A Field Guides Birding Tours Report


December 22-29, 2023 with Micah Riegner & Dan Lane guiding

Field Guides Birding Tours
The morning of the 27th of December dawned with this incredibly dramatic sky over the Oaxaca Valley, perhaps to honor the two clients who had their birthdays that day? Photo by guide Micah Riegner.

Christmas in Oaxaca is a festive time and draws attention from around the world to come and see such things as the Noche de Rabanos (Night of the radishes) festival, the ornaments, and other celebrations. It is also a great time to visit this region and see the impressive density of wintering boreal migrants. We did some of each. Mexico as a whole is a country that is often, unfairly, thought of as a monolith, but as we saw (and if you’ve visited other parts of Mexico, I’m sure this was glaringly obvious) that it has a great deal of variety in both its habitats and it cultures. Food is a wonderful way to see this, and we certainly did experience quite some variety of Oaxacan cuisine from tlayudas to moles and much more. This was capped for us with that delicious tres leches cake that celebrated the birthdays of two of the participants, yum! We saw that even in the relatively small area of the Oaxaca valley, the habitats vary greatly over short distances. In one site we were in dry deciduous scrub, a little higher up the slope, in oak woodland, higher still, in parklike pine-oak forest, and then in surprisingly humid pine-oak-fir forest that is as primeval as it comes! It is hard not to be awed by the forests on Cerro San Felipe, with the epiphytes and huge pines, where the locals have so thoughtfully decided to leave the habitat relatively untouched! We even got to visit the montane forest at night as well to seek some nocturnal birds (with great success! We also saw many mice and pine cones…). In stark contrast, we also visited the dry tropical thornscrub of the Pacific slope at KM 77, where we just touched the upper edge of this distinctive habitat, enjoying the columnar cacti and a wealth of endemic birds that live there!

Of course, birds were one of the main things that drew us to this place, and we saw a great cross section of the diversity of the region! On our first day, we visited the deciduous scrub that sits in the lower elevations of the Oaxaca valley, seeing some of the characteristic species, including some endemic birds such as Ocellated Thrasher (with no playback!), the three endemic west Mexican vireos (Golden, Slaty, and Dwarf), the subtly ornate Bridled Sparrow, and the more widespread Gray Silky-Flycatcher. Higher in the majestic pine-oak forests of the mountains, we were enchanted by the likes of the stunning Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo, the glowing Red Warbler, the local Dwarf Jay, the subdued Band-tailed Pigeons, the lovely Olive Warbler, the daytime-hunting Northern Pygmy-Owl, and the noisy Gray-barred Wrens (including a family group dustbathing on the road!?). Here, too, we paid close attention to the abundantly blooming salvia banks for hummingbirds and were rewarded with several species, including the numerous White-eared Hummingbird and the Mexican Violetear, as well as the nectar-robbing Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer. A visit to the famed Monte Alban ruins nevertheless allowed some birding opportunity, and we enjoyed a vibrant Vermilion Flycatcher there, as well as a surprise Ovenbird that was coaxed into view from its dense thicket. Our morning in the tropical arid woodland of KM 77 provided several wonderful species, including the exquisite Orange-breasted Bunting, the relaxed Russet-crowned Motmot, and even a flyover Zone-tailed Hawk that did its best to blend in with the network of Turkey Vultures that cruised over us.

Finally, we give great thanks to our local hosts: Jorge (who drove valiantly as well as provided excellent guiding at cultural ruins) and Arturo (who always had a helping hand and a friendly smile)! May you think fondly of the hot chocolate, the food, the culture, and the sites/sights, and perhaps you might consider visiting some other corner of this wonderful country with us again!

Until then, good birding from Micah and me!


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

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)

BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Spatula discors) [b]

All the ducks on this list were at Presa Piedra Azul, about the only large body of water we encountered on the tour.

NORTHERN PINTAIL (Anas acuta) [b]

GREEN-WINGED TEAL (Anas crecca) [b]

CANVASBACK (Aythya valisineria) [b]

A single female at the Presa.

RING-NECKED DUCK (Aythya collaris) [b]

LESSER SCAUP (Aythya affinis) [b]

RUDDY DUCK (Oxyura jamaicensis) [b]

Odontophoridae (New World Quail)

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

Sadly, heard only on Cerro San Felipe and (especially) Yuvila Rd, but I'm sure they saw us!

Podicipedidae (Grebes)

LEAST GREBE (Tachybaptus dominicus)

Good numbers at Presa Piedra Azul.

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]

BAND-TAILED PIGEON (Patagioenas fasciata)

Scope views in the dry pine-oak forest above Teotitlan.

Field Guides Birding Tours
A bit of a surprise was a pair of Orange-fronted Parakeets that followed us around at KM 77. Here's one of them photographed by guide Micah Riegner.

EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto) [I]

Mostly on the drives back to Oaxaca from up the valley.

INCA DOVE (Columbina inca)

COMMON GROUND DOVE (Columbina passerina)

Mostly at KM 77.

WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenaida asiatica)

MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura)

Wow, seen on at least two days, at Aranjuez and at KM 77. This is a surprisingly rare dove in Oaxaca, usually only seen in the agricultural fields in the floor of the valley.

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

GROOVE-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga sulcirostris)

A couple seen as they flew across the highway one afternoon as we drove back to Oaxaca.

SQUIRREL CUCKOO (WEST MEXICO) (Piaya cayana mexicana)

Seen on two days, which is a surprise! We've only encountered this species once before on this tour, and that was at KM 77, so to have it also *in* the Oaxaca valley at Aranjuez was doubly-surprising!

Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)

MEXICAN WHIP-POOR-WILL (Antrostomus arizonae)

Views of a perched individual in the forest of Cerro San Felipe on our owling outing.

Apodidae (Swifts)

WHITE-THROATED SWIFT (Aeronautes saxatalis)

Seen on three days, this is typically the only "winter" swift in the area.

Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)

MEXICAN VIOLETEAR (Colibri thalassinus)

It took a visit to the big Salvia banks of Benito Juarez and Yuvila Rd before we finally saw these noisy hummers. Formerly "Green Violetear" that species was divided into two, the other being Lesser Violetear of Costa Rica and the Andes.

RIVOLI'S HUMMINGBIRD (Eugenes fulgens)

Common at Aranjuez and Yuvila Rd, among other spots. Until recently called "Magnificent Hummingbird" but that was split in two species, the other now the Talamanca Hummingbird of Costa Rica.

Field Guides Birding Tours
White-eared Hummingbirds were ubiquitous in the pine-oak forests of the Oaxaca mountains, and they were curious about our pygmy-owl scolds. Photo by guide Dan Lane.

PLAIN-CAPPED STARTHROAT (Heliomaster constantii)

Fairly good views at KM 77.

AMETHYST-THROATED MOUNTAIN-GEM (Lampornis amethystinus) [*]

Sadly, heard only at Yuvila Rd.

BLUE-THROATED MOUNTAIN-GEM (Lampornis clemenciae)

Encountered on three days, but undoubtedly, the best views were at the porch of El Colibri our last day.

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Archilochus colubris) [b]

Not rare in the arid scrub at KM 77, which seems a strange choice of habitats given their breeding habitat!

RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD (Selasphorus rufus) [b]

Shannon photographed one of these migrants.

BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD (Selasphorus platycercus) [b]

Some fine views of a couple of males on the Yuvila Rd our last day.

BUMBLEBEE HUMMINGBIRD (Selasphorus heloisa) [E]

Nice! Often difficult on this tour, we had several at a patch of Salvia on the Cabeza de Vaca trail on Cerro San Felipe.

DUSKY HUMMINGBIRD (Phaeoptila sordida) [E]

A west Mexican endemic, we saw quite a few of these at lower elevations.

WHITE-EARED HUMMINGBIRD (Basilinna leucotis)

Perhaps the most common hummingbird of the montane pine-oak forest. That red bill glows!

GREEN-FRONTED HUMMINGBIRD (CINNAMON-SIDED) (Leucolia viridifrons wagneri) [E]

A couple showed briefly on the KM 77 walk.

BERYLLINE HUMMINGBIRD (Saucerottia beryllina)

Quite common around the lower elevations of the main valley.

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

AMERICAN COOT (Fulica americana) [b]

Another waterbird that was at Presa Piedra Azul.

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus)

These shorebirds were all at Presa Piedra Azul.

Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla) [b]

SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius) [b]

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias) [b]

These herons were all at Presa Piedra Azul.

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)

SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)

LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea)

Field Guides Birding Tours
The Noche de Rabanos was one of the Christmas festivals we witnessed on this tour, with incredibly intricately carved radishes forming scenes such as this. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.

CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis)

This was perhaps the only heron we saw much away from the Presa, mostly around livestock.

GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens) [b]

Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)

WHITE-FACED IBIS (Plegadis chihi) [b]

A bit of a surprise, a single bird was at the edge of Piedra Azul.

Cathartidae (New World Vultures)

BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus)

TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)

Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

WHITE-TAILED KITE (Elanus leucurus)

A couple sightings of these elegant raptors, including a nice view from Monte Alban.

SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (Accipiter striatus) [b]

Hard to tell if the birds we saw were migrants, but the one at Monte Alban probably was (residents are more tied to montane forest).

COOPER'S HAWK (Accipiter cooperii)

One perched at Aranjuez and another passed in front of the lead van later in the trip. Again, these could be local breeders or migrants.

WHITE-TAILED HAWK (Geranoaetus albicaudatus)

Two encounters with this large and good lookin' hawk of open country.

ZONE-TAILED HAWK (Buteo albonotatus)

A young bird flew over us at KM 77 to give us great views.

RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis)

Seen on several occasions, and almost all appeared to be local breeders, which usually have buffy bellies.

Strigidae (Owls)

NORTHERN PYGMY-OWL (MOUNTAIN) (Glaucidium gnoma gnoma)

Several heard our last two days, and Micah managed to spot one bird above Teotitlan allowing us extended scope views.

FERRUGINOUS PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium brasilianum) [*]

FULVOUS OWL (Strix fulvescens)

Nice, some brief but good views of these large owls on Cerro San Felipe. It appears as if the species has replaced Cinereous Owl (the Mexican Barred Owl) up here in the last several decades... so, does that latter bird still exist in the area?

NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL (Aegolius acadicus)

Wow, great views of a pair near the Ixtepeji campground!

Field Guides Birding Tours
On our owling evening, a pair of Northern Saw-whet Owls delighted us on Cerro San Felipe. Here's one of them by guide Micah Riegner.
Trogonidae (Trogons)

MOUNTAIN TROGON (Trogon mexicanus)

These fancy birds kept a low profile, but we nonetheless spotted a few over the course of the tour in the high pine-oak forest of the mountains.

Momotidae (Motmots)

RUSSET-CROWNED MOTMOT (Momotus mexicanus)

Another tropical dandy, we got fine views of a bird at the mouth of the wash at KM 77.

Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)

GREEN KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle americana)

We spotted one at Presa Piedra Azul.

Picidae (Woodpeckers)

ACORN WOODPECKER (Melanerpes formicivorus)

GRAY-BREASTED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes hypopolius) [E]

A regional endemic that we saw well in the cacti around KM 77.

GOLDEN-FRONTED WOODPECKER (WEST MEXICO) (Melanerpes aurifrons polygrammus)

Also at KM 77, this was one of the forms that looks rather like the Texas form, but with narrower back barring.


HAIRY WOODPECKER (SOUTH MEXICAN) (Dryobates villosus jardinii)

Mostly heard. This population is smaller and smokier below than most northern populations.

NORTHERN FLICKER (RED-SHAFTED) (Colaptes auratus mexicanus)

Mostly heard.

Field Guides Birding Tours
A group photo in front of the ruins of Monte Alban. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

CRESTED CARACARA (Caracara plancus)

AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius)

Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)

ORANGE-FRONTED PARAKEET (Eupsittula canicularis)

A bit of a surprise to have a pair of these Pacific-slope parakeets at KM 77. I believe we've only had them once before on the tour (last year), so perhaps they are considering colonizing the wash there?

Furnariidae (Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers)

STRONG-BILLED WOODCREEPER (CENTRAL AMERICAN) (Xiphocolaptes promeropirhynchus sclateri)

Wow! Great views of a huge woodcreeper! We really had a nice experience with this flicker-sized creeper on Cerro San Felipe!

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

Some poor views on a few occasions, but finally got nice views on the Yuvila Rd.

Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)


Mostly heard.

GREENISH ELAENIA (WEST MEXICO) (Myiopagis viridicata jaliscensis)

After missing it in our "usual spot" at Presa Piedra Azul, we managed to clean it up at a surprisingly high elevation near Benito Juarez.

PILEATED FLYCATCHER (Xenotriccus mexicanus) [E*]

Heard only at Monte Alban.

TUFTED FLYCATCHER (MEXICAN) (Mitrephanes phaeocercus phaeocercus)

This cute rufous-colored pewee-let popped up a few times during the tour.

Field Guides Birding Tours
The king of the montane forest: Strong-billed Woodcreeper! Photo by guide Dan Lane.

GREATER PEWEE (Contopus pertinax)

Nice views of one of these at Aranjuez.

LEAST FLYCATCHER (Empidonax minimus) [b]

The common Empid at KM 77.

HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER (Empidonax hammondii) [b]

The common Empid. in the pine-oak forest.

DUSKY FLYCATCHER (Empidonax oberholseri) [b]

The common Empid. in the valley.

BLACK PHOEBE (Sayornis nigricans)

VERMILION FLYCATCHER (Pyrocephalus rubinus)

DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tuberculifer) [*]

ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus cinerascens) [b]

Seen a couple of times, similar to the next, but paler-faced, and with a different tail pattern.

NUTTING'S FLYCATCHER (NUTTING'S) (Myiarchus nuttingi inquietus)

Seen at Aranjuez, KM 77, Monte Alban.

GREAT KISKADEE (Pitangus sulphuratus)

SOCIAL FLYCATCHER (VERMILION-CROWNED) (Myiozetetes similis texensis)

Seen at Aranjuez and Teotitlan, heard around our hotel.

TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus)

Field Guides Birding Tours
This Cloudforest Monarch lit on these leaves just long enough for us to admire it before continuing on its way. Photo by guide Dan Lane.

CASSIN'S KINGBIRD (Tyrannus vociferans) [b]

One in the scope at the Teotitlan turnoff.

THICK-BILLED KINGBIRD (Tyrannus crassirostris)

Nice views at Monte Alban. Can be a tough one!

WESTERN KINGBIRD (Tyrannus verticalis) [b]

Good numbers of this migrant at several sites.

Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)

CHESTNUT-SIDED SHRIKE-VIREO (Vireolanius melitophrys)

This colorful vireo was among the favorites of the tour, and it ain't a bad choice!

GOLDEN VIREO (Vireo hypochryseus) [E]

Nice views on several days.

SLATY VIREO (Vireo brevipennis) [E]

A very responsive bird at Aranjuez was a nice way to kick off the first day!

DWARF VIREO (Vireo nelsoni) [E]

A somewhat sneaky bird at Aranjuez nevertheless gave us fairly good views.

HUTTON'S VIREO (Vireo huttoni)

CASSIN'S VIREO (Vireo cassinii) [b]

One on Cerro San Felipe.

BLUE-HEADED VIREO (Vireo solitarius) [b]

Similar to the last, but with more defined color blocks.

PLUMBEOUS VIREO (Vireo plumbeus)

Best views our last day.

WARBLING VIREO (Vireo gilvus) [b]

A common wintering bird here. This is the western form, which has a distinctive song from the eastern (which winters farther south)... a split may be coming some day!

Field Guides Birding Tours
Always one of the special birds of the tour, Dwarf Jays are often a bit of work to see... but this tour we had them with minimal effort! And smashing views too! Photo by guide Micah Riegner.
Laniidae (Shrikes)

LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE (Lanius ludovicianus)

Nearing the southern terminus of this species' (or any shrike in the New World!) range here.

Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)

DWARF JAY (Cyanolyca nanus) [E]

Great views of a family group on Cerro San Felipe shortly after lunch.

STELLER'S JAY (CENTRAL AMERICAN) (Cyanocitta stelleri coronata)

The ones here are really attractive with bluer heads and bold white markings on the face.

WOODHOUSE'S SCRUB-JAY (SUMICHRAST'S) (Aphelocoma woodhouseii sumichrasti)

Smaller than more northerly populations, and sound higher as a result.

COMMON RAVEN (Corvus corax)

The southernmost "crow" in the New World, this one makes it to Nicaragua.

Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)

MEXICAN CHICKADEE (Poecile sclateri)

One of the core flock members of the montane forest.

Hirundinidae (Swallows)

NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)

TREE SWALLOW (Tachycineta bicolor) [b]

A surprising find here, they are not common in the valley.

VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW (Tachycineta thalassina)

The common swallow over montane habitats.

Field Guides Birding Tours
While in Teotitlan, we make a point of seeing the local tapestry artists and learn about their process. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.

BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica) [b]

Another rare swallow here at this time of year, most have gone to South America.

Aegithalidae (Long-tailed Tits)

BUSHTIT (MELANOTIS GROUP) (Psaltriparus minimus melanotis)

Tiny little sprites. These are the "Black-eared" form, which was once considered a separate species.

Regulidae (Kinglets)

RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET (Corthylio calendula) [b]

GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET (Regulus satrapa) [*]

Sittidae (Nuthatches)

WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH (INTERIOR WEST) (Sitta carolinensis mexicana)

Seen near Benito Juarez. Should the species be split up (which is not out of the question!), this one would be part of the Rocky Mountain group.

Certhiidae (Treecreepers)

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

Another widespread American bird that could be split up in the future.

Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)

BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER (Polioptila caerulea) [b]

WHITE-LORED GNATCATCHER (Polioptila albiloris)

Common at KM 77, where their whining call distinguishes them from the wheeze of Blue-gray.

Troglodytidae (Wrens)

ROCK WREN (Salpinctes obsoletus)

Mostly around the ruins.

CANYON WREN (Catherpes mexicanus)

Nice views at Monte Alban.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Boucard's Wrens here join forces to repel a potential trespasser at Monte Alban. Photo by guide Dan Lane.

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

This form is the resident one that breeds in the montane pine-oak forests.

BEWICK'S WREN (MEXICANUS GROUP) (Thryomanes bewickii mexicanus)

GRAY-BARRED WREN (Campylorhynchus megalopterus) [E]

Related to Cactus Wren, but found in pine forests.

RUFOUS-NAPED WREN (SCLATER'S) (Campylorhynchus rufinucha humilis)

This one is more tied to cacti, like its more northerly cousin. We had it at KM 77. Another species that may be split up soon.

BOUCARD'S WREN (Campylorhynchus jocosus) [E]

Regional endemic that is another "cactus wren."

HAPPY WREN (Pheugopedius felix)

Happy Wren, or the happiest wren? We had a surprisingly good view of it at Aranjuez. It's rare in the valley, so we were lucky!

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This winter-blooming orchid is the delicate Rhynchostele cervantesii. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.

BANDED WREN (Thryophilus pleurostictus)

Nice views of several at KM 77.

GRAY-BREASTED WOOD-WREN (CENTRAL AMERICAN) (Henicorhina leucophrys mexicana)

Wow! No playback involved and a great view! That never happens!

Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)

BLUE MOCKINGBIRD (Melanotis caerulescens) [E]

Another skulker that gave us a great view at the edge of Presa Piedra Azul (after a pretty good view at Monte Alban).

CURVE-BILLED THRASHER (CURVIROSTRE GROUP) (Toxostoma curvirostre curvirostre)

OCELLATED THRASHER (Toxostoma ocellatum) [E]

Yet another bird that we often miss seeing at this time of year, but that showed well for us at Aranjuez!

NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos)

Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)

BROWN-BACKED SOLITAIRE (Myadestes occidentalis)

Thin on the ground until we got to Yuvila Rd, where they were pretty thick!


Some fleeting views before it got really light at Pollo Nino.

RUSSET NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (Catharus occidentalis) [E]

We had a great view of one in the afternoon on Cerro San Felipe before our picnic dinner, but another on our last morning sat and preened in the scope.

Field Guides Birding Tours
We had lovely looks at the subtle plumage of a Russet Nightingale-Thrush. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.

HERMIT THRUSH (Catharus guttatus) [b]

These are Rocky Mountain breeders spending the winter.


Scope views on the Yuvila Rd.

CLAY-COLORED THRUSH (Turdus grayi) [I]

Around the hotel.

BLACK THRUSH (Turdus infuscatus)

First a female (thanks Elaine!), then a male on Yuvila Rd.

AMERICAN ROBIN (MIGRATORIUS GROUP) (Turdus migratorius phillipsi)

This is near the southernmost point the species reaches. Unlike farther north, they are pretty strictly a montane bird.

RUFOUS-BACKED ROBIN (Turdus rufopalliatus) [I]

Around the hotel.

Ptiliogonatidae (Silky-flycatchers)

GRAY SILKY-FLYCATCHER (Ptiliogonys cinereus)

A fancy relative of waxwings. We actually watched one catch flies, so "flycatcher" isn't a terrible name. Well, not THAT terrible, at least.

Peucedramidae (Olive Warbler)

OLIVE WARBLER (Peucedramus taeniatus)

But here's one that has a pretty poor name. No olive color (or flavor), nor is it a warbler (not that that name has much phylogenetic meaning, though). But a snazzy bird of montane pine-oak forests.

Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]

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The exotic Russet-crowned Motmot was one of the gems we enjoyed at KM 77. Photo by guide Dan Lane.
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)

AMERICAN PIPIT (Anthus rubescens) [b]

One along the edge of Presa Piedra Azul.

Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)

ELEGANT EUPHONIA (Chlorophonia elegantissima)

A finch relative that specializes on mistletoe fruits.

HOUSE FINCH (COMMON) (Haemorhous mexicanus roseipectus)

The ones here are one of the spicy Mexican forms which look different from the ones we are used to.

RED CROSSBILL (PARAKEET OR TYPE X) (Loxia curvirostra stricklandi)

Type X?

BLACK-HEADED SISKIN (Spinus notatus)

Great views of this attractive siskin our final morning.

LESSER GOLDFINCH (Spinus psaltria)

Not rare in the lower elevation habitats of the valley.

Passerellidae (New World Sparrows)

BRIDLED SPARROW (Peucaea mystacalis) [E]

A very sharp-looking sparrow that is endemic to SW Mexico.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Bridled Sparrow is one of the more striking sparrows out there. This one was photographed by guide Micah Riegner.

CHIPPING SPARROW (Spizella passerina) [b]

LARK SPARROW (Chondestes grammacus) [b]


That puffy white throat is usually the first thing you see.

YELLOW-EYED JUNCO (Junco phaeonotus)

The eyes make these look like they're just boiling with anger.

SAVANNAH SPARROW (Passerculus sandwichensis) [b]

A rare migrant in the valley. One was at the edge of Presa Piedra Azul.

LINCOLN'S SPARROW (Melospiza lincolnii) [b]

WHITE-THROATED TOWHEE (Melozone albicollis) [E]

Closely related to Canyon Towhee, but endemic to SW Mexico. Usually the first endemic we see on the tour, and I think we kept our streak.

OAXACA SPARROW (Aimophila notosticta) [E]

Often a tough endemic at this time of year, but a couple were extroverted at Aranjuez.

SPOTTED TOWHEE (MACULATUS GROUP) (Pipilo maculatus oaxacae) [*]

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On this tour, we had some fortuitous encounters with some usually skulky species, such as this very extroverted Blue Mockingbird. Photo by guide Dan Lane.

COLLARED TOWHEE (Pipilo ocai) [E]

Remarkably similar in appearance to Chestnut-capped Brushfinch. We saw several in the pine-oak forest.

RUFOUS-CAPPED BRUSHFINCH (Atlapetes pileatus) [E]

An attractive sparrow we saw our last two days.

Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)

BLACK-VENTED ORIOLE (Icterus wagleri)

One of the most common orioles we saw. Clearly enjoyed those morninglory trees!

STREAK-BACKED ORIOLE (Icterus pustulatus)

Fairly common at KM 77.

BULLOCK'S ORIOLE (Icterus bullockii) [b]

A couple individuals at Pollo Nino and one or two other spots.

AUDUBON'S ORIOLE (DICKEY'S) (Icterus graduacauda dickeyae)

Nice views our first day at Aranjuez.

GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus)

Mostly around town.

Parulidae (New World Warblers)

OVENBIRD (Seiurus aurocapilla) [b]

A fairly unexpected wintering warbler we encountered along the entrance road to Monte Alban.

LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia motacilla) [b]

This species winters along these montane arroyos that seem so dry compared to their breeding habitat.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Crescent-chested Warbler is one of the distinctive warblers of the high mountains here. Photo by guide Dan Lane.

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

CRESCENT-CHESTED WARBLER (Oreothlypis superciliosa)

Our best views were on the Yuvila Rd.

ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER (Leiothlypis celata) [b]

NASHVILLE WARBLER (Leiothlypis ruficapilla) [b]

MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLER (Geothlypis tolmiei) [b]

Nice views of a smashing male at Aranjuez.

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

GRACE'S WARBLER (Setophaga graciae) [b]

Only one or two folks caught a glimpse of this pine forest species below Benito Juarez.

BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER (Setophaga nigrescens) [b]

A few wintering individuals.

TOWNSEND'S WARBLER (Setophaga townsendi) [b]

This and the next species were abundant wintering birds in the montane pine-oak forests.

HERMIT WARBLER (Setophaga occidentalis) [b]

Field Guides Birding Tours
Oaxaca is the winter home of many northern migrants such as this male Western Tanager. Photo by guide Dan Lane.


A bit of a surprise, this is usually more lowland, so the bird at the Monte Alban parking lot was unexpected.

RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER (RUFIFRONS GROUP) (Basileuterus rufifrons rufifrons)

Fairly common in the scrubby habitats of the tour.

GOLDEN-BROWED WARBLER (Basileuterus belli)

A real eye-catcher, we enjoyed these along vegetated humid arroyos in the pine-oak forest.

WILSON'S WARBLER (Cardellina pusilla) [b]

RED WARBLER (Cardellina rubra) [E]

One of the most popular birds of the tour, this one really does stand out when you see it well!

PAINTED REDSTART (Myioborus pictus)

That one bird at Aranjuez with one white tail feather, foraging on the ground, was very confiding.

SLATE-THROATED REDSTART (Myioborus miniatus miniatus)

Common over a wide elevational range. The birds here have that lovely red belly, but it gets progressively yellower as you go south.

Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)

HEPATIC TANAGER (NORTHERN) (Piranga flava hepatica)

Nice views of this pine-oak forest species on our last couple of days.

SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra) [b]

WESTERN TANAGER (Piranga ludoviciana)

The males lose the red head in the winter.

ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus ludovicianus) [b]

A female at Aranjuez.

BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus melanocephalus)

One was at Monte Alban.

BLUE GROSBEAK (Passerina caerulea) [b]

INDIGO BUNTING (Passerina cyanea) [b]

Brown this time of year, but not rare at Aranjuez.

ORANGE-BREASTED BUNTING (Passerina leclancherii) [E]

An explosion of colors that we drank in happily at KM 77.

Field Guides Birding Tours
It's hard not to be transfixed by the glowing colors of a male Orange-breasted Bunting, such as this one we saw at KM 77. Photo by guide Dan Lane.

VARIED BUNTING (Passerina versicolor)

A bit overshadowed by the last at KM 77, but still a fine-lookin' bird.

Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)

CINNAMON-BELLIED FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa baritula baritula)

A great male showed well for us at Benito Juarez.

CINNAMON-RUMPED SEEDEATER (Sporophila torqueola torqueola) [E]

Thanks to a tip from Jorge and Amy, we stopped at the reservoir just above Oaxaca City to see a pair of these in a weedy ditch.


MEXICAN GRAY SQUIRREL (Sciurus aureogaster)

Common around the hotel, and we saw them in the mountains too.


Peromyscus mouse: Micah spotted several of these with his heat scope on our owling evening.

Totals for the tour: 194 bird taxa and 1 mammal taxa