For some time the lure of Horned Guan had drawn me to Guatemala. Having looked through a few itineraries in the past and having done some research into the many unique species in the region it was with a keen sense of expectation that I looked forward to visiting the region and scouting some of the fantastic birding spots this country has to offer.
Along with the Horned Guan on its cloud forest draped, volcanic slopes there are plenty of other biomes like the humid forest of Peten to the north, rainforest just to the south of there, dry forest along the Motagua Valley, the aforementioned cloud forest, pacific lowland forest and much more. Guatemala holds many unique species for the region like Pink-headed Warbler, Wine-throated Hummingbird, Bar-winged Oriole, Highland Guan, White-bellied Chachalaca, Ocellated Turkey, Fulvous Owl, Belted Flycatcher, Bushy-crested Jay, Azure-rumped Tanager, Grey-throated Chat, Yucatan Flycatcher and Blue-and-White Mockingbird among those that only inhabit this region. Most of the best birding spots are within a short drive of Guatemala City or a short flight to the Peten lowlands and the fascinating Mayan city of Tikal.
March 3rd: Arrival
As I was the first to arrive our hosts suggested we visit a local park called Cayala. After some lunch we were within the park and picking off our first regional endemic the Bushy-crested Jay no further than 50 feet from the parking lot. Some nice trails go through here and within a short time we’d found a group of noisy Band-backed Wrens along with several Great-tailed Grackles. Further along the trails we picked up Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Blue-and-White Mockingbird, Clay-colored Thrush, White-eared Hummingbird and in an open area we found a female Painted Bunting and circling above us several Vaux’s Swifts. On the journey back we found a Buff-browed Wood Partridge feeding in a willow down slope from us. Several Townsend’s Warbler moulting into spring plumage were seen along with a few Black-and-White Warblers. Soon enough it was time to meet the others at the airport. Once all of the group was assembled we headed to the old capitol of Antigua where we spent the night.
March 4th: El Pilar-Patrocino
We rose early and took our van high up above Antigua to Finca El Pilar. Here we parked at the entrance and birded round here while enjoying some packed breakfast. In quick order we had Black-headed Siskin, Eastern Bluebird, Buff-chested Flycatcher, Greater Pewee, Acorn Woodpecker and Rufous-collared Sparrow to name a few.
After sating our appetites with some nice cakes and coffee we traipsed off into the dry pine oak woodlands above the parking lot. Soon the mechanical and beautiful song of Brown-backed Solitaire was ringing in our ears. Though not the most attractive bird on the planet it makes up for these short falls with an amazing song. We also managed to find the local orange bellied and crested version of the Slate-throated Whitestart, quite a contrast to the vivid yellow farther south. Several warblers banged about above us including Townsend’s, Tennessee and Wilson’s. These were soon forgotten about when the single hoot call of Blue-throated Motmot was heard. Though we hiked up slope and used some playback we could only catch a glimpse of the bird in flight and as we had to make our way back we couldn’t expend any more time on them. All around us Collard Trogons called with several coming into view.
In a clearing on the way back we chalked up Vaux’s and Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift as well as several Black-capped Swallows. An unidentified Empidonax flycatcher sat voiceless atop a snag peering around at us and playback of both Hammond’s and Pine yielded little response but some head movement.
More Slate-throated Whitestarts were found on the way out as well as a fantastic Red-faced Warbler that showed particularly well in a vine tangle. A pair of Social Flycatchers sang out as they alighted a tree across from us as we exited the forest accompanied by several Grey Silky Flycatchers in flight. Back at the bus we loaded up and headed down to the hummingbird gardens to check them out. We found Rufous Sabrewing and Blue-tailed Hummingbird and after a few minutes continued west towards Patrocino.
At Patrocino we did some afternoon birding finding Cinnamon Hummingbird, White-throated Magpie-Jay, Ivory-billed Woodcreeper, Violet Sabrewing and then into some bamboo we found several singing White-throated Thrushes before emerging on the far side onto some more open trails through the coffee plantation where we found White-fronted Amazon, Grey Hawk, Black-headed Saltator, Blue-diademed Motmot, Northern Flicker, Streaked Flycatcher, Masked Tityra, Yellow-winged Tanager, Plain Wren and several others before the approaching darkness ushered us into the lodge for the night. We did sneak out a bit later to try and find a Mottled Owl but it was only heard calling in the distance.
March 5th: Patrocino-Fuentes Georginas-Takalik Abaj-Las Nubes
We started of the morning in the approaching dawn up on the canopy tower accompanied by a rather loud pair of Common Black Hawks that called out above us. The loud rising whistle of Highland Guan came from the forest behind us and several were seen in flight with their whirring wings crossing from one tree to another. The dawn chorus began to emerge properly once the light started in earnest. A Spot-breasted Oriole sang in the distance while a small Northern Beardless Tyrannulet called above us. A Gartered Trogon called from deep in the forest behind us as several White-fronted Amazons landed on the tree across from us. Having got an appetite for some more birding we headed down for some breakfast then off to the other side of the finca where we found the Long-tailed Manakin lek and enjoyed their antics for a while before making our way back where we had some nice scope views of a pair of White-bellied Chachalacas in a tree across the gulley from us.
As we approached the lodge we came through the banana grove where several Violet Sabrewings were taking up residence and the Gartered Trogon, probably the same one from this morning, was sitting just below the umbrella of leaves made by a tall cecropia.
As we loaded up a Tropical Pewee and several Great Kiskadees called around the parking area accompanied by a Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Boat-billed Flycatcher and several Clay-colored Thrushes.
From here we took the slightly bumpy road back out the main road, catching some bus side views of White-bellied Chachalaca and onto Fuentas Georginas. Once at the top of the road we disembarked and began to bird our way back down the road. Several Black-capped Swallows circled around the gorge and the constant mechanical music of Brown-backed Solitaire echoed of the cloud forest draped sides. We found White-eared and Garnet-throated Hummingbird but alas no Wine-throated and had given up on Pink-headed Warbler when near the bottom where it opens up into vegetable gardens we heard two. They were quickly spotted and recorded and with the recording I played they took some interest in us and moved about the foliage below us for some fantastic looks. The male began to sing above us and crossed back over the road continuing his song right in front of us. A really magical experience so close to us. The female joined him and they crossed back over the road and up the slope and out of sight with only the sweet song in our ears to remind us of them as they disappeared into the verdant green above us.
With much relief we continued back down the road to the lowland ruin of Takalik Abaj. The ruins are semi-open and surrounded by foliage and the place was crawling with birds when we got there at lunch time. We figured it would be quiet but no sooner had we gotten out that a group of Collared Aracaris kicked things off and the wild chase through the ruins began. Altamira Oriole, Rose-throated Becard, Ivory-billed Woodcreeper, Townsend’s, Tennessee, Black-and-white, and Magnolia Warbler, Warbling Vireo, Ovenbird, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, White-throated Magpie-Jay, Blue-tailed Hummingbird just to name a few were seen in short order. Across the grounds in some forest we found a Blue-diademed Motmot and Roadside Hawk while looking for some owls which we found none of. As we circled back we heard the calls of Turquoise-browed Motmot and went to the back of the grounds where we found the bird perched up. On our way back to the van we found another pair of Turquise-browed Motmot and many of the birds we’d first found when we got here. Sadly the ruins themselves got little attention and the guide we had to explain things soon gave up as we kept getting distracted by the birds. Soon enough the wave of birds that had passed through became quiet, about the time I got my mic from the van no less, and we decided to head on as we needed to collect our local guides before we hit Las Nubes.
We arrived late in the afternoon at Las Nubes and had a look round and got settled in. Red-legged Honeycreeper and Tropical Pewee were seen before we had dinner. After a pleasant meal we loaded up into some jeeps and bumped our way up to the forest above the coffee plantation.
Once set up we played some Fulvous Owl and before long a pair had come in to investigate and began calling back and forth. We got some great looks at the birds as they circled round a few trees before we killed the lights and left them in peace for the night.
At about 12:30am a Mottled Owl began calling outside the lodge which I got up to record. It was hiding in a large stand of bamboo and as I wasn’t appropriately dressed I decided against the spotlight.
March 6th: Las Nubes
We woke to a lovely dawn chorus and soon after some coffee we returned to the forest from last night. No sooner had we arrived that we heard and saw a Crested Guan up the ridge in the tree line. We also heard our target, Resplendent Quetzal. With our local guide I hiked round to get a better angle to make a recording but once in the brush we just weren’t close enough so we decided to head up slope to find them. After a bit of scrambling we came across two birds singing farther up the steep slope and I managed to get a recording. Getting no response from the two birds we were just about to give up when a male crossed over the coffee plantation and into the pine forest on the other side. We all made our way up and along a pathway that lead to the pine forest where we found a female and farther along was a male. He eventually came out and flew to the back of the pine allowing us some flight views but never any perched looks. He eventually dropped down and head back to where our vehicles were.
Tired of chasing these birds around we headed into the forest where we came across several Collared Trogon and located one after a while, we also heard more Quetzals in this thick patch of forest along with some northern migrants like Swainson’s Thrush and Tennessee Warbler.
With the cool patter of rain we began to worry that we might get rained out but it soon stopped and we caught a glimpse of a raptor, possibly a Red-tailed Hawk or Common Black Hawk, being chased by a pair of Social Flycatchers. We never got a good luck but only the shape through the trees. When we followed the birds we came out into an open area of coffee that led to the edge of a huge valley with steep forested sides. We decided to bird round here for a while and were rewarded with Townsend’s Warbler, Flame-colored Tanager, Elegant Euphonia, Emerald Toucanets, Golden-fronted Woodpeckers and some Rufous-naped Wrens.
Hiking back up through the coffee plantations and into the woods we made our way back to the jeeps. At the gathering point we found a Scaly-throated Foliage-Gleaner before we headed down to an overlook point for a late breakfast early lunch.
The vista here was great and afforded us a view over the vast coffee fields below us to the distant towns gathered in the lowlands below the volcano. From here we were eye-level with a large gathering of swifts and swallows including Violet-Green and Black-capped Swallow and White-throated Swifts and several Northern Rough-winged Swallows were also seen here. The real treat came when a Peregrine Falcon began circling up from the valley below presenting us views of both top and bottom as it passed us for close inspection. It was clasping a prey item but we couldn’t make out what it was.
After some lovely food we headed to another overlook where we could look onto some primary forest. There was a trail here too which allowed us some access to the forest. Sadly though it began to rain a bit heavier so with regret we decided to head back to the lodge and let it pass.
Back around the lodge we could bird from the cover of the porch and picked up Painted Bunting, Paltry Tyrannulet, White-eyed Vireo and Townsend’s Warbler before the rain really cleared.
While we had some down time I headed off into the gardens to try for some hummers and soon found myself at the back of the garden near some bamboo. I could hear several birds in here and a gap gave me a clear look in and to my surprise the first bird I got in my bins was a MacGillivray’s Warbler. As I’d not done much birding in the western US this was a lifer for me so I dove into the bamboo for a better look. I also found Masked Tityra, Grey-breasted Wood-Wren and a little tyrant I ignored as I tried to locate the warbler again. It eventually gave great views and I was able to get several other people onto it as it circled this little territory.
Later that afternoon we again went back up to the top and got rained out again. We did stop on the way down at a bridge where we found Bar-winged Oriole and Grey-breasted Wood Wren before we gave up on the rain going away.
Back at the lodge we found a Spot-breasted Wren that wouldn’t show but did get a Plain Wren at the edge of the fields. A Yellow-breasted Chat showed briefly and a stunning male Painted Bunting was hanging out by the water pool. A pair of Yellow-backed Orioles sang from close by accompanied by a House Wren.
We did some owling after dinner and tracked down the Mottled Owl from the night before and managed to get views of it for all those that came out.
March 7th: Las Nubes-Los Tarrales
This morning we headed back up to the overlook where we hung out for a while catching up with species like Bar-winged Oriole, Nashville Warbler, Ruddy Foliage Gleaner, Emerald Toucanet, Slate-throated Whitestart, Northern Flicker, Cooper’s Hawk, Brown-backed Solitaire, Paltry Tyrannulet, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Common Bush Tanager and Berylline Hummingbird. We did manage to hear an Azure-rumped Tanager that came to the other side of the valley but didn’t show itself and I got onto a Blue-capped Chlorophonia before it flew off that no one else got. There were plenty of Tennessee Warblers hanging about in groups foraging and as we had to head back to leave we decided to go so we could stop at the bridge again.
Once there we waited for a while seeing Pacific Parakeet and Common Black Hawk before our target, an Azure-rumped Tanager came in to view at the top of the ridge. It sat motionless for some time allowing us some great scope views before it moved down a little and faced us for some more excellent views.
On the way back down we also spooked up a White-bellied Chachalaca which showed well in a cecropia across the way from us and a female Masked Tityra shone in the late morning sunlight.
Back at the lodge we loaded up and continued our journey after a few group shots. We dropped off two of our guides who’d been with us for the last couple of days before we continued on to Los Tarrales. We hit a bit a traffic jam along the way but eventually we managed to get through to our turn off with some deft negotiating from our local leader who managed to clear a path to the road. Soon enough we were at the lodge and grabbed a late lunch before heading out to do some birding.
The local guide Josue is a very good birder and took us to a few spots, the first of which was a place to find Tody Motmot. Soon enough we heard the pair, and with Josue’s perfect imitation, one of the pair was showing itself quite close to us. We all enjoyed some nice looks at the birds before making our way back finding both Yellow-throated and Scrub Euphonia and White-collared Seedeater.
We turned right into some semi-open woodland where we found Prevost’s Ground Sparrow, Summer Tanager, Masked Tityra and a nice male Scrub Euphonia. We continued from here up into the forest finding a load of species along the way. Orange-fronted Parrots, Long-tailed Manakin, Highland Guan, Pine Flycatcher, Red-throated Ant Tanager, Orange-billed Nightingale Thrush, Gartered Trogon and more before emerging back at the lodge late afternoon. We relaxed for a bit round the lodge and headed to bed early as we had an early wake up next morning.
March 8th: Los Tarrales-Lake Atitlan
The alarm went off at 2:00am, way too early in my book but we needed to be up at this time to make the hike up to the Horned Guan. At 2:30am we had coffee and loaded up into the 4X4 and got started down the bumpy road to the small village of Vesuvio. An hour and two opossum later we arrived at the village while it was still pitch black out. Our local guide met us and we adjusted our gear to be comfortable and began walking through the coffee plantations. A steady winding pathway led up past dark coffee plants. The dark mass of the volcano in front of us stood out against a slightly less dark sky with pin hole stars peeking through on either side and the lights of a small town below us winked in the darkness. Head lamps and flashlights illuminated the pathway around us but with heads bowed to the task at hand we saw little but the next few steps in front of us.
Once past the coffee plantations the trail took an abrupt steep turn and shot straight up the side of the volcano into the dark forest above us. Already sucking air by this time I didn’t look forward to the next couple of hours. With loose dirt and a top layer of loose leaves you felt like you were slipping back with each step. My heart was pumping oxygenated blood through my arteries as hard as it could and all I could hear was my conga line heartbeat in my ears as I continuously panted for more breath. We would occasionally pause a few times to catch breath and get a drink. This was how the party began to spread apart half way up and I knew if I stopped again I would never make it so continued on with the two guides while the others paused behind with the last guide.
I found a stick that would help with each step but soon my weight broke it as I placed it all on there to get over a particularly tall, rooted step. With that snap the stick was gone, thankfully our guide up front cut me another and my plodding steps continued again. I found a rhythm and managed to do well for a while. At one point I asked where we were, afraid of the answer, which was less than half way.
I continued on for another while before I had to stop and get a drink. I recovered for a bit, had a snack and sucked down half a bottle of Gatorade powder enriched water. Feeling refreshed and having caught my breath I continued on upwards into the darkness following the small glow of the torch light ahead of me from the guides. I continually found loose footing and feared my heavy camera would drag me back down the hill with each misplaced step. Wow, was I out of shape. I should have done more volcano training before I came down here. Eventually my guide said we were about an hour and a half away at the pace I was going, was that all!
The next hour was a bit of a blackout as I plodded little steps to keep going forward. I don’t remember much but each little step and loose leaf litter. Then the guides voice came to me with the welcome words of about another twenty minutes before we could stop. It was still dark when the night birds began their last throws of life before they settled in for the day. A Fulvous Owl pair called out and one of them flew right past us into the dark forest. Below us a Mexican Whip-poor-will called as to the east the first faint orange glow began to signal the start of the day.
Soon after we stopped and listened out for a while. Then the call of a Horned Guan came to us from out in the lichen draped forest to our left. We tried some playback with little results. Still gaining my breath I had heard little but our local guide went out in search of it and disappeared into the brush moving down slope through the leaves.
Josue and I continued upwards listening out for birds hearing Highland Guan and Black Thrush. Then from behind us a voice called out. Josue responded in the local Mayan dialect and turned to me and said “let’s go, he’s found one”. We charged downhill and where we found a small clearing with three large trees we dropped all our gear but what we needed and dropped over the side of the trail into the undergrowth, sliding downhill past vines, shrubs and small trees. The leaves gave way underfoot and we just slid down the steep slope. We came to a bit of a plateau where we could brake ourselves and listen out. I was covered with dust, dirt and a few cuts and scrapes but we couldn’t hear the Guan. Our local guide had gone ahead so Josue and I moved more slowly down the slope to where the Guan had been seen in some tall moss covered trees.
We made our way down to a dry river bed where we found some Golden-browned Warblers moving about us and once they’d moved past we heard the deep, booming voice of a Guan. We scanned skyward into the huge boughs above us but couldn’t pin point the voice.
We scrambled across the river bed and could hear the bird more clearly here. I slipped on some loose rocks as they gave way under my feet and I crashed into the bank gashing my leg. Fearing I’d spook the bird off with the amount of noise I was making I tried to move more quietly but my fears were unfounded. A few seconds later we found an opening in the canopy and up on a huge bough above us was a glorious male Horned Guan.
With nervous fingers I began to snap away trying to get a few shots in before the bird disappeared. Josue said not to worry as it would move for a while he thought. I gathered myself and sat on the soft forest floor and got a good position and attached my flash and beamer and began to compose some shots in the early light. As I fired away the bird took no notice of me flashing away at it. I took some video then put the camera down for a bit and got a drink, enjoyed the bird with my bins then took to the camera again.
At this point I heard the others crashing through the brush too, they were coming. Then nothing for a while. Josue called out but got no response. Then more people coming through the brush. I thought now would be a good time to move so people could get to the spot I was in. I picked up my water bottle and stood up. I glanced up into the canopy but the bird was gone. Panic set in, had everyone missed it but me. Josue and I scanned all the trees again for the bird but it was not to be found. Josue said he’d go and look for the bird with our local guide so I crawled back up to the rest of the group. I chatted for a few minutes but didn’t want to hang around in case they needed to get by to make their way down to the bird so I squeezed past and began the trudge back up the hill following the trail of slide marks, bent boughs and broken twigs.
Exhausted I made it back to the trail and sat down for a snack and some water. I ate one of my sandwiches while listening to a Hairy Woodpecker and some Highland Guans. After a short while the local guide showed up and collected the bags for the rest of the group and told me there were waiting down below. The Guan had not been found again. I was disappointed for them.
I joined the rest of the group and we paused while everyone collected themselves and listened out for a few birds before we made the long slide back down the now lit but, black diamond, steep slope. Along the way we managed to stop for some cool birds like Black Thrush and at the bottom we found an obliging Blue-crowned Chlorophonia. By lunchtime we’d made our way back to the vehicle and loaded up for the drive to the lodge. The grueling hike was over but it wasn’t rewarding for all of us sadly.
That afternoon we left for Lake Atitlan driving through the rolling foothills of the volcanic peaks till we arrived at our lodge for the night. The lodge owner talked to us about his plans for the lodge and introduced us to the local guides, one of which would accompany us tomorrow. We had an enjoyable dinner and good night’s sleep.
March 9th: Lake Atitlan to Antigua
This morning we crossed the lake in the dawn light catching the sunrise over the lake before we arrived at Laguna Lodge where we hiked up into the dry forest above the hotel. Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush and Rufous-browed Peppershrike greeted us before we lured in a lovely pair of Rusty Sparrows.
We continued hiking up onto the top of the ridge where we could peer down both sides. A nice pair of Squirrel Cuckoos showed well as they moved across the ridge line while above us we could see several White-throated Swifts that were joined by a Red-tailed Hawk. A nice pair of Black-vented Orioles showed up before we began to make our way down the far side of the hill. This is where we began our search for the Belted Flycatcher that we finally found on the last offshoot trail. A bit of a skulker but we all got good looks at the bird before it vanished back into the surrounding foliage.
We made our way back to the lodge in time for some water before we pottered around the lodge and a few of us went out to check the grounds. Here we found Black Phoebe, Great-tailed Grackle, Spotted Sandpiper, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Black-and-White Warbler, Townsend’s Warbler, Blue-headed Vireo and Golden-fronted Woodpecker. Several obliging America Coots bobbed out in the water and a female Baltimore Oriole put in an appearance.
After a really nice lunch we caught our boat over to a flower garden at another lodge where we hung out amongst the flowers looking for hummingbirds finding Azure-crowned and Ruby-throated Hummingbird and one of us had a Black-crested Couqette. Also found were more Tennessee Warblers, Prevost’s Ground Sparrow, Orchard Oriole, White-eared Hummingbird, Blue-headed Vireo, Louisiana Waterthrush, Greater Pewee another Baltimore Oriole and several White-winged Doves.
After our time here we took the boat to the landing and back to Antigua for the night.
March 10th: Tikal
We woke early and drove to the airport in Guatemala City and caught our flights over to Flores on the shores of Lake Peten Itza. We crossed from the tall fiery volcanic peaks of southern Guatemala over the vast greenery of northern Guatemala and into Flores. Even walking from the plane we managed to pick up some new species with Barn Swallows hanging out on the wires of the airport.
We got our bags inside and met our local guide and loaded up into the van for the short drive to Tikal. Along the way we stopped to get some drinks and had a nice pair of Keel-billed Toucans fly over and just outside the main entrance to the park we had three Ocellated Turkey. The van screeched to a halt and all cameras were stuck out of the windows as these enigmatic Tikal birds showed really well. We needn’t have worried though as we saw plenty more during our stay.
Once at the lodge we unloaded our gear and headed straight out into the park. We followed a trail into some nice thick forest coming across the large black and red frame of a Pale-billed Woodpecker that obliged us with some great views. We continued to move deeper along the forest trails finding some great birds like Eye-ringed Flatbill, Wood Thrush, Tawny-crowned and Lesser Greenlet, White-bellied Wren, some great looks at a pair of Bright-rumped Attilas, Smoky-brown Woodpecker, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Yellow-olive Flatbill, Sulphur-rumped Myiobius and a Blue-diademed Motmot that spooked a pair of Tody Motmots. At the end of the trail we came out into the main plaza of Tikal where we had several Northern and Ridgeway’s Rough-winged Swallows, Black-headed and Gartered Trogon as well at an Emerald Toucanet. The majesty of Temples I and II were absorbed from the top of the buildings across from the North Acropolis. Here several Montezuma Oropendolas were singing their liquid songs and several noisy Brown Jays moved about the canopy.
We crossed the main plaza into the forest and continued down some more forest trails on the way back to the lodge for lunch. We came across a nice small party of birds that included some great looks at Eye-ringed Flatbill, Sepia-capped Flycatcher, Stub-tailed Spadebill, Red-crowned Ant Tanager and a Kentucky Warbler rooting around on the forest floor.
On the main causeway leading to the lodge we found a nice perched Double-toothed Kite.
After lunch we had some time at the lodge and I spent some frustrating minutes trying to capture pictures of hummingbirds at the flowers behind the lodge. I found Long-billed and Streak-throated Hermit, Wedge-tailed Sabrewing, White-bellied Emerald and Rufous-tailed Hummingbird. Not all made it onto my memory card but all were enjoyed.
We took some different trails this afternoon finding a nice White-collared Manakin buzzing about and wing snapping on several hanging vines. We eventually came out near the lost world complex where we found a nice Red-lored Amazon near a nesting tree.
We then heard a Pheasant Cuckoo which I recorded and lured in that gave us some amazing views as its whole body shook while it sang out into the forest around it. After about twenty minutes our fingers tired from hitting the shutter release we walked away from this stunning bird. Scarcely noticed was the nice Slaty-tailed Trogon that put in an appearance during the whole proceedings.
We continued into the forest heading for temple IV and along the way picked up a lovely Hooded Warbler coming to one of the small water collection pools. Behind it a Worm-eating Warbler seemed more skulking but our next treat was right next to the trail. Eduardo heard the rustling of leaves next to the trail and soon found the culprit, a Scaly-throated Leaf-tosser living up to its name right next to the trail. We had some great views of this bird before it flew off back into the forest.
We crossed the main plaza again this time taking in some more of the temples and the north Acropolis. The place was inundated with Ocellated Turkeys this time and we got some great close up views. Several Montezuma Oropendolas continued to sing away while a Couch’s Kingbird sat atop a dead snag swinging its prodigious bill left to right in search of insects. Another Pale-billed Woodpecker was found, this time a female that banged away close to us in an old tree.
As it was getting late we continued to Temple IV past the towering Temple III. We climbed the stairs to the top of Temple IV and near the top I could begin to see across the vast humid forest with the peaks of Temples I,II and III reaching towards the heavens out of the grip of the forest that had once claimed them. Once out at the top we had the entire array of Tikal and Peten surrounding us. A majestic site. Several parrots began circling as they began to roost for the night. Sadly the Orange-breasted Falcons were still out and about and not perched up near us. It was amazing to watch the sunset and the orange glow that crept over the forest in front of us.
Nearing darkness we headed back down into the forest to do some night birding. Ironically we heard the Falcon’s after we reached the bottom but couldn’t locate them in the coming gloom. We tried several night birds on the way back to the lodge without result and settled into a nice dinner before a good night’s sleep.
March 11th: Tikal
We woke early to check the area round the lodge and old airstrip for night birds. A nice Pauraque was found resting in the leaf litter next to the trail and as they began to call to signal the end of a long night we heard a couple of Yucatan Poorwills begin as well. Some play back of recordings I made lured one close and we could see it move across the path above us but never got great looks. Soon the light was coming up and they had settled in for the day. This was when the cacophony of Plain Chachalacas began and we had several cross the path as well as nice close views of a Crested Guan. Another Pheasant Cuckoo chimed in and close by we could make out the faint song of a Yucatan Flycatcher. It was lured out from the dense vegetation it was hiding in but soon enough the distant calls of Mangrove Vireo from farther along had us moving towards the pond near the trails end.
We soon located the Vireos and a Long-billed Gnatwren. White-eyed Vireo, Clay-colored Thrush, Red-lored Amazon, Grey Catbird, Gartered Trogon and Bright-rumped Attila were all seen or heard here. The next bird came as a surprise when I recognized a Carolina Wren. So used to seeing these at home it was not what I was thinking about in the forests of Tikal. It soon showed itself well before the squeaky calls of a Northern Beardless Tyrannulet got our attention. They were soon spotted as they moved about us but time was running out so we had to get back. Not before the mechanical song of Northern Bentbill stopped us in our tracks. This tiny flycatcher was seen with its mate before we rushed back for breakfast. Several birds were seen with haste on the way back like Mealy and Olive-throated Parrot, Melodious Blackbird and Brown Jay plus a large collection of Ocellated Turkey and White-nosed Coatis all with their ringed tails cocked high in the air as they scoured the lawns of the lodge. They soon made their way up to the dining hall for everyone to see.
About an hour later we headed back out stopping for White-collared Seedeater and Indigo Buntings foraging in the grass. Over by the small pond we found Grey-necked Wood Rail, Northern Jacana and at the back a lovely little American Pygmy Kingfisher. We crossed the parking lot and out the main gate to the main entrance road and birded along here picking up Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Slaty-tailed Trogon, Tawny-crowned Greenlet and after searching for a while found a Chestnut-collared Woodpecker.
We headed back for check out and I spent a little while snapping away on the hermits surrounding the flowers at the back of the lodge. We then headed to our lunch stop where they had some feeders out and we could watch several Baltimore Orioles and Blue-grey Tanagers on the fruit feeders. While we were waiting for lunch we went down to the lake where we found several Pectoral Sandpipers, a Collard Plover, a Royal Tern and several Neotropic Cormorants.
After lunch we went to Cerro Cahui and walked the trails here. It was hot in the afternoon but we managed to drag up some great birds. First of was a long winded Laughing Falcon that called for a while. Several Red-throated Ant Tanagers were seen in a group and farther down the trail we stopped to try for Mayan Antthrush and were soon rewarded with a bird as it came creeping through the undergrowth. We could hear our next target singing up ahead so moved onto to a thick vine tangle that hung from the canopy and in here we could hear the song of a Grey-throated Chat. Several recordings and playback saw it emerge from the dark depths of the foliage and we got some great looks at it. A Great Crested Flycatcher and an American Redstart called from above us while a Long-billed Gnatwren bobbed about lower in the undergrowth.
A flyby of a woodcreeper got our attention and playback of a Tawny-winged Woodcreeper soon had the bird alighting the tree right in front us. We had some brief looks at the bird before it disappeared back into the forest. Along the trail on the way out we found another two Tanwy-winged Woodcreepers attending and antswarm accompanied by a much larger Northern Barred Woodcreeper. We were able to sit next to the trail and watch as they would come close to scoop up fleeing insects.
Sadly we had to make our way back towards Flores though we did stop for close looks at a nice Tri-colored Heron and then again at another lake overlook where we found Laughing Gull, Royal Tern, Northern Jacana, Neotropic Cormorant, a Scrub Euphonia and several Yellow-throated Euphonias. These were the last birds we saw here as we had to make our way to the airport for our flights back to Guatemala City.
March 12th: Antigua-Guatemala City
We spent the night in Antigua and rose early stopping at a new hotel that was working on improving its grounds. We had a quick walk round finding a Stellar’s Jay as the only bird of note. Soon enough we were at the airport and saying our goodbyes. Guatemala had been good to us with some fantastic birds and pleasant company. The ruins of Tikal and the towering peaks of active volcanoes plus some majestic lakes all added to a wonderful place to go birding.
Photos from this tour can be seen in my Guatemala 2013 Flickr Album
Sounds from this tour can be heard in my Guatemala March 2013 Xeno-canto set
Species marked as (H) are heard only
Little Tinamou (H) Crypturellus soui This bird was heard only at the Tikal archeological site.
Pied-billed Grebe Podilymbus podiceps Seen well at the Lake Petén Itza
Neotropic Cormorant Phalacrocorax brasilianus Several on Lake Petén Itza
Great Blue Heron Ardeola Herodias Two birds seen well at the Atitlan Lake
Great Egret Ardea alba Common at several locations
Snowy Egret Egretta thula Common at several locations
Little blue Heron Egretta caerulea Several birds were seen well at the Lake Petén Itza including white morph juveniles and a full adult in lovely deep blue tones.
Tricolored Heron Egretta tricolor One bird was seen well at the Lake Petén Itza
Western Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis Common at several locations.
Green Heron Butorides virescens Seen well at Lake Atitlan and Lake Petén Itza.
Lesser Scaup Duck Aythya affinis Several individuals were seen well at the Lake Atitlan
Ringed-necked Duck Aythya collaris At least 3 pairs were seen well at the Lake Atitlan
Black Vulture Coragyps atratus Numerous and widespread.
Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura Many birds throughout the trip.
Double-toothed Kite Harpagus bidentatus One seen nicely perched at the Tikal archeological site
Plumbeous Kite Ictinia plumbea Seen flying at Finca Los Tarrales and over Tikal
Cooper’s Hawk Accipiter cooperi Scope views of one individual at Finca El Patrocinio.
Common Black Hawk Buteogallus anthracinus Seen very well at Finca Patrocinio and at few other locations
Roadside Hawk Buteo magnirostris Common at several locations
Gray Hawk Buteo nitidus Nice view of one individual perch along the main road during our way to Finca Los Tarrales. The species has been recently split by the AOU from Gray-lined Hawk. Gray Hawk is found from Costa Rica to the southwestern United States and Gray-lined Hawk from Costa Rica to Argentina.
Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis Our first encounter was one individual flying at Finca El Pilar
Ornate Hawk Eagle (H) Spizaetus ornatus Unfortunately heard only at Finca Los Tarrales
Barred Forest-Falcon (H) Micrastur ruficollis Heard only just after dawn outside the Tikal archeological site.
Collared Forest-Falcon (H) Micrastur semitorquatus Heard from the forest uphill at Finca Las Nubes early one morning.
Crested Caracara Caracara cheriway One seen perch during our way to Finca Los Tarrales
Laughing Falcon (H) Herpetotheres cachinnans One heard at Cerro Cahuí reserve in the Petén area
American Kestrel Falco sparverius Seen well during our stay at Finca Las Nubes
Orange-breasted Falcon (H) Falco deiroleucus Unfortunately heard only just before dusk at the Tikal archeological site
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus Seen flying on the way to Finca Patrocinio
White-bellied Chachalaca Ortalis leucogastra Our first encounter at Finca Patrocinio was just a quick glimpse but later we had scope views at both Finca Patrocinio and Finca Las Nubes.
Plain Chachalaca Ortalis vetula Two birds were seen briefly during our scout along the airfield track outside the Tikal archeological site
Crested Guan Penelope purpurascens Excellent views of one bird outside the Tikal archeological site
Highland Guan Penelopina nigra Seen at Finca Patrocinio and Finca Las Nubes. Its treated as a vulnerable species
Horned Guan Oreophasis derbianus some of us good look at Volcan Atitlan
Ocellated Turkey Meleagris ocellata We were welcomed to the Tikal archeological site with the view of 3 birds crossing the main road to the park and later several were seen walking easily and peacefully at the grass of the archeological complex. The birds here are very confiding as there is no hunting in the park.
Buff-browed Wood-Partridge Dendrortyx leucophrys For those who visited the Cayalá Ecololgical Park in Guatemala City before and after the trip this was one of the highlights of the place
Spotted Wood-Quail (H) Odontophorus guttatus This was heard only once above Fincas Las Nubes when we were trying for the male Quetzal
Gray-necked Wood-Rail Aramides cajanea A nice pair was seen well near the entrance of the Tikal archeological site
Common Gallinule Gallinula galeata Seen well on the Atitlan Lake. A recent split from the Old World Common Moorhen
Purple Gallinule Porphyrio martinicus Seen briefly at the reed vegetation on the shores of the Atitlan Lake
American Coot Fulica americana Numerous on Lake Atitlan and Lake Petén Itza
Killdeer Charadrius vociferous One seen well at the shores of the Lake Petén
Collared Plover Charadrius collaris Seen on the shores of the Lake Petén
Northern Jacana Jacana spinosa Common at the Lake Petén
Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos Seen on the shores of the Lake Petén
Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla Seen on the shores of the Lake Petén
Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularius Seen near the dock of our hotel in the Lake Atitlan
Laughing Gull Larus atricilla Few seen from the shores of the Lake Petén
Royal Tern Thalasseus maximus Seen on the Lake Petén
Rock Pigeon Columba livia Common
Red-billed Pigeon Patagioenas flavirostris Scope views at Finca El Patrocinio.
White-winged Dove Zenaida asiatica Five individuals seen very well in the gardens of our hotel at Lake Atitlan
Ruddy Ground-Dove Columbina talpacoti Seen well at Finca Los Tarrales
Blue Ground-Dove (H) Claravis pretiosa Heard at Tikal
White-tipped Dove (H) Leptotila verreauxi Heard at few locations
Gray-headed Dove Leptotila plumbeiceps One bird seen very well at Tikal. It was formerly considered conspecific with the Grey-fronted Dove, L. rufaxilla, of South America and the Grenada Dove, L. wellsi, of Grenada.
Pacific Parakeet Aratinga strenua Seen at Finca El Pilar and Finca Las Nubes
Orange-fronted Parakeet Aratinga canicularis Seen well at Finca Los Tarrales.
Barred Parakeet Bolborhynchus lineola Seen flying by from the plataform at Finca Las Nubes
Orange-chinned Parakeet Brotogeris jugularis Seen well at Finca Patrocinio and Los Tarrales
White-fronted Amazon Amazona albifrons Amazing views at Finca El Patrocinio
Red-lored Amazon Amazona autumnalis Close up views at the Tikal National Park
Mealy Amazon Amazona farinose Several seen flying by and perch from the top of the main Maya building temple at Tikal. Here the subspecies guatemalae sometimes call Blue-crowned Mealy Amazon or Guatemalan Amazon.
Squirrel Cuckoo Piaya cayana Seen at few locations including the dry scrub around the Atitlan Lake
Pheasant Cuckoo Dromococcyx phasianellus A highlight for everybody and a magical moment indeed when one individual flew straight in front of us and remained perched for several minutes singing. A second bird was seen briefly the next day along the old airfield track at Tikal. This is one of only three parasitic Neotropical cuckoos, laying its eggs mainly in nests of Tyrannid flycatchers.
Fulvous Owl Strix fulvescens Another highlight of the trip. Two birds were seen very well in respond to the tape above Finca Las Nubes, we also had a pair climbing Volcan Atitlan.
Mottled Owl Ciccaba virgata Great views of one bird around the lodge grounds at Finca Las Nubes
Lesser Nighthawk Chordeiles acutipennis One seen briefly above Finca Las Nubes
Parauque Nyctidromux albicollis Nice views of one bird outside the Tikal archeological site
Mexican Whip-poor-will (H) Caprimulgus arizonae One heard before dawn above Finca Las Nubes
Yucatan Poorwill Nyctiphrynus yucatanicus One bird seen briefly before dawn at Tikal National Park
White-collared Swift Streptoprocne zonaris Seen well at Finca Los Tarrales and the Atitlan Lake
Chestnut-collared Swift Streptoprocne rutile A small group seen circling over the coffee plant at Finca Las Nubes.
Vaux’s Swift Chaetura vauxi Seen well at Finca El Patrocinio and Cayala Ecological Park. Named after William Samson Vaux a 19 century US archeologist and mineralogist
White-throated Swift Aeronautes saxatalis Seen well at the Atitlan Lake
Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift Panyptila cayennensis Seen at Finca Patrocinio and Takalik Abaj archeological site
Long-billed Hermit Phaethornis longirostris Great views of several birds in the grounds of our lodge in Tikal
Stripe-throated Hermit Pygmornis striigularis Great views of several birds in the grounds of our lodge in Tikal. It was formerly lumped in Little Hermit P. longuemareus.
Scaly-breasted Hummingbird Phaeochroa cuvierii One bird photographed at Tikal
Rufous Sabrewing Campylopterus rufus Seen well at both Finca El Pilar and Finca Patrocinio
Wedge-tailed Sabrewing Campylopterus curvipennis Seen well around our lodge at Tikal
Green-breasted Mango Anthracothorax prevostii Seen perched at the Tikal ruins
Emerald-chinned Hummingbird Abeillia abeillei Nice views of one bird at Finca Los Tarrales
White-eared Hummingbird Basilinna leucotis Seen well at Finca Los Tarrales
Berylline Hummingbird Amazillia beryllina One male seen and recorded at Finca Las Nubes
White-bellied Emerald Amazillia candida Seen well around the grounds of Tikal
Azure-crowned Hummingbird Amazilia cyanocephala Seen very well around the Atitlan Lake
Blue-tailed Hummingbird Amazilia cyanura Seen well at Finca Tarrales, El Pilar and Las Nubes
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird Amazilia tzacatl Common around Tikal.
Cinnamon Hummingbird Amazilia rutila Great views of one bird at Finca Las Nubes
Green-throated Mountain-Gem Lampornis viridipallens Seen well by some at Finca Las Nubes
Black-crested Coquette Lophornis helenae A female was seen very briefly at the gardens of our hotel at the Lake Atitlan
Long-billed Starthroat Heliomaster longirostris One individual perch well at the bamboo of Finca Las Nubes
Black-chinned Hummingbird Archilochus alexandri One male seen and photograph at the gardens of our hotel at Lake Atitlan
Black-headed Trogon Trogon melanocephalus Cracker views of one male around the Tikal ruins
Slaty-tailed Trogon Trogon massena Several males were seen nicely around the Tikal ruins
Gartered Trogon Trogon caligatus A recent split from Violaceous Trogon. Trogon violaceus
Collared Trogon Trogon collaris A pair was seen well above Finca Las Nubes and many were seen at Finca El Pilar.
Resplendent Quetzal Pharomachrus mocinno One female was seen well while several males were seen in flight in the forest above the coffee plantation at Finca Las Nubes. The quetzal plays an important role in Mesoamerican mythologies. The Resplendent Quetzal is Guatemala's national bird, and an image of it is on the flag and coat of arms of Guatemala. It is also the name of the local currency
Tody Motmot Hylomanes momotula Another great bird for most! One bird was seen very well at the bamboo patch of Finca Tarrales and a second pair at Tikal National Park.
Turquoise-browed Motmot Eumomota superciliosa Excellent views at the Takalik Abaj archeological site. The national bird of both Nicaragua and El Salvador
Blue-throated Motmot Aspatha gularis It proved elusive this trip. Its silhouette was seen in the poor light of the pine forest at Finca El Pilar and heard many times calling. Northern Central America endemic. It is monotypic within the genus Aspatha
Blue-diademed Motmot Momotus lesson Seen well at several locations.
Ringed Kingfisher Megaceryle torquata Seen well on the way to Finca Los Tarrales
Belted Kingfisher Megaceryle alcyon One bird seen well at the pond near the entrance of the Tikal National Park
American Pygmy Kingfisher Chloroceryle aenea Seen at the pond in the Tikal National Park
Rufous-tailed Jacamar Galbula ruficauda Seen very well along the Tikal road
Emerald Toucanet Aulacorhynchus prasinus Heard at Finca El Pilar and seen well later at Finca Las Nubes and at Tikal.
Collared Aracari Pteroglossus torquatus Great views at the Takalik Abaj archeological site
Keel-billed Toucan Ramphastos sulfuratus Two flying bananas crossing the Tikal road. A third bird seen well from the top of the temple IV of Tikal. The more appropriate name Rainbow-billed Toucan is now more and more often used. This is the National bird of Belize
Acorn Woodpecker Melanerpes formicivorus Seen well at several locations including Finca El Pilar and Finca Las Nubes
Golden-fronted Woodpecker Melanerpes aurifrons Seen at several locations through the tour
Hairy Woodpecker Picoides villosus One bird seen well above the Horned Guan spot on Volcan Atitlan.
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Sphyrapicus varius Only one bird seen well above Finca Las Nubes
Smoky-brown Woodpecker Veniliornis fumigatus Seen well at Tikal National Park
Golden-olive Woodpecker Colaptes rubiginosus Three birds were seen through the tour
Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus Scope views of one male above Finca Las Nubes
Lineated Woodpecker Dryocopus lineatus Seen at Finca Los Tarrales
Pale-billed Woodpecker Campephilus guatemalensis Great views of two birds at Tikal
Chestnut-coloured Woodpecker Celeus castaneus One individual was spotted very well in the tall forest along the Tikal road
Scaly-throated Leaftosser Sclerurus guatemalensis Great looks of one individual tossing leaves at Tikal
Scaly-throated Foliage-Gleaner Anabacerthia variegaticeps One individual seen well at Finca Las Nubes. It used to be call Spectacled Foliage-Gleaner
Ruddy Foliage-Gleaner Automolus rubiginosus Heard two days above Finca Las Nubes and seen briefly in one occasion
Tawny-winged Woodcreeper Dendrocincla anabatina Only seen at Cerro Cahuí reserve
Olivaceous Woodcreeper Sittasomus griseicapillus Common at Tikal
Northern Barred Woodcreeper Dendrocolaptes sanctithomae Excellent views of one bird following ant swarm at Cerro Cahuí
Ivory-billed Woodcreeper Xiphorhynchus flavigaster The most commonly encountered Woodcreeper along the tour
Barred Antshrike (H) Thamnophilus doliatus Heard only at Finca Los Tarrales and outside the Tikal national Park
Mayan (Black-faced) Antthrush Formicarius moniliger Full views of a bird at Cerro Cahuí. The subspecies moniliger is sometimes considered as a full species the Mayan or Mexican Antthrush.
Northern-beardless Tyrannulet Camptostoma imberbe Seen well at Tikal
Common Tody-Flycatcher Todirostrum cinereum One seen in the bamboo thicket at Las Nubes
Stub-tailed Spadebill Playrinchus concrominus One see briefly at Tikal moving with a small group of flycatchers.
Ochre-bellied Flycatcher Mionectes oleaginous Another seen well at Tikal. The members of this genus are known as frugivorous flycatchers
Sepia-capped Flycatcher Leptopogon amaurocephalus Nesting beneath the roof of the Mayan temples at Tikal
Paltry Tyrannulet Zimmerius vilissimus Seen at Finca Las Nubes. The name means lacking in importance or worth. It’s also call Mistletoe Tyrannulet.
Northern Bentbill Oncostoma cinereigulare Great views of one bird outside the Tikal archeological site
Eye-ringed Flatbill Rhynchocyclus brevirostris Great views of one bird at Tikal
Yellow-olive Flatbill Tolmomyias sulphurescens Seen well at Finca Patrocinio
Belted Flycatcher Xenotriccus callizonus It took a while to find this very restricted and handsome flycatcher which is a Northern Central American rarity treated as Near Threatened in the book Threatened Birds of the World
The dry scrub above the Atitlan Lake is perhaps the most accessible place to look for this beauty
Greater Pewee Contopus pertinax Seen in two occasions at Lake Atitlan
Eastern Wood-Pewee (H) Contopus virens Heard at Finca Los Tarrales only
Tropical Pewee Contopus cinereus Seen at Finca Los Tarrales, Patrocino and Las Nubes
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher Empidonax flaviventris Seen at Finca El Patrocinio and Takalik Abaj archeological site
Hammond’s Flycatcher Empidonax hammondii Seen well at Finca El Pilar. Named after William Alexander Hammond a 19th century US neurologist and collector
Yellowish Flycatcher Empidonax flavescens Seen well from the platform at Las Nubes.
Buff-breasted Flycatcher Empidonax fulvifrons Only seen at the Pine Oak forest of Finca El Pilar
Black Phoebe Sayornis nigricans Common around the Atitlan Lake
Bright-rumped Attila Attila spadiceus Great views of one bird in the canopy forest at Tikal National Park
Dusky-capped Flycatcher Myiarchus tuberculifer Seen at Finca Las Nubes
Brown-crested Flycatcher Myiarchus tyrannulus Seen at Takalik Abaj archeological site
Yucatan Flycatcher Myiarchus yucatanensis Very close bird seen well in the morning at Tikal
Great Crested Flycatcher Myiarchus crinitus (H) Heard in the canopy above us at Cerro Cahui
Great Kiskadee Pitangus sulphuratus Common at several locations
Social Flycatcher Myiozetetes similis Seen well at several locations
Boat-billed Flycatcher Megarynchus pitangua Seen well at several locations
Streaked Flycatcher Myiodynastes maculatus Seen well at Finca Patrocinio
Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus Common
Couch’s Kingbird Tyrannus couchii One bird was seen only at Tikal. Named after General Darius Nash Couch a 19th century US army in New Mexico
White-collared Manakin Manacus candei A handsome male was seen very well at Tikal National Park.
Long-tailed Manakin Chiroxiphia linearis The splendid male was seen well at the lek in Finca El Patrocinio and another bird was heard at Finca Los Tarrales
Red-capped Manakin Pipra mentalis Only the female was seen at Tikal.
Masked Tityra Tityra semifasciata Common at several locations
Grey-collared Becard Pachyramphus major Excellent views of one bird along the steep trail of Finca Tarrales. Its genus, Pachyramphus, has traditionally been placed in Cotingidae or Tyrannidae, but evidence strongly suggests it is better placed in Tityridae.
Rose-throated Becard Pachyramphus aglaiae A pretty bird seen well at Finca Los Tarrales
Sulphur-rumped Myiobius Myiobius barbatus Great views of one bird at Tikal, these are now considered part of the Tityras
White-eyed Vireo Vireo griseus Seen briefly at Finca Los Tarrales and well at Las Nubes
Mangrove Vireo Vireo pallens Several seen near the mangroves at Tikal.
Warbling Vireo Vireo gilvus One seen briefly at Takalik Abaj
Yellow-throated Vireo (H) Vireo flavifrons Heard at Cerro Cahui
Blue-headed Vireo Vireo solitaries One seen well at Lake Atitlan
Red-eyed Vireo Vireo olivaceus Seen well at Takalik Abaj
Tawny-crowned Greenlet Hylophilus ochraceiceps Seen only at Tikal National Park
Lesser Greenlet Hylophilus decurtatus Another bird seen only at Tikal National Park
Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo (H) Vireolanius melitophrys Unfortunately only heard at Volcan Atitlan
Rufous-browed Peppershrike Cyclarhis gujanensis Seen well at Finca Los Tarrales and at Lake Atitlan
White-throated Magpie-Jay Calcite formosa Splendid bird! Seen at Finca El Patrocinio and Takalik Abaj
Steller’s Jay Cyanocitta stelleri One seen briefly above La Antigua city. The species is named after Georg Wilhelm Steller (1709-1746), German naturalist and explorer in Russian service who took part in Vitus Bering’s expedition to Alaska, 1740-1742
Brown Jay Psilorhinus morio Seen very well at Tikal and heard quite often.
Bushy-crested Jay Cyanocorax melanocyaneus Seen well above Finca Las Nubes and at Cayala
Gray-breasted Martin Progne chalybea Seen at Las Flores airport in Petén
Mangrove Swallow Tachycineta albilinea Seen flying above the Petén Itza Lake
Violet-green Swallow Tachycineta thalassina This gorgeous swallow was seen nicely above Las Nubes
Black-capped Swallow Notiochelidon pileata Common at Finca El Pilar, Finca El Patrocinio and Finca Las Nubes
Northern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis* Seen at several locations
*Ridgway’s Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis ridgwayi Seen at Tikal. This species is now considered to be a mere subspecies of Northern Rough-winged Swallow. Named after Robert Ridgway’s (1850-1929) US ornithologist and bird’s curator and author of the book. The birds of North and Middle America 1901
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica Seen briefly at the airport of Petén
Band-backed Wren Campylorhynchus zonatus Common at several locations
Carolina Wren Thryothorus ludovicianus Only seen well outside the Tikal National Park. A distinct population in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, Belize and extreme north of Guatemala is treated either as a subspecies Thryothorus ludovicianus albinucha, or as a separate species, White-browed Wren (Thryothorus albinucha) .
Rufous-naped Wren Campylorhynchus rufinucha A several seen at Las Nubes
Spot-breasted Wren Pheugopedius maculipectus Great views of this skulker wren
Rufous-and-White Wren Thryophilus rufalbus (H) Heard only once at Las Nubes
Plain Wren Cantorchilus modestus Seen well after some hard trying at Finca Las Nubes
House Wren Troglodytes aedon Quite a few encounters throughout the trip
White-breasted Wood-Wren Henicorhina leucosticte Only seen briefly at Cerro Cahuí and skulking around Tikal
Gray-breasted Wood-Wren Henicorhina leucophrys A pair seen well at Finca Las Nubes
Long-billed Gnatwren Ramphocaenus melanurus One bird responded well to playback at Cerro Cahuí and another seen at Tikal
Eastern Bluebird Sialia sialis Nice as views of females and males at Finca El Pilar
Brown-backed Solitaire Myadestes occidentalis One of the common bird sounds of the Guatemalan cloud and pine forest. We had great scope views of one bird at Finca El Pilar
Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush Catharus aurantiirostris Seen at Finca Los Tarrales
Swainson’s Thrush Catharus ustulatus Seen well at Finca Los Tarrales. Named after William Swainson a 19 century British artist, naturalist and collector
Wood Thrush Hylocichla mustelina Great views at Tikal
Black Thrush Turdus infuscatus Good views at Finca Los Tarrales
Clay-colored Thrush Turdus grayi Common at several locations. It is the national bird of Costa Rica, where it is well known as the yigüirro. It was known as the Clay-colored Robin until 2010.
White-throated Thrush Turdus assimilis Seen well at Finca El Patrocinio
Rufous-collared Thrush Turdus rufitorques Seen well at Finca El Pilar. It is also known as the Rufous-collared Robin
Grey Catbird Dumetella carolinensis Seen briefly near the Tikal entrance and well at Cayala
Tropical Mockingbird Mimus gilvus Seen around Lake Atitlan
Blue-and-White Mockingbird Melanotis hypoleucus One bird seen well at Cayala
Grey Silky Flycatcher Ptilogonys cinereus Great views at Finca El Pilar and Fuentas Georginas
Tennessee Warbler Oreothlypis peregrina The most common migrant warbler encountered in Guatemala. This bird was named from a specimen collected in Tennessee where it only appears during migration
Nashville Warbler Oreothlypis ruficapilla We had good views of this North American Warbler at Las Nubes
Chestnut-sided Warbler Setophaga pensylvanica Good looks at Tikal
Yellow Warbler Dendroica petechia Good looks at Finca El Patrocinio and Atitlan Lake
Magnolia Warbler Setophaga magnolia Seen at several locations. This warbler was first discovered in magnolia trees in the 19th century by famed ornithologist Alexander Wilson while in Mississippi.
Myrtle Warbler Setophaga coronate Seen well on several occasions
Black-throated Green Warbler Setophaga virens Seen well at Lake Atitlan
Townsend’s Warbler Setophaga townsendi Seen well at many locations, after the Tennessee Warbler it was the most common of the trip. Named after John Kirk Townsend a 19th century US ornithologist, collector and author of (Dendroica, Myadestes)
Black-and-white Warbler Mniotilta varia Seen at several locations
American Redstart Setophaga ruticilla Nice views of a pair at the Tikal archeological site.
Hooded Warbler Setophaga citrina We had good observations of this species
Worm-eating Warbler Helmitheros vermivorum Great views in the Tikal forest. Worm-eating Warblers eat insects, usually searching in dead leaves or bark on trees and shrubs, also picking through dead leaves on the forest floor. Despite their name, they rarely if ever eat earthworms. Worm-eating Warblers have disappeared from some parts of their range due to habitat loss. They are vulnerable to nest parasitism by Brown-headed Cowbird where forests are fragmented.
Ovenbird Seiurus aurocapilla Seen walking quietly at the Long-tailed Manakin lek at Finca El Patrocinio and at Takalik Abaj
Louisiana Waterthrush Parkesia motacilla Seen well along a waterway at Tikal
Kentucky Warbler Geothlypis formosa We had some great looks at this species in the undergrowth of Tikal
MacGillivray’s Warbler Geothlypis tolmiei Excellent views of this lovely bird at the bamboo patch around Finca Las Nubes. Named after William MacGillivray, a 19th century Scottish professor and painter. Townsend suggested naming the bird after William Tolmie but Audubon named it after MacGillivray but used Tolmie in the scientific name.
Common Yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas Seen well in the secondary vegetation at the shores of the Lake Atitlan
Wilson Warbler Cardellina pusilla Seen on several occasions. Named after Thomas Wilson a 19th century US ornithologist
Red-faced Warbler Cardellina rubrifrons Great views at Finca Los Tarrales
Pink-headed Warbler Cardellina versicolor One of the best birds of the trip. A pair was seen amazingly at Fuentes Georginas during the heat of the day and they played very cooperative and were well photographed. This is a Northern Central America endemic and treats as Vulnerable
Golden-browed Warbler Basileuterus belli Seen well on Volcan Atitlan
Golden-crowned Warbler Basileuterus culicivorus (H) recorded at Las Nubes
Rufous-capped Warbler Basileuterus rufifrons Seen well at Cayala Ecological Park
Slate-throated Whitestart Myioborus miniatus Seen well at Finca El Pilar. These were orange-bellied birds, quite different from the yellow-bellied forms in lower Central and South America.
Grey-throated Chat Granatellus sallaei Superb views of one bird at Cerro Cahuí. A highlight for many
Black-throated Shrike-Tanager Lanio aurantius Seen briefly at the Tikal National Park
Blue-grey Tanager Thraupis episcopus Common around Lake Petén Itza
Yellow-winged Tanager Thraupis abbas Great looks at Finca El Patrocinio and Finca Las Nubes
Azure-rumped (Cabanis) Tanager Tangara cabanisi One of the targets of the tour that eluded us at first but we finally got everybody scope views at Finca Las Nubes. This specie is also call Cabanis’s Tanager named after Jean Louis Cabanis a 19 century German ornithologist and founder editor of Journal für Ornithologie.
Red-legged Honeycreeper Cyanerpes cyaneus Good views of this lovely bird at Finca El Patrocinio and few other locations
Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer Diglossa baritula Great views a Fuentes Georginas
Blue-black Grassquit Volatinia jacarina One pair seen briefly at Finca Los Tarrales
White-collared Seedeater Sporophila torqueola Common at both Finca Los Tarrales and Petén
Green-backed Sparrow Arremonops chloronotus Seen well at Tikal National Park
Prevost’s Ground Sparrow Melozone biarcuatum Superb views of this handsome bird at Finca Los Tarrales
Rusty Sparrow Aimophila rufescens Seen nicely during the Belted Flycatcher search
Rufous-collared Sparrow Zonotrichia capensis Common around the shores of the Atitlan Lake
Common Bush-Tanager Chlorospingus flavopectus Seen by some at Finca Las Nubes. This wide ranging species exhibits complex geographic variation. Birds here belong to the race postocularis. Genetic data indicates Chlorospingus to be in fact an emberizid (sparrows), with the AOU recently accepting this change.
White-naped Brush Finch Atlapetes albinucha Seen at Las Nubes and Lake Atitlan
Red-throated Ant-Tanager Habia fuscicauda Seen well at Tikal National Park
Red-crowned Ant-Tanager Habia rubica Seen well at Tikal National Park
Summer Tanager Piranga rubra Seen at several locations
Western Tanager Piranga ludoviciana Great views at Finca El Patrocinio and few other places
Rose-breasted Grosbeak Pheucticus ludovicianus Our first encounter was at the Takalik Abaj archeological site then it became quite common after that
Indigo Bunting Passerina cyanea Nice flock near our cabins at Tikal
Painted Bunting Passerina ciris Several males seen well at Las Nubes and a female at Cayala
Black-headed Saltator Saltator atriceps Seen well above Finca Las Nubes and Tikal
Grayish Saltator Saltator coerulescens Seen well at few locations
Yellow Grosbeak Pheucticus chrysopeplus Seen briefly at Finca Las Nubes
Hooded Grosbeak Coccothraustes abeillei A female seen well at Finca Las Nubes
Blue-black Grosbeak Cyanocompsa cyanoides One bird was seen well at the Tikal National Park
Yellow-breasted Chat Icteria virens Two different birds seen at Las Nubes.
Melodious Blackbird Dives dives Seen well at Finca Patrocinio and at other locations.
Great-tailed Grackle Quiscalus mexicanus Abundant
Giant Cowbird Molothrus oryzivorus Seen outside Tikal National Park
Black-vented Oriole Icterus wagleri A pair seen outside the lodge at Lake Atitlan and above the lodge in the dry forest
Bar-winged Oriole Icterus maculialatus A pair seen at the bridge at Las Nubes and a lone male seen in thick foliage near the top of the Finca.
Orchard Oriole Icterus spurius Several seen, at the gardens at Lake Atitlan and around Takalik Abaj
Altamira Oriole Icterus gularis A few seen at the Fincas along the tour route.
Baltimore Oriole Icterus galbula Great looks at several birds coming to feeders at Lake Peten Itza.
Yellow-backed Oriole Icterus chrysater A male from a pair heard singing at Finca Las Nubes
Yellow-billed Cacique Amblycercus holosericeus This secretive species was seen only around our cabins at Finca Las Nubes. Usually found solitary associated with jay flocks and in bamboo in South America.
Montezuma Oropendola Psarocolius montezuma Splendid views in the forest around the ruins of Tikal. Named after Moctezuma Xocoyotzin (1480-1520) Emperor of the Aztecs who died of wounds inflected by his own subjects, enraged at his support for the Spanish conquistadores under Cortes
Scrub Euphonia Euphonia affinis Seen briefly but well at Los Tarrales and Lake Peten Itza
Yellow-throated Euphonia Euphonia hirundinacea Seen at Finca Patrocinio and Los Tarrales
Olive-backed Euphonia Euphonia gouldi Seen at Tikal
Blue-crowned Chlorophonia Chlorophonia occipitalis Great views of this splendid bird at Finca Los Tarrales when we descend from the Horned Guan forest
Black-headed Siskin Carduelis montana A large group seen at El Pilar.
House Sparrow Passer domesticus Seen on a couple of locations
Central American Agouti Dasyprocta punctata Seen briefly crossing trails at the Tikal National Park
Variegated Squirrel Sciurus variegatoides Seen well at Finca El Patrocinio
Deppe’s Squirrel Sciurus deppei Seen well above Finca La Nube
White-tailed Deer Odocoileus virginianus Seen briefly a Finca Los Tarrales
Central American Spider-Monkey Ateles geoffroyi Incredible views of several groups at the Tikal National Park
Grey Fox Urocyon cinereoargenteus Seen briefly along the main track above Finca Las Nubes
White-nosed Coati Nasua narica A nice group was seen in the Tikal National Park
Morelet's Crocodile Crocodylus moreletii Two individuals were seen in the pond at the entrance of the Tikal National Park. It’s known as the Mexican Crocodile. It’s a modest sized crocodilian found only in fresh waters of the Atlantic regions of Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. Named after the 19th century French naturalist who made the discovery, P.M.A. Morelet.