The Biggest Twitch in the Mayan Empire
4-11 January 2008

Guide: Michael Retter
Twitchers: Ruth Miller and Alan Davies

twitichers on Cozumel
Michael, Alan, and Ruth on Isla Cozumel

Day 1:  Arrival in Cancún
We spent more time than we’d planned in Cancún this afternoon because the rental company didn't have our car.  Once we got one, we proceeded directly to Playa del Carmen to get the ferry across to Isla Cozumel.  We had to leave our car on the mainland and get another one in the island due to logistics.  It was incredibly windy this evening, which made the ferry ride more eventful than usual, but we arrived on the island on time.  Our next rental car, however, was unavailable for pickup as the location closed an hour early!  No matter.  A very helpful man next door led us to a place that rented VW beetles, and of course, we got the bright magenta convertible!  After a nice dinner, we rested in preparation for the morning's birding.

hotel in Cozumel - Davies/Miller
Day 2:  Isla Cozumel and Cobá
Alan and Ruth mistakenly set their clocks one hour behind, so we had a leisurely start this morning. As it turns out, there were great birds right in the hotel's courtyard.  We had amazing looks at a couple Yellow-throated Warblers as they crept along in the palm fronds.  Then a flock of Myrtle Warblers and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers flew in.  Then a Tennessee Warbler and a Northern Parula.  By far the prize of the flock, a male Black-throated Blue Warbler then appeared and delighted for a good 10 minutes.

But we had to be off to look for the island residents, so we sped . . . well, putted . . . south in the "Pink Panther" into some native habitat.  One of the first birds we heard was a singing Cozumel Vireo, but he didn't want to come out to play.  The same was true of a Rufous-browed Peppershrike from the enemic population.  The birds soon picked up, though.  Odd speaks and clucks in the undergrowth led us to a Black Catbird, which proved to be the most abundant bird during our visit.  We were delighted to find a pair of Western Spindalises feeding in a small fruit tree.  The stunning male and completely different dingy female spent quite a while chowing down, and they were eventually joined by a Cozumel Bananaquit.  Across the road, a Cozumel Wren started singing and nicely responded to playback.  We still had two endemics to go, though.  A bit further down the road, we found a small group of White-crowned Pigeons obligingly perched atop a dead snag.  After they left, a male Yucatán Woodpecker replaced them and proclaimed his rights to the territory.  Caribbean Doves cooed from the understory, and a couple flushed across the road, but we never managed to see one perched.  As we walked along, we noticed small birds feeding in the grass along the road ahead.   They turned out to be the endemic subspecies of Yellow-faced Grassquit!  We came to a house with an obnoxious barking dog, whose owner walked out to say "hola" to us.  He was quite interested in our birding and asked if we'd yet seen a hummingbird.  "No!" we exclaimed. "Do you know where there are any?"  He told us of two locations, the first a trail, the other a bank of flowers further along the road.  We tried the trail first, and although we didn't see a hummingbird, we did have excellent views of Caribbean Elaenia.  Ten minutes of waiting at the flower bank yielded a spectacular adult male Cozumel Emerald.  It's amazing how much longer its tail is than most other Chlorostilbon.  The sun was getting high, but we still hadn't seen the vireo, so we returned to the place we'd heard it earlier and played some tape.  Nothing.  A Mangrove Cuckoo started singing close by, though, and we eventually had very nice views of two of them.  A male Golden Warbler put on a nice show darting around over our heads, as well.  We were about to leave when, bingo!  A Cozumel Vireo started singing again.  A little patience was rewarded with amazing views of this unique orange-colored vireo, certainly the most impressive of the island's endemics.  With all of our targets viewed, and well, we returned to the mainland.

White-crowned Pigeon Black-headed Trogon - Alan Davies
White-crowned Pigeon
Black-headed Trogon

It was then on to the ruins of Cobá.  A thorough check of the lake outside the ruins did produce a Spotted Rail, but it was quite distant.  We also noted Mangrove Swallows and Northern Jaçana.  Once inside the ruins we were inundated with mixed flocks.  We strained our necks to pick through the birds and then realized, hey--there's a pyramid right there that would put us at eye level with them!  This proved to be a great idea.  Masked Tityras passed just by the top of the pyramid, and a cadre of warblers--Black-and-white, Black-throated Green, American Redstart, Northen Parula--danced at little more than arm's length.  They were soon joined by a flock of cute little Yellow-throated Euphonias.  A noisy Squirrel Cuckoo called from the trees growing out the side of the pyramid next door, but did eventually fly out onto an open branch for us.  It was hard, but we eventually tore ourselves away from the pyramid and proceeded into the forest.  A strange call from overhead alerted us to the presence of a pair of Rose-throated Tanagers.  What luck!  Since the hurricanes of the past couple years, this species has gotten harder on the mainland and nearly impossible on Cozumel, where it used to be easy.  We considered ourselves very luck to cross paths with these guys.  A rustle of leaves drew our attention to a Thicket Timamou fleeing our approach, but unfortunately, only Alan and I were able to see it in time.  Another mixed flock produced a male Gray-collared Becard.  Again, our luck was amazing:  this bird eludes even seasoned birders of Mexico, so seeing one so well on the first day of birding was quite a treat.  It was almost closing time, so we walked back towards to parking lot.  A clucking noise overhead distracted us, and drew our attention to a singing male Black-headed Trogon.  We watched this yellow-bellied beauty for a while, admiring its blue eye ring and canary yellow belly until we really had to leave.  We enjoyed our short ride to the hotel in Valladolid, knowing tomorrow's drive wouldn't be so leisurely.

Day 3:  Río Lagartos
We'd planned to drive straight to Río Lagartos this morning, but the birds would have nothing of it!  A gas station stop gve us a glimpse of what ws to come:  Grayish Saltator, Black-headed Saltator, Altamira Oriole, Couch's Kingbird, and Ivory-billed Woodcreeper.  While slowly driving through the outskirts of a small town, a flock of hundreds of small passerines flushed from the side of the road, so naturally, we stopped to check 'em out.  Indigo Bunting and Blue Grosbeak made up the bulk, but we also found Painted Bunting, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and Baltimore and Orchard Orioles.  Surprisingly, a Yucatán Flycatcher appeared in the tree over the flock, and we somehow managed to ignore the brightly colored birds below to properly identify this peninsular endemic.

A few kilometers south of Río Lagartos area, the habitat changed abruptly from a fairly green, relatively tall forest to dry desert thornscrub.  This area gets just as much rain, but the soil is sand, causing most of the rainfall to quickly drain away.  While we drove on a back road into the desert scrub habitat, we noticed a large bird with a very long tail sitting up on an exposed dead snag--it was a Lesser Roadrunner!  The bird remained there, singing, for ten minutes or more, allowing us to snap a few photos.  Ruth and I had an amazing look at a displaying Mexican Sheartail, but Alan was just too far down the road to see it.  A Mangrove Vireo came in with a flock of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and started to sing for us, but we weren't too impressed!  We found five species of oriole here:  Orchard, Baltimore, Altamira, Hooded, and the endemic Orange Oriole. Other birds we came across included Yucatán Wren, Yucatán Woodpecker, Yucatán Bobwhite, Northern Cardinal, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Couch's Kingbird, Blue-black Grassquit, and Cinnamon Hummingbird.  On the walk back to the car, we came across a flock of Groove-billed Anis feeding at an army ant swarm, and Alan finally saw a Mexican Sheartail.

As we arrived in Rio Lagartos, we immediately spotted a pair of Common Black-Hawks, the first of many, perched on a communications tower.  From the dock, we noticed some distant American Flamingos, but we’d get much better looks soon.

Bare-throated Tiger-Heron - Michael Retter Lesser Roadrunner - Alan Davies
Bare-throated Tiger-Heron
Lesser Roadrunner

We then set out with our captain on a boat into the mangroves, but not before stopping at a shorebird-covered mudflat.  Highlights here were Snowy Plover, Marbled Godwit, Short-billed Dowitcher, Royal Tern, Sandwich Tern, and Black Skimmer. Once into the lagoon, our knowledgeable captain took us directly to a Boat-billed Heron roost, and thereafter we quietly slipped into some mangroves, hoping to find a pygmy kingfisher.  Though we couldn’t locate one, we did come across some Mangrove Warblers and Northern Waterthrushes.  Back out on the main lagoon, our captain found a Bare-throated Tiger-Heron.  We were nearly on top of it, though, before any of the rest of us could locate it hiding in plain sight!  While traveling fast through the main channel, we were nearly hit by an American Pygmy Kingfisher, as it flew from one side to the other.  Though we were unable to relocate it, the view we had of the bird mere feet away was more than adequate! Additional stops at mudflat yielded a Lesser Black-backed Gull, easily over 100 Wilson’s Plover, and a large flock of dazzling American Flamingos!  Finally, on the way back to the dock, we had an excellent look at a Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture and a dozen more Common Black-Hawks.

After a late lunch, we headed south through Valladolid and Felipe Carillo Puerto to Xpujil, where we had supper and turned in for the night.

        American Flamingos - Ryan Shaw

Day 4:  Calakmul
Unfortunately, Ruth had a short bout of the flu the prior night, so we had a late start, arriving at 11 a.m.  As we found out, though, Calakmul lived up to its reputation, and we were astonished by the incredible birding we had during the hottest part of the day.  A short stop at an antswarm on the entrance road provided our first views of Red-throated Ant-Tanager, Northern Bared-Woodreeper, and the flashy Gray-throated Chat.  The first of many Brown Jays and Montezuma Oropendolas flew overhead. Continuing on, we rounded the corner to find five Ocellated Turkeys standing in the middle of the road.  They allowed us to approach very closely, and we enjoyed prolonged looks at them as they passed in and out of the patches of light on the forest floor.

Gray-throated Chat - Ryan ShawWhen we arrived at the entrance to the ruins, we quickly found the pair of Lineated Woodpeckers at the same nest tree discovered on last year’s tour.  The grounds surrounding the entrance were sprinkled with exotic orchids, many of which were in bloom.  We hadn’t made it a few steps past the gate before we were inundated by a flurry of activity.  First, Alan asked, “What looks like a wren with a really long bill?”  It was a Long-billed Gnatwren, and it was soon joined by a Tropical Gnatcatcher, a Northern Bentbill, a Magnolia Warbler, a Hooded Warbler, and another Gray-throated Chat.  Then Ruth spotted a flashy male “Eastern” Blue Bunting.  A small flock of Yucatán Jays passed overhead as we listened to a Central American Pygmy-Owl and a Thicket Tinamou sing in the distance.  We also found a Collared Trogon and a Black-headed Trogon.

A frenzied feeding flock awaited us at the first set of ruins.  A Violaceous Trogon and some Scrub Euphonias kept to the treetops, while Olivaceous and Ivory-billed Woodcreepers joined a Bright-rumped Attila and a Yellow-olive Flycatcher below.  A bit further towards the main ruins, we looked up to see four Great Curassows walk out onto the path!  We enjoyed amazing views of them at close range, studying the differences between two different morphs of the female and admiring the male’s yellow bill-knob.  Nearby, we found both a Least Flycatcher and a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, giving us a great comparison of the empids’ plumages and voices.

One of the truly memorable things about Calakmul is its lack of excavation.  The grounds surrounding the main plaza and even the temples themselves are still covered with huge trees.  Thus, you really don’t have any idea how big the pyramids are until you walk up the stairs, clear the top of the canopy, and turn around. Thousands of square miles of untouched rainforest, Black Hawk-Eagles whistling overhead, Keel-billed Toucans feeding below eye level, spider monkeys playing on the tops of the pyramids, a Bat Falcon perched on the pyramid across the plaza, and Crested Guans hooting in the distance. In a word, breathtaking. You really have to experience it to fully appreciate the grandeur and grasp the feeling of exhilaration.

We enjoyed lunch at the top of the tallest pyramid, taking time out to digiscope some toucans, howler monkeys, and Bat Falcons, but our late start meant that we really had to be moving.

Calakmul - Davies/Miller spider monkeys - Michael Retter
one of the three large pyramids at Calakmul
Spider Monkeys frolic on a temple; taken from Main Pyramid
Calakmul - Alan Davies Ocellated Turkey - Davies/Miller
birding Calakmul
Ocellated Turkey

We began driving towards the main highway, but not before stopping to admire a flock of ~20 Ocellated Turkey begging for handouts on the road!  We also picked up Wedge-tailed Sabrewing and Buff-bellied Hummingbird here at a roadside flower bank.

On the long drive to our hotel in Palenque, we saw saw Great Black-Hawk, Roadside Hawk, and Gray-necked Wood-Rail from the car.

Day 5:  Yaxchilán
We rested again this morning, as Ruth had an exhausting day at Calakmul considering she was under the weather and climbed to the top of a giant pyramid!  Since time was precious, we opted to skip the more cut-over Palenque ruins and head south to the lush riverside site of Yaxchilán.  A Snail Kite perched alongside the road merited an impromptu stop.

Just getting to the ruins is an experience.  The first leg is by boat, cruising down the Rio Usumacinta, with Guatemala on the right.  On the way we saw both Mangrove and Ridgway’s Rough-winged Swallows, as well as many sun-basking alligators.  Once at the site, we must first will walked up a set of stairs built into the river bank, through some dense tropical rainforest, and then into the depths of a damp, dark catacomb.  Bats brushed by our heads as we carefully made our way towards the literal light at the end of the tunnel. As we got closer, the blood-curdling calls of howler monkeys filtered through the passageway. And then, wow!  We walked directly out into the Great Plaza, surrounded by ruins and studded with massive fig trees.

Río Usumacinta - Davies/Miller howler monkey - Davies/Miller
Río Usumacinta at Frontera Corozal howler monkey

Predictably, the huge fruiting fig in the middle of the Plaza kept our attention for hours.  The howler monkeys were not happy about our visit and proclaimed their discontent with raucous roars. A flock of noisy Plain Chachalacas was crashing around before beating a hasty retreat upon our arrival.  Then a pair of Keel-billed toucans showed up.  Even though we saw dozens the day before, it’s hard to get tired of these amazing multicolored birds! The Ruth said, “Sorry to pull your attention away from such colorful birds . . . it’s probably nothing, but what’s the dull gray bird perched up in the top of this tree?”  An immature Lovely Cotinga—well worth it! Closer inspection revealed an odd wisp of down behind the ear and blue and purple spots below; it was a young male.  Not long after that, one of us was lucky enough to be looking at the right place at the right time as the wind blew, the sunbeams shifted, and the shining blue and plum belly of an adult male cotinga.  We were so entranced, not even the screams of a Scarlet Macaw were enough to pull us away!  We ended up finding at least 4 males as we keyed in on the distinctive rattling sound their primaries make when flying.  Over the next two to three hours, this amazing tree was also visited by Chestnut-sided Warbler, Bananaquit, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Olive-backed Euphonia, Golden-hooded Tanager,
Yellow-winged Tanager, Collared Araçari, Short-billed Pigeon, Aztec Parakeet, Black-cheeked Woopeker, and Montezuma Oropendola.

We did have to stop to rest our necks from time-to-time, and there were birds to be seen on the Great Plaza itself.  A Wood Thrush hopped around robin-like, and a male Blue Ground-Dove joined a Green-backed Sparrow to feed on some grass seeds.  A small, non-descript brown bird then demanded our attention, as it flew from ruin to ruin.  After minutes of study, we realized it was a female Blue Seedeater—a very rare bird indeed!  Eventually it flew to the edge of the plaza and hopped into a thick stand of bamboo, never to be seen again.

Yaxchilan stellae - Michael Retter Yaxchilan temple - Michael Retter
one of Yaxchilan's intricate stellae
temple at Yaxchilan

Somehow, we tore ourselves from the fig tree to admire the ruins and their amazingly preserved carvings, especially the intricate stellae.  Some even still have paint on them.  It was nearly time for the ruins to close, so we needed to get back to the dock to meet our boat.  A very obliging White-whiskered Puffbird would have nothing of it, though, and we spent a good 10 minutes looking at it through the scopes.

A brief walk along the old airstrip on the way out yielded a cadre of leaf-eaters: Buff-throated and Black-headed Saltators, and a large flock of Black-faced Grosbeaks.  At the top of the stairs before we decended to the river, we found a Long-billed Hermit and a dazzling Blue-crowned Motmot.

adult male Lovely Cotinga - Michael Retter
sunset over the Usumacinta - Davies/Miller

adult male Lovely Cotinga sunset over the Río Usumacinta

Besides a dazzling sunset, we were treated to large flocks of parrots on our boat ride back to the hotel.  With patience, we had decent views and comparisons of Red-lored, Mealy, and White-crowned Parrots.  As the sun dropped below the flaming pink horizon, dozens of Lesser Nighthawks came out to feast.

Day 6:  Bonampak and Palenque
An early start today proved very fruitful.  Bonampak is just “inland” of and slightly higher in elevation than Yaxchilán, so it has a greater diversity of species, including many from the lower foothills.  It’s safe to say that this was our most productive spot of the trip.  The birding was so fast-paced along the entrance road that we never even made it to the ruins!

Little Tinamous sang from the dark floor of the rainforest, and playback lured two in very close.  It was shortly thereafter that we ran into a massive understory feeding flock.  It’s here, with these flocks of suboscines, that you feel like you’re really in Neoptopical rainforest.  We saw antbirds: Plain Antvireo and Dot-winged Antwren.  We saw furnariids: Plain Xenops, Streak-headed  Woodcreeper, and the massive Strong-billed Woodreeper.  And of course, we saw tyrant flycatchers: Yellow-bellied Tyrannulet, Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, Sepia-capped Flycatcher, Stub-tailed Spadebill, Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher, and the amazing Northern Royal-Flycatcher. There were also some very cool oscine passerines in the mix, like Long-billed Gnatwren, Spot-breasted Wren, White-breasted Wood-Wren, Tawny-crowned Greenlet, and the gorgeous emerald Green Shrike-Vireo.

Meanwhile, Spotted Wood-Quail, Pale-vented Pigeons, Mexican Antthrushes, and Scaly-throated Leaftossers sang all around us.  Once the flock was gone, we decided to go after a couple of the more enticing species.  First we tried the leaftosser.  We crawled into the dark understory of the forest, everyone got a comfortable place to sit, and we played the song.  Within seconds, a Scaly-throated Leaftosser shot in like a huge blackish bullet, and sang just off the ground in full view for what seemed like half an hour.  Incredible!

Next came Mexican Antthrush.  Employing the same strategy, we waited.  The bird sang back.  And waited.  It continued to get closer.  It finally came within a few feet, but always just behind a big log.  It sounded like it was ready to come out behind one of the ends of the log when Ruth whispered, “I’m very sorry, but there’s a pair of huge red trogons just over our heads”.  For the next 15 minutes we enjoyed killer looks at a pair of Slaty-tailed Trogons.  The antthrush slowly walked off, singing along the way, but we didn’t care.  We were fixated on these beautiful emerald, ruby, ebony, and topaz-colored birds.

Further down the road, a loud snapping sound could be heard.  It was a lek of White-collared Manakins!  It took a while, but we eventually left with very satisfying views of both sexes. A large flock of immense White-collared Swifts circled overhead, and we were able to pull out a few Chestnut-collared Swifts among them.

White-whiskered Puffbird - Alan Davies Slaty-tailed Trogon - Michael Retter
White-whiskered Puffbird
Slaty-tailed Trogon

By now it was 10 a.m., and we had to be moving again in order to make it to our hotel by dark and still have to time to bird along the way.  But as seemed to be the case at nearly every stop this trip, the birds would have nothing of it.  An Orange-billed Sparrow sang from the shadows, and his glowing orange bill eventually popped into view.  A fruiting tree attracted Black-cowled Orioles, Brown-hooded Parrots, and more Keel-billed Toucans.  A Thrush-like Schiffornis sang along the trail, and with patience we were able to admire this odd, brown bird and ponder what exactly it was. (It has a clouded taxonomic history.) A pair of Dusky Antirds put on quite a show as we returned to the car.  We enjoyed a lunch in the parking lot with a very cooperative White-whiskered Puffbird.  It remained in the scopes the entire time we were eating, and we left it in the same spot as we reluctantly drove away.

The foothills south of Palenque merited a few stops, and we were not disappointed.  Red-legged Honeycreepers were everywhere and in every plumage state, from dull greenish winter birds, to streaky females and vibrant indigo males.  Combing through them rewarded us with a couple stunning Green Honeycreepers.  We whistled in a Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl at another spot, and it brought with it a mobbing flock of Red-throated Ant-Tanagers, Yellow-breasted Chats, and Yellow-billed Caciques!  See the caciques and seeing the well is quite a treat; this species usually stays very low and quiet in the dark tangles and bamboo thickets.

Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl - Alan Davies Red-legged Honeycreeper - Morgan Tingley
Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl
Red-legged Honeycreeper

Dusk approached as we drove through Ocosingo, and with it came the most surprising observation of the trip.  A pair of backlit macaws were flying high above the mountains, heading south.  Unfortunately we weren’t able to identify them to species, but neither Military nor Scarlet should have been there, so they were exciting nonetheless.

We arrived in San Cristóbal right at suppertime, and we enjoyed a delicious local meal while sipping margaritas while trying to remember all the day’s birds.

Day 7:  San Cristóbal and El Sumidero
What a difference a day makes.  It was cold this morning as we birded the high-elevation pine-oak woodlands east of town.  So cold that the birds took a while to wake up!  The sun’s warmth started to filter through the pines and gorgeous bromeliads, though, and a noisy flock of Band-backed Wrens and Yellow-backed Orioles arrived to investigate our presence. A male Garnet-throated Hummingbird displayed overhead. Rufous-collared Robins sang from the treetops but did a great job of staying completely hidden from view.  A short bout of tape-playing coaxed one out for us, though.  We didn’t really notice the trogon in the background of the robin recording, but a ruby-bellied male Mountain Trogon did, and we spent a good deal of time admiring him.  Berylline and White-throated Hummingbirds sang nearby.

By now, the insects were really flying around, and the warbler flocks became active.  Townsend’s, Hermits, and Olives made up the bulk of the flocks, but we also picked out Crescent-chested and the amazing Red-faced. Mixed in with them was a Spot-crowned Woodcreeper and an individual of the resident notius subspecies of Plumbeous Vireo, which looks more like a Cassin’s—certainly one to keep an eye on for a future split!  Below the warblers, both Pine and Buff-breasted Flycatchers provided our empid fix for the morning.  A Greater Pewee whistled overhead. On the walk back to the car, we found a Gray Silky.

Greater Pewee - Alan Davies bromeliad - Davies/Miller
Greater Pewee
spectacular bromeliad on a pine tree

Mid-morning found us traveling west through Tuxtla Gutiérrez to the spectacular El Sumidero canyon. The dry thornforest on the lower slopes of the foothills provided a taste of Mexico’s dry Pacific slope birds, but our location in interior Chiapas also meant there were Gulf-slope species present, making for an odd combination of birds.  It was very birdy considering the hot midday sun beating down from overhead.  Imitating a Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl brought in Plain-capped Starthroat, Nutting’s Flycatcher, Yellow Grosbeak, White-lored Gnatcatcher, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Canivet’s Emerald, Barred Wren, Rufous-capped Warbler, Western Tanager, Black-vented Oriole, and eventually, an actual pygmy-owl.

Lunch was enjoyed picnic-style under a large shade tree adjacent to an open savannah.  Here we paused to look at Gray-crowned Yellowthroat, Blue Bunting, and Olive Sparrow.

As we traveled higher into the foothills, it became lusher, wetter, and cooler, and large stands of bamboo became apparent.  Here we hiked through the forest to obtain a breathtaking view of the canyon.  Along the way we found two of the area’s most sough-after endemics, Belted Flycatcher and Blue-and-white Mockingbird.  A flocks of pale-eyed Green Jays and pairs of Olive Sparrows were ubiquitous. We also found migrants, like Blue-winged and Worm-eating Warblers.

El Sumidero canyon
Black-vented Oriole - Michael Retter
El Sumidero canyon
Black-vented Oriole

After another stop to view the canyon (and marvel at the Brown Pelicans in the fresh water below), it was off to Villahermosa.  Short stops to stretch along the way, yielded White-tailed Kite, Aztec Parakeet, Keel-billed Toucan, Red-lored Parrot, and jaw-droppingly close views of a displaying Montezuma Oropendola. The trip was made much more interesting due to the recent flooding, but a couple minor detours and some shallow water were all that stood in the way.  Supper was exquisite, and consisted of local seafood-filled empanadas and tortilla soup.  Then it was early to bed, in anticipation of our very early departure tomorrow morning.

With such a whirlwind tour of southern Mexico, we were certain to miss some goodies, but we ended up with a much higher species list that we’d expected, and Alan and Ruth netted many much-needed regional endemics for their worldwide big year, making it a smashing success.

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.

 316 bird species recorded; 12 heard only

Abbreviations and Annotations:
h = heard only
^ = endemic to northern Middle America
* = endemic to Mexico
(Y) = endemic to the Yucatán Peninsula

(C) = endemic to Isla Cozumel

TINAMOUS: Tinamidae
Little Tinamou
Thicket Tinamou
CRACIDS: Cracidae
Plain Chachalaca
Crested Guan
Great Curassow
PHEASANTS and TURKEYS: Phasianidae
Ocellated Turkey^ (Y)
NEW WORLD QUAIL: Odontophoridae
Yucatán Bobwhite^ (Y)
Spotted Wood-Quail
GREBES: Podicipedidae
Least Grebe
Pied-billed Grebe
PELICANS: Pelecanidae
American White Pelican
Brown Pelican
CORMORANTS: Phalacrocoracidae
Neotropic Cormorant
Double-crested Cormorant
DARTERS: Anhingidae
Magnificent Frigatebird
HERONS: Ardeidae
Bare-throated Tiger-Heron
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron
Tricolored Heron
Reddish Egret
Cattle Egret
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
Boat-billed Heron
IBISES and SPOONBILLS: Threskiornithidae
White Ibis
Roseate Spoonbill
STORKS: Ciconiidae
Wood Stork
FLAMINGOS: Phoenicoperidae
American Flamingo
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Snail Kite
Common Black-Hawk
Great Black-Hawk
Roadside Hawk
Gray Hawk
White-tailed Hawk
Black Hawk-Eagle
Crested Caracara
Laughing Falcon
American Kestrel
Bat Falcon
Peregrine Falcon
Gray-necked Wood-Rail
Spotted Rail
PLOVERS: Charadriidae
Black-bellied Plover
Snowy Plover
Wilson's Plover
JAÇANAS: Jacanidae
Northern Jaçana
SANDPIPERS: Scolopacidae
Spotted Sandpiper
Greater Yellowlegs
"Western" Willet
Marbled Godwit
Ruddy Turnstone
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
GULLS: Larinae
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
"American" Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
TERNS: Sterninae
Gull-billed Tern
Caspian Tern
Forster's Tern
Royal Tern
Sandwich Tern
SKIMMERS: Rhynchopinae
Black Skimmer
PIGEONS and DOVES: Columbidae
Rock Pigeon
Pale-vented Pigeon
Scaled Pigeon
White-crowned Pigeon
Short-billed Pigeon
Eurasian Collared-Dove
White-winged Dove
Inca Dove
Common Ground-Dove
Ruddy Ground-Dove
Blue Ground-Dove
White-tipped Dove
Caribbean Dove
PARROTS: Psittacidae
Aztec [Olive-throated] Parakeet
Military Macaw
Brown-hooded Parrot
White-crowned Parrot
Yucatán Parrot^ (Y)
Red-lored Parrot
Mealy Parrot
CUCKOOS: Cuculidae
"Common" Squirrel Cuckoo
Mangrove Cuckoo
Lesser Roadrunner*
Groove-billed Ani
OWLS: Strigiformes
Central American Pygmy-Owl
Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl
Lesser Nighthawk
SWIFTS: Apodidae
Chestnut-collared Swift
White-collared Swift
Vaux's Swift
Long-billed [Long-tailed] Hermit
Stripe-throated [Little] Hermit
Wedge-tailed Sabrewing^
Cozumel Emerald* (C)
Canivet's Emerald^
White-eared Hummingbird^
White-bellied Emerald^
Berylline Hummingbird^
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
Buff-bellied Hummingbird
Cinnamon Hummingbird
Garnet-throated Hummingbird^
Magnificent Hummingbird
Plain-capped Starthroat
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
TROGONS and QUETZALS: Trogonidae
Black-headed Trogon
Violaceous Trogon
Mountain Trogon^
Collared Trogon
Slaty-tailed Trogon
MOTMOTS: Momotidae
Blue-crowned Motmot
Turquoise-browed Motmot
KINGFISHERS: Alcedinidae
Belted Kingfisher
Amazon Kingfisher
American Pygmy Kingfisher
White-whiskered Puffbird
BARBETS: Ramphastidae

Collared Araçari
Keel-billed Toucan
Black-cheeked Woodpecker
Yucatán Woodpecker^ (Y)
Yucatán Woodpecker* (C)
Golden-fronted Woodpecker
"Cozumel" Golden-fronted Woodpecker* (C)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Ladder-backed Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Golden-olive Woodpecker
"Red-shafted" Northern Flicker
Lineated Woodpecker
Pale-billed Woodpecker
Plain Xenops
Scaly-throated Leaftosser
Olivaceous Woodcreeper
Strong-billed Woodcreeper
Northern Barred-Woodcreeper
Ivory-billed Woodcreeper
Streak-headed Woodcreeper
Spot-crowned Woodcreeper
TYPICAL ANTBIRDS: Thamnophilidae
Plain Antvireo
Dot-winged Antwren
Dusky Antbird
Mexican [Black-faced] Antthrush^
Yellow-bellied Tyrannulet
Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet
Greenish Elaenia
Caribbean Elaenia
Yellow-bellied Elaenia
Ochre-bellied Flycatcher
Sepia-capped Flycatcher
Northern Bentbill
Slate-headed Tody-Flycatcher
Eye-ringed Flatbill
Yellow-olive Flycatcher
Stub-tailed Spadebill
Royal Flycatcher
Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher
Belted Flycatcher^
Greater Pewee
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Acadian Flycatcher
Least Flycatcher
Pine Flycatcher^
Buff-breasted Flycatcher
Bright-rumped Attila
Rufous Mourner
Yucatán Flycatcher^ (Y)
Dusky-capped Flycatcher
Nutting's Flycatcher (W)
Great Crested Flycatcher
Brown-crested Flycatcher
Great Kiskadee
Boat-billed Flycatcher
Social Flycatcher
Tropical Kingbird
Couch's Kingbird
Western Kingbird
Thrush-like Schiffornis
Rufous Piha
Gray-collared Becard^
Rose-throated Becard
Masked Tityra
COTINGAS: Cotingidae
Lovely Cotinga
MANAKINS: Pipridae
White-collared Manakin
VIREOS: Vireonidae
White-eyed Vireo
Mangrove Vireo
Cozumel Vireo* (C)
Yellow-throated Vireo
"Notable" Vireo^
Blue-headed Vireo
"Eastern" Warbling Vireo
Yucatán Vireo* (Y)
Tawny-crowned Greenlet
Lesser Greenlet
Green Shrike-Vireo
Rufous-browed Peppershrike
"Cozumel" Peppershrike
CORVIDS: Corvidae
Green Jay
Brown Jay
Yucatán Jay* (Y)
SWALLOWS: Hirundinidae
Tree Swallow
Mangrove Swallow
Ridgway's [No.] Rough-winged Swallow^
Cave Swallow
CREEPERS: Certhiidae
Brown Creeper
WRENS: Troglodytidae
Band-backed Wren
Yucatán Wren* (Y)
Spot-breasted Wren
Banded Wren
"White-browed" Carolina Wren^ (Y)
Cozumel Wren* (C)
White-bellied Wren^
White-breasted Wood-Wren
Long-billed Gnatwren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
"Cozumel" Gnatcatcher* (C)
White-lored Gnatcatcher
Tropical Gnatcatcher
THRUSHES: Turdidae
Wood Thrush
Clay-colored Robin
Rufous-collared Robin^
MIMIDS: Mimidae
Gray Catbird
Black Catbird^
Tropical Mockingbird
Blue-and-white Mockingbird^
Gray Silky(-flycatcher)^
OLIVE WARBLER: Peucidramidae
Olive Warbler
Blue-winged Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Crescent-chested Warbler^
Northern Parula
"Golden" Warbler
Yellow Warbler
"Mangrove" Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
"Myrtle" Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Hermit Warbler
Yellow-throated Warbler
Palm Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Worm-eating Warbler
Northern Waterthrush
Common Yellowthroat
Gray-crowned Yellowthroat
Hooded Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Red-faced Warbler
Rufous-capped Warbler*
Yellow-breasted Chat
Gray-throated Chat^ (Y)
"Cozumel" Bananaquit*
TANAGERS: Thraupidae
Red-throated Ant-Tanager
Rose-throated Tanager^ (Y)
Summer Tanager
Western Tanager
"Cozumel" Western Spindalis* (C)
Blue-gray Tanager
Yellow-winged Tanager^
Golden-hooded Tanager
Green Honeycreeper
Red-legged Honeycreeper
EMBERIZIDS: Emberizidae
Blue-black Grassquit
White-collared Seedeater
Blue Seedeater
"Cozumel" Yellow-faced Grassquit* (C)
Orange-billed Sparrow
Olive Sparrow
Green-backed Sparrow
Yellow-eyed Junco
CARDINALIDS: Cardinalidae
"Eastern" Grayish Saltator
Buff-throated Saltator
Black-headed Saltator
Black-faced Grosbeak
Northern Cardinal
Yellow Grosbeak
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Blue-black Grosbeak
"Eastern" Blue Bunting^
Blue Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Painted Bunting
ICTERIDS: Icteridae
Melodious Blackbird
Great-tailed Grackle
Black-cowled Oriole
Orchard Oriole
Hooded Oriole
Yellow-backed Oriole
Orange Oriole* (Y)
Altamira Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
Yellow-billed Cacique
Montezuma Oropendola
FINCHES: Fringillidae
Scrub Euphonia
Yellow-throated Euphonia
Olive-backed Euphonia
Red Crossbill
House Sparrow

Crypturellus soui
Crypturellus cinnamomeus

Ortalis vetula
Penelope purpurascens
Crax rubra

Meleagris ocellata

Colinus nigrogularis
Odontophorus guttatus

Tachybaptus dominicus
Podilymbus podiceps

Pelecanus erythrorhynchos
Pelecanus occidentalis

Phalacrocorax brasilianus
Phalacrocorax auritus

Anhinga anhinga

Fregata magnificens

Tigrisoma mexicanum
Ardea herodias
Ardea alba
Egretta thula
Egretta caerulea
Egretta tricolor
Egretta rufescens
Bubulcus ibis
Nyctanassa violacea
Cochlearius cochlearius

Eudocimus albus
Platalea ajaja

Mycteria americana

Phoenicopterus ruber ruber

Coragyps atratus
Cathartes aura
Cathartes burrovianus

Pandion haliaetus
Elanus leucurus
Rostrhamus sociabilis
Buteogallus anthracinus
Buteogallus urubitinga
Buteo magnirostris
Buteo nitidus
Buteo albicaudatus
Spizaetus tyrannus

Caracara cheriway
Herpetotheres cachinnans
Falco sparverius
Falco rufigularis
Falco peregrinus

Aramides cajanea
Pardirallus maculatus

Pluvialis squatarola
Charadrius alexandrinus
Charadrius wilsonia
Charadrius vociferus

Jacana spinosa

Actitis macularius
Tringa melanoleuca
Tringa s. inornata
Limosa fedoa
Arenaria interpres
Calidris alba
Calidris pusilla
Calidris mauri
Calidris alpina
Limnodromus griseus

Larus atricilla
Larus delawarensis
Larus argentatus smithsonianus
Larus fuscus

Gelochelidon nilotica
Hydroprogne caspia
Sterna forsteri
Thalasseus maximus
Thalasseus sandvicensis

Rynchops niger

Columba livia
Patagioenas cayennensis
Patagioenas speciosa
Patagioenas leucocephala
Patagioenas nigrirostris
Streptopelia decaocto
Zenaida asiatica
Columbina inca
Columbina passerina
Columbina talpacoti
Claravis pretiosa
Leptotila verreauxi
Leptotila jamaicensis

Aratinga [nana] astec
Ara militaris
Pionopsitta haematotis
Pionus senilis
Amazona xantholora
Amazona autumnalis
Amazona farinosa

Piaya cayana cayana group
Coccyzus minor
Geococcyx velox
Crotophaga sulcirostris

Glaucidium griseiceps
Glaucidium brasilianum

Chordeiles acutipennis
Nyctidromus albicollis

Streptoprocne rutila
Streptoprocne zonaris
Chaetura vauxi

Phaethornis [superciliosus] longirostris
Phaethornis striigularis
Campylopterus curvipennis
Chlorostilbon forficatus
Chlorostilbon canivetii
Hylocharis leucotis
Amazilia candida
Amazilia beryllina
Amazilia tzacatl
Amazilia yucatanensis
Amazilia rutila
Lamprolaima rhami
Eugenes fulgens
Heliomaster constantii
Archilochus colubris

Trogon melanocephalus
Trogon violaceus
Trogon mexicanus
Trogon collaris
Trogon massena

Momotus momota
Eumomota superciliosa

Megaceryle alcyon
Chloroceryle amazona
Chloroceryle aenea

Malacoptila panamensis

Pteroglossus torquatus
Ramphastos sulfuratus

Melanerpes pucherani
Melanerpes pygmaeus
Melanerpes p. pygmaeus group
Melanerpes aurifrons
Melanerpes aurifrons leei
Sphyrapicus varius
Picoides scalaris
Picoides villosus
Piculus rubiginosus
Colaptes auratus cafer group
Dryocopus lineatus
Campephilus guatemalensis

Xenops minutus
Sclerurus guatemalensis
Sittasomus griseicapillus
Xiphocolaptes promeropirhynchus
Dendrocolaptes sanctithomae
Xiphorhynchus flavigaster
Lepidocolaptes souleyetii
Lepidocolaptes affinis

Dysithamnus mentalis
Microrhopias quixensis
Cercomacra tyrannina

Formicarius [analis] moniliger

Ornithion semiflavum
Camptostoma imberbe
Myiopagis viridicata
Elaenia martinica
Elaenia flavogaster
Mionectes oleagineus
Leptopogon amaurocephalus
Oncostoma cinereigulare
Poecilotriccus sylvia
Rhynchocyclus brevirostris
Tolmomyias sulphurescens
Platyrinchus cancrominus
Onychorhynchus coronatus
Myiobius sulphureipygius
Xenotriccus callizonus
Contopus pertinax
Empidonax flaviventris
Empidonax virescens
Empidonax minimus
Empidonax affinis
Empidonax fulvifrons
Attila spadiceus
Rhytipterna holerythra
Myiarchus yucatanensis
Myiarchus tuberculifer
Myiarchus nuttingi
Myiarchus crinitus
Myiarchus tyrannulus
Pitangus sulphuratus
Megarynchus pitangua
Myiozetetes similis
Tyrannus melancholicus
Tyrannus couchii
Tyrannus verticalis

Schiffornis turdina
Lipaugus unirufus
Pachyramphus major
Pachyramphus aglaiae
Tityra semifasciata

Cotinga amabilis

Manacus candei

Vireo griseus
Vireo pallens
Vireo bairdi
Vireo flavifrons
Vireo p. notius
Vireo solitarius
Vireo gilvus gilvus group
Vireo magister
Hylophilus ochraceiceps
Hylophilus decurtatus
Vireolanius pulchellus
Cyclarhis gujanensis
Cyclarhis gujanensis insularis

Cyanocorax [yncas] luxuosus
Cyanocorax morio
Cyanocorax yucatanicus

Tachycineta bicolor
Tachycineta albilinea
Stelgidopteryx [serripennis] ridgwayi
Petrochelidon fulva

Certhia americana

Campylorhynchus zonatus
Campylorhynchus yucatanicus
Thryothorus maculipectus
Thryothorus pleurostictus
Thryothorus ludovicianus albinucha
Troglodytes beani
Uropsila leucogastra
Henicorhina leucosticta

Ramphocaenus melanurus
Polioptila caerulea
Polioptila c. cozumelae
Polioptila albiloris
Polioptila plumbea

Hylocichla mustelina
Turdus grayi
Turdus rufitorques

Dumetella carolinensis
Melanoptila glabrirostris
Mimus gilvus
Melanotis hypoleucus

Ptilogonys cinereus

Peucedramus taeniatus

Vermivora pinus
Vermivora peregrina
Parula superciliosa
Parula americana
Dendroica p. petechia group
Dendroica p. aestivia group
Dendroica p. erithachorides group
Dendroica pensylvanica
Dendroica magnolia
Dendroica caerulescens
Dendroica c. coronata
Dendroica virens
Dendroica townsendi
Dendroica occidentalis
Dendroica dominica
Dendroica palmarum
Mniotilta varia
Setophaga ruticilla
Helmitheros vermivorum
Seiurus aurocapilla
Seiurus noveboracensis
Geothlypis trichas
Geothlypis poliocephala
Wilsonia citrina
Wilsonia pusilla
Cardellina rubrifrons
Basileuterus rufifrons
Icteria virens
Granatellus sallaei

Coereba flaveola
Coereba [f.] caboti

Habia fuscicauda
Piranga roseogularis
Piranga rubra
Piranga ludoviciana
Spindalis zena benedicti
Thraupis episcopus
Thraupis abbas
Tangara larvata
Chlorophanes spiza
Cyanerpes cyaneus

Volatinia jacarina
Sporophila [torqueola] morelleti
Amaurospiza concolor
Tiaris olivaceus intermedia
Arremon aurantiirostris
Arremonops rufivirgatus
Arremonops chloronotus
Junco phaeonotus

Saltator c. coerulescens
Saltator maximus
Saltator a. atriceps
Caryothraustes poliogaster
Cardinalis cardinalis
Pheucticus chrysopeplus
Pheucticus ludovicianus
Cyanocompsa cyanoides
Cyanocompsa p. parellina
Passerina caerulea
Passerina cyanea
Passerina ciris

Dives dives
Quiscalus mexicanus
Icterus prosthemelas
Icterus spurius
Icterus cucullatus
Icterus chrysater
Icterus auratus
Icterus gularis
Icterus galbula
Amblycercus holosericeus
Psarocolius montezuma

Euphonia affinis
Euphonia hirundinacea
Euphonia gouldi
Loxia curvirostra

Passer domesticus