Big Oaxaca and Guerrero, Mexico - March 6th to 27th 2009

Published by manuel grosselet (birdinnet AT

Participants: John Lovatt, John Ward, John Duranti, Allan Richard, Brian Porter and Manuel Grosselet (Guide)


Photos with this report (click to enlarge)

Citreoline trogon
Citreoline trogon
Oaxaca Sparrow
Oaxaca Sparrow
red-breasted Chat
red-breasted Chat

Report compiled by John Ward with assistance from Manuel Grosselet on the species list, notes on Guerrero, and the photographs.


Planning for this trip started in April 2008. There were obviously a lot of good birds to be found in Mexico so where would a good place be to choose? After several evenings and weekends reading Steve Howell’s guide, I decided on the state of Oaxaca. I had travelled previously through Mexico in 1965, but that was a leisurely journey a long time ago - this time I wanted an intensive two week trip to see as many of the endemics and regional specials as possible plus the numerous migrants passing through during springtime. Later on in the planning stages, the tour would be extended a further week to include Guerrero.

A ground agent and guide were going to be essential and after sending off a number of enquiries, I decided I would try to get Manuel Grosselet of Tierra de Aves, Manuel is a French ornithologist based in Mexico carrying out research and conservation work and guiding. We agreed a price and worked on an itinerary that would maximize our time.

And so, after a few emails to friends and friends of friends, a group of five was formed and the trip was up and running.

General Notes:

Oaxaca is well served with frequent flights from Mexico City, flight time about one hour. Allan and John D flew in from two weeks in Cuba and encountered an annoying bureaucratic glitch at Mexico City airport but luckily were able to get onto their Oaxaca flight OK. The rest of us had trouble-free journeys from Dublin and London.

The birding was very comfortable, mainly from the roadside or from good trails. The boat for the pelagic was ideal, and fortunately (for me at least) the sea was calm.

Regarding field guides, other than Ber Van Perlo’s, none of those listed below include illustrations of all the birds of Mexico which resulted in some long-winded checking at times. There seems to be an opening for someone to produce a good quality all inclusive guide…..any volunteers out there?

Our group number of five was perfect for the eight-seater Dodge Ram mini-bus, with plenty of spare room for bags, scopes, water and food etc – and rapid exiting was easy at the numerous stops. We were an ideal size too for the narrow trails and confined spots but big enough for plenty of good banter between everyone, including Manuel whose sense of humour was great.

A word or two about our guide – Manuel’s identification skills were excellent, and he made absolutely every effort possible to get everyone onto every bird. He constantly searched for new birds and worked hard to keep us well fed and watered and looked after all our general welfare needs – his services were of the highest order and I can heartily recommend him for anyone thinking of a birding trip to Mexico.

The accommodation was fine, varying from cabins to very comfortable hotels and family houses.

We ate well and the food was mostly very tasty – although the black beans soon lost any popularity they may have had at the start of the trip! The local beer was incredibly cheap and tasty, and we pretty well OD’d at times on jug after jug of freshly made fruit-juice - it was so refreshing, the best I’ve ever tasted. But certainly some care needed to be taken with food. Because of the remoteness and being well off the tourist routes for a good bit of the time, often the only eating places available were those used just by the local people - the odd tummy up-set was going to be inevitable.

Mosquitoes weren’t too much of a problem, in fact some of the group dispensed with their malaria pills halfway through. Other biting/burrowing insects were present though. I got a lot of chigger bites.

High in the mountains the temperature fell close to zero at night (or at least it felt like it). In the eastern lowlands it was hot and humid and in the Central Valley and the west it was mostly very hot and dry. The two Aussies took the heat in their stride of course but the rest of us were feeling it at times. We had no rain at all.

On occasions we were pulled over at security road blocks – correction, we were always pulled over – a couple of the group did look suspicious. The vehicle and one or two of our bags would be searched but soon we were on our way with minimal delay.

Very little English was spoken by the Mexican people once off the beaten track but everyone was extremely friendly and very welcoming towards us. We had good fun trying to converse with the few words we knew. Manuel spoke fluent Spanish so we had no problems and JD also helped out especially when ordering at mealtimes, although it would often be a ‘hope for the best’ sort of choice which usually turned out just fine.


I was anxious about how the trip would turn out but I needn’t have been - we had no serious hitches and everyone agreed it went off extremely well.

The total trip list was a very respectable 437 species seen plus 18 heard. These included 31 hummingbirds, 40 flycatchers, 16 wrens, 8 jays, 40 warblers, 21 sparrows and 11 orioles. We all added hugely to our life lists and had refreshingly new sightings of previously seen species.

Apart from the amazing birding experience, it was a huge privilege just to be in this part of Mexico - the pine and oak forests of the high Sierra Madre, the cloud and tropical forests of the lower eastern slopes, the more arid terrain of the interior and Pacific slope, and to be among the rural people for a glimpse into their very hard way of life.

Finally, I would like to give my thanks to Allan, Brian, both Johns, and Manuel for making this trip so enjoyable, successful and memorable

John Ward

Species Lists

Least Grebe
Pied-billed Grebe
Wedge-tailed Shearwater
Galapagos Shearwater
Least Storm-Petrel
Black Storm-Petrel
Red-billed Tropicbird
American White Pelican
Brown Pelican
Masked Booby
Blue-footed Booby
Brown Booby
Neotropic Cormorant
Magnificent Frigatebird
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Reddish Egret
Tricolored Heron
Little Blue Heron
Snowy Egret
Cattle Egret
Green Heron
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
Boat-billed Heron
Bare-throated Tiger-Heron
Least Bittern
American Bittern
Wood Stork
White Ibis
White-faced Ibis
Roseate Spoonbill
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
American Wigeon
Blue-winged Teal
Northern Shoveler
Ring-necked Duck
Lesser Scaup
Ruddy Duck
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture
Hook-billed Kite
Snail Kite
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
White Hawk
Common Black-Hawk
Great Black-Hawk
Roadside Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk
Gray Hawk
Short-tailed Hawk
Swainson's Hawk
White-tailed Hawk
Zone-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Black Hawk-Eagle
Crested Caracara
Laughing Falcon
Barred Forest-Falcon
Collared Forest-Falcon
American Kestrel
Bat Falcon
Peregrine Falcon
Plain Chachalaca
West Mexican Chachalaca
Long-tailed Wood-Partridge
Singing Quail
Montezuma Quail
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Northern Jacana
Black-necked Stilt
Double-striped Thick-knee
Semipalmated Plover
Wilson's Plover
Collared Plover
Short-billed Dowitcher
Spotted Sandpiper
Solitary Sandpiper
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Ruddy Turnstone
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
American Herring Gull
Laughing Gull
Gull-billed Tern
Caspian Tern
Black Tern
Common Tern
Royal Tern
Sandwich Tern
Black Skimmer
Rock Pigeon
Band-tailed Pigeon
Red-billed Pigeon
Short-billed Pigeon
Mourning Dove
White-winged Dove
Common Ground-Dove
Ruddy Ground-Dove
Inca Dove
White-tipped Dove
White-faced Quail-Dove
Ruddy Quail-Dove
Military Macaw
Olive-throated Parakeet
Orange-fronted Parakeet
Barred Parakeet
White-crowned Parrot
White-fronted Parrot
Lilac-crowned Parrot
Red-lored Parrot
Yellow-headed Parrot
Mealy Parrot
Squirrel Cuckoo
Groove-billed Ani
Striped Cuckoo
Pheasant Cuckoo
Lesser Ground-Cuckoo
Flammulated Owl
Vermiculated Screech-Owl
Great Horned Owl
Mottled Owl
Colima Pygmy-Owl
Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl
Lesser Nighthawk
Buff-collared Nightjar
Black Swift
Chestnut-collared Swift
White-naped Swift
White-collared Swift
Vaux's Swift
White-throated Swift
Western Long-tailed Hermit
Eastern Long-tailed Hermit
Green-breasted Mango
Emerald-chinned Hummingbird
Short-crested Coquette
Golden-crowned Emerald
Canivet's Emerald
Blue-capped Hummingbird
White-tailed Hummingbird
Dusky Hummingbird
Broad-billed Hummingbird
White-eared Hummingbird
Buff-bellied Hummingbird
Cinnamon Hummingbird
White-bellied Emerald
Azure-crowned Hummingbird
Violet-crowned Hummingbird
Green-fronted Hummingbird
Berylline Hummingbird
Blue-throated Hummingbird
Amethyst-throated Hummingbird
Garnet-throated Hummingbird
Magnificent Hummingbird
Plain-capped Starthroat
Long-billed Starthroat
Sparkling-tailed Hummingbird
Beautiful Hummingbird
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Bumblebee Hummingbird
Broad-tailed Hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbird
Black-headed Trogon
Citreoline Trogon
Violaceous Trogon
Mountain Trogon
Collared Trogon
Belted Kingfisher
Ringed Kingfisher
Amazon Kingfisher
Green Kingfisher
Russet-crowned Motmot
Blue-crowned Motmot
Wagler's Toucanet
Keel-billed Toucan
Acorn Woodpecker
Golden-cheeked Woodpecker
Gray-breasted Woodpecker
Golden-fronted Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Ladder-backed Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Gray-crowned Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Lineated Woodpecker
Pale-billed Woodpecker
Rufous-breasted Spinetail
Ruddy Foliage-gleaner
Olivaceous Woodcreeper
Ivory-billed Woodcreeper
Spot-crowned Woodcreeper
Streak-headed Woodcreeper
Barred Antshrike
Scaled Antpitta
White-collared Manakin
Greenish Elaenia
Yellow-bellied Tyrannulet
Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet
Northern Bentbill
Yellow-olive Flycatcher
Pileated Flycatcher
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Willow Flycatcher
Least Flycatcher
Hammond's Flycatcher
Dusky Flycatcher
Pine Flycatcher
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Cordilleran Flycatcher
Greater Pewee
Western Wood-Pewee
Tropical Pewee
Tufted Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Say's Phoebe
Vermilion Flycatcher
Piratic Flycatcher
Social Flycatcher
Great Kiskadee
Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher
Boat-billed Flycatcher
Tropical Kingbird
Couch's Kingbird
Cassin's Kingbird
Thick-billed Kingbird
Western Kingbird
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Rufous Mourner
Dusky-capped Flycatcher
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Nutting's Flycatcher
Brown-crested Flycatcher
Bright-rumped Attila
Masked Tityra
Rose-throated Becard
Horned Lark
Bank Swallow
Tree Swallow
Violet-green Swallow
Mangrove Swallow
Purple Martin
Gray-breasted Martin
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Cliff Swallow
American Pipit
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Gray Silky-flycatcher
Cedar Waxwing
Band-backed Wren
Gray-barred Wren
Rufous-naped Wren
Boucard's Wren
Rock Wren
Canyon Wren
Sumichrast's Wren
Happy Wren
Spot-breasted Wren
Banded Wren
Sinaloa Wren
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Brown-throated Wren
Southern House Wren
Gray-breasted Wood-Wren
Northern Mockingbird
Tropical Mockingbird
Ocellated Thrasher
Curve-billed Thrasher
Blue Mockingbird
Western Bluebird
Brown-backed Solitaire
Slate-colored Solitaire
Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush
Russet Nightingale-Thrush
Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush
Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush
Swainson's Thrush
Hermit Thrush
Black Robin
Clay-colored Robin
White-throated Thrush
Rufous-backed Robin
American Robin
Aztec Thrush
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
White-lored Gnatcatcher
Mexican Chickadee
Bridled Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Loggerhead Shrike
Steller's Jay
White-throated Magpie-Jay
Green Jay
Brown Jay
Dwarf Jay
White-throated Jay
Western Scrub-Jay
Unicolored Jay
Common Raven
House Sparrow
Slaty Vireo
White-eyed Vireo
Bell's Vireo
Dwarf Vireo
Plumbeous Vireo
Cassin's Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo
Hutton's Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Golden Vireo
Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo
Scrub Euphonia
Yellow-throated Euphonia
Elegant Euphonia
Olive-backed Euphonia
Blue-crowned Chlorophonia
House Finch
Red Crossbill
Lesser Goldfinch
Olive Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Virginia's Warbler
Crescent-chested Warbler
Northern Parula
Tropical Parula
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Myrtle Warbler
Audubon´s Warbler
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Hermit Warbler
Yellow-throated Warbler
Grace's Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Palm Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Northern Waterthrush
Louisiana Waterthrush
Kentucky Warbler
MacGillivray's Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Hooded Yellowthroat
Hooded Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Red-faced Warbler
Red Warbler
Painted Redstart
Slate-throated Redstart
Fan-tailed Warbler
Golden-crowned Warbler
Rufous-capped Warbler
Golden-browed Warbler
Red-breasted Chat
Common Bush-Tanager
White-fronted Bush Tanager
Red-crowned Ant-Tanager
Hepatic Tanager
Summer Tanager
Western Tanager
Flame-colored Tanager
Red-headed Tanager
Crimson-collared Tanager
Blue-gray Tanager
Yellow-winged Tanager
Red-legged Honeycreeper
Blue-black Grassquit
Variable Seedeater
White-collared Seedeater
Yellow-faced Grassquit
Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer
Rufous-capped Brush-Finch
Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch
Green-striped Brush-Finch
Olive Sparrow
Rusty-crowned Ground-Sparrow
Collared Towhee
Spotted Towhee
White-throated Towhee
Bridled Sparrow
Black-chested Sparrow
Stripe-headed Sparrow
Cinnamon-tailed Sparrow
Rufous-crowned Sparrow
Oaxaca Sparrow
Rusty Sparrow
Striped Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow
Lark Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Sierra Madre Sparrow
Grasshopper Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
Yellow-eyed Junco
Grayish Saltator
Buff-throated Saltator
Black-headed Saltator
Northern Cardinal
Yellow Grosbeak
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Black-headed Grosbeak
Blue Bunting
Blue Grosbeak
Lazuli Bunting
Indigo Bunting
Rose-bellied Bunting
Orange-breasted Bunting
Varied Bunting
Painted Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Melodious Blackbird
Great-tailed Grackle
Bronzed Cowbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
Black-vented Oriole
Black-cowled Oriole
Orchard Oriole
Yellow-tailed Oriole
Streak-backed Oriole
Bullock’s Oriole
Black-backed Oriole
Altamira Oriole
Dickey’s Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
Scott’s Oriole
Yellow-billed Cacique
Yellow-winged Cacique
Montezuma Oropendula