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One of the many habitats we enjoyed on our recent Oaxaca tour was the oasis of Presa Piedra Azul above the historic town of Teotitlán. It hosted many egrets, shorebirds, and even a sharp Green Kingfisher. Photo by guide Doug Hitchcox.
Known for its great birds, authentic food, and amazing human history, Oaxaca is the complete package! We enjoyed aspects of all of those and all from the comfort of just one hotel nestled in the city of Oaxaca. Our day trips visited vastly different habitats, from the dry washes downslope to the pristine pine forests at 10,000 feet. It was a great trip complete with nice weather, cooperative birds, a fun bunch of birders!
Our first day took us to the dry agricultural fields below Teotitlán where we got our first taste of Boucard's Wren, Gray-breasted Woodpecker, and a variety of kingbirds and sparrows. Presa Piedra Azul had some water and thus attracted a variety of swallows, herons, shorebirds, and even some special goodies like Say's Phoebe, Painted Bunting, and MacGillivray's Warbler. Farther up the slope, we connected with Collared Towhee, a variety of brushfinches, Brown-backed Solitaires, warblers, and much more!
The next morning found us at Pollo Niño as the sun rose. The sounds of Greater Pewees cascaded down the slopes as we added to our list with Blue Mockingbird, Gray Silky-flycatcher, Red-headed Tanager, and many others. Up at La Cumbre, we saw our first Red Crossbill, Black-headed Siskin, and Steller's Jay before we ventured farther up into the pine forests. The Cabeza de Vaca trail was bustling with activity and we had a fun encounter with Gray-barred Wren, Red Warbler, Dwarf Jay, Crescent-chested Warbler, and Russet Nightingale-Thrush. After our picnic lunch, we encountered more specialties like Gray-breasted Wood-Wren, Elegant Euphonia, and Slate-throated Redstarts. What a fun second day!
Instead of driving up into the mountains the next morning, we actually drove downhill out of the valley down to the KM 77 wash where we spent the morning. Here we found a very different array of species and highlights were numerous; White-throated Magpie-Jay, Orange-breasted Bunting, Varied Bunting, Green-fronted Hummingbird, Plain-capped Starthroat, White-lored Gnatcatcher, Rufous-naped Wren, and even a day-singing Buff-collared Nightjar! Whew! Later that morning we had a wonderful encounter with a tame Lesser Roadrunner! Lunch at Rancho Zapata and the mezcal tour was relaxed and informative. That afternoon, we had a great tour of Mitla with our local guide and driver Jorge, and we capped things off with some birding along the entrance road to Yagul. We added the tiny and uncommon Beautiful Hummingbird which was an excellent way to finish out the day.
The following day took us to the famed Monte Albán which was a treat in so many ways. We started by birding the trail along the entrance area which was really productive in the cooler hours of the morning. It was there that we somehow connected with one of the most uncommon and skulky residents, the Ocellated Thrasher! Wow! We also added goodies like Pileated Flycatcher, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Rufous-capped Warbler, Virginia's Warbler, and others. Jorge gave us a great tour of Monte Albán although it was hard to pay attention with a Zone-tailed Hawk wafting overhead, Rock Wrens poking around at our feet, White-tailed Hawks, and a Yellow Grosbeak that showed up! That evening, we ascended the slopes to La Cumbre where we switched things up a bit. We had a picnic dinner at 9990 feet as the sun set. It wasn't long until we started hearing Mexican Whip-poor-will's calling off through the dusk. On our way down the mountain, we successfully found a fun pair of Fulvous Owls and even a cute little Whiskered Screech-Owl as well.
We birded our way up towards La Cumbre the next morning stopping at Pollo Niño and the Oaxaca Sparrow spot. Thankfully, as the light started hitting the slopes and it started warming up, the sparrows started coming out of the woodwork and we ended up with great looks at this rare and local Mexican endemic. Woodhouse's Scrub-Jays, Lincoln's Sparrows, and a Hepatic Tanager also kept us company. Higher up by the ridge, we birded the Yuvilla Road which took us east from the rest area. It was great birding the higher elevations again because we finally netted Northern Pygmy-Owl and of course a couple of Mountain Trogons! The Gray-barred Wrens, Gray Silky-flycatchers, and Golden-browed Warblers all kept us company as Slate-throated Redstarts flitted below us. Lunch at the beautiful Colibri Restaurant was punctuated by a close Blue-throated Hummingbird and some fantastic authentic food!
Our final morning took us back to the Teotitlán area. We added Belted Kingfisher and Blue-winged Teal at the reservoir, West Mexican Chachalaca and Dwarf Vireo at a switchback uphill from there, and a high flock of Chestnut-collared Swifts. Calling from the slopes was a Thick-billed Kingbird, Nutting's Flycatcher, and Western Wood-Pewee. Farther uphill we had more encounters with White-eared Hummingbird, Blue Mockingbird, and a sneaky White-striped Woodcreeper before we turned and headed down to town for lunch. The Mendoza sisters put on a great authentic meal and weaving demonstration which really was a perfect ending to our trip.
I'd like to thank Doug Hitchcox for all his help and together with Maine Audubon for making this trip possible. Of course, our local guide Yuca was indispensable for his logistical support and wealth of knowledge! Sharon with our home office in Austin did an amazing job with getting all this prepped and a major shout-out goes to her for her help. Our drivers, Alex and Jorge, were reliable, helpful, and a big thanks goes to them as well. And of course, thanks to you all for coming along on this Maine Audubon Field Guides trip to Oaxaca! I know I enjoyed myself along with Doug and Yuca and we hope you did too!
With fond memories of the moles, beautiful birds, and a fun bunch of people, good birding to owl of you. :-)
KEYS FOR THIS LIST
One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Spatula discors)
Cracidae (Guans, Chachalacas, and Curassows)
WEST MEXICAN CHACHALACA (Ortalis poliocephala) [E]
LEAST GREBE (Tachybaptus dominicus)
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]
BAND-TAILED PIGEON (Patagioenas fasciata)
INCA DOVE (Columbina inca)
COMMON GROUND-DOVE (Columbina passerina)
WHITE-TIPPED DOVE (Leptotila verreauxi)
WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenaida asiatica)
One of the many special Mexican endemics that we enjoyed was this West Mexican Chachalaca that sat nicely for us in the morning light. Photo by participant Marsha Campbell.
MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura)
LESSER ROADRUNNER (Geococcyx velox)
Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)
BUFF-COLLARED NIGHTJAR (Antrostomus ridgwayi) [*]
MEXICAN WHIP-POOR-WILL (Antrostomus arizonae)
CHESTNUT-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne rutila)
PLAIN-CAPPED STARTHROAT (Heliomaster constantii)
BLUE-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Lampornis clemenciae)
BEAUTIFUL HUMMINGBIRD (Calothorax pulcher) [E]
BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD (Selasphorus platycercus)
You wouldn't have guessed that Lesser Roadrunners can be difficult to find by what happened with this bird! We had this spectacular encounter with this tricky species and we all managed superb looks. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.
DUSKY HUMMINGBIRD (Cynanthus sordidus) [E]
BERYLLINE HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia beryllina)
GREEN-FRONTED HUMMINGBIRD (CINNAMON-SIDED) (Amazilia viridifrons wagneri) [E]
WHITE-EARED HUMMINGBIRD (Hylocharis leucotis)
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
AMERICAN COOT (Fulica americana)
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus)
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla)
SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius)
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)
You have to be fast with your camera to catch hummingbirds in motion but guide Doug Hitchcox did just that. This is a Berylline Hummingbird from near Presa Piedra Azul.
SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)
LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea)
CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis)
Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus)
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
WHITE-TAILED KITE (Elanus leucurus)
SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (Accipiter striatus)
COOPER'S HAWK (Accipiter cooperii)
WHITE-TAILED HAWK (Geranoaetus albicaudatus)
ZONE-TAILED HAWK (Buteo albonotatus)
Another hummingbird we had great luck with was this Plain-capped Starthroat. A rather uncommon bird on this tour, it's not seen every time. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.
RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis)
WHISKERED SCREECH-OWL (Megascops trichopsis)
NORTHERN PYGMY-OWL (MOUNTAIN) (Glaucidium gnoma gnoma)
FULVOUS OWL (Strix fulvescens)
MOUNTAIN TROGON (Trogon mexicanus)
RUSSET-CROWNED MOTMOT (Momotus mexicanus) [*]
BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon)
GREEN KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle americana)
YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER (Sphyrapicus varius)
The Fulvous Owl is an uncommon and mysterious species found high in the mountains above Oaxaca. We found a pair of these one night while doing some owling. Photo by guide Doug Hitchcox.
ACORN WOODPECKER (Melanerpes formicivorus) [*]
GRAY-BREASTED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes hypopolius) [E]
GOLDEN-FRONTED WOODPECKER (WEST MEXICO) (Melanerpes aurifrons polygrammus)
LADDER-BACKED WOODPECKER (Dryobates scalaris)
HAIRY WOODPECKER (SOUTH MEXICAN) (Dryobates villosus jardinii)
NORTHERN FLICKER (RED-SHAFTED) (Colaptes auratus mexicanus) [*]
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
CRESTED CARACARA (Caracara cheriway)
AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius)
PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus)
Another owl that we managed to stir up was this well-behaved Whiskered Screech-Owl photographed by guide Doug Hitchcox.
Furnariidae (Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers)
WHITE-STRIPED WOODCREEPER (Lepidocolaptes leucogaster) [E]
SPOT-CROWNED WOODCREEPER (NORTHERN) (Lepidocolaptes affinis affinis)
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET (Camptostoma imberbe)
PILEATED FLYCATCHER (Xenotriccus mexicanus) [E]
TUFTED FLYCATCHER (MEXICAN) (Mitrephanes phaeocercus phaeocercus)
GREATER PEWEE (Contopus pertinax)
WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE (Contopus sordidulus)
LEAST FLYCATCHER (Empidonax minimus)
HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER (Empidonax hammondii)
A fun endemic that we stumbled onto near Monte Albán was this Pileated Flycatcher. This Mexican specialty can be tricky to find sometimes! Photo by guide Cory Gregory.
DUSKY FLYCATCHER (Empidonax oberholseri)
CORDILLERAN FLYCATCHER (Empidonax occidentalis)
BLACK PHOEBE (Sayornis nigricans)
SAY'S PHOEBE (Sayornis saya)
VERMILION FLYCATCHER (Pyrocephalus rubinus)
DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tuberculifer)
ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus cinerascens)
NUTTING'S FLYCATCHER (NUTTING'S) (Myiarchus nuttingi inquietus)
BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHER (ARIZONA) (Myiarchus tyrannulus magister)
This cool panoramic photo taken by guide Doug Hitchcox shows us birding one of the switchbacks above Teotitlán. Nearby, we enjoyed Dwarf Vireo and Audubon's Oriole!
GREAT KISKADEE (Pitangus sulphuratus)
SOCIAL FLYCATCHER (SOCIAL) (Myiozetetes similis pallidiventris)
TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus)
CASSIN'S KINGBIRD (Tyrannus vociferans)
THICK-BILLED KINGBIRD (Tyrannus crassirostris)
Tityridae (Tityras and Allies)
ROSE-THROATED BECARD (Pachyramphus aglaiae)
Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)
CHESTNUT-SIDED SHRIKE-VIREO (Vireolanius melitophrys) [*]
GOLDEN VIREO (Vireo hypochryseus) [E]
SLATY VIREO (Vireo brevipennis) [E*]
DWARF VIREO (Vireo nelsoni) [E]
One of the major draws of this trip is the chance to visit Monte Albán, one of the most impressive human history sites in Central America! Photo by participant Marsha Campbell.
HUTTON'S VIREO (Vireo huttoni)
CASSIN'S VIREO (Vireo cassinii)
BLUE-HEADED VIREO (Vireo solitarius)
PLUMBEOUS VIREO (Vireo plumbeus)
WARBLING VIREO (Vireo gilvus)
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
DWARF JAY (Cyanolyca nanus) [E]
WHITE-THROATED MAGPIE-JAY (Calocitta formosa)
STELLER'S JAY (CENTRAL AMERICAN) (Cyanocitta stelleri coronata)
WOODHOUSE'S SCRUB-JAY (SUMICHRAST'S) (Aphelocoma woodhouseii sumichrasti)
COMMON RAVEN (Corvus corax)
It may not be the biggest or flashiest wren but we all were amazed when this Gray-breasted Wood-Wren came in so nicely for us to enjoy. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.
NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)
VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW (Tachycineta thalassina)
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)
Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)
MEXICAN CHICKADEE (Poecile sclateri)
Aegithalidae (Long-tailed Tits)
BUSHTIT (MELANOTIS GROUP) (Psaltriparus minimus melanotis)
WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH (INTERIOR WEST) (Sitta carolinensis mexicana) [*]
BROWN CREEPER (ALBESCENS/ALTICOLA) (Certhia americana alticola)
ROCK WREN (Salpinctes obsoletus) [N]
CANYON WREN (Catherpes mexicanus) [*]
Another of the fun wrens we got to see was the Gray-barred Wren, an endemic specialist of the forest canopy! Photo by guide Cory Gregory.
HOUSE WREN (BROWN-THROATED) (Troglodytes aedon brunneicollis)
BEWICK'S WREN (MEXICANUS GROUP) (Thryomanes bewickii mexicanus)
GRAY-BARRED WREN (Campylorhynchus megalopterus) [E]
RUFOUS-NAPED WREN (SCLATER'S) (Campylorhynchus rufinucha humilis)
BOUCARD'S WREN (Campylorhynchus jocosus) [E]
GRAY-BREASTED WOOD-WREN (CENTRAL AMERICAN) (Henicorhina leucophrys mexicana)
BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER (Polioptila caerulea)
WHITE-LORED GNATCATCHER (Polioptila albiloris)
RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET (Regulus calendula)
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
BROWN-BACKED SOLITAIRE (Myadestes occidentalis)
We were even able to enjoy stunning Mexican endemics right from our hotel grounds! Here's a Rufous-backed Robin photographed by guide Cory Gregory.
ORANGE-BILLED NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (Catharus aurantiirostris)
RUSSET NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (Catharus occidentalis) [E]
HERMIT THRUSH (Catharus guttatus)
CLAY-COLORED THRUSH (Turdus grayi) [I]
AMERICAN ROBIN (MIGRATORIUS GROUP) (Turdus migratorius phillipsi)
RUFOUS-BACKED ROBIN (Turdus rufopalliatus) [E]
Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
BLUE MOCKINGBIRD (Melanotis caerulescens) [E]
CURVE-BILLED THRASHER (CURVIROSTRE GROUP) (Toxostoma curvirostre curvirostre)
OCELLATED THRASHER (Toxostoma ocellatum) [E]
Although they're usually very tricky to see, we had quite good luck with Blue Mockingbirds on this trip! Photo by guide Cory Gregory.
NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos)
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)
AMERICAN PIPIT (Anthus rubescens)
CEDAR WAXWING (Bombycilla cedrorum)
GRAY SILKY-FLYCATCHER (Ptiliogonys cinereus)
Peucedramidae (Olive Warbler)
OLIVE WARBLER (Peucedramus taeniatus)
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
ELEGANT EUPHONIA (Euphonia elegantissima)
HOUSE FINCH (COMMON) (Haemorhous mexicanus roseipectus)
RED CROSSBILL (Loxia curvirostra stricklandi)
BLACK-HEADED SISKIN (Spinus notatus)
Another tricky bird to see is the range-restricted Ocellated Thrasher. We lucked out again when we found this one fairly out in the open near Monte Albán. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.
LESSER GOLDFINCH (Spinus psaltria)
Passerellidae (New World Sparrows)
BRIDLED SPARROW (Peucaea mystacalis) [E]
GRASSHOPPER SPARROW (Ammodramus savannarum)
CHIPPING SPARROW (Spizella passerina)
CLAY-COLORED SPARROW (Spizella pallida)
LARK SPARROW (Chondestes grammacus)
CHESTNUT-CAPPED BRUSHFINCH (CHESTNUT-CAPPED) (Arremon brunneinucha suttoni)
YELLOW-EYED JUNCO (Junco phaeonotus)
LINCOLN'S SPARROW (Melospiza lincolnii)
One of the more stunning birds we enjoyed on this tour was the Gray Silky-flycatcher. Sometimes treetops would be loaded with these! Photo by guide Doug Hitchcox.
WHITE-THROATED TOWHEE (Melozone albicollis) [E]
RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROW (Aimophila ruficeps)
OAXACA SPARROW (Aimophila notosticta) [E]
SPOTTED TOWHEE (MACULATUS GROUP) (Pipilo maculatus oaxacae)
COLLARED TOWHEE (Pipilo ocai) [E]
RUFOUS-CAPPED BRUSHFINCH (Atlapetes pileatus) [E]
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
EASTERN MEADOWLARK (Sturnella magna)
BLACK-VENTED ORIOLE (Icterus wagleri)
STREAK-BACKED ORIOLE (Icterus pustulatus)
The switchbacks above Teotitlán provided so many highlights, it's hard to know which one our group is looking at here! Photo by guide Doug Hitchcox.
BULLOCK'S ORIOLE (Icterus bullockii)
AUDUBON'S ORIOLE (DICKEY'S) (Icterus graduacauda dickeyae)
BLACK-BACKED ORIOLE (Icterus abeillei) [E]
SCOTT'S ORIOLE (Icterus parisorum)
BRONZED COWBIRD (Molothrus aeneus)
BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD (Molothrus ater)
GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus)
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER (Mniotilta varia)
CRESCENT-CHESTED WARBLER (Oreothlypis superciliosa)
It's hard to go wrong with a bunting that's orange, blue, and green! This Orange-breasted Bunting was one of our targets at KM 77. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.
ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER (Oreothlypis celata)
NASHVILLE WARBLER (Oreothlypis ruficapilla)
VIRGINIA'S WARBLER (Oreothlypis virginiae)
MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLER (Geothlypis tolmiei)
YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (AUDUBON'S) (Setophaga coronata auduboni)
BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER (Setophaga nigrescens)
TOWNSEND'S WARBLER (Setophaga townsendi)
HERMIT WARBLER (Setophaga occidentalis)
RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER (RUFIFRONS GROUP) (Basileuterus rufifrons rufifrons)
Rivaling the various buntings for the stunning award, this Red Warbler was an instant favorite of many of us. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.
GOLDEN-BROWED WARBLER (Basileuterus belli)
WILSON'S WARBLER (Cardellina pusilla)
RED-FACED WARBLER (Cardellina rubrifrons)
RED WARBLER (Cardellina rubra) [E]
PAINTED REDSTART (Myioborus pictus)
SLATE-THROATED REDSTART (Myioborus miniatus miniatus)
Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)
HEPATIC TANAGER (NORTHERN) (Piranga flava hepatica)
SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra)
WESTERN TANAGER (Piranga ludoviciana)
RED-HEADED TANAGER (Piranga erythrocephala) [E]
One of the most surprising sightings of the entire trip was this male Yellow Grosbeak at Monte Albán! Photo by guide Doug Hitchcox.
YELLOW GROSBEAK (Pheucticus chrysopeplus)
ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus ludovicianus)
BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus melanocephalus)
BLUE GROSBEAK (Passerina caerulea)
INDIGO BUNTING (Passerina cyanea)
ORANGE-BREASTED BUNTING (Passerina leclancherii) [E]
VARIED BUNTING (Passerina versicolor)
PAINTED BUNTING (Passerina ciris)
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]
The Mendoza sisters put on a great demonstration in Teotitlán! They showed us the dyes, the sources of all the colors, how to weave, and their fine collection of finished products. It really was a highlight of the trip. Photo by participant Peggy Page.
MEXICAN GRAY SQUIRREL (Sciurus aureogaster)
HISPID COTTON RAT (Sigmodon hispidus)
COYOTE (Canis latrans)
Totals for the tour: 185 bird taxa and 3 mammal taxa