-RUMPED SWIFT (Chaetura cinereiventris)

A couple of these small swifts with a gray rump passed over the ridge at the end of our Pozo Azul walk near Minca.

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A female Masked Trogon calmly watches us from above. Photo by Dan Lane.

SHORT-TAILED SWIFT (Chaetura brachyura)

Seen by those who did the February 2 outing near Barranquilla.

Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)

WHITE-NECKED JACOBIN (Florisuga mellivora)

One of the most abundant species at the Minca feeders.


A couple quick flybys around the Bellavista and lower El Dorado area..

SPARKLING VIOLETEAR (Colibri coruscans)

One at the feeders below San Lorenzo.

BROWN VIOLETEAR (Colibri delphinae)

LESSER VIOLETEAR (Colibri cyanotus)

TYRIAN METALTAIL (SANTA MARTA) (Metallura tyrianthina districta)

Not rare on the San Lorenzo ridge.

WHITE-TAILED STARFRONTLET (Coeligena phalerata) [E]

One female on the San Lorenzo feeders.

SANTA MARTA WOODSTAR (Chaetocercus astreans) [E]

A female showed briefly at an Inga tree as we walked down to the Mountain House.

RED-BILLED EMERALD (Chlorostilbon gibsoni nitens)

A bird at the Camarones feeders.

SANTA MARTA BLOSSOMCROWN (Anthocephala floriceps) [E]

A pair showed fairly well at Mountain House.

LAZULINE SABREWING (Campylopterus falcatus)

Wow! What a spectacular-looking hummingbird, and it showed so well at Mountain House, too.

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The glowing cobalt blue of this male Lazuline Sabrewing nearly melted our brains! Photo by Jeff Hopkins.


Common at the Minca feeders.


Fairly widespread in the middle elevations above Minca.

BUFFY HUMMINGBIRD (Leucippus fallax)

Good looks at the Camarones feeder station.

STEELY-VENTED HUMMINGBIRD (Saucerottia saucerottei)

A couple birds at the Minca feeders.



The lucky folks who did the February 2 outing got on this local species.

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

PURPLE GALLINULE (Porphyrio martinica)

A bird along the Magdalena at Barranquilla.

Aramidae (Limpkin)

LIMPKIN (Aramus guarauna)

Burhinidae (Thick-knees)

DOUBLE-STRIPED THICK-KNEE (Burhinus bistriatus)

Nice views of a trio on our Burrowing Owl walk at Camarones.

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola) [b]

Most of the following shorebirds were at the estuary at Camarones.

SOUTHERN LAPWING (Vanellus chilensis)

These were on the mudflats along the Magdalena River.

SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus) [b]

Jacanidae (Jacanas)

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

Also along the Magdalena River. This is a cool mostly-black form of the widespread South American species.

Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

WHIMBREL (Numenius phaeopus) [b]

SANDERLING (Calidris alba) [b]

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A female Crimson-crested Woodpecker hitches up a tree in search of tasty grubs. Photo by Dan Lane.

LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla) [b]

WESTERN SANDPIPER (Calidris mauri) [b]

After reviewing the photos I took, I now think the bird we identified at the time as a Dunlin was in fact a very oddly-shaped Western female with a particularly long bill and some issue that caused it to behave differently from the other Westerns present. It simply wasn't big enough and the face pattern wasn't correct for Dunlin.

SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER (Limnodromus griseus) [b]

I don't recall this one, but apparently some folks had it at the estuary at Camarones.

SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius) [b]

SOLITARY SANDPIPER (Tringa solitaria) [b]

WILLET (Tringa semipalmata) [b]

Presumably, this is the "Eastern" Willet.

LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes) [b]

Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)

LAUGHING GULL (Leucophaeus atricilla)

LARGE-BILLED TERN (Phaetusa simplex)

Common along the Magdalena River.

GULL-BILLED TERN (Gelochelidon nilotica)

One or two of these were on the edge of the salt pans at the east end of the neck across the Cienaga lagoon on the day we returned to Barranquilla.

CASPIAN TERN (Hydroprogne caspia)

COMMON TERN (Sterna hirundo) [b]

ROYAL TERN (Thalasseus maximus)

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

BLACK SKIMMER (Rynchops niger)

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This pair of Common Black-Hawks were lovers, not fighters. Photo by Dan Lane.
Ciconiidae (Storks)

WOOD STORK (Mycteria americana)

A single flyby over the Guajira desert.

Fregatidae (Frigatebirds)


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 estuary at Camarones.

COCOI HERON (Ardea cocoi)

The South American replacement species of the last, we had it along the Magdalena.

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)

SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)

LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea)

TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor)

REDDISH EGRET (Egretta rufescens)

Both a dark and a light morph at the Camarones estuary.

CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis)

GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens) [b]

The folks who did the Feb 2 outing had this migrant species.

STRIATED HERON (Butorides striata)

BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)

YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nyctanassa violacea)

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After hearing many, we eventually got great views of White-tipped Quetzal at El Dorado. Photo by Dan Lane.
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)

WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus)

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

First seen as we were walking out to see the Burrowing Owls, we later caught up to this attractive pink ibis at the estuary at Camarones.

BARE-FACED IBIS (Phimosus infuscatus)

Seen on the boardwalk our first morning at Barranquilla.

ROSEATE SPOONBILL (Platalea ajaja)

Cathartidae (New World Vultures)

BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus)

TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)

LESSER YELLOW-HEADED VULTURE (Cathartes burrovianus)

Seen by the folks who birded the Feb 2 outing.

Pandionidae (Osprey)

OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus) [b]

Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

BLACK HAWK-EAGLE (Spizaetus tyrannus) [*]

Heard only at the Pozo Azul track.

BLACK-COLLARED HAWK (Busarellus nigricollis)

Nice views of this fishing hawk along the Magdalena.

SNAIL KITE (Rostrhamus sociabilis)

Another species that we saw along the Magdalena.

DOUBLE-TOOTHED KITE (Harpagus bidentatus)

A high-flying bird over the Bellavista cafe and hummingbird feeders.

PLUMBEOUS KITE (Ictinia plumbea)

CRANE HAWK (Geranospiza caerulescens)

Heard and seen by a few at the Guajira arid woodland walk.

COMMON BLACK HAWK (Buteogallus anthracinus)

A pair were en flagrante delecto our first morning at the mangrove boardwalk spot at Barranquilla.

ROADSIDE HAWK (Rupornis magnirostris)

BROAD-WINGED HAWK (Buteo platypterus) [b]

SHORT-TAILED HAWK (Buteo brachyurus)

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A near endemic of the deciduous woodlands of the Guajira Peninsula, we thoroughly enjoyed this Chestnut Piculet. Photo by Dan Lane.
Strigidae (Owls)

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

Thanks to the birders who were ahead of us on the road up to San Lorenzo for pulling in this endemic and recently-described screech-owl for us!

FERRUGINOUS PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium brasilianum) [*]

BURROWING OWL (Athene cunicularia)

A pair in the arid desert near Camarones.

Trogonidae (Trogons)

WHITE-TIPPED QUETZAL (Pharomachrus fulgidus)

After hearing many, we finally got great views on one of our last days at El Dorado.

GARTERED TROGON (Trogon caligatus)

Formerly part of the Violaceous Trogon, this is the Middle American form that continues across northern Colombian.

MASKED TROGON (Trogon personatus sanctaemartae)

Not rare in the forest around El Dorado. Vocally, this is closer to the lower elevation form of the northern Andes.

Momotidae (Motmots)

WHOOPING MOTMOT (Momotus subrufescens)

Whoops! We had one just off the veranda at Minca.

Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)

RINGED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle torquata)

Folks had this on the birding outing of Feb 2nd.

BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon)

One or two of these boreal migrants on the mangrove boardwalk morning at Barranquilla.


Also encountered on the Feb 2 outing.

Bucconidae (Puffbirds)

PIED PUFFBIRD (Notharchus tectus)

This too was at Isla Salamanca on the Feb 2 outing.

RUSSET-THROATED PUFFBIRD (Hypnelus ruficollis)

Some fine views of these puffbirds near Camarones.

Galbulidae (Jacamars)

RUFOUS-TAILED JACAMAR (Galbula ruficauda)

This population of the widespread species has an exaggeratedly long tail and its call is also somewhat funny. I suspect there may be some taxonomic changes in its future once someone looks at the complex.

Ramphastidae (Toucans)

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

Fairly common around El Dorado, but hard to see well.

GROOVE-BILLED TOUCANET (YELLOW-BILLED) (Aulacorhynchus sulcatus calorhynchus) [*]

Heard only as we were descending from El Dorado.

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Nearing the southern terminus of its distribution, Keel-billed Toucan is as flashy here as anywhere else it occurs. Photo by Jeff Hopkins.

KEEL-BILLED TOUCAN (Ramphastos sulfuratus)

Great views of this eye-catching toucan at Pozo Azul, but we heard it as high as El Dorado.

Picidae (Woodpeckers)

SCALED PICULET (Picumnus squamulatus)

Nice views of this one at the Pozo Azul track.

CHESTNUT PICULET (Picumnus cinnamomeus)

Fine views of this near-endemic in the arid woodland near Camarones.

RED-CROWNED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes rubricapillus)

CRIMSON-CRESTED WOODPECKER (Campephilus melanoleucos)

A family group by El Dorado.

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

After hearing several, a female showed well at Mountain House.

SPOT-BREASTED WOODPECKER (Colaptes punctigula)

Folks who did the Feb 2 birding outing had this open country flicker.

Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

LAUGHING FALCON (Herpetotheres cachinnans) [*]

Heard only at Pozo Azul.

BARRED FOREST-FALCON (Micrastur ruficollis) [*]

Sheila and I heard this falcon barking at dusk at El Dorado.

CRESTED CARACARA (Caracara plancus)

YELLOW-HEADED CARACARA (Daptrius chimachima)

AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius)

MERLIN (TAIGA) (Falco columbarius columbarius)

A quick flyby above the Bellavista cafe.

Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)

ORANGE-CHINNED PARAKEET (Brotogeris jugularis)

Heard on a couple of occasions, we had scope views at the toll booth stop.

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After a durned hot morning in the Guajira, an ice cream break was required! Photo by Dan Lane.

RED-BILLED PARROT (Pionus sordidus saturatus)

The montane parrot with deep wingbeats.

ORANGE-WINGED PARROT (Amazona amazonica)

A pair or two flew by as we enjoyed the Chestnut-winged Chachalacas.

SCALY-NAPED PARROT (Amazona mercenarius)

The montane parrot with shallow wingbeats.


The folks who did the Feb 2 outing enjoyed this highly restricted Colombian endemic.

GREEN-RUMPED PARROTLET (Forpus passerinus)

Scope views of this small parrot at the toll booth stop.

BROWN-THROATED PARAKEET (Eupsittula pertinax)

Common around Barranquilla.

MILITARY MACAW (Ara militaris)

A nice surprise was a single bird flying over us at the stop above Minca.


Common in the mountains.

Thamnophilidae (Typical Antbirds)

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

After fine views of a male in the mangroves our first morning, I was surprised to see it in the arid forest near Camarones.

BARRED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus doliatus)

Perhaps the most widespread of the antbirds, and present on the Pozo Azul track by Minca.

BLACK-CROWNED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus atrinucha) [*]

Heard only at Pozo Azul.

BLACK-BACKED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus melanonotus)

Fine views of a pair in the arid woodland near Camarones.

SLATY ANTWREN (Myrmotherula schisticolor)

A pair in a mixed undestory flock near El Dorado.

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

A low-profile but common species in open habitats along the Caribbean coast.

SANTA MARTA ANTBIRD (Drymophila hellmayri) [E]

Our last morning we had a pair of these attractive antbirds on the side-track above Minca.

Grallariidae (Antpittas)

SANTA MARTA ANTPITTA (Grallaria bangsi) [E]

Great views of this endemic at the ranger station at San Lorenzo.

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Santa Marta Antpitta showed well thanks to efforts by park guards in keeping them accustomed to worming. Photo by Dan Lane.

SIERRA NEVADA ANTPITTA (Grallaria spatiator)

Walk away scope views at San Lorenzo!

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

Most of us heard this one, but Eric had some views.

Rhinocryptidae (Tapaculos)

SANTA MARTA TAPACULO (Scytalopus sanctaemartae) [E]

That white forehead blaze was the ticket!

BROWN-RUMPED TAPACULO (Scytalopus latebricola) [E]

Nice views on the San Lorenzo ridge.

Furnariidae (Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers)

GRAY-THROATED LEAFTOSSER (Sclerurus albigularis)

Wow, we saw several on our two last mornings at El Dorado!

PLAIN-BROWN WOODCREEPER (Dendrocincla fuliginosa)

STRONG-BILLED WOODCREEPER (ANDEAN/NORTHERN) (Xiphocolaptes promeropirhynchus sanctaemartae)

A great look at a pair as we walked from the cabins in the rain at El Dorado.

COCOA WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus susurrans)

A bird responded well our final morning at El Dorado.

STRAIGHT-BILLED WOODCREEPER (Dendroplex picus picirostris)

Several views in the lowlands the first few days.

RED-BILLED SCYTHEBILL (Campylorhamphus trochilirostris)

Wow, a great view of this silly-looking woodcreeper in the arid woodland near Camarones.

MONTANE WOODCREEPER (Lepidocolaptes lacrymiger sanctaemartae)

This was in a few mixed flocks around El Dorado. The voice is quite different from Andean birds, and I suspect a good study should show that the Santa Marta bird is a separate species.

PLAIN XENOPS (Xenops minutus)

Around Minca.

STREAKED XENOPS (Xenops rutilans)

Up around El Dorado.

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

Recently split from Pale-legged by Clements' and now called "Caribbean Hornero".

MONTANE FOLIAGE-GLEANER (Anabacerthia striaticollis anxia)

In several mixed flocks around El Dorado.

FLAMMULATED TREEHUNTER (Thripadectes flammulatus)

Wow! Fantastic views of this often very difficult skulker on San Lorenzo ridge!

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Often a serious skulker, this Flammulated Treehunter seemed perfectly fine with allowing unencumbered views! Photo by Dan Lane.

STREAK-CAPPED SPINETAIL (Cranioleuca hellmayri)

First in the mixed flock outside the cabins at El Dorado. We heard it up to San Lorenzo as well.

YELLOW-CHINNED SPINETAIL (Certhiaxis cinnamomeus)

Fine views of this widespread species along the Magdalena.

PALE-BREASTED SPINETAIL (Synallaxis albescens) [*]

Heard only along the Magdalena.


A really snazzy spinetail we enjoyed in the arid Guajira woodland near Camarones.

RUSTY-HEADED SPINETAIL (Synallaxis fuscorufa) [E]

Endemic to the Santa Martas and we had good views on the San Lorenzo ridge.

Pipridae (Manakins)

WHITE-BEARDED MANAKIN (Manacus manacus) [*]

Heard only around the Pozo Azul track.

Cotingidae (Cotingas)


Heard often, but we had our best views by far the evening we first arrived at El Dorado.

Tityridae (Tityras and Allies)

CINEREOUS BECARD (Pachyramphus rufus)

Good views of a male on the Pozo Azul track.

Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)

OLIVE-STRIPED FLYCATCHER (Mionectes galbinus galbinus)

A fairly non-descript frugivorous flycatcher that we saw a couple of times around El Dorado lodge. There are taxonomic changes happening with this complex, and it is not yet certain which scientific names will settle out as the ones used for each group thanks to variation in the South American birds, but the Santa Marta population is the one called "galbinus" so it will either be the nominate subspecies of all South American birds or it could end up its own species... time will tell.

SEPIA-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Leptopogon amaurocephalus)

One seen briefly on the Pozo Azul trail.

PALE-EYED PYGMY-TYRANT (Atalotriccus pilaris)

After hearing several, we had nice views at Pozo Azul.

PEARLY-VENTED TODY-TYRANT (Hemitriccus margaritaceiventer)

Some good views of this arid brushland species at the Guajira trail near Camarones.

BLACK-THROATED TODY-TYRANT (Hemitriccus granadensis lehmanni)

Nice views of this attractive little tyrant on the road below El Dorado.

COMMON TODY-FLYCATCHER (Todirostrum cinereum)

Seen in coastal habitats on this tour, such as along the Magdalena River.

CINNAMON FLYCATCHER (SANTA MARTA) (Pyrrhomyias cinnamomeus assimilis)

This is the super-saturated form endemic to the Santa Martas. Nice views by the cabins on our first full day at El Dorado.


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A regular sound in the cloudforest, but views of Golden-breasted Fruiteater can be hard to come by. Photo by Dan Lane.

WHITE-THROATED TYRANNULET (Mecocerculus leucophrys)

Found on the San Lorenzo ridge.

YELLOW-BELLIED ELAENIA (Elaenia flavogaster)

A widespread lowland species we had around Minca.

MOUNTAIN ELAENIA (Elaenia frantzii)

After hearing it a few times, we had a view or two at San Lorenzo ridge and Mountain House.

SPECTACLED TYRANNULET (Zimmerius improbus tamae)

Maggie got us onto this attractive tyrannulet at Mountain House and again around the Bellavista Cafe.


Not rare in the Guajira scrub.


Two encountered in the Guajira scrub.


Maggie got us on the first one on the walk down to Mountain House and another at the Bellavista cafe the day we headed out.


Seen by the folks on the Feb 2nd outing.

VERMILION FLYCATCHER (Pyrocephalus rubinus)

Views around Camarones.

WHITE-HEADED MARSH TYRANT (Arundinicola leucocephala)

Seen by the folk on the Feb 2nd outing.

PIED WATER-TYRANT (Fluvicola pica)

Along the Magdalena River.

YELLOW-BELLIED CHAT-TYRANT (Silvicultrix diadema jesupi)

Eric got us on one of these lemony tyrants in the dense bamboo by the trucks on San Lorenzo ridge.

BRIGHT-RUMPED ATTILA (Attila spadiceus) [*]

DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tuberculifer)

PANAMA FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus panamensis)

Folks had this on the Feb 2nd outing.

BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tyrannulus)

CATTLE TYRANT (Machetornis rixosa)

Looks at the toll booth stop as we returned from the Guajira.

GREAT KISKADEE (Pitangus sulphuratus)

BOAT-BILLED FLYCATCHER (Megarynchus pitangua)

RUSTY-MARGINED FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes cayanensis)

Seen at the Hotel Minca.

SOCIAL FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes similis)

GOLDEN-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes hemichrysus)

This population was formerly considered part of Golden-crowned Flycatcher, but vocal analysis has shown that the northern two South American forms are better placed with Golden-bellied, leaving Golden-crowned as strictly the Peruvian and Bolivian taxon.

STREAKED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes maculatus)

Around Minca.

PIRATIC FLYCATCHER (Legatus leucophaius) [*]

TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus)

GRAY KINGBIRD (Tyrannus dominicensis)

Not rare along the coast.

Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)

BROWN-CAPPED VIREO (Vireo leucophrys)

Eventually, most got looks at El Dorado.

Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)

BLACK-CHESTED JAY (Cyanocorax affinis)

Hirundinidae (Swallows)

SOUTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx ruficollis)

GRAY-BREASTED MARTIN (Progne chalybea)

On the drive to Riohacha from Barranquilla.

WHITE-WINGED SWALLOW (Tachycineta albiventer)

The white-rumped swallow in the mangroves our first morning in Barranquilla.

BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica) [b]

Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)

LONG-BILLED GNATWREN (RUFIVENTRIS GROUP) (Ramphocaenus melanurus sanctaemarthae)

Some quick glimpses on the Pozo Azul trail.

Field Guides Birding Tours
One of the endemics of the mountains without "Santa Marta" in the name, this Black-cheeked Mountain-Tanager foraged in the damp conditions of our visit to San Lorenzo ridge. Photo by Dan Lane.


Common in the Guajira scrub.

Troglodytidae (Wrens)

HOUSE WREN (Troglodytes aedon)

STRIPE-BACKED WREN (Campylorhynchus nuchalis)

Seen around Barranquilla.

BICOLORED WREN (Campylorhynchus griseus)

A large and loud wren we had at many locations at lower and middle elevations.

RUFOUS-BREASTED WREN (Pheugopedius rutilus)

A view on the Pozo Azul trail.

RUFOUS-AND-WHITE WREN (Thryophilus rufalbus)

Some glimpses of a pair on the Pozo Azul trail. Great voice!

BUFF-BREASTED WREN (Cantorchilus leucotis) [*]

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

This is the lower elevation wood-wren that we heard a lot around El Dorado, with some brief looks on our first full day there.

HERMIT WOOD-WREN (Henicorhina anachoreta) [E]

The higher-elevation endemic we saw on the San Lorenzo ridge with a pair that perched on the toe of my boot at one point.

Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)


Common on the Guajira.

Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)


Mostly heard, but a few got a view in the garden of Mountain House.


Nice! Often very hard to see, but we had views as we walked downslope from El Dorado our first full day there.

PALE-BREASTED THRUSH (Turdus leucomelas)

Common around Minca and El Dorado.

YELLOW-LEGGED THRUSH (Turdus flavipes)

Mostly around Mountain House.


Nice views at the Minca hotel.

BLACK-HOODED THRUSH (Turdus olivater)

Common around El Dorado, and we eventually got everyone views.

GREAT THRUSH (Turdus fuscater cacozelus)

Only on the San Lorenzo ridge.

Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus)

Thanks to Eric for pointing out this local species at the gas station near Camarones!

Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)

BLUE-NAPED CHLOROPHONIA (Chlorophonia cyanea psittacina)

A flashy bird that is emblematic of the cloudforest of the Santa Martas. Again, the form here has that yellow forehead and probably should be considered a separate species from the more widespread group that all lack it. Watching the birds feeding young on the porch of the Bellavista cafe was a treat.

TRINIDAD EUPHONIA (Euphonia trinitatis)

Mostly heard in the Guajira scrub.

THICK-BILLED EUPHONIA (Euphonia laniirostris)

At Minca hotel.

LESSER GOLDFINCH (Spinus psaltria)

At the Pozo Azul trail.

Rhodinocichlidae (Thrush-Tanager)

ROSY THRUSH-TANAGER (Rhodinocichla rosea)

Great spot by Eric at Pozo Azul trail, and we all eventually got nice views of a pair with a fledged young!

Passerellidae (New World Sparrows)

SIERRA NEVADA BRUSHFINCH (Arremon basilicus) [E]

A split in the past decade from the former Stripe-crowned Brushfinch, and now an endemic of the mountain range. A pair was around El Dorado and most folks saw it there or on the road below.

GOLDEN-WINGED SPARROW (Arremon schlegeli)

A snazzy sparrow we saw around the bamboo stand on Pozo Azul track.

RUFOUS-COLLARED SPARROW (Zonotrichia capensis)

SANTA MARTA BRUSHFINCH (Atlapetes melanocephalus) [E]

Common in middle and upper elevations.

Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)

CRESTED OROPENDOLA (Psarocolius decumanus)

YELLOW-RUMPED CACIQUE (Cacicus cela) [*]

Heard only at the toll booth stop, sounding like Amazonian birds.

YELLOW-BACKED ORIOLE (Icterus chrysater)

A pair at Mountain House showed well.

YELLOW ORIOLE (Icterus nigrogularis)

Common in coastal lowlands.

BALTIMORE ORIOLE (Icterus galbula) [b]

A few feeding in flowering trees around the Minca Hotel.

SHINY COWBIRD (Molothrus bonariensis)

Field Guides Birding Tours
A nicely-posed female Vermilion Cardinal in the early rays of sun our morning at the Guajira. Photo by Dan Lane.

GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus)

These are the South American subspecies that is more closely tied to mangroves than the Middle and North American forms.

CARIB GRACKLE (Quiscalus lugubris)

Common at lower elevations.

Parulidae (New World Warblers)

LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia motacilla) [b]

A nice find along a streambed just above Mountain House.

NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis) [b]

Heard in the coastal mangroves.

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

PROTHONOTARY WARBLER (Protonotaria citrea) [b]

Common in mangroves, but also into the foothills.

TENNESSEE WARBLER (Leiothlypis peregrina) [b]

Great views of this familiar bird at the feeders at Mountain House.

MOURNING WARBLER (Geothlypis philadelphia) [b]

A female at the Centro el Campano track showed well for us.

AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla) [b]

BAY-BREASTED WARBLER (Setophaga castanea) [b]

One or two at Minca Hotel.

BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER (Setophaga fusca) [b]

Not rare in the mountains.

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

CHESTNUT-CAPPED WARBLER (Basileuterus delattrii mesochrysus)

First had me thinking it was a singing Canada Warbler, but upon seeing it, it was clear it was not!

SANTA MARTA WARBLER (Myiothlypis basilica) [E]

Nice views of this endemic on the San Lorenzo ridge.

WHITE-LORED WARBLER (Myiothlypis conspicillata) [E]

Fairly common in the forest around the El Dorado lodge.

SLATE-THROATED REDSTART (Myioborus miniatus)

The lower elevation of the two redstarts.

YELLOW-CROWNED REDSTART (Myioborus flavivertex) [E]

Mostly at San Lorenzo ridge, but we had one near the Kogi dining room.

Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)

SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra) [b]

VERMILION CARDINAL (Cardinalis phoeniceus)

A zinger we enjoyed very much at Camarones, both "wild" and at the feeders.

GOLDEN GROSBEAK (Pheucticus chrysogaster) [*]

Heard only by the El Dorado dining hall.

ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus ludovicianus) [b]

Sheila got us on our first one at Minca, and we had another at Mountain House.

BLUE-BLACK GROSBEAK (Cyanoloxia cyanoides) [*]

Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)

GRAY-HEADED TANAGER (Eucometis penicillata)

One our last day at Centro el Campano.

WHITE-LINED TANAGER (Tachyphonus rufus)

At Mountain House.

CRIMSON-BACKED TANAGER (Ramphocelus dimidiatus)

Brief views around Minca.

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

A sharp-looking large tanager we had at San Lorenzo ridge and later as we walked downslope from El Dorado.

BLUE-GRAY TANAGER (Thraupis episcopus)

GLAUCOUS TANAGER (Thraupis glaucocolpa)

Nice! Last year we had to fight for views of this range-restricted species, but this year it was not hard at all around Camarones.

PALM TANAGER (Thraupis palmarum)

BLACK-HEADED TANAGER (Stilpnia cyanoptera)

Mostly at Mountain House.

BLACK-CAPPED TANAGER (Stilpnia heinei)

At Mountain House and El Dorado.

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

SWALLOW TANAGER (Tersina viridis)

PURPLE HONEYCREEPER (Cyanerpes caeruleus)

BICOLORED CONEBILL (Conirostrum bicolor)

Nice views of this warbler-like tanager in the mangroves of Barranquilla.

Field Guides Birding Tours
After three days of rain, we were treated to an exquisite sunset from El Dorado Lodge. Photo by Dan Lane.

BLACK FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa humeralis nocticolor)

Mostly at high elevations at San Lorenzo and the feeders we visited as we descended from there.


Common around El Dorado and Mountain House.

RUSTY FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa sittoides)

Mostly females at Mountain House.

SAFFRON FINCH (Sicalis flaveola)

YELLOW-BELLIED SEEDEATER (Sporophila nigricollis)

Chris got us onto this one at Mountain House.

PILEATED FINCH (Coryphospingus pileatus)

Nice views of this eye-catcher (especially when you can see the red crest!) at Camarones.

BANANAQUIT (Coereba flaveola)

BLACK-FACED GRASSQUIT (Melanospiza bicolor)

At the feeders at Camarones.

DULL-COLORED GRASSQUIT (Asemospiza obscura)

A pair feeding young at Mountain House showed well.


ORINOCAN SALTATOR (Saltator orenocensis)

An attractive species we saw well at the feeders at Camarones.

OLIVE-GRAY SALTATOR (Saltator olivascens)

Part of the former Grayish Saltator, which is now split into three species.

STREAKED SALTATOR (Saltator striatipectus)

Good views on the Pozo Azul trail.


RED HOWLER MONKEY (Alouatta seniculus) [*]

Heard on many mornings in the mountains.

RED-TAILED SQUIRREL (Sciurus granatensis)

Widespread in the area between the lowlands and the highlands.


GREEN IGUANA (Iguana iguana)

Several seen well around Barranquilla and Camarones.

RAINBOW WHIPTAIL (Cnemidophorus lemniscatus)

The small striped lizard around Camarones.


Savage's Mushroom-tongue Salamander (Bolitoglossa savagei): the salamander we saw in the bromiliads at El Dorado.

Tachiramantis tayrona: the little treefrogs that were in the bromiliads at El Dorado.

Totals for the tour: 290 bird taxa and 2 mammal taxa