A Field Guides Birding Tours Report

Mexico: Oaxaca's Atlantic & Pacific Slopes 2022

March 12-23, 2022 with Dan Lane & Micah Riegner & Jorge Montejo guiding

Here's a short video showcasing some of the spectacular landscapes we saw along the tour. Video by guide Micah Riegner.

This was the inaugural tour of this route! As can be expected, we had a few hiccups, but it was a success overall. The purpose of the tour was to visit the parts of the state of Oaxaca that we had been ignoring on our long-running tour of the central valley around Oaxaca city. The valley area provides some great birding, of course, not to mention cultural highlights. But the state of Oaxaca is one of the most biologically diverse of any political unit in North America! The state, for us US-centric folks, is only a bit larger than Indiana, yet has the number of bird species regularly encountered in the lower 48 US states: around 750! Why is this? Well, location, habitat diversity, and complex geologic relief all play roles, as does the strategic placement of Oaxaca: just near one of the most important constrictions of the North American continent: the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Because of the narrow nature of the isthmus, this state has both Pacific and Atlantic (in this case, Gulf of Mexico) slopes! The only other Mexican state to have both (and a coastline) is Chiapas. Thanks to the various mountain ranges, valleys, the prevailing trade winds (which blow from the east at this latitude), and the Pacific coastline, this results in a mosaic of humid and dry conditions, rainshadow valleys, deserts at higher and low elevations, and great circumstances for local endemism in birds (as well as other, more sedentary organisms!). One top of all the diversity among resident birds, there is an additional and important component: boreal migrants! We enjoyed seeing a lot of “our” birds on their wintering grounds here. It really helps us comprehend the life histories of these migratory species to see them where they spend their “winter” months, as well as in the act of migration. Our checklist is a testament to this diversity, as it sported nearly 550 potential bird species and we encountered about 380 in the space of about 10 days! Not bad at all!

Our route played a role in this impressive tally. We started and ended in Oaxaca city, of course, which also gave us a few species we didn’t encounter anywhere else on the route—House Finch, Curve-billed Thrasher, Vermilion Flycatcher—to name a few. Our itinerary first took us south into the Sierra Madre del Sur, where we spent an overnight in the high pine-oak forests around the town of San Jose del Pacifico. It was here that we enjoyed some of the higher elevation montane species of these drier forests. Familiar species such as American Robin, Spotted Towhee, and Audubon’s Yellow-rumped Warbler were side-by-side with Gray Silky-Flycatcher, Bumblebee Hummingbird, and Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo. The jangling crescendos of Brown-backed Solitaire were a regular sound. As we crossed onto the Pacific slope and headed lower, we entered a narrow band of humid evergreen forest, a form of cloudforest thanks to the east-west orientation of the range here that catches humidity from the Trade Winds off the Gulf of Mexico, and here we had some truly tropical birds such as the Wagler’s Emerald Toucanet, Eye-ringed Flatbill, and Ruddy Foliage-Gleaner, among others. Lower still, the forest became dry and deciduous, still mostly leafless in March, but nevertheless chock full of interesting birds! Orange-breasted Bunting, Colima Pygmy-Owl, and Spot-breasted Orioles were among the local specialties we enjoyed here. A morning out on the Pacific Ocean itself netted us a whole new assortment of birds—shearwaters, boobies, frigatebirds, for example—which provided an undeniable contrast to the forest birding in the pines only a couple days before! From Huatulco on the coast, we then headed east to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec itself, visiting a lagoon near the coast one evening, and then a patch of deciduous scrub the next morning. The former allowed us to see migrant shorebirds and some coastal terns and gulls. The latter was home to a few of the stars of the tour: Rose-bellied Bunting, Cinnamon-tailed Sparrow, and Lesser Ground-Cuckoo! From these hot lowlands, we worked our way northwest onto the Gulf slope. Here, on the windward side of the Sierra Madre Oriental, we were finally on a truly humid slope, with scraps of lowland rainforest which turned into true cloudforest as we ascended upward in elevation. The diversity here is perhaps the greatest of the tour, and whereas we encountered fewer local endemics (most species are shared with several countries east and south of Mexico), the sheer numbers of species and the presence of truly tropical families such as jacamars, antbirds, and many more members of the furnariids, tyrant flycatchers, and hummingbirds, make it clear that more rainfall really does equal more species! The number of days we spent hardly did justice to the list of species we encountered, but we did enjoy views of some memorable birds just the same! Finally, we headed back to Oaxaca city via the higher pine-oak forest, although our only taste of this habitat was at our final lunch stop at Restaurante Colibri before returning to the city. It was a large loop, and it took us through such contrasts!

Highlights from the tour were many and varied. Some were avian, some were not! Folks mentioned things such as the sheer diversity of habitats, or that fruiting tree at Bethania that seemed to be bringing in nearly all the local birds as we enjoyed a picnic breakfast underneath it, or the acrobatics of the Spinner Dolphins ahead of our boat on the ocean. But the birds overwhelmed us in their color and variety. Highest on the list were local specialties such as the peculiar and highly range-restricted Sumichrast’s Wren, Rose-bellied (or Rosita’s) and Orange-breasted bunting, and the skulky Lesser Ground-Cuckoo that we got in our scopes. Lower down on the list were such experiences as the huge shearwater scrum that we came upon in the boat, with thousands of birds sitting around us on the water, or the comical Brown Booby perched on the back of a sea turtle (which may have been oblivious?), the surprise Nazca Booby that flew past us showing off that saffron yellow bill, or the molting jaegers as they wove through the shearwaters searching for one to harass. In the pine forests of the San Jose del Pacifico area, we were treated to a comparison of the look-alike Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch and Collared Towhee, and to the eye-searing scarlet of the lovely Red Warbler, and got to hear the rollicking songs of Long-tailed Wood-Partridges which failed to come into view, sadly. In the lowland Pacific slope and Isthmian woodlands, a few choice sightings included the elegant White-throated Magpie-Jays, and the pairing of the Sumichrast’s Sparrow and Rosita’s Bunting, which told a love story between Sumichrast, the bird collector from the 1800s, and his wife Rosita, who influenced him to settle in Oaxaca and live out his days. In the Gulf lowlands, a few highlights included the strutting Mayan Antthrush at Bethania, Karen spotting that Tody Motmot in the dark interior of vegetation in that gully, the incredible music of the Slate-colored Solitaires in the cloudforest, and that amazing view of Pheasant Cuckoo over us, not to mention a female Golden-cheeked Warbler that Jorge got us on that last morning! There were so many other great experiences, it is hard to sum them all up in a paragraph, but these memories we will carry with us…

So Micah, Jorge, and I thank you for joining us on this tour. We hope you enjoyed this cross section of one of Mexico’s most amazing states, and will consider joining us again in the future on another great birding adventure! Saludos y buen pajareando (farewell and 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)

SLATY-BREASTED TINAMOU (Crypturellus boucardi) [*]

THICKET TINAMOU (Crypturellus cinnamomeus) [*]

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)

BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Spatula discors) [b]

NORTHERN SHOVELER (Spatula clypeata) [b]

Cracidae (Guans, Chachalacas, and Curassows)

PLAIN CHACHALACA (Ortalis vetula)

The Gulf slope chachalaca we had around Valle Nacional.

WEST MEXICAN CHACHALACA (Ortalis poliocephala) [E]

The Pacific slope chachalaca we had around Huatulco and Tehuantepec.

CRESTED GUAN (Penelope purpurascens)

Wow! Great views of a couple of these big chickens over the road on our morning birding along the road above Valle Nacional.

Odontophoridae (New World Quail)

LONG-TAILED WOOD-PARTRIDGE (Dendrortyx macroura) [E*]

Unfortunately heard only, but both around San Jose del Pacifico and above Valle Nacional.

Field Guides Birding Tours
It's hard to choose a bird that better symbolizes Mexico's Pacific Coast than Orange-breasted Bunting. Tour participant Steve Parrish photographed this one near Tehuantepec.
Podicipedidae (Grebes)

LEAST GREBE (Tachybaptus dominicus)

A few in the ponds near Ojo de Agua.

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]

RED-BILLED PIGEON (Patagioenas flavirostris)

Seen primarily on the Gulf slope.

BAND-TAILED PIGEON (Patagioenas fasciata)

One flyover at San Jose del Pacifico.

SHORT-BILLED PIGEON (Patagioenas nigrirostris) [*]

EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto)

Present mostly in towns throughout.

INCA DOVE (Columbina inca)

Of course, whoever named this meant "Aztec Dove"... but whatever...

COMMON GROUND DOVE (Columbina passerina)

This dove always manages to find common ground with anyone and any opinion. Good to have around...

RUDDY GROUND DOVE (Columbina talpacoti)

Mostly on the Gulf slope. We had a particularly good view near our Sumichrast's Wren spot.

BLUE GROUND DOVE (Claravis pretiosa)

Mostly heard on the lower Gulf slopes, with a few seen.

WHITE-TIPPED DOVE (Leptotila verreauxi)

GRAY-HEADED DOVE (Leptotila plumbeiceps) [*]

WHITE-FACED QUAIL-DOVE (Zentrygon albifacies) [*]

WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenaida asiatica)

MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura)

Seen as we made our detour across ag fields outside of Oaxaca City on our first day afield.

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

GROOVE-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga sulcirostris)

PHEASANT CUCKOO (Dromococcyx phasianellus)

Jumpin' Jehoshaphat! What a great experience! One flushed where we parked on our first morning birding the cloudforest above Valle Nacional, and a little whistled imitation caused it to pipe up. A bit more coaxing, and it was perching in full view beside the road! Magnificent!

LESSER GROUND-CUCKOO (Morococcyx erythropygus)

After a so-so view near Huatulco, we had a better scope view near Ojo de Agua outside of Tehuantepec.

SQUIRREL CUCKOO (Piaya cayana)

Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)

LESSER NIGHTHAWK (Chordeiles acutipennis)

COMMON PAURAQUE (Nyctidromus albicollis)

MEXICAN WHIP-POOR-WILL (Antrostomus arizonae) [*]

Field Guides Birding Tours
Our group quietly watching Rose-bellied Bunting (aka Rosita's Bunting) near Tehuantepec. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.
Apodidae (Swifts)

CHESTNUT-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne rutila)

Part of a huge aggregation of swifts over the road we walked just north of Valle Nacional.

WHITE-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne zonaris)

Seen on several days on the Gulf slope.

VAUX'S SWIFT (Chaetura vauxi)

Seen on both slopes.

LESSER SWALLOW-TAILED SWIFT (Panyptila cayennensis)

Also members of the huge swift aggregation.

Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)

LONG-BILLED HERMIT (Phaethornis longirostris)

A brief view in the foothill forest near Valle Nacional.

STRIPE-THROATED HERMIT (Phaethornis striigularis)

At the same place as the last.

RIVOLI'S HUMMINGBIRD (Eugenes fulgens)

Until recently considered "Magnificent Hummer" until that was split (the other part being the "Talamanca Hummingbird" of Costa Rica and Panama). It was around San Jose del Pacifico.

LONG-BILLED STARTHROAT (Heliomaster longirostris)

We had this one around Pluma Hidalgo.

PLAIN-CAPPED STARTHROAT (Heliomaster constantii)

This one was at the Rosita Bunting spot.


Fleeting views of this large montane hummer at the Barred Forest-Falcon spot.

BLUE-THROATED MOUNTAIN-GEM (Lampornis clemenciae)

Also found into the US, we had our best views of this one at the feeders at the El Colibri restaurant.


A smashing bird! We saw a couple of these in the montane forests around San Jose del Pacifico.

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Archilochus colubris) [b]

BUMBLEBEE HUMMINGBIRD (Selasphorus heloisa) [E]

Great views of several birds as they displayed and perched in a overgrown clearing near San Jose del Pacifico.

DUSKY HUMMINGBIRD (Phaeoptila sordida) [E]

On the grounds of our hotel in Oaxaca City.


Also called "Doubleday's Hummingbird" and until recently considered a subspecies of Broad-billed Hummer. This was fairly common on the Pacific coast and around Tehuantepec.

GOLDEN-CROWNED EMERALD (Cynanthus auriceps) [E]

A male perched for a long time allowing us extended views on the La Soledad road.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Bumblebee Hummingbird is the smallest hummingbird in Mexico. Tour participant Steve Parrish photographed this one while we were birding near San Jose del Pacifico.

WHITE-EARED HUMMINGBIRD (Basilinna leucotis)

Common, but sneaky, in the montane forests of San Jose del Pacific.


BLUE-CAPPED HUMMINGBIRD (Eupherusa cyanophrys) [E]

A Oaxaca endemic that we saw well on the Pluma Hidalgo road.

AZURE-CROWNED HUMMINGBIRD (Saucerottia cyanocephala)

A few folks saw this one briefly in the cloudforest above Valle Nacional.

BERYLLINE HUMMINGBIRD (Saucerottia beryllina)

Seen at mid-elevations of the Pacific slope and in Oaxaca City.


A common species of the arid forests around Huatulco.


Common on the Gulf slope.

WHITE-BELLIED EMERALD (Chlorestes candida)

Another one we saw on the Gulf slope.

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

AMERICAN COOT (Fulica americana) [b]

RUDDY CRAKE (Laterallus ruber) [*]

Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)

BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus)

AMERICAN AVOCET (Recurvirostra americana) [b]

Huge flocks at the salt pans along our drive from Huatulco to Tehuantepec.

Haematopodidae (Oystercatchers)

AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus palliatus)

A trio flew by us on that gravel bar of the lagoon our afternoon out of Tehuantepec.

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola) [b]

The "beach" at Barra Santa Teresa treated us to most of our shorebirds on this tour.

AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER (Pluvialis dominica) [b]

It was cool to see a couple of flocks of this migrant as they approached land from a presumed flight from the Ecuadorian coast while we were on our pelagic!

COLLARED PLOVER (Charadrius collaris)

A couple of pairs were at Barra Santa Teresa.

SNOWY PLOVER (Charadrius nivosus) [b]

These blended in so well with the chalky ground at Barra Santa Teresa, it was only when they moved as we walked by that we noticed them!

WILSON'S PLOVER (Charadrius wilsonia)

A couple of these handsome plovers were at Barra Santa Teresa.

Our boat trip out of Huatulco was a huge success! We found ourselves in the middle of a bonanza of feeding Wedge-tailed Shearwaters. Video by guide Micah Riegner.

SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus) [b]

Along with many of the above at Barra Santa Teresa.

KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus) [*]

Jacanidae (Jacanas)

NORTHERN JACANA (Jacana spinosa)

A pair working a tiny patch of habitat along an irrigation ditch near Tehuantepec gave us a fine show.

Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres) [b]

Again, as Barra Santa Teresa.

SANDERLING (Calidris alba) [b]

LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla) [b]

WILSON'S SNIPE (Gallinago delicata) [b]

A few lucky folks got glimpses of this one at Barra Santa Teresa.

SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius) [b]

GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca) [b]

WILLET (Tringa semipalmata) [b]

Stercorariidae (Skuas and Jaegers)

POMARINE JAEGER (Stercorarius pomarinus) [b]

The more common jaeger we saw on the pelagic.

PARASITIC JAEGER (Stercorarius parasiticus) [b]

One of these zipped by us on the pelagic.

Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)

LAUGHING GULL (Leucophaeus atricilla)

Our only gull!

GULL-BILLED TERN (Gelochelidon nilotica)

This and the next were at Barra Santa Teresa.

CASPIAN TERN (Hydroprogne caspia) [b]

ROYAL TERN (Thalasseus maximus) [b]

Seen at several spots along the Pacific coast.

ELEGANT TERN (Thalasseus elegans) [b]

Several seen on our pelagic.

Procellariidae (Shearwaters and Petrels)

PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATER (Ardenna creatopus) [a]

This species breeds on islands off Chile, and we saw a fairly good number on our pelagic.


Far and away the most common shearwater on our pelagic, we saw huge concentrations at a few points.

GALAPAGOS SHEARWATER (Puffinus subalaris)

Only a handful of this Audubon's-like shearwater were seen on our pelagic.

BLACK-VENTED SHEARWATER (Puffinus opisthomelas)

Although part of the Manx complex of shearwaters, this one is distinctive in having washed out brownish upperparts and a weak face pattern. We saw them well on the pelagic.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Guide Dan Lane photographed this Cinnamon Hummingbird near Huatulco.
Ciconiidae (Storks)

JABIRU (Jabiru mycteria)

Thanks to our longish detour through Veracruz to avoid a roadblock, we saw a small group of these huge white birds as we zipped by on the "cuota" or turnpike (sadly, no place to stop!).

WOOD STORK (Mycteria americana)

A large concentration along the cuota after seeing the Jabirus.

Fregatidae (Frigatebirds)


Quite a few of these large hang-gliders over the Pacific.

Sulidae (Boobies and Gannets)

MASKED BOOBY (Sula dactylatra)

While on the pelagic, we saw several of these boobies, noting the greenish bill on the first adult especially.

NAZCA BOOBY (Sula granti)

All right! Nearly identical to the last, we had a fine adult fly by us giving us a close view of that bright saffron-yellow bill! We also saw a young Masked/Nazca Booby we couldn't identify with certainty.

BLUE-FOOTED BOOBY (Sula nebouxii)

A stop at a beach that viewed an offshore rock stack gave us scope views of this, our fourth booby of the tour.

BROWN BOOBY (Sula leucogaster)

The most common booby of the pelagic.

Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)

NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Nannopterum brasilianum)

Pelecanidae (Pelicans)

AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)

Mostly seen as we crossed a bridge near Tehuantepec.

BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis)

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias)

Only seen near Barra Santa Teresa.

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)

SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)

LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea)

Seen by some at Tehuantepec.

REDDISH EGRET (Egretta rufescens)

A young bird fishing at Barra Santa Teresa allowed us to tick the species off on our list.

CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis)

Seen nearly daily.

Field Guides Birding Tours
With limited places to perch, this Brown Booby found itself a Green Sea Turtle to land on. Participants David and Judy Smith photographed this interaction on our boat trip off Huatulco.

GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens)

Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)

WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus)

Another wader that we only saw at the bridge crossing at Tehuantepec.

ROSEATE SPOONBILL (Platalea ajaja)

Seen at Tehuantepec and near the stork event on the Veracruz cuota.

Cathartidae (New World Vultures)

BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus)

This and the next were everyday birds!

TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)

LESSER YELLOW-HEADED VULTURE (Cathartes burrovianus)

Seen by Amy only, on the drive back to our hotel from the Sumichrast's Wren spot.

Pandionidae (Osprey)

OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus)

Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

BLACK HAWK-EAGLE (Spizaetus tyrannus)

We pulled a hat trick with both hawk-eagles within minutes as we birded the cloud forest above Valle Nacional. We did see one more of this species the day before as well.

ORNATE HAWK-EAGLE (Spizaetus ornatus)

DOUBLE-TOOTHED KITE (Harpagus bidentatus)

Karen had this one at Pluma Hidalgo.

SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (Accipiter striatus) [b]

A brief view of a bird in the foothills by Valle Nacional. Given the location, this was likely a northern migrant.

COMMON BLACK HAWK (Buteogallus anthracinus)

Seen by a few folks above Valle Nacional.

ROADSIDE HAWK (Rupornis magnirostris)

Seen most days on the Gulf slope.

GRAY HAWK (Buteo plagiatus)

Seen in the lowlands of both slopes. This little hawk is quite common in Mexico.

BROAD-WINGED HAWK (Buteo platypterus) [b]

After seeing one at Pluma Hidalgo, we had a nice series of migrating kettles at our Tody Motmot site above Valley Nacional.

SHORT-TAILED HAWK (Buteo brachyurus)

An everyday bird on the tour!

Field Guides Birding Tours
Guide Dan Lane preparing a fine picnic lunch along the cloud forest slopes above Valle Nacional. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.

SWAINSON'S HAWK (Buteo swainsoni) [b]

Cool, we intersected several migrating kettles above Valle Nacional as they moved along the Gulf slope towards Texas.

ZONE-TAILED HAWK (Buteo albonotatus)

Julie got us onto this Turkey Vulture mimic.

RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis)

Some folks got on this familiar hawk as we drove from Oaxaca City to San Jose del Pacifico.

Strigidae (Owls)

PACIFIC SCREECH-OWL (Megascops cooperi)

Two pairs of this screech-owl responded (one was seen) near Huatulco.

COLIMA PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium palmarum)

After playing hide-and-seek with this tiny owl on day 5 (the owl winning by a mile), we had stunning views of one the following morning at the edge of Huatulco!

FERRUGINOUS PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium brasilianum)

A common species in the lowlands of Mexico, we saw it several times.

MOTTLED OWL (Ciccaba virgata)

Good looks at this medium-sized owl near Huatulco.

STRIPED OWL (Asio clamator)

Micah got us on a foraging bird near Bethania as we returned to Tuxtepec, but it was mostly a white shape as it flew across a nighttime field in the headlights.

Trogonidae (Trogons)

BLACK-HEADED TROGON (Trogon melanocephalus)

A bird showed well in the magical fruiting tree at breakfast at Bethania.

CITREOLINE TROGON (Trogon citreolus) [E]

Seen in the deciduous woodlands around Huatulco. That staring yellow eye is intense!

GARTERED TROGON (Trogon caligatus)

Formerly part of Violaceous Trogon, that species was split into three, and this is the Middle American and Pacific slope of northern South America form. We had it on our two foothill mornings near Valle Nacional.

MOUNTAIN TROGON (Trogon mexicanus)

Living up to its name, we saw this species in the pine forests around San Jose del Pacifico.

COLLARED TROGON (XALAPA) (Trogon collaris puella)

After seeing one at Pluma Hidalgo, we had several more on the Gulf slope.

Momotidae (Motmots)

TODY MOTMOT (Hylomanes momotula)

Great spotting Karen! We had been hearing this diminutive (and rather rare) motmot at a spot I had had it several years earlier, and really tried to get a look. Karen delivered, but it didn't stick around for all to enjoy in the scope, unfortunately.

RUSSET-CROWNED MOTMOT (Momotus mexicanus)

A lovely Pacific coast species we saw on three days.

LESSON'S MOTMOT (Momotus lessonii)

Part of the former Blue-crowned Motmot, this one is on the Gulf slope, where we saw it on two mornings.

Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)

AMAZON KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle amazona)

This and the next were at the river crossing just outside of Valle Nacional.

GREEN KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle americana)

Field Guides Birding Tours
Participants David and Judy Smith photographed this Pomerine Jaeger spending the winter off the coast of Hatulco.
Galbulidae (Jacamars)

RUFOUS-TAILED JACAMAR (Galbula ruficauda)

After some searching, we finally got a scope on a bird in the foothill forest by Valle Nacional... very near the northernmost point of this family's distribution!

Ramphastidae (Toucans)

NORTHERN EMERALD-TOUCANET (WAGLER'S) (Aulacorhynchus prasinus wagleri)

The Pacific slope member of this complex, considered a full species by many. We saw it on two days around San Jose del Pacifico and Pluma Hidalgo.

NORTHERN EMERALD-TOUCANET (EMERALD) (Aulacorhynchus prasinus prasinus)

The Gulf slope member of this complex, and more widespread than the last (occurring from San Luis Potosi to the north of where we were to Nicaragua), we only caught a brief glimpse of this one above Valle Nacional when a Golden-cheeked Warbler stole the show and distracted us!

COLLARED ARACARI (COLLARED) (Pteroglossus torquatus torquatus)

A small group showed well near Valle Nacional.

KEEL-BILLED TOUCAN (Ramphastos sulfuratus)

A rather impressively colored toucan we saw several times, including in the process of making more toucans.

Picidae (Woodpeckers)

ACORN WOODPECKER (Melanerpes formicivorus) [*]

Heard at Pluma Hidalgo.

GOLDEN-CHEEKED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes chrysogenys) [E]

A fairly common woodpecker of the deciduous forests of the Pacific slope.

GOLDEN-FRONTED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes aurifrons)

We had two forms, one that looks quite like the one we know from Texas (but perhaps with more densely-barred back), and one that looks more like a Red-bellied Woodpecker. These intergrade right around where we were in the Isthmus area, and one could see birds of either form (or intermediates) at several sites. Some authorities split these populations from the more northerly ones and call them "Velasquez's Woodpecker".

HAIRY WOODPECKER (Dryobates villosus)

In the pine forests of San Jose del Pacifico, where the local form is smokier below than those we may know in the US or Canada.

PALE-BILLED WOODPECKER (Campephilus guatemalensis)

A small family group on our final morning at Huatulco was a surprise to me (I had no idea they occurred so far west on the Pacific slope!).

LINEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus lineatus)

Heard and seen on two days at Huatulco.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Sumichrast's Wren! This was among the prized Mexican endemics we were thrilled to see on the tour. It is only found around limestone walls in lowland Oaxaca and neighboring Veracruz. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.


This handsome woodpecker showed well at Bethania!

GOLDEN-OLIVE WOODPECKER (Colaptes rubiginosus) [*]

Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

BARRED FOREST-FALCON (Micrastur ruficollis)

All right! A pair came in and showed off nicely in the cloudforest above Valle Nacional our final full day!

COLLARED FOREST-FALCON (Micrastur semitorquatus)

We saw this one fleetingly twice, once at Huatulco, and again in the foothills near Valle Nacional. Always a great bird to see!

CRESTED CARACARA (Caracara plancus)

The "Mexican eagle" and national bird of Mexico.

AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius)

Seen around open country in the central valley and Gulf slope.

PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus) [b]

Seen the day we drove from Huatulco to Tehuantepec.

Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)


Seen on three days on the Gulf slope.

LILAC-CROWNED PARROT (Amazona finschi)

After some folks got looks at dusk and dawn near our Huatulco hotel, we enjoyed nice scope views our final morning there

RED-LORED PARROT (Amazona autumnalis)

Seen well on two days on the Gulf slope.

WHITE-FRONTED PARROT (Amazona albifrons)

The most common large parrot on the Pacific slope.


This was the parakeet of the Gulf slope.

ORANGE-FRONTED PARAKEET (Eupsittula canicularis)

The Pacific slope parakeet.

Thamnophilidae (Typical Antbirds)

BARRED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus doliatus)

The northernmost species of this wonderful Neotropical family, we saw a couple of pairs in the foothills above Valle Nacional.

Jorge Montejo is one of the most knowledgeable bird guides in Mexico. In this video he tells us the history of the ornithologist Sumichrast and his wife Rosita. Videography by guides Micah Riegner and Dan Lane.
Formicariidae (Antthrushes)

MAYAN ANTTHRUSH (Formicarius moniliger moniliger)

Our two visits to Bethania resulted in a couple of views of this ground-walking species. Formerly part of the Black-faced Antthrush (now only found as far north as Honduras), this has been recently split off.

Furnariidae (Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers)

OLIVACEOUS WOODCREEPER (Sittasomus griseicapillus)

Heard on two mornings, but seen on our visit to the foothills above Valle Nacional.

NORTHERN BARRED-WOODCREEPER (Dendrocolaptes sanctithomae)

This large woodcreeper showed well at Bethania.

IVORY-BILLED WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus flavigaster)

The most widespread of the woodcreepers on this tour, found on both slopes. How many folks got friends excited when they announced they'd seen this one... until they explained it was *woodcreeper* NOT *woodpecker*?

STREAK-HEADED WOODCREEPER (Lepidocolaptes souleyetii)

The Gulf lowlands member of the more lightly-built genus Lepidocolaptes.

SPOT-CROWNED WOODCREEPER (NORTHERN) (Lepidocolaptes affinis affinis)

The highland woodcreeper we had in both mountain ranges.

PLAIN XENOPS (Xenops minutus)

Heard, and seen zipping by on the road through the foothill forest near Valle Nacional.

SCALY-THROATED FOLIAGE-GLEANER (Anabacerthia variegaticeps)

This one was seen near the Barred Forest-Falcons in the cloudforest our final morning.

RUDDY FOLIAGE-GLEANER (Clibanornis rubiginosus)

Heard on both slopes, but seen well at Pluma Hidalgo... a real skulker!

BUFF-THROATED FOLIAGE-GLEANER (MEXICAN) (Automolus ochrolaemus cervinigularis)

Heard and briefly seen at Bethania on our first visit there.

RUFOUS-BREASTED SPINETAIL (Synallaxis erythrothorax)

Amazing views of this northernmost spinetail in the foothill habitat near Valle Nacional.

Pipridae (Manakins)


A female showed well (her orange legs gave her away) in the foothills near Valle Nacional.

Field Guides Birding Tours
We had outstanding looks at a Pheasant Cuckoo in the cloud forest above Valle Nacional. Photo by tour participant Steve Parrish.

RED-CAPPED MANAKIN (Ceratopipra mentalis)

Some nice views on three days on the Gulf slope.

Tityridae (Tityras and Allies)

BLACK-CROWNED TITYRA (Tityra inquisitor)

Great views of a couple pairs at Bethania.

MASKED TITYRA (Tityra semifasciata)

The more common of the two tityras we saw, with sightings on both slopes.

GRAY-COLLARED BECARD (Pachyramphus major)

A rare becard we saw both in the pine woods at San Jose del Pacifico and again in the cloudforest above Valle Nacional! Que chevere!

ROSE-THROATED BECARD (Pachyramphus aglaiae)

After hearing it a fair amount at Pluma Hidalgo, we saw some at Bethania.

Oxyruncidae (Sharpbill, Royal Flycatcher, and Allies)

ROYAL FLYCATCHER (NORTHERN) (Onychorhynchus coronatus mexicanus)

Wow, what a great show! A single call alerted to the presence of this fairly rare but impressive species at Bethania, where we got great views!

Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)

STUB-TAILED SPADEBILL (Platyrinchus cancrominus) [*]

Brief but good views at Bethania.

OCHRE-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Mionectes oleagineus)

One was at Pluma Hidalgo, but seen better perhaps at Bethania.

SEPIA-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Leptopogon amaurocephalus)

Heard by all in the foothill forest above Valle Nacional, but some saw it at Bethania.

NORTHERN BENTBILL (Oncostoma cinereigulare)

A brief, but very good, view of this diminutive species in the foothills above Valle Nacional.

EYE-RINGED FLATBILL (Rhynchocyclus brevirostris)

We had two nice experiences with this often scarce species: several birds at La Soledad showed for us, and we saw another in the cloudforest above Valle Nacional.

YELLOW-OLIVE FLYCATCHER (GRAY-HEADED) (Tolmomyias sulphurescens cinereiceps)

Common on the Gulf slope, where we saw several.


Seen well our final morning at Huatulco.

GREENISH ELAENIA (WEST MEXICO) (Myiopagis viridicata jaliscensis)

Seen on several days on the Pacific slope.

GREENISH ELAENIA (GREENISH) (Myiopagis viridicata placens)

This one showed for us in the foothills above Valle Nacional.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Blue-crowned Chlorophonias inhabit a narrow band of cloud forest along the Atlantic slope of Oaxaca. Photo by tour participant Steve Parrish.

YELLOW-BELLIED ELAENIA (Elaenia flavogaster)

Another Neotropical standard we saw well above Valle Nacional.

TUFTED FLYCATCHER (Mitrephanes phaeocercus)

Seen in the pine forests by San Jose del Pacifico.

OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER (Contopus cooperi) [b]

Seen at La Soledad and by some again in the foothills above Valle Nacional.

GREATER PEWEE (Contopus pertinax)

A large pewee that is generally widespread in the mountains, but we only saw it on the day we first arrived at San Jose del Pacifico.

YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Empidonax flaviventris) [b]

A common wintering species on the Gulf slope.

LEAST FLYCATCHER (Empidonax minimus) [b]

A common wintering Empid in lowlands of both slopes.

HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER (Empidonax hammondii) [b]

Common in the montane forests of San Jose del Pacifico.

PINE FLYCATCHER (Empidonax affinis)

Some folks had brief views of this resident Empid in the forests near San Jose del Pacifico.

CORDILLERAN FLYCATCHER (Empidonax occidentalis)

Common in the mountains of both slopes, but often well-hidden, so that voice is all that gives them away.

BLACK PHOEBE (Sayornis nigricans)

Tied closely to water, where we saw it along the river as we descended from Pluma Hidalgo to Huatulco and again near Valle Nacional.

VERMILION FLYCATCHER (Pyrocephalus rubinus)

Mostly around our hotel in Oaxaca City.

BRIGHT-RUMPED ATTILA (Attila spadiceus)

Great views of this often difficult species in the magic fruiting tree at Bethania!

DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tuberculifer)

Fairly common in forested areas.

NUTTING'S FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus nuttingi)

Present in the drier woodlands of Huatulco and Tehuantepec.

GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus crinitus) [b]

Present in the Gulf lowlands.

BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHER (ARIZONA) (Myiarchus tyrannulus magister)

Mostly around Huatulco and Tehuantepec.

GREAT KISKADEE (Pitangus sulphuratus)

Nearly everywhere!

BOAT-BILLED FLYCATCHER (Megarynchus pitangua)

A huskier version of the last, seen on both slopes.

Field Guides Birding Tours
This Nazca Booby swung by our boat on our Huatulco pelagic trip. Photo by tour participants David and Judy Smith.

SOCIAL FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes similis)

Nearly daily!

PIRATIC FLYCATCHER (Legatus leucophaius)

Found around nesting colonies of oropendolas, we heard freshly arrived migrants singing on the Gulf slope.

TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus)

An everyday bird of the tour.

CASSIN'S KINGBIRD (Tyrannus vociferans) [b]

Mostly around Oaxaca City.

THICK-BILLED KINGBIRD (Tyrannus crassirostris)

Just one day at La Soledad.

SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER (Tyrannus forficatus) [b]

An evening flight at Barra Santa Teresa followed by a few perched birds at Ojo de Agua was nice.

Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)

RUFOUS-BROWED PEPPERSHRIKE (NORTHERN) (Cyclarhis gujanensis flaviventris) [*]

CHESTNUT-SIDED SHRIKE-VIREO (Vireolanius melitophrys)

Great views of this Hulk version of Chestnut-sided Warbler in the pine forests near San Jose del Pacifico.

GREEN SHRIKE-VIREO (Vireolanius pulchellus) [*]

Drat, heard only.

LESSER GREENLET (Pachysylvia decurtata)

A common member of mixed flocks on the Gulf slope.

GOLDEN VIREO (Vireo hypochryseus) [E]

Good views as Pluma Hidalgo.

WHITE-EYED VIREO (Vireo griseus) [b]

Fairly common on the Gulf slope.

BELL'S VIREO (Vireo bellii)

Seen on a couple of days on the Pacific slope and around Tehuantepec.

HUTTON'S VIREO (Vireo huttoni)

Common in the pine forests of San Jose del Pacifico.

YELLOW-THROATED VIREO (Vireo flavifrons) [b]

An occasional member of mixed flocks on the Gulf slope.

CASSIN'S VIREO (Vireo cassinii) [b]

Seen by some around San Jose del Pacifico.

BLUE-HEADED VIREO (Vireo solitarius) [b]

Occasional birds seen.

WARBLING VIREO (Vireo gilvus) [b]

Mostly in the drier Pacific slope habitats.

BROWN-CAPPED VIREO (Vireo leucophrys)

Julie and some others saw this in the cloudforest above Valle Nacional.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Lilac-crowned Parrot occurs in dry forest across West Mexico. We saw this one near Huatulco. Photo by guide Dan Lane.
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)

WHITE-THROATED JAY (Cyanolyca mirabilis) [E*]

Oof, how frustrating! This rare and local species called loudly but refused to come into view for us near San Jose del Pacifico.

AZURE-HOODED JAY (Cyanolyca cucullata)

Another sneaky jay that only gave us brief glimpses on the Gulf slope cloudforests.


A common and bold species we enjoyed fully on the Pacific slope!

BROWN JAY (Psilorhinus morio)

Common on the Gulf slope, usually mobbing something (like forest-falcons).

GREEN JAY (Cyanocorax yncas) [*]

STELLER'S JAY (Cyanocitta stelleri)

Around San Jose del Pacifico and again at our final lunch at El Colibri.

UNICOLORED JAY (Aphelocoma unicolor)

Some good views in the cloudforest above Valle Nacional.

COMMON RAVEN (Corvus corax)

Seen as we drove out of Oaxaca City and again at the Mirador stop our last day back towards Oaxaca City.

Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)

MEXICAN CHICKADEE (Poecile sclateri)

Seen in the pine forests around San Jose del Pacifico.

Hirundinidae (Swallows)

NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)

GRAY-BREASTED MARTIN (Progne chalybea)

Apparently nesting by the pool of our hotel in Huatulco.

MANGROVE SWALLOW (Tachycineta albilinea)

This tropical version of Tree Swallows was around water in the lowlands of both slopes.

VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW (Tachycineta thalassina) [b]

Mostly at higher elevations in the southern mountains.

BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica) [b]

Seen in the Oaxaca valley our first full day. These were migrants headed north.

Aegithalidae (Long-tailed Tits)

BUSHTIT (MELANOTIS GROUP) (Psaltriparus minimus melanotis)

Near San Jose del Pacifico. Males here are the "Black-eared" form, even females can show a little black on the face. At present considered conspecific with more northerly forms.

Certhiidae (Treecreepers)

BROWN CREEPER (ALBESCENS/ALTICOLA) (Certhia americana alticola)

A denizen of pine woods in the mountains.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Slate-colored Solitaire has one of the most beautiful songs of any bird in Mexico. We heard many and saw a few along the road above Valle Nacional. Photo by tour participant Steve Parrish.
Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)

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

We had very nice views of this often-skulky vine tangle specialist.

BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER (Polioptila caerulea) [b]

WHITE-LORED GNATCATCHER (Polioptila albiloris)

The common gnatcatcher, especially around the Isthmus area.

Troglodytidae (Wrens)

SUMICHRAST'S WREN (Hylorchilus sumichrasti) [E]

Wow, what a cool wren! It looks more like a kiwi, and sneaks around on the limestone walls like a rodent. We enjoyed hearing their loud songs and then playing hide-and-seek with one that may have had a hidden nest nearby in the limestone.

HOUSE WREN (Troglodytes aedon)

A bird at Valle Nacional may have been a northern migrant or a local resident. If the latter, that population is part of a group of subspecies that are called "Tropical House Wren" and are split off from North American migratory forms by some authors.

HOUSE WREN (BROWN-THROATED) (Troglodytes aedon brunneicollis)

Another population that has been split off from northern House Wrens, this one is found in pine and pine-oak forests in the Mexican mountains, such as near San Jose del Pacifico.

BEWICK'S WREN (Thryomanes bewickii)

Around Oaxaca city.

BAND-BACKED WREN (Campylorhynchus zonatus)

The lowland Gulf slope member of the widespread, mostly tropical, genus Campylorhynchus. Their voices ain't much to write home about.

GRAY-BARRED WREN (Campylorhynchus megalopterus)

These were in the pines just outside of the Restaurante Colibri our last day.

RUFOUS-NAPED WREN (Campylorhynchus rufinucha)

Seen on several days on the Pacific coast and Isthmus area of this patchily-distributed species with many subspecies. The one we saw is C. r. humilis, which has been proposed as a split and called "Sclater's Wren."

SPOT-BREASTED WREN (Pheugopedius maculipectus)

Common and noisy on the Gulf slope.

HAPPY WREN (Pheugopedius felix) [E]

The Pacific slope replacement of the last.

BANDED WREN (Thryophilus pleurostictus)

A bubbly songster we saw well at Ojo de Agua.

WHITE-BREASTED WOOD-WREN (Henicorhina leucosticta) [*]

Frustratingly difficult to see.

GRAY-BREASTED WOOD-WREN (Henicorhina leucophrys)

This one showed well our last morning in the cloudforest above Valle Nacional.

Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)

BLUE MOCKINGBIRD (Melanotis caerulescens) [E*]

Heard singing near the hotel in Oaxaca City.

GRAY CATBIRD (Dumetella carolinensis) [b]

Common on the Gulf slope.

CURVE-BILLED THRASHER (Toxostoma curvirostre)

Another mimid we saw around our hotel in Oaxaca City.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Guides Jorge Montejo (left), Dan Lane (center) and Micah Riegner after a successful morning of birding near Tehuantepec. Photo by driver Jorge Herrera.


We saw this one on Barra Santa Theresa.

Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)

BROWN-BACKED SOLITAIRE (Myadestes occidentalis)

Common, although difficult to see, in the pine forests around San Jose del Pacifico.

SLATE-COLORED SOLITAIRE (Myadestes unicolor)

What an amazing voice! We were treated to two glorious mornings of this song in the cloudforests above Valle Nacional.

RUSSET NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (Catharus occidentalis) [E]

Seen in the pine forests around San Jose del Pacifico.


Unfortunately, we only heard this one above Valle Nacional. It does have an impressive voice, though!


A rather attractive tropical relative of our Hermit Thrush that we enjoyed in the cloudforests above Valle Nacional.

SWAINSON'S THRUSH (Catharus ustulatus) [b]

Mostly a voice in the forests around Pluma Hidalgo.

WOOD THRUSH (Hylocichla mustelina) [b]

A common but skulking wintering species on the Gulf slope.

WHITE-THROATED THRUSH (Turdus assimilis) [*]


Common on the Gulf slope and in Oaxaca city.

AMERICAN ROBIN (Turdus migratorius)

The birds we saw around San Jose del Pacifico are among the most southerly of this familiar species.

RUFOUS-BACKED ROBIN (Turdus rufopalliatus) [E]

Common on the Pacific slope and at Oaxaca city.

Ptiliogonatidae (Silky-flycatchers)

GRAY SILKY-FLYCATCHER (Ptiliogonys cinereus)

A relative of our Phainopepla

Peucedramidae (Olive Warbler)

OLIVE WARBLER (Peucedramus taeniatus)

Now in its own family, this attractive not-Olive not-Warbler is found in the pine forests of the mountains around San Jose del Pacifico.

Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]

Watching a Crested Guan traipse through the treetops above Valle Nacional was quite an adrenaline rush. Video by guide Micah Riegner.
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)

ELEGANT EUPHONIA (Chlorophonia elegantissima)

Split from the Blue-hooded Euphonia several years ago, and now recently reclassified as a Chlorophonia, this species is tricky.

BLUE-CROWNED CHLOROPHONIA (Chlorophonia occipitalis)

A monstrously-sized chlorophonia, but we saw it well in the cloudforest above Valle Nacional. Doug got us on the first one.

SCRUB EUPHONIA (Euphonia affinis)

Fairly common in the lowland forests of both slopes.


A few on the Gulf slope. This euphonia has a female-like male plumage.

HOUSE FINCH (Haemorhous mexicanus)

Only around Oaxaca city.

RED CROSSBILL (Loxia curvirostra)

A pair was in the pine forest near San Jose del Pacifico. This form is a large-billed type that specializes on the large cones of the pines in those mountains.

BLACK-HEADED SISKIN (Spinus notatus)

Great views of this lovely siskin near the grasshopper spot at San Jose del Pacifico.

LESSER GOLDFINCH (Spinus psaltria)

Passerellidae (New World Sparrows)

COMMON CHLOROSPINGUS (NORTHEAST MEXICO) (Chlorospingus flavopectus ophthalmicus)

This was the blackish-crowned form we saw in the Gulf slope cloudforest.

COMMON CHLOROSPINGUS (SOUTHWEST MEXICO) (Chlorospingus flavopectus albifrons)

And this was the grayer-crowned form we saw on the Pacific slope. This species is a very widespread montane bird (formerly called "bush-tanager" but now known to be an American sparrow!) found from Mexico to Argentina. No doubt, the complex will be split into many species, so it's worth keeping track of which ones you see for when that moment comes.

CINNAMON-TAILED SPARROW (Peucaea sumichrasti) [E]

Also called "Sumichrast's Sparrow" and endemic to a small area on the Pacific side of the Isthmus. We had great views of the bird at Ojo de Agua.

STRIPE-HEADED SPARROW (Peucaea ruficauda)

Another large sparrow on the Pacific slope, this one looks a bit like a weird White-crowned Sparrow.

OLIVE SPARROW (Arremonops rufivirgatus)

The same species some may know from south Texas. We encountered it the last morning in Huatulco.

ORANGE-BILLED SPARROW (Arremon aurantiirostris) [*]

CHESTNUT-CAPPED BRUSHFINCH (CHESTNUT-CAPPED) (Arremon brunneinucha brunneinucha)

Nice views in the pine forest near San Jose del Pacifico.

YELLOW-EYED JUNCO (Junco phaeonotus)

Like the last, this one was in the pine forests on the mountains around San Jose del Pacifico

LINCOLN'S SPARROW (Melospiza lincolnii) [b]

A bird at San Jose del Pacifico skulked in the bushes around our lodge.

WHITE-THROATED TOWHEE (Melozone albicollis) [E]

Mostly at Oaxaca city, but a pair or two were at the lodge at San Jose del Pacifico.

RUSTY SPARROW (Aimophila rufescens)

Seen at Pluma Hidalgo, and heard later near Valle Nacional.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Wedge-tailed Shearwaters feeding off the coast of Huatulco. Photo by tour participant Steve Parrish.

SPOTTED TOWHEE (Pipilo maculatus)

Although the same species as gets into the western US and Canada, the form here has a greenish back.

COLLARED TOWHEE (Pipilo ocai) [E]

We saw this attractive towhee at San Jose del Pacifico and again at the Restaurante Colibri.

RUFOUS-CAPPED BRUSHFINCH (Atlapetes pileatus) [E]

Another large sparrow we encountered at San Jose del Pacifico and Restaurante Colibri.

Icteriidae (Yellow-breasted Chat)

YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT (Icteria virens) [b]

One didn't keep a low-enough profile and we saw it on Barra Santa Theresa.

Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)

YELLOW-BILLED CACIQUE (Amblycercus holosericeus)

Brief glimpses of this understory skulker near Bethania.

YELLOW-WINGED CACIQUE (Cassiculus melanicterus) [E]

A flashy icterid we enjoyed watching and listening to on the Pacific slope.


We saw this large icterid best at the Tody Motmot spot above Valle Nacional.

MONTEZUMA OROPENDOLA (Psarocolius montezuma)

A monstrous-sized passerine with an impressive voice that we saw on the Gulf slope. That colorful facial skin is quite fetching!

BLACK-VENTED ORIOLE (Icterus wagleri)

In the San Jose del Pacifico area.

ORCHARD ORIOLE (ORCHARD) (Icterus spurius spurius) [b]

Seen most places.

HOODED ORIOLE (Icterus cucullatus) [b]

We had a couple around the lodge at San Jose del Pacifico

STREAK-BACKED ORIOLE (Icterus pustulatus)

Mostly in the lowlands of the Pacific slope and around Tehuantepec.

BULLOCK'S ORIOLE (Icterus bullockii) [b]

A fine male was at the lodge at San Jose del Pacifico.

SPOT-BREASTED ORIOLE (Icterus pectoralis)

Nice views of this large oriole in the deciduous forests of the Pacific slope.

ALTAMIRA ORIOLE (Icterus gularis)

Found in lowlands of both slopes.

BALTIMORE ORIOLE (Icterus galbula) [b]

Mostly around San Jose del Pacifico.

BRONZED COWBIRD (Molothrus aeneus)


Around the Tehuantepec area.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Our group at an overlook above Valle Nacional. Drone photo by guide Micah Riegner.


Common on the Gulf slope.

GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus)


Parulidae (New World Warblers)

WORM-EATING WARBLER (Helmitheros vermivorum) [b]

One was seen by a few at the Bethania spot.

LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia motacilla) [b]

We had this in a streambed the day we drove from San Jose del Pacifico to Huatulco.

BLUE-WINGED WARBLER (Vermivora cyanoptera) [b]

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

Present in several spots in forest habitats.

CRESCENT-CHESTED WARBLER (Oreothlypis superciliosa)

Seen on several days around San Jose del Pacifico.

TENNESSEE WARBLER (Leiothlypis peregrina) [b]

A migrant we had around San Jose del Pacifico.

ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER (Leiothlypis celata) [b]

Similar to the last.

NASHVILLE WARBLER (Leiothlypis ruficapilla) [b]

Widespread at many sites along the route.

GRAY-CROWNED YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis poliocephala)

One of the birds we had on our first visit to the Tody Motmot spot.

MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLER (Geothlypis tolmiei) [b]

Mostly around San Jose del Pacifico.

KENTUCKY WARBLER (Geothlypis formosa) [b]

We called up one of these skulking migrants in the foothills above Valle Nacional.

HOODED YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis nelsoni) [E]

A fine male eventually came in for a view at our lodge at San Jose del Pacifico.

HOODED WARBLER (Setophaga citrina) [b]

Pretty common, but hard to see, in the Gulf lowlands.

AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla) [b]

As with many of the eastern migrant warblers, we had this in the Gulf lowlands.

NORTHERN PARULA (Setophaga americana) [b]

TROPICAL PARULA (Setophaga pitiayumi)

Nice eye-level view of a male singing in the canopy of a tree at Pluma Hidalgo.

MAGNOLIA WARBLER (Setophaga magnolia) [b]

Another Gulf slope bird we saw in good numbers.

Field Guides Birding Tours
This Golden-crowned Emerald posed nicely in the cloud forest above Huatulco. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.

YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia) [b]

Mostly on the Pacific slope.

CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER (Setophaga pensylvanica) [b]

YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (AUDUBON'S) (Setophaga coronata auduboni)

Although most probably were migrants from farther north, there is a breeding population in the mountains of Oaxaca.

GRACE'S WARBLER (Setophaga graciae) [b]

A surprise was one of these lovelies in the pine forests near San Jose del Pacifico. A rare wintering species in the area.

TOWNSEND'S WARBLER (Setophaga townsendi) [b]

A common member of flocks (and mobs!) in the mountains of San Jose del Pacifico.

HERMIT WARBLER (Setophaga occidentalis) [b]

Much like the last.

GOLDEN-CHEEKED WARBLER (Setophaga chrysoparia) [b]

All right! Jorge got us on this much-coveted Texas specialty as she migrated along the Gulf slope from Guatemala! It was a brief, but fairly good look!


Mostly a Gulf slope species on this tour.

FAN-TAILED WARBLER (Basileuterus lachrymosus)

Seen briefly at Pluma Hidalgo and again, better perhaps, at Bethania.

RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER (Basileuterus rufifrons)

We had this species in both mountain ranges. Birds on the Gulf slope are variable, some appearing yellower overall.

GOLDEN-BROWED WARBLER (Basileuterus belli)

A real stunner we had in the higher parts of both mountain ranges.

GOLDEN-CROWNED WARBLER (Basileuterus culicivorus)

Some got views near Pluma Hidalgo/La Soledad, and we heard it again on the Gulf slope.

WILSON'S WARBLER (Cardellina pusilla) [b]

A common migrant in most forested areas.

RED WARBLER (Cardellina rubra) [E]

A real crowd-pleaser that was high on several folks' wanted lists! In the pine forests of both mountain ranges.

SLATE-THROATED REDSTART (Myioborus miniatus miniatus)

In both mountain ranges.

Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)

HEPATIC TANAGER (NORTHERN) (Piranga flava hepatica)

A few sightings near San Jose del Pacifico.

SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra) [b]

We encountered this migrant in the mid and lower elevations of both slopes where there was evergreen forest.

WESTERN TANAGER (Piranga ludoviciana) [b]

On both slopes in most evergreen forests.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Participant Steve Parrish photographed this Rufous-capped Warbler gathering nesting material.

FLAME-COLORED TANAGER (Piranga bidentata)

After strangely missing it on the Pacific slope, we had this lovely species in the cloudforest above Valle Nacional.

WHITE-WINGED TANAGER (Piranga leucoptera) [*]

I pointed out the voice of this Scarlet Tanager look-alike above Valle Nacional, and I believe Stephen saw it.

RED-HEADED TANAGER (Piranga erythrocephala) [E]

We had to work for this flashy tanager on the La Soledad road.

RED-CROWNED ANT-TANAGER (Habia rubica) [*]


Several seen on the Gulf slope.

BLACK-FACED GROSBEAK (Caryothraustes poliogaster)

A peculiar canopy grosbeak of Gulf slope lowland forests, we had this well at the Bethania site.

NORTHERN CARDINAL (Cardinalis cardinalis)

What a looker here! These are the "Long-crested Cardinal" form of the Pacific coast that are super-red on the males and cinnamon without much red (except the bill) on the females. The latter also sport an obvious black mask, unlike the forms we know in the US. They are a feature of the deciduous forests around Huatulco.

ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus ludovicianus) [b]

Mostly on the Gulf slope.

BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus melanocephalus) [b]

Found in both mountain ranges, and the species breeds in Oaxaca.

RED-BREASTED CHAT (Granatellus venustus) [E]

Long considered a wood warbler, this genus (with three species, including one on the Yucatan and another in South America) is now known to be a member of the bunting and cardinal family! Its voice is a dead giveaway.

BLUE BUNTING (Cyanocompsa parellina)

We had fleeting glimpses on the Pacific slope in the deciduous woodlands there... and after relistening to my recordings from Bethania, I realized I had been calling it "Blue-black Grosbeak!" So if you heard that there, it was in fact Blue Bunting!

BLUE GROSBEAK (Passerina caerulea) [b]

INDIGO BUNTING (Passerina cyanea) [b]

A fairly common migrant we saw on the Gulf slope especially.

ROSE-BELLIED BUNTING (Passerina rositae) [E]

This, the Rosita's Bunting, is one of the highlights of the tour, and we certainly had great views of this electric blue and pink beauty (and the more modestly-plumaged females, which are lovely in their own right!) at Ojo de Agua.

ORANGE-BREASTED BUNTING (Passerina leclancherii) [E]

More widespread along the Pacific slope, we nevertheless saw it best at Ojo de Agua alongside the last. Hard to decide which species is more impressive! So, let's not rank them, and simply enjoy them.

PAINTED BUNTING (Passerina ciris) [b]

Seen on both slopes, but particularly on the Gulf slope, including a few colorful males.

Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)

CRIMSON-COLLARED TANAGER (Ramphocelus sanguinolentus)

An attractive species of the Gulf slope.

BLUE-GRAY TANAGER (Thraupis episcopus)

This and the next species were around Valle Nacional.


GOLDEN-HOODED TANAGER (Stilpnia larvata)

Our only "Tangara" tanager, although that genus has recently been reorganized and this one is no longer within it... but so what, I'm still calling it a "Tangara"!


A really fetching species we encountered on both slopes in evergreen forest. Those flashing yellow underwings of the males are surprising!

CINNAMON-BELLIED FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa baritula baritula)

A tanager that steals nectar from hummingbird flowers with the help of its bill. We had this one at San Jose del Pacifico.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Short-beaked Common Dolphins were among the four species of dolphins we saw on our Huatulco pelagic trip. Photo by guide Micah Riegner

BLUE-BLACK GRASSQUIT (Volatinia jacarina splendens)

A widespread lowland bird from Mexico to Argentina. We spotted it around Valle Nacional.

THICK-BILLED SEED-FINCH (Sporophila funerea)

A female showed well for us on the slopes above Valle Nacional.

VARIABLE SEEDEATER (BLACK) (Sporophila corvina corvina)

Within minutes of the last, and a good comparison of the two as they look very similar!

MORELET'S SEEDEATER (Sporophila morelleti)

Also at the same spot as the last two. Must have been a very seedy place!

BANANAQUIT (Coereba flaveola)

Not uncommon on the Gulf slope.


Also at the same spot as the various seedeaters above.


We had this species near Valle Nacional, alongside the next two saltators.

BLACK-HEADED SALTATOR (Saltator atriceps)

This species was at Pluma Hidalgo as well as on the Gulf slope.


Until recently called "Grayish Saltator" but that species has been split into three, and this is the Middle American form.


MEXICAN GRAY SQUIRREL (Sciurus aureogaster)

This squirrel was around the hotel at Oaxaca city and in both mountain ranges.

VARIEGATED SQUIRREL (Sciurus variegatoides)

A handsome species we saw at Huatulco.

BOTTLENOSE DOLPHIN (Tursiops truncatus)

Our dolphin list was excellent during the pelagic!

SPINNER DOLPHIN (Stenella longirostris)



HUMPBACK WHALE (Megaptera novaeangliae)

A few lucky folks may have gotten a glimpse of the spouts of these baleen whales.

TAYRA (Eira barbara)

A couple of folks caught a glimpse of this large weasel relative our last morning as we birded the last spot in the cloudforest before heading on to lunch. Too bad it didn't come back in to squeaking.

Totals for the tour: 379 bird taxa and 8 mammal taxa