El Tajín - Michael Retter


NORTHEAST MEXICO

Wading Into the Neotropics

1–15 December 2008


Tour leader: Michael Retter

photo at left:  Pyramid of the Niches, El Tajín


Northeast Mexico offers birders the opportunity to encounter many of the country’s endemic birds while traveling through habitats as diverse as high desert plateau, tropical marsh, dry upland oak forest, lowland rainforest, and montane cloudforest. While birds like Crested Guan, Azure-hooded Jay, and Collared Araçari are all undeniably tropical, we enjoyed these flavors of the Neotropics without overwhelming numbers of unfamiliar bird families, making it an excellent tour for first-timers to the tropics. We also enjoyed prolonged studies of many of the region’s endemics, like Crimson-collared Grosbeak, Worthen’s Sparrow, Sumichrast’s Wren, and Hooded and Altamira Yellowthroats. A visit to the stunning pre-Columbian ruin of El Tajín made for an especially memorable trip.


Day 1: Arrival in Monterrey
Those arriving early did some quite productive birding around the hotel today, with White-tailed Kite, Cassin’s Vireo, Cassin’s Kingbird, and Prairie Falcon being highlights. After a scrumptious meal at the adjacent restaurant, it was early to bed in order to prepare for the next morning’s early departure.

Day 2: Tanque de Emergencia and San Antonio de las Alazanas
When dawn arrived, we were just south of Saltillo, in the cold, high desert of the Mexican Plateau. I’ve often thought that the Tanque de Emergenica area is one of the best places in Mexico for bird photography, and today only reinforced that impression. Though some unexpected fog drifted in at one point, it lasted only briefly, and birds were flushing up in front of us most of the day, often pausing to perch at the top of a bush just afterward. Many times the barbed wire fences alongside the road were covered with hundreds of Western Meadowlarks, some of which delighted us with their fluted songs. A Ferruginous Hawk provided us with very close views as it perched on a fencepost. Our road then started to curve as it snaked though a couple colonies of the endangered and endearing Mexican Prairie-dog. In this more open habitat, we saw numbers of Mountain Bluebirds, Lark Sparrows, Curve-billed Thrashers, Canyon Towhees, American Pipits, Chihuahuan Ravens, and Scaled Quail. We found a Common Poorwill on the road, but it had unfortnately been struck by a car and not long before perished. We eventually got to a more heavily vegetated area, dotted with clumps of junipers and joshua trees--prime habitat for the endangered, endemic, and little-known Worthen’s Sparrow.  Not long after we began our search of the area, we noticed a small group of Western Bluebirds posing in the top of a Joshua tree. As we approached for a closer look, sparrows started flushing from all around. Thankfully, a couple dozen of them were Worthen’s Sparrows! A were able to study them carefully for a great length of time as they acclimated to our presence and flew back down to feed on the ground with Black-throated Sparrows, Chipping Sparrows, and “Audubon’s” Warblers. Whenever out attention was diverted away from the Worthen’s (by, for instance, a distant Prairie Falcon), they were easy to relocate by searching for the conspicuous Western Bluebirds that were flocking with them. On the way back to the car, we found a single Lark Bunting. As we drove back to the highway, we looked back on the morning and considered ourselves remarkably lucky to have found so many Worthen’s Sparrows.

Worthen's Sparrow - Michael Retter Worthen's Sparrow habitat - Michael Retter
Worthen's Sparrow
Worthen's Sparrow habitat
Black-throated Sparrow - Michael Retter Mexican Prairie-dog - Michael Retter
Black-throated Sparrow Mexican Prairie-dogs


male Hooded Yellowthroat - Michael RetterAfter lunch, we proceeded east into the highlands above San Antonio de las Alazanas.  A couple flocks of Pine Siskins (evidence of the massive irruption further north and east) dotted the roadside along the way. With very little stopping, we proceeded to the end of the road. The area had fairly recently seen a forest fire, which was very helpful in our search for one of east Mexico’s hardest endemics. Hooded Yellowthroats specialize in dense montane chapparal, and the fire had allowed the brush to become quite dense. Just outside the car, we found ourselves surrounded by small numbers of both Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Hutton’s Vireos, allowing for close comparisons of this potentially confusing duo. Once in good habitat, we found a male yellowthroat almost immediately. Unbelievably, he sat nearly motionless in full sunlight about fifteen meters away for about five minutes! Scope views and digiscoped shots of his rictal bristles were enjoyed by all. Quite pleased with ourselves, we headed back up into the pine-fir forests, driving slowly until we heard a flock, whereupon we stopped to have a look. We found Hairy Woodpecker, Olive Warbler, Brown Creeper, Mexican Chickadee, Yellow-eyed Junco, Slate-throated Whitestart, Crescent-chested Warbler, and (range-wise) the rarest bird of the trip: a Grace’s Warbler. It appears to be the first record of this species for the state of Coahuila and all of northeast Mexico.



impressive gorge - Michael RetterDay 3: The Highrise and Cola de Caballo
The Highrise is an incredibly tall cliff overlooking extensive pine forest, and the breeding location of our main target for the day, Maroon-fronted Parrot. We were encouraged by reports of them having been at the location just a couple weeks prior, but unfortunately we neither saw nor heard any sign of them on our visit. Despite the cold and windy conditions that greeted us at the beginning of the day, we did manage to see some great birds at this beautifully scenic location. Painted Whitestarts and Bridled Titmice seemed to always be around in the oaks, though the former were much more cooperative. A rather frustrating Pine Flycatcher flew overhead and called unseen from high in the pines. Fruiting pecan trees were full of Mexican Jays, Audubon’s Orioles, and Acorn Woodpeckers. A perched Sharp-shinned Hawk stayed just long enough for us to go over its field marks. By late morning we had descended through a spectacular gorge onto the Gulf slope of the Sierra. The wind had all but ceased, and hundreds White-throated Swifts were circling overhead. A Canyon Wren hopped through the nearby cracks in the walls of the gorge, and our first pair of sprightly Rufous-capped Warblers shared the underbrush with a Hermit Thrush. A bit further east, we came over another small ridge into the wettest forest we’d yet seen. Butterflies came out in full force, and we finally felt like we were entering the tropics. Mexican Silverspot, Chestnut Crescent, Mexican Dartwhite, Tailed Orange, and White and Yellow Angled-Sulphurs were just some of the species we noted. While looking at butterflies, we found Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Pine Flycatcher, and Rufous-capped Brush-finch. Just one motive of the brush-finch’s song played by my iPod brought the brush-finch in for incredible views on an exposed stick. The woodcreeper and flycatcher, unfortunately, were less cooperative. I was particularly disappointed in the fleeting glimpses of the woodcreeper, as this location near Cola de Caballo expands its know range northward and is probably a first record for Nuevo León. During our picnic lunch we found a Spot-breasted Wren and an American Goldfinch. From here we drove toward La Pesca, and along the way saw the first of many Brown Jays on the trip. As planned, we reached the foothills outside of La Pesca for dusk, and it was time to do some night birding. Unfortunately, the area where I found Tawny-collared Nightjars a few months prior had been bulldozed in preparation for a new divided highway, so not too surprisingly, our efforts to find that species were in vain. We did, however, find Eastern Screech-Owl and Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl.

Rufous-capped Brush-finch - Michael Retter NE Mexican mountain scenery- Michael Retter
Rufous-capped Brush-finch
NE Mexican mountain scenery


Day 4: La Pesca to El Cielo
We set out pre-dawn to try for the nightjars again, but turned up empty-handed. We did, however, see two Jaguarundi (one black and one brown morph) cross the road in front of us--a much rarer sight! A beautiful sunrise greeted us this morning as we tried to find Yellow-headed Parrots in the thornforest-covered foothills. These large and beautiful birds are threatened not only by habitat loss, but also by intense poaching for the cage bird trade (they’re expert mimics), so it gets harder to find them every year. Luck smiled on us today, though, and just a few minutes after sunrise a pair of Yellow-headed Parrots flew right in front of us over the highway. It’s often difficult to get an identifiable look at flying amazons, so the point-blank views of these glorious birds and their multicolored wings and glowing golden heads was quite a treat. We couldn’t believe our luck! With the parrots out of the way, we concentrated on water birds. A couple of the fish ponds just outside of town were down so low they had become mudflats, which provided a bonanza of food for the local herons, ibises, spoonbills, storks, shorebirds, caracaras, and vultures. We especially enjoyed watching a couple cinnamon-colored Long-billed Curlews, whose size was shockingly apparent when seen in direct comparison with the herons or the lingering Semipalmated Sandpiper. Much of the time, a pair of Altamira Orioles sang and showed off in the nearby thornforest. Tamaulipas Crows were ubiquitous. The adjacent Laguna Madre was full of thousands of ducks. Most of them were Lesser Scaup, which were joined by smaller numbers of American White Pelicans and Ruddy Ducks. A Sprague’s Pipit flew over, but despite much pishing refused to land. At this point, a small, dry cold front passed through, dropping the temperature and cranking up the wind very quickly. Geese began to stream by: thousands of Snow Geese. Within the closer flocks, we were able to pick out a number of smaller Ross’s Geese. Some freshwater pools just inside the coastal dunes held a small group of Northern Shoveler and Mottled Ducks, the latter at the very southern end of its range. Even with the roaring wind, we did still manage to do some birding along the coast, with American Oystercatcher and Thayer’s Gull the undisputed highlights. The wind disappeared as quickly as it started, and soon the sun again showed itself. By midday, it was time to start driving to El Cielo, but not without some birding stops along the way. Back in the foothills, we found a Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl which brought in a mob of literally dozens of birds, including Black-crested Titmouse, Orange-crowned Warbler, White-eyed Vireo, Tropical Parula, Indigo Bunting, and Blue Bunting. A small group of Wild Turkeys surprised us as they fed alongside the highway.  Heavily hunted, Wild Turkeys are very rare and exceptionally hard to see in Mexico. Hawks (including White-tailed and Swainson’s) were ubiquitous on our drive towards Ciudad Victoria, and we found a large concentration of them following a plow in one particular field. A planned roadside stop near Xicoténcatl produced a very cooperative male Altamira Yellowthroat right away. At a short stop on our way up to our hotel in Gómez Farías we found Spot-breasted Wren, Melodious Blackbird, and Red-lored Parrot. Our hotel and its open air restaurant overlook part of the beautiful, pristine El Cielo Biosphere Reserve, so we were treated to an evening chorus of Crested Guan, Collared Forest-Falcon, Singing Quail, and Thicket Tinamou as we enjoyed our delicious dinner of tortilla soup and enchiladas with toasted sesame seed salsa. Later, a Mottled Owl started singing right outside our rooms.

wader melange at La Pesca - Michael Retter Tamaulipas Crows - Michael Retter
Roseate Spoonbills, Long-billed Curlew, and egrets
Tamaulipas Crows


Day 5: El Cielo and the Río Frío
Breakfast this morning was abruptly interrupted when a Crested Guan started screaming from the top of the tree right next to the restaurant! We rushed outside and were rewarded with views of the bird in the spotlight before if sailed off down the canyon. What a way to start the day!  As it got light outside, we could hear the bizarre machine-like gurgling sounds of a lek of male Wedge-tailed Sabrewings just outside the restaurant, and indeed, there were a couple that had set up shop in the red-flowering vine in the parking lot. Both male and female Canivet’s Emeralds came in to steal a sip of nectar while the sabrewings were dueling.

The plan was to cover the lower half of the road to Alta Cima today, because we had to be back to the lowlands in order to take our “jungle boat ride” after lunch.  White-crowned Parrots were everywhere. Hundreds passed over throughout the day, and a few even landed directly above us, whereupon they proceeded to drop fruit husks on our car! An impressive Lineated Woodpecker and an endemic Bronze-winged Woodpecker fed just over the road at one point.  Small flocks of Yellow-throated Euphonias were working the treetops, and one particular group joined a male Flame-colored Tanager to feed in a fruiting gumbo limbo. Crimson-collared Grosbeaks were quite common here: we heard a couple dozen, and managed views of 6 or 7, including a couple adult males, and they bounced around in the underbrush along with a large number of Gray Catbirds and a smaller number of Blue Mockingbirds. Before we knew it, it was time to head down the mountain. As we slowly descended in the car, a rustle of leaves alerted us to the presence of a small group of very cooperative Singing Quail, and everyone had very nice views of them. A Squirrel Cuckoo perched right along the road at eye level was quite welcome after the distant views we’d had earlier in the day. Just before we got back into town, we found some army ants working the roadside. They were attended by a rather curious combination of birds:  a Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, a Fan-tailed Warbler, a male Barred Antshrike, an Eastern Phoebe, a Great Kiskadee, an uncooperative Yellow-billed Cacique, and small numbers of Melodious Blackbirds and Black-headed Saltators. We watched these birds for about 45 minutes as they fed just feet in front of us, seemingly unimpressed by us as they concentrated on the fleeing smorgasboard.

Squirrel Cuckoo - Michael Retter male Crimson-collared Grosbeak - Michael Retter
Squirrel Cuckoo
female Canivet's Emerald
male Barred Antshrike - Michael Retter Fan-tailed Warbler - Michael Retter
male Barred Antshrike Fan-tailed Warbler

Our boat ride along the Río Frío was quite productive, yielding nice views of Sungrebe, Ringed Kingfisher, Amazon Kingfisher, Bat Falcon, Boat-billed Heron, and Louisiana Waterthrush. Birding the grounds near the dock was fruitful too. We found Clay-colored and White-throated Robins, multiple Masked Tityras, and a small flock of Yellow-winged Tanagers. Another Bat Falcon flew over the zócalo in Gómez Farías at dusk.

Bat Falcon - Michael Retter Boat-billed Heron - Michael Retter
Bat Falcon
adult Boat-billed Heron
female Sungrebe - Michael Retter Isabella Heliconian - Michael Retter
female Sungrebe Isabella Heliconian


Day 6:  El Cielo
We concentrated on the road above Gómez Farías today, slowly making out way to Alta Cima and back in time for supper. We saw most of the birds again that we’d seen here the day before, including more nice views of Crimson-collared Grosbeak. Close to Alta Cima, we found 3 countersinging male Barred Antshrikes and watched with excitement as two of them dueled for supremacy. A glowing male Blue Bunting was thoroughly appreciated. White-tipped Doves in the road ahead of us allowed detailed study of their plumage, more than enough to eliminate the scarce Gray-headed Dove. There were some new and exciting bids, as well. The most exciting bird by far was an adult Ornate Hawk-Eagle that flew by relatively low and then circled overhead for a full 2 or 3 minutes. The species is at the very northern extent of its range here, so catching sight of one is a rare occurrence. Other new birds for the trip included Smoky-brown Woodpecker, Warbling Vireo, Rose-throated Becard, Brown-backed Solitaire, White-winged Tanager, Olive Sparrow, Elegant Euphonia, Grayish Saltator, and Hooded Grosbeak. We found another army ant swam this afternoon, which was this time attended by a number of Golden-crowned Warblers, Clay-colored and White-throated Robins, and a Fan-tailed Warbler. One of us caught sign of a Crested Guan on the way down, and everyone had close views of Plain Chachalaca.

adult Ornate Hawk-Eagle - Michael Retter male Crimson-collared Grosbeak - Michael Retter
adult Ornate Hawk-Eagle
male Crimson-collared Grosbeak
male Rose-throated Becard - Michael Retter Golden-crowned Warbler - Michael Retter
male Rose-throated Becard Golden-crowned Warbler


Day 7:  The Tula-Ocampo Road to El Naranjo
One of the first birds we saw today was an Amazon Kingfisher perched on a power line alongside the road. When we stopped for a better look, a Green Kingfisher appeared as well. It’s always nice to have similar species together for direct comparison.

As one drives south from the U.S, the upper reaches of the Tula-Ocampo road offer first real accessible habitat with “cloud forest birds”. It wasn’t too birdy this morning, though; a well-seen Brown-capped Vireo and heard-only Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush were our only “cloud forest” finds, but no matter, we’d enter true cloud forest in a couple days. After a bit of work, we managed nice views of a Long-billed Thrasher and his fiery orange eyes. Painted Whitestarts and Hepatic Tanagers were common, and a White-eared Hummingbird briefly put in an appearance. Both Bronze-winged and Smoky-brown Woodpeckers were seen here.

We crossed the Sierra and descended back onto the Mexican plateau to bird Laguna San Isidor for waterbirds. Unfortunately (if you’re looking for ducks), the reservoir was so full of sediment it had become a cattail marsh full of practically nothing but Pied-billed Grebes. The only other birds we noticed on the lake were “Mexican Duck”, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, and Black-bellied Whistling-Duck. A Cassin’s Sparrow flushed out of the dry grass near the shoreline, but it refused to sit in plain sight. Disappointed, we headed back over the divide and turned south into an intermountain valley towards El Naranjo. Just a few kilometers down this road, a massive flock of parakeets flew over the car.  We stopped immediately, hoping they would come back, and they did! A flock of about 70 Green Parakeets literally flew circles above us for a good 3-4 minutes before disappearing behind a ridge. A similarly large flock of Tamaulipas Crows prompted us to stop in a small town, where we also found a glorious male Hooded Oriole. Later, we were surprised to find a massive intermittent lake, full of tens if not hundreds of thousands of birds. Thankfully, it was just low enough that the road wasn’t inundated. The lake was covered with Ring-necked Ducks and American Coots, but we found a Canvasback and some Gadwall amongst them. In the shallower water, there was a flock of White-faced Ibis feeding, funnily enough, joined by a pair of Muscovy Ducks. A couple families of Northern Jaçanas glided along the lily pads below a sunning Anhinga. We could hear Ruddy Crakes and Soras calling from the distant reeds, but there was unfortunately no way to get to them. A bit further down the road, we found a posing pair of Aplomado Falcons in the top of a lone palm tree. The impressive waterfall at El Meco greeted us as we arrived in El Naranjo valley in time for supper.

Amazon Kingfisher- Michael Retter male Hooded Oriole - Michael Retter
Amazon Kingfisher male Hooded Oriole
Northern Jaçana- Michael Retter El Meco waterfall - Michael Retter
adult Northern Jaçana El Meco waterfall


Day 8:  El Naranjo
Rufous-capped Warbler - Michael RetterThe open understory of the subtropical oak woodlands above El Naranjo make the area one of the easiest places in the world to see Singing Quail. We were entertained by a particularly loud male this morning, who besides giving nice view through the vegetation, even ran across an open trail for us! With some patience, there’s usually a nice mixed flock here led by Crescent-chested Warblers and White-winged Tanagers, and we did have to wait an hour or so today, but there were plenty of other birds in the cut-over farm fields with which to occupy our time. A very photogenic pair of Rusty Sparrows was by far and away the winner, but they had to compete with equally cooperative pairs of Rufous-capped Warbler and Audubon’s Oriole. Our attention was diverted back to the forest once the mixed flock materialized, and within it we found Tropical Parula, Painted Whitestart, White-winged Tanager, and Crescent-chested, Townsend’s, Nashville, Wilson’s, Golden-crowned, Black-throated Green, and Black-and-white Warblers. An Ovenbird gave only fleeting glimpses as it stalked insects in the understory. It was also here that we found an amazing hummingbird hawk moth with a white band across its “rump”, appearing to mimic a coquette—or was it the other way around?  Something to ponder! A stop in the higher, drier oaks around Agua Zarca failed to produce Spotted Wren, but we found an amazing flock of “large” birds, including Olivaceous, Spot-crowed, and Ivory-billed Woodcreepers; Acorn, Smoky-brown, and Bronze-winged Woodpeckers, Gray-collared Becard, Green Jay, Rufous-browned Peppershrike, and a female Barred Antshrike. The antshrike was particularly interesting as she fed high in the canopy with the Green Jays. It was certainly a behavior none of us had ever seen in the species before.

A couple miles further west, we returned to the arid flatlands of the Mexican Plateau. Our main target, Greater Roadrunner, appeared right on cue, snapping its large, lizard-killing bill. The collared lizards we were photographing certainly were familiar with the sound, as every time the roadrunner performed its bill-snapping, they assumed a less obvious profile. A soaring White-tailed Hawk solicited a similar response. A nearby stock pond held Canvasback and three species of teal: Cinnamon, Blue-winged, and Green-winged. Eastern Bluebirds, Vermilion Flycatchers, and Gray Flycatcher were also present in the area.

We headed back into the drier oak woods for a picnic, hoping that a curious band of Spotted Wrens would stop by. Both male and female Hooded Grosbeaks allowed scope views while we ate lunch. Also in this area were an Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush, a Hepatic Tanager, and surprisingly, a Yellow-throated Warbler. A Long-billed Thrasher posed for photographs in the roadside brush.

singing male Singing Quail - Michael Retter Rusty Sparrow - Michael Retter
singing male Singing Quail
singing male Rusty Sparrow
Ivory-billed Woodreeper - Michael Retter Long-billed Thrasher - Michael Retter
Ivory-billed Woodcreeper Long-billed Thrasher


coeruliceps Blue-crowned Motmot - Michael Retter
Day 9:  El Naranjo to Tlanchinol
We devoted the morning to cleaning up two sought-after species: Military Macaw and coeruliceps Blue-crowned Motmot. The macaw could really fly over anywhere, so we concentrated on some better locations for the motmot.  At the first place we found a rather tame covey of about 12 Singing Quail right alongside the trail.  There were also numerous Thicket Tinamous singing from the forest, one quite close by. We were about to look for the nearby tinamou when we heard macaws—lots of them by the sound of it. They sounded like they were beyond the trees and out of range of our vision, so we started walking the trail through a mosaic of forest and sugar cane fields. In about 400m we caught sight of them at the top of the next hill—all 30 of them! I’d sever seen a flock of Military Macaws this big in Mexico—very exciting!  It was then off to my prime motmot location; we’d missed them there the day before, but you never know.  Within moments, we heard a Blue-crowned Motmot singing, but it sounded quite distant.  While walking towards the sound, though, it became apparent that the bird was actually quite close by but singing softly.  It was practically overhead, in fact!  We enjoyed prolonged scope views of this bird and its mate over the next half hour, marveling at their serrated bill edges, odd racket-tipped tails, and opalescent blue crowns.  (This northeast Mexican endemic subspecies is oddly enough the only Blue-crowned Motmot which actually has a blue crown!) With both targets down, we jubilantly headed south towards Tlanchinol. A short evening trip into the cloudforest was very quiet, with Common Bush-Tanager and Band-tailed Pigeon being the highlights.


Military Macaws - Michael Retter Military Macaws - Fred Ramsey
Military Macaws
Military Macaws



cloudforest trail - Michael RetterDay 10:  Tlanchinol and Huejutla
We endured an early morning start today with the hope that we might catch some ground-feeding birds like antpittas, quail-doves, and thrushes out on the main trail at first light.  A gorgeous Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush hopped into the spotlight and went about his business just below the parking area. A female Black Robin paused on the trail for a moment. A bit further down the trail, we found a small canopy flock dominated by bush-tanagers, but we were also able to pick out Cassin’s Vireo, Crescent-chested Warbler, Spot-crowned Woodcreeper, and Brown-capped Vireo. Intermittent flashes of white in the dark understory transformed into the glowing throat of a smart-looking Chestnut-capped Brush-finch. A Bearded Wood-Partridge sang from far downslope. By now, dense fog was sending its fingers deep into the forest, and visibility was reduced enough that birding was getting impractical—always a possibility when visiting a cloud forest. We did somehow manage to peer through the mist to see a male Mountain Trogon and a male Rose-throated Becard next to the car. A tree full of Hooded Grosbeaks and Black-headed Siskins, though, was too far to see well. We made the decision to descend, hoping that we’d come out below the clouds. That we did, and although there was a steady mist falling from the low clouds, we had the best birding of the tour in the next couple hours.  We found ourselves in the midst of a massive passerine flock that contained literally hundreds of birds, and managed to stay with the flock our entire time there.  Nashville Warblers easily numbered into three figures, and Wilson’s Warblers weren’t far behind. Other species we found in the flock included Yellow-winged and White-winged Tanagers, Montezuma Oropendola, Audubon’s Oriole, Black-headed Saltator, Bronze-winged Woodpecker, Brown-backed Solitaire, Yellow-throated Euphonia, Lincoln’s Sparrow, and Crescent-chested, Black-throated Green, Black-and-white, Townsend’s, Golden-crowned, and Rufous-capped Warblers. A female Amethyst-throated Hummingbird obligingly showed us her long white eyeline and gray tail spots. Even though there literally birds dripping off the trees, the wet conditions were getting to us, so we descended further to Huejutla for a hot lunch. After lunch, we hit a lowland spot just outside of town on the Hidalgo-Veracruz border. A Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl brought in a nice group of scolding birds, including Scrub Euphonia, Spot-breasted Wren, White-eyed Vireo, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, and a glittering male Canivet’s Emerald.



Brown-capped Vireo - Michael Retter Spot-breasted Wren - Michael Retter
Brown-capped Vireo Spot-breasted Wren
male Bronze-winged Wodpecker - Michael Retter male Canivet's Emerald - Michael Retter
male Bronze-winged Wodpecker male Canivet's Emerald


Day 11:  Tlanchinol to El Tajín and Tecolutla
We still had visions of antpittas dancing in our heads, so we opted for another early rise. No antpittas as it turned out, but instead we had a nice comparison between Clay-colored and Black Robins on the trail. In sharp contrast to the day before, it was a completely clear day, making for much better visibility. A noisy and curious flock of 6 Azure-hooded Jays appeared overhead, and they followed us for the next hour or more. A large rufous bird swooped past and flew up to a large bromeliad: a Strong-billed Woodcreeper and a real treat since the species is very hard to find here at the northern edge of its range. Dozens of Hooded Grosbeaks and Black-headed Siskins fed in the top of a sweet gum, providing excellent studies. Common Bush-Tanagers were ubiquitous. Finally, a pair of Chestnut-capped Brush-finches performed nicely next to the car before we left the Tlanchinol area.

Hooded Grosbeaks - Michael Retter Azure-hooded Jay - Michael Retter
Hooded Grosbeaks (female on left)
Azure-hooded Jay
Strong-billed Woodcreeper - Michael Retter Common Bush-Tanager - Michael Retter
Strong-billed Woodcreeper Common Bush-Tanager


Next stop: El Tajín, one of the most underrated tourist attractions in Mexico, in my opinion . . . if we could get there!  Tomorrow was “El Día de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe”, and there were bicycle and jogging relays all up and down the highways. We did finally arrive, but an hour later than planned. El Tajín (meaning “city of thunder”) was built about 2,000 years ago by the Totonacs, who also first discovered the joys of vanilla. Their descendants still live in the area and sell amazingly cheap and deliciously complex vanilla pods for bargain prices. Wandering about the exquisite pyramids (particularly the Pyramid of the Niches) and immense ball courts, we saw Vaux’s Swifts, Plain Chachalacas, a Pale-billed Woodpecker, and what I can only assume is the same tame Roadside Hawk I’ve seen at this location the past 6 years. Montezuma Oropendolas provided their bizarre song as a worthy backdrop for this amazing location.

We had just enough time in the evening to hit the marsh outside Tecolutla.  Sadly, the town is quickly encroaching into the marsh, and much of what was pristine habitat just two years prior is now a slum. On this depressing visit, we saw Muscovy Duck, Green Heron, Northern Jaçana, Swamp Sparrow, Gray-crowned Yellowthroat, and a seemingly lost Hermit Thrush.

El Tajín - Michael Retter El Tajín - Michael Retter
El Tajín (Pyramid of the Niches on the left) one of El Tajín's more "minor" pyramids
adult Roadside Hawk - Michael Retter Montezuma Oropendola - Michael Retter
adult Roadside Hawk Montezuma Oropendola


Day 12:  Tecolutla to Xalapa
It was easily decided that we needed to find an alternate birding location for the morning, so we opted for an estuary on the western edge of the beach. A Gray-necked Wood-Rail feeding in the open along the edge of the mangroves was hands-down the star of the show. We found a Common Black-Hawk and a pair of Aplomado Falcons perched in some emergent trees. A Laughing Falcon and a Ruddy Crake taunted us by calling from just out of sight.

After breakfast (accompanied by a parade for our new friend, the Virgin of Guadalupe) and checkout from the hotel, we tarried a bit in the parking lot to view a Yellow-throated Warbler in the coconut palms. Highlights of a trip to the sandbars at the mouth of the Río Tecolutla included Royal Tern and Collared Plover. On our way out of town, we said goodbye to the last flocks of Tamaulipas Crows since we’d be driving south out of their range in just a few minutes.

Next we stopped at spot along the coast to look for Mexican Sheartail and the nominate subspecies of Rufous-naped Wren.  The latter, which bears little resemblance to the other subspecies, is endemic to a tiny strip of coastal thornscrub in central Veracruz and the only one found on the Atlantic slope. The wren was very easy to find, but there were almost no flowers, so the sheartail was understandably much harder. We had a picnic lunch at the only patch of flowering red Turk’s cap (Malvaviscus) we located, hoping for an appearance by the sheartail.  Buff-bellied was the only hummingbird we found, but we did enjoy amazingly close views of White-collared Swift, as a hundred or so fed just overhead. Ruddy Crakes called from the nearby marsh, and checking the Turkey Vultures yielded both Zone-tailed Hawks and Lesser Yellow-headed Vultures, also just overhead. Some brief whistling in a patch of scrub along the coastal dunes brought in an angry mob including Blue-gray Tanager, Yellow-breasted Chat, Blue-black Grassquit, more “Veracruz” Rufous-naped Wrens, Acadian, Least, and Brown-crested Flycatchers, and Indigo and Painted Buntings.

Since we’d not had much luck with the sheartail, another stop on the way to Xalapa was warranted.  It didn’t produce the target bird, but Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was a welcome addition to the trip list.  Lesser Nighthawks fed alongside the road as we drove on.

Yellow-throated Warbler - Michael Retter "Veracruz" Rufous-naped Wren - Michael Retter
Yellow-throated Warbler "Veracruz" Rufous-naped Wren
Zone-tailed Hawk - Michael Retter White-collared Swift - Michael Retter
Zone-tailed Hawk White-collared Swift
central Veracruz coastline - Michael Retter Blue-gray Tanager - Michael Retter
central Veracruz coastline Blue-gray Tanager


Day 13:  Las Minas to Córdoba
A small norte blew through during the night, but our birding location was so high in elevation that we were above the clouds. However, it was cold, as evidenced by the 3-inch long ice crystals jutting out of the ground! The north-south orientation of the Las Minas canyon created a natural wind tunnel, and birding the canyon was simply impossible, but not to worry--there’s other great birding nearby. First a flock of rather shy Steller’s Jays melted deep into the woods. Shortly thereafter, we came across a mixed flock of temperate birds in the young pine woods: “Black-eared” Bushtits, Mexican Chickadees, Olive Warblers, White-breasted Nuthatches, Brown Creepers, and Hermit and Townsend’s Warblers. A “Brown-throated” Wren sang from an exposed perch in the scrubby understory. Then a nice surprise: a pair of Hooded Yellowthroats, not previously reported from this site to my knowledge, appeared in some brush near the wren. A thin, hollow tinkling heard just down the road turned into a very cooperative Russet Nightingale-Thrush. Amazingly, he posed for us on an exposed branch where we marveled at out ability to see usually ridiculously hard-to-see field marks, like the dark tip to the (lower) mandible. All the while, streams of American Robins were passing overhead.

With a few hours now passed, we returned to the canyon to check on the weather conditions.  To our great relief, the wind had completely stopped and bird and butterfly activity was high. A patch of fruiting mistletoes attracted a small flock of Gray Silkies and a male Elegant Euphonia. We saw lots of warblers over the next few hours, with Slate-throated Whitestart and Crescent-chested, Townsend’s, Hermit, and “Audubon’s” Warblers dominating the flocks. Time and patience in some denser, wetter understory yielded views of some cloud forest species: Gray-breasted Wood-Wren, Rufous-capped Brush-finch, and the exquisite Golden-browed Warbler. Fruiting alders held a flock of Black-headed Siskins. Nearer the highway we stopped in some bunch grass (Spartina), where we found a small flock of the charming (and large) Striped Sparrow.

On the way down to the coast, we stopped at a pine forest location to look for Red Warbler. We found great diversity of warblers, but no Reds. Another stop for sheartail was unsuccessful, but we did get point blank views of a gorgeous Aplomado Falcon.

Mexican Chickadee - Michael Retter Hermit Warbler - Michael Retter
Mexican Chickadee Hermit Warbler
Russet Nightingale-Thrush - Michael Retter "Brown-throated" Wren - Michael Retter
Russet Nightingale-Thrush "Brown-throated" Wren
Striped Sparrow - Michael Retter Aplomado Falcon - Michael Retter
Striped Sparrow Aplomado Falcon 


Day 14:  Amatlán and Las Barrancas
We awoke in the shadow of the massive 18,490-foot Pico de Orizaba. Ranked the world’s seventh most prominent peak, this glacier-capped volcano is literally an awesome sight and served as a reminder that we were now on the edge of the central volcanic belt. This morning was the culmination of 13 days to slow southerly progression.  We’d started out on high desert plateau, where the only “non-U.S.” bird was Worthen’s Sparrow but now found ourselves in lowland Gulf-slope rainforest, as attested to by the Collared Araçari that flushed up as we stepped out of the car.  A Laughing Falcon called from a long palm in the distance and allowed brief views thought the scope before departing. We were visiting a famous coffee plantation near the village of Amatlán—famous because it’s one of the most accessible sites to see the crazy-looking endemic Sumichrast’s Wren, which hops in and out of the cracks in the shaded karst (limestone outcroppings). Two new hummingbirds appeared right away: White-bellied Emerald and Stripe-throated Hermit. In the dark understory we found a family of Red-throated Ant-Tanagers, a Kentucky Warbler, some Hooded Warblers, a Wood Thrush, and more Fan-tailed Warblers. We hiked quite a way through the plantation without so much as hearing a Sumichrast’s Wren, but we did see a couple White-breasted Wood-Wrens, a Spot-breasted Wren, and a troop of Band-backed Wrens. A pair of Lesser Greenlets put in a brief appearance. A vociferous Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl attracted a Magnolia Warbler, an American Redstart, and a Rufous-tailed Hummingbird. We had turned around and were literally mere meters from the car, when a rusty brown bird dashed through the understory and started sputtering. The bird turned its head to reveal an incredibly long, slender bill and a black ear patch—we’d found a Sumichrast’s Wren! The wren happily fed in the leaf litter and amongst the karst a few meters away, pausing to sing every once in awhile.  After a half hour of this remarkable show, we decided it was time to move on.

Pico de Orizaba and Amatlán church- Michael Retter Collared Araçari - Michael Retter
Pico de Orizaba and Amatlán Collared Araçari

After a midday hotel check-in, we enjoyed a seaside lunch, complete with Magnificent Frigatebirds, Osprey, Reddish Egret, and a very hungry Great Kiskadee.  We took the birds’ advice and enjoyed an early afternoon siesta in the heat of the day before proceeding to our last birding spot, Las Barrancas. On the drive in we were welcomed by a Tropical Mockingbird and a family of Groove-billed Anis. While noting the mockingbird’s field marks, we noticed a covey of Northern Bobwhite running across the pasture. We were far enough south now to be in range for one of the Mexican endemic subspecies; this one, pectoralis, has a broad black chest band that extends into black streaks on a rusty belly and is endemic to the Gulf slope from here to Tabasco. Las Barrancas (contrary to the name) is a savannah/marsh site, but thanks to the dry season we encountered no insects other than thousands of butterflies. Unfortunately, this was a particularly dry season, and many of the marshes had dried up.  Still, we were able to locate a Purple Gallinule, a Snail Kite, and a number of Northern Jaçanas. Lesser Yellow-headed Vultures were abundant, and a number of perched birds allowed us to marvel at their amazing aquamarine, red, yellow, pink, and lavender facial skin—definitely an underrated bird. We were enjoying a small group of Fork-tailed Flycatchers when a hungry Merlin made a pass at them, which produced some impressive aerial acrobatics on the part of the flycatchers! The roadside brush held a bevy of colorful birds: Northern Cardinal, Orchard Oriole, Painted Bunting, Altamira Oriole, and Vermilion Flycatcher to name a few. Savannah Sparrows were everywhere. Soon, the sun was setting, and it was time to look for one final bird. Slowly driving back towards the highway, we head some strange noises, and found our targets perched atop an old railroad grade. We drove closer, slowly toward the birds and enjoyed remarkable views of about 20 Double-striped Thick-knees. An Aplomado Falcon lit on a fencepost right next to us as well—a very satisfactory ending to an exciting tour.

Reddish Egret - Michael Retter Great Kiskadee - Michael Retter
Reddish Egret  tableside Great Kiskadee
Northern Jaçanas - Michael Retter Tropical Mockingbird - Michael Retter
a family of Northern Jaçanas Tropical Mockingbird
Fork-tailed Flycatcher - Michael Retter Fork-tailed Flycatcher dodging a Merlin - Michael Retter
Fork-tailed Flycatcher Fork-tailed Flycatcher dodging a Merlin
Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture - Michael Retter Double-striped Thick-knees - Michael Retter
Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture Double-striped Thick-knees 



BIRD LIST
This list includes all the bird species that were recorded by at least one of us. Taxonomy and nomenclature closely follow Howell's Checklist of the Birds of Mexico and all subsequent AOU supplements.  Quotation marks denote a possible future split.  For instance, "Eastern" Blue Bunting means that the eastern form may one day be split from Blue Bunting.  Brackets denote the larger taxon that a species has been split from.  For instance, Galápagos [Audubon's] Shearwater means that Galápagos Shearwater was once considered a subspecies of Audubon's Shearwater (and may still be by some authorities).  Parentheses denote an alternate name used by some checklists.

Totals:
326 bird species recorded
  13 heard only

Abbreviations:
h = heard only
L = leader only
^ = endemic to northern Middle America
* = endemic to Mexico
(E) = endemic to the non-peninsular Gulf slope of northern Middle America

(SW) = endemic to interior southwestern Mexico
(W) = endemic to the Pacific (western) slope of northern Middle America
(SMS) = endemic to the Sierra Madre del Sur of Mexico
TINAMOUS: Tinamidae
Thicket Tinamou Crypturellus cinnamomeus
WATERFOWL: Anatidae
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna autumnalis
Snow Goose Chen caerulescens
Ross's Goose Chen rossii
Muscovy Duck Cairina moschata
Gadwall Anas strepera
"Mexican Duck" Anas platyrhynchos diazi
Mottled Duck Anas fulvigula
Blue-winged Teal Anas discors
Cinnamon Teal Anas cyanoptera
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata
Northern Pintail Anas acuta
Green-winged Teal Anas crecca
Canvasback Aythya valisineria
Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris
Lesser Scaup Aythya affinis
Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis
CRACIDS: Cracidae
Plain Chachalaca Ortalis vetula
Crested Guan Penelope purpurascens
PHEASANTS and TURKEYS: Phasianidae
Wild Turkey Meleagris gallopavo
NEW WORLD QUAIL: Odontophoridae
Bearded Wood-Partridge Dendrortyx barbatus
Scaled Quail Callipepla squamata
Northern Bobwhite Colinus virginianus
Singing Quail^ Dactylortyx thoracicus
GREBES: Podicipedidae
Pied-billed Grebe Podilymbus podiceps
PELICANS: Pelecanidae
American White Pelican Pelecanus erythrorhynchos
Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis
CORMORANTS: Phalacrocoracidae
Neotropic Cormorant Phalacrocorax brasilianus
Double-crested Cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus
DARTERS: Anhingidae
Anhinga Anhinga anhinga
FRIGATEBIRDS: Fregatidae
Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens
HERONS: Ardeidae
Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias
Great Egret Ardea alba
Snowy Egret Egretta thula
Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea
Tricolored Heron Egretta tricolor
Reddish Egret Egretta rufescens
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
Green Heron Butorides virescens
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron Nyctanassa violacea
Boat-billed Heron Cochlearius cochlearius
IBISES and SPOONBILLS: Threskiornithidae
White Ibis Eudocimus albus
White-faced Ibis Plegadis chihi
Roseate Spoonbill Platalea ajaja
STORKS: Ciconiidae
Wood Stork Mycteria americana
NEW WORLD VULTURES: Cathartidae
Black Vulture Coragyps atratus
Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura
Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture Cathartes burrovianus
TYPICAL RAPTORS: Acciptridae
Osprey Pandion haliaetus
White-tailed Kite Elanus leucurus
Snail Kite Rostrhamus sociabilis
Northern Harrier Circus cyaneus
Sharp-shinned Hawk Accipiter s. striatus group
Cooper's Hawk Accipiter cooperii
Common Black-Hawk Buteogallus anthracinus
Roadside Hawk Buteo magnirostris
Gray Hawk Buteo nitidus
Swainson's Hawk Buteo swainsoni
White-tailed Hawk Buteo albicaudatus
Zone-tailed Hawk Buteo albonotatus
Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis
Ferruginous Hawk Buteo regalis
Ornate Hawk-Eagle Spizaetus ornatus
FALCONS and CARACARAS: Falconidae
Collared Forest-Falcon Micrastur semitorquatus
Crested Caracara Caracara cheriway
Laughing Falcon Herpetotheres cachinnans
American Kestrel Falco sparverius
Merlin Falco columbarius
Aplomado Falcon Falco femoralis
Bat Falcon Falco rufigularis
Prairie Falcon Falco mexicanus
RAILS, GALLINULES, and COOTS: Rallidae
Ruddy Crake^ Laterallus ruber
Gray-necked Wood-Rail Aramides cajanea
Sora Porzana carolina
Purple Gallinule Porphyrio martinica
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
American Coot Fulica americana
FINFOOTS: Heliornithidae
Sungrebe Heliornis fulica
LIMPKIN: Aramidae
Limpkin Aramus guarauna
THICK-KNEES: Burhinidae
Double-striped Thick-knee Burhinus bistriatus
PLOVERS: Charadriidae
Black-bellied Plover Pluvialis squatarola
Collared Plover Charadrius collaris
Killdeer Charadrius vociferus
OYSTERCATCHERS: Haematopodidae
American Oystercatcher Haematopus palliatus
STILTS and AVOCETS: Recurvirostridae
Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus
American Avocet Recurvirostra americana
JAÇANAS: Jacanidae
Northern Jaçana Jacana spinosa
SANDPIPERS: Scolopacidae
Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularius
Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca
"Western" Willet Tringa s. inornata
Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes
Long-billed Curlew Numenius americanus
Sanderling Calidris alba
Semipalmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla
Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla
GULLS: Larinae
Laughing Gull Leucophaeus atricilla
Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis
"American" Herring Gull Larus argentatus smithsonianus
Thayer's Gull Larus thayeri
TERNS: Sterninae
Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia
Forster's Tern Sterna forsteri
Royal Tern Thalasseus maximus
PIGEONS and DOVES: Columbidae
Rock Pigeon Columba livia
Red-billed Pigeon Patagioenas flavirostris
Band-tailed Pigeon Patagioenas fasciata
Eurasian Collared-Dove Streptopelia decaocto
White-winged Dove Zenaida asiatica
Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
Inca Dove Columbina inca
Common Ground-Dove Columbina passerina
White-tipped Dove Leptotila verreauxi
PARROTS: Psittacidae
Green Parakeet^ Aratinga holochlora
Military Macaw Ara militaris
White-crowned Parrot Pionus senilis
Red-lored Parrot Amazona autumnalis
Yellow-headed Parrot^ Amazona oratrix
CUCKOOS: Cuculidae
"Common" Squirrel Cuckoo Piaya cayana cayana group
Greater Roadrunner Geococcyx californianus
Groove-billed Ani Crotophaga sulcirostris
OWLS: Strigiformes
Eastern Screech-Owl Megascops asio
Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl Glaucidium brasilianum
Mottled Owl Ciccaba virgata
NIGHTJARS and NIGHTHAWKS: Caprimulgidae
Lesser Nighthawk Chordeiles acutipennis
Common Poorwill Phalaenoptilus nuttallii
SWIFTS: Apodidae
White-collared Swift Streptoprocne zonaris
Vaux's Swift Chaetura vauxi
White-throated Swift Aeronautes saxatalis
HUMMINGBIRDS: Trochilidae
Stripe-throated [Little] Hermit Phaethornis striigularis
Wedge-tailed Sabrewing^ Campylopterus curvipennis
Canivet's Emerald^ Chlorostilbon canivetii
White-bellied Emerald^ Amazilia candida
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird Amazilia tzacatl
Buff-bellied Hummingbird Amazilia yucatanensis
Amethyst-throated Hummingbird^ Lampornis amethystinus
TROGONS and QUETZALS: Trogonidae
Mountain Trogon^ Trogon mexicanus
"Coppery-tailed" Elegant Trogon Trogon elegans
MOTMOTS: Momotidae
"Tamaulipas" Motmot* (NE) Momotus momota coeruliceps
KINGFISHERS: Alcedinidae
Ringed Kingfisher Megaceryle torquatus
Belted Kingfisher Megaceryle alcyon
Amazon Kingfisher Chloroceryle amazona
Green Kingfisher Chloroceryle americana
TOUCANS and NEW WORLD BARBETS: Ramphastidae
Collared Araçari Pteroglossus torquatus
WOODPECKERS: Picidae
Acorn Woodpecker Melanerpes formicivorus
Golden-fronted Woodpecker Melanerpes aurifrons
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Sphyrapicus varius
Ladder-backed Woodpecker Picoides scalaris
Hairy Woodpecker Picoides villosus
Smoky-brown Woodpecker Veniliornis fumigatus
Bronze-winged [Golden-olive] Woodpecker Colaptes [r.] aeruginosus
"Red-shafted" Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus cafer group
Lineated Woodpecker Dryocopus lineatus
Pale-billed Woodpecker Campephilus guatemalensis
FURNARIIDS (incl. WOODCREEPERS): Furnariidae
Rufous-breasted Spinetail^ Synallaxis erythrothorax
Olivaceous Woodcreeper Sittasomus griseicapillus
Strong-billed Woodcreeper Xiphocolaptes promeropirhynchus
Ivory-billed Woodcreeper Xiphorhynchus flavigaster
Spot-crowned Woodcreeper Lepidocolaptes affinis
TYPICAL ANTBIRDS: Thamnophilidae
Barred Antshrike Thamnophilus doliatus
TYRANT FLYCATCHERS: Tyrannidae
Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet Camptostoma imberbe
Tufted Flycatcher Mitrephanes phaeocercus
Greater Pewee Contopus pertinax
Acadian Flycatcher Empidonax virescens
Least Flycatcher Empidonax minimus
Hammond's Flycatcher Empidonax hammondii
Gray Flycatcher Empidonax wrightii
Pine Flycatcher^ Empidonax affinis
"Western" Flycatcher Empidonax difficilis/occidentalis
Black Phoebe Sayornis nigricans
Eastern Phoebe Sayornis phoebe
Say's Phoebe Sayornis saya
Vermilion Flycatcher Pyrocephalus rubinus
Dusky-capped Flycatcher Myiarchus tuberculifer
Brown-crested Flycatcher Myiarchus tyrannulus
Great Kiskadee Pitangus sulphuratus
Boat-billed Flycatcher Megarynchus pitangua
Social Flycatcher Myiozetetes similis
Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus
Couch's Kingbird Tyrannus couchii
Cassin's Kingbird Tyrannus vociferans
Western Kingbird Tyrannus verticalis
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Tyrannus forficatus
Fork-tailed Flycatcher Tyrannus savana
genera INCERTAE SEDIS
Gray-collared Becard^ Pachyramphus major
Rose-throated Becard Pachyramphus aglaiae
Masked Tityra Tityra semifasciata
SHRIKES: Laniidae
Loggerhead Shrike Lanius ludovicianus
VIREOS: Vireonidae
White-eyed Vireo Vireo griseus
Cassin's Vireo Vireo cassinii
Blue-headed Vireo Vireo solitarius
Hutton's Vireo Vireo huttoni
"Eastern" Warbling Vireo Vireo gilvus gilvus group
Brown-capped Vireo Vireo leucophrys
Lesser Greenlet Hylophilus decurtatus
CORVIDS: Corvidae
Steller's Jay Cyanocitta stelleri
Green Jay Cyanocorax [yncas] luxuosus
Brown Jay Cyanocorax morio
Azure-hooded Jay Cyanolyca cucullata
Mexican Jay Aphelocoma ultramarina
Tamaulipas Crow* (NE) Corvus imparatus
Chihuahuan Raven Corvus cryptoleucus
Common Raven Corvus corax
LARKS: Alaudidae
Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris
SWALLOWS: Hirundinidae
Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor
Mangrove Swallow Tachycineta albilinea
Northern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis
Cave Swallow Petrochelidon fulva
TITS: Paridae
Mexican Chickadee Poecile sclateri
Bridled Titmouse Baeolophus wollweberi
Black-crested Titmouse Baeolophus atricristatus
LONG-TAILED TITS: Aegithalidae
Bushtit Psaltriparus minimus
NUTHATCHES: Sittidae
White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis
CREEPERS: Certhiidae
Brown Creeper Certhia americana
WRENS: Troglodytidae
Band-backed Wren Campylorhynchus zonatus
Rufous-naped Wren (W) Campylorhynchus rufinucha
Cactus Wren Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus
Canyon Wren Catherpes mexicanus
Sumichrast's Wren* (E) Hylorchilus sumichrasti
Spot-breasted Wren Thryothorus maculipectus
Carolina Wren Thryothorus ludovicianus
Bewick's Wren Thryomanes bewickii
"Northern" House Wren Troglodytes a. aedon
"Brown-throated" Wren Troglodytes a. brunneicollis
White-breasted Wood-Wren Henicorhina leucosticta
Gray-breasted Wood-Wren Henicorhina leucophrys
KINGLETS: Regulidae
Ruby-crowned Kinglet Regulus calendula
GNATCATCHERS & GNATWRENS: Polioptilinae
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Polioptila caerulea
THRUSHES: Turdidae
Eastern Bluebird Sialia sialis
Western Bluebird Sialia mexicana
Mountain Bluebird Sialia currucoides
Brown-backed Solitaire^ Myadestes occidentalis
Slate-colored Solitaire^ Myadestes unicolor
Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush Catharus aurantiirostris
Russet Nightingale-Thrush* Catharus occidentalis
Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush Catharus mexicanus
Hermit Thrush Catharus guttatus
Wood Thrush Hylocichla mustelina
Black Robin* Turdus infuscatus
Clay-colored Robin Turdus grayi
White-throated Robin Turdus assimilis
American Robin Turdus migratorius
MIMIDS: Mimidae
Gray Catbird Dumetella carolinensis
Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos
Tropical Mockingbird Mimus gilvus
Long-billed Thrasher Toxostoma longirostre
Curve-billed Thrasher Toxostoma curvirostre
Blue Mockingbird* Melanotis caerulescens
PIPITS and WAGTAILS: Motacillidae
American Pipit Anthus rubescens
Sprague's Pipit Anthus spragueii
SILKY-FLYCATCHERS: Ptilogonatidae
Gray Silky(-flycatcher)^ Ptilogonys cinereus
OLIVE WARBLER: Peucidramidae
Olive Warbler Peucedramus taeniatus
NEW WORLD WARBLERS: Parulidae
Orange-crowned Warbler Vermivora celata
Nashville Warbler Vermivora ruficapilla
Crescent-chested Warbler^ Parula superciliosa
Northern Parula Parula americana
Tropical Parula Parula pitiayumi
Yellow Warbler Dendroica p. aestivia group
Magnolia Warbler Dendroica magnolia
"Myrtle" Yellow-rumped Warbler Dendroica c. coronata
"Audubon's" Yellow-rumped Warbler Dendroica c. auduboni group
Black-throated Green Warbler Dendroica virens
Townsend's Warbler Dendroica townsendi
Hermit Warbler Dendroica occidentalis
Yellow-throated Warbler Dendroica dominica
Grace's Warbler Dendroica graciae
Black-and-white Warbler Mniotilta varia
American Redstart Setophaga ruticilla
Ovenbird Seiurus aurocapilla
Northern Waterthrush Seiurus noveboracensis
Louisiana Waterthrush Seiurus motacilla
Kentucky Warbler Oporornis formosus
Common Yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas
Altamira Yellowthroat* (NE) Geothlypis flavovelata
Hooded Yellowthroat* Geothlypis nelsoni
Gray-crowned Yellowthroat Geothlypis poliocephala
Hooded Warbler Wilsonia citrina
Wilson's Warbler Wilsonia pusilla
Painted Whitestart Myioborus pictus
Slate-throated Whitestart Myioborus miniatus
Fan-tailed Warbler^ Euthlypis lachrymosa
Golden-crowned Warbler Basileuterus culicivorus
Rufous-capped Warbler* Basileuterus rufifrons
Golden-browed Warbler^ Basileuterus belli
Yellow-breasted Chat Icteria virens
TANAGERS: Thraupidae
"Hidalgo" Common Bush-Tanager* (E) Chlorospingus o. ophthalmicus
Red-throated Ant-Tanager Habia fuscicauda
Hepatic Tanager Piranga flava
Summer Tanager Piranga rubra
Western Tanager Piranga ludoviciana
Flame-colored Tanager Piranga bidentata
White-winged Tanager Piranga leucoptera
Blue-gray Tanager Thraupis episcopus
Yellow-winged Tanager^ Thraupis abbas
EMBERIZIDS: Emberizidae
Blue-black Grassquit Volatinia jacarina
White-collared Seedeater Sporophila [t.] morelleti
Yellow-faced Grassquit Tiaris olivaceus
Rufous-capped Brush-finch* Atlapetes pileatus
Chestnut-capped Brush-finch Buarremon brunneinucha
Olive Sparrow Arremonops rufivirgatus
Spotted Towhee Pipilo maculatus
Canyon Towhee Pipilo fuscus
Cassin's Sparrow Aimophila cassinii
Rusty Sparrow Aimophila rufescens
Striped Sparrow Oriturus superciliosus
Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina
Worthen's Sparrow* Spizella wortheni
Vesper Sparrow Pooecetes gramineus
Lark Sparrow Chondestes grammacus
Black-throated Sparrow Amphispiza bilineata
Lark Bunting Calamospiza melanocorys
Savannah Sparrow Passerculus sandwichensis
Lincoln's Sparrow Melospiza lincolnii
Swamp Sparrow Melospiza georgiana
Yellow-eyed Junco Junco phaeonotus
CARDINALIDS: Cardinalidae
"Eastern" Grayish Saltator Saltator c. coerulescens
Black-headed Saltator Saltator a. atriceps
Crimson-collared Grosbeak* (NE) Rhodothraupis celaeno
Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis
Rose-breasted Grosbeak Pheucticus ludovicianus
"Eastern" Blue Bunting^ Cyanocompsa p. parellina
Blue Grosbeak Passerina caerulea
Lazuli Bunting Passerina amoena
Indigo Bunting Passerina cyanea
Painted Bunting Passerina ciris
ICTERIDS: Icteridae
Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus
Eastern Meadowlark Sturnella magna
Western Meadowlark Sturnella neglecta
Melodious Blackbird Dives dives
Brewer's Blackbird Euphagus cyanocephalus
Great-tailed Grackle Quiscalus mexicanus
Bronzed Cowbird Molothrus aeneus
Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater
Orchard Oriole Icterus s. spurius
Hooded Oriole Icterus cucullatus
Altamira Oriole Icterus gularis
Audubon's Oriole Icterus graduacauda
Yellow-billed Cacique Amblycercus holosericeus
Montezuma Oropendola Psarocolius montezuma
FINCHES: Fringillidae
Scrub Euphonia Euphonia affinis
Yellow-throated Euphonia Euphonia hirundinacea
Elegant [Blue-hooded] Euphonia^ Euphonia elegantissima
House Finch Carpodacus mexicanus
Pine Siskin Carduelis pinus
Black-headed Siskin^ Carduelis notata
Lesser Goldfinch Carduelis psaltria
American Goldfinch Carduelis tristis
Hooded Grosbeak^ Coccothraustes abeillei
OLD WORLD SPARROWS: Passeridae
House Sparrow Passer domesticus