Mexico - Oaxaca and Chiapas - January 5th - 14th 2017

Published by Ross Schaefer (schaeferross AT

Participants: Ross Schaefer, Michael Schaefer


My Father and I just got back from a successful trip to the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas in Mexico. The trip consisted of 8 full days birding, and we had a total list of around 281 species, depending on which taxonomy authority you use. We hired a local guide out of Oaxaca, Roque Santiago who can be contacted at We found him very helpful with locating the birds and locating the precise locations to find them, and he came equipped with a speaker and playback. He also situated all of our hotel arrangements. I would recommend him if you have extra cash to spare on the trip. The Itinerary is as follows:

Jan. 5th pm - arrive in Oaxaca City, head to hotel, and sleep

Jan. 6th am - Bird Teotitlan Thorn Forest and nearby Dam; pm - Bird Benito Juarez (highlands above Oaxaca), night in Oaxaca City

Jan. 7th am and pm - Bird Guacamaya Highlands, night in OC

Jan. 8th am - Travel to Isthmus from Oaxaca, stopping at Nueve Puntas, San Pedro, La Presa de Benito Juarez (Dam), and stops alongside the road, night in Ixtepec

Jan. 9th am - Birded La Venta; pm- Birded Arriaga Foothills, night in Arriaga

Jan.10th am - Birded near Puerto Arrista; pm - birded El Sumidero Canyon, night in Tuxtla Guttierez

Jan.11th am and pm - Birded El Sumidero Canyon, night in Tuxtla

Jan. 12th am - birded El Ocote Reserve, pm - drove to San Cristobal and birded the Radio Towers, night in San Cristobal

Jan. 13th am - Birded San Cristobal, the Dos Lagunas Community Land, night in Tuxtla

Jan. 14th - flight home

Daily Account:

Jan. 5th: We embarked on our first day of birding at 6am, accompanied by two other women and our guide, Roque. Our first stop was the Teotitlan Thorn Forest. Birds of note here included White-throated Towhee, Bridled Sparrow, Boucard's Wren, Dusky Hummingbird, and Gray-breasted Woodpecker.

We also birded a nearby Dam above Teotitlan, which had some Hooded Mergansers and Least Grebes, but nothing new or exciting to us. After lunch we headed up into the very windy and wet highlands of Benito Juarez. Despite the conditions, we saw Golden-browed and Red Warblers, Collared Towhee, Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer, and many Western US migrants.

Jan. 6th: From here on out, it was just me, my father, and our guide. We arrived just before dawn, around 6:45am, at another highland spot, Guacamaya. We began at a lower elevation, with mostly Oak scrub around as the habitat. Here we had great success, with Oaxaca Sparrow, Beautiful Hummingbird, Slaty Vireo, Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo, Elegant Euphonia, and West Mexican Chachalaca. We even got the guide a life bird, a Broad-tailed Hummingbird!

In the afternoon we headed higher up the road into Pine-Oak Forest. We saw very few birds up here, but our persistence payed off because at the last stop we had a flock containing Stellar's Jay, Gray-barred Wren, and our target Dwarf Jay!

Jan. 7th: Today was a travel day, from Oaxaca City to the Isthmus in Chiapas. We made a 3 hour stop in the morning at Nueve Puntas for Occellated Thrasher and Dwarf Vireo, and although the former was nowhere to be found, we finally secured great looks at Dwarf Vireo, and even a photo.

We drove for awhile to our next stop, outside of San Pedro. Here the only new bird for us was White-lored Gnatcatcher, and from here on out, this bird would prove to be very common. Also of note here were some Rufous-naped Wrens.

We made some roadside stops hoping to find Red-breasted Chat, but only came up with NA migrants and Banded Wren.

La Presa de Benito Juarez is a large dam with good birding around it. We saw Orange-breasted Bunting here along with many migrant flycatchers, vireos, and warblers. From here until we arrived in Ixtepec for the night, we probably stopped 6 times in search for the Sumichrast's Sparrow, with no luck. Tomorrow was a different story, however.

Jan. 8th: Our first bird of the morning was Sumichrast's Sparrow, at an area outside Ixtepec called La Ventana. And indeed, it was quite windy. We drove a little further and pulled off at a bridge, where a trail led into the forest. This was one of our best stops of the trip. We had male and female Rosita's Buntings up close and personal here, Russet-crowned Motmot, and heard but did not see a Lesser Ground-Cuckoo

From here we drove on to the Arriaga Foothills, where we had more Rosita's Buntings, Fan-tailed Warbler, and secured good looks at 2 Lesser Ground-Cuckoos. We stayed in Arriaga that night.

Jan. 9th: From Arriaga, we drove early to Puerto Arrista. Our first target bird was the White-bellied Chachalaca, which flies down from the trees at dawn. We luckily got on to three of these birds, while they were still in the trees. This was followed by many sightings of Giant Wren, and also a Plain-breasted Ground-Dove.

That afternoon we birded El Sumidero Canyon above Tuxtla, where we had more looks at Lesser Ground-Cuckoo, great looks and photos of Belted Flycatcher, and White-bellied Wren. Night in Tuxtla.

Jan. 10th: We birded El Sumidero all day today, with less success than we would've liked. We heard a Flammulated Flycatcher at the lower part of the road, and had Rusty Sparrow along with one immature male Red-breasted Chat. Birding got slow, so we moved up into the highlands, where we had much of the same. Azure-crowned Hummingbird was up here, but it wasn't new for us. I had quick looks at a Maroon-chested Ground-Dove, but is scurried off before my dad could see it. All in all, a little disappointing up here, so we went back to the hotel for food and a nap.

Jan. 11th: We arrived pre-dawn at El Ocote, north of Tuxtla. Our main target here was Nava's Wren, which we acquired amazing views of. We also had White-winged Tanager, and Green Shrike-Vireo displaying uncharacteristic behavior, feeding at our feet.

We then headed up to San Cristobal, and drove up to the radio towers. Here we had Black-capped Swallow, White-naped Brush-Finch, Blue-and-white Mockingbird, and both Garnet-throated and Amethyst-throated Hummingbirds.

Jan. 12th: Our last day of birding was quite an adventure. We had found out from our guide a few days prior that the Dos Lagunas Community Land (which contained the Pink-headed Warbler), had reported recently many car break ins and robberies. So, we decided to take a taxi, and sneak up into the highlands around 5am. We played the tape for Unspotted Saw-whet and Bearded Screech-Owl, but had no luck with these two birds. We arrived in a meadow around 6:30, and waited for light as this was, as the guide said, the best Pink-headed Warbler spot. We had a Mexican Whip-poor-will visit us while we waited, and as the dawn chorus began, it was dominated by Brown-backed Solitaire, Rufous-collared Thrush, and Common Bush-Tanager. We saw all 3 of these species, as well as a warbler flock, but the flock didn't contain Pink-headed Warbler. So, we entered into the forest, covering many different trails.

It is very easy to get lost at Dos Lagunas, and I would highly recommend having a guide here.

We eventually found 4 individuals of our target species, the Pink-headed Warbler. We then hear Unicolored Jays nearby, and after seeing them, we played the tape for Black-throated Jay, knowing that they often flock together. At least 5 Black-throated Jays flew in overhead, and eventually landed across from us in great light. We also had the Guatemalan races of Northern Flicker and Yellow-eyed Junco here.

All in all a great trip, with 54 lifers for me, and 53 for my dad.

Species Lists

1. Least Grebe
2. American White Pelican
3. Brown Pelican
4. Neotropic Cormorant
5. Bare-throated Tiger-Heron
6. Great Blue Heron
7. Snowy Egret
8. Great Egret
9. Little Blue Heron
10. Cattle Egret
11. Green Heron
12. White Ibis
13. Wood Stork
14. Green-winged Teal
15. Blue-winged Teal
16. Gadwall
17. Hooded Merganser
18. Ruddy Duck
19. Black Vulture
20. Turkey Vulture
21. Osprey
22. White-tailed Kite
23. Northern Harrier
24. Gray Hawk
25. Roadside Hawk
26. Short-tailed Hawk
27. White-tailed Hawk
28. Red-tailed Hawk
29. Crested Caracara
30. American Kestrel
31. Merlin
32. Peregrine Falcon
33. Plain Chachalaca
34. West Mexican Chachalaca
35. White-bellied Chachalaca
36. American Coot
37. Killdeer
38. Spotted Sandpiper
39. Least Sandpiper
40. Laughing Gull
41. Royal Tern
42. Feral Pigeon
43. Band-tailed Pigeon
44. White-winged Dove
45. Mourning Dove
46. Inca Dove
47. Common Ground-Dove
48. Plain-breasted Ground-Dove
49. Ruddy Ground-Dove
50. Maroon-chested Ground-Dove
51. Orange-fronted Parakeet
52. Orange-chinned Parakeet
53. White-fronted Parrot
54. Squirrel Cuckoo
55. Lesser Ground-Cuckoo
56. Groove-billed Ani
57. Mottled Owl
58. Lesser Nighthawk
59. Mexican Whip-poor-will
60. Little Hermit
61. Long-tailed Sabrewing
62. Green-breasted Mango
63. Green Violet-ear
64. Canivet's Emerald
65. Dusky Hummingbird
66. Doubleday's Hummingbird
67. White-eared Hummingbird
68. White-bellied Emerald
69. Azure-crowned Hummingbird
70. Berylline Hummingbird
71. Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
72. Cinnamon Hummingbird
73. Green-fronted Hummingbird
74. Stripe-tailed Hummingbird
75. Blue-throated Hummingbird
76. Amethyst-throated Hummingbird
77. Garnet-throated Hummingbird
78. Plain-capped Starthroat
79. Beautiful Hummingbird
80. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
81. Broad-tailed Hummingbird
82. Rufous Hummingbird
83. Citreoline Trogon
84. Mountain Trogon
85. Collared Trogon
86. Russet-crowned Motmot
87. Belted Kingfisher
88. Green Kingfisher
89. Keel-billed Toucan (H)
90. Gray-breasted Woodpecker
91. Golden-fronted Woodpecker
92. Ladder-backed Woodpecker
93. Hairy Woodpecker
94. Golden-olive Woodpecker
95. Northern Flicker
96. Guatemalan Flicker
97. Olivaceous Woodcreeper
98. Strong-billed Woodcreeper
99. Spot-crowned Woodcreeper
100. Ivory-billed Woodcreeper
101. Barred Antshrike
102. Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet
103. Greenish Elaenia
104. Slate-headed Tody-Flycatcher
105. Belted Flycatcher
106. Tufted Flycatcher
107. Olive-sided Flycatcher (H)
108. Greater Pewee
109. Willow Flycatcher
110. Least Flycatcher
111. Pine Flycatcher
112. Acadian Flycatcher
113. Black Phoebe
114. Vermillion Flycatcher
115. Dusky-capped Flycatcher
116. Brown-crested Flycatcher
117. Ash-throated Flycatcher
118. Flammulated Flycatcher (H)
119. Great Kiskadee
120. Boat-billed Flycatcher
121. Social Flycatcher
122. Tropical Kingbird
123. Cassin's Kingbird
124. Thick-billed Kingbird
125. Western Kingbird
126. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
127. Rose-throated Becard
128. Gray-breasted Martin
129. Black-capped Swallow
130. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
131. Barn Swallow
132. Steller's Jay
133. White-throated Magpie-Jay
134. Green Jay
135. Black-throated Jay
136. Dwarf Jay
137. Western Scrub-Jay
138. Unicolored Jay
139. Mexican Chickadee
140. Bushtit (Black-eared)
141. White-breasted Nuthatch
142. Brown Creeper
143. Band-backed Wren
144. Gray-barred Wren
145. Giant Wren
146. Rufous-naped Wren
147. Boucard's Wren
148. Rock Wren
149. Nava's Wren
150. Spot-breasted Wren (H)
151. Banded Wren
152. White-bellied Wren
153. Brown-throated (House) Wren
154. Gray-breasted Wood-Wren
155. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
156. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
157. White-Pored Gnatcatcher
158. Brown-backed Solitaire
159. Slate-colored Solitaire
160. Russet Nightingale-Thrush
161. Clay-colored Thrush
162. White-throated Thrush
163. Rufous-collared Thrush
164. American Robin
165. Gray Catbird
166. Blue Mockingbird
167. Blue-and-white Mockingbird
168. Northern Mockingbird
169. Tropical Mockingbird
170. Curve-billed Thrasher
171. American Pipit
172. Gray Silky-Flycatcher
173. Slaty Vireo
174. White-eyed Vireo
175. Dwarf Vireo
176. Bell's Vireo
177. Blue-headed Vireo
178. Yellow-throated Vireo
179. Hutton's Vireo
180. Warbling Vireo
181. Yellow-green Vireo
182. Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo
183. Green Shrike-Vireo
184. Blue-winged Warbler
185. Orange-crowned Warbler
186. Nashville Warbler
187. Virginia's Warbler
188. Crescent-chested Warbler
189. Northern Parula
190. Yellow Warbler
191. Magnolia Warbler
192. Yellow-rumped Warbler
193. Black-throated Gray Warbler
194. Hermit Warbler
195. Townsend's Warbler
196. Black-throated Green Warbler
197. Yellow-throated Warbler
198. Black-and-white Warbler
199. American Redstart
200. Worm-eating Warbler
201. Northern Waterthrush
202. MacGillivray's Warbler
203. Common Yellowthroat
204. Gray-crowned Yellowthroat
205. Wilson's Warbler
206. Red Warbler (White-eared)
207. Pink-headed Warbler
208. Painted Whitestart
209. Slate-throated Whitestart
210. Fan-tailed Warbler
211. Golden-crowned Warbler
212. Rufous-capped Warbler
213. Golden-browed Warbler
214. Yellow-breasted Chat
215. Red-breasted Chat
216. Olive Warbler
217. Scrub Euphonia
218. Yellow-throated Euphonia
219. Elegant Euphonia
220. Blue-gray Tanager
221. Yellow-winged Tanager
222. Red-throated Ant-Tanager
223. Hepatic Tanager
224. Summer Tanager
225. Western Tanager
226. White-winged Tanager
227. Common Bush-Tanager
228. Black-headed Saltator
229. Black-faced Grosbeak
230. Rose-breasted Grosbeak
231. Black-headed Grosbeak
232. Blue Grosbeak
233. Rosita's Bunting
234. Indigo Bunting
235. Varied Bunting
236. Orange-brested Bunting
237. Painted Bunting
238. White-naped Brushfinch
239. Chestnut-capped Brushfinch
240. Olive Sparrow
241. Collared Towhee
242. Spotted Towhee
243. White-throated Towhee
244. Blue-black Grassquit
245. White-collared Seedeater
246. Cinnamon-rumped Seedeater
247. Yellow-faced Grassquit
248. Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer
249. Bridled Sparrow
250. Stripe-headed Sparrow
251. Sumichrast's (Cinnamon-tailed) Sparrow
252. Rufous-crowned Sparrow (H)
253. Oaxaca Sparrow
254. Rusty Sparrow
255. Chipping Sparrow
256. Clay-colored Sparrow
257. Lark Sparrow
258. Lincoln's Sparrow
259. Rufous-collared Sparrow
260. Yellow-eyed (Mexican) Junco
261. Guatemalan Junco
262. Melodious Blackbird
263. Great-tailed Grackle
264. Orchard Oriole
265. Black-vented (Wagler's) Oriole
266. Audubon's (Dickey's) Oriole
267. Streak-backed Oriole
268. Altamira Oriole
269. Baltimore Oriole
270. Bullock's Oriole
271. Scott's Oriole
272. Yellow-winged Cacique
273. Montezuma Oropendola (H)
274. House Finch
275. Red Crossbill
276. Black-headed Siskin
277. Lesser Goldfinch
278. House Sparrow