North-east Mexico - December 7th-20th 2008

Published by Paul van Els (paulvanels AT

Participants: Paul van Els, Alyson Mack


Photos with this report (click to enlarge)

Singing quail
Singing quail
Barred Antshrike
Barred Antshrike
Bronze-winged woodpecker
Bronze-winged woodpecker
Ornate Hawk-Eagle
Ornate Hawk-Eagle
Worthen's Sparrow
Worthen's Sparrow
Crimson-collared Grosbeak
Crimson-collared Grosbeak

This trip focused mostly on the cloud forest areas of northern San Luis Potosí and southern Tamaulipas, but also included days on the Tamaulipas coast, in the mountainous area in Nuevo León and the desert south of Saltillo, Coahuila. I concentrated mostly on bird species endemic to Mexico or the region and missed on a previous trip to Oaxaca/Veracruz. Good finds include all four possible yellowthroat species in the area, a calling Tamaulipas pygmy-owl and Whiskered screech-owl, two vocal Ornate hawk-eagles, two Aplomado falcons, large numbers of Military Macaw, Canivet’s emerald, several Crimson-collared grosbeaks and Bronze-winged woodpeckers, Sprague’s pipit and a group of Worthen’s sparrows in the desert south of Saltillo. Due to a cold front, I missed a few insectivorous, thermophile species such as nightjars and swallows, and bird activity was fairly low in the higher altitude areas of El Cielo, making me miss out on the supposedly common Hooded grosbeak. Higher elevation species, such as Amethyst-throated hummingbird and Rufous-capped brush-finch were found in areas lower in elevation than I had expected them to occur. All in all, 275 species were found. Some recordings of species can be found on

DAY 1 – I wish Texas were a bit smaller

Drive from Stillwater, Oklahoma to Brownsville, Texas. The weather was generally cloudy but turned clear and warm as soon as we passed Austin. Birds en route include many Black and Turkey vultures in southern Oklahoma escaping the first winter cold of the northeast of the state. A few Crested caracaras were seen also, and further south in Texas we saw Anhinga, Harris’s Hawk, and Greater Roadrunner. The night was spent in Brownsville.

DAY 2 – Aaah, sunny Mexico

Early in the morning it takes some time for us to find the international bridge, and we found out that the road to the bridge is very poorly indicated. Once there, we went across and completed all border formalities within 15 minutes. Lines were short early in the morning and the border officials were very friendly. Soon after leaving the Mexican town of Matamoros, and heading south on the highway, we hear a distinct short ‘karr’ through our open window and we find a large group of Tamaulipas crows in the fields surrounding the highway. I did not expect these birds to be so abundant on the edge of their range! The road from Matamoros south towards Ciudad Victoria is surrounded mostly by agricultural areas for sorghum production, and the crows were found here in larger groups than elsewhere within its range where forest or scrub was the predominant vegetation. In fact, in these agricultural areas, Tamaulipas crows, White-winged and Mourning doves and a flock of Sandhill cranes were the only birds seen. After the exit for La Pesca, a little further south on the Tamaulipas coast, the excellent and fast road goes through some undisturbed Tamaulipan tropical scrub with a large component of Yucca sp. and mesquite. In retrospect, I wish I had spend more time here than closer to La Pesca, because the habitat not only seemed more intact (the construction of a larger highway to La Pesca does not help) but also more extensive. A short stop revealed Olive sparrow, Altamira oriole, Blue-gray gnatcatcher, Short-tailed hawk, Gray hawk and Harris’s hawk. The town of Soto La Marina would be an excellent base for birders wishing this area of scrub north of it. Just before reaching La Pesca, there are a number of lagoons on the left, where we found a large group of Roseate spoonbills, mixed with American white pelican, White ibis, Black-necked stilt and a few peeps. Caracaras enjoyed harassing the shorebirds. Arriving at La Pesca late in the afternoon, we headed for the coast, and found hardly any people on the slightly chilly beach. Caspian and Royal terns, American herring gull and Laughing gull were seen flying over the sea. Sanderlings and Willet were found in the surf. When it got dark, a try for Tawny-collared nightjar in the hills west of La Pesca revealed no eyeshine in our spotlight, or any other bird for that matter. For the night we considered camping on the beach but fortunately reconsidered. We stayed in a hotel where we were the only guests, because Mexicans did not like the ‘cold’ according to the owner. Later that night we were to find out that the cold was also able to affect us gringos, when we woke up shivering and looking outside how the wind was toying with the palm trees.

DAY 3 - Oh no, chilly Mexico

Several blankets and hours later, we woke up in the morning in a tropical area with temperatures more like those of the central U.S. in December. It was clear to us that this most northern part of the tropics certainly feels the influence of temperate winter weather. In the morning I birded the hills again, but the construction of a new road broke the silence and the cold wind made it hard to find any birds. A few half-frozen Green parakeets flew away upon my approach and two Buff-bellied hummingbirds must have tried to stay active and warm by zipping around my head. The only other birds I located were Olive sparrows, Couch’s kingbird and a Savannah sparrow. We decided to head inland, where the weather was supposed to be warmer and the day was spend driving quite a ways to El Naranjo, in the north of San Luis Potosí state. On the way we crossed the Tropic of Cancer and the landscape became ever greener, and the weather better and better. At the end of the day, it was warm and clear. We made a few short stops along the way, and I found some birds in the dry scrub near Ciudad Mante. Northern beardless-tyrannulet was common, I found the only Carolina wren of the trip and my first Gray-headed yellowthroat, a very drab female. Dusky-capped flycatcher was common. In some humid scrub near a bridge crossing the river Guayalejo, we found Ladder-backed woodpecker, Wood stork, Ringed kingfisher, Red-billed pigeon, Groove-billed ani, Lesser goldfinch and another Gray-headed yellowthroat, this time a more beautiful male. A single Northern rough-winged swallow was spotted near this area as well. South of Ciudad Mante, in the first hill ridge that the road traverses on the way to the picturesque town of Antiguo Morelos, we found a group of Aztec parakeets near a limestone mine.

DAY 4 - Neat little town, El Naranjo

At El Naranjo, we spent the night in the Hotel del Valle, which we found to be excellent, both in price and cleanliness. It is also conveniently located on the west side of town, close to the mountains that offer excellent birding. The first morning we stoop up early, and spent some time birding the lower elevations of the mountain, below the town of El Sabinito. It was quiet here, with the last bits of the cold front still having an effect on early morning temperatures. We found groups of Brown jays, mixed with Montezuma oropendolas, quite common at the base of the mountain, but according to Howell and Webb far away from its nearest breeding area in Hidalgo. Some birds were even displaying. Other birds found were Spot-breasted wren, very common during most of the trip, and several temperate migrants, including Black-throated green warbler, Cassin’s vireo, Louisiana waterthrush and the only MacGillivray’s warbler of the trip. Apparently, the northern birds were better able to withstand the cold! On the way out we spotted one Lineated woodpecker foraging in a tree close to the car, a Ruddy quail-dove hurrying its way back into the forest and three Muscovy ducks and a pair of Yellow-headed parrots flying high overhead.

We birded further up along the road as the day slowly warmed up, and hiked a trail that led to a milpa, a clearcut area for corn production, on the left hand side of the road just above Las Abritas. We were unable to find the shrine that Howell describes in his guide. The road proved to be quite interesting birdwise. The first Singing quail were heard. Wilson’s warbler was common (and in fact was the most common warbler of the trip), and we found our first Fan-tailed warbler, as well as the only Violet-crowned hummingbird of the trip, near the main road. When we got the the milpa (not far from the main road) it was 10:30 am and already warm. We were taking pictures of the abundant Blue-headed and Cassin’s vireos, several Empidonax flycatchers, Rufous-capped warbler and White-collared seed-eater, when we suddenly heard a loud raucous sound coming from far away. Within a minute, a large (50+) group of Military macaws flew over us. I had seen three birds of this species before in eastern Ecuador, but nothing like this! It was incredible seeing these birds in a cloud forest, fairly close to the U.S. border. Some of the birds were playfully tumbling in the air and harassing each other.

Amazed by these gorgeous birds and a Crane hawk that flew over shortly after, we left the milpa and headed up the road a little further to where a dirt road branches off to El Magüey de Oriente. This area was for us the best area near El Naranjo for birds and very accessible with many small trails cut into the forest. Within 100 meters south of the main road, we found a large bird flock including four Bronze-winged woodpeckers, several Audubon’s orioles, Olivaceous woodcreeper, Spot-crowned woodcreeper, Flame-colored and White-winged tanagers, many Green jays, a handsome male Crimson-collared grosbeak, and a multitude of North American warblers, including several Crescent-chested warblers and a Blue-winged warbler. Loosely associating with the flock was a third species of woodcreeper, Ivory-billed woodcreeper, and Blue-crowned motmot.

We continued up into high elevation areas beyond El Platanito and Agua Zarca, finding a Spotted wren sitting on a rock at the corral that Howell mentions just before Agua Zarca. Painted redstart was also seen here. As the day progressed, the birds got a little quiet. However, a few kilometers beyond the village of El Porvenir, in an area of oaks covered in Spanish moss a few hairpin curves behind a bridge, I found a few good birds after some pishing. Hepatic tanager was common this far up, and I also found Hutton’s vireo and Hermit warbler in the oaks, but surprises in a scrubby area included a curious Long-billed thrasher, Brown-throated wren, an immature Black-chinned sparrow (strange habitat?), as well as a nice male Hooded yellowthroat. The area beyond Agua Zarca is neglected by Howell but clearly includes some good species not to be missed when visiting El Naranjo!

The late afternoon was spent at the area near the waterfall of El Salto, just east of El Naranjo. A stroll on the road near the river revealed a number of parrots flying over and the local people were friendly enough to show us a roost of Red-crowned parrots. Other species included White-crowned parrots and Red-lored parrots. Another Lineated woodpecker was hacking away in one of the huge cypresses, while a Yellow-throated euphonia was singing in a small papaya tree. A Yellow-winged tanager was also seen near the houses in this area, as well as a Baltimore oriole. A late search in the ‘marsh’ described by Howell and to be found near the turnoff to El Salto turned up only a Common yellowthroat and a few kingbirds. The area is not much more than some Acacia shrubs surrounded by barb-wire and sugar cane plantations. In the middle of the area there was a little stagnant water with some leguminous shrubs standing with their feet in the water. This area looked most promising for birds but it was now too dark to see and we returned to the hotel.

DAY 5 – Cloud forest birding

The second day at El Naranjo we went up to the El Magüey junction again. This time I birded the forest north of the road and again, the area was very interesting. First new bird was a nice male Mountain trogon and a Rufous-browed peppershrike was foraging close by. When it got warmer, a huge bird flock started to develop again, just like the previous day. Fortunately, its composition was slightly different today, and we got good looks at several Rufous-browed peppershrikes, a Black-crested titmouse, and we found a very tame covey of Singing quail which allowed us to take pictures of the birds. Blue mockingbird was skulking in a low bush, and an interested Wedge-tailed sabrewing came close to take a look at us from its perch. Walking a trail that goes straight into the forest from the junction north, we found a Blue bunting, and a pair of Fan-tailed warblers flitting around in the undergrowth catching insects. A beautiful male Canivet’s emerald stayed just long enough at a few flowers to make identification possible. Gray-collared becard was heard among the flocking birds but was not seen. Around the same time we saw Military macaws yesterday, we heard them again, in the same general area, today.

We returned to El Naranjo for lunch, and headed up into the high elevation oak forest later in the afternoon. This time, we explored the oak forests a little further beyond El Porvenir. There is a chapel on the left hand side of the road just before the junction to Zamachihue and behind it is some ranchland with scattered oaks. We found Painted redstart here, as well as both Bridled and Black-crested titmouse, Black-headed grosbeak, Ruby-crowned kinglet and some temperate zone warblers. In the fields in front of the chapel, small groups of Lesser goldfinch and Varied bunting gathered in the tall grasses to go to roost. We drove down to the Magüey junction again and parked the car to listen to the dusk chorus, which included several coveys of Singing quail, and a few Thicket tinamous. Playing the whistles of Tamaulipas pygmy-owl was unsuccessful.

DAY 6 – Not a very impressive-looking marsh…

On our last day in El Naranjo, we headed up to the Magüey junction again, which had treated us so well before. The morning was distinctly cooler than the previous one however, and bird activity was a little lower around the main road, so we decided to walk the road towards el Magüey, where the sun was hitting the forest. Near a field we found a very confiding Long-billed thrasher turning over leaves with force. For the first time, and after having seen several other Toxostoma species, the name ‘thrasher’ made sense to me. Several loud Audubon’s orioles were eating fruits from a tree, joined briefly by a Black-headed saltator and two Mountain trogons. A pair of Northern Ravens was definitely a northern surprise in this lush tropical environment! As we walked further down the road, the forest opened up and gave way to fields interspersed with scrub. In this area we found an extremely confiding Barred antshrike posing for us on a barbwire fence. We were also able to turn one of the Warbling vireo’s into a Brown-capped vireo. As we walked back to the car and the day had warmed up, we saw both Common and Great black hawk soaring on thermals above the forest.

At around 11:30 am we found ourselves in the marsh near the junction to El Salto again. This time I went straight for the area that still held some water, and I was soon pishing out several bird species, including many Common yellowthroats, a few Gray-crowned yellowthroats, a Gray flycatcher and… a shy male Altamira yellowthroat, lurking inside the bushes, and remaining well in cover near the roots of the shrubs. The distinctive facial pattern was seen well however, and contently I birder the marshes a little more, adding some more species to the list. I saw what I thought was a female Altamira yellowthroat, just a little more yellow than a female Common yellowthroat, and resembling a Wilson’s warbler without the black cap. A few Soras and a Green heron responded angrily to my pishing, and a few swallow species, including Tree swallow flew over the area. Scrub euphonia also made its appearance in an Acacia. Both Wood stork and Neotropic cormorant flew over the marsh in the direction of a few ponds on the other side of the road in a field. Checking out these ponds also revealed Black-bellied whistling-duck, American coots and some Blue-winged teal.

After the marsh we headed toward El Cielo biosphere reserve. Shortly after crossing the first ridge of hills east of El Naranjo, I spotted an Aplomado falcon sitting in a roadside tree overlooking an area of recently plowed fields. We took some nice pictures of the bird and then it flew off into the field, to sit down right in front of us. It was apparently sitting next to a prey item, as an incoming White-tailed hawk was received with hostility. We then witnessed a spectacular aerial fight between the two birds, after which the Aplomado falcon flew off and joined its mate in a nearby tree, looking down discontently upon the White-tailed hawk eating its stolen prey (we never figured out what exactly it was).

In the evening we arrived at El Cielo biosphere reserve, in the town of Gomez Farías. It was quiet in the town, with just a few people trying to offer us a ride up the mountain. We stayed the night in the nice but relatively expensive hotel Casa de Piedra. The hummingbird feeder revealed a few Wedge-tailed sabrewings and an Amethyst-troated hummingbird, a surprise, as this bird usually occurs at higher elevation only. As it got dark, I heard Thicket tinamous, Singing quail, Ferruginous pygmy-owl and a few Mottled owls from the room balcony.

DAY 7 – Welcome to El Cielo Biosphere Reserve

Early the next morning we started to hike up to Alta Cima, a village in the cloud forest. In Gomez, we saw several abundant lowland birds such as Clay-colored robins, Plain chachalaca and White-headed parrot and the only Western tanager of the trip. Right after leaving town we saw one Elegant trogon sitting on a telephone wire. We then walked over the cobble stone road to the junction of the ‘camino viejo’ and ‘camino nuevo’ to Alta Cima. The new road is a bumpy, windy long road open for vehicular traffic and goes off to the left from the new visitors’ center being constructed at the junction. The old road (off to the right) is much steeper and surrounded by denser, less disturbed forest, and therefore is more attractive for walking. It took us all morning to get up to Alta Cima, but we saw three individual Thicket tinamous scuttling away in the undergrowth on the slopes below us, as well as a covey of Singing quail. Much more conspicuous than at El Naranjo were the many singing Brown-backed solitaires. After a while the old road reaches a ravine where winds are stronger and moisture is higher, which is evident in the vegetation covered in mosses. In this area we saw both Black-headed and Orange-billed nightingale-thrushes, as well as a male Gray-collared becard. Just after leaving this moist area, the road turns left and Alta Cima is close, here we found a small group of Golden-browed warblers.

We spent the afternoon birding trails close to Alta Cima and found two Bat falcons circling over the village in a group of Vaux’s swifts. A few Gray silkies also flew over the area to go to their roosts just before dusk. After dusk, I tried to lure in a Tamaulipas pygmy-owl by using playback, but to no avail. In the evening I spoke to a few of the local bird guides who were involved in a bird banding project and they said I might have a chance for the owl in the area they were banding.

DAY 8 – Are we back in the U.S.? Sweetgums, elms, oaks and pines.

Early I find myself whistling for pygmy-owls in the area the guys had pointed me to. Briefly, a bird responds. Later tries with playback in the same area got one bird to respond with an agitated alarm call but the bird never showed itself. In the area, I do find Smoky-brown woodpecker, Rufous-browed peppershrike, Blue-hooded euphonia and Crimson-collared grosbeak. The bird guides tell me the area has been relatively quiet lately due to the cold. This was to be apparent later the day when we hiked up the mountain to go to the village of San José, which was about 500 m higher than Alta Cima. Along the way, most birds were found during the first kilometer of the walk. Upon leaving Alta Cima, we immediately found a small flock of birds where the main trail enters the forest. Its members included a few Rufous-capped brush-finch, two Blue buntings, and several warblers including Fan-tailed. Further up along the trail we heard the distinct whistling of Ornate hawk-eagle a few times before we got distant looks of a soaring bird. Then, after half an hour or so of walking we heard the whistling at a shorter distance and we got excellent looks and pictures of a bird flying right over us. Close to the Ornate hawk-eagle we also saw a pair of Red-tailed hawks in their quite exotic habitat and another Great black hawk.

Bird activity was very low until we reached San José, and whistling for Tamaulipas pygmy-owl in the Valle del OVNI (U.F.O. Valley, where the owl is supposed to be common) did not yield any sightings. We did see a Blue-crowned motmot and a group of Mountain trogons along the way, as well as a few warblers. Above San José, in the sweetgum and pine dominated temperate forest, we added Rock wren, Hermit thrush and White-throated thrush to the list. In the afternoon we hiked down to Alta Cima again, and bird activity was again low, the only sightings of interest a small army ant swarm with attending Rufous-crowed and Fan-tailed warblers picking up insects fleeing from the ants and another male Crimson-collared grosbeak.

DAY 9 – Would you like to touch an endemic bird?

Another try to see Tamaulipas pygmy-owl this morning in the area just beyond Alta Cima, up a trail in front of a stone wall before a creek crossing. No owls were heard or seen, but I did join the guys of the bird banding project for a while. Birds they captured within an hour’s time were Olivaceous woodcreeper, Hammond’s flycatcher, Crimson-collared grosbeak and Brown-backed solitaire. What a cool job! I have some banding experience myself as well, and it was fun to watch how these guys banded birds, and especially birds much different from the ones I’m used catching. I enjoyed taking pictures of the birds, especially the grosbeak, but for the one holding the grosbeak, the experience was certainly much less joyful (see picture).

In the late morning we walked down part of the new road to Gomez, and hitched a ride down the rest when it got too hot. The road is much longer and less scenic (although with great overviews of the landscape) than the old road but seems nonetheless good for birds. We saw ten more Military macaws, two Bat falcons, two Short-tailed hawks, a Collared forest-falcon and the ‘usual’ assortment of warblers. One of the banding guys had even seen a group of Great curassow crossing the road here in November!

The rest of the afternoon was spent kayaking on the river at Bocatoma, just below Gomez. Birdlife was distinctly more tropical here. We found Green, Ringed and Amazon kingfishers, many waterthrushes, Masked tityra, Bat falcon, and three species of parrot along the river. Our best find was a Sungrebe between Bocatoma and Balneario La Florida, which had carved its own walking trails into the muddy banks of the river and we kept flushing the bird (or birds?) from this trail about a meter above the water level. A nocturnal drive in the area yielded a roadkill Burrowing owl and a distant calling Whiskered screech-owl on the flanks of the mountains west of La Bocatoma, as well as a few Mottled owls. No nightjars or potoos however.

DAY 10-11

Days for relaxing and driving to Saltillo, Coahuila –roadside birds included Vermillion flycatcher and Chihuahuan raven.

DAY 12 – They’re closer than you think…

In Saltillo, we stay at the excellent Posada San Juan, on Blvd. Carranza, which has a good price and is close to the colonial center of the city. The only disadvantage was that we found our parked car to be blocked by other cars in the morning, something that happened on a previous trip to Mexico. This time it was easily resolved by the parking guard who woke up the unfortunate owner of the vehicle early in the morning, who removed his car with a very sleepy face. We drove down to Tanque de Emergencia, the little village known for having Worthen’s sparrows in the desert south of Saltillo. The exit to the village was no longer indicated and the dirt road Howell mentions has been replaced by blacktop. The asphalt only goes until the village, and then turns into dirt, which was not passable in our own vehicle because the dirt was too build-up in places, causing the underside of the car to get stuck in the gravel. The asphalt road is the first one on the left (coming from Saltillo) after a bridge in a town called Las Colonias. I decided to bird around the village around the cattle pond indicated by Howell. This yielded excellent sightings of Curve-billed thrasher, Western bluebird and several sparrow species including Black-throated and Brewer’s, but excluding Worthen’s. However, another promising area lies to the left of the road just before reaching the village, where a dirt road runs between two small heaps of dirt, and about 500 m from the road there’s a cattle pond surrounded on one side by a dam and on the other by desert vegetation. Canyon towhee, Cactus wren, Chihuahuan raven, Cassin’s kingbird, Vermillion flycatcher, and a very large covey of Scaled quail were seen in this area. A surprise bird was a lone Sprague’s pipit that I flushed. The real attraction was the numerous sparrows sitting in the trees on the dam and drinking at the pond. Most abundant was Lark sparrow, followed by Savannah sparrow, Chipping sparrow and Brewer’s sparrow. The desert area east of the pond held flocks of Lark sparrow and it was here that I found good numbers of Worthen’s sparrow as well, in an area with cholla cacti and some yucca. Instead of driving all the way to the ‘suitable habitat’ indicated by Howell, it may be worthwile checking this area first, to save both time and your vehicle.

DAY 13 – Road improvements throughout Mexico

If you want to avoid busy Monterrey, Saltillo can be a good place to stay at, even if you are headed for the highrise in Cumbres de Monterrey. The road is now all the way paved from the Los Lirios exit to Santiago, and although there are numerous potholes, access to the highrise now seems just as quick (although more distance) from Saltillo as from Monterrey, because the most windy and steep part of the road near the Cola de Caballo waterfalls is on the Monterrey side. The area between Los Lirios and the highrise furthermore has excellent pine-juniper forest. We found many Western scrub-jays, Mexican jay, Pine flycatcher, Bushtit, American robin, Black phoebe and numerous other birds even before reaching the highrise.

The Maroon-fronted parrots were absent, just like Howell had indicated for the wintertime, and the Cola de Caballo waterfalls were not very productive in the afternoon, when this tourist attraction is too crowded with people. If you want to see cloud forest birds, go to El Cielo or El Naranjo I suggest, and skip the Cola de Caballo (parking 20 pesos, entrance 60 pesos) altogether. Besides, there are more beautiful waterfalls close to El Naranjo and there were hardly any people there!


Thanks to Arvind Panjabi for useful directions around Alta Cima and to Esteban Berrones Benítez and his co-workers for letting me join them for some mist-netting near Alta Cima. A great thanks to Alyson Mack for being a patient travel partner and for some great photography!


Howell SNG, Webb, S (1995) A guide to the birds of Mexico and northern Central America. Oxford University Press, Oxford
Howell SNG (1999) A bird-finding guide to Mexico. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY
Sibley DA (2000) The Sibley guide to birds. Chanticleer Press, New York : for bird sounds

Species Lists

Bird trip list, species in bold are of particular interest, asterisk indicates life bird

Thicket tinamou- Crypturellus cinnamomeus*, many heard at Gomez and at El Naranjo, 3 seen old road to Alta Cima
Pied-billed grebe – Podilymbus podiceps
American white pelican – Pelecanus erythrorhynchos
Brown pelican – P. occidentalis
Double-crested cormorant – Phalacrocorax auritus
Neotropic cormorant – P. olivaceus
Anhinga – Anhinga anhinga
Great blue heron – Ardea herodias
Great egret – A. alba
Snowy egret – Egretta thula
Cattle egret – Bubulcus ibis
Green heron – Butorides virescens
Black-crowned night-heron – Nycticorax nycticorax
Yellow-crowned night-heron – Nyctanassa violacea
White ibis – Eudocimus albus
White-faced ibis – Plegadis chihi, 1 at Bocatoma
Roseate spoonbill – Platalea ajaja
Wood stork – Mycteria ibis
Fulvous whistling-duck – Dendrocygna bicolor
Black-bellied whistling-duck – D. autumnalis
White-fronted goose – Anser albifrons, just south of Matamoros
Snow goose – A. caerulescens, 2 birds just south of Matamoros
Muscovy duck – Cairina moschata, 3 at El Naranjo
Mallard – Anas platyrhynchos
Mottled duck – A. fulvigula
Blue-winged teal – A. discors
Gadwall – A. strepera
Ring-necked duck – Aythya collaris
Black vulture – Coragyps atratus
Turkey vulture – Cathartes aura
Osprey – Pandion haliaetus
White-tailed kite – Elanus leucurus
Northern harrier – Circus hudsonius
Sharp-shinned hawk – Accipiter striatus
Crane hawk – Geranospiza caerulescens, 1 at El Naranjo
Common black-hawk – Buteogallus anthracinus
Great black-hawk – B. urubutinga, 1 El Naranjo, 1 El Cielo
Harris’s hawk – Parabuteo unicinctus
Gray hawk – Buteo nitidus
Roadside hawk – B. magnirostris
Short-tailed hawk – B. brachyurus
White-tailed hawk – B. albicaudatus
Red-tailed hawk – B. jamaicensis
Ornate hawk-eagle – Spizaetus ornatus, 2 birds at El Cielo
Northern crested-caracara – Caracara cheriway
Collared forest-falcon – Micrastur semitorquatus, 1 new road to Alta Cima
American kestrel – Falco sparverius
Aplomado falcon – F. femoralis, 2 birds between El Naranjo and Nuevo Morelos
Bat falcon – F. rufigularis, minimum of 5 birds seen at El Cielo
Plain chachalaca – Ortalis vetula
Singing quail – Dactylortyx thoracicus*, heard frequently at dusk, at least 3 coveys seen
Scaled quail – Callipepla squamata
Sora – Porzana carolina
American coot – Fulica americana
Sungrebe – Heliornis fulica, 1 possibly 2 at La Bocatoma
Sandhill crane – Grus Canadensis, 2 groups just south of Matamoros
Killdeer – Charadrius vociferus
Black-necked stilt – Himantopus mexicanus
American avocet – Recurvirostra americana
Greater yellowlegs – Tringa melanoleuca
Lesser yellowlegs – T. flavipes
Willet – Catoptrophorus semipalmatus
Spotted sandpiper – Actitis macularia
Sanderling – Calidris alba
Western sandpiper – C. mauri
Least sandpiper – C. minutilla
Laughing gull – Larus atricilla
Franklin’s gull – L. pipixcan
Ring-billed gull – L. delawarensis
American herring gull – L. smithsonianus
Caspian tern – Sterna caspia
Royal tern – S. maxima
Forster’s tern – S. forsteri
(Feral pigeon – Columbia livia)
Red-billed pigeon – Patagioenas flavirostris
Band-tailed pigeon – P. fasciata
(Eurasian collared-dove – Streptopelia decaocto)
White-winged dove – Zenaida asiatica
Mourning dove – Z. macroura
Inca dove – Columbina inca
Common ground-dove – C. passerina
Ruddy ground-dove – C. talpacoti
Blue ground-dove – Claravis pretiosa, 2 at old road to Alta Cima
White-tipped dove – Leptotila verreauxi
Gray-headed dove – L. plumbeiceps, 1 old road to Alta Cima
Ruddy quail-dove – Geotrygon Montana, 1 El Naranjo
Green parakeet – Aratinga holochlora*, La Pesca and El Naranjo
Aztec parakeet – A. astec
Military macaw – Ara militaris, 50+ at El Naranjo, 10 at El Cielo
White-crowned parrot – Pionus senilis
Red-crowned parrot – Amazona viridigenalis*, many at El Salto
Red-lored parrot – A. autumnalis
Yellow-headed parrot – A. oratrix*, 2 birds El Naranjo
Squirrel cuckoo – Piaya cayana
Groove-billed ani – Crotophaga sulcirostris
Whiskered screech-owl – Megascops trichopsis*, uphill from La Bocatoma
Tamaulipas pygmy-owl – Glaucidium sanchezi*, 1 at Alta Cima
Ferruginous pygmy-owl – G. brasilianum
Burrowing owl – Athene cunicularia
Mottled owl – Ciccaba virgata
Vaux’s swift – Chaetura vauxi
Wedge-tailed sabrewing – Campylopterus curvipennis
Canivet’s emerald – Chlorostilbon canivetii*, 1 at El Naranjo
White-eared hummingbird – Basilinna leucotis
Azure-crowned hummingbird – Amazilia cyanocephala*, 1 at El Naranjo
Buff-bellied hummingbird – Amazilia yucatanensis
Amethyst-throated hummingbird – Lampornis amethystinus
Mountain trogon – Trogon mexicanus
Elagant trogon – T. elegans*
Blue-crowned motmot – Momotus momota
Ringed kingfisher – Ceryle torquata
Belted kingfisher – C. alcyon
Amazon kingfisher – Chloroceryle amazona
Green kingfisher – C. americana
Acorn woodpecker – Melanerpes formicivorus
Golden-fronted woodpecker – M. aurifrons
Yellow-bellied sapsucker – Sphyrapicus varius
Ladder-backed woodpecker – Picoides scalaris
Hairy woodpecker – P. villosus
Smoky-brown woodpecker – Veniliornis fumigatus, 1 at Alta Cima
Bronze-winged woodpecker – Piculus (rubiginosus) aeruginosus*, at least 6 El Naranjo, at least 4 El Cielo
Northern flicker – Colaptes auratus
Lineated woodpecker – Drypcopus lineatus
Olivaceous woodcreeper – Sittasomus griseicapillus, several both at El Cielo and El Naranjo
Ivory-billed woodcreeper – Xiphorhynchus flavigaster*, 2 at El Naranjo, 1 El Cielo
Spot-crowned woodcreeper – Lepidocolaptes affinis*, 2 at El Naranjo
Barred antshrike – Thamnophilus doliatus
Northern beardless-tyrannulet – Camptostoma imberbe
Greater pewee – Contopus pertinax
Least flycatcher – Empidonax minimus
Hammond’s flycatcher – E. hammondii
Dusky flycatcher – E. oberholseri
Gray flycatcher – E. wrightii
Pine flycatcher – E. affinis*, 1 10 km before highrise
Cordilleran flycatcher – E. occidentalis
Black phoebe – Sayornis nigricans
Eastern phoebe – S. phoebe
Say’s phoebe – S. saya
Vermillion flycatcher – Pyrocephalus rubinus
Dusky-capped flycatcher – Myiarchus tuberculifer
Great kiskadee – Pitangus sulphuratus
Boat-billed flycatcher – Megarhynchus pitangua
Social flycatcher – Myiozetetes similis
Tropical kingbird – Tyrannus melancholicus
Couch’s kingbird – T. couchii
Cassin’s kingbird – T. vociferans
Gray-collared becard – Pachyramphus major*, 1 heard road to Magüey, 1 seen old road to Alta Cima
Masked tityra – Tityra semifasciata
Horned lark – Eremophila alpestris
Tree swallow – Tachycineta bicolor
Northern rough-winged swallow – Stelgidopteryx serripennis
Green jay – Cyanocorax (yncas) luxuosus
Brown jay – C. morio
Western scrub-jay – Aphelocoma coerulescens
Mexican jay – A. Ultramarina, near highrise
Tamaulipas crow – Corvus imparatus*, several large flocks near the coast, El Naranjo and Gomez
Chihuahuan raven – C. cryptoleucus
Northern raven – C. corax
Bridled titmouse – Baelophus wollweberi*
Black-crested titmouse – B. atrocristatus
Bushtit – Psaltriparus minimus
Spotted wren – Campylorhynchus gularis*, 1 seen near Agua Zarca, 2 heard near road to Magüey
Cactus wren – C. brunneicapillus
Rock wren – Salpinctes obsoletus
Spot-breasted wren – Thryothorus maculipectus
Carolina wren – T. ludovicianus
White-bellied wren – Uropsila leucogastra, heard near La Bocatoma
Bewick’s wren – Thryomanes bewickii
Northern house-wren – Troglodytes aedon
Brown-throated wren – T. (aedon) brunneicollis, seen above Agua Zarca
Ruby-crowned kinglet – Regulus calendula
Blue-gray gnatcatcher – Polioptila caerulea
Black-tailed gnatcatcher – P. melanura
Eastern bluebird – Sialia sialis
Western bluebird – S. mexicana
Brown-backed solitaire – Myadestes occidentalis
Orange-billed nightingale-thrush – Catharus aurantiirostris, seen old road to Alta Cima
Russet nightingale-thrush – C. occidentalis, heard only
Black-headed nightingale-thrush – C. mexicanus*, seen old road to Alta Cima
Hermit thrush – C. guttatus
Clay-colored thrush – Turdus grayi
White-throated thrush – T. albicollis
American robin – T. migratorius
Gray catbird – Dumetella carolinensis
Blue mockingbird – Melanotis caerulescens, odd individuals both at El Naranjo and El Cielo
Northern mockingbird – Mimus polyglottos
Long-billed thrasher – Toxostoma longirostre*, common in disturbed areas El Naranjo and El Cielo
Curve-billed thrasher – T. curvirostre
Sprague’s pipit – Anthus spragueii, 1 at Tanque de Emergencia
Gray silky – Ptilogonys cinereus, few at Alta Cima
(European starling – Sturnus vulgaris)
White-eyed vireo – Vireo griseus
Blue-headed vireo – V. solitarius
Cassin’s vireo – V. cassini
Hutton’s vireo – V. huttoni
Warbling vireo – V. gilvus
Brown-capped vireo – V. leucophrys
Rufous-browed peppershrike – Cyclarhis guianensis, 3 at El Naranjo, 2 at El Cielo
Blue-winged warbler – Vermivora pinus
Tennessee warbler – V. peregrina
Orange-crowned warbler – V. celata
Nashville warbler – V. ruficapilla
Crescent-chested warbler – Parula superciliosa, common warbler at intermediate and higher elevations
Northern parula – P. americana
Yellow-rumped warbler – Dendroica coronata
Townsend’s warbler – D. townsendi
Hermit warbler – D. occidentalis
Black-throated green warbler – D. virens
Black-and-white warbler – Mniotilta varia
Ovenbird – Seiurus aurocapillus
Northern waterthrush – S. noveboracensis
Louisiana waterthrush – S. motacilla
MacGillivray’s warbler – Oporornis tolmiei
Common yellowthroat – Geothlypis trichas
Altamira yellowthroat – G. (trichas) flavovelata*, 2 birds El Naranjo
Hooded yellowthroat – G. nelsoni*, 1 male above Agua Zarca
Gray-crowned yellowthroat – G. poliocephala*, fairly common in shrubby lowland areas
Wilson’s warbler – Wilsonia pusilla
Painted redstart – Myioborus pictus
Fan-tailed warbler – Euthlypis lachrymosa*, several seen both at El Cielo and El Naranjo
Golden-crowned warbler – Basileuterus culicivorus
Rufous-capped warbler – B. rufifrons
Golden-browed warbler – B. belli, 1 small group near Alta Cima
Scrub euphonia – Euphonia affinins
Yellow-throated euphonia – E. hirundinacea
Blue-hooded euphonia – E. elegantissima
Yellow-winged tanager – Thraupis abbas, individuals at El Salto, El Naranjo and Gomez
Hepatic tanager – Piranga flava
Summer tanager – P. rubra
Western tanager – P. ludoviciana
Flame-colored tanager – P. bidentata
White-winged tanager – P. leucoptera
Black-headed saltator – Saltator atriceps
Crimson-collared grosbeak – Rhodothraupis celaeno*, skulking, but individual males (no females?!) El Naranjo and El Cielo
Black-headed grosbeak – Pheucticus melanocephalus
Blue bunting – Cyanocompsa parellina, 1 El Naranjo, 2 Alta Cima
Varied bunting – Passerina versicolor*
Rufous-capped brush-finch – Atlapetes pileatus*, 5 Alta Cima
Olive sparrow – Arremonops rufivirgatus
Canyon towhee – Pipilo fuscus
Blue-black grassquit – Volatinia jacarina
White-collared seed-eater – Sporophila torqueola
Yellow-faced grassquit – Tiaris olivacea
Black-throated sparrow – Amphispiza bilineata
Chipping sparrow – Spizella passerina
Clay-colored sparrow – S. pallida
Brewer’s sparrow – S. breweri
Worthen’s sparrow – S. wortheni*, at least 5 birds Tanque de Emergencia
Black-chinned sparrow – S. atrogularis*
Lark sparrow – Chondestes grammacus
Savannah sparrow – Passerculus sandwichensis
Lincoln’s sparrow – Melospiza lincolnii
Yellow-eyed junco – Junco phaeonotus
Red-winged blackbird – Agelaius phoeniceus
Eastern meadowlark – Sturnella magna
Western meadowlark – S. neglecta
Melodious blackbird – Dives dives
Brewer’s blackbird – Euphagus cyanocephalus
Great-tailed grackle – Quiscalus mexicanus
Bronzed cowbird – Molothrus aeneus
Brown-headed cowbird – M. ater
Audubon’s oriole – Icterus graduacauda
Altamira oriole – I. gularis
Baltimore oriole – I. galbula
Montezuma oropendola – Psarocolius montezuma
House finch – Carpodacus mexicanus
Pine siskin – Carduelis pinus
Black-headed siskin – C. notata
Lesser goldfinch – C. psaltria
(House sparrow – Passer domesticus)

Roadside birds seen en route from Oklahoma, U.S.A.

Rough-legged hawk – Buteo lagopus
Cooper’s hawk – Accipiter cooperi
Merlin – Falco columbarius
Wild turkey – Meleagris gallopavo
Greater roadrunner – Geococcyx californianus
Common grackle – Quiscalus quiscula