The state of Oaxaca is at a biogeographic crossroad, where north meets south, and east meets west. And stuck in the middle is an arid, interior bowl, the Valley of Oaxaca. This tour is designed to target many of the specialties found in this special region, and the 2023 tour was full of highlights. One of the biggest highlights had to be our exciting encounter with a couple of Long-tailed Wood-Partridges on Cerro San Felipe. In the same high country, Red Warbler stood out as a favorite as it is not every day you see a bright red warbler with silvery cheeks. There was so much more up there too. The unexpected surprise of a Gray-collared Becard, a quiet flock of Dwarf Jays moving through the epiphyte-laden oaks with Steller’s Jays and Gray-barred Wrens. The oak-pine zone was also home to the massive Strong-billed Woodcreeper, the shocking Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo, Fulvous Owl, Golden-browed Warbler, Collared Towhee, and Chestnut-capped and Rufous-capped brushfinches. Too many to name.
The drier oaks and scrub featured a different assortment of birds with Ocellated Thrasher, Slaty, Dwarf, and Golden vireos, Oaxaca and Bridled sparrows drawing our attention. A morning spent descending the Pacific slope through amazing cactus forests brought with it several more specialties like White-throated Magpie-Jay, Russet-crowned Motmot, White-lored Gnatcatcher, Orange-fronted Parakeet, and Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl.
But it wasn’t simply the birds we took in. Oaxaca is rich in culture, from our lively dinner at the city center to a traditional Zapotec lunch in Teotitlan del Valle followed by a tapestry demonstration, and a visit to the archeological sites at Mitla and the amazing Monte Alban. Our tours are about shared experiences, and Tom and I had a really wonderful time with all of you. Your enthusiasm made the tour. Best wishes and good birding. We look forward to birding with you again in the future.
KEYS FOR THIS LIST
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
BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Spatula discors)
GREEN-WINGED TEAL (Anas crecca)
RING-NECKED DUCK (Aythya collaris)
RUDDY DUCK (Oxyura jamaicensis)
WEST MEXICAN CHACHALACA (Ortalis poliocephala) [E]
We were able to scope some at KM77.
LONG-TAILED WOOD-PARTRIDGE (Dendrortyx macroura) [E]
One of the shyest species in the pine-oak forests of western Mexico. Our persistence paid off with scope studies of this amazing bird!
LEAST GREBE (Tachybaptus dominicus)
Big numbers of these were at the reservoir Piedra Azul.
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]
BAND-TAILED PIGEON (Patagioenas fasciata)
EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto) [I]
INCA DOVE (Columbina inca)
COMMON GROUND DOVE (Columbina passerina)
WHITE-TIPPED DOVE (Leptotila verreauxi) [*]
WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenaida asiatica)
MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura)
LESSER ROADRUNNER (Geococcyx velox)
Heard by all, this species was particularly elusive this time around with several spotting them crossing paths.
SQUIRREL CUCKOO (Piaya cayana)
Very local in the central valley, we had one at Aranjuez.
MEXICAN WHIP-POOR-WILL (Antrostomus arizonae)
Flight views of one on Cerro San Felipe during our owling there.
MEXICAN VIOLETEAR (Colibri thalassinus)
RIVOLI'S HUMMINGBIRD (Eugenes fulgens)
PLAIN-CAPPED STARTHROAT (Heliomaster constantii)
A wonderful encounter with one near the Piedra Azul Reservoir that was flycatching small gnats.
BLUE-THROATED MOUNTAIN-GEM (Lampornis clemenciae)
One at the Colibri Restaurant in the mountains paid several visits there.
BEAUTIFUL HUMMINGBIRD (Calothorax pulcher) [E]
After a lot of searching and close calls, we finally connected with a perched female we could scope.
RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Archilochus colubris)
BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD (Selasphorus platycercus)
DUSKY HUMMINGBIRD (Phaeoptila sordida) [E]
Not much to look at but this species was a common endemic.
WHITE-EARED HUMMINGBIRD (Basilinna leucotis)
GREEN-FRONTED HUMMINGBIRD (CINNAMON-SIDED) (Leucolia viridifrons wagneri) [E]
We had a couple of views of this species on the Pacific slope at the KM77 site.
BERYLLINE HUMMINGBIRD (Saucerottia beryllina)
A couple of these were at our hotel in the city.
AMERICAN COOT (Fulica americana)
KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus)
LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla)
A very impressive flock of birds was at the Presa Piedra Azul, and at one point, landing on the dam itself!
SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius)
GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)
SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)
LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea)
CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis)
GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens)
BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus)
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)
WHITE-TAILED KITE (Elanus leucurus)
NORTHERN HARRIER (Circus hudsonius)
COOPER'S HAWK (Accipiter cooperii)
WHITE-TAILED HAWK (Geranoaetus albicaudatus)
SWAINSON'S HAWK (Buteo swainsoni)
One was at Aranjuez that was perhaps a returning Spring migrant.
ZONE-TAILED HAWK (Buteo albonotatus)
Great study of this species in the pine zone above San Miguel.
RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis)
NORTHERN PYGMY-OWL (MOUNTAIN) (Glaucidium gnoma gnoma) [*]
FERRUGINOUS PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium brasilianum)
Great study of one at the KM77 site.
FULVOUS OWL (Strix fulvescens)
This one was frustratingly brief because of the logging trucks passing through, but great to hear it calling.
ELEGANT TROGON (Trogon elegans)
One at the KM77 site.
MOUNTAIN TROGON (Trogon mexicanus)
A good showing of this species this year with several great sightings.
RUSSET-CROWNED MOTMOT (Momotus mexicanus)
Another thorn forest specialist that we saw really well at KM77 once Suzi spotted them for us.
GREEN KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle americana)
A pair were present and vocal at the reservoir near Teotitlan.
YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER (Sphyrapicus varius)
GRAY-BREASTED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes hypopolius) [E]
GOLDEN-FRONTED WOODPECKER (WEST MEXICO) (Melanerpes aurifrons polygrammus)
LADDER-BACKED WOODPECKER (Dryobates scalaris)
HAIRY WOODPECKER (SOUTH MEXICAN) (Dryobates villosus jardinii)
CRESTED CARACARA (Caracara plancus)
MONK PARAKEET (Myiopsitta monachus) [I]
Around the airport for some as we were departing.
ORANGE-FRONTED PARAKEET (Eupsittula canicularis)
Primarily a Pacific slope species, we saw a flock of seven at KM77.
STRONG-BILLED WOODCREEPER (CENTRAL AMERICAN) (Xiphocolaptes promeropirhynchus sclateri)
After a bit of searching we connected with this gigantic woodcreeper at Cerro San Felipe. There are several discrete populations that differ vocally and in habitat preference that may represent good species.
WHITE-STRIPED WOODCREEPER (Lepidocolaptes leucogaster) [E*]
SPOT-CROWNED WOODCREEPER (NORTHERN) (Lepidocolaptes affinis affinis)
GRAY-COLLARED BECARD (Pachyramphus major)
One of the highlights of the trip was encountering a male in a mixed flock on Cerro San Felipe. This species is scarce throughout its range and seeing one is always a treat.
ROSE-THROATED BECARD (Pachyramphus aglaiae)
A couple of these were seen at the Hacienda El Aranjuez.
NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET (Camptostoma imberbe)
GREENISH ELAENIA (WEST MEXICO) (Myiopagis viridicata jaliscensis)
One was heard at Rio Verde above Teotitlan and another was briefly seen above San Miguel Arkanhel. Greenish Elaenia is currently comprised of several cryptic species in need of splitting.
PILEATED FLYCATCHER (Xenotriccus mexicanus) [E]
A fabulous study of this crested flycatcher at El Yagul. Found in the drier valleys of south central Mexico.
TUFTED FLYCATCHER (MEXICAN) (Mitrephanes phaeocercus phaeocercus)
A good showing of this species. This is another species that is comprised of a couple of cryptic species.
GREATER PEWEE (Contopus pertinax)
LEAST FLYCATCHER (Empidonax minimus)
HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER (Empidonax hammondii)
DUSKY FLYCATCHER (Empidonax oberholseri)
PINE FLYCATCHER (Empidonax affinis) [*]
CORDILLERAN FLYCATCHER (Empidonax occidentalis) [*]
Word on the street is that there is a decent chance that this species will be lumped with Pacific-slope Flycatcher and once again be known as Western Flycatcher come July.
BLACK PHOEBE (Sayornis nigricans)
SAY'S PHOEBE (Sayornis saya)
VERMILION FLYCATCHER (Pyrocephalus rubinus)
DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tuberculifer)
ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus cinerascens)
NUTTING'S FLYCATCHER (NUTTING'S) (Myiarchus nuttingi inquietus)
Good opportunities to compare this species with Ash-throated. And not to sound like a broken record, but there are two to three cryptic species that make up current Nutting's Flycatcher.
GREAT KISKADEE (Pitangus sulphuratus)
SOCIAL FLYCATCHER (VERMILION-CROWNED) (Myiozetetes similis texensis)
TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus)
CASSIN'S KINGBIRD (Tyrannus vociferans)
THICK-BILLED KINGBIRD (Tyrannus crassirostris)
CHESTNUT-SIDED SHRIKE-VIREO (Vireolanius melitophrys)
One of the most special birds of the oaks of Mexico and northern Central America, this striking species was well seen at Rio Verde.
GOLDEN VIREO (Vireo hypochryseus) [E]
Part of the vireo trifecta at San Miguel Arkanhel and again right at our hotel in Oaxaca. This species looks something like a cross between a Warbling Vireo and a Wilson's Warbler, and one of its call notes is remarkably close to a Wilson's too.
SLATY VIREO (Vireo brevipennis) [E]
This one is always a shock to see once it comes into focus for you. We had a couple of encounters and it was part of the vireo trifecta.
DWARF VIREO (Vireo nelsoni) [E]
This one lacks the shock and awe of Slaty Vireo, but it is fascinating in its similarity to a Ruby-crowned Kinglet both in appearance and its chatter call. Its closest relative, however, is the Black-capped Vireo.
HUTTON'S VIREO (Vireo huttoni)
PLUMBEOUS VIREO (Vireo plumbeus)
WARBLING VIREO (Vireo gilvus)
LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE (Lanius ludovicianus)
DWARF JAY (Cyanolyca nanus) [E]
One of the most sought after regional endemics, we connected with a small flock of these on the road to La Cumbre - Cerro San Felipe. One of very few accessible sites to see this species.
WHITE-THROATED MAGPIE-JAY (Calocitta formosa)
Several of this oh-so-flashy thorn forest species in the cactus scrub at KM77.
STELLER'S JAY (CENTRAL AMERICAN) (Cyanocitta stelleri coronata)
WOODHOUSE'S SCRUB-JAY (SUMICHRAST'S) (Aphelocoma woodhouseii sumichrasti)
We had good looks and listens to this distinctive population of scrub-jay. Higher pitched calls, larger size, and browner backs separate them from birds occurring in the United States.
COMMON RAVEN (Corvus corax)
MEXICAN CHICKADEE (Poecile sclateri)
HORNED LARK (MEXICAN) (Eremophila alpestris oaxacae)
We were all entranced by the singing bird in the plowed field near the Hacienda El Aranjuez. This seldom seen population breeds in the Oaxaca Valley.
NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)
VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW (Tachycineta thalassina)
BUSHTIT (MELANOTIS GROUP) (Psaltriparus minimus melanotis)
RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET (Corthylio calendula)
GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET (Regulus satrapa)
WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH (INTERIOR WEST) (Sitta carolinensis mexicana)
BROWN CREEPER (ALBESCENS/ALTICOLA) (Certhia americana alticola)
BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER (Polioptila caerulea)
WHITE-LORED GNATCATCHER (Polioptila albiloris)
Several seen in the cactus forests of KM77.
ROCK WREN (Salpinctes obsoletus)
Aka, Temple Wren. Well seen at Monte Alban singing from one of the temples there. Birds in this part of Mexico are rather heavily spotted.
CANYON WREN (Catherpes mexicanus)
HOUSE WREN (BROWN-THROATED) (Troglodytes aedon brunneicollis)
BEWICK'S WREN (MEXICANUS GROUP) (Thryomanes bewickii mexicanus) [*]
GRAY-BARRED WREN (Campylorhynchus megalopterus) [E]
This highland species travels through the canopy of moist oak-pine forests laden with epiphytes. We had some great studies at La Cumbre.
RUFOUS-NAPED WREN (SCLATER'S) (Campylorhynchus rufinucha humilis)
This was the common big wren on the Pacific slope at Totolapan and KM77.
BOUCARD'S WREN (Campylorhynchus jocosus) [E]
Our best views were those at the start of the road to Teotitlan. Close cousin to the Spotted Wren, this one is a regional endemic.
HAPPY WREN (Pheugopedius felix) [E]
A furtive bird seen in the riparian area around the reservoir. Mostly a bird of the Pacific slope of western Mexico.
GRAY-BREASTED WOOD-WREN (CENTRAL AMERICAN) (Henicorhina leucophrys mexicana)
BLUE MOCKINGBIRD (Melanotis caerulescens) [E]
This species can be really secretive at times, but we did luck into a couple that showed really well.
GRAY CATBIRD (Dumetella carolinensis)
Uo to three at Aranjuez was a bit of a surprise.
CURVE-BILLED THRASHER (CURVIROSTRE GROUP) (Toxostoma curvirostre curvirostre)
OCELLATED THRASHER (Toxostoma ocellatum) [E]
This species can be skulky at times but we were fortunate to have wonderful, eye-level views of a singing bird at Aranjuez.
NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos)
BROWN-BACKED SOLITAIRE (Myadestes occidentalis)
What an amazing songster! We spent some wonderful time with a couple in the mountains north of town.
ORANGE-BILLED NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (Catharus aurantiirostris)
RUSSET NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (Catharus occidentalis) [E]
CLAY-COLORED THRUSH (Turdus grayi) [I]
AMERICAN ROBIN (MIGRATORIUS GROUP) (Turdus migratorius phillipsi)
RUFOUS-BACKED ROBIN (Turdus rufopalliatus) [I]
CEDAR WAXWING (Bombycilla cedrorum)
It was a banner year for this species with flocks seen around the city.
GRAY SILKY-FLYCATCHER (Ptiliogonys cinereus)
So many fantastic encounters with this species, its voice a part of many of our soundscapes on the tour.
OLIVE WARBLER (Peucedramus taeniatus)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]
AMERICAN PIPIT (Anthus rubescens)
ELEGANT EUPHONIA (Chlorophonia elegantissima)
This attractive species is a mistletoe specialist, and seldom found far from that plant. We connected with a couple pairs of birds in the tall alders on our way up to La Cumbre.
HOUSE FINCH (COMMON) (Haemorhous mexicanus roseipectus)
RED CROSSBILL (PARAKEET OR TYPE X) (Loxia curvirostra stricklandi)
BLACK-HEADED SISKIN (Spinus notatus)
Suzi spotted our first and most eventually got good views of them.
LESSER GOLDFINCH (Spinus psaltria)
BRIDLED SPARROW (Peucaea mystacalis) [E]
One of the more striking sparrows, this one is always a crowd-pleaser. We had a few encounters, but perhaps our best views were at Aranjuez.
GRASSHOPPER SPARROW (Ammodramus savannarum)
A couple seen just off the highway on the road to Teotitlan were a treat to see.
CHIPPING SPARROW (Spizella passerina)
LARK SPARROW (Chondestes grammacus)
CHESTNUT-CAPPED BRUSHFINCH (CHESTNUT-CAPPED) (Arremon brunneinucha suttoni)
We had a responsive pair show for us at Rio Verde above Teotitlan. This one looks a lot like a smaller, darker version of a Collared Towhee.
YELLOW-EYED JUNCO (Junco phaeonotus)
LINCOLN'S SPARROW (Melospiza lincolnii)
WHITE-THROATED TOWHEE (Melozone albicollis) [E]
OAXACA SPARROW (Aimophila notosticta) [E]
This species can be a real challenge to see at times, but we had good luck with it at Aranjuez. A cousin to the Rufous-crowned Sparrow.
SPOTTED TOWHEE (MACULATUS GROUP) (Pipilo maculatus oaxacae) [*]
COLLARED TOWHEE (Pipilo ocai) [E]
RUFOUS-CAPPED BRUSHFINCH (Atlapetes pileatus) [E]
Our best views were the knockout ones at the Colibri Restaurant.
YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT (Icteria virens)
EASTERN MEADOWLARK (Sturnella magna)
Heard on a couple of occasions at Aranjuez. Birds here sing a somewhat different melody to US populations.
BLACK-VENTED ORIOLE (Icterus wagleri)
Some terrific views of this elegant, long-tailed oriole.
STREAK-BACKED ORIOLE (Icterus pustulatus)
This was the common oriole species on the Pacific slope at KM77.
AUDUBON'S ORIOLE (DICKEY'S) (Icterus graduacauda dickeyae)
One came to water at the Colibri Restaurant in the high mountains.
BRONZED COWBIRD (Molothrus aeneus)
MELODIOUS BLACKBIRD (Dives dives)
A pair of birds at Totolapan was a bit of a surprise, but this species has been rapidly expanding it range.
GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus)
BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER (Mniotilta varia)
CRESCENT-CHESTED WARBLER (Oreothlypis superciliosa)
Not the most memorable songster, but we did have crushing views of this species in the mountains.
ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER (Leiothlypis celata)
NASHVILLE WARBLER (Leiothlypis ruficapilla)
VIRGINIA'S WARBLER (Leiothlypis virginiae)
MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLER (Geothlypis tolmiei)
YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia)
YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (MYRTLE) (Setophaga coronata coronata)
YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (AUDUBON'S) (Setophaga coronata auduboni)
GRACE'S WARBLER (Setophaga graciae)
Our only one was in the pine zone above San Miguel Arkanhel.
BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER (Setophaga nigrescens)
TOWNSEND'S WARBLER (Setophaga townsendi)
HERMIT WARBLER (Setophaga occidentalis)
RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER (RUFIFRONS GROUP) (Basileuterus rufifrons rufifrons)
GOLDEN-BROWED WARBLER (Basileuterus belli)
This species prefers moist understory vegetation in oak-pine forest and we had some cooperative birds on La Cumbre.
WILSON'S WARBLER (Cardellina pusilla)
RED-FACED WARBLER (Cardellina rubrifrons)
Two seen, this species is always a crowd-pleaser.
RED WARBLER (Cardellina rubra) [E]
Wow, it was a good year for this species in the high county with a number of sightings of this striking species.
SLATE-THROATED REDSTART (Myioborus miniatus miniatus)
HEPATIC TANAGER (NORTHERN) (Piranga flava hepatica)
SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra)
WESTERN TANAGER (Piranga ludoviciana)
ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus ludovicianus)
One was in the riparian vegetation near the Piedra Azul reservoir.
BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus melanocephalus)
BLUE GROSBEAK (Passerina caerulea)
INDIGO BUNTING (Passerina cyanea)
VARIED BUNTING (Passerina versicolor)
BLUE-GRAY TANAGER (Thraupis episcopus)
A pair of these were at the fuel stop in Totolapan.
CINNAMON-RUMPED SEEDEATER (Sporophila torqueola torqueola) [E]
A somewhat recent split of White-collared Seedeater into two species resulted in this west Mexican endemic. We saw a male at Aranjuez.
EASTERN COTTONTAIL (Sylvilagus floridanus)
MEXICAN GRAY SQUIRREL (Sciurus aureogaster)
Also called Orange-bellied Squirrel, we saw a few of these around the hotel and in the mountains.
Totals for the tour: 191 bird taxa and 2 mammal taxa