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Field Guides Tour Report
Christmas in Oaxaca 2018
Dec 22, 2018 to Dec 29, 2018
Tom Johnson & Dan Lane

Red Warbler is an endemic of the Oaxaca region that we saw very well in the forests of Cerro San Felipe. Photo by participant Francois Grenon.

Oaxaca is a magical place: it has an impressive mixture of a rich cultural history, fine cuisine, impressive topography, and some really special flora and fauna. In fact, I’d argue that these three things go hand in hand. The valley is the cradle for some of the most important events in the history of humans in the western hemisphere—most importantly, the invention of maize. The Oaxaca valley’s elevation, east-west orientation, tropical day-lengths, and comfortable climate made it a perfect agricultural cornucopia (pun intended!). This, in turn, led to the cuisine we get to enjoy on the tour. The valley is ringed by some impressive mountains that allow for a local climate that leans somewhat to the drier side of “mesic” but it doesn’t take much work to get upslope to where increased rainfall results in an impressive and humbling pine-oak forest which, at its highest point, includes some absolutely huge and old weeping pines that belie the foresight of the locals to protect this patriarchal habitat from over-exploitation, as has happened in too many other corners of the world. The view from the ancient capital city at the heart of the valley, also sitting in the middle of the modern city—namely the ruins of Monte Alban—are awe-inspiring, and our local guide, Jorge, provided an excellent explanation for why this site was chosen for its strategic strengths in ruling the people of the valley and protecting it from invasion.

Then, there is the flora and fauna. The Oaxaca valley is, as I stated above, quite diverse, with arid cactus-laden deciduous brush on its floor, giving way to oak scrub, then dry pine-oak woodland, and finally the majestic pine-oak-Douglas-fir forest I mentioned earlier. The isolation of the drier vegetation allowed this valley to be one of the main centers of endemism in western Mexico, sporting nearly thirty country endemics within the valley and surrounding mountains, with several being more tightly constrained to the immediate Oaxaca region. These range from the rather bland-looking White-throated Towhee, perhaps one of the first and easiest of the endemics we are likely to see upon arriving here, to the striking Red Warbler or Dwarf Jay of the high montane forests of Cerro San Felipe, or the three vireos (Dwarf, Golden, and Slaty) that we seek in the scrub on the walls of the valley. The columnar cacti of sites such as Yagul and the dense banks of Salvia flowers higher in the mountains are attractive sources of nectar for the high-strung and entertaining hummingbirds such as Beautiful and Dusky (in the former) or Bumblebee and White-eared (not an endemic in this case, but you get the idea) in the latter. The intertwining of natural and human-altered landscapes here is inescapable, with the ruins showing us how past civilization used the valley, and more modern enterprises, such as the Rancho Zapata mescal plant and the Mendoza family’s Teotitlan restaurant and weaving workshop, providing a window into the current culture and how it has adapted to globalization while retaining the roots from the ancestors.

Our tour allowed us to enjoy both the cultural and the natural aspects of the Oaxaca valley, and we all took away some fine memories. These include the top-voted birds of the trip, such as the fine views we had of the Fulvous Owl on Cerro San Felipe, the colorful and not-too-shy Russet-crowned Motmot at KM 77, the Ocellated Thrasher that finally showed well for us at Monte Alban, the fancy Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo we enjoyed at Rio Verde. The very un-towhee-like Collared Towhee caught the eyes of some, as did the attractive Gray-breasted Woodpecker, and the mysterious Mexican Whip-poor-will crouching on the wall of a quarry pit in the forest. The sad look on the face of that Cedar Waxwing at Monte Alban was almost heartbreaking. On the other hand, the brilliant plumage of the Orange-breasted Bunting and that fine male Red-headed Tanager was thrilling! The majestic forests on the higher mountain slopes rang with the tinkling song of Brown-backed Solitaires and we enjoyed the crowds of Gray Silky-Flycatchers as they swarmed the oaks and pines, the orange-headed Olive Warblers as they mobbed our owl tape, and the occasional Rose-throated Becard that joined the mixed jay and wren flocks that moved through the canopy there, the cluster of Black-headed Siskins we enjoyed our last morning as they took in the sun on top of an oak, or the chases of the Blue-throated Hummingbirds through the Salvias at Rio Verde. Lower down, the cute Tufted Flycatchers sallied from branches for insects, showing off their rufous plumage, the various orioles we enjoyed, especially along the switchbacks above Teotitlan, including the particularly attractive Black-vented Orioles that probed the white flowering trees, and the groups of Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jays that bounced around the oaks and scrub on the slopes. Near the floor of the valley, we enjoyed the attractive Bridled Sparrows, the Rufous-backed Robins that were gorging on pepper tree fruits, the White-tailed Hawks that circled over the Yagul ruins, and that distant, but visible, Pileated Flycatcher we spied across the valley at Monte Alban!

In all, it was a fine tour, and I hope we’ll have another opportunity to bird together again sometime soon. Meanwhile, I say on behalf of Tom and myself, “mantenga un ojo al cielo y los binoculares a mano” (keep an eye on the sky and your binoculars close by)!


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

We enjoyed some interesting local history and culture as well. Here, the group takes in a panoramic view of the ruins at Yagul. Photo by guide Dan Lane.

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Spatula discors)
RUDDY DUCK (Oxyura jamaicensis) – The more common of the two ducks on the Presa Piedra Azul above Teotitlan.
Odontophoridae (New World Quail)
LONG-TAILED WOOD-PARTRIDGE (Dendrortyx macroura) – Ouch, so painful! We heard several pairs of these large quail, but none quite popped into the open. [E*]
Podicipedidae (Grebes)
LEAST GREBE (Tachybaptus dominicus) – Large numbers on Presa Piedra Azul.
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias)
GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)
SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)
LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea)
CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis)
Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus)
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
WHITE-TAILED KITE (Elanus leucurus) – Mostly seen in the floor of the valley along the drive east of Oaxaca city.

One of the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls that we saw was captured nicely in a photograph by participant Robert Sprague.

NORTHERN HARRIER (Circus hudsonius) – One flyover at Yagul and another at Monte Alban.
SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (Accipiter striatus) – One flyby our first morning at Teotitlan.
COOPER'S HAWK (Accipiter cooperii)
WHITE-TAILED HAWK (Geranoaetus albicaudatus) – Nice views at Yagul.
GRAY HAWK (Buteo plagiatus) – Only a quick glimpse along the highway near the east end of Oaxaca city.
SHORT-TAILED HAWK (Buteo brachyurus) – One flyby at KM77.
ZONE-TAILED HAWK (Buteo albonotatus) – Francois spotted one for the group at Monte Alban.
RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis) – Seen daily, including North American migrants and local residents (with orange-tinted undersides).
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
AMERICAN COOT (Fulica americana) – This and the next few species were at Presa Piedra Azul.
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus)
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla)
SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius)

The Brown-backed Solitaire is not the most colorful bird that we saw, but it has one of the most amazing songs. We heard them on several days, and got a great look at this one on Cerro San Filipe. Photo by participant Francois Grenon.

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) – Seen on most days. Woo hoo! [I]
BAND-TAILED PIGEON (Patagioenas fasciata) – A large flock showed well for us on our first day at Cerro San Felipe.
INCA DOVE (Columbina inca) – A common species at the hotel.
COMMON GROUND-DOVE (Columbina passerina) – A couple of glimpses, mostly in flight.
WHITE-TIPPED DOVE (Leptotila verreauxi) – Another dove that only provided quick flyby views.
WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenaida asiatica)
MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura) – Mostly in the floor of the valley, for example near Teotitlan town and at Yagul.
Strigidae (Owls)
FLAMMULATED OWL (Psiloscops flammeolus) – At least three birds heard, but the best view was a flash as one passed through Tom's beam.
WHISKERED SCREECH-OWL (Megascops trichopsis) – Two birds heard. [*]
NORTHERN PYGMY-OWL (MOUNTAIN) (Glaucidium gnoma gnoma) – At least two birds seen, including a nice reddish morph bird at Yuvila.
FERRUGINOUS PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium brasilianum) – A responsive bird at KM77 was nice.
FULVOUS OWL (Strix fulvescens) – Great views of this Barred Owl relative. Voted best bird of the trip!

This Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo didn't stay for prolonged views, but we still had a good look at it. Photo by guide Dan Lane.

Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)
MEXICAN WHIP-POOR-WILL (Antrostomus arizonae) – Fine views of this montane nightjar. One flew over just after dinner, and a second was perched on the quarry wall a little lower down the road.
Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)
MEXICAN VIOLETEAR (Colibri thalassinus) – Formerly part of Green Violetear, which has recently been split into two species (the other, Lesser Violetear, occurring from Costa Rica to Argentina).
RIVOLI'S HUMMINGBIRD (Eugenes fulgens) – Until recently, called Magnificent Hummingbird, but the Talamanca Hummingbird of Costa Rica has recently been split off, so the northern species has reverted to its historic name Rivoli's. We enjoyed these at Cerro San Felipe, Yuvila, and Carmen's Colibri restaurant.
PLAIN-CAPPED STARTHROAT (Heliomaster constantii) – A bird or two investigated the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl we drew up at KM77.
BLUE-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Lampornis clemenciae) – A high-speed duel happened in front of us at Rio Verde among several individuals.
BEAUTIFUL HUMMINGBIRD (Calothorax pulcher) – Tom's persistence paid off with a female at Yagul. [E]
RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Archilochus colubris) – One of the most common hummers in the floor of the Oaxaca valley. Mostly females, but one or two males were around.
BUMBLEBEE HUMMINGBIRD (Atthis heloisa) – A pair were expert hide-and-seek players at Yuvila. [E]
BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD (Selasphorus platycercus) – A female at Yuvila provided some views.
RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD (Selasphorus rufus) – Seen on two days at middle and upper elevations.
DUSKY HUMMINGBIRD (Cynanthus sordidus) – A common hummer in the lower, drier habitats. [E]
BERYLLINE HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia beryllina) – Seen on most days, particularly in lower, drier habitats. [E]

Gray Silky-Flycatchers were common in the pine-oaks woodlands we visited. Photo by participant Robert Sprague.

GREEN-FRONTED HUMMINGBIRD (CINNAMON-SIDED) (Amazilia viridifrons wagneri) – This lovely species, with the clean white underparts, showed well at KM77. [E]
WHITE-EARED HUMMINGBIRD (Hylocharis leucotis) – Perhaps the most common hummer in the pine-oak forest, but could be hard to see.
Momotidae (Motmots)
RUSSET-CROWNED MOTMOT (Momotus mexicanus) – One sharp looker, and it showed off well for us at KM77!
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon)
Picidae (Woodpeckers)
ACORN WOODPECKER (Melanerpes formicivorus) – Briefly seen and heard at Jilguero above Teotitlan.
GRAY-BREASTED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes hypopolius) – These cactus-loving woodpeckers are basically Gila Woodpeckers with mascara... [E]
GOLDEN-FRONTED WOODPECKER (WEST MEXICO) (Melanerpes aurifrons polygrammus) – A couple of pairs at KM77.
LADDER-BACKED WOODPECKER (Picoides scalaris) – This cousin of the Downy was encountered daily.
HAIRY WOODPECKER (SOUTH MEXICAN) (Picoides villosus jardinii) – The Hairys here are darker than ours back home. A bit of a surprise!
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
CRESTED CARACARA (Caracara cheriway)
AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius)
PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus) – A fine pair zipped around Yagul, and another was at KM77.

This gorgeous Fulvous Owl was the Bird of the Trip, and no wonder! We had a great view of this cooperative individual. Photo by participant Francois Grenon.

Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)
YELLOW-HEADED PARROT (Amazona oratrix) – Heard at our hotel. These are birds that have populated the city from escaped cagebirds. [I*]
Furnariidae (Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers)
STRONG-BILLED WOODCREEPER (CENTRAL AMERICAN) (Xiphocolaptes promeropirhynchus sclateri) – Apparently taking the holidays off, we only heard this large, galumphing woodcreeper. [*]
WHITE-STRIPED WOODCREEPER (Lepidocolaptes leucogaster) – A bird was vocal on our second visit to Teotitlan, but didn't want to be seen well. [E]
SPOT-CROWNED WOODCREEPER (NORTHERN) (Lepidocolaptes affinis affinis) – Seen well on Cerro San Felipe.
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
GREENISH ELAENIA (WEST MEXICO) (Myiopagis viridicata jaliscensis) – A bird showed well just at the inlet into Presa Piedra Azul.
PILEATED FLYCATCHER (Xenotriccus mexicanus) – Tom spotted the singing bird across the valley from us at the foot of Monte Alban. [E]
TUFTED FLYCATCHER (MEXICAN) (Mitrephanes phaeocercus phaeocercus) – Like a mini-pewee colored rufous.
GREATER PEWEE (Contopus pertinax) – Seen on several days, perhaps best on our final morning at our Oaxaca Sparrow spot.
LEAST FLYCATCHER (Empidonax minimus) – Several seen at KM77... not very much like their preferred breeding habitat!
HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER (Empidonax hammondii) – Several heard and seen in the pine-oak forest on Cerro San Felipe and on the ridge above Teotitlan.
DUSKY FLYCATCHER (Empidonax oberholseri) – Seen mostly in the drier brush and oak belt of the valley and lower slopes.
PINE FLYCATCHER (Empidonax affinis) – We felt vindicated when a "whit"ting Empid above Teotitlan also showed the characters of this poorly-known species!
BLACK PHOEBE (Sayornis nigricans)
VERMILION FLYCATCHER (Pyrocephalus rubinus)
DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tuberculifer) – Heard several times; a pair showed briefly in the hairpins above Teotitlan.
ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus cinerascens) – This and the next species are very similar, but thankfully they can be distinguished by voice and some plumage characters. We often encountered them together!
NUTTING'S FLYCATCHER (NUTTING'S) (Myiarchus nuttingi inquietus)
GREAT KISKADEE (Pitangus sulphuratus) – Heard at least daily.
SOCIAL FLYCATCHER (SOCIAL) (Myiozetetes similis pallidiventris) – A not-very-sociable pair feeding on red pepper berries near Presa Piedra Azul was nice.
TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus) – Mostly around the hotel or in towns.

While most of us are familiar with the House Finch, the subspecies we saw in Oaxaca is more striking than many in the US. Photo by participant Francois Grenon.

CASSIN'S KINGBIRD (Tyrannus vociferans) – Present in small flocks in the floor of the valley and up into the oak zone.
THICK-BILLED KINGBIRD (Tyrannus crassirostris) – We enjoyed this large kingbird at KM77, Teotitlan, and Monte Alban.
WESTERN KINGBIRD (Tyrannus verticalis) – Our best views were perhaps at Monte Alban.
Tityridae (Tityras and Allies)
ROSE-THROATED BECARD (Pachyramphus aglaiae) – A pair on our first day at Cerro San Felipe were a bit sneaky, but a young male at Yuvila showed well.
Laniidae (Shrikes)
LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE (Lanius ludovicianus) – Basically the southernmost place one can see shrikes in the New World.
Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)
CHESTNUT-SIDED SHRIKE-VIREO (Vireolanius melitophrys) – Brief, but good, views of this striking vireo... basically a Hulk version of a Chestnut-sided Warbler.
GOLDEN VIREO (Vireo hypochryseus) – A lovely vireo we saw well at Pollo Nino and Monte Alban. [E]
SLATY VIREO (Vireo brevipennis) – A bird came in for fair, if brief, views on the switchbacks above Teotitlan. [E]
DWARF VIREO (Vireo nelsoni) – This Ruby-crowned Kinglet look-alike allowed us some fair views above Teotitlan. [E]
HUTTON'S VIREO (Vireo huttoni)
CASSIN'S VIREO (Vireo cassinii) – Seen on three days.
BLUE-HEADED VIREO (Vireo solitarius) – Interestingly, seen on the same three days as the last!

Oaxaca is a great place to see a number of large wren species, including the attractive Rufous-naped Wren. Photo by participant Francois Grenon.

WARBLING VIREO (Vireo gilvus) – Daily.
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
DWARF JAY (Cyanolyca nanus) – Two flocks on Cerro San Felipe provided views, the second perhaps better (and below eye level!). [E]
STELLER'S JAY (CENTRAL AMERICAN) (Cyanocitta stelleri coronata) – A noisy and sociable bird in the pine-oak forests. The ones here differ from more northerly birds by having bluer crests and white eyebrows.
WOODHOUSE'S SCRUB-JAY (SUMICHRAST'S) (Aphelocoma woodhouseii sumichrasti) – A bird truly of the scrub oak habitats.
COMMON RAVEN (Corvus corax) – One flyby as we prepared dinner on Cerro San Felipe.
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)
VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW (Tachycineta thalassina)
Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)
MEXICAN CHICKADEE (Poecile sclateri) – Nice views of this species that only barely makes it into the US. Some at eye level on Cerro San Felipe were particularly memorable.
BRIDLED TITMOUSE (Baeolophus wollweberi) – Mostly heard.
Aegithalidae (Long-tailed Tits)
BUSHTIT (MELANOTIS GROUP) (Psaltriparus minimus melanotis) – Seen on our second visit to Teotitlan area.
Certhiidae (Treecreepers)
BROWN CREEPER (ALBESCENS/ALTICOLA) (Certhia americana alticola) – There has been some noise about potentially splitting up Brown Creeper. If so, the Mexican populations are certainly a candidate for a split.
Troglodytidae (Wrens)
ROCK WREN (Salpinctes obsoletus) – Fine views on several of the ruin sites.

The habitat at KM 77 is a dry woodland that supports some interesting birds, such as the Russet-crowned Motmot that we saw. Photo by guide Dan Lane.

CANYON WREN (Catherpes mexicanus) – Heard at several sites, with a bird seen at Yagul.
HOUSE WREN (BROWN-THROATED) (Troglodytes aedon brunneicollis) – Considered a separate species from House Wren in the past, but presently included in that species.
BEWICK'S WREN (MEXICANUS GROUP) (Thryomanes bewickii mexicanus)
GRAY-BARRED WREN (Campylorhynchus megalopterus) – A relative of our Cactus Wren, but behaves quite differently, traveling in roving flocks and foraging on mossy pine branches and bromeliads. [E]
RUFOUS-NAPED WREN (SCLATER'S) (Campylorhynchus rufinucha humilis) – A pair at KM77.
BOUCARD'S WREN (Campylorhynchus jocosus) – Much like our Cactus Wren, including its cactophily. [E]
GRAY-BREASTED WOOD-WREN (CENTRAL AMERICAN) (Henicorhina leucophrys mexicana) – This cute woodland sprite showed well on Cerro San Felipe. The species has become the focus of some study, revealing that several species may actually be involved, so expect splits in the future.
Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)
BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER (Polioptila caerulea) – A common species in the valley.
WHITE-LORED GNATCATCHER (Polioptila albiloris) – Only at KM77, but it wasn't rare there.
Regulidae (Kinglets)
GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET (Regulus satrapa) – One seen briefly on Cerro San Felipe
RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET (Regulus calendula) – Fairly common in the pine-oak forest.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
BROWN-BACKED SOLITAIRE (Myadestes occidentalis) – An amazing song we enjoyed on several days. Seen well on Cerro San Felipe.

And here is our Russet-crowned Motmot! What a beauty! Photo by guide Dan Lane.

ORANGE-BILLED NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (Catharus aurantiirostris) [*]
RUSSET NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (Catharus occidentalis) – Several seen well on Cerro San Felipe and Yuvila. [E]
HERMIT THRUSH (Catharus guttatus) – Our best view was of a bird at Monte Alban. It appeared to be the Rockies form, auduboni.
CLAY-COLORED THRUSH (Turdus grayi) – Around the hotel, derived from an introduced population. [I]
WHITE-THROATED THRUSH (WHITE-THROATED) (Turdus assimilis oaxacae) – Fine views of a bird at Rio Verde.
RUFOUS-BACKED ROBIN (Turdus rufopalliatus) – Mostly around the hotel (presumably also from an introduction), but some birds around Teotitlan were a surprise. [I]
AMERICAN ROBIN (MIGRATORIUS GROUP) (Turdus migratorius phillipsi) – The southernmost population of this common North American species are here in Oaxaca.
Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
BLUE MOCKINGBIRD (Melanotis caerulescens) – Heard several times, but perhaps best seen around Teotitlan. [E]
CURVE-BILLED THRASHER (CURVIROSTRE GROUP) (Toxostoma curvirostre curvirostre) – Common on the floor of the valley where there are cacti.
OCELLATED THRASHER (Toxostoma ocellatum) – Alright! After a few frustrating visits to some sites, we scored with a good view of a bird below Monte Alban! [E]
NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos) – About as far south as this familiar bird gets. We saw it at Yagul.
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)
AMERICAN PIPIT (Anthus rubescens) – A few along the shore of Presa Piedra Azul.
Bombycillidae (Waxwings)
CEDAR WAXWING (Bombycilla cedrorum) – Awww. Hard not to feel bad about this poor fella who shot out of a mistletoe upon hearing playback, hoping it was his long lost flock... only to be so alone. So very, very alone...
Ptiliogonatidae (Silky-flycatchers)
GRAY SILKY-FLYCATCHER (Ptiliogonys cinereus) – A common, and rather lovely, denizen of the oak and pine-oak habitats.
Peucedramidae (Olive Warbler)
OLIVE WARBLER (Peucedramus taeniatus) – Not uncommon at higher elevations, we saw them particularly well at Yuvila.
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia motacilla) – A sneaky bird showed briefly at the creek outlet on Presa Piedra Azul.
BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER (Mniotilta varia) – Seen on several days.
CRESCENT-CHESTED WARBLER (Oreothlypis superciliosa) – A Parula-like warbler we saw in the pine-oak forest.
TENNESSEE WARBLER (Oreothlypis peregrina) – One was in a willow at the creek outlet at Presa Piedra Azul.
ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER (Oreothlypis celata) – Seen on several days of the tour.
NASHVILLE WARBLER (Oreothlypis ruficapilla) – A common migrant warbler we saw most days.
VIRGINIA'S WARBLER (Oreothlypis virginiae) – Most common in the lower drier scrub.

It took some looking, but we finally found the Oaxaca Sparrow on our way up to La Cumbre. Photo by participant Robert Sprague.

MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLER (Geothlypis tolmiei) – Encountered on four days, usually hiding in dense brush.
NORTHERN PARULA (Setophaga americana) – Wow, an unusual species to encounter in the Oaxaca valley, with only a few previous records, as far as we could find! We saw it at the lowest switchback above Teotitlan.
YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia) – A bird was foraging in the big fig at the entrance to Mitla.
YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (AUDUBON'S) (Setophaga coronata auduboni) – A common wintering species at most localities.
YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER (Setophaga dominica) – One was seen by some folks around the hotel, another briefly showed in flight at the Tule tree.
BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER (Setophaga nigrescens) – Present in small numbers in the scrub and oak belt on the Teotitlan road.
TOWNSEND'S WARBLER (Setophaga townsendi) – This and the next were fairly common in the upper elevations, with Townsend's perhaps being a bit more broad in habitat choice.
HERMIT WARBLER (Setophaga occidentalis) – Mostly in the pine zone, where it was not rare.
RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER (RUFIFRONS GROUP) (Basileuterus rufifrons rufifrons) – Present in fair numbers in the oak and scrub zone.
GOLDEN-BROWED WARBLER (Basileuterus belli) – A fancy warbler that showed well on Cerro San Felipe.
WILSON'S WARBLER (Cardellina pusilla) – One of the most common warblers in Oaxaca, almost to the point of ignoring them!
RED-FACED WARBLER (Cardellina rubrifrons) – Francois spotted one of these rare wintering beauties on the road above Teotitlan on our second visit there, and we all enjoyed its brilliance!
RED WARBLER (Cardellina rubra) – A striking endemic that we enjoyed fully! [E]

We caught up to the little-known Pine Flycatcher above Teotitlan. Photo by participant Francois Grenon.

PAINTED REDSTART (Myioborus pictus) – Most common in the pine-oak zone above Teotitlan.
SLATE-THROATED REDSTART (Myioborus miniatus miniatus) – Another lovely upper elevation warbler we enjoyed on several days.
Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)
CINNAMON-BELLIED FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa baritula baritula) – A restless female foraged in the Salvias at Rio Verde on both of our visits there.
WHITE-COLLARED SEEDEATER (CINNAMON-RUMPED) (Sporophila torqueola torqueola) – Recently split, this is the endemic Pacific slope form now called "Cinnamon-rumped Seedeater". A small group was being sneaky at Yagul. [E]
Passerellidae (New World Buntings and Sparrows)
BRIDLED SPARROW (Peucaea mystacalis) – A sharp-looking sparrow we enjoyed at KM77 and Yagul. [E]
GRASSHOPPER SPARROW (Ammodramus savannarum) – Two or three birds showed quite well in the grassy flats below Teotitlan.
CHIPPING SPARROW (Spizella passerina) – Encountered at Monte Alban and again at the Oaxaca Sparrow site.
CLAY-COLORED SPARROW (Spizella pallida) – Also in the grassy flats below Teotitlan.
LARK SPARROW (Chondestes grammacus) – Fine views of these striking sparrows below Teotitlan.
CHESTNUT-CAPPED BRUSHFINCH (CHESTNUT-CAPPED) (Arremon brunneinucha suttoni) – This is the Collared Towhee lookalike, but with the puffy cotton ball throat.
YELLOW-EYED JUNCO (Junco phaeonotus) – Several birds around La Cumbre and Yuvila.
LINCOLN'S SPARROW (Melospiza lincolnii) – A bird showed briefly below Teotitlan.

Slaty Vireo is one of the specialties of this tour, and we were able to get a brief, but fairly good look at this one that popped up on the road above Teotitlan. Photo by participant Francois Grenon.

WHITE-THROATED TOWHEE (Melozone albicollis) – One of the most abundant of the local endemics, widespread in the lower elevations of the valley. [E]
OAXACA SPARROW (Aimophila notosticta) – An eleventh hour bird, but seen fairly well at the spot we stopped specifically looking for them on the way up to La Cumbre. [E]
SPOTTED TOWHEE (MACULATUS GROUP) (Pipilo maculatus oaxacae) – At the same locality as the last species, a pair popped out into the open.
COLLARED TOWHEE (Pipilo ocai) – Utterly unlike any other towhee (more like the Chestnut-capped Brushfinch above), but sounds much like one. Good looks at several places. [E]
RUFOUS-CAPPED BRUSHFINCH (Atlapetes pileatus) – A handsome finch we enjoyed at Cerro San Felipe and again at Carmen's Colibri restaurant. [E]
Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)
HEPATIC TANAGER (NORTHERN) (Piranga flava hepatica) – One showed above Teotitlan.
SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra) – Seen on the Teotitlan road and again at Monte Alban.
WESTERN TANAGER (Piranga ludoviciana) – A widespread wintering migrant seen at most places.
RED-HEADED TANAGER (Piranga erythrocephala) – Again, Francois' sharp eyes picked out this rare Pacific coastal endemic at Rio Verde our first day! [E]
ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus ludovicianus) – Seen on several days, occasionally with its congener, the next species.
BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus melanocephalus)
BLUE GROSBEAK (Passerina caerulea) – A small group seen near the highway below Teotitlan.

We visited several archeological sites, including Yagul. Photo by guide Dan Lane.

INDIGO BUNTING (Passerina cyanea) – Several seen at KM77 and also at Monte Alban.
ORANGE-BREASTED BUNTING (Passerina leclancherii) – A small group of these lookers was at KM77, our only site for the species on the tour. [E]
VARIED BUNTING (Passerina versicolor) – We had fleeting views of a male, and better looks at several females, as we were about to leave KM77.
PAINTED BUNTING (Passerina ciris) – A male showed well at the edge of Presa Piedra Azul. Often missed on this tour, so we were lucky!
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
EASTERN MEADOWLARK (Sturnella magna) – Only present in the grassy flats below Teotitlan.
BLACK-VENTED ORIOLE (Icterus wagleri) – Nice views on our last three days of the tour.
STREAK-BACKED ORIOLE (Icterus pustulatus) – The common oriole at KM77.
BULLOCK'S ORIOLE (Icterus bullockii) – A young male was at Monte Alban. A hybrid bird (the other half involving either a Baltimore or a Black-backed) showed well at Pollo Nino.
AUDUBON'S ORIOLE (DICKEY'S) (Icterus graduacauda dickeyae) – A pair showed well on the first switchback above Teotitlan.
SCOTT'S ORIOLE (Icterus parisorum) – At the same place as the last.

Participant Robert Sprague captured this shot of a brilliant Vermilion Flycatcher.

BRONZED COWBIRD (Molothrus aeneus) – A large flock in Oaxaca city one afternoon.
GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus) – Almost entirely within towns.
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
ELEGANT EUPHONIA (Euphonia elegantissima) – Seen best our last day on Yuvila.
HOUSE FINCH (COMMON) (Haemorhous mexicanus roseipectus) – One that always catches folks off guard, the form here is quite striking!
RED CROSSBILL (Loxia curvirostra stricklandi) – Good views at Cerro San Felipe and Yuvila.
BLACK-HEADED SISKIN (Spinus notatus) – A group at Yuvila showed well.
LESSER GOLDFINCH (Spinus psaltria) – Occasionally seen at lower elevations.
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) – Common around people. [I]

EASTERN COTTONTAIL (Sylvilagus floridanus) – The first was an individual stunned on the roadside as we drove to KM77, and others were at Yagul our last day.
MEXICAN GRAY SQUIRREL (Sciurus aureogaster) – This was the attractive squirrel that was particularly common at the hotel.


Totals for the tour: 194 bird taxa and 2 mammal taxa