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19 - 25 February 2000

by Mark Stackhouse and David Wheeler

David Wheeler and I just completed a whirlwind visit to Oaxaca, and although our business demands kept us from keeping an optimal birding schedule, we managed to find a total of 325 species (and a few not-yet-split subspecies) during our trip.  The places we visited included a variety of sites near Oaxaca City, along Route 175 north from Oaxaca to Tuxtepec (including the La Cumbre area), the Tuxtepec area (including Valle Nacional), along route 190 from Oaxaca to Tehuantepec, the Tehuantepec area, Route 200 along the coast to Pto. Angel, the Pto. Angel area, and along Route 175 from Pto. Angel to Oaxaca.

We found a few birds which seemed noteworthy due to being out of range or habitat.  These were:

Limpkin - this one wasn't hugely out of its range (certainly not as far out-of-range as the two we saw in San Blas, Nay. in Jan.), but we did see one in a roadside ditch about halfway between Tehuantepec and Pto.  Angel on 02/24/00.

Black-chinned Hummingbird - One female was seen in the thorn forest about 10 km west of Tehuantepec on 02/23/00.  This is about 200-250 km south of the regular wintering range for this species.

Hooded Yellowthroat - We saw at least three individuals of this species in the brushy tangles of some recently cleared forest near Camelia Roja west of Tuxtepec on 02/21/00 (voice recordings were made).  The elevation of this site is less than 100 m, well below the lowest elevation in the literature for this species (Howell and Webb list 1400-3000m as the range for this species).  Does anyone know if this species regularly withdraws to lower elevations in winter?

Red-legged Honeycreeper - We saw two females and one male in an orchard between the El Mirador Restaurant and La Soledad along Route 175 between Oaxaca and Pto.  Angel on 02/25/00.  This area is within the summer range (as mapped in Howell and Webb) for this species, but does this represent an early date or unusual winter record?

Black-chinned Sparrow - We saw at least one (I can't remember if there were others with it) at Monte Alban near Oaxaca on 02/19/00.  This is south of the normal winter range for this species, but Howell and Webb indicates that it is irregular in winter in central Oaxaca, so this one's not too unusual.

We also saw a few birds which were interesting, but not outside their normal occurance:

Long-tailed Wood Partridge - We saw two of these crossing Route 175 south of Valle Nacional, at about km marker 74.

Spotted Wood Quail - One was in the road (there may have been more ahead of it that we couldn't see) on Route 175 south of Valle Nacional - I didn't note the km marker (the markers were intermittant here - see note below on road conditions), but it was near the upper reaches of the cloud forest.

Dwarf Jay - We found these both near La Cumbre (from the main highway below town), and at two places in the Sierra de Juarez north of there.

Cinnamon-tailed (Sumichrast's) Sparrow - We found a few not far south of Oaxaca along Route 190.  They were about 10 km (if that) south of the microondas, about 60-65 km south of Oaxaca.  Of course, they were even more numerous farther south, but we were a bit surprised to find them so close to Oaxaca.

Here's a few notes regarding travel realities which may help birders visiting the area:

Road conditions - Route 175 both north and south from Oaxaca was in bad shape going over the mountains.  South of Oaxaca, the main problems were numerous rockslides (derrumbes) and washouts (deslaves), which reduced the road to one lane in many places.  North of Oaxaca, the problems were on the upper reaches of Atlantic slope of the Sierra de Juarez.  There were many HUGE potholes, and in some areas, the pavement was completely absent and the road was muddy, rutted and slick when wet (which is most of the time).  The area was negotiable with care in an ordinary car, but travel at night, especially with fog and rain, was very slow.  Repair work was being done throughout both areas, so these conditions should be improving (at least until the next rainy season).

The "propina" (tip) to unlock the gates at La Cumbre - They were asking 30 Pesos per person to enter the side roads at La Cumbre, but we found the road to the east to be open when we got there.

Checkpoints near Tehuantepec - The authorities were fairly aggressive with checkpoints and stops near Tehuantepec; we were stopped twice in less than 24 hours in this area.  Normal birding activities (driving slowly, irregular stops, u-turns) seemed to attract attention.  The officers were very friendly, and gave us no problemns when they learned what we were doing (but it could be more difficult if you don't speak Spanish) - just don't reach for your binoculars too quickly!

The gate at Monte Alban - Access to the area around the ruins at Monte Alban is now blocked by a locked gate about 1.5 km below the parking area, so it's difficult to be in the good birding areas at dawn.  When we were there, the gate was unlocked at about 7:30 am.


Location Key:

1 = Central Valley area, generally near Oaxaca City, but including some sites 60+ km away. Most of this habitat is arid to semi-arid deciduous woodland and desert scrub.

2 = The Sierra de Aloapaneca, north of Oaxaca City near La Cumbre/Cerro San Felipe. This is humid pine-oak forest.

3 = The Sierra de Juarez, north of #2, with mostly similar habitat.

4 = The area around Tuxtepec; mostly cut-over humid lowland evergreen forest, and remnant forest patches.

5 = The area along Highway 175 south of Valle Nacional, which starts in humid lowland evergreen forest, and progresses through cloud forest to montane pine-oak forest.

6 = Tehuantepec area; mostly coastal deciduous thorn-forest, with some coastal wetlands and agricultural lands.

7 = The coastal highway (Rt. 200) between Tehuantepec and Pto. Angel, including the area around Pto. Angel; generally similar habitat to #6.

8 = The Sierra de Miahuatlan, between Pto. Angel and Oaxaca City. This area starts with coastal thorn-forest, passes through Pacific-slope semi-humid and humid evergreen forest, and into montane pine-oak forest.

W = Widespread, found in many habitat types and locations (generally more than 4 of the 8 areas).

Least Grebe 1,7
Pied-billed Grebe 4,7
Eared Grebe 4

Brown Booby 7
American White Pelican 4,6
Brown Pelican 6,7
Neotropic Cormorant 4,5,6,7
Magnificent Frigatebird 6,7

Great Blue Heron 4,7
Great Egret W
Snowy Egret 1,4,6,7
Little Blue Heron 4,6,7
Tricolored Heron 4,6,7
Cattle Egret W
Green Heron 7
Black-crowned Night-Heron 6,7
White Ibis 6

Black Vulture W
Turkey Vulture W
Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture 6,7

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 7
Green-winged Teal 7
Northern Pintail 7
Blue-winged Teal 1,4,6,7
Cinnamon Teal 1,6,7
Northern Shoveler 6,7
American Wigeon 6,7
Ruddy Duck 1

Osprey 4,7
Gray-headed Kite 5
White-tailed Kite 4
Northern Harrier 6
Sharp-shinned Hawk 8
Cooper's Hawk 1,2
Gray Hawk 4,5,7,8
Harris's Hawk 1
Roadside Hawk 4,5
Short-tailed Hawk 4,7,8
White-tailed Hawk 1,7
Zone-tailed Hawk 6
Red-tailed Hawk W
Black Hawk-Eagle 4,5
Crested Caracara W
Laughing Falcon 4,5
Barred Forest-Falcon 5
American Kestrel W
Peregrine Falcon 7

Plain Chachalaca 4,5
West Mexican Chachalaca 1,7
Crested Guan 5
Long-tailed Wood-Partridge 5
Spotted Wood-Quail 5

Common Moorhen 7
American Coot 1,4,7
Limpkin 7

Black-necked Stilt 7
Northern Jacana 7
Greater Yellowlegs 7
Willet 6,7
Spotted Sandpiper 1,4,6
Laughing Gull 4,6,7
Caspian Tern 4,6,7
Royal Tern 6,7

Rock Dove W
Red-billed Pigeon 4,5,8
Band-tailed Pigeon 2
Short-billed Pigeon 5
White-winged Dove 1,2,3,6
Mourning Dove 1,6
Inca Dove 1,6,7,8
Common Ground-Dove 1,6,7,8
Ruddy Ground-Dove 4,5
White-tipped Dove 4,5,7
White-faced Quail-Dove 8

Olive-throated Parakeet 4,5
Orange-fronted Parakeet 1,7,8
Brown-hooded Parrot 4
White-crowned Parrot 5
White-fronted Parrot 8
Red-lored Parrot 5
Mealy Parrot 5

Squirrel Cuckoo 4,5,8
Lesser Ground-Cuckoo 6
Groove-billed Ani W

Vermiculated Screech-Owl 4
Central American Pygmy-Owl 5
Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl W
Mottled Owl 5

Lesser Nighthawk 6,7,8
[Western] Whip-poor-will 3

Chestnut-collared Swift 5
White-collared Swift 5
White-throated Swift 1

Little Hermit 4,5
Wedge-tailed Sabrewing 5
Green Violetear 8
Canivet's Emerald 4
Golden-crowned Emerald 8
Dusky Hummingbird 1,6
Doubleday's [Broad-billed] Hummingbird 6,7,8
White-eared Hummingbird 2,3,5,8
White-bellied Emerald 4,5
Berylline Hummingbird 1,6,8
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird 4,5
Cinnamon Hummingbird 8
Green-fronted Hummingbird 5,6
Blue-capped Hummingbird 8
Amethyst-throated Hummingbird 5
Garnet-throated Hummingbird 5
Magnificent Hummingbird 8
Long-billed Starthroat 8
Sparkling-tailed Woodstar 8
Beautiful Hummingbird 1
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 1
Black-chinned Hummingbird 6
Bumblebee Hummingbird 5,8

Black-headed Trogon 4
Citreoline Trogon 8
Mountain Trogon 2
Collared Trogon 5

Blue-crowned Motmot 5
Russet-crowned Motmot 8

Ringed Kingfisher 4
Belted Kingfisher 7
Amazon Kingfisher 4
Green Kingfisher 4

Collared Aracari 5
Keel-billed Toucan 5

Acorn Woodpecker 1
Golden-cheeked Woodpecker 7,8
Gray-breasted Woodpecker 1
Golden-fronted Woodpecker 4,5,6
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 8
Ladder-backed Woodpecker 4
Hairy Woodpecker 2,8
Northern Flicker 8
Lineated Woodpecker 5,8
Pale-billed Woodpecker 5

Rufous-breasted Spinetail 4,5
Spectacled Foliage-gleaner 5

Ivory-billed Woodcreeper 5.8
Spotted Woodcreeper 5
Spot-crowned Woodcreeper 8

Barred Antshrike 4

Northern Beardless Tyrannulet 4,7,8
Greenish Elaenia 8
Slate-headed Tody-Flycatcher 5
Tufted Flycatcher 3,8
Greater Pewee 1,2,3,8
Willow Flycatcher 1
Least Flycatcher 1,6
Hammond's Flycatcher 8
Dusky Flycatcher 1
Pine Flycatcher 3,8
"Western" Flycatcher 1,6,8
Black Phoebe 1,3,4,8
Eastern Phoebe 7
Say's Phoebe 1
Vermillion Flycatcher 1,3,4
Ash-throated Flycatcher 1,3,6,8
Nutting's Flycatcher 1,6
Brown-crested Flycatcher 6,7,8
Flammulated Flycatcher 1,7
Great Kiskadee W
Boat-billed Flycatcher 4,7
Social Flycatcher W
Tropical Kingbird W
Cassin's Kingbird 1,3
Thick-billed Kingbird 1,7,8
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher 7

Rose-throated Becard 5
Masked Tityra 8

White-collared Manakin 5

Loggerhead Shrike 1

White-eyed Vireo 4,5
Dwarf Vireo 1
Blue-headed Vireo 8
Cassin's Vireo 3
Plumbeous Vireo 2
Hutton's Vireo 2,3
Warbling Vireo 2,3,8
Brown-capped Vireo 2
Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo 2

Steller's Jay 2,3,8
White-throated Magpie-Jay 1,6,7,8
Green Jay 4,5,8
Brown Jay 4,5
Dwarf Jay 2,3
Western Scrub-Jay 1,3,6
Unicolored Jay 5
Common Raven 1,3,6

Gray-breasted Martin 1,6,8
Mangrove Swallow 1,4,7,8
Violet-green Swallow 1
Northern Rough-winged Swallow W

Mexican Chickadee 3

Bushtit 1,3

White-breasted Nuthatch 3

Brown Creeper 3

Band-backed Wren 4
Gray-barred Wren 2,3
Rufous-naped Wren 7
Boucard's Wren 1
Rock Wren 1
Canyon Wren 1,3
Spot-breasted Wren 5
Happy Wren 8
Banded Wren 1
Northern House Wren 5
Marsh Wren 7
White-breasted Wood-Wren 4,5
Gray-breasted Wood-Wren 5,8

Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2,3,8
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher W
White-lored Gnatcatcher 1,6

Brown-backed Solitaire 2,3,5,8
Slate-colored Solitaire 5
Russet Nightingale-Thrush 2,3
Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush 3
Swainson's Thrush 2
Black Thrush 2
Clay-colored Robin 4,5
White-throated Robin 1,2,3,8
Rufous-backed Robin 7,8
American Robin 1,2,3,8

Gray Catbird 5
Blue Mockingbird 1,2,8
Northern Mockingbird 1
Tropical Mockingbird 6
Ocellated Thrasher 1

Gray Silky-Flycatcher 1,2,3,8

Blue-winged Warbler 4
Tennessee Warbler 8
Orange-crowned Warbler 1,2,6,8
Nashville Warbler W
Virginia's Warbler 1
Crescent-chested Warbler 2,3,8
Northern Parula 5
Yellow Warbler 6,7
Mangrove [Yellow] Warbler 6
Magnolia Warbler 4,5
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1,2,3,8
Black-throated Gray Warbler 1,2,8
Townsend's Warbler 2,3,5,8
Hermit Warbler 2,3,5,8
Black-throated Green Warbler 5
Grace's Warbler 3,8
Black-and-white Warbler 4,5,8
American Redstart 4
Ovenbird 4,8
MacGillivray's Warbler W
Common Yellowthroat 3,4,5
Hooded Yellowthroat 4
Wilson's Warbler W
Red-faced Warbler 8
Red Warbler 2,3
Painted Redstart 8
Slate-throated Redstart 2,3,8
Fan-tailed Warbler 8
Golden-crowned Warbler 5,8
Rufous-capped Warbler W
Golden-browed Warbler 3,5,8
Yellow-breasted Chat 4,5,8
Olive Warbler 2,3

Red-legged Honeycreeper 8
Scrub Euphonia 8
Yellow-winged Tanager 4
Red-throated Ant-Tanager 4,5
Hepatic Tanager 2,8
Summer Tanager 1
Western Tanager W
White-winged Tanager 5
Crimson-collared Tanager 4,5
Common Bush-Tanager 5,8

Blue-black Grassquit 4,5
White-collared Seedeater 4
Thick-billed Seedfinch 4,5
Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer 5
White-naped Brushfinch 5
Rufous-capped Brushfinch 2,8
Collared Towhee 2,3
Spotted Towhee 3
White-throated Towhee 1
Bridled Sparrow 1,6
Cinnamon-tailed (Sumichrast's) Sparrow 1,6
Botteri's Sparrow 1
Rufous-crowned Sparrow 1
Oaxaca Sparrow 1
Chipping Sparrow 1
Clay-colored Sparrow 1
Black-chinned Sparrow 1
Lark Sparrow 1
Lincoln's Sparrow 1,3,8
Yellow-eyed Junco 2,3,5,8

Grayish Saltator 4
Buff-throated Saltator 5
Black-headed Saltator 4,5,8
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 4
Black-headed Grosbeak 2,3,8
Blue-black Grosbeak 5
Blue Grosbeak 4
Indigo Bunting 1,4,6,8
Varied Bunting 1,6
Orange-breasted Bunting 1,6,7
Painted Bunting 4,5

Eastern Meadowlark 1,4
Melodious Blackbird 4,5
Great-tailed Grackle W
Bronzed Cowbird 7,8
Orchard Oriole 7
Hooded Oriole 4
Black-vented Oriole 1
Audubon's Oriole 1
Streak-backed Oriole 6,7,8
Spot-breasted Oriole 7
Altamira Oriole 7,8
Baltimore Oriole 4,8
Bullock's Oriole 3,8
Yellow-billed Cacique 4
Yellow-winged Cacique 6,7,8
Montezuma Oropendola 4,5

House Finch 1,2,3
Red Crossbill 2,3,5,8
Black-headed Siskin 8
Lesser Goldfinch 1,3

House Sparrow W

Mark Stackhouse