A Field Guides Birding Tours Report

Mexico: Veracruz's River of Raptors 2023

October 6-16, 2023 with Eric Hynes & Jorge Montejo-Diaz guiding

Field Guides Birding Tours
We came to witness migration on a grand scale and Veracruz did not disappoint! Day four was what air traffic controllers have nightmares about. When that stalled front finally moved off, the migration flood gates opened for Turkey Vultures, Broad-winged and Swainson's hawks. Photo by guide Eric Hynes.

Butterflies, moths, wildflowers, mountains, marsh, and sea; motmots, kingfishers, warblers (32 species!), flycatchers, tanagers, and hummingbirds; the list of highlights from our Veracruz adventure seems endless...and I haven't even gotten to the raptors yet! This Rio de Rapaces or River of Raptors tour was spectacular on so many levels. Migration is a mesmerizing phenomenon and we were fortunate to witness one of the grandest concentrations on the planet. It was made all the better by the incomparable guiding of my co-leader, Jorge Montejo-Diaz. His lifetime of experience in the region and endearing personality greatly enhanced our tour. Being transported safely in an immaculate bus by Jorge Herrera was noteworthy as well.

Everyone arrived without a hitch and we began our tour with a stalled cold front whipping the coast. Despite the wind, our first morning out at Arroyo El Giote jumpstarted our checklist with an excellent diversity of terns, a massive Ringed Kingfisher, a scattering of shorebirds, teal tearing down the coast and raptors in hunting mode. In the afternoon, we made our way to Cardel and checked into Hotel Bienvenido, our base for the bulk of the tour. After getting our bearings on the roof, we headed over to the other count site at Chichicaxtle, picking up warblers, tanagers and hummingbirds in the trees and shrubs around the lookout.

Our modus operandi for the next few days was to search for songbirds and coastal species at dawn, then head to the hawk watch sites once the thermals start heating up. Day two began with gorgeous golden light at Playa Chachalacas, which hosted a rich diversity of waders, shorebirds, kingfishers, terns, and pelicans. Midmorning we transferred over to Playa Juan Angel and added Long-billed Curlew and Snowy Plover before things got really exciting. Who could forget the pair of Aplomado Falcons in hot pursuit of the warbler (that got away!)? Once we stepped into the shade, we started adding exciting endemics like Mexican Sheartail and the Veracruz subspecies of Rufous-naped Wren. In the afternoon, we headed to La Antigua for some cultural stops before an evening boat cruise down Rio La Antigua. The wind was really ripping but we scored a bunch of fun species.

Day three began in the dry scrub forest outside Xocotitla. We picked up numerous new species like Laughing and Bat falcons, sparrows, saltators, flycatchers and orioles. On our way back, a stop at the bridge added Couch's Kingbird, Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, and Amazon Kingfisher. The skies were indicating that the front had finally passed so it was time to get to the rooftop. Our afternoon was spent scanning the skies and it was clear that the migration dam had finally broken. We saw more Peregrine Falcons than any of us could remember, but their movement was overshadowed by the never-ending parade of American Kestrels. Ospreys were on the move too and we managed to pick out a late Swallow-tailed Kite and some Lesser Nighthawks toward the end of the day.

The next morning we all were revved up in anticipation of the predicted raptor movement. Before the raptor liftoff, we went to Cansaburro. This walk along a massive vegetated dune was delightfully productive, with highlights of Purple Gallinule, Roseate Spoonbill, Spot-breasted Wren, Altamira Oriole, numerous warbler species, and a ridiculously obliging Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl. Once kettles of raptors started forming we zipped back to the rooftop at Hotel Bienvenido. Words and photos simply do not do justice to the magnitude of the migration we witnessed that afternoon. Tens of thousands of hawks and vultures streamed overhead for hours on end. Broad-winged Hawks made up the bulk of the flight this day. Impressive flocks of Anhinga and American White Pelicans added to our migration euphoria.

Jorge led us to La Mancha for the start of day five. The birding was hot right from the start: Green Kingfishers, tree-climbing Russet-naped Wood-Rails, a Prothonotary Warbler, Masked Tityra and Rose-throated Becard to name just a few. Next stop was the historical site of Quiahuixtlan, which was interesting from a cultural perspective, but the Brown Jays, Montezuma Oropendolas, Short-tailed Hawks and Mississippi Kites made it even better. Before returning to Cardel, we made a brief pull-out for bizarre Double-striped Thick-knees, which were taking shelter in the shadow of fenceposts. The afternoon hawkwatching was not as overwhelming as the day before but we still saw tens of thousands, including a noticeable uptick in Swainson's Hawks. Wood Stork numbers increased as well and a few Hook-billed Kites were teased from the masses. A Scarlet Tanager was a noteworthy observation at Chichicaxtle. For some of us, the introduction to bolis, the delightfully sweet frozen Mexican treats in a tube, were the highlight of the day!

Having absorbed about all we could take of raptor migration, it was time to transfer up to Xalapa for some higher elevation birding. Our birding stop en route to Xalapa was at Laguna de Miradores where we encountered Grass Wren, Botteri's Sparrow, Gray-crowned Yellowthroat, Olive-sided Flycatcher, and Painted Bunting. Parque Natura was our first taste of habitat at elevation and it produced a host of new species for us: Blue-capped Motmot, Collared Forest-Falcon, Squirrel Cuckoo, Golden-Olive Woodpecker, and Dusky-capped Flycatcher among others. After checking in to our new hotel, we visited Parque Ecologico El Haya (in Jorge's backyard) for a burst of hummingbird species, Louisiana Waterthrush, Acorn Woodpecker, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Golden-crowned Warbler, and a flock of Common Chlorospingus.

Friday the 13th we climbed up from Xalapa several thousand feet and began the day overlooking Las Minas Canyon. Red, Crescent-chested, Golden-browed, and Olive warblers were joined by Slate-throated Redstart, Hooded Yellowthroat, Gray Silky-Flycatcher, Black Thrush, Russet Nightingale-Thrush, the endemic Brown-backed Solitaire, plus the world's second smallest bird: Bumblebee Hummingbird. At the highest elevations at Cofre de Perote, we added Transvolcanic Jay, Pine Flycatcher and Striped Sparrow. The parched landscape in the afternoon was the appropriate habitat for us to catch up to Buff-breasted Flycatcher, Curve-billed Thrasher, the Sumichrast's subspecies of Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay, Bewick's Wren, and Black-chinned Sparrows. A flyover White-tailed Kite was an unexpected bonus.

Our eighth morning together began at dawn at the gates of Parque Ecologico Macuiltepetl. This winding path climbed through lush habitat, brimming with birdlife: MacGillivray's, Canada and Hooded warblers, Green Jays, White-winged Tanager, Greater Pewee, Blue Mockingbird, plus killer looks at more Blue-capped Motmots and Squirrel Cuckoos. In the afternoon, Jorge guided us through the Anthropology Museum, adding to an already rich cultural experience in Mexico.

The amazingly diverse state of Veracruz had given us so much by this point, but we still had a few more habitat types to visit. Our last morning was spent in the grasslands of Las Barrancas. Lesser Yellow-headed Vultures and Snail Kites coursed low over the fields as we ate breakfast. Double-striped Thick-knees stalked roadside and we lucked into an American Bittern and Great Black Hawk as well. The surprise of the morning was an immature Parasitic Jaeger -- very unexpected to see it not over water! Heavy rain moved in as the tour was bookended by another cold front, but it didn't dampen our birding as we waited (and waited) for lunch at a riverside cafe in Tlacotalpan. Species getting our attention there were: Mangrove Swallow, Black, Caspian and Gull-billed terns, Common Black Hawks and Franklin's Gulls.

Sharing our three favorite species of the tour at the finale dinner began atypically as we all agreed that migration was THE highlight of the tour. All the amazing butterflies were mentioned of course as well. Acknowledging that, you all came up with a long list of favorite birds. Aplomado Falcon took top honors but Broad-winged Hawk, American White Pelican, Brown-backed Solitaire, and Great Black Hawk all received multiple votes. Thanks for choosing Field Guides for your birding adventure in Veracruz. It was truly a pleasure sharing this experience with all of you.

Take care and good birding,

—Eric Hynes

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)

BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna autumnalis)

A distinctive duck to be sure; we had dozens our last morning at Las Barrancas

Field Guides Birding Tours
Participant Chris Daly shared this image of an Aplomado Falcon. We voted this species the bird of the tour: their striking plumage, dynamic flight and who could forget that dramatic chase after a warbler across the dunes?!

MUSCOVY DUCK (Cairina moschata)

An individual flew over us while we were roadside birding at Xocotitla

BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Spatula discors)

Numerous flocks were on the move our first windy morning

NORTHERN SHOVELER (Spatula clypeata)

A few mixed in with the teal

Cracidae (Guans, Chachalacas, and Curassows)

PLAIN CHACHALACA (Ortalis vetula)

"I'm on the ground, I'm on the ground!" I am not sure what was more entertaining, the chachalaca panic-running across the opening or Jorge's imitation of it

Odontophoridae (New World Quail)

BEARDED WOOD-PARTRIDGE (Dendrortyx barbatus) [*]

Their loud vocalizations could be heard deep in the canyon at Las Minas

NORTHERN BOBWHITE (GRAYSONI/NIGRIPECTUS) (Colinus virginianus graysoni) [*]

Several stops we heard them calling near sunrise; the most memorable were our last morning at Las Barrancas

Podicipedidae (Grebes)

LEAST GREBE (Tachybaptus dominicus)

Excellent views of this sooty grebe with the golden eye during our river cruise

PIED-BILLED GREBE (Podilymbus podiceps)

Just one in the lagoon at the end of our walk at La Mancha

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]


RED-BILLED PIGEON (Patagioenas flavirostris)

A subtle beauty; it was a treat to look down on them from the rooftop in Cardel

EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto) [I]

Here and there

Field Guides Birding Tours
Aplomado Falcon might have been the species of the tour but these bolis were the treat of the tour. This Mexican tradition of sweet, creamy deliciousness in a frozen tube really hit the spot that hot afternoon at Chichicaxtle. Photo by guide Jorge Montejo-Diaz.

INCA DOVE (Columbina inca)

"No hope." We saw lots of these tiny, long-tailed doves and heard even more

COMMON GROUND DOVE (Columbina passerina)

The birds at Xocotitla turned out to be the only ones we encountered on the tour

PLAIN-BREASTED GROUND DOVE (Columbina minuta interrupta)

It was pretty impressive how well hidden those couple of birds were despite how close we were to them. No doubt the windy conditions factored into their skulking

RUDDY GROUND DOVE (Columbina talpacoti rufipennis)

More days than not for this little beauty

WHITE-TIPPED DOVE (Leptotila verreauxi) [*]

Calling in the distance at the start of our hike at Xocotitla

WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenaida asiatica)

Flock, after flock, after flock -- one of the more numerous migrants passing through Veracruz

MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura)

More days than not

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

GROOVE-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga sulcirostris)

Goofy, gregarious cuckoos

SQUIRREL CUCKOO (Piaya cayana)

It is remarkable that a such a large, long-tailed bird with rich plumage coloration can be so hard to see but thankfully we had plenty of good looks our morning at Macuiltepetl

Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)

LESSER NIGHTHAWK (Chordeiles acutipennis)

We spotted several individuals in flight late in the day, with the best look coming from the hawk watch at Chichicaxtle on our third day

Apodidae (Swifts)

BLACK SWIFT (Cypseloides niger)

Several of these dark, powerful-flying swifts were overhead at Xocotitla

VAUX'S SWIFT (YUCATAN) (Chaetura vauxi gaumeri)

Overhead on several occasions

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The marvelously talented Judith Dunham shared this evocative illustration capturing the rainy afternoon we enjoyed lunch in Tlacotalpan.

WHITE-THROATED SWIFT (Aeronautes saxatalis saxatalis)

We were looking down on them in the morning sunlight in the canyon at Las Minas

Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)

RIVOLI'S HUMMINGBIRD (Eugenes fulgens)

This massive, dark hummingbird visited the feeders at El Haya a few times


Las Minas

BLUE-THROATED MOUNTAIN-GEM (Lampornis clemenciae clemenciae)

We got a look at its big, dark tail as it was foraging along the steep road bank up at Las Minas

MEXICAN SHEARTAIL (Doricha eliza) [E]

One of the endemic highlights in drier landscapes; our best look was at a perched male at Juan Angel

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Archilochus colubris)

Quite a few at Las Barrancas

BUMBLEBEE HUMMINGBIRD (Selasphorus heloisa) [E]

One of the smallest birds in the world and a Mexican endemic

CANIVET'S EMERALD (Cynanthus canivetii)

Brilliant green at Juan Angel

WHITE-EARED HUMMINGBIRD (Basilinna leucotis)

It took some patience but eventually we got scope views at Las Minas

WEDGE-TAILED SABREWING (CURVE-WINGED) (Pampa curvipennis curvipennis) [E]

The most common large hummingbird coming to the feeders at El Haya

VIOLET SABREWING (Campylopterus hemileucurus hemileucurus)

The easiest way to pick out the female visiting the feeders was its conspicuously decurved bill

AZURE-CROWNED HUMMINGBIRD (AZURE-CROWNED) (Saucerottia cyanocephala cyanocephala)

Swarming the feeders; clearly the most numerous hummingbird at El Haya

BERYLLINE HUMMINGBIRD (Saucerottia beryllina)

Just a few people got on this one

BUFF-BELLIED HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia yucatanensis)

The individual below the hawk watch at Chichicaxtle was reliable

WHITE-BELLIED EMERALD (Chlorestes candida)

That white belly did stand out

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This Buff-bellied Hummingbird vigilantly guarded the blossoms surrounding the hawk watch structure at Chichicaxtle. Photo by guide Eric Hynes.
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

RUSSET-NAPED WOOD-RAIL (Aramides albiventris)

It was interesting to watch it forage at La Mancha and we heard the species in a few other locations

AMERICAN COOT (Fulica americana)

At Juan Angel

PURPLE GALLINULE (Porphyrio martinica)

It was entertaining to watch this colorful species clinging to the stalks to reach the seed heads in the wetland at Cansaburro

Aramidae (Limpkin)

LIMPKIN (Aramus guarauna)

Two brief experiences for some of us

Burhinidae (Thick-knees)

DOUBLE-STRIPED THICK-KNEE (Burhinus bistriatus)

What marvelously bizarre birds; their massive eyes give away their preference for nocturnal foraging

Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)

BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus)

Elegance in a shorebird

AMERICAN AVOCET (Recurvirostra americana)

That flock at the river mouth at La Antigua just couldn't seem to settle down with all the boats and high wind

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola)

Found at most coastal sites we visited

SNOWY PLOVER (Charadrius nivosus)

These pale plovers are easily overlooked but we enjoyed excellent views of cooperative birds at Juan Angel

SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus)

At most coastal sites we visited

KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus)

Just a couple individuals

Words don't do just to the magnitude of the migration through Veracruz, so here is a video compilation. The first few segments are predominately Broad-winged Hawks, then you get into more Turkey Vultures and Swainson's Hawks, then a synchronous kettle of American White Pelicans and at the end are Wood Storks. Video produced by guide Eric Hynes.
Jacanidae (Jacanas)

NORTHERN JACANA (Jacana spinosa)

Those toes!

Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

UPLAND SANDPIPER (Bartramia longicauda)

Sharp-eared Chris noticed a calling bird overhead as we arrived at Las Barrancas

LONG-BILLED CURLEW (Numenius americanus)

A giant among the plovers and sandpipers at Juan Angel

RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres)


SANDERLING (Calidris alba)

We studied adult non-breeding versus juvenile plumage

LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla)

Multiple cooperative individuals

WESTERN SANDPIPER (Calidris mauri)

We scrutinized these guys for Semipalmated but they all had longer, tapering to a fine point, drooping bills

SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER (Limnodromus griseus)

An individual was flying around at Playa Chachalacas; thankfully it called to help with the ID

WILSON'S SNIPE (Gallinago delicata)

A flyover at dawn at Xocotitla and three tucked into the shoreline vegetation at Miradores

SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius)

Most coastal sites

GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca)

Excellent looks at Playa Chahcalacas

WILLET (WESTERN) (Tringa semipalmata inornata)

In good numbers at multiple sites

Field Guides Birding Tours
We were delighted to enjoy such close looks at diminutive Green Kingfishers during our dawn walk at La Mancha and this individual along the tributary during our evening river cruise. Photo by participant Chris Daly.
Stercorariidae (Skuas and Jaegers)

PARASITIC JAEGER (Stercorarius parasiticus)

Wow, what a surprise! I don't recall seeing one over land away from the breeding grounds

Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)

LAUGHING GULL (Leucophaeus atricilla)

Mostly first winter birds

FRANKLIN'S GULL (Leucophaeus pipixcan)

It was interesting to watch the flocks in the rain over the river during lunch at Tlacotalpan

GULL-BILLED TERN (Gelochelidon nilotica)

Also over the Rio Papaloapan during our last lunch

CASPIAN TERN (Hydroprogne caspia)

Same as previous species

BLACK TERN (Chlidonias niger)

There is a pattern emerging here

COMMON TERN (Sterna hirundo)

Mostly first winter birds at our first birding stop: Arroyo El Giote. Jorge noted it was a significant number of individuals

FORSTER'S TERN (Sterna forsteri)

The needle in the haystack at Arroyo El Giote

ROYAL TERN (Thalasseus maximus)

Lots of good looks

SANDWICH TERN (Thalasseus sandvicensis)

The most numerous tern species in that region at that time; we saw them by the hundreds

BLACK SKIMMER (Rynchops niger)

The distinctive birds in morning sunlight at Playa Chachalacas were memorable

Ciconiidae (Storks)

WOOD STORK (Mycteria americana)

The flocks migrating were interesting to watch soar

Fregatidae (Frigatebirds)


Effortless on the wing

Field Guides Birding Tours
Guide Jorge Montejo-Diaz excelled at pointing out difficult-to-find wildlife for us. This Common Banner didn't exactly test his skills. Photo by guide Eric Hynes.
Anhingidae (Anhingas)

ANHINGA (Anhinga anhinga)

Their silhouettes are distinctive -- tight flocks migrating

Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)

NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Nannopterum brasilianum)

Numerous in several locations

Pelecanidae (Pelicans)

AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)

I absolutely love how they circle in unison

BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis)

Strictly coastal

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

AMERICAN BITTERN (Botaurus lentiginosus)

What a pleasant surprise to have that bird in flight put down in the field close to us. It was impressive how well it blended into the landscape when it wanted to

BARE-THROATED TIGER-HERON (Tigrisoma mexicanum)

From the ancient bridge on our return from Xocotitla

GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias)

Neat to see migrants high overhead

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)

Here and there along the coast

SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)

Easy to come by

LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea)

Surprising to me was the fact that we saw this species the most at Las Barrancas

TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor)

The wader wearing white boxer shorts

Field Guides Birding Tours
This Mountain Horned Lizard was an unexpected surprise at our Transvolcanic Jay stop on our way up Cofre de Perote. I am so glad I did not step on it! Photo by guide Eric Hynes.

REDDISH EGRET (Egretta rufescens)

It was entertaining to observe the many foraging techniques of this wader at Playa Chachalacas

CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis)

Big flocks

GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens)

Never numerous but we enjoyed good looks at multiple locations

BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)

The creeping behavior in frog pose was amusing

YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nyctanassa violacea)

Funny how they were all flinching when the Snail Kite was in flight

Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)

WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus)

The flocks flying by the hawk watch sites were comprised mostly of juveniles; the bulk of the adults probably passed by earlier

WHITE-FACED IBIS (Plegadis chihi)

This is the default Plegadis species expected in the region

ROSEATE SPOONBILL (Platalea ajaja)

Two birds flew over in a mixed flock at sunrise during our walk at Cansaburro

Cathartidae (New World Vultures)

BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus)

In huge numbers and on the wing but going nowhere

TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)

The squadrons by the hundreds and thousands, streaming overhead, with the somewhat symmetrical spacing, were a joy to watch

LESSER YELLOW-HEADED VULTURE (Cathartes burrovianus)

We just had to get to the appropriate habitat to find this close cousin to the Turkey Vulture: the extensive grasslands at Las Barrancas

Pandionidae (Osprey)

OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus)

We witnessed a conspicuous push of migrants at the same time as the big kestrel movement

Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

WHITE-TAILED KITE (Elanus leucurus)

What an elegant raptor, in a most unexpected location

Field Guides Birding Tours
Our morning up at Las Minas was magical. We were introduced to a whole new soundscape. One of the most beautiful singers that sunrise was the endemic Brown-backed Solitaire. Photo by guide Jorge Montejo-Diaz.

HOOK-BILLED KITE (HOOK-BILLED) (Chondrohierax uncinatus uncinatus)

A few migrants were tough to pick out among the thousands of raptors overhead during the peak flights. I recall one bird in the afternoon at Chichicaxtle that I think everyone got on

SWALLOW-TAILED KITE (Elanoides forficatus)

We were fortunate to catch two tardy individuals passing over Cardel; most of these elegant raptors migrate through Mexico in August and September

SNAIL KITE (Rostrhamus sociabilis)

Plenty of good looks across the landscape at Las Barrancas

MISSISSIPPI KITE (Ictinia mississippiensis)

Over 300,000 of these early migrants had already been counted before our tour; we were just catching the immature stragglers

NORTHERN HARRIER (Circus hudsonius)

A few from the hawk watches but our best looks were certainly over the grasslands at Las Barrancas

SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (Accipiter striatus)

Plenty of migrants passing the hawk watches

COOPER'S HAWK (Accipiter cooperii)

Not quite as numerous as the previous species but still quite a few

COMMON BLACK HAWK (Buteogallus anthracinus)

The pair of adults across the river during our last lunch in Tlacotalpan were striking

GREAT BLACK HAWK (Buteogallus urubitinga)

We spotted an immature bird on a fencepost our last morning in the field

ROADSIDE HAWK (Rupornis magnirostris)

Conspicuous by sight and sound

GRAY HAWK (Buteo plagiatus)

One got itself in trouble when it soared into a Roadside Hawk territory

BROAD-WINGED HAWK (Buteo platypterus)

Truly awe-inspiring numbers of these migrants after that stalled front finally cleared the area

SHORT-TAILED HAWK (Buteo brachyurus)

A few here and there; our best looks were a light morph followed by a dark morph soaring low over Quiahuixtlan

SWAINSON'S HAWK (Buteo swainsoni)

It was interesting to study the structure and flight style differences with Broad-winged Hawk in the kettles

ZONE-TAILED HAWK (Buteo albonotatus)

We managed to spot a few of these Turkey Vulture mimics among the many thousands of real vultures

Field Guides Birding Tours
Participant Chris Daly did a great job of capturing this image of a Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture in the low light of sunrise on a cloudy day at Las Barrancas.

RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis)

It was so odd for me to be around many thousands of raptors and to only see a few of these

Strigidae (Owls)

FERRUGINOUS PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium brasilianum)

We got used to Jorge's uncanny imitation but the real owls never did; we enjoyed excellent looks at this mighty but tiny owl multiple times and it never got old

Trogonidae (Trogons)

BLACK-HEADED TROGON (Trogon melanocephalus) [*]

We were unlucky with trogons on this run but some people got to hear this species during our walk at Cansaburro

Momotidae (Motmots)

BLUE-CAPPED MOTMOT (Momotus coeruliceps)

Motmots are so regal and this species is no exception; we savored multiple good looks at Macuiltepetl

Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)

RINGED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle torquata)

This massive kingfisher held the wire nicely for us, despite the high wind, our first walk at Arroyo El Giote and we caught up to another one on the river cruise

BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon)

The kingfisher we encountered most frequently during the tour

AMAZON KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle amazona)

The bill of this species is proportionally huge! We saw one perched in the shadows along the river at the ancient bridge

GREEN KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle americana)

It was so fun to have multiple sightings during our morning walk at La Mancha

Picidae (Woodpeckers)


The first of these migrants were just arriving at the end of our tour. We finally caught up to one at Macuiltepetl

ACORN WOODPECKER (Melanerpes formicivorus)

We enjoyed watching and listening to a family group at El Haya

GOLDEN-FRONTED WOODPECKER (VELASQUEZ'S) (Melanerpes aurifrons veraecrucis)


Field Guides Birding Tours
This Golden-olive Woodpecker we found at Parque Natura in Xalapa generated lots of oohs and aahs. Photo by guide Jorge Montejo-Diaz.


Sightings almost daily

HAIRY WOODPECKER (Dryobates villosus)

Just once up at Las Minas

LINEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus lineatus) [*]

Heard repeatedly at multiple locations but we never got close enough to this impressive woodpecker to get a look

GOLDEN-OLIVE WOODPECKER (Colaptes rubiginosus)

What a stunner! There were lots of oohs and aahs when this beautiful woodpecker came into view at Parque Natura

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

We finally added this species up near Perote

Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

LAUGHING FALCON (Herpetotheres cachinnans)

I am not sure I would characterize their vocalization as a laugh but it was borderline comical how long that pair carried on calling during our morning at Xocotitla

COLLARED FOREST-FALCON (Micrastur semitorquatus)

That bird zipping in and perching briefly, while all the songbirds scattered at Parque Natura made for a dramatic scene

CRESTED CARACARA (Caracara plancus)

Quite a few around at Las Barrancas

AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius)

This was the indicator species for the migration floodgates opening up with the passage of the front (I can't call it cold) -- 600+ in one afternoon!

MERLIN (Falco columbarius)

More days than not but never numerous

APLOMADO FALCON (Falco femoralis)

Voted the species of the tour! We enjoyed so many good looks at this dashing falcon. None of us will forget the pair chasing that warbler over the dunes at Juan Angel

BAT FALCON (Falco rufigularis)

This one is a real race car and flashing paint job to boot! I was delighted that one at Xocotitla held its perch long enough for everyone to enjoy good scope views.

PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus)

If it wasn't for the constant parade of American Kestrels, we would have been celebrating all the Peregrines on that third afternoon more

Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)

MONK PARAKEET (Myiopsitta monachus) [I]

A small colony of this introduced species seems to be doing well behind Hotel Mocambo

Field Guides Birding Tours
Mexico is one of the regions where wrens flourish. We observed a family group of endemic Gray-barred Wrens busily attending to a bulky nest in the montane forests up at Las Minas. Photo by guide Eric Hynes.

RED-LORED PARROT (Amazona autumnalis)

Heard calling for awhile before we finally spotted a small flock in flight at Xocotitla

WHITE-FRONTED PARROT (Amazona albifrons)

We encountered this Amazona on three different days

OLIVE-THROATED PARAKEET (AZTEC) (Eupsittula nana astec)

Most of our looks were flybys but we got scope views at least once that I recall

Furnariidae (Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers)

OLIVACEOUS WOODCREEPER (Sittasomus griseicapillus)

We had to declare we were leaving to get this one to finally show itself just before the rain and sunset chased us out of El Haya

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

We caught up to this woodcreeper at elevation (Las Minas)

Tityridae (Tityras and Allies)

MASKED TITYRA (Tityra semifasciata)

Good looks at La Mancha

ROSE-THROATED BECARD (Pachyramphus aglaiae)

Oddly proportioned and sexually dimorphic

Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)

COMMON TODY-FLYCATCHER (Todirostrum cinereum)

They were very near us and quite vocal but it took awhile to finally get looks at these sprites at Las Barrancas


This delicate flycatcher was in the dry shrubs at Xocotitla


Contopus genus flycatchers can be tricky to identify so we were all thankful that first individual stuck around long enough at Miradores to secure the proper ID: vested appearance, heavy bill and blocky head. It was also helpful to have one in view at the same time as the next species when we were looking into the caldera at Macuiltepetl

GREATER PEWEE (Contopus pertinax)

There was something regal about the individual teed up in the caldera at Macuiltepetl

Field Guides Birding Tours
Here is another excellent sketch from participant Judith Dunham. We all huddled around and teased out the ID of this female Common Pauraque retrix.

WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE (Contopus sordidulus)

While we never heard a call note to clinch the ID, our collective experience all leaned heavily toward Western (vs. Eastern) for the bird on the wire as we were leaving Macuiltepetl

YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Empidonax flaviventris)

I was really bewildered to see a flycatcher that prefers conifers at bog edges and mountain forests of the Northeast switch to parched, desert scrub habitat in the winter

LEAST FLYCATCHER (Empidonax minimus)

Their "whit" call notes were nearly a constant the first few mornings of the tour

HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER (Empidonax hammondii)

Up at Las Minas

DUSKY FLYCATCHER (Empidonax oberholseri)

In the dry valley west of Perote

PINE FLYCATCHER (Empidonax affinis)

We found this Empidonax at around 10,000 feet

CORDILLERAN FLYCATCHER (Empidonax occidentalis)

This species has been lumped back together with Pacific-slope. It is now Western (again) and this will be reflected with our next update of this program.

BUFF-BREASTED FLYCATCHER (Empidonax fulvifrons rubicundus)

A distinctive Empidonax -- what a treat!

EASTERN PHOEBE (Sayornis phoebe)

Good looks at Miradores

SAY'S PHOEBE (Sayornis saya saya)

Just a few

VERMILION FLYCATCHER (Pyrocephalus rubinus)

Sharon's bird! We had so many great looks at this vibrant little flycatcher that thankfully prefers to tee up when perched

DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tuberculifer)

Calling and some views at Parque Natura


Their strong "Wheep!" call was heard at multiple locations and we saw this bright Myiarchus several times

BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tyrannulus) [*]

Heard on our walk at Xocotitla down at the little reservoir at the end

GREAT KISKADEE (Pitangus sulphuratus)

The boldest of the "three musketeers"

BOAT-BILLED FLYCATCHER (Megarynchus pitangua)

Hard to forget Jorge's description of the call

Field Guides Birding Tours
Sharon's excitement when seeing a male Vermilion Flycatcher was contagious. Who doesn't love seeing a vibrant red bird. Photo by participant Chris Daly.

SOCIAL FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes similis)

Conspicuous family groups in the canopy of the trees below the rooftop of Hotel Bienvenido

TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus)

Particularly vocal at sunrise

COUCH'S KINGBIRD (Tyrannus couchii)

The pair at the ancient bridge responded nicely; their calls were the key in separating them from all the Tropical Kingbirds we had been hearing

EASTERN KINGBIRD (Tyrannus tyrannus)

There was a reliable bird in the canopy as we looked down from the rooftop at Hotel Bienvenido


The loose flocks streaming overhead were one of the more memorable migration phenomenons


We didn't catch up to this magnificent species until the last morning but then we had them in spades

Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)

WHITE-EYED VIREO (Vireo griseus)

More days than not

HUTTON'S VIREO (Vireo huttoni)

Up at Las Minas

CASSIN'S VIREO (CASSIN'S) (Vireo cassinii cassinii)

Part of our group spotted one of these in a mixed flock from the tower at Macuiltepetl

BLUE-HEADED VIREO (Vireo solitarius solitarius)

One of their calls reminds me of the maniacal laughter of the Penguin -- the character from the Batman series. We heard it repeatedly on our hike at Macuiltepetl.

WARBLING VIREO (Vireo gilvus)

Those who climbed the tower at Macuiltepetl got a look at one in a mixed flock

Laniidae (Shrikes)

LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE (Lanius ludovicianus)

Our best look was the individual on the barbed wire at Las Barrancas

Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)

BROWN JAY (Psilorhinus morio)

These big, noisy jays made an appearance at multiple stops

Jorge's uncanny whistled imitation of Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl was irresistible to so many of these mighty mites. This one came in at Cansaburro and stuck around long after our group moved down the trail. Notice the subtle tonal changes to the notes of its song based on the head position. Video captured by guide Eric Hynes.

GREEN JAY (Cyanocorax yncas)

We kept hearing them off in the distance at Macuiltepetl but then just before we exited the park, we encountered a remarkably cooperative flock

STELLER'S JAY (Cyanocitta stelleri)

Heard more than seen when we were up at elevation

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

This subspecies has a noticeably different pitch to its call notes

TRANSVOLCANIC JAY (Aphelocoma ultramarina ultramarina) [E]

It was thrilling to catch up to this extemely range-restricted species

Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)

MEXICAN CHICKADEE (Poecile sclateri sclateri)

Best looks were up at Cofre de Perote

BLACK-CRESTED TITMOUSE (Baeolophus atricristatus atricristatus)

Heard more than seen at Miradores

Alaudidae (Larks)

HORNED LARK (Eremophila alpestris)

A specific stop on our way back to Perote proved fruitful

Hirundinidae (Swallows)

NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)

Almost daily

MANGROVE SWALLOW (Tachycineta albilinea)

Good looks in the rain from our lunch spot in Tlacotalpan

VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW (Tachycineta thalassina)

A few of us picked out a couple mixed in with the White-throated Swifts over the canyon at Las Minas

Field Guides Birding Tours
One of the biggest surprises of the tour was this young Parasitic Jaeger zipping over us at Las Barrancas. Photo by guide Jorge Montejo-Diaz.

BANK SWALLOW (Riparia riparia)

A few of these diminutive swallows were pointed out

BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)

Definitely the most numerous swallow by far

CLIFF SWALLOW (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)

A few here and there

CAVE SWALLOW (Petrochelidon fulva)

We teased up a couple from the hawk watch at Chichicaxtle

Aegithalidae (Long-tailed Tits)

BUSHTIT (MELANOTIS GROUP) (Psaltriparus minimus personatus)

A swarm of these social sprites poured through the canopy at Cofre de Perote

Regulidae (Kinglets)

RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET (Corthylio calendula)

Only at elevation


Same as previous species

Sittidae (Nuthatches)

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

Just one and it was uncharacteristically quiet; good spotting by Chris up at Cofre de Perote

Certhiidae (Treecreepers)

BROWN CREEPER (Certhia americana)

Heard way more than seen at Cofre de Perote

Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)

BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER (Polioptila caerulea)

Lots and lots and lots

Field Guides Birding Tours
This was one of many squadrons of American White Pelicans we witnessed. The lone Broad-winged Hawk in the formation is a great example of "size is the great deceiver" (due to depth perception). The hawk is way smaller than the pelicans, so it must be closer and lower to look so big. Photo by guide Eric Hynes.
Troglodytidae (Wrens)

CANYON WREN (Catherpes mexicanus mexicanus)

A delayed response but one bird gave its ringing song at the end of our hike at Xocotitla

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

Just a few towards the end of the trip

GRASS WREN (NORTHERN) (Cistothorus platensis jalapensis)

What a treat to see this skulker so well!

BEWICK'S WREN (Thryomanes bewickii)

There were a few in the dry scrub after lunch in Perote

BAND-BACKED WREN (Campylorhynchus zonatus)

Most days the second half of the tour

GRAY-BARRED WREN (Campylorhynchus megalopterus) [E]

This species is consistently found in groups

RUFOUS-NAPED WREN (VERACRUZ) (Campylorhynchus rufinucha rufinucha) [E]

This large, charismatic wren is bound to be elevated to its own species

SPOT-BREASTED WREN (Pheugopedius maculipectus)

What a wonderful, ringing song; best detected at Cansaburro

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

Heard well but we never got a look at this wren up at Las Minas

Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)

BLUE MOCKINGBIRD (Melanotis caerulescens)

We worked and worked to get a look at this unusual mockingbird, and then when we weren't even trying, we enjoyed sustained looks at an individual gobbling down the fruit on that vine

GRAY CATBIRD (Dumetella carolinensis)

Not many individuals, but most days during the second half of the tour

CURVE-BILLED THRASHER (Toxostoma curvirostre)

Good looks in the scope of the mildly curved bills of this golden-eyed thrasher


We had a bird hold its perch on the wire near where we saw the American Bittern, which made for an excellent comparison to the Northern Mockingbird we had earlier in the day

Field Guides Birding Tours
Another surprise we enjoyed at Las Barrancas was when this American Bittern was flushed by another bittern and it put back down in the field close to us. Participant Chris Daly captured this flight shot.

NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos)

Good looks at a bird with large, white wing patches when it flew near the cattle pen after breakfast at Las Barrancas

Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)

WESTERN BLUEBIRD (Sialia mexicana)

Good scope views west of Perote

BROWN-BACKED SOLITAIRE (Myadestes occidentalis) [E]

What an enchanting song! Thankfully, one of them held a perch long enough for all to get scope views at this subtle beauty

RUSSET NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (Catharus occidentalis)

Another dawn performer at Las Minas

WOOD THRUSH (Hylocichla mustelina)

A familiar sound in an unfamiliar landscape; interesting to see this species on its wintering grounds at El Haya


Common and conspicuous

BLACK THRUSH (Turdus infuscatus)

Another Las Minas find

AMERICAN ROBIN (Turdus migratorius)

Up at elevation

Ptiliogonatidae (Silky-flycatchers)

GRAY SILKY-FLYCATCHER (Ptiliogonys cinereus)

Wonderful views of this snazzy bird at Las Minas

Peucedramidae (Olive Warbler)

OLIVE WARBLER (Peucedramus taeniatus)

We saw several but there was one bright male up at Cofre de Perote that I am sure sticks out in your memory

Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus)

We had them in a few smaller communities above Xalapa

Field Guides Birding Tours
I bet this Fork-tailed Flycatcher thought it was pretty special until this Scissor-tailed Flycatcher joined it. We certainly enjoyed the elegant flycatcher comparison. Photo by guide Eric Hynes.
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)

AMERICAN PIPIT (Anthus rubescens)

Flyovers at Las Barrancas

Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)

SCRUB EUPHONIA (Euphonia affinis)

Our best look was at Cansaburro

YELLOW-THROATED EUPHONIA (Euphonia hirundinacea)

The male foraging below the hummingbird feeders at El Haya was particularly sharp

HOUSE FINCH (Haemorhous mexicanus)

One female teed up nicely for us on the wire at Miradores

RED CROSSBILL (Loxia curvirostra)

We heard flyovers a couple of times and saw silhouettes overhead during our morning at elevation. Jorge suggested those were most likely call type 11.

LESSER GOLDFINCH (Spinus psaltria)

Our best looks were west of Perote

Passerellidae (New World Sparrows)

COMMON CHLOROSPINGUS (NORTHEAST MEXICO) (Chlorospingus flavopectus ophthalmicus)

A group were foraging together shortly after we entered El Haya

BOTTERI'S SPARROW (Peucaea botterii)

What a great look at Miradores!

GRASSHOPPER SPARROW (Ammodramus savannarum)

Heard singing its insect-like song several times at Las Barrancas. It could have easily gone unnoticed -- good ear, Chris!

CLAY-COLORED SPARROW (Spizella pallida)

A somewhat unexpected find at our second stop at Las Minas

BLACK-CHINNED SPARROW (Spizella atrogularis) [*]

Singing briefly west of Perote

LARK SPARROW (Chondestes grammacus)

There was one leafless shrub that quite a few liked to perch in at Xocotitla

Field Guides Birding Tours
Visiting rich cultural sites was one of the many interesting aspects of this tour (besides the birds!). We visited the home of Hernán Cortes, the Spanish conquistador credited with engineering the downfall of the Aztec Empire. Photo by guide Jorge Montejo-Diaz.

YELLOW-EYED JUNCO (MEXICAN) (Junco phaeonotus phaeonotus)

Cofre de Perote

STRIPED SPARROW (Oriturus superciliosus superciliosus) [E]

What a whooper of a sparrow!

SAVANNAH SPARROW (Passerculus sandwichensis)

One teed up long enough for us all to get looks at Xocotitla

LINCOLN'S SPARROW (Melospiza lincolnii)

We encountered a few at Miradores

CANYON TOWHEE (Melozone fusca)

In the dry landscape west of Perote


A pair of this bold towhee came in nicely for us at Cofre de Perote

Icteriidae (Yellow-breasted Chat)


Certainly more heard than seen

Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)

EASTERN MEADOWLARK (Sturnella magna)

Multiple excellent scope views at Las Barrancas our last morning

MONTEZUMA OROPENDOLA (Psarocolius montezuma)

Love their vocalizations!

ORCHARD ORIOLE (ORCHARD) (Icterus spurius spurius)

Quite a few at Miradores

HOODED ORIOLE (Icterus cucullatus)

Cansaburro was our only encounter

BULLOCK'S ORIOLE (Icterus bullockii bullockii)

I only recall one brief sighting in the highlands

ALTAMIRA ORIOLE (Icterus gularis)

Shockingly orange

Field Guides Birding Tours
Picturesque Las Minas Canyon hosted a whole suite of birds we encountered nowhere else on the tour. Photo by guide Eric Hynes.

BALTIMORE ORIOLE (Icterus galbula)

Fun to see them flying by the hawk watches

RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius phoeniceus)

We encountered a flock along the tributary during our afternoon river cruise

BRONZED COWBIRD (Molothrus aeneus)

Filling up the empty billboard made for a memorable sighting at sunset from the rooftop in Cardel



GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus)

Their cacophony as they settled into roost in the plaza at Cardel was something else

Parulidae (New World Warblers)

OVENBIRD (Seiurus aurocapilla)

Sadly, the most memorable one was probably not long for this world

LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia motacilla)

Our one and only encounter occurred just before sunset in El Haya. Its chip note was stout!

NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis)

Easily encountered in this region while we were there. I particularly enjoyed that one taking shelter from the wind at Las Barrancas

BLUE-WINGED WARBLER (Vermivora cyanoptera)

One in a mixed flock at Parque Natura



PROTHONOTARY WARBLER (Protonotaria citrea)

A noteworthy species; one was working the road edge at the wetland at La Mancha

CRESCENT-CHESTED WARBLER (Oreothlypis superciliosa)

This beauty received several votes for bird of the tour

TENNESSEE WARBLER (Leiothlypis peregrina)

Another species only seen from the tower at Macuiltepetl

NASHVILLE WARBLER (Leiothlypis ruficapilla)

Scattered throughout the tour

Field Guides Birding Tours
Snowy Plovers are well-camoflauged to blend in with their preferrred habitat but we managed to find several on our visits to the coast. Photo by guide Eric Hynes.

GRAY-CROWNED YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis poliocephala)

At Miradores; some may have only heard it

MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLER (Geothlypis tolmiei)

Normally hard to get in the bins, our first hard chipper was surprisingly cooperative at Macuiltepetl

KENTUCKY WARBLER (Geothlypis formosa)

One was skulking along the edge of the trail as we were passing through the forest on our way back at Juan Angel

COMMON YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis trichas)

Not as easy to come by as I would have guessed

HOODED YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis nelsoni nelsoni) [E]

One of the few species on this tour we had to work for but eventually we scored satisfying views of this endemic

HOODED WARBLER (Setophaga citrina)

Macuiltepetl was THE location to see this striking warbler.....on railings, on stairs, etc.

AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla)


NORTHERN PARULA (Setophaga americana)

Best look was at Parque Natura

MAGNOLIA WARBLER (Setophaga magnolia)

Another bird seen well at Parque Natura

YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia)

Mostly coastal but seen almost daily

CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER (Setophaga pensylvanica)

An unexpected find at Parque Natura

YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (MYRTLE) (Setophaga coronata coronata)

Quite a few on our highlands day

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

Just one up at Cofre de Perote

YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER (Setophaga dominica)

This species gravitates towards palm trees but we saw one on a cattle feed apparatus?!

TOWNSEND'S WARBLER (Setophaga townsendi)

Only on one day but they were common up in the highlands

HERMIT WARBLER (Setophaga occidentalis)

How crazy was it to see this species, in the same tree, at the same time, with the previous species and the next species?&$%!!

Field Guides Birding Tours
There were so many fabulous butterflies on this tour, but few were as striking as this stunning Malachite. Photo by guide Eric Hynes.


On a few days toward the end of the tour

RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER (Basileuterus rufifrons)

Our first sighting was at Parque Natura

GOLDEN-BROWED WARBLER (Basileuterus belli)

Good looks at this striking warbler in the understory at Macuiltepetl

GOLDEN-CROWNED WARBLER (STRIPE-CROWNED) (Basileuterus culicivorus brasierii)

Seen in the darkening understory at El Haya

CANADA WARBLER (Cardellina canadensis)

Good spotting Sharon!

WILSON'S WARBLER (Cardellina pusilla)

"Willy!" How many times did we say that? Every Wilson's Warbler in the world must go through Veracruz in the fall

RED WARBLER (WHITE-CHEEKED) (Cardellina rubra rubra) [E]

A real stunner and an endemic to boot

SLATE-THROATED REDSTART (Myioborus miniatus)

I loved watching this colorful warbler's frenetic foraging

Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)

SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra)

Heard more than seen

SCARLET TANAGER (Piranga olivacea)

This one got the Mexican birders excited! A male in non-breeding plumage perched in the open several times for us to enjoy from the hawk watch at Chichicaxtle

WHITE-WINGED TANAGER (Piranga leucoptera)

This gorgeous tanager was foraging in the canopy at Macuiltepetl

NORTHERN CARDINAL (Cardinalis cardinalis)

Several stops in the lowlands

ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus ludovicianus)

A fair number were around

INDIGO BUNTING (Passerina cyanea)

Mostly flyovers

PAINTED BUNTING (Passerina ciris)

Little green birds

Field Guides Birding Tours
Our first morning in the field we visited a coastal site and had a wonderful study of a diverse group of roosting terns. How many species can you pick out in this image? Photo by guide Eric Hynes.

DICKCISSEL (Spiza americana)

Distinctive call notes were hard to miss most mornings overhead but it wasn't until the last morning at Las Barrancas that we finally got one in the scope for good views. I particularly enjoyed seeing the cheeky ones mixed into the flocks of White-winged Doves passing overhead at La Mancha.

Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)

BLUE-GRAY TANAGER (Thraupis episcopus)

The Mountain Bluebird of the tropics


Common and conspicuous

CINNAMON-BELLIED FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa baritula baritula)

A few people got on this looker up at Las Minas

BLUE-BLACK GRASSQUIT (Volatinia jacarina)

"Johnny jump up"

MORELET'S SEEDEATER (Sporophila morelleti)

The males were acting inconspicuous or perhaps in molt

BLACK-HEADED SALTATOR (Saltator atriceps)

More encounters with this saltator than the next species


A very handsome bird


VARIEGATED SQUIRREL (Sciurus variegatoides)

The only native mammal we saw alive during the tour!

Field Guides Birding Tours
Blue Mockingbirds aren't nearly as confiding as many other mockingbirds, so we were pleased to see this one so well, gobbling down fruit up at the tower on our hike at Macuiltepetl. Photo by guide Eric Hynes.


In addition to all the fantastic birds, we saw many amazing butterflies as well. Jeanne has spearheaded cataloging all the species with contributions from Chris and others. Here is a preliminary list:

Jalupus Cloudywing, Band-celled Sister, Celerio Sister, Banded Peacock, White Peacock, Tropical Least Skipper, Common Spurwing, Great Southern White, Giant Metalmark, Variable Banner, Central American Checkered-Skipper, Tropical Checkered-Skipper, Erodyle Checkerspot, Bordered Patch, Crimson Patch, Rosita Patch, Plain Satyr, Eastern Tailed-Blue, Queen, Pavon Emperor, Banded Orange Heliconian, Julia Heliconian, Four-spotted Sailor, Northern Sicklewing, Pale Emesis, Common Banner, Longwing Crescent, Dingy Purplewing, Variegated Fritillary, Mexican Fritillary, Boisduval's Yellow, Barred Yellow, Mexican Kite-Swallowtail, Florida White, Glaucous Cracker, Guatemalan Cracker, Zebra Longwing, Red Postman, Ceraunus Blue, Mangrove Buckeye, Many-banded Daggerwing, Red-bordered Pixie, Forrer's Leafwing, Elf, Variable Swallowtail, Violet-patched Skipper, Thoas Swallowtail, Pine Satyr, Pink-spotted Cattleheart, Glazed Pellicia, Large Orange Sulphur, Cloudless Sulphur, Vesta Crescent, Phaon Crescent, Mexican Anglewing, Tailed Orange, Canna Skipper, Red-striped Leafwing, Malachite, Blomfield's Beauty, Thamyra Satyr, Black-bordered Crescent, Brown Longtail, Plain Longtail, Glassy-winged Skipper, Soldier, Gray Cracker, Red Cracker, Pale-banded Crescent, Dark Kite-Swallowtail, Tropical Buckeye, Mexican Silverspot, Ruby-spotted Swallowtail, and Common Sootywing.

Totals for the tour: 301 bird taxa and 1 mammal taxa