Least Grebe Tachybaptus dominicus
Up to four regularly noted on the Marina Vallarta golf
Pied-billed Grebe Podilymbus podiceps
One seen at the Marina Vallarta golf course pools on
Blue-footed Booby Sula nebouxii
Small numbers seen from the beach from Marina Vallarta
and Punta de Mita. Much more numerous on a boat trip out
to the Marietas Islands with an estimated 500+ around the
islands, many of which were on nests, and perhaps another
c200 seen from the boat en route. A relatively
restricted species in world terms.
Brown Booby S. leucogaster
A couple of probables were seen from the shore, but
the only confirmed sightings were out in the bay on a
boat trip to the Marietas Islands, when c100 were seen on
the way out there and 500+ were around the islands,
including many nests. Many birds had dark heads, which is
apparently more typical of Atlantic coast birds.
Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis
Commonly seen all along the coast, including around
the hotels. The largest concentrations were on the sand
spit at the mouth of the the Rio Ameca, where we counted
250 on 28/6 and 280 on 1/7.
Neotropic Cormorant Phalacrocorax brasilianus
Common along the coast, with concentrations of up to c100
on the golf course at Marina Vallarta and up to c70 at
the mouth of the Rio Ameca. Small numbers were also found
inland at El Ranchito and San Juan de Abagio.
Anhinga Anhinga anhinga
Small numbers regularly seen around the golf course
and the Rio Ameca, mostly in flight, with a max of six on
Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens
Common all along the coast, with birds almost
constantly in view. The largest numbers were seen on 4/7,
with c150 at a nesting colony on the Marietas Islands.
Probably nesting also at Los Arcos near Mismaloya.
Great Egret Egretta alba
Small numbers most days, including birds inland at San
Juan de Abagio.
Snowy Egret E. thula
Common and widespread with maxima of 55 on 28/6 and 44
on 1/7 from the mouth of the Rio Ameca.
Little Blue Heron E. caerulea
Widely noted in small numbers, with records from the
Marina Vallarta coastal area as well as inland at El
Ranchito and San Juan de Abagio.
Tricoloured Heron E. tricolor
Small numbers noted most days around the Marina
Vallarta / Rio Ameca area.
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
Variable numbers seen most days, with a maximum of c50
around the airport where there was a nesting colony.
Birds seen in full breeding plumage confirming them to be
of nominate race, not coromandus.
Green Heron Butorides virescens
Widely noted in small numbers with a maximum of c10 on
26/9 around the Marina Vallarta area.
Yellow-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax violaceus
A common species along the coast, with a nesting
colony by the end of the airport. Often seen feeding
along the beach in small numbers, but much larger numbers
noted on the golf course pools at dawn and dusk.
White Ibis Eudocimus albus
Commonly recorded around the Marina Vallarta area,
with maximum of c30 on 7/7.
Roseate Spoonbill Platalea ajaja
At the mouth of the Rio Ameca, 10 on 28/6, one on 29/6,
three on 1/7 and 14 on 7/7.
Wood Stork Mycteria americana
Migrating flocks over the Rio de Cuale of 15 on 25/6,
and two flocks of six and 39 on 30/6, as well as two
flocks of c35 and c20 over Marina Vallarta (visible from
the swimming pool!). All of these birds were moving north,
presumably dispersing from breeding colonies further
south and following the rains north. Additionally, two
were at the Rio Ameca on 1/7.
Black-bellied Whistling Duck Dendrocygna autumnalis
The only species of wildfowl noted (except for
domestic Muscovies in people's gardens). The species was
common, widespread and noisy, with up to 50 noted per day.
Even seen perching on the hotel roof!
American Black Vulture Coragyps atratus
By far the commonest raptor, and much more numerous
than Turkey Vulture, with large flocks of up to c300 seen
daily. Only seen on the ground at the mouth of the Rio
Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura
Scarce in comparison to Black Vulture, and not
recorded around the hotels, with records from Rio de
Cuale, Mismaloya, El Ranchito and San Juan de Abagio.
Large flocks seen in the distance from the hotel were
presumably mostly Black Vultures.
Hook-billed Kite Chondrohierax uncinatus
One was seen flying over the Rio de Cuale canyon on 30/6.
Loose, flappy flight with very pinched in secondaries, a
long head and overall dark with pale primaries.
White-tailed Kite Elanus leucurus
Three were seen together (family party?) over
agricultural land at San Juan de Abagio on 6/7.
Grey Hawk Buteo nitidus
At least three seen, some closely, in the Rio de Cuale
canyon on 30/6 with one at Mismaloya on 3/7. Overall grey
with a well barred tail and pinched in secondaries.
Short-tailed Hawk B. brachyurus
One hunting around the edge of the village at Punta de
Mita on 29/6, two over the Rio de Cuale on 30/6 and one
was seen from a beach to the south of Punta de Mita on 4/7.
All were dark-phase birds. The first was described as
having a barred tail with a thicker terminal band, barred
paler flight feathers, black body and underwing coverts
and a yellow bill. It was the size of a small Buzzard and
An unidentified "buteo" in Rio de Cuale
canyon on 25/6. One Black Hawk sp was over the Rio de
Cuale canyon on 30/6, and appeared to be more like Great
on shape, but with one tail bar, translucent flight
feathers and a rather short first primary (all of which
are more suggestive of Common Black Hawk). A bird seen
from Mismaloya beach on 3/7 was at first thought to be
another black hawk sp., but later thought to probably be
a Zone-tailed Hawk, although the species should not be in
this area in the summer. It had a white bar on the tail,
a whitish uppertail, soaring and gliding on obviously v'd
wings and very like a Turkey Vulture in overall
appearance. Moulting its inner primaries. Not claimed
since not supposed to be here, and only identified in
Crested Caracara Caracara plancus
One in flight, quite distantly, from Punta de Mita on
29/6. Long neck, pale head, rump and under-primaries.
Elegant Quail Callipepla douglasii
Common around the golf course / airport area, often
located on call (one was seen calling perched in a tree).
The call was transcribed as a 'strangled' "wha-i".
Also seen at Nuevo Vallarta and San Juan de Abagio.
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
Small numbers around the golf course.
American Coot Fulica americana
1-2 regularly seen on the golf course.
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola
Singles at the mouth of the Rio Ameca on 1/7 and 7/7.
Snowy Plover Charadrius alexandrinus
Two at the mouth of the Rio Ameca on 7/7.
Wilson's Plover C. wilsonia
Two at the mouth of the Rio Ameca on 1/7 and 7/7.
Semipalmated Plover C. semipalmatus
Up to 13 noted at the mouth of the Rio Ameca.
Killdeer C. vociferus
Common around the Marina Vallarta area, with up to 10
seen most days.
American Oystercatcher Haemotopus palliatus
One was seen on the Marietas Islands on 4/7.
Northern Jacana Jacana spinosa
Regular around wet areas on the Marina Vallarta golf
course, with a maximum of three seen there on 25/6. Two
were also seen on a marshy piece of waste ground on the
southern side of Marina Vallarta on 26/6.
Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca
At the mouth of the Rio Ameca, ten on 28/6 and 1/7
with nine there on 7/7.
Willet Catoptrophorus semipalmatus
Ten were at the mouth of the Rio Ameca on 28/6 and 1/7,
with two here on 7/7 and 15 in flight near here (seen
from boat) on 4/7. One on the beach at Marina Vallarta
and four at Nuevo Vallarta on 2/7.
Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularia
One was at the mouth of the Rio Ameca on 7/7.
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
At the mouth of the Rio Ameca, two on 28/6, one on 29/6,
one on 1/7 and five on 7/7. Also, five at Nuevo Vallarta
on 2/7. All were of dark-rumped "Hudsonian"
Two flew past at the Rio Ameca on 7/7 but
unfortunately didn't land.
Laughing Gull Larus atricilla
Commonly seen along the coast, but the largest
concentrations were c100 at Punta de Mita on 29/6, c100
at the Rio Ameca on 7/7 and c50 at the Marietas Islands
Heermann's Gull L. heermanni
Commonly noted all along the coast (more numerous than
Laughing Gull), with the maximum being c150 around the
Marietas Islands on 4/7. Birds were very tame here,
taking food from tourists' outstretched hands. All ages
Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica
At the mouth of the Rio Ameca, c50 on 28/6, 11 on 1/7
and two on 7/7. Two off Punta de Mita on 29/6 and one
from the boat on 4/7 in the bay.
Royal Tern S. maxima
Commonly seen in small numbers along the coast.
However, largest numbers at mouth of Rio Ameca where c40
on 28/6, c70 on 1/7 and c50 on 7/7. Also, c40 at the
Marietas Islands on 4/7.
Elegant Tern S. elegans
One adult was with a flock of Royal Terns at the mouth
of the Rio Ameca on 28/6, obviously shorter at the
shoulder with a finer, more decurved bill.
Least Tern S. antillarum
Commonly seen along the coast; maximum of 10 on 28/6.
Bridled Tern S. anaethetus
A total of c20 were noted around the Marietas Islands
on 4/7. Not proved breeding but seemed very likely.
Black Tern Chlidonias niger
One was at the Marina Vallarta golf course on 24/6. 15
were at the Rio Ameca on 28/6, with one there on 1/7 and
c40 on 7/7. Also, four seen out in the bay from the boat
Brown Noddy Anous stolidus
A total of c50 were around the Marietas Islands on 4/7,
including many birds perched on the islands. No proof of
breeding but seemed likely.
Black Skimmer Rynchops niger
Noted at the mouth of the Rio Ameca, where there were
ten on 1/7 and five on 7/7.
Feral Rock Dove Columba livia
Widespread in small numbers around built up areas,
with a maximum of c30 on 25/6.
Red-billed Pigeon C. flavirostris
Widespread but not abundant. Noted in small numbers
most days but 20 at El Ranchito plus 15 near the airport
on 5/7. The cooing was transcribed both as "ooo-ooo-o-oooh",
and as - - - - ____
White-winged Dove Zenaida asiatica
Uncommon. One was on the Marina Vallarta golf course
on 24/6 and a total of 26 were noted in flight in the
distance from the hotel balcony on 28/7.
Mourning Dove Z. macroura
One at Marina Vallarta golf course on 24/6 and 29/6
with two here on 7/7. Two near the airport (including one
nest-building) on 1/7. Two at San Juan de Abagio on 6/7.
Inca Dove Columbina inca
Commonly seen in small numbers, up to five per day. A
pair were seen at a nest at Punta de Mita. Call described
Ruddy Ground Dove C. talpacoti
Widespread in small numbers with up to eight seen per
day, but no Common Ground Doves noted.
White-tipped Dove Leptotila verreauxi
At Mismaloya on 27/6, one was seen and c5 more heard
calling were later identified as this species; three here
also on 3/7. One near the airport/golf course on 29/6
with one here on 1/7, two on 2/7 and one on 7/7. One at
El Ranchito on 5/7. The call of this species, a drawn-out
low moaning "ooooh", was very distinctive,
although it took a few days to work out what the species
making it was. The dove itself was less notable, very
plain with a black bill, dull red iris, red legs and
white tail corners. A rufous nape was noted on a second
Orange-fronted Parakeet Aratinga canicularis
These were common and widespread although frequently
difficult to see well perched. Up to 20 noted around
Marina Vallarta golf course and up to 40 at Mismaloya.
Mangrove Cuckoo Coccyzus minor
The only one was seen well in mangroves at Punta de
Mita on 29/6.
Groove-billed Ani Crotophaga sulcirostris
Common, especially around the Marina Vallarta golf
course, with a maximum day-total of eight on 6/7.
Ferruginous Pygmy Owl Glaucidium brasilianum
One was seen in an area of scrubby palms just north of
the airport, along the beach, on 28/6 and 7/7. Yellow
eyes and bill, faintly streaked crown, heavy black
streaks below, white-edged black nape "eyes",
fairly plain dark brown back with a few paler markings,
tail not very long and dark brown with ca 7 darker
bars. Very confiding.
Lesser Nighthawk Chordeiles acutipennis
Singles at dawn around the golf course on 2/7 and 7/7.
White visible in wing, relatively short tail with slight
fork, hunting in a slow flight with many glides, with
wings held in a shallow V.
Pauraque Nyctidromus albicollis
Four were on a track at the beach end of the airport
at dawn on 29/6. White outer tail usually easy to see but
not always so, white moustachial stripe, tail reaches
almost to wing tip at rest, white in wing visible at rest
on the ground. Feeding by resting on the ground then
flying up and back again. Call described as "woo-woo-wu-wo-weeoh".
Surprisingly, no swifts were identified to species.
The only ones seen were an apparently large one high over
the Rio de Cuale canyon on 30/6 (too high to see well)
and two over MacDonald's whilst waiting for a bus on 5/7,
which were also distant but appeared large and all dark.
None were seen for very long. The lack of a common swift
species seemed rather odd.
Golden-crowned Emerald Chlorostilbon auriceps
Two stunning males were seen well between El Eden and
Chino's Paradise at Mismaloya on 27/6. One of the top
birds of the trip.
Broad-billed Hummingbird Cynanthus latirostris
Singles were seen well enough to identify around the
hotels on 23/6 (excellent views of a perched male on our
first evening), 26/6 and 1/7, and at Punta de Mita on 29/6.
Cinnamon Hummingbird Amazilia rutila
The most frequently seen hummingbird, with up to three
seen most days. Particularly regular around the Marina
Vallarta golf course.
Plain-capped Starthroat Heliomaster constantii
Singles were seen at Isla de Cuale (Puerto Vallarta)
on 25/6 and 30/6, Marina Vallarta golf course on 26/6 and
San Juan de Abagio on 6/7. The largest hummingbird seen
with a long straight dark bill, an eye-stripe, white tail
sides and rump sides. The species was observed
flycatching from a perch.
Several hummers were seen too briefly to identify, but
most appeared to be one of Cinnamon or Broad-billed
Hummingbird or Plain-capped Starthroat. However, one at
Mismaloya on 3/7 was more troublesome. It had a shortish
all black bill, a white supercilium, a bluish tail with
three dark bars, was greenish above and greyish below.
This bird was watched perched for some time but could not
Elegant Trogon Trogon elegans
At least two of these stunners were seen around Chino's
Paradise, Mismaloya, on 27/6.
Russet-crowned Motmot Momotus mexicanus
Approximately ten were seen in Mismaloya valley on 27/6.
Green Kingfisher Chloroceryle americana
Singles were seen on Marina Vallarta golf course on 25/6,
at the mangroves near the airport on 28/6 and 7/7 and in
the Rio de Cuale on 30/6.
Golden-cheeked Woodpecker Centurus chrysogenys
The only woodpecker commonly seen, with up to five
noted almost daily. The first one seen was troublesome,
because the diagnostic striped back can appear all dark
when in the shade of trees. Birds were seen going to a
nest hole in a palm tree at Nuevo Vallarta.
Ladder-backed Woodpecker Picoides scalaris
One male was seen in an area of burnt trees at Punta
de Mita on 29/6.
Northern Beardless Tyrannulet Camptostoma imberbe
Along the scrubby area between Marina Vallarta golf
course and the airport, singles were seen on 26/6 and 3/7
with two here on 2/7. Small, with a spiky crest, an
orange base to the lower mandible and a pale wingbar. The
first was calling a plaintive "tieu-tieu-tieu"
followed by faster and higher-pitched notes. Another song
described in note-book.
Brown-crested Flycatcher Myiarchus tyrannulus
Two were seen together near the hotel on 24/6.
Surprisingly, not seen again but extensive red in wings
and tail edges ruled out Tropical Kingbird. Further
identified by very large bill and whitish covert fringes.
Great Kiskadee Pitangus sulphuratus
Very common everywhere, with birds even drinking from
hotel swimming pools. Up to 10 seen most days but c20 on
2/7. Very noisy with the most distinctive call a loud
Boat-billed Flycatcher Megarynchus pitangua
One was seen at Mismaloya on 27/6. Could be easily
overlooked as a Kiskadee but dull brown wings, a long,
wide-based bill and a different call.
Social Flycatcher Myiozetetes similis
Common, especially around the golf course. Single
figures most days but a maximum of 14 on 6/7. This
species lived up to its name, with birds always seen in
small groups. The call was described as a squeaky "kiu".
Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher Myiodynastes
Several seen but never common. Two were on the Isla de
Cuale (Puerto Vallarta) on 25/6, singles by Puerto
Vallarta bus station and at Mismaloya on 27/6, one at Rio
de Cuale on 30/6, one on Marina Vallarta golf course on 1/7
and three there on 7/7.
Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus
Very common and seen everywhere, with up to 25 per day.
Masked Tityra Tityra semifasciata
Three seen at Mismaloya on 27/6, three at Rio de Cuale
on 30/6 and one at Mismaloya on 3/7. A rather odd looking
species, overall pale grey and black with a red eye and
face and a red bill with a black tip.
Grey-breasted Martin Progne chalybea
Five were seen around Mismaloya beach on 3/7 and c10
were around the Marietas Islands on 4/7. Superficially
similar to Rough-winged Swallow but noticeably larger.
Mangrove Swallow Tachycineta albilinea
Regular but only in small numbers, mostly seen around
the hotel, drinking from the swimming pool. Importantly,
this species does not look green, even with extremely
close views (i.e. from in the swimming pool)! Identified
by the white rump. The white tertial edges were visible
Northern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx
Very common and widespread, with up to c30 per day.
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Very common and widespread, with up to c30 per day.
San Blas Jay Cyanocorax sanblasianus
This top endemic was noted at Mismaloya, where c10 (in
small parties) on 27/6 and two on 3/7, and two in coastal
scrub at Nuevo Vallarta on 2/7.
Happy Wren Thryothorus felix
Singles were seen around the Marina Vallarta golf
course on 28/6, 2/7 and 7/7. This species was much
scarcer than Sinaloa Wren and took some confirming. The
first sighting remained only a possible at first on the
basis of brief views of unmarked wings and a different
song. This is roughly written - - - - \ , the last note
being a descending whistle. When seen well at last,
unbarred upperparts, a whitish breast, an apparently
stripier face and thought to have a more prominent
moustachial stripe than Sinaloa Wren. Again, a simple six-note
song, very unlike Sinaloa Wren (which was singing nearby
at the time).
Sinaloa Wren T. sinaloa
A common bird, although missed for the first few days
since rather skulking. Very vocal though. Up to eight
seen per day. Extensive notes taken on first bird, to
make sure of species. Well marked face, barred tertials
and coverts, white throat, unstreaked buff underparts,
pale base to lower mandible almost to tip, white
supercilium most obvious behind eye, tail feathers barred
underneath to their ends, pale flesh legs, smooth brown
crown. This first bird was singing c12 feet up in a tree,
an sounded like a slowed-down Winter Wren. The song had a
Nightingale-liek quality, with some slow notes and some
trills. One song is described in note-book. Some birds
were noted giving harsher call notes also, with a regular
phrase consisting of two clear notes followed by a harsh
one (not described in Howell & Webb). A bird was seen
taking food into a nest at Mismaloya. The nest was made
of twigs and was hung suspended over a branch, drooping
down to either side. Another was seen carrying food at
Punta de Mita.
Rufous-backed Robin Turdus rufopalliatus
One was seen briefly flying over a path at Marina
Vallarta golf course on 25/6 and one was seen much better
at Mismaloya on 27/6. The latter bird was carrying food,
presumably to young.
Yellow-green Vireo Vireo flavoviridis
Two seen on the Isla de Cuale with another up the Rio
Cuale canyon on 25/6. The latter bird was seen carrying a
foecal sac, and thus proved breeding. One seen at El
Ranchito on 5/7.
Greyish Saltator Saltator coerulescens
A common but skulking bird, with up to seven noted per
day. Often picked up on call, which often sounded rather
like "R2D2"; a down-slurred whistle followed by
an upslurred whistle. Dueting between birds also noted.
Yellow Grosbeak Pheucticus chrysopeplus
Two were seen at Mismaloya on 27/6 with three there on
3/7. Call was two whistles, the second lower in pitch
than the first.
Blue-black Grassquit Volatina jacarina
Common in small numbers around the golf course. Much
more common in agricultural fields at San Juan de Abagio
on 6/7 where c40 seen. Males distinctive, sometimes
displaying their white shoulder tufts. Females more drab,
but with notably streaky chest.
White-collared Seedeater Sporophila torqueola
Commonly seen everywhere, with up to 30 per day. Males
looked superficially like little Stonechats.
Stripe-headed Sparrow Aimophila ruficauda
Regularly seen in small numbers, including birds
around the golf course.
Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus
A female was seen on the Marina Vallarta golf course
on 26/6, a male was there and another male was near El
Ranchito on 5/7 and c30 were seen in agricultural fields
at San Juan de Abagio on 6/7.
Eastern Meadowlark Sturnella magna
One was at San Juan de Abagio on 6/7. Since I wasn't
sure when watching it whether there was overlap between
the species in the area, I took full notes. Yellow on
throat and on breast but not as far as legs, which were
long and flesh-coloured. Single buzzing call note. Pale
lores. Dark in front of and below eye. Dark eyestripe and
lateral crown stripe. Bold yellow mantle lines. Pale
outer tail feathers. Brown-barred tertials. No obvious
primary projection. Black-streaked flanks. Carrying food,
presumably for young.
Great-tailed Grackle Quiscalus mexicanus
The most numerous and obvious species, with hundreds
seen daily. Males were particularly noisy and birds were
obviously in involved in nesting.
Bronzed Cowbird Molothrus aeneus
Surprisingly few were noted. A pair at Mismaloya on 27/6,
a pair at the golf course on 1/7 where singles on 2/7, 6/7
and 7/7 and one at San Juan de Abagio on 6/7.
Black-vented Oriole Icterus wagleri
A top find, one was seen well in beach-side palms
between the airport and the Rio Ameca on 29/6. A stunning
bird, almost overlooked as the superficially similar
Yellow-winged Cacique. Yellow rump and belly, black head,
throat, back, vent and tail.
Streak-backed Oriole I. pustulatus
These super birds were fairly common throughout, with
up to six per day. The streaked back was not particularly
easy to see on all birds. Males in full breeeding colours
were stunning. Birds were seen using nests (at Marina
Vallarta and Punta de Mita) and also feeding young out of
nests. Nests were made between two suspended strands.
Yellow-winged Cacique Cacicus melanicterus
Another great west Mexican endemic, these were common
throughout, being especially numerous at Mismaloya. Their
large pendulous nests were a common sight.
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Commonly seen with up to 25 daily.