Birding Trip Report Central Mexico (Toluca, Oaxaca, Valle Nacional) in March 2008

Sjaak Schilperoort (sjaak at
Tineke Hooijmans (cmhooijmans at

A tree fern in the cloud forest above Valle Nacional


From March 8 to 24, 2008 I went on a bird watching trip to central Mexico. It was my first visit to Mexico. Tineke went on her third business trip to Toluca, for 2 weeks. I joined her the second week, and after that we went to Oaxaca together for a week birding. I'm very fortunate to have parents that are young in spirit and very fond of their grand children. They offered to take over the care for our three children (9, 14 and 15 years old) for these two weeks.


I've used the following documentation to prepare for the trip:

Furthermore, I've obtained a map for my Garmin 60csx GPS device from Mexico Maps ( This turned out to be quite essential in finding my way around. The map contains roads, topography (height contours), city plans of all major cities, and includes routing capabilities. I've prepared for the trip by locating the areas described in the Howell bird-finding book on Google Maps (, and then load these locations as waypoints in my Garmin (waypoints are available on request). The quality of the map information turned out to be high in popular and tourist areas, and was lacking somewhat in more remote areas. The Mexico City street plan was detailed and accurate, but computing a route through the city took almost 2 minutes. Making an error in navigating a route thus led to a short "black out". Nevertheless, when leaving Toluca for Oaxaca, we passed Mexico City within 2 hours of driving time. Couldn't have done this without navigational support.



View on the Mexico City metropolis just before landing
Flight reservation was done through KLM, the regular flight (KL685) to Mexico City. We only had to buy one extra ticket, which cost EUR 880.

I made a rental car reservation for the full period through SunnyCars ( Prices were comparable to dealing with car rental companies directly, but with SunnyCars insurance and conditions were much clearer. I didn't have any experience with this company, but read some favorable comments on the Internet. We got a Chevrolet Chevy (= Opel Corsa) through Alamo for 660 EUR (15 days, two drivers). Service at Alamo was fast and friendly. Returning the car was hassle free. The car was a bit small. It could just hold all our luggage in the trunk and the back seats. But the motor was powerful enough to drive comfortably into the mountains and to climb the Toluca volcano. It could overtake trucks and buses with ease. And it could fit in tight parking spaces, which was handy in Oaxaca center. We drove 2843 kilometers.

Next time we might consider using public transport for at least part of the time, and only hire a car when necessary to reach some places in time. Public transport seems to be very well organized and easy to use.


View from the patio on our apartment in La Casa de Los Abuelos, Oaxaca
The first week we stayed in Holiday Inn Express in Toluca. This cost us nothing, as it has been arranged as part of my Tineke's business trip. The luxury that came with it included a private parking garage, breakfast & snacks, free wireless Internet. Time difference permitting, we could talk at length with our children by setting up a voice connection through Internet.

The second week we found a very nice, quiet and secure apartment in Oaxaca, "La Casa de Los Abuelos", C. de Reforma 410 ( This is a building that has been turned into a set of 8 apartments around a patio. The apartments are situated right next to the Santo Domingo plaza, which is a center point for evening festivities. We had two floors, a living room and kitchen with refrigerator, gas stove and microwave downstairs, and a bedroom with toilet and shower upstairs. The price of $500 (EUR 30) per night was very reasonable. The service included a PC and wireless Internet.

From Oaxaca we made a two-day trip to Valle Nacional, and stayed in Hotel des Valles for $380 (EUR 23) per night. The hotel was very basic. It didn't have Internet, and facilities were limited to a bed, A/C and a hot shower. We got a remote control for the TV set, but there was no antenna connection. We arrived during the "Fiesta del Pueblo", which was a crossover between a fair and a market. The evenings were very noisy. This didn't bother us very much as we immediately fell in sleep from exhaustion each night. We were woken in time again by roosters and grackles in the backyard.

On the way back from Oaxaca to Mexico City we wanted to find a hotel in the vicinity of Mexico City for the last night. We had chosen Atlixco as a location to find a hotel. Several love (auto) hotels were present, but this didn't fancy us much. We found "Hotel Esperanza", $320 (EUR 20) to be one of the very few alternatives. A very plain hotel, in a very plain Mexican town. There was no Internet in the hotel, but the town held two Internet cafes.


Traffic in Mexico was confusing at first. But very soon I got used to the way people react on each other (actually not very different from car drivers in Holland) and had no problems navigating through traffic. When you want to change lanes it is best to just start the maneuver and let other people see that you are serious about it. Everyone wants to avoid a collision, so eventually you will get room. People may (and will) honk anyway. On the other hand, if you signal that you want to change lanes and wait for people to give you space, you may never get the opportunity. People will simply cut you off as fast as they can.

People honk very often, for instance when you don't react quick enough to a traffic light changing to green, or when they want to pass on the right, or think you are doing something wrong, etc.. Be relaxed about it and don't take it personally. I even started to recognize and appreciate this extra form of communication.

When passing towns or buildings of any kind, you should be very aware of "topes" or speed bumps. Their presence is not always indicated, but most of them are so steep that they can only be passed without damage to your car by approaching them with near-zero speed. This severely hampered my action radius around Toluca. I was not able to visit the more remote places, due to the staggering amount of topes that I needed to cross to get out of the Toluca valley and the time this would take.

Sometimes the right side lane of a road will switch to the other side. This is something to be aware of if you come from a small side street. It is not always obvious which lane you should enter. It is best to trust on the other traffic and go with the flow until you are familiar with the local situation. At quiet hours (early in the morning) I ended up going against the traffic several times.

When a bus or truck in front of you signals to the left, this could mean that you can pass. This is the exact opposite (and in my opinion also more confusing) from what is custom in European countries.

Wherever highway traffic is slowing down, especially on the toll ways or cuotas, people try to sell stuff. Mostly food, but also cigarettes, toys and even poodle puppies. Although we didn't have any bad experience, we made a habit of locking our car from the inside when traffic was not moving.

There was a lot of road kill, but strangely enough not a single bird amongst it. Most victims were dogs, sometimes cats and I even saw some dead donkeys.


Food in Mexico is excellent, fresh and cheap, and is prepared very fast. I like spicy dishes and love the salsas that accompany most meals. We are both vegetarians, and although Mexicans eat a lot of meat, restaurants offer enough alternatives. Most food is prepared fresh, so a vegetarian version of a dish can often be prepared ad hoc. Only in Valle Nacional choices were very limited. The open-air restaurant across the street from the Pemex station was decent though. Sometimes we didn't take the trouble of finding something and based a dinner on avocado's, taco's, lime, tomatoes, bread and bear at our hotel room.

One time we both got indigestion problems. The cause was most probably a dish with fresh lettuce in the luxurious Hotel Del Rey Inn, Toluca. In the course of the next day stomach problems forced me to loose my breakfast along the road. As things didn't improve, I got back to the hotel and recovered only after a solid 16 hours sleep. After recovery, Tineke started to have similar symptoms. She also recovered within a day. We refrained from eating lettuce, strawberries, basil leaves, etc. after this experience. A colleague of Tineke supplied us with Bactrim, a medicine that most Mexicans have in store for this kind of situation. It seems to be a cocktail of different kinds of penicillin. It should help within 8 hours, can be bought without a subscription but can have severe side effects. Luckily we didn't need it.


The first days in Mexico were partly cloudy. On Toluca Volcano it was just above freezing point, and at the top we had some light snow coming down. Toluca and the surrounding valley was rather cool. Temascaltepec is at a much lower elevation and was alsoa much warmer than Toluca. Due to the clear skies the number of swifts at that location was low. I only saw small numbers of Vaux's Swifts. During our stay in Toluca, the afternoon temperature was increasing gradually. When we went to Oaxaca for the second week it was sunny and warm, and in Oaxaca afternoons were close to 35 degrees Celsius. The mornings started rather warm as well. Maybe as a consequence of this, morning bird activity in the Oaxaca valley was low. Even at sunrise very few birds sang. I tried at several places, but I couldn't find Oaxaca Sparrow or Dwarf/Slaty Vireo (did hear the vireo songs though, replayed at 100 dB by a large excursion of British people at Teotitlán. I guess this scared the hell out of any vireo present).

The climate in the mountains of Cerro San Felipe was nice. Not very hot and almost no wind. Perfect conditions for trying to find songbirds. We had excellent views of two singing Mountain Trogons, and managed to see two Dwarf Jays. We went to Valle Nacional during a short period of cloudy and cool weather. This made the cloud forest look as it is supposed to. The road cut through dense clouds. The surrounding vegetation produced it's own rain. Very impressive. At times we had good sight, and bird activity was high throughout the day. The next days brought clearer skies and warm afternoons again. The cloud forest went quiet, but birds the lowlands were still very active.

On the way back to Oaxaca and from there to Mexico City it was hot, dry and sunny again.

Red Tape

At Coajamulco military people had set up a roadblock of some sort. They let me pass on the way to Coajamulco, but stopped me when I returned several hours later. It looked like boys doing military service and having some sort of vague assignment. I had to supply name, origin and destination that were written down on a block note that showed I was their first "suspect". Apparently Mexican drivers are not stopped so easily. While trying to answer the Spanish questions, the front of the car was searched superficially. My tripod, telescope, binoculars and camera on the back seat must have looked very suspect, but didn't trigger any reaction. Instead without even checking my gear they told me I could continue my trip.

When we passed Mexico City, and were searching for the Puebla cuota, a Mexico City traffic policeman stopped us. The traffic police is infamous for the practice of getting money out of tourists by letting them pay off a possible traffic violation fine. I've read trip reports of people that actually paid money and felt very frustrated by this situation afterwards. After three visits to Mexico, Tineke was somewhat familiar with the Mexican way of dealing with life and was prepared for this situation. The strategy is to stay very polite but refuse to pay. Stall time, offer to go to the police station to settle things, request name and identification of the police officer, explain that you need this information to inform your embassy, etc.. Eventually the police officer will loose interest as it doesn't pay off, and will search for a more cooperative victim. However, we did not have to do all this. It appeared to be sufficient to pretend not to speak any Spanish (not entirely true) and explain in careful English that we actually did signal a right turn (which the policeman said we did not). After 5 minutes of exchanging English vs. Spanish we got our drivers' license and car rental papers back and were waved away. This really made our day!

In Cerro San Felipe, the forest above Oaxaca city, it is well known that the locals ask money from birdwatchers entering the area. The road into the forest is provisionally closed with a chain (can be loosened without the need for unlocking). After some discussion with a man selling admission tickets it turned out that we were supposed to pay $50 per person. This was a ridiculous price compared to the Mexican standard, but I decided not to make a fuss about it and paid. We found two Dwarf Jays, so maybe it was worth the price after all.

When we watched birds from highway 175, in the cloud forest above Valle Nacional, a car stopped nearby and three men approached us. Two carried walkie-talkies, a third one had binoculars. They were not in uniform of any sort. They asked us if we had a "permiso de las autoridades" to stop and watch birds along the highway. We repeated our successful strategy to not understand any Spanish. This caused confusion amongst the men. They started discussing what the hell "permiso" was in English. I had difficulties to keep a straight face. We added to the confusion to confer in Dutch. When they didn't make any progress on the translation, we friendly said goodbye, entered our car and drove to another stop, a few kilometers down the road. After a short time they passed again, this time without stopping. Although the men looked harmless, this was the only time during our stay we felt a bit uncomfortable about the situation.


The GPS track data from our trip
Here is an overview of all the trips we made.  The numbers refer to locations described in the bird-finding book of Howell.

8-3-2008: Flight to Mexico City, picked up rental car, drove to Holiday Inn Express, Toluca
9-3-2008: Top of Toluca Volcano (morning), Lerma Marshes (8-8, afternoon)
10-3-2008: Foot of Toluca Volcano (morning), Temascaltepec & Polvorín Loop (end of morning and afternoon)
11-3-2008: La Cima (8-4, morning), Coajamulco (8-5, afternoon)
12-3-2008: CIRA-UAEM Institute (morning), Colonia Centro Ceremonial Otomi (afternoon)
13-3-2008: Temascaltepec (8-9, morning, trip broken off due to illness)
14-3-2008: Lerma Marshes (8-8, morning and first half of the afternoon)
15-3-2008: From Toluca to Oaxaca
16-3-2008: Cerro San Felipe (11-5, morning), Tule (afternoon)
17-3-2008: Teotitlán del Valle (11-2, morning), Yagul (11-3, afternoon)
18-3-2008: Monte Alban (11-1, morning), a visit to the ruins after that.
19-3-2008: From Oaxaca to Valle Nacional (11-6)
20-3-2008: Highway 175 above Valle Nacional (11-7, whole day)
21-3-2008: From Valle Nacional to Oaxaca (11-6)
22-3-2008: Teotitlán del Valle (11-2, morning), Oaxaca to Atlixco
23-3-2008: Tlacotepec (8-7, morning), Mexico City airport, drop off rental car, return flight to Amsterdam

On 9-3 the trips were made by Tineke, two colleagues of her, and me. On 10-3, 11-3 and 14-3 I birded alone, as Tineke had to work. The rest of the trips were made by Tineke and me together, except for 22-3 when I did some (in vane) endemic-hunting by my own.

Areas visited

Toluca Volcano

The ascent of the Toluca Volcano, with Tineke and two colleagues of hers

On 9-3-2008, my first day in Mexico, I went up to the Toluca Volcano with Tineke and two of her colleagues. We first birded in the forest at the start of the unpaved road, trying to find Strickland's Woodpecker. We didn't find it, but we had some nice views of a male Rufous Hummingbird (perched at close range), Mexican Chickadee, Striped Sparrow, Yellow-eyed Junco, Eastern Bluebird (very common), Red Warbler (spectacular), Bewick's Wren, American Robin. After that we continued the road to the crater. However, clouds were moving in and it started to snow. Alas, we didn't have much of a view from the top. Also, at 4240 m I was feeling really dizzy. We quickly took some pictures and returned to a more tolerable height. We only saw birds again (Striped Sparrows being the first) until we approached the tree line at approximately 3000 m.

On 10-3-2008 I visited the start of the unpaved road again. Again missed the Strickland's Woodpecker. Found Northern Flicker 2, Mexican Chickadee, Brown Creeper 4, Pygmy Nuthatch, Red Warbler and Yellow-eyed Junco.

Lerma Marshes

Lerma Marshes at dusk, with Toluca Volcano in the background

I've visited the Lerma Marshes twice. First an afternoon visit on 9-3 with Tineke and a colleague. I revisited the area on my own on 14-3, from early in the morning until early in the afternoon.

The water level in the marsh was rather low. Large areas of reed were growing on dried out mud flats. These reed beds were often burnt down, which seems to be a common practice in Mexico. Also, the unpaved road that Howell described was blocked after 0,5 km by a pile of stones and rocks, presumably to repair the road. It took some navigation to find a way around this, and get to some good marsh habitat. I found this approximately 1,5 km further down the road. There, the endemic Black-polled Yellowthroat was an easy find. Later on, I also found some Black-polled Yellowthroats near the fish tanks.

The birds observed in and around the marsh during the afternoon and evening visit on 8-3 include Pied-billed Grebe, Great Blue Heron 10, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Cattle Egret (evening flights of >100 birds), Black-crowned Night-Heron 8, White-faced Ibis 100, Green-winged Teal, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Harrier 4, Sharp-shinned Hawk 1, Red-tailed Hawk 1, American Kestrel, Common Moorhen, American Coot, Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs 4, Least Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher 20, Common Snipe 2, Laughing Gull 1 winter plumage (only gull seen on this trip), Mourning Dove, Inca Dove, Short-eared Owl 1 flying around with a mouse, Buff-breasted Flycatcher, Say's Phoebe, Barn Swallow, American Pipit 1, Loggerhead Shrike 1, Northern Waterthrush 1, Common Yellowthroat (out-numbering Black-polled by about 4 to 1), Wilson's Warbler, Striped Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Red-winged Blackbird, Bronzed Cowbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, Great-tailed Grackle, House Finch.

The second visit on 14-3 added species such as Northern Shoveler 3,400, Ruddy Duck 1,600, Gadwall 4, Eared Grebe 50, Cinnamon Teal 4, Sora 2, Black-necked Stilt 4, American Avocet 60, Spotted Sandpiper 2, Wilson's Phalarope 8, Vermilion Flycatcher, Cassin's Kingbird, Marsh Wren 1, Canyon Towhee, Grasshopper Sparrow, and European Starling 10. To my surprise, just before I left I noticed an immature Brown Pelican that has appeared on the fish tanks.

During my visit a man with a catapult was hunting on birds from the road. He was carrying a killed Snowy Egret, and was also aiming at Eared Grebes.


On 10-3-2008 I paid a first visit to the Temascaltepec area and the Polvorín loop (as Howell calls this in his bird-finding book). I arrived several hours in the morning, after visiting the foot of Toluca Volcano first. Tried to do the swifts anyway, from a stop about 1 km from the Pemex station, at a steep drive way up to a hill-side house. I saw some decent numbers of Vaux's Swift from there, but nothing else.

After that I birded along the way from Temascaltepec to Real de Arriba, and from Real de Arribo into the hills. Especially the start of the unpaved road from Real de Arribo was very birdy. I identified the following species: Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Inca Dove, Groove-billed Ani 1, Vaux's Swift >100, Berylline Hummingbird >20, Broad-tailed Hummingbird 1 male, Acorn Woodpecker 2, Ladder-backed Woodpecker 1 female, Canyon Wren 1 heard, Tufted Flycatcher 2, Vermilion Flycatcher, Cassin's Kingbird, Thick-billed Kingbird, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Spotted Wren 1, Eastern Bluebird, Curve-billed Thrasher 3, Grey Silky, Nashville Warbler, Black-throated Grey Warbler, MacGillivray's Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, Rufous-capped Warbler, Black-headed Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Varied Bunting, Canyon Towhee, Clay-colored Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Scott's Oriole 1 male, Baltimore Oriole 1 female, House Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, House Sparrow.

On 13-3-2008 I returned to the area, together with Tineke who had arranged a day off from work. We saw some new species, but had to return when I became ill from food poisoning and didn't recover in the field. Species observed during our short visit: White-eared Hummingbird, Berylline Hummingbird, Green Kingfisher (found by Tineke), Acorn Woodpecker, Bridled Titmouse, Canyon Wren (singing on a roof), Happy Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Townsend's Warbler and Hepatic Tanager 1 female.

La Cima

Sierra Madre Sparrows were present at the backside of this field
On 11-3 I went to La Cima in the morning, a reliable site to see the endangered Sierra Madre Sparrow. I arrived early in the morning, and had no trouble locating the area. I parked at the first field, and started walking around it. Within half an hour or so I had splendid and close views of a Sierra Madre Sparrow perched on the fence at the backside of the field. The next hour or so I tried to take photographs, but I only had rather distant views of altogether some 8 birds that kept diving away in the bunch grass and lava rocks. The birds were not singing.

After this successful visit I birded in the woods behind the fields. I've observed the following species: Red-tailed Hawk 1, Northern Flicker 2, Greater Pewee 1, Violet-green Swallow 20, Steller's Jay 10, Bushtit 2, White-breasted Nuthatch, Eastern Bluebird, American Robin, Audubon's Warbler 2, Slate-throated Whitestart 3 (beautifully flicking their spread tails), Rufous-capped Brushfinch, Chipping Sparrow 30, Striped Sparrow 20, Yellow-eyed Junco 50, Pine Siskin 8.


After the morning visit to La Cima on 11-3, I spent the afternoon at the Coajamulco site. Afternoon birding there was very hard work. Only a few birds were singing, most had to be found by eye alone. Exception was the Brown-backed Solitaire. I recognized the species only after locating the remarkable song on the sound recordings I had with me. After that I heard the species in almost all mountainous areas, and had occasional views as well. Other birds found: Turkey Vulture, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk 1 dark phase, Inca Dove, White-eared Hummingbird 10, Acorn Woodpecker 2, Buff-breasted Flycatcher, Vermilion Flycatcher, Say's Phoebe, Steller's Jay, Northern Raven, Brown-throated Wren, Grey Silky 6 (including a pair at a nest location), Orange-crowned Warbler, Audubon's Warbler, Slate-throated Whitestart, Olive Warbler 1 male and 1 female, Summer Tanager 1 female, Chipping Sparrow 25, Red Crossbill.

On the way back to Toluca through the mountains, a stop at a small reservoir produced a Rufous-sided Towhee.

Toluca valley

View over the air-polluted Toluca Valley from the Otomi center
Coming from Holland, the way Toluca and the surrounding valley are organized is quite a contrast. Toluca is very close to Mexico City, and many global (chemical) companies have facilities here. Many people find work here, and as a result the Toluca valley is filled up with towns and houses, often joined to form large areas of housing, open sewers, rubbish dumps, etc., on a scale that is rather depressing. The commuting traffic is horrendous. Leaving and entering Toluca takes about 1 to 1,5 hours, and outside Toluca the traffic flow is seriously hampered by the many "topas" or speed bumps that can only be passed with speeds close to zero. As a result, some birding areas from the Howard book (central Mexico, chapter 8) were simply out of reach.

On the way from Toluca to Temascaltepec you pass a small roadside pond. A short stop on 10-3 produced Ruddy Duck 30, Mallard 2 domesticated birds, Black Phoebe 2, American Pipit 1.

On 12-3-2008 I joined Tineke who went to work at The CIRA-UEAM Institute ( just outside Toluca. The road leading to the institute, highway 55, passes a small and rather polluted lake. We made a short stop there. The number of Northern Shovelers was impressive. I counted 16.000 birds! Other birds there included Great Egret, Cattle Egret, Eared Grebe 4, Northern Pintail 20, Blue-winged Teal 40, American Wigeon 200, Canvasback 1 female, Ring-necked Duck 20, Ruddy Duck 800, Black-necked Stilt 2, Wilson's Phalarope 4 winter plumage, American Kestrel, Common Moorhen, American Coot, Killdeer.

In the afternoon we paid a visit to the Otomi Ceremonial Center in the mountains just outside of Toluca. This complex is of recent times (1975), built in tribute of the Otomi people, and is used for ceremonies and festivities. Also, the Toluca soccer team prepares for games there. The location is beautiful, overlooking the Toluca valley with the Toluca Volcano present in the background. The Lerma Marshes were also visible. On the complex we saw Bushtit 6, Black Phoebe and Yellow-eyed Junco >100. When the complex closed at 17:00 hours, we decided to drive further up in the mountains. We soon reached the mountaintop. On a saddle point we came across a large field, with a herd of cows and accompanying cowboys. The field was literally covered with Eastern Bluebirds. We decided to check out the forest edge. While I was following a warbler, Tineke called me to check out a woodpecker. Before I could find the bird, it flew to a small group of fir trees further down the field. It called several times in flight. I already had a suspicion about the identity, and hurried towards this group of trees. And sure enough, here we had splendid views of a pair of Strickland's Woodpecker feeding on the upper branches of the trees. This species only occurs on the volcanic belt in D.F., and was one of the species I really wanted to see. While driving through the mountains back to Toluca, we repeatedly heard the song of Brown-backed Solitaire coming through the windows.

Cerro San Felipe

The forest at Cerro San Felipe, with the Oaxaca Valley in the background
On 16-3, our first day in Oaxaca, we went into the mountains to try to find the Dwarf Jay (amongst others). Having paid the entrance fee, we drove 2 km down the track and then continued by foot. After 1 km we descended the well-known track down into the forest. After approximately 1 km, where a small stream crosses the track, I saw a flash of a Dwarf Jay coming down and disappearing in a dense tree. The bird was quickly followed by another one. We waited a few minutes and suddenly both birds appeared again, calling a few times while flying further down into the valley. We couldn't relocate them. Sound and silhouette were unmistakable but I would have liked to see the birds a little bit better.

Other birds seen on our visit: Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Red-tailed Hawk 1, Mountain Pygmy-Owl 1 heard, Mountain Trogon 4 singing (2 also seen very well), Spot-crowned Woodcreeper, Violet-green Swallow, Dwarf Jay 2, Steller's Jay, Northern Raven 2, Mexican Chickadee, Brown Creeper, Brown-backed Solitaire 5 singing, Russet Nightingale-Thrush 2 (1 very confiding bird on the track), Grey Silky, Hutton's Vireo, Golden Vireo 1, Crescent-chested Warbler 5 singing (3 seen well), Townsend's Warbler 2, Hermit Warbler 2, Yellow-eyed Junco, Red Warbler 8, Slate-throated Whitestart 15.

Santa María del Tule

Impressive trunk of the Tule Montezuma Cypress
In the afternoon of 16-3, we went to Tule to see "El Árbol del Tule", a famous, giant and about 1,500-year-old Montezuma Cypress. On the way we had Crested Caracara 1 flying and 4 sitting together in the corner of a field, and a Peregrine Falcon passing with prey over the Tule town. On the way back to Oaxaca we passed a Great-tailed Grackle roosting site of over 100 birds.

Highway 175/Black Tank

I visited the "Black Tank" area several times. The area is described in the Howell book on bird finding. It is located along highway 175, just past the reservoir and where the road enters the mountains. A dumped oil tank amongst a lot of other debris marks the precise location. Not a spot that Tineke favored. I tried to find Oaxaca Sparrow here (but didn't succeed). However, I had another success. On 16-3 I had short views of the tail of a Lesser Roadrunner, sticking in the air while the bird was hiding under a bush. The tail disappeared before I could get a proper look at the bird, and I could not relocate the bird. When we revisited the area on 21-3, returning from Valle Nacional, I again stumbled on a Lesser Roadrunner at almost the same spot. This time the bird was sitting on a ledge and I got a good view of the whole bird. In a split second it vanished again. The view was too short to distinguish the bird from Greater Roadrunner, but that species doesn't occur here.

Other birds seen at this location: 16-3: Cassin's Kingbird 5, Rufous-capped Warbler 2, Colima Warbler 2. 19-3: Blue-hooded Euphonia: 1 male singing in mistletoe, Bridled Sparrow 2, Rufous-capped Warbler 1. 21-3: Ash-throated Flycatcher 1.

Teotitlán del Valle

Looking down from the hills above Teotitlán, reservoir in the background

On 17-3 we went to Teotitlán from early morning to early afternoon. First be birded shortly at the reservoir. Being one of the few places with open water, it held a lot of species that are uncommon for Oaxaca: Least Grebe 30, Great Egret 1, Snowy Egret 2, Cattle Egret 2, Blue-winged Teal 30, Ruddy Duck 30, American Coot 40, Killdeer, Spotted Sandpiper 4, Least Sandpiper 40, Dusky Hummingbird 10 (feeding at the outflow of the reservoir), Black Phoebe 2, Vermilion Flycatcher, Violet-green Swallow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, American Pipit 1, Chipping Sparrow.

Soon after inspection of the reservoir, we went further up the road and tried to find birds at the foot of the mountains. This produced the following birds: Turkey Vulture, Red-tailed Hawk 2, White-winged Dove, Inca Dove, White-tipped Dove 1, Mourning Dove, Nutting's Flycatcher, Cassin's Kingbird, Thick-billed Kingbird, Western Scrub Jay, Bewick's Wren, Blue-grey Gnatcatcher, Northern Mockingbird 1, Curve-billed Thrasher 4, Grey Silky, Wilson's Warbler, Rufous-capped Warbler, Black-headed Grosbeak, White-throated Towhee 8, Bridled Sparrow 1, Black-vented Oriole 1.

On 22-3, our last day in Oaxaca, I decided to do a last attempt at seeing some Oaxaca endemic at Teotitlán. However, it was very quiet, searching birds was hard work and produced nothing new. I managed to find 8 Bridled Sparrows, but not one Oaxaca Sparrow. No vireo song to be heard. Bewick's Wren 10, Grey Silky 4, White-throated Towhee >10, Rufous-sided Towhee 1, Western Scrub Jay 2, Black-headed Grosbeak several singing males, Bronzed Cowbirds 6.


View on Oaxaca Valley from Yagul, with the "ball court" on the foreground

In the afternoon of 17-3 we went to Yagul, to visit the ruins and do some late afternoon birding. The ruins were nice and peaceful. Around the ruins we found the following birds: Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, White-tailed Kite 1, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Crested Caracara 5, American Kestrel 1, White-winged Dove 6, Say's Phoebe 2, Vermilion Flycatcher, Rock Wren 2, Bewick's Wren 2, Northern Mockingbird 1, Curve-billed Thrasher 2, White-throated Towhee 4, Lark Sparrow 1, House Finch 40. On the way back to Oaxaca we had another (or the same?) White-tailed Kite.

Monte Alban

Part of the Monte Alban complex and the surrounding valley
On 18-3 we went to Monte Alban, to first do some birding around the parking lot and then visit the ruins. Birding turned out to be a disappointment. First he road was fenced off >1 km from the parking lot. We had to walk for over 20 minutes and back again to pick up the car. The parking lot around tomb 107 seems to hold only common species. I could not discover any species that would be new for this trip. Especially the Dwarf Vireo, Slaty Vireo and Oscalated Thrasher were nowhere to be found. Birds we did see: Ladder-backed Woodpecker 1 female, Cassin's Kingbird, Violet-green Swallow, Canyon Wren 2 (nestling in Tomb 107), White-throated Towhee 10, Dusky Hummingbird 1, Black-vented Oriole, House Finch 50, Lesser Goldfinch 5. From the ruins we saw Crested Caracara 1 passing, Rock Wren 3 on the ruins.

Valle Nacional

Birding the cloud forest at Valle Nacional
On 19-3 we went from Oaxaca to Valle Nacional, for a two-day stay. The road was is good condition. No potholes of importance, but many windings, especially in the descent from the mirador to Valle Nacional. There was not much traffic on the road. The weather forecast indicated a clouded day, and a drop in temperature. And sure enough, shortly after crossing the mountain ridge at the mirador we drove into the clouds and mist. The moist formed a continuous rain coming from the vegetation. Occasionally, the clouds opened up somewhat and gave us splendid views on the cloud forest. When approaching Valle Nacional, a light rain was falling. We stopped at Esperanza to scan the forest from a view point just below the village, and the result was stunning: Plain Chachalaca 4 heard (brief views of birds descending the slope), Aztec Parakeet 2, Bumblebee Hummingbird 4, Emerald Toucanet 2 (heard, 1 seen), Social Flycatcher 4, Masked Tityra 1, Brown Jay 4, Unicolored Jay 8, Southern House Wren 1, Slate-colored Solitaire 10 heard, Clay-colored Thrush 4, White-throated Thrush 1, Crescent-chested Warbler 1, Black-and-white Warbler 1, Slate-throated Whitestart 1, Yellow-winged Tanager 10, Common Bush-Tanager 1, Buff-throated Saltator 1, Black-headed Grosbeak 1, White-collared Seedeater 2. Simply wonderful.

The lower section of the road to Valle Nacional, near Yetla, produced the following: Turkey Vulture, Red-billed Pigeon 2, White-faced Quail-Dove 4 heard, Couch's or Tropical Kingbird 2, Brown Jay 2, Blue-grey Gnatcatcher 2, Blue-grey Tanager 1, Yellow-winged Tanager 2, Indigo Bunting 3, Great-tailed Grackle, Chestnut-headed Oropendola 8 (gathering in a tree top).

On 20-3 we again went to the lookout point just below Esperanza. This time we saw and heard: Turkey Vulture, White-faced Quail-Dove heard, Pheasant Cuckoo 2+1 singing, Collared Trogon several singing, 1 seen very well, Golden-olive Woodpecker 1, Unicolored Jay 2, Slate-colored Solitaire 6 heard and 1 seen, Blue-hooded Euphonia 1 singing, Common Bush-Tanager >10, Yellow-faced Grassquit 1 at the chapel along the road, Bronzed Cowbird 6 in Esperanza, Yellow-winged Tanager 10.

In the afternoon we birded in the lowlands, at both sides of Valle Nacional. A small track leading to and along the river just above San Mateo Yetla and ending at some clear-cut fields produced some nice species. Neotropic Cormorant 1 + 3, Cattle Egret 30, Green Heron 1, Black Vulture 60, Grey Hawk 2 birds perched and calling to each other at dusk, Double-toothed Kite 1 flying, Common Black Hawk 1 with prey (reptile), Spotted Sandpiper 1, Aztec Parakeet 20, White-collared Swift 30, Long-tailed Hermit 2, Black-crested Coquette 1 male, Canivet's Emerald 2 male plus females, Bumblebee Hummingbird 1 male, Ringed Kingfisher 2, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 3, Greater Pewee 1, Black Phoebe 3, Social Flycatcher 10, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Brown Jay 6, Southern House Wren 1, Blue-grey Gnatcatcher, Clay-colored Thrush 3, Crescent-chested Warbler 1, Black-throated Green Warbler 1, Black-and-white Warbler 1, Wilson's Warbler 2, Bananaquit 2, Black-headed Grosbeak 6, White-collared Seedeater 5, Bronzed Cowbird 15, Great-tailed Grackle >100, Baltimore Oriole 1, Montezuma Oropendola 6 and several singing in a colony of 7 nests.

We also saw an Oriole that I assume to be a Baltimore Oriole. The light-colored and straight bill with a dark spot on the lower mandible matches only with Baltimore Oriole. The plumage however doesn't really fit any picture or description I've come across. I would appreciate it if someone who recognizes this plumage can shed some light on this.

Presumably an immature male Baltimore Oriole, any additional info is welcome.
Finally, on our way back to Oaxaca on 21-3, we stopped again at the lowlands just above the town of Yetla. Again we saw several new and fine species. Neotropic Cormorant 3, Little Blue Heron 1, Turkey Vulture, White Hawk 1 flying together with 3 Turkey Vultures, Spotted Sandpiper 1, Red-billed Pigeon 1 at the hotel, Aztec Parakeet 6, White-collared Swift 4, Ringed Kingfisher 1, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 1, Barred Woodcreeper 1, Social Flycatcher 2, Brown Jay 4, Plumbeous Vireo 1, Ovenbird 1, Bananaquit 1, Flame-colored Tanager 1 male and 1 female, Black-headed Saltator 1, Melodious Blackbird 2, Montezuma Oropendola 1 singing.

At Esperanza we had: Double-toothed Kite 1, Pheasant Cuckoo 1 singing, Emerald Toucanet 1, Brown Jay 6, Slate-colored Solitaire 4 including 1 in song flight. Two distant Amazon parrots couldn't be identified.

The mirador at the mountain ridge held two surprises: Grey-barred Wren 4 noisy birds crossing the ridge and Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer 2 singing and feeding males. Also Northern Raven 2.

A short stop in the dry interior valley between the mirador en Cerro San Felipe produced MacGillivray's Warbler 1, Veery 1 (only by Tineke), Blue-throated Hummingbird 1.

Oaxaca - Puebla

On 22-3 we left Oaxaca to return to Mexico City. We took the cuota that cuts through some beautiful landscapes. From Oaxaca you first pass a mountain range and than enter a valley at 1200 m. The hillsides are covered with large column cacti. We pulled out at the first possible location that offered close views on the cacti. I scanned the cacti and within 10 seconds I had my first Grey-breasted Woodpecker! After the valley with cacti came a valley at 1800 m with Yuccas that strongly resemble the beautiful Joshua-trees. When stopping for a tollbooth, we discovered two splendid adult White-tailed Hawks passing the highway. The rest of the trip was uneventful. We wanted to visit the area described by Howell under "8-7 Laguna San Felipe", so we left the toll way at Puebla and ended up in Atlixco.


On the last day in Mexico, 23-3, we had to spend a morning in the vicinity of Mexico City. We decided to do the area that is described under "8-7 Laguna San Felipe", but is actually a small mountain range at some 50 km distance from the Laguna. It was Eastern, so we came across a lot of preparation for Eastern festivities. The mountain area itself however was peaceful, and the scenery was beautiful. We had very close views to White-naped Swifts, also seen from above. Although the area seems to be more cultivated then described in the Howell-book, we found some nice birds, including a splendid male Blue-throated Hummingbird, a passing immature Broad-winged Hawk and a female Blue-hooded Euphonia hiding in a bunch of mistletoe. In the surrounding fields Loggerhead Shrike was common. However, I found it hard to really focus on birding. The evening before, electronic confirmation of our e-tickets had failed. We had to arrive at least 3 hours before departure to settle things or risk loosing out airplane seats. And we still had to drive to and through Mexico City. We decided to play it safe and leave early.

Full species list

We have observed 210 bird species. They are listed here, with endemics species (29) marked in bold.

Although I focused on observing birds, I also took some bird pictures using the digiscoping technique (Nikon Coolpix 995 digital compact camera through a Swarovski AT 80 HD telescope). Some photos were helpful in identifying the species (Spotted Wren, Summer Tanager). I had sound recordings with me, which helped (especially in the Valle Nacional area) to identify species that were very vocal but not visible (Great Chachalaca, Pheasant Cuckoo, White-fronted Quail-Dove, Spot-breasted Wren).

  1. Least Grebe - 17-3 and 22-3: 30 birds in the reservoir above Teotitlán

  2. Pied-billed Grebe - on most ponds and marshes in D.F.
  3. Eared Grebe - 12-3: 4 in lake along highway 55 Toluca-Atlacomulco, 14-3: some 50 on the Lerma Marshes
  4. Brown Pelican - 14-3: 1 immature bird on a fish tank in the Lerma Marshes (much to my surprise)

  5. Neotropic Cormorant - 20-3 and 21-3: several birds present on the river just above Valle Nacional

  6. Great Blue Heron - 9-3 and 14-3: common at Lerma Marshes
  7. Great Egret - 9-3 and 14-3: common at Lerma Marshes, also seen on smaller lakes and ponds, 17-3: 1 bird at Teotitlán.
  8. Snowy Egret - 9-3 and 14-3: common on Lerma Marshes, 17-3: 2 birds at Teotitlán
  9. Little Blue Heron - 21-3: 1 present on the river just above Valle Nacional
  10. Cattle Egret - seen every day, very common in agricultural areas and around open sewers
  11. Green Heron - 20 and 21-3: 1 present on the river just above Valle Nacional

  12. Black-crowned Night-Heron - 9-3: 8 at Lerma Marshes flying around at dusk
  13. White-faced Ibis - 9-3 and 14-3: some 100 birds present in Lerma Marshes

  14. Green-winged Teal - 9-3 and 14-3: common in Lerma Marshes, also on smaller ponds in D.F.
  15. Northern Pintail - 12-3: several birds the pond along highway 55, 14-3: present in the Lerma Marshes
  16. Blue-winged Teal - 9-3 and 14-3: common in Lerma Marshes, also on small ponds in D.F., 16-3 and 22-3: 30 in the reservoir above Teotitlán
  17. Cinnamon Teal - 14-3: 4 at Lerma Marshes
  18. Northern Shoveler - 12-3: 16,000 along highway 55 Toluca-Atlacomulco, 14-3: 3,400 in the Lerma Marshes
  19. Gadwall - 14-3: 4 at Lerma Marshes
  20. American Wigeon - 9-3 and 14-3: present in the Lerma Marshes, 12-3: hundreds in the pond along highway 55
  21. Canvasback - 12-3: 1 female in pond along highway 55 Toluca-Atlacomulco
  22. Ring-necked Duck - 9-3 and 14-3: common in Lerma Marshes, also on small ponds in D.F., 16-3: 1 at Teotitlán
  23. Ruddy Duck - 12-3: 800 in the pond along highway 55, 14-3: 1600 in the Lerma Marshes, 16-3: 30 at the reservoir above Teotitlán.
  24. Black Vulture - Seen every day in low numbers, 20-3: 50 perched and on the ground in the lowlands at Valle Nacional. Here we saw small groups attending gardens and towns, undisturbed by the presence of people.
  25. Turkey Vulture - Seen every day in low numbers, maximum on 17-3: a group of 9 at Yagul.
  26. Grey Hawk - 21-3: 2 birds perched in the lowland forest at Valle Nacional. At dusk they started calling to each other.

  27. White-tailed Kite - 17-3: 1 at Yagul, and 1 (possibly the same bird) on the way back to Oaxaca
  28. Double-toothed Kite - 20-3 and 21-3: 1 flying at Valle Nacional lowland
  29. Northern Harrier - 8-3 and 14-3: common at Lerma Marshes, 4 seen at the same time
  30. Sharp-shinned Hawk - 8-3: 1 at Lerma Marshes, 11-3: 1 at Coajamulco, 17-3: 1 at Yagul
  31. White Hawk - 21-3: 1 soaring together with 3 Turkey Vultures just above Valle Nacional
  32. Common Black Hawk - 20-3: 1 with prey at (reptile) just above Valle Nacional
  33. Broad-winged Hawk - 1 immature near Tlacotepec (23-3)
  34. White-tailed Hawk - 22-3: 2 adults flying over the Oaxaca - Puebla cuota
  35. Red-tailed Hawk - single birds seen at almost every site, 11-3: 1 dark phase at Coajamulco
  36. Crested Caracara - only seen in the direct vicinity of Oaxaca, 16-3: 4 on the ground, 1 flying near Santa María del Tule, 17-3: 5 soaring at Yagul, 18-3: 1 flying past at Monte Alban
  37. American Kestrel - single birds seen at almost every site
  38. Peregrine Falcon - 16-3: 1 with prey over Santa María del Tule
  39. Plain Chachalaca - 19-3: 4 heard (very noisy) and brief flashes seen while they descended the slopes at the cloud forest near Esperanza
  40. Sora - 14-3: 2 at close range at Lerma Marshes

  41. Common Moorhen - Very common al all kind of ponds in Central Mexico. Especially large numbers in ditches around the Lerma Marshes
  42. American Coot - Common on all larger ponds and marshes in Central Mexico. Also present on the reservoir near Teotitlán
  43. Killdeer - 8-3: present in small numbers around the Lerma Marshes, 12-3: around pond along highway 55, 17-3: 1 at the reservoir near Teotitlán
  44. Black-necked Stilt - 12-3: 2 at pond along highway 55, 14-3: 4 at Lerma Marshes
  45. American Avocet - 14-3: a group of 60 at Lerma Marshes
  46. Greater Yellowlegs - 8-3: 4 at Lerma Marshes
  47. Spotted Sandpiper - 14-3: 2 at Lerma Marshes, 17-3: 4 at the reservoir near Teotitlán, 20-3: 1 along the river near Yetla
  48. Least Sandpiper - 8-3 and 14-3: 20 at Lerma Marshes, 17-3: 40 at the reservoir near Teotitlán
  49. Long-billed Dowitcher - 8-3: 20 at Lerma Marshes
  50. Common Snipe - 8-3: 2 at Lerma Marshes
  51. Wilson's Phalarope - 12-3: 4 at pond along highway 55, 14-3: 8 at Lerma Marshes (all in winter plumage)
  52. Laughing Gull - 8-3 and 14-3: 1 adult winter plumage at Lerma Marshes
  53. Red-billed Pigeon - 19-3: 2 at Valle Nacional, 21-3: 1 at the hotel in Valle Nacional
  54. White-winged Dove - Common around Oaxaca
  55. Mourning Dove - 8-3: several at Lerma Marshes, 17-3: several heard at Teotitlán
  56. Inca Dove - Common in Toluca and surroundings, and around Oaxaca
  57. White-tipped Dove - 17-3: 1 at close range on the ground, in the hills above Teotitlán
  58. White-faced Quail-Dove - 19-3 and 20-3: several birds heard at Valle Nacional lowland (after careful comparison with sound recordings of this species and Ruddy Quail-Dove. The latter has a quite similar call, but I've not heard it with certainty).
  59. Aztec Parakeet - 19-3: 2 near Esperanza, 20-3: 20 above Valle Nacional

  60. Pheasant Cuckoo - only heard, on 20-3: first 2 birds pair singing, later a single bird heard, 21-3: 1 bird singing
  61. Lesser Roadrunner - 16-3: short view of only a tail at Highway 175/Black Tank area. On 21-3: short but better view of a bird at the same location.
  62. Groove-billed Ani - 10-3: 1 at Temascaltepec
  63. Mountain Pygmy-Owl - 16-3: 1 calling at Cerro San Felipe
  64. Short-eared Owl - 8-3: 1 flying around at dusk with prey (mouse) in it's legs
  65. White-collared Swift - 20-3: 30 at Valle Nacional, 21-4: another 4 at same location
  66. White-naped Swift - 23-3: several flying around near Tlacotepec, close views from above.
  67. Vaux's Swift - 10-3: >100 at Temascaltepec
  68. Long-tailed Hermit - 20-3: 2 in lowlands at Valle Nacional
  69. Black-crested Coquette 20-3: 1 male in lowlands at Valle Nacional
  70. Canivet's Emerald - 20-3: 2 males and several females in lowlands at Valle Nacional
  71. Dusky Hummingbird - 17-3: 10 feeding from flowering trees at the outflow of the reservoir near Teotitlán, 18-3: 1 at Monte Alban
  72. White-eared Hummingbird - 11-3: 10 at Coajamulco, 13-3: several at Temascaltepec

  73. Berylline Hummingbird - 10-3: >20 at Temascaltepec, 10-3: several at same location
  74. Blue-throated Hummingbird - 2-3: 1 at dry interior valley between Valle Nacional and Oaxaca, 23-3: 1 splendid male at Tlacotepec
  75. Broad-tailed Hummingbird - 10-3: 1 male at Temascaltepec
  76. Rufous Hummingbird - 9-3: 1 male at foot of Toluca Volcano
  77. Bumblebee Hummingbird - 19-3: 4 in cloud forest near Esperanza, 20-3: 1 male in lowlands near Valle Nacional

  78. Mountain Trogon -16-3: 4 singing at Cerro San Felipe, 2 seen very well, including the distinctive undertail pattern
  79. Collared Trogon - 20-3: several singing in cloud forest near Esperanza, 1 seen very well
  80. Ringed Kingfisher - 20-3: 2 at the river near Yetla, 21-3: 1 at the same location

  81. Green Kingfisher - 13-3: 1 at Temascaltepec, discovered by Tineke
  82. Emerald Toucanet - 19-3: 2 heard, 1 shortly seen, at Esperanza, 21-3: 1 at same location
  83. Acorn Woodpecker - 10-3: 2 above the forest at Temascaltepec, 11-3: 1 at Coajamulco, 13-3: 1 near Temascaltepec

  84. Grey-breasted Woodpecker - 22-3: 1 in a cactus along the Oaxaca-Puabla cuota
  85. Golden-fronted Woodpecker - Common and conspicuous in lowlands around Valle Nacional, 20-3: 3 seen, 21-3: 1 seen.
  86. Ladder-backed Woodpecker - 10-3: 1 female at Temascaltepec, 18-3: 1 female at Monte Alban
  87. Strickland's Woodpecker - 12-3: a pair in the mountains above Otomi Ceremonial Center, discovered by Tineke
  88. Golden-olive Woodpecker - 20-3: 1 showing very well in the cloud forest at Esperanza
  89. Northern Flicker - 10-3 several heard and seen at Toluca Volcano, also on 11-3 at La Cima

  90. Barred Woodcreeper - 21-3: 1 in the lowlands above Valle Nacional.
  91. Spot-crowned Woodcreeper - 16-3: close and long views on a sneaky bird, that often assumed a frozen position amongst thick branches and then was almost invisible
  92. Tufted Flycatcher - 10-3: 2 at Temascaltepec
  93. Greater Pewee - 11-3: 1 at La Cima, 20-3: 1 at Esperanza
  94. Buff-breasted Flycatcher - 8-3: 1 at Lerma Marshes, 11-3: 1 at Coajamulco
  95. Black Phoebe - common along all sorts of open water 
  96. Say's Phoebe - 8-3: present at Lerma Marshes, 11-3: present at Coajamulco, 17-3: 2 at Yagul
  97. Vermilion Flycatcher - common in half open landscapes, such as fields, gardens, etc.

  98. Ash-throated Flycatcher - 16-3: 1 along highway 175 from Oaxaca, Black Tank area
  99. Nutting's Flycatcher - 17-3: common above Teotitlán
  100. Social Flycatcher - common in lowland forest above Valle Nacional
  101. Cassin's Kingbird - 14-3: present in Lerma Marshes. Also seen in almost all locations around Oaxaca.

  102. Thick-billed Kingbird - 10-3: present around Temascaltepec, 17-3: present above Teotitlán
  103. Masked Tityra - 19-3: 1 in a group of Yellow-winged Tanagers at Esperanza
  104. Violet-green Swallow - common in all mountainous areas
  105. Northern Rough-winged Swallow - common around open water
  106. Barn Swallow - 8-3: common in the Lerma Marshes
  107. Steller's Jay - 11-3: 10 at La Cima and 4 at Coajamulco, 16-3: present in Cerro San Felipe
  108. Brown Jay - common and noisy in lowlands above Valle Nacional, on 21-3: 6 seen
  109. Dwarf Jay - 16-3: 2 at Cerro San Felipe, short flight views plus call heard
  110. Western Scrub Jay - 17-3 and 22-3: several birds in Teotitlán
  111. Unicolored Jay - common in cloud forest above Valle Nacional, on 19-3: 8 seen

  112. Northern Raven - 11-3: 1 at Coajamulco, 16-3: 2 at Cerro San Felipe, 21-3: 2 at the mirador along highway 175
  113. Mexican Chickadee - 9-3 and 10-3: several at Toluca Volcano, 16-3: present in Cerro San Felipe
  114. Bridled Titmouse - 13-3: 2 at Temascaltepec
  115. Bushtit - 11-3: 2 at La Cima, 12-3: 6 at Otomi Ceremonial Center
  116. White-breasted Nuthatch - 11-3: 2 at La Cima
  117. Pygmy Nuthatch - 10-3: 2 at Toluca Volcano
  118. Brown Creeper - 10-3: 4 at Toluca Volcano, 16-3: several in Cerro San Felipe.
  119. Grey-barred Wren - 21-3: 4 noisy birds crossing the mountain ridge at the mirador along highway 175 between Oaxaca and Valle Nacional
  120. Spotted Wren - 10-3: 1 at Temascaltepec, feeding on insects on an electricity pole just above the forest.

  121. Rock Wren - 17-3: 2 at Yagul, 18-3: 3 at Monte Alban
  122. Canyon Wren - 10-3: 1 heard at Real de Arriba near Temascaltepec, 13-3: 1 singing on a roof above Temascaltepec, 18-3: 2 birds bringing nest material into tomb 107
  123. Spot-breasted Wren - 20 and 21-3: several birds heard in the forest above Valle Nacional
  124. Happy Wren - 13-3: 1 at Temascaltepec
  125. Bewick's Wren - 9-3: 1 at Toluca Volcano, 17-3 common at Teotitlán, 22-3: 10 at same location, 17-3: 2 at Yagul
  126. Brown-throated Wren - 11-3: 1 at Coajamulco
  127. Southern House Wren - 19 and 20-3: 1 at Valle Nacional
  128. Marsh Wren - 14-3: 1 at Lerma Marshes 
  129. Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 13-3: 1 at Temascaltepec 
  130. Blue-grey Gnatcatcher - 17-3: 2 at outflow of reservoir above Teotitlán, 19 and 20-3: 2 birds in the lowlands above Valle Nacional
  131. Eastern Bluebird - very common, especially in clear cuts and fields in mountainous forests, 12-3: >50 on the mountain above the Otomi Ceremonial Center
  132. Brown-backed Solitaire - common in mountainous forest in D.F. Very striking song could be heard at any time of the day. 11-3 learned the song at Coajamulco, 12-3: >5 heard in the mountains above the Otomi Ceremonial Center, 16-3: 5 heard at Cerro San Felipe
  133. Slate-colored Solitaire - common in cloud forest above Valle Nacional, song heard all day, 19-3: 10 heard, 20-3: 1 singing in top of tree, 21-3: 1 singing in flycatcher-like flight

  134. Russet Nightingale-Thrush - 16-3: 2 birds at Cerro San Felipe, 1 confiding bird that feeded on the track and came in very close range
  135. Veery - 21-3: 1 bird seen by Tineke at the river running through the dry interior valley between Oaxaca and Valle Nacional
  136. Clay-colored Thrush - 19-3: 4 birds at Esperanza, 20-3: 3 birds in the lowlands at Yetla, also 1 bird present near the hotel in Valle Nacional.
  137. White-throated Thrush - 19-3: 1 bird amongst Clay-colored Thrushes at Esperanza.
  138. American Robin - common on fields outside the rural areas in D.F.
  139. Northern Mockingbird - 17-3: 1 at Teotitlán and 1 at Yagul, both singing.
  140. Curve-billed Thrasher - 10-3: 3 birds above the forest at Temascaltepec, 17-3: 4 birds at Teotitlán and 2 birds at Yagul
  141. American Pipit - 8-3: 1 at Lerma Marshes, 10-3: 1 at a pond just outside Toluca towards Temascaltepec, 17-3: 1 at Teotitlán
  142. Grey Silky - Common in almost all mountainous woods in D.F. and Oaxaca. On 11-3 I discovered a pair at a nest location at Coajamulco.

  143. Loggerhead Shrike - 9-3: 1 with small mouse at Lerma Marshes, 23-3: >4 in the area around Tlacotepec
  144. Plumbeous Vireo - 21-3: 1 in lowlands near Yetla
  145. Hutton's Vireo - 16-3: 1 at Cerro San Felipe
  146. Golden Vireo - 16-3: 1 at Cerro San Felipe
  147. Orange-crowned Warbler - 11-3: 1 at Coajamulco.
  148. Colima Warbler - 16-3: 2 at Highway 175/Black Tank area.
  149. Nashville Warbler - 10-3: 1 at Temascaltepec
  150. Crescent-chested Warbler - 16-3: 5 at Cerro San Felipe, 19 and 20-3: 1 at Valle Nacional
  151. Audubon's Warbler - 11-3: 1 at La Cima and 2 at Coajamulco
  152. Black-throated Grey Warbler - 10-3: 1 at Temascaltepec
  153. Townsend's Warbler - 13-3: 1 at Temascaltepec, 16-3: 2 at Cerro San Felipe
  154. Hermit Warbler - 16-3: 2 at Cerro San Felipe
  155. Black-throated Green Warbler - 20-3: 1 in lowlands above Valle Nacional
  156. Black-and-white Warbler - 19 and 21-3: 1 in lowlands above Valle Nacional
  157. Ovenbird - 21-3: 1 near river at Yetla
  158. Northern Waterthrush - 8-3: 1 at Lerma Marshes
  159. MacGillivray's Warbler - 10-3: 1 at Temascaltepec, 21-3: 1 in dry interior valley between Oaxaca and Valle Nacional
  160. Common Yellowthroat - 9-3 and 14-3: >40 at Lerma Marshes

  161. Black-polled Yellowthroat - 9-3 and 14-3: >10 at Lerma Marshes

  162. Wilson's Warbler - This was the most prominent bird of this trip. I saw a few birds in almost every area that I visited, from dry bushes in D.F. to the cloud forest in Valle Nacional. It was even present in the patio of our Oaxaca apartment, checking the flowering plants hanging from the balconies.
  163. Red Warbler - 9-3 and 10-3: several birds at Toluca Volcano, 16-3: 8 at Cerro San Felipe
  164. Slate-throated Whitestart - 11-3: 3 at La Cima and 1 at Coajamulco, 16-4: 15 at Cerro San Felipe, 19-3: 1 at Esperanza
  165. Rufous-capped Warbler - 10-3: 2 at Temascaltepec, 16-3: 2 at Highway 175/Black Tank area, 19-3: 1 at same location, 17-3: 1 at Teotitlán

  166. Olive Warbler - 11-3: 1 male and 1 female at Coajamulco 
  167. Bananaquit - 20-3: 2 at Esperanza, 21-2: 1 near Yetla
  168. Blue-hooded Euphonia - 19-3: 1 male singing at Oaxaca, highway 175 at the Black Tank location, 23-3: 1 female hiding in mistletoe near Tlacotepec.
  169. Blue-grey Tanager - 19-3: 1 between Yellow-winged Tanagers in lowland near Yetla
  170. Yellow-winged Tanager - common and conspicuous around Esperanza, 19 and 20-3: 10 seen there

  171. Hepatic Tanager - 13-3: 1 female at Temascaltepec
  172. Summer Tanager - 11-3: 1 female at Coajamulco
  173. Flame-colored Tanager - 21-3: 1 male and 1 female in the lowlands near Yetla
  174. Common Bush-Tanager - 19-3: 1 at Esperanza, 20-3: >10 at Esperanza
  175. Buff-throated Saltator - 19-3: 1 at Esperanza
  176. Black-headed Saltator - 21-3: 1 in lowlands near Yetla
  177. Black-headed Grosbeak - 10-3: 1 at Temascaltepec, 17-3 and 22-3: several singing males in the mountains above Teotitlán, 19-3: 1 at Esperanza, 20-3: 6 at Yetla
  178. Indigo Bunting - 10-3: 8 in fields above Temascaltepec, 19-3: 3 near Yetla

  179. Varied Bunting - 10-3: 1 near Temascaltepec
  180. Rufous-capped Brushfinch - 11-3: 1 skulking bird at La Cima
  181. Rufous-sided Towhee - 11-3: 1 in the mountains between La Cima and Toluca, 22-3: 1 near Teotitlán
  182. Canyon Towhee - 10-3: 1 at Temascaltepec, 14-3: 1 at Lerma Marshes,
  183. White-throated Towhee - 17-3: 8 at Teotitlán, 22-3: >10 at same location, 17-3: 4 at Yagul, 18-3: 10 at Monte Alban, 19-3: 1 at Esperanza
  184. White-collared Seedeater - 19-3: 2 at Esperanza, 20-3: 5 near Yetla
  185. Yellow-faced Grassquit - 20-3: 1 at Esperanza
  186. Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer - 21-3: 2 singing males at the mirador between Oaxaca and Valle Nacional
  187. Bridled Sparrow - 17-3: 1 at Teotitlán, 19-3: 2 highway 175 at the Black Tank location, 22-3: 8 at Teotitlán 
  188. Striped Sparrow - common in fields and mountains of D.F., 11-3: 20 at La Cima

  189. Chipping Sparrow - 11-3: 30 at La Cima and 25 at Coajamulco, 17-3: present in the fields near Teotitlán
  190. Clay-colored Sparrow - 10-3: present at Temascaltepec
  191. Lark Sparrow - 17-3: 1 at Yagul
  192. Grasshopper Sparrow - 14-3: present at Lerma Marshes
  193. Sierra Madre Sparrow - 11-3: about 8 birds found at La Cima.

  194. Song Sparrow - 8-3 and 14-3: very common at Lerma Marshes
  195. Yellow-eyed Junco - very common in mountainous areas around Toluca
  196. Red-winged Blackbird - 8-3 and 14-3: very common at Lerma Marshes
  197. Yellow-headed Blackbird - 8-3: 20 between Cowbirds and Grackles at Lerma Marshes
  198. Melodious Blackbird - 21-2: 2 singing above the road at the lowlands near Yetla
  199. Great-tailed Grackle - very common around settlements, city parks, gardens, etc..
  200. Bronzed Cowbird - 8-3 and 14-3: common at Lerma Marshes, 20-3: 6 at Esperanza and 15 near Yetla, 22-3: 6 at Teotitlán
  201. Brown-headed Cowbird - 8-3: common at Lerma Marshes
  202. Black-vented Oriole - 17-3: 1 at Teotitlán, 18-3: 1 at Monte Alban
  203. Baltimore Oriole - 10-3: 1 female at Temascaltepec, 20-3: 1 male and 1 probable immature male in lowlands at Yetla.
  204. Scott's Oriole - 10-3: 1 male at Temascaltepec
  205. Chestnut-headed Oropendola - 20-3: a group of 8 birds gathering in tree tops over highway 175, close to Valle Nacional.
  206. Montezuma Oropendola - 20-3: several birds singing around a small colony of 7 nests near Yetla, just above Valle Nacional. Truly an amazing sound! The birds were throwing themselves forward to an almost upside-down position while singing their phrases. (This is the very last recording on the Mexico bird sounds CD. I had used it to test transfer of sounds to my new mp3-player. At that moment I was struck by the weirdness of the sound. I was struck again when I heard it in the field!).

  207. House Finch - Common in towns and agricultural fields
  208. Red Crossbill - 11-3: several in flight at Coajamulco
  209. Pine Siskin - 11-3: 8 at La Cima
  210. Lesser Goldfinch - 10-3: 1 at Temascaltepec, 18-3: 5 at Monte Alban

Escapes or domesticated birds observed:
  1. Mallard - 10-3: two domesticated birds on a pond outside of Toluca
  2. European Starling - 14-3: 10 birds at the Lerma Marshes. Dispersion of this species in Mexico apparently continues.
  3. Rock dove - domesticated form present in all towns and cities
  4. House Sparrow - very common in all towns

We saw only a very few species of mammal: bats flying around at night around the illuminated Santa Domingo plaza, Oaxaca, two types of squirrel (grey and very dark red) and a pocket gopher spec. on highway 175 above Valle Nacional, presumably a Large Pocket Gopher.

Voorschoten, 3-4-2008