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Field Guides Tour Report
Holiday Mexico: Yucatan & Cozumel 2016
Nov 19, 2016 to Nov 28, 2016
Chris Benesh & Alex Dzib

Part of the flamingo spectacle at Celestun. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

The Yucatan Peninsula continues to prove an amazing place to experience wonderful wildlife and fascinating Maya culture. We enjoyed a lot of both on this 2016 Holiday Mexico: Yucatan & Cozumel tour.

We met up for dinner in Cozumel just in time for a storm that hit so hard it drove us inside our restaurant. In fact, for most of our stay on Cozumel the weather was very unsettled, with bits of morning rain and big evening showers. But the birds on the island cooperated for us in spite of the conditions. The Cozumel Emerald and Cozumel Vireo were big hits for all. And who knew the Black Catbird could become so confiding and endearing? On top of all of the birds, we had a nice encounter with the endemic Pygmy Raccoon at the north end of the island.

After our ferry crossing to the mainland at Playa del Carmen, we headed to Coba, where we stayed at the charming, family-run Hotel Sac-Be, eating our meals at Rene’s El Paso Restaurant. We beat the crowds into the Coba Mayan site and saw a number of regional specialties, and otherwise explored the shores of Lago Coba and nearby.

We spent the next morning visiting Punta Laguna, known locally as Otoch Ma’ax Yetel Kooh. This reserve was set aside to protect monkeys and cougars and is home to all manner of wildlife. In addition to our sightings of both Yucatan Black Howlers and Central American Spider Monkeys, Blue Bunting and cave-dwelling Mottled Owls were our morning favorites.

We then had a great tour of Chichen Itza in the afternoon, and in addition to learning about the site we marveled at the Bat Falcon zooming around the Sacred Cenote there. The following morning we birded hotel grounds adjacent to the ruins. Then we were off to Uxmal, stopping along the way to bird and sightsee at the Yokdzonot Cenote, followed by lunch and birding at the Hacienda Ochil, where we caught our first glimpse of Gray-throated Chat.

From there it was on to Uxmal, where we had a really productive couple of days of birding and another ruins tour. It was at Uxmal that we were teased by our first Orange Oriole, and where we ran into our only Lesser Roadrunner, high on everyone’s want list. The Campeche Road was another great morning birding spot in this area.

From Uxmal we were off to Celestun, taking a scenic route through several villages and interesting wetlands north of Chunchucmil before heading west to Celestun. We got there in time to see a few area specialties: Yucatan Wren, White-lored Gnatcatcher, Mexican Sheartail, and our first Black-throated Bobwhite.

The next day saw us searching for the mangrove-dwelling Rufous-necked Wood-Rail. Alex’s expertise paid off again here, and we eventually tracked down one that stayed in the open long enough to be enjoyed by all. Then it was time to take our boat trip on the Ria Celestun and enjoy the spectacle of hundreds of bright pink flamingos and take an exciting side trip into the (red) mangroves to a freshwater spring where we enjoyed kingfishers and a tiger-heron family.

Sadly, at this point, the tour was winding down, and we made our way to Merida for our farewell dinner. Thanks to Juan for his excellent driving throughout, and to Alex for being his exemplary self. And thanks to all of you for taking part in this Thanksgiving getaway. It was a pleasure traveling with all of you, and I hope to see all of you again on a future adventure. Safe travels all!


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

Our handsome group posting in front of the main temple at Chichen Itza. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Anas discors) – A few of these at a roadside pond between Uxmal and Celestun.
Cracidae (Guans, Chachalacas, and Curassows)
PLAIN CHACHALACA (Ortalis vetula) – A few seen nicely near Celestun. A few seen skulking near Uxmal too.
Odontophoridae (New World Quail)
BLACK-THROATED BOBWHITE (Colinus nigrogularis) – We lucked into a few small flocks of these near Celestun providing some decent views.
Podicipedidae (Grebes)
LEAST GREBE (Tachybaptus dominicus) – Great looks at this species at Coba.
PIED-BILLED GREBE (Podilymbus podiceps)

A close-up of a couple American Flamingos at Celestun. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

Phoenicopteridae (Flamingos)
AMERICAN FLAMINGO (Phoenicopterus ruber) – What an amazing spectacle seeing all of these colorful birds at the lagoons of Celestun.
Ciconiidae (Storks)
WOOD STORK (Mycteria americana) – Small numbers of these were in wetlands at and near Celestun.
Fregatidae (Frigatebirds)
MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD (Fregata magnificens) – Fairly common in coastal areas.
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax brasilianus)
DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax auritus)

The endemic subspecies of Western Spindalis seen on Cozumel Island. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

Anhingidae (Anhingas)
ANHINGA (Anhinga anhinga)
Pelecanidae (Pelicans)
AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) – These were a small number of these on Estero Celestun.
BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis)
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
BARE-THROATED TIGER-HERON (Tigrisoma mexicanum) – A terrific experience with this species near the little freshwater spring on our mangrove boat trip. Wonderful to watch the young bird begging from its foraging adult.
GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias)

The Cozumel subspecies of Rufous-browed Peppershrike, quite a bit paler below than other forms. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)
SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)
LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea)
TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor)
REDDISH EGRET (Egretta rufescens) – Seen by some folks at the north end of Cozumel.

Everyone was charmed by the caramel-colored Cozumel Vireo. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis)
GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens)
YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nyctanassa violacea) – Good look at one on the road at Punta Norte on Cozumel. Also at Celestun.
BOAT-BILLED HERON (Cochlearius cochlearius) – Nice studies of a couple of birds near Celestun at the end of the causeway.
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus) – A couple of flocks flew past us at Punta Norte, Cozumel. More around the wetlands at Celestun including the disturbing sight of them picking through burning trash at the dump there.

Here is the Cozumel Island subspecies of House Wren. A potential future split? (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

ROSEATE SPOONBILL (Platalea ajaja) – Several of these handsome birds flew past at Punta Norte. More around Celestun.
Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus)
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)
LESSER YELLOW-HEADED VULTURE (Cathartes burrovianus) – Some great views of this species at Celestun where it was quite common. Very similar to the Turkey Vulture until one sees the intricate head coloration up close.
Pandionidae (Osprey)
OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus) – A few hunting around Celestun.

A Carribean Elaenia on Cozumel. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
SNAIL KITE (Rostrhamus sociabilis) – A couple of birds were well seen hunting over Lago Coba. Another was just north of there at Punta Laguna.
COMMON BLACK HAWK (Buteogallus anthracinus) – Several nice studies of this species at Celestun.
GREAT BLACK HAWK (Buteogallus urubitinga) – A close encounter with a molting adult bird at the Chunchumil Cenote.
ROADSIDE HAWK (Rupornis magnirostris) – We had about three of these on the San Simon Road.
GRAY HAWK (Buteo plagiatus) – A couple of nice encounters with this species, recently split from the southern Gray-lined Hawk.

Yet another island subspecies, this time a Bright-rumped Attila. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

SHORT-TAILED HAWK (Buteo brachyurus) – A couple seen at Uxmal and another dark morph bird at Celestun.
RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis) – A couple of birds perched atop a power pylon.
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
RUDDY CRAKE (Laterallus ruber) – An amazing crake show at Punta Norte, Cozumel. Several were seen walking along the edge of the road there.
RUFOUS-NECKED WOOD-RAIL (Aramides axillaris) – It took quite a bit of searching before we were able to find one that would stick around long enough to be seen by everyone, but we had great looks in the end! This was the top vote getter for bird of the trip!
RUSSET-NAPED WOOD-RAIL (Aramides albiventris) – Until recently known as Gray-necked Wood-Rail, we had great looks at a family group at some roadside wetlands north of Chunchucmil.

We were most definitely also charmed by the Black Catbirds on Cozumel. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

AMERICAN COOT (Fulica americana)
Aramidae (Limpkin)
LIMPKIN (Aramus guarauna) – A couple of these were evident around the shores of Lago Coba.
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus)
AMERICAN AVOCET (Recurvirostra americana)
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola) – One on Cozumel.

And this small island also has an endemic mammal, the Pygmy Raccoon, whose population numbers no more than a couple hundred individuals. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus)
Jacanidae (Jacanas)
NORTHERN JACANA (Jacana spinosa) – A few around Lago Coba.
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres)
SANDERLING (Calidris alba)
LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla) – Three foraging in mud near El Cedral. More were in the roadside wetlands north of Chunchumil.

Birding at the north end of Cozumel Island. (Photo by participant Deb Finch)

WESTERN SANDPIPER (Calidris mauri)
WILSON'S SNIPE (Gallinago delicata) – One flushed from the side of the road near the Cozumel STP. Another was well studied in the roadside wetland north of Chunchumil.
SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius)
SOLITARY SANDPIPER (Tringa solitaria) – Nice views of one in the mixed tringa group north of Chunchumil.
GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca)

Is the Turquoise-browed Motmot the finest one? (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

WILLET (Tringa semipalmata)
LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes) – One of these was in the tringa group as well.
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
LAUGHING GULL (Leucophaeus atricilla)
ROYAL TERN (Thalasseus maximus)
SANDWICH TERN (Thalasseus sandvicensis)

Rose-throated Tanager is restricted to the Yucatan Peninsula. This one was at Coba. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

BLACK SKIMMER (Rynchops niger) – A big flock of these were flying around the harbor mouth entrance at Celestun.
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]
WHITE-CROWNED PIGEON (Patagioenas leucocephala) – Good scope views of this species on Cozumel on the road to Alberto's.
RED-BILLED PIGEON (Patagioenas flavirostris) – Some flight views of this species primarily near Coba.
EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto) – This species has dramatically increased in abundance here in recent years. [I]

Taking a momentary break from the army ant swarm, this Red-throated Ant-Tanager stops to check us out. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

COMMON GROUND-DOVE (Columbina passerina) – Seen north of Celestun.
RUDDY GROUND-DOVE (Columbina talpacoti) – Lots of really handsome ones.
WHITE-TIPPED DOVE (Leptotila verreauxi)
CARIBBEAN DOVE (Leptotila jamaicensis) – Two seen ever so briefly flushing across the road at Las Palmas, Cozumel.
WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenaida asiatica)

The blue eyering indicates a male Black-headed Trogon, a northern Central American endemic. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
GROOVE-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga sulcirostris)
LESSER ROADRUNNER (Geococcyx velox) – Another trip favorite, Alex spotted an eleventh hour one just as we were set to leave the San Simon Road for the last time.
SQUIRREL CUCKOO (Piaya cayana) – A small number seen. Always a crowd pleaser.
MANGROVE CUCKOO (Coccyzus minor) – Amazing flews of a pair of birds at the end of the road at Punta Norte, Cozumel.
Strigidae (Owls)
VERMICULATED SCREECH-OWL (GUATEMALAN) (Megascops guatemalae thompsoni) [*]

This species is now known as Gartered Trogon, and this one's a female with a broken eye ring. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

GREAT HORNED OWL (Bubo virginianus) – Calling at Uxmal. [*]
FERRUGINOUS PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium brasilianum) – Several nice studies and a lot of other ones heard.
MOTTLED OWL (Ciccaba virgata) – We called in one at Coba, but most memorable were the two perched in the mouth of the cave at Punta Laguna.
Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)
COMMON PAURAQUE (Nyctidromus albicollis) – Our best looks were at the ball field in Coba. Juan's van saw a bunch on the night drive to our hotel in Celestun.
Nyctibiidae (Potoos)
NORTHERN POTOO (Nyctibius jamaicensis) – One seen in flight briefly hunting over the forest at the edge of the ball field in Coba.

A Black-faced Antthrush seen at Coba. This is another species complex that might warrant splitting at some point. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

Apodidae (Swifts)
VAUX'S SWIFT (Chaetura vauxi) – Lots of these foraging over spots on Cozumel as well as on the mainland. The birds here nest in the cenotes that dot the landscape.
Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)
MEXICAN SHEARTAIL (Doricha eliza) – Celestun was the place to see this species! Some really memorable encounters. [E]
COZUMEL EMERALD (Chlorostilbon forficatus) – Great looks at a male and female near the Cozumel STP, feeding on flowers in an overgrown field. [E]
CANIVET'S EMERALD (Chlorostilbon canivetii) – Our only birds were at Coba.
WHITE-BELLIED EMERALD (Amazilia candida) – A couple of birds seen.

The Northern Barred-Woodcreeper is an army ant follower, and this one was attending the swarm at Coba. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

BUFF-BELLIED HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia yucatanensis)
CINNAMON HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia rutila) – One of the more conspicuous hummingbirds seen on the tour.
Trogonidae (Trogons)
BLACK-HEADED TROGON (Trogon melanocephalus) – Nice studies of this species at Coba.
GARTERED TROGON (Trogon caligatus) – A few of these were also present at the ruins of Coba.
Momotidae (Motmots)
LESSON'S MOTMOT (Momotus lessonii exiguus) – Several nice studies beginning with those at Chichen Itza.

And this smaller, brightly colored Ruddy Woodcreeper was also inspecting the swarm. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

TURQUOISE-BROWED MOTMOT (Eumomota superciliosa) – Another spectacular iconic bird.
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon)
GREEN KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle americana) – Good looks at this species in the little freshwater spring nestled in the Celestun mangroves.
AMERICAN PYGMY KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle aenea) – Amazing looks at this species at the Celestun causeway and again on our boat trip.
Ramphastidae (Toucans)
KEEL-BILLED TOUCAN (Ramphastos sulfuratus) – Seen by some flying over Lago Coba, but otherwise awol.

Here is the northernmost population of Yellow-olive Flycatcher. This is a species complex involving several good taxa likely be split in the years to come. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

Picidae (Woodpeckers)
YUCATAN WOODPECKER (Melanerpes pygmaeus) – Nice looks at a couple of these on Cozumel.
GOLDEN-FRONTED WOODPECKER (VELASQUEZ'S ) (Melanerpes aurifrons dubius) – Some nice studies of this species, which looks quite different than those most are familiar with from Texas, being much darker above and having red feathering at the base of the bill.
GOLDEN-OLIVE WOODPECKER (Colaptes rubiginosus)
LINEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus lineatus) – A furtive bird at Coba and a much more cooperative one along the Campeche Road.

This Yellow-winged Tanager is another northern Central American endemic. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
COLLARED FOREST-FALCON (Micrastur semitorquatus) – We heard a couple of these fairly close but could not spot it. [*]
CRESTED CARACARA (Caracara cheriway) – A couple were at the landfill in Celestun.
AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius)
MERLIN (Falco columbarius) – Two went zipping past us at the north end of Cozumel.
BAT FALCON (Falco rufigularis) – There was a pair seen at Coba, but most impressive was the bird circling around the Sacred Cenote at Chichen Itza that joined its mate there.

A brightly colored Yellow-tailed Oriole was one of several orioles seen at Lago Coba. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus) – One seen north of Celestun.
Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)
WHITE-FRONTED PARROT (Amazona albifrons) – Some great scope views of this species near Chichen Itza.
YELLOW-LORED PARROT (Amazona xantholora) – A couple pairs heard and distantly seen at El Cedral.
Thamnophilidae (Typical Antbirds)
BARRED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus doliatus) – A couple of individuals seen.

Yellow-throated Warblers were one of the more confiding wintering species seen on the tour. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

Formicariidae (Antthrushes)
BLACK-FACED ANTTHRUSH (MAYAN) (Formicarius analis moniliger) – We had a calling bird at Coba that eventually hoped up into a tree and began singing. Thankfully, Peg spotted its song perch!
Furnariidae (Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers)
OLIVACEOUS WOODCREEPER (GRAYISH) (Sittasomus griseicapillus gracileus) – Several seen. Note that birds in Central America may one day be split from other forms.
RUDDY WOODCREEPER (Dendrocincla homochroa) – One at the army ant swarm at Coba.
TAWNY-WINGED WOODCREEPER (Dendrocincla anabatina) – We did run into one of these near Uxmal on the Campeche Road.
NORTHERN BARRED-WOODCREEPER (Dendrocolaptes sanctithomae) – Another visitor to the army ant swarm at Coba.

This is Deppe's Squirrel, the smaller of the two endemic squirrels seen on the trip. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

IVORY-BILLED WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus flavigaster) – Several seen.
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET (Camptostoma imberbe) – Several heard, but seen by the group at Uxmal.
GREENISH ELAENIA (GREENISH) (Myiopagis viridicata placens) – We had a couple at Coba, and then seen again by some at Uxmal. It is worth noting that Greenish Elaenia is another excellent candidate to be split into several species, so keep track of where you've seen them.
CARIBBEAN ELAENIA (Elaenia martinica) – A couple of these seen on the road to Alberto's on Cozumel.
YELLOW-BELLIED ELAENIA (Elaenia flavogaster) – A nice encounter with this species at El Cedral.

This Southern Gulf Coast Toad blended into the leaf litter well at Coba.

SEPIA-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Leptopogon amaurocephalus) – One heard at Punta Laguna. [*]
NORTHERN BENTBILL (Oncostoma cinereigulare) – Seen at Coba.
EYE-RINGED FLATBILL (Rhynchocyclus brevirostris) – This big greenish flycatcher was seen just off the trail at Coba.
YELLOW-OLIVE FLYCATCHER (GRAY-HEADED) (Tolmomyias sulphurescens cinereiceps) – Seen at Coba, this is another candidate to be split into several species in the next few years. Keep track of where you've seen them.
STUB-TAILED SPADEBILL (Platyrinchus cancrominus) – Heard on the road to Multum Ha Cenote. [*]

A male Yellow-throated Euphonia, this one near Chichen Itza. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

TROPICAL PEWEE (Contopus cinereus) – A few well seen on the road to Multum Ha Cenote.
YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Empidonax flaviventris) [*]
LEAST FLYCATCHER (Empidonax minimus)
VERMILION FLYCATCHER (Pyrocephalus rubinus) – Seen in the wetlands north of Chunchucmil.
BRIGHT-RUMPED ATTILA (Attila spadiceus) – Great looks at one on Cozumel and another on the mainland near Coba.

Blue-crowned Motmot has been split into multiple species. This one, Lesson's, occupies most of Central America. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

YUCATAN FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus yucatanensis) – We connected with this species at a couple of sites. The first was a pair at Yokdzonot Cenote, then again along the Campeche Road near Uxmal.
DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tuberculifer)
GREAT KISKADEE (Pitangus sulphuratus)
BOAT-BILLED FLYCATCHER (Megarynchus pitangua) – Pretty common in the Yucatan.
SOCIAL FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes similis)

A crowd pleaser was this pair of Mottled Owls that Alex had staked out for us at Punta Laguna. What a sight! (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus)
COUCH'S KINGBIRD (Tyrannus couchii) – Noteworthy was one calling at El Cedral where this species is only a recent colonist.
Tityridae (Tityras and Allies)
MASKED TITYRA (Tityra semifasciata) – Scattered birds seen.
ROSE-THROATED BECARD (Pachyramphus aglaiae)
Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)
RUFOUS-BROWED PEPPERSHRIKE (Cyclarhis gujanensis) – Good views of the endemic Cozumel subspecies. We then saw the yellower subspecies on the mainland.

The local subspecies of Hooded Oriole is so orange! This one was at Coba. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

LESSER GREENLET (Pachysylvia decurtata)
WHITE-EYED VIREO (Vireo griseus)
MANGROVE VIREO (Vireo pallens) – Our first ones were seen near Uxmal and again at Celestun.
COZUMEL VIREO (Vireo bairdi) – What a knockout! A very distinctive species well seen on Cozumel. [E]
YELLOW-THROATED VIREO (Vireo flavifrons)

The Yucatan seems to be a great spot for Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls like this one. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

YUCATAN VIREO (Vireo magister) – Well seen out on Cozumel.
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
BROWN JAY (Psilorhinus morio) – Around Coba and Punta Laguna.
GREEN JAY (Cyanocorax yncas)
YUCATAN JAY (Cyanocorax yucatanicus) – Living up to its name, this species seemed to be all over the place on the mainland.
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (RIDGWAY'S) (Stelgidopteryx serripennis ridgwayi) – This is the local resident form of this species.

A Central American Spider Monkey halts briefly to check us out before continuing along on its way. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

MANGROVE SWALLOW (Tachycineta albilinea) – Seen in the harbor at Celestun.
CAVE SWALLOW (Petrochelidon fulva) – Small numbers seen.
Troglodytidae (Wrens)
HOUSE WREN (COZUMEL I.) (Troglodytes aedon beani) – After a bit of searching we tracked one down at the entrance to Las Palmas. This House Wren is largely white below.
HOUSE WREN (SOUTHERN) (Troglodytes aedon musculus)
CAROLINA WREN (WHITE-BROWED) (Thryothorus ludovicianus albinucha) – This subspecies is restricted to southeast Mexico.

A male Lineated Woodpecker showing nicely at the start of the Campeche Road. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

YUCATAN WREN (Campylorhynchus yucatanicus) – Once considered a Cactus Wrens, we had nice views of a family of four near Celestun. [E]
SPOT-BREASTED WREN (Pheugopedius maculipectus) – Good looks at Coba and Punta Laguna. Quite a songster!
WHITE-BELLIED WREN (Uropsila leucogastra) – A few seen of this tiny wren.
Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)
BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER (Polioptila caerulea)
WHITE-LORED GNATCATCHER (Polioptila albiloris albiventris) – Great views of a few pairs, mostly near Celestun. In my opinion, this subspecies is a decent candidate to be elevated to a full species someday.

Another regional endemic was this Yucatan Flycatcher. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
SWAINSON'S THRUSH (Catharus ustulatus) – One or more seen along the road to Alberto's on Cozumel.
WOOD THRUSH (Hylocichla mustelina) – Heard in the forest of Coba. [*]
Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
BLACK CATBIRD (Melanoptila glabrirostris) – Dozens and dozens were on Cozumel. One of the most common species there.
GRAY CATBIRD (Dumetella carolinensis)

One of the more widespread tropical flycatchers, the Yellow-bellied Elaenia. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

Parulidae (New World Warblers)
OVENBIRD (Seiurus aurocapilla) – A couple of these seen on Cozumel.
WORM-EATING WARBLER (Helmitheros vermivorum) – One on Cozumel on our first day.
LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia motacilla) – One well seen foraging in a clearing at Coba.
NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis) – Quite a few winter in the Yucatan, often in mangroves.

The recently split Russet-naped Wood-Rail, the more northerly form of the former Gray-necked Wood-Rail. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

BLUE-WINGED WARBLER (Vermivora cyanoptera)
COMMON YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis trichas)
HOODED WARBLER (Setophaga citrina)
AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla)

The star of the tour as it turned out was this stealthy Rufous-necked Wood-Rail. The thrill of the chase no doubt contributed to its receiving the most votes as trip favorite. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

NORTHERN PARULA (Setophaga americana)
MAGNOLIA WARBLER (Setophaga magnolia)
YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia)
YELLOW WARBLER (MANGROVE) (Setophaga petechia bryanti)
YELLOW WARBLER (GOLDEN) (Setophaga petechia rufivertex) – Alex pointed out some of the local breeders on Cozumel and noted that some birds there have characteristics of Mangrove Warbler.

One of the Yucatan Wrens seen near Celestun. You can see its similarity to the more familiar Cactus Wren. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

PALM WARBLER (Setophaga palmarum)
YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (MYRTLE) (Setophaga coronata coronata)
YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER (Setophaga dominica)
Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)
GRAY-HEADED TANAGER (Eucometis penicillata) – Two of these were seen on the road to Multum Ha Cenote.

A bright Orange Oriole at Celestun. The Yucatan has a remarkable diversity of orioles! (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

BLUE-GRAY TANAGER (Thraupis episcopus) – This species has increased in numbers in the Yucatan Peninsula in recent years.
RED-LEGGED HONEYCREEPER (Cyanerpes cyaneus) – We did come across a female/immature bird on the road to Multum Ha Cenote.
WHITE-COLLARED SEEDEATER (Sporophila torqueola) – Seen on our first morning on the north end of Cozumel.
BANANAQUIT (Coereba flaveola) – Also out on Cozumel.

A male Mexican Sheartail shows off nicely at Celestun. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

YELLOW-FACED GRASSQUIT (Tiaris olivaceus) – Lots of these along grassy edges on Cozumel.
WESTERN SPINDALIS (COZUMEL I.) (Spindalis zena benedicti) – We saw this species on Cozumel. This subspecies is found only here.
BLACK-HEADED SALTATOR (Saltator atriceps)
GRAYISH SALTATOR (Saltator coerulescens)
Emberizidae (Buntings and New World Sparrows)
OLIVE SPARROW (Arremonops rufivirgatus) – Seen on the San Simon and Campeche roads.

This juvenile Bare-throated Tiger-Heron is food-begging. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

GREEN-BACKED SPARROW (Arremonops chloronotus) – We had four of these at Punta Laguna.
Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)
ROSE-THROATED TANAGER (Piranga roseogularis) – After some work we had nice views of a female plumaged bird on Cozumel. We had at least four of these at Coba and a scattering thereafter.
SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra)
RED-THROATED ANT-TANAGER (Habia fuscicauda) – A few seen, especially near the army ants at Coba.
NORTHERN CARDINAL (Cardinalis cardinalis) – One on Cozumel, others near Celestun.

We had absolutely stunning views of this male American Pygmy Kingfisher during our boat ride. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

GRAY-THROATED CHAT (Granatellus sallaei) – This amazing bird was best seen on the Campeche Road where we had an adult male.
BLUE BUNTING (MIDDLE AMERICA) (Cyanocompsa parellina parellina) – A gorgeous male at Punta Laguna was a treat.
INDIGO BUNTING (Passerina cyanea)
PAINTED BUNTING (Passerina ciris) – A few green females seen.
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius phoeniceus)

A male of the endemic subspecies of White-lored Gnatcatcher, to my mind a good candidate for a split. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

MELODIOUS BLACKBIRD (Dives dives) – Widespread and a large part of the soundscape in most areas.
GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus)
BRONZED COWBIRD (Molothrus aeneus)
BLACK-COWLED ORIOLE (Icterus prosthemelas) – A few seen.
ORCHARD ORIOLE (Icterus spurius)

We had a few nice looks at Plain Chachalacas such as this one near Celestun. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

HOODED ORIOLE (Icterus cucullatus) – Our first was near the Cozumel STP. Became the most numerous oriole seen.
YELLOW-TAILED ORIOLE (Icterus mesomelas) – Several seen, though the best were those at Coba our first afternoon.
ORANGE ORIOLE (Icterus auratus) – First seen by the group at Uxmal, we had some good looks near Celestun as well.
ALTAMIRA ORIOLE (Icterus gularis) – Seen almost daily.
YELLOW-BILLED CACIQUE (Amblycercus holosericeus) – Normally a shy species, we had several exceptional looks!

And the colorful face gives away the identity of this Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, though its name is slightly unfortunate. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
SCRUB EUPHONIA (Euphonia affinis) – We had a couple of these at the Yokdzonot Cenote, and briefly at Chichen Itza.
YELLOW-THROATED EUPHONIA (Euphonia hirundinacea)
LESSER GOLDFINCH (Spinus psaltria)

BRAZILIAN FREE-TAILED BAT (Tadarida brasiliensis) – We didn't for certain see this species, but we did have small bats and a large bat sp.
YUCATAN HOWLER MONKEY (Alouatta pigra) – Good views of this species at Punta Laguna.

A view of the Temple of the Warriors at Chichen Itza in the late afternoon. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

CENTRAL AMERICAN SPIDER MONKEY (Ateles geoffroyi) – Also seen at Punta Laguna, which is a reserve for this species.
YUCATAN SQUIRREL (Sciurus yucatanensis) – This was the larger, grayer squirrel seen.
DEPPE'S SQUIRREL (Sciurus deppei) – This was the small, tawny colored squirrel with gray forelegs.
CENTRAL AMERICAN AGOUTI (Dasyprocta punctata) – One seen briefly at Punta Laguna.
NORTHERN RACCOON (Procyon lotor) – Seen by Alex's van as we arrived in the dark to the Hotel Xixim.

The Erato Heliconian is one of the familiar butterfly sights in Central America. (Photo by guide Chris Benesh)

RACCOON SP. (Procyon pygmaeus) – Great looks at several of these at Punta Norte. This species is endemic to Cozumel. Smaller and daintier than the Northern Raccoon, with a narrow snout and tawny colored tail.
TAYRA (Eira barbara) – What a treat to see a pale-headed animal crossing the road ahead of us as we were walking back to the vans on the road to Multum Ha Cenote.
COLLARED PECCARY (Tayassu tajacu) – A couple seen on Cozumel.


Memorable critters:

Morelet's Crocodyle (Crocodylus moreletii) - a regional endemic. A few seen at Lago Coba and at Punta Laguna.

Southern Gulf Coast Toad (Incilius valliceps) - the toad seen in the leaf litter at Coba.

Black Spiny-tailed Iguana (Ctenosaura similis) - widespread. Seen at most of the ruins sites.

Totals for the tour: 218 bird taxa and 10 mammal taxa