Oaxaca and coastal Chiapas


Dates: This tour can be run upon special request

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Located in southwestern Mexico, Oaxaca, Mexico’s fifth-largest state, is a varied and scenic wonder. Possessing a pleasant, mild climate, most of the state occupies a mile-high plateau encircled by the Sierra Madre del Sur. As evidenced by Oaxaca’s birdlist—the largest of any Mexican state—the birding here is wonderful. In addition to several rare endemics that are most easily found here, Oaxaca is home to many additional stunning Mexican and regional  endemics. Gray-breasted Woodpecker, Beautiful, Bumblebee, Emerald-chinned, Green-fronted, Blue-capped, Cinnamon-sided and White-tailed Hummingbirds, White-throated and Dwarf Jays, Ocellated Thrasher, Boucard’s Wren, Slaty and Golden Vireos, Red-breasted Chat and Black-chested, Bridled and Oaxaca Sparrow are all possible. In addition to these more difficult to locate endemics we’ll search for many more widespread Mexican and regional endemics. Wedge-tailed Sabrewing, Golden-crowned and Canivet’s Emeralds, Russet-crowned Motmot, Citreoline Trogon, Pine Flycatcher, Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo, Crescent-chested and Red Warblers, Yellow Grosbeak, Hooded Grosbeak and Black-vented Oriole are some examples of this latter category. Finally, we’ll visit Coastal Chiapas and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in order to find a trio of endemic birds limited to this small slice of the world. the skulking Sumichrast’s (Cinnamon-tailed) Sparrow, captivating Rosita’s (Rose-bellied) Bunting and Giant Wren—the largest wren in the world!

Exciting birds often compete with majestic scenery for our attention as we travel the width & breadth of Oaxaca and neighboring Chiapas. Habitats include pine-oak forest, arid scrub, thorn forest, cloud forest and tropical lowlands. Although some of our birding destinations are at high altitude, birding is generally along roadsides with no strenuous or prolonged hikes required. Due to the diversity of habitats we visit during our tour, we have compiled an incredible composite list of more than 540 species to date. Proof of the varied birdlife found in Oaxaca, our tour has AVERAGED more than 420 species per tour over the past thirteen years. In 2003 we tallied an incredible 436 species, and each year’s total since 2000 has exceeded 400. While 400 species on our trip list is a goal to aspire to, we try to make sure each participant has the most fun possible.

After much deliberation over which route provides us the best birding and comfortable lodging while minimizing long drives, our itinerary begins along Mexico’s Gulf Coast at Veracruz, visits Caribbean slope lowlands and cloud forest, travels southward to the highlands of Oaxaca, visits the arid interior of Oaxaca and several ancient ruin sites, continues south to the Pacific Coast of Chiapas for the spectacular trio of Isthmus of Tehuantepec endemics, slides northwestward along the coast  enjoying Oaxaca’s wondrous thorn forest habitats and traverses the isolated Sierra de Miahuatlan for another trio of endemic birds. This eliminates a couple of very long travel days. More importantly, it provides us with additional time in the thorn forest habitats along Oaxaca’s Pacific slope. The dramatic loss of thorn forest in recent years has made many of the highly sought species from this habitat much more difficult to find. Thus the extra time here gives participants greater comfort and a greatly increased opportunity to see all of Oaxaca’s thorn forest specialties.