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Field Guides Tour Report
Holiday Mexico: Yucatan & Cozumel 2019
Nov 23, 2019 to Dec 2, 2019
Chris Benesh & Alex Dzib

A few iconic cultural views from the Yucatan tour, including the Castillo at Chichen Itza; the Great Pyramid at Uxmal; and the complex of Uxmal at bottom. Photos by guide Chris Benesh.

The 2019 Yucatan Tour started off on the island of Cozumel, a tiny patch of the Caribbean plopped down right next to mainland Mexico. Despite being less than eleven miles from the mainland, there are several endemic species (and many more subspecies) that have never been recorded on the mainland. Our time on Cozumel was dictated, in part, by the 2019 Ironman Cozumel, which closed off access to a lot of the island on our first full morning there. Thankfully, we headed to the north, accessible end of the island and began chipping away at many of the island’s specialties. We even saw the endemic Pygmy Raccoon there. Some of the avian highlights included Ruddy Crake, Mangrove Cuckoo, Cozumel Emerald, Mangrove Yellow and Golden Yellow warblers, Cozumel House Wren, and many more. That afternoon we visited the community of El Cedral, where we saw some flocks of the Yellow-lored Parrots, White-crowned Pigeons, Yellow-bellied Elaenias, Rufous-browed Peppershrikes and more. The following morning, we birded the road to Alberto’s Restaurant before lunch and the ferry ride over to the mainland.

Once we reached the mainland, we headed south toward Felipe Carrillo Puerto, where we spent a couple of days exploring the taller forest of southern Quintana Roo. We made a stop at the entrance to the Vigia Chico Road where we picked up White-bellied Wren, Rose-throated Tanager, and a stunning Gray-throated Chat. The following morning, we headed to Laguna Ocom, a complex of cenotes surrounded by forest. Most of our birding was done on the road in as well as a trail that wound through some good habitat. We enjoyed a sunning Collared Aracari and Lineated Woodpeckers right at the turnoff. Some Pale-billed Woodpeckers entertained us before we started in on the trail. There was lots on the trail including Gartered Trogons, but the Northern Royal Flycatcher that popped up right in front of us was the biggest treat of all. Later that afternoon, we headed out along the Camino Carrillo Puerto, with the idea of doing some dusk birding. We heard a pair of Middle American Screech-Owls trilling, but they would not reveal themselves, as well as a distant hooting Mottled Owl. The next morning, we headed off to Coba to do some birding around the lake and have breakfast. Limpkin was a highlight there, along with a variety of orioles and a pair of Gray-crowned Yellowthroats. We headed to Punta Laguna and spent some time walking through the tall forest there. An army ant swarm near the entrance entertained us with a few things like Gray-headed Tanager and Northern Barred Woodcreeper. Then it was back to Coba for lunch and a van swap out before heading to Chichen Itza in the afternoon. We had a nice pre-breakfast outing at the hotel with good White-fronted Parrots, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Ivory-billed Woodcreeper, and Lesson’s Motmot. After breakfast, we had a nice tour of the ruins guided by Ysauro Olalde, a longtime friend of Alex. We were mostly focused on culture, but we did manage some great looks at Green and Yucatan jays, and an awesome pair of Bat Falcons living near the ball court. After lunch, we headed off west to Uxmal and settled in for the night. The following morning we headed to Hotel Uxmal (Resort Maya) at the start of the Campeche Road where we saw some really interesting birds. We had both Masked and Black-crowned tityras, a Gray-collared Becard and several Rose-throateds, Yucatan Flycatcher, and several species of orioles. After a late breakfast, we headed to the archaeological site for a guided tour. In the afternoon, we headed out to Be Ha, an area of open fields and second growth. Singing Quail song was a notable highlight. After dark we headed out along the San Simon Road and were rewarded with great views of a Middle American Screech-Owl. The following morning was spent again along the San Simon Road where we had a busy time with a variety of species. Then we were off to Celestun, with some birding along the Chunchucmil Highway in pursuit of a couple of Lesser Roadrunners seen running off of the roadway. We did see a nice juvenile Zone-tailed Hawk at this spot. Then it was on to Celestun, were we picked up some of the drier country specialties like Mexican Sheartail, Yucatan Wren, and the recently elevated Yucatan Gnatcatcher. The next morning we again birded north of town, briefly flushing a large covey of Black-throated Bobwhite. Then we headed over to the big lagoon at Celestun to take our boat trip out for American Flamingos and a journey through some mangroves and freshwater spring where we saw American Pygmy Kingfisher, Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, and Russet-naped Wood Rail, as well as a nice mixed warbler flock that included Worm-eating Warbler. After lunch and a quick glimpse of Rufous-necked Wood Rail, it was off to Merida for the final dinner and farewells.

I had a great time birding with all of you and hope you all got a taste of the magic to be found in the land of the Maya. Special thanks to Alex for all of his expertise and to Juan for looking after us so well during our time there. Good birding and safe travels to all of you! — Chris

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

Taking a moment for a group photo at Chichen Itza in front of the Castillo.

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Spatula discors) – Some nice studies of this species while we were entering Celestun.
Cracidae (Guans, Chachalacas, and Curassows)
PLAIN CHACHALACA (Ortalis vetula) – We heard this species early on but did not see it well until we reached the Celestun area where they were feeding in the century plants.
Odontophoridae (New World Quail)
BLACK-THROATED BOBWHITE (Colinus nigrogularis) – Tough at this season, but we flushed a large flock of close to a dozen that then dissolved into the landscape.
SINGING QUAIL (Dactylortyx thoracicus) – We heard four of these calling close-by at Be Ha near sunset, but we could not coax any into view. [*]
Phoenicopteridae (Flamingos)
AMERICAN FLAMINGO (Phoenicopterus ruber) – Some nice studies of this elegant species at Celestun.
Podicipedidae (Grebes)
LEAST GREBE (Tachybaptus dominicus) – One was at Lago Coba and another was in the sacred cenote at Chichen-Itza.
PIED-BILLED GREBE (Podilymbus podiceps) – There were four present at Lago Coba.
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) – A few were seen on most days in more urban areas. [I]
WHITE-CROWNED PIGEON (Patagioenas leucocephala) – Some nice studies of this Caribbean species on Cozumel Island.
RED-BILLED PIGEON (Patagioenas flavirostris) – A few were at our hotel at Chichen-Itza and some were seen along the San Simon Road near Uxmal.

Our trip began on the island of Cozumel, and one of the first endemics we encountered was this impressive tailed Cozumel Emerald. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto) – This species has really become quite common since it first arrived in the region twenty plus years ago. [I]
COMMON GROUND DOVE (Columbina passerina) – A few were seen around Celestun.
RUDDY GROUND DOVE (Columbina talpacoti) – A very successful species in the Yucatan; this species was seen daily.
WHITE-TIPPED DOVE (Leptotila verreauxi) – Seen at the hotel at Chichen-Itza and a couple seen on the San Simon Road.
CARIBBEAN DOVE (Leptotila jamaicensis) – Nice scope views of birding walking along the road to Alberto's Restaurant.
WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenaida asiatica) – Seen most days.
Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
SMOOTH-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga ani) – We had four of these at the north end of Cozumel Island.
GROOVE-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga sulcirostris) – Seen repeatedly around Uxmal and Celestun areas.
LESSER ROADRUNNER (Geococcyx velox) – Two birds were heard by most of us, though Al was lucky enough to see one early on before they scurried off of the highway.
SQUIRREL CUCKOO (Piaya cayana) – Always a treat to see this highly distinctive species, especially when bounding through the trees in the manner of a squirrel.

One of the more attractive vireos out there, and one that happens to be an island endemic, the Cozumel Vireo. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

MANGROVE CUCKOO (Coccyzus minor) – Great looks at a pair of these in the mangroves at the north end of Cozumel Island, and one van saw another pair of birds near Celestun.
Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)
COMMON PAURAQUE (Nyctidromus albicollis) – Seen by some folks around the path lights at the Hotel Xixim in Celestun.
Apodidae (Swifts)
VAUX'S SWIFT (YUCATAN) (Chaetura vauxi gaumeri) – Seen nearly daily on the tour. This subspecies is resident on the peninsula.
Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)
GREEN-BREASTED MANGO (Anthracothorax prevostii) – A couple were seen on Cozumel Island and another was on the San Simon Road.
MEXICAN SHEARTAIL (Doricha eliza) – Some nice studies of this species around Celestun, including a handsome male that came to a feeder inside of our breakfast restaurant. [E]
COZUMEL EMERALD (Chlorostilbon forficatus) – A small number seen while on the island. This species has very elongated tail feathers compared with the Canivet's from the adjacent mainland. [E]
CANIVET'S EMERALD (Chlorostilbon canivetii) – Seen on the road to Laguna Ocom, south of FCP, and seen again at Be Ha and the San Simon Road.
WEDGE-TAILED SABREWING (Campylopterus curvipennis) – One seen along the road northeast of FCP.
WHITE-BELLIED EMERALD (Amazilia candida) – A few of these were seen in southern Quintana Roo.
BUFF-BELLIED HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia yucatanensis) – The subspecies that occurs here in the Yucatan has a much more richly colored belly than those elsewhere in its range.

Cozumel is an interesting place for the Yellow Warbler complex. This composite shot shows Mangrove at left, and Golden on the right. Photos by guide Chris Benesh.

CINNAMON HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia rutila) – This was the most common and widespread hummingbird species seen on the tour.
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
CLAPPER RAIL (YUCATAN) (Rallus crepitans pallidus) – Cozumel Island. [*]
RUFOUS-NECKED WOOD-RAIL (Aramides axillaris) – This was stubborn this year, with most getting a quick look at one dashing across the mangroves.
RUSSET-NAPED WOOD-RAIL (Aramides albiventris) – Well seen on the boat trip during our short walk on the mangrove boardwalk.
AMERICAN COOT (Fulica americana)
RUDDY CRAKE (Laterallus ruber) – This species was seen at the north end of Cozumel Island where they are fairly common. We even saw a couple walking along the road in the open.
Aramidae (Limpkin)
LIMPKIN (Aramus guarauna) – We saw a single bird at Lago Coba but it showed nicely for us.
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus) – Seen on Cozumel and at Celestun.
AMERICAN AVOCET (Recurvirostra americana) – A few of these were at Celestun.
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola)

Cozumel is also home to an endemic mammal, the Pygmy Raccoon. The one pictured came in to investigate sound emanating from my bluetooth speaker. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus) – A few big flocks seen flying in the distance at Celestun.
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres) – We saw some on Cozumel near the hotel and piers.
LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla)
SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius)
GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca)
WILLET (Tringa semipalmata)
LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes)
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
LAUGHING GULL (Leucophaeus atricilla)
HERRING GULL (AMERICAN) (Larus argentatus smithsonianus) – Seen during the ferry crossing.
ROYAL TERN (Thalasseus maximus)

A few group moments from the tour. Clockwise from upper left, Alex pointing out some of the plants; birding the grounds of our hotel in Chichen Itza; Al pointing out a bird on the trail to Laguna Ocom; and walking down the road to Alberto's on Cozumel. Photos by guide Chris Benesh.

SANDWICH TERN (Thalasseus sandvicensis)
Ciconiidae (Storks)
WOOD STORK (Mycteria americana) – At least one was seen in the Celestun area.
Fregatidae (Frigatebirds)
MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD (Fregata magnificens) – Always impressive, they were a regular sight on Cozumel and again around Celestun adjacent to the ocean.
Anhingidae (Anhingas)
ANHINGA (Anhinga anhinga) – We saw a couple of these on Cozumel and a couple more at Lago Coba.
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax brasilianus)
DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax auritus)
Pelecanidae (Pelicans)
AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) – Well seen around Celestun.
BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis)
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
BARE-THROATED TIGER-HERON (Tigrisoma mexicanum) – Great looks at a calling bird in the mangroves near Celestun.
GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias)

Our first full morning on the mainland featured this stunning Collared Aracari near the turnoff to Laguna Ocom. Photo by participant Jeanette Shores.

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)
SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)
LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea)
TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor)
REDDISH EGRET (Egretta rufescens) – The only one seen was on Cozumel.
GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens)
YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nyctanassa violacea)
BOAT-BILLED HERON (Cochlearius cochlearius) – Good views of this species in the mangroves of Celestun.
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus) – Seen on Cozumel and Celestun.
ROSEATE SPOONBILL (Platalea ajaja) – As with the White Ibis, seen on Cozumel and Celestun.

Our morning of birding near Laguna Ocom featured both of the big crested woodpeckers of the area, well captured by Jeanette Shores. On the left is Lineated, and Pale-billed is on the right.

Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus)
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)
LESSER YELLOW-HEADED VULTURE (Cathartes burrovianus) – A few were seen in the Celestun area.
Pandionidae (Osprey)
OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus) – Three seen, with one on Cozumel, one in Coba, and one in Celestun.
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
COMMON BLACK HAWK (Buteogallus anthracinus) – A few seen in the mangrove lined lagoons of Celestun.
ROADSIDE HAWK (Rupornis magnirostris) – A few seen, with the best views near Uxmal.
WHITE-TAILED HAWK (Geranoaetus albicaudatus) – One was seen on the boat trip at Celestun.
GRAY HAWK (Buteo plagiatus) – A couple seen, beginning with a juvenile bird at Be Ha.
SHORT-TAILED HAWK (Buteo brachyurus)
ZONE-TAILED HAWK (Buteo albonotatus) – We saw a few of these, the first being a juvenile that flew close by on our drive to Celestun. Two more were seen on the boat trip at Celestun.

Our trail walk near Laguna Ocom had several highlights, including this Gartered Trogon. Photo by participant Jeanette Shores.

RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis)
Strigidae (Owls)
MIDDLE AMERICAN SCREECH-OWL (MIDDLE AMERICAN) (Megascops guatemalae thompsoni) – Well heard near Felipe Carrillo Puerto, but we had an amazing look at one on the San Simon Road near Uxmal a few days later. The name was changed this past year due to a split that elevated the centralis subspecies to a full species, Choco Screech-Owl.
FERRUGINOUS PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium brasilianum) – The density of this species on the Yucatan Peninsula is impressive. We had numerous sightings.
MOTTLED OWL (Ciccaba virgata) [*]
Trogonidae (Trogons)
BLACK-HEADED TROGON (Trogon melanocephalus) [*]
GARTERED TROGON (Trogon caligatus) – Some nice views of this species on our walk through the forest on our way to Laguna Ocom.
Momotidae (Motmots)
LESSON'S MOTMOT (Momotus lessonii exiguus) – Formerly part of the huge Blue-crowned Motmot complex. We saw this attractive species at a few spots, including northeast of FCP, Punta Laguna north of Coba, and at Chichen Itza.
TURQUOISE-BROWED MOTMOT (Eumomota superciliosa) – To my eye, the most striking of the motmots; we saw our first one near the Laguna Ocom area, and another on the San Simon Road.
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon)
AMERICAN PYGMY KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle aenea) – Great study of a couple of birds in the mangroves at Celestun.

A stunning portrait of an adult Gray Hawk captured by participant Bruce Sorrie.

Ramphastidae (Toucans)
COLLARED ARACARI (Pteroglossus torquatus) – We had terrific looks at one perched in the sun at the turnoff to Laguna Ocom.
KEEL-BILLED TOUCAN (Ramphastos sulfuratus) – The only ones seen were in flight on the drive to FCP.
Picidae (Woodpeckers)
YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER (Sphyrapicus varius) – It was a pretty good trip for this migratory species, with several sightings throughout.
YUCATAN WOODPECKER (Melanerpes pygmaeus) – Seen on at least six different days; we saw the Cozumel endemic subspecies as well as the mainland form.
GOLDEN-FRONTED WOODPECKER (VELASQUEZ'S) (Melanerpes aurifrons dubius) – Birds from this part of Central America differ significantly from those at the northern end of their range in Texas, lacking any golden coloration and with much narrower white barring on the back. The subspecies name seems very appropriate.
PALE-BILLED WOODPECKER (Campephilus guatemalensis) – Some nice studies of this species around Laguna Ocom. Also heard at Coba.
LINEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus lineatus) – We had a pair of these at the turnoff to Laguna Ocom.
GOLDEN-OLIVE WOODPECKER (Colaptes rubiginosus) – These were a pair of these in the parking lot of the Uxmal Resort Maya.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
COLLARED FOREST-FALCON (Micrastur semitorquatus) – The best we could manage were some flight views of this species at Uxmal. Heard elsewhere as well.
CRESTED CARACARA (Caracara cheriway) – The only one seen was along the highway east of Celestun on our way to Merida.

The biggest surprise of the morning at Laguna Ocom was this wonderful Northern Royal Flycatcher that popped up in front of us. Photo by participant Jeanette Shores.

BAT FALCON (Falco rufigularis) – Great studies of a pair of birds at Chichen Itza where they are resident breeders. This falcon is a fast flier, capable of catching bats.
Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)
WHITE-CROWNED PARROT (Pionus senilis) – We had a few of these fly past us near the Laguna Ocom. They differ from the Amazona in having much deeper wingbeats in flight.
WHITE-FRONTED PARROT (Amazona albifrons) – After a bit of work, we had great looks at this species at Chichen Itza.
YELLOW-LORED PARROT (Amazona xantholora) – We had quick flight views of this species a few times near El Cedral on Cozumel.
OLIVE-THROATED PARAKEET (Eupsittula nana) – The mainland form is sometimes known as Aztec Parakeet. We had our best looks along the San Simon Road.
Thamnophilidae (Typical Antbirds)
BARRED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus doliatus) – Always a treat to see this widespread and successful species; we had a nice study on our way to the Laguna Ocom.
Furnariidae (Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers)
OLIVACEOUS WOODCREEPER (GRAYISH) (Sittasomus griseicapillus gracileus) – We had a pair of these on the road leading to the Laguna Ocom. This is an example of a widespread species that is actually comprised of several cryptic species.
NORTHERN BARRED-WOODCREEPER (Dendrocolaptes sanctithomae) – This was one of the attendant birds at the army ant swarm at Punta Laguna.
IVORY-BILLED WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus flavigaster) – Also seen along the road leading to Laguna Ocom.
PLAIN XENOPS (Xenops minutus) – This bird was in mixed species flock on the trail we took near the Laguna Ocom.

We saw two wonderful motmots on the tour, Lesson's on the left, and Turquoise-browed on the right. Photos by guide Chris Benesh.

Tityridae (Tityras and Allies)
BLACK-CROWNED TITYRA (Tityra inquisitor) – Much less common than the Masked, the Yucatan is a good place for it, and we saw it on a couple of occasions.
MASKED TITYRA (Tityra semifasciata) – Seen at Chichen Itza and Uxmal.
NORTHERN SCHIFFORNIS (Schiffornis veraepacis) – This species has been known by a variety of names over the years. We encountered this species, with its distinctive whistled call, on the trail to Laguna Ocom.
GRAY-COLLARED BECARD (Pachyramphus major) – One of the trip highlights for me was seeing this relatively scarce species so well near Uxmal.
ROSE-THROATED BECARD (Pachyramphus aglaiae) – This is the more common becard species in Yucatan and we had several nice encounters, with the best being near Uxmal.
Oxyruncidae (Sharpbill, Royal Flycatcher, and Allies)
ROYAL FLYCATCHER (NORTHERN) (Onychorhynchus coronatus mexicanus) – Wow, one of the biggest surprises of the tour was this really close encounter with one that appeared right in front of us on the trail to Laguna Ocom.
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
STUB-TAILED SPADEBILL (Platyrinchus cancrominus) [*]
NORTHERN BENTBILL (Oncostoma cinereigulare) – Tiny and furtive; we had a couple of these near Laguna Ocom.
COMMON TODY-FLYCATCHER (Todirostrum cinereum) – This tiny flycatcher was present in the scrubby forest around Celestun.
YELLOW-OLIVE FLYCATCHER (GRAY-HEADED) (Tolmomyias sulphurescens cinereiceps) – We had a few of these during the first few days on the mainland. This is another "species" that is made up of a few not-yet-recognized species.

One of the Gray-crowned Yellowthroats that were foraging in a weedy edge along Lago Coba. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET (Camptostoma imberbe) – We had a few of these on Cozumel Island.
GREENISH ELAENIA (GREENISH) (Myiopagis viridicata placens) – The only one seen was on the road to Campeche near the Uxmal Resort Maya. As with the Yellow-olive Flycatcher, Greenish Elaenia as currently known is actually made up of several yet-to-be-recognized species.
YELLOW-BELLIED ELAENIA (Elaenia flavogaster) – We found two different pairs of birds while on Cozumel, with the best views being near El Cedral.
CARIBBEAN ELAENIA (Elaenia martinica) – A few of these were seen on Cozumel. This is the westernmost of this widespread and disjunct Caribbean species.
EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE (Contopus virens) – The only one seen was along the Vigia Chico Road.
TROPICAL PEWEE (Contopus cinereus) – Several seen during the tour. This species is similar to our wood pewees but differs in voice and having shorter primaries, a reflection of its relatively sedentary life.
LEAST FLYCATCHER (Empidonax minimus)
VERMILION FLYCATCHER (Pyrocephalus rubinus) – Always a treat to see this colorful species with some of the most dramatic sexual dimorphism of any tyrannid.
BRIGHT-RUMPED ATTILA (Attila spadiceus) – Though we heard this species in a variety of locations, the only ones seen were on Cozumel, where there is an endemic subspecies.
YUCATAN FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus yucatanensis) – This Myiarchus is endemic to the Yucatan Peninsula, and we had a few encounters with it, beginning on the road to Laguna Ocom.

At Punta Laguna we encountered a small army ant swarm. One of the birds attending was this handsome Northern Barred-Woodcreeper. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tuberculifer)
BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tyrannulus) – The only one seen was at the Uxmal Resort Maya at the start of the Campeche Road.
GREAT KISKADEE (Pitangus sulphuratus) – Common around FCP, Chichen Itza, and Uxmal, but absent for us from Cozumel and Celestun.
BOAT-BILLED FLYCATCHER (Megarynchus pitangua) – This kiskadee lookalike was pretty common on the peninsula. Best told by voice, lack of rust in wings, and bill shape.
SOCIAL FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes similis) – The baby-billed kiskadee seen on a number of occasions during the tour.
TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus) – This and the following species best told by voice. Decidedly less common than Couch's in forested areas.
COUCH'S KINGBIRD (Tyrannus couchii)
Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)
RUFOUS-BROWED PEPPERSHRIKE (Cyclarhis gujanensis) – We saw the pale bellied subspecies on Cozumel and yellow-bellied ones on the mainland.
LESSER GREENLET (Pachysylvia decurtata) – This tiny vireo was pretty common in the mixed flocks around the Laguna Ocom area.
WHITE-EYED VIREO (Vireo griseus)

At Chichen Itza we had nice studies of Bat Falcon, one of which is seen in this picture. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

MANGROVE VIREO (Vireo pallens) – A close cousin to the White-eyed; we saw this one near the Laguna Ocom and again around Celestun.
COZUMEL VIREO (Vireo bairdi) – Now this is one fancy looking vireo, with its caramel coloration and bold white spectacles. Well seen on the island. [E]
YELLOW-THROATED VIREO (Vireo flavifrons) – A few of this large species seen.
YUCATAN VIREO (Vireo magister) – This was the common vireo on Cozumel, best seen on the road to Alberto's Restaurant.
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
BROWN JAY (Psilorhinus morio) – A really large jay seen first on the Vigia Chico Road and elsewhere in southern Quintana Roo.
GREEN JAY (Cyanocorax yncas) – Some nice looks at this species around Chichen Itza, with some confiding ones on the way to the Sacred Cenote.
YUCATAN JAY (Cyanocorax yucatanicus) – A colorful regional endemic first seen at the Uxmal Resort Maya.
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)
NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (RIDGWAY'S) (Stelgidopteryx serripennis ridgwayi) – This is the endemic, resident form that we saw on a few different days. There were a large number of them present at Lago Coba.
TREE SWALLOW (Tachycineta bicolor) – A few seen, including a big group of them in Celestun.

On our way to the Sacred Cenote at Chichen Itza we came across some jays, including this handsome Green Jay. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

MANGROVE SWALLOW (Tachycineta albilinea) – Three of these were seen near Laguna Ocom and more were at Celestun.
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica) – A couple of these were in with other swallows around Celestun.
CAVE SWALLOW (Petrochelidon fulva) – Along with Ridgway's Rough-winged Swallow, this species was a common sight in and around several of the ruin sites.
Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)
LONG-BILLED GNATWREN (Ramphocaenus melanurus) – Some of us managed to connect with a pair of this furtive species on the road to Laguna Ocom.
BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER (Polioptila caerulea) – Seen on Cozumel and on the mainland. Birds on Cozumel are particularly dark gray in color, being an endemic subspecies cozumelae.
YUCATAN GNATCATCHER (Polioptila albiventris) – A recently split, new endemic to the Yucatan Peninsula, this species was formerly lumped with White-lored Gnatcatcher, but it differs in voice and coloration, as well as being rather distant geographically. [E]
TROPICAL GNATCATCHER (Polioptila plumbea) – A few were seen in the forested habitat on the road to Laguna Ocom. This species is a canopy dweller generally.
Troglodytidae (Wrens)
HOUSE WREN (COZUMEL I.) (Troglodytes aedon beani) – We had a few good looks at this endemic subspecies on Cozumel. It differs from mainland forms in being white bellied and having a different vocal repertoire. There are some 30+ subspecies of this widespread taxon, and who knows how many species are really involved here.
CAROLINA WREN (WHITE-BROWED) (Thryothorus ludovicianus albinucha) – This one sounds just like a Carolina Wren, but looks very different. Unfortunately, all we had to go on was voice as they remained unseen. [*]
YUCATAN WREN (Campylorhynchus yucatanicus) – A distinctive cousin to the more familiar Cactus Wren, this species is restricted in range to the drier, cactus scrub habitats of the western and northern fringes of the Yucatan Peninsula. We had some fine looks near Celestun. [E]

Another nice find at Chichen Itza were some flocks of White-fronted Parrots. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

SPOT-BREASTED WREN (Pheugopedius maculipectus) – Several encounters with this loud, duetting, arboreal wren, beginning with some along the Vigia Chico Road.
WHITE-BELLIED WREN (Uropsila leucogastra) – An interesting, mostly arboreal species with a very disjunct range (and isolated population in the lowlands of western Mexico differing in leg color).
Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
BLACK CATBIRD (Melanoptila glabrirostris) – This species was super abundant on Cozumel Island. We also saw one on the mainland on the way to Laguna Ocom.
GRAY CATBIRD (Dumetella carolinensis)
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
SWAINSON'S THRUSH (Catharus ustulatus) – Seen by some on Cozumel.
WOOD THRUSH (Hylocichla mustelina) – The only one seen was on the road to Alberto's on Cozumel.
CLAY-COLORED THRUSH (Turdus grayi) – Several seen in various areas with taller forest.
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
SCRUB EUPHONIA (Euphonia affinis) – A few scattered sightings in more open habitats than the Yellow-throated.
YELLOW-THROATED EUPHONIA (Euphonia hirundinacea) – This northern Central American species was seen at several forested sites including the Laguna Ocom area and Uxmal area.

Birding along the Campeche Road was exciting, and we were all thrilled by this stunning male Gray-collared Becard. Photo by participant Jeanette Shores.

LESSER GOLDFINCH (Spinus psaltria) – We had around five of these at El Cedral.
Passerellidae (New World Sparrows)
OLIVE SPARROW (Arremonops rufivirgatus) – These never showed super well, but we did have several brief encounters.
Spindalidae (Spindalises)
WESTERN SPINDALIS (COZUMEL I.) (Spindalis zena benedicti) – We saw a few of this endemic subspecies while on Cozumel, the westernmost part of the range of this entirely Caribbean species.
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
YELLOW-BILLED CACIQUE (Amblycercus holosericeus) – Pretty good looks at a pair of these along the road leading to Laguna Ocom.
BLACK-COWLED ORIOLE (Icterus prosthemelas) – A few seen, including some at Coba, and several around Uxmal. Unusual in being a sexually dimorphic tropical oriole.
ORCHARD ORIOLE (Icterus spurius) – There were a lot of these in the trees around Lago Coba.
HOODED ORIOLE (Icterus cucullatus) – Birds in Yucatan are quite orange in color.
YELLOW-BACKED ORIOLE (Icterus chrysater)
ORANGE ORIOLE (Icterus auratus) – A regional endemic whose range barely dips into Belize. We had a few good studies of this species mainly around the Uxmal area.
ALTAMIRA ORIOLE (Icterus gularis) – Several nice studies of this species, the largest-billed of the oriole species.

In the mangroves near Celestun we were treated to a roosting Boat-billed Heron. Photo by participant Jeanette Shores.

BALTIMORE ORIOLE (Icterus galbula) – There was a nice male hanging out out in front of our Chichen Itza hotel.
RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius phoeniceus) – The only ones encountered were at Celestun.
BRONZED COWBIRD (Molothrus aeneus) – Seen at a few sites with a big flock of 40+ at Be Ha.
GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus)
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
OVENBIRD (Seiurus aurocapilla) – Perhaps the most memorable sighting was of one or two walking down the road to Alberto's.
WORM-EATING WARBLER (Helmitheros vermivorum) – One of the highlights of the mangrove portion of the Celestun boat trip was seeing this species in a small, mixed flock.
NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis)
BLUE-WINGED WARBLER (Vermivora cyanoptera) – The only one seen was on our walk through the forest near Laguna Ocom.

Once we arrived in Celestun, we encountered some elegant American Flamingos. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

PROTHONOTARY WARBLER (Protonotaria citrea) – We did have one on the Celestun boat trip in the mangroves.
SWAINSON'S WARBLER (Limnothlypis swainsonii) – A couple of these were present on Cozumel and most of us got good decent looks after some patient work.
TENNESSEE WARBLER (Leiothlypis peregrina) – This species was fairly common on our walk down to Alberto's on Cozumel, where we recorded at least six.
GRAY-CROWNED YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis poliocephala) – Two of these put on a great showing at Lago Coba during our walk there.
COMMON YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis trichas)
HOODED WARBLER (Setophaga citrina) – This species was detected every day of the tour, but owing to its secretive nature was heard more often than seen.
AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla)
NORTHERN PARULA (Setophaga americana)
MAGNOLIA WARBLER (Setophaga magnolia) – Seen daily on this tour; Central America is the heart of the winter range of this species.
YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia)

The drier country around Celestun was home to a number of Mexican Sheartails, an endemic hummingbird. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

YELLOW WARBLER (MANGROVE) (Setophaga petechia bryanti) – While out on Cozumel Island, we observed a few of this form of red-headed birds. According to research carried out in part by Alex, the first known records of Mangrove-like birds on Cozumel occurred in 2014. Some of the birds out there resemble (and in fact may be) hybrids between Mangrove and the red-capped Golden. Mangroves are found in mangroves, while the Golden favor non-mangrove areas.
YELLOW WARBLER (GOLDEN) (Setophaga petechia rufivertex) – A clade of Yellow Warblers that are generally resident and characterized by the males having chestnut crowns. We saw some of these on Cozumel.
PALM WARBLER (Setophaga palmarum) – Seen at El Cedral and at the north end of Cozumel Island.
YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (MYRTLE) (Setophaga coronata coronata)
YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER (Setophaga dominica) – This species has the endearing habit of hanging out in palms and manmade structures during the winter months.
PRAIRIE WARBLER (Setophaga discolor) – The only one seen was at the north end of Cozumel.
Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)
ROSE-THROATED TANAGER (Piranga roseogularis) – This species is a regional endemic to much of the southern Yucatan Peninsula. We saw a female out on Cozumel and several on the mainland with most around Laguna Ocom.
SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra) – A memorably stunning male was seen at Punta Laguna during our visit there.
RED-THROATED ANT-TANAGER (Habia fuscicauda) – We had a small group of these along the road leading in to Laguna Ocom.

It was also home to the recently split Yucatan Gnatcatcher. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

NORTHERN CARDINAL (Cardinalis cardinalis)
ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus ludovicianus) – There were a fair number of these seen in the greater Uxmal area.
GRAY-THROATED CHAT (Granatellus sallaei) – This stunning species was seen on a couple of occasions during the tour. A regional endemic.
BLUE BUNTING (MIDDLE AMERICA) (Cyanocompsa parellina parellina) – Mostly heard along the San Simon Road though a few did manage to see it.
BLUE GROSBEAK (Passerina caerulea)
INDIGO BUNTING (Passerina cyanea)
Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)
GRAY-HEADED TANAGER (Eucometis penicillata) – One was attending the army ant swarm at Punta Laguna.
BLUE-GRAY TANAGER (Thraupis episcopus)
YELLOW-WINGED TANAGER (Thraupis abbas) – A few seen in Coba and quite a few of them at our hotel at Chichen Itza.
MORELET'S SEEDEATER (Sporophila morelleti morelleti) – A few were seen at the north end of Cozumel Island and more were on the trail to Laguna Ocom.

Here is the wonderful Middle American Screech-Owl seen on our nighttime visit to the San Simon Road near Uxmal. Photo by guide Alex Dzib.

BANANAQUIT (Coereba flaveola) – The only ones seen on this tour belong to the endemic Cozumel subspecies caboti. There are more than 40 subspecies in three major clades; the birds on Cozumel belong to a clade shared with Bahamian birds, and is more distantly related to adjacent mainland forms and to those from nearby Jamaica and Hispanola.
YELLOW-FACED GRASSQUIT (Tiaris olivaceus) – These were present on Cozumel and also seen on our afternoon visit to Be Ha near Uxmal.
BLACK-HEADED SALTATOR (Saltator atriceps) – A few groups seen with ones along the Laguna Ocom Road, at our hotel in Chichen Itza, and on the San Simon Road.
GRAYISH SALTATOR (Saltator coerulescens) – A few seen at scattered locations.

JAMAICAN FRUIT-EATING BAT (Artibeus jamaicensis) – There were a lot of these really large bats flying around Mayaland at Chichen Itza.
YUCATAN HOWLER MONKEY (Alouatta pigra) – Well heard at Punta Laguna. [*]
YUCATAN SQUIRREL (Sciurus yucatanensis) – One seen in the distance along the Vigia Chico Road.
GRAY FOX (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) – A quick sighting, spotted by Alex and seen by a few others.
NORTHERN RACCOON (Procyon lotor) – Well seen around the boat launch area at Celestun.
PYGMY RACCOON (Procyon pygmaeus) – This small version of the raccoon was seen on the north end of Cozumel Island where this species is endemic.

A few of the invertebrates seen on the tour, clockwise from top left: Gray Cracker and Orion Cecropian butterflies feeding on sap at Punta Laguna; one of the many Giant Red-winged Grasshoppers seen in Quintana Roo; Centruroides caribbeanus scorpion seen on Cozumel Island, first described to science in 2017; Fine-lined Hairstreak seen on Cozumel.

WHITE-NOSED COATI (Nasua narica) – A couple of these were spotted crossing the highway on Cozumel. The animals on Cozumel are a distinctive subspecies nelsoni.


Broad-eared Free-tailed Bat (Nyctinomops laticaudatus) - this was the species that some of us saw at Uxmal roosting in gaps in the wooden lintels.

Black Spiny-tailed Iguana (Ctenosaura similis) - seen at some of ruin sites.

Fine-lined Hairstreak (Arawacus sito) hairstreak on Cozumel.

Orion Cecropian (Historis odius) - large leafwing feeding on sap at Punta Laguna.

Gray Cracker (Hamadryas februa) - grayish cracker feeding with leafwing at Punta Laguna.

Giant Red-winged Grasshopper (Tropidacris cristata) - large grasshoppers seen at various spots in Quintana Roo, beginning in Vigia Chico Road.

Cozumel Island Bark Scorpion (Centruroides caribbeanus) - The all dark scorpion seen at our hotel on Cozumel, first described in 2017!

Totals for the tour: 224 bird taxa and 7 mammal taxa