Oaxaca State Birding Tour

Oaxaca State Birding Tour

Oaxaca has more diversity of birds than any other Mexican state: nearly 750 species out of 1100 total bird species in Mexico, and 70 of 100 of  Mexican endemics. But that’s not all: on a trip to Oaxaca you can also enjoy the bustling capital city with beautiful colonial architecture, impressive archaeological sites, and vibrant cultural traditions, as well as some truly fantastic beaches along the coast. All of this makes Oaxaca an ideal destination for a birding trip. 

This ten day itinerary will allow you to see as many birds as possible, while also enjoying the other bounties Oaxaca has to offer. Starting in Oaxaca city, we’ll spend the first few days birding in locations in the Oaxaca valley, the Northern Sierra and Monte Alban. Then we’ll head south into the high mountains, spending one night in San José del Pacifico, then crossing the continental divide, we’ll spend another night on the slopes in the coffee-growing region of Pluma Hidalgo where the majestic evergreen tropical broad-leaf forest offers a variety of showy, colorful birds, and beautiful tropical plants, before heading down to sea level with its deciduous dry forest where we’ll explore around Huatulco and Puerto Escondido.

We’ll be happy to customize this suggested itinerary to your particular interests and available dates. Besides being knowledgeable about birds, plants and natural history, your guide is well-versed in Oaxaca’s history and culture, so if you would like to include other interests along the way, just let us know.

Black-vented oriole

Day 1:

We’ll get an early start and head east from Oaxaca city, birding in the interior valley, home to the endemic and year-round resident Grey-breasted woodpecker and Boucard’s wren, Bridle sparrow, White-tailed hawk, Zone-tailed hawk, Dwarf vireo, Black-vented oriole, and Ocellated thrasher. We’ll have lunch in a village that’s famous for its woolen rugs dyed with natural colors. We’ll have a chance to visit a local family and see a demonstration of the weaving process and natural dyes such as indigo and cochineal.

Day 2:

Today we’ll be heading to the Sierra San Felipe, where we’ll find pine-oak forest at double the altitude of Oaxaca (5000 ft), we’ll reach 10,000 feet making a few stops along the way looking for our target birds: Oaxaca sparrow, Elegant euphonia, Grey-barred wren, Red warbler, Dwarf jay, Mountain trogon, and Collared towhee, among others. We’ll have lunch at the best restaurant in the mountains, trying some of the recommended dishes such as chiles rellenos or mushroom specialties. There’s also great birding on the grounds of the restaurant.
Oaxaca sparrow

Day 3:

We have two choices with the same potential of spotting some endemics, either Monte Alban or Libramiento Norte. In either place there’s a good chance to see Slaty, Dwarf and Golden vireo. Another opportunity for the elusive Ocellated thrasher, White-throated towhee, Blue mockingbird, Great-silky flycatcher, Greenish elaenia. In case we go to Monte Alban, we can complement the day with a tour of the Zapotec ruins, and back in Oaxaca, we can visit Santo Domingo museum, which combines culture, colonial architecture and great birding in the Ethnobotanical garden.

Day 4:

As we leave Oaxaca city, we’ll have the opportunity to stop and visit pottery and woodcarving villages and see a demonstration, if you’re interested. We leave Oaxaca and head south along Highway 175 to San Jose del Pacifico, a bohemian town famous for hallucinogenic mushrooms. We’ll check-in at the best lodge in town and do some birding in the afternoon, hoping to see the Aztec thrush that I have seen in this area, Brown-backed solitaire, Chestnut-capped brush finch, Red warbler, and many others.

Day 5: 

We continue along Highway 175 crossing the continental divide, or Sierra Madre, making a few stops along the way for birding. We’ll have another chance to spot the Mountain trogon, Mountain pygmy owl, Pine flycatcher, Bumblebee and Amethyst-throated hummingbirds. We’ll drop into the transition zone of broad-leafed tropical forest seeing bigger and more showy birds. Buff-breasted saltator, Common bush tanager, Emerald toucanet. We’ll check into the lodge in a coffee-producing community just 25 miles from Santa Cruz Huatulco.

Pine flycatcher

Day 6: 

We’ll bird in the coffee community and hotel grounds hoping to see the rare endemic
Blue-capped Hummingbird. Then we drive south along Highway 175 to a hillside coffee plantation to see the process of growing, harvesting and roasting coffee. This is the only shade-grown organic coffee finca in the Pluma Hidalgo area and very birdy. It’s the only place to find hard-to-see bird species like Fan tailed warbler, Eye-ringed flatbill and Blue-capped hummingbird, Golden-crowned and occasionally worm-eating warbler We’ll head to Huatulco to spend the night.

Day 7: 

We’ll spend the morning birding around the Ecolodge grounds and nearby areas. We’ll return to the lodge for breakfast and then drive to Huatulco. You’ll have the afternoon free to explore the small town of La Crucecita and its pleasant main plaza surrounded by restaurants, shops and the church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, or if you prefer, spend some time at the beach.

Orange-breasted bunting

Day 8: 

We’ll do some birding at a few prime spots: Copalita ecological park, around the golf course and the ecological paths of the National Park. There are about 300 bird species on the Oaxaca coast. We can expect to see Squirrel and Lesser-ground cuckoo, Painted, Blue and Orange-breasted bunting, Golden-cheeked, Lineated and Pale-billed woodpecker, and the super-elusive Red-breasted chat, West Mexican chachalaca,
Scissor-tailed flycatcher, Russet-crowned motmot, Plain-capped starthroat, Doubleday’s and Cinnamon hummingbirds, as well as the rare Flammulated flycatcher.

Day 9: 

We’ll bird in the early morning, then return to the lodge for breakfast and checkout. A two-hour drive to Puerto Escondido with a stop at the river mouth of the Colotepec river to look for some wading birds and raptors. 

Day 10: 

We’ll spend the final day of our trip with an early start for breakfast and a 20 minute drive to the Manialtepec Lagoon for a boat ride. This magnificent lagoon is protected and spans 15 km along the ocean of mangrove and deciduous leafy jungle. It widens to 500 meters average and up to 15 meters in depth in some areas. Manialtepec is a major nesting ground for several species We will look for Mangrove swallow, Mangrove vireo, Mangrove cuckoo, White-fronted parrot, Lesser nighthawk, Common black hawk, Crane hawk, Peregrine falcon, Cinnamon-rumped seedeater, Boat-billed heron, Whistling and Fulvous duck, among many others.

To book this tour or to customize a birding tour, please contact us

Our clients say...

We’ve visited the Oaxaca region for 40 years, but we understand it much better now. We took a two-day hike in the Sierra Norte with Benito between two of the “Pueblos Mancomunados,” Benito Juarez and Neveria. It is so clear that Benito truly loves his region and knows it down to every flowering plant, singing bird and, in season, mushroom.
Benito takes every care to look after your comfort and safety and to actualize what it is that you would like to experience. He doesn’t give canned tours, he is in conversation with you. A very special person to be at your service.
We took a birding tour around Oaxaca City and areas south over the mountains and to the coast with Benito Hernandez. We were thoroughly delighted with Benito's schedule, knowledge and choice of accommodations. He really aims to please and Suzanne, although we never had the opportunity to meet her, was behind the scenes with answers to our emails. The trip was easy to book as well. Benito also knew where to take us for whatever our needs were whether it be the local restaurants, bakeries or shopping for black pottery. You will not be disappointed.
We had two incredible trips with Oaxaca Tours.The first was a three day overnight trip designed to reflect our interests. With Benito we went birdwatching, explored archeological sites and learned about the social and natural history of Oaxaca. We stayed two nights in cabins in small mountain villages. The trip perfectly matched our interests and expectations. Benito has many years of guiding experience and all the qualities of a great guide: extremely knowledgeable, personable, attentive, flexible, a great travelling companion. He is from the area and was able to point out and explain many things of natural, cultural and social interest that we would otherwise have either not noticed or understood.