Christmas Bird Count: Tikal 2008

Compilers: Knut Eisermann & Claudia Avendaño

The third edition of the Christmas Bird Count in the Tikal National Park took place on 19 December 2008. Among the 42 participants were several birdwatching novices, showing that Christmas Bird Counts help the Guatemalan birding community to grow. Some participants were local guides who improved their knowledge on the avifauna in the Mayan World with the help of the more experienced observers.

CBC Tikal 2008.

Weather conditions were favorable. Three species of owls could be recorded in the rainless night. At dawn the rain caused a pretty low activity, but later the weather improved considerably.

A total of 2700 birds of 193 species was recorded (22 species more than in 2007). In addition, 17 species more were recorded during the count week. Each group recorded between 87 and 97 species. Thirteen species were recorded by each of the eight birding groups: Keel-billed Toucan, Black-headed Trogon, Ivory-billed Woodcreeper, Bright-rumped Attila, Brown Jay, Spot-breasted Wren, Wood Thrush, Black-and-White Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, American Redstart, Summer Tanager, Montezuma Oropendula, and Black-cowled Oriole. A total of 75 species was recorded by only one or two of the eight birding groups, indicating a high percentage of "rare" species in the bird community of the Tikal forest. An increasing number of observers during the Christmas Bird Counts will lead to an increased number of detected species. Over 400 bird species have been recorded in the northern Petén.

The most abundant species during this Christmas Bird Count were Montezuma Oropendula (358 birds), Wood Thrush (78), Magnolia Warbler (78), Brown Jay (73), Vaux's Swift (66), Ocellated Turkey (63), Collared Aracari (56), Lesser Greenlet (56), Gray Catbird (52), and Keel-billed Toucan (50).

Noteworthy was a Swallow-tailed Kite seen by the group led by Aquiles Estuardo Hernández, because this species is a summer resident in Tikal and winters in South America. A Philadelphia Vireo was photographed by Chris Moorman on 21 December, documenting a rare record of this species in Tikal. A Black Catbird was seen by Chris Moorman on 22 December in Tikal, and he photographed another one in Uaxactún (outside the count circle) on 23 December. Swainson's Warbler is an uncommon species in the Tikal National Park. One bird was seen during the count, and several more were seen by a research team of North Carolina State University led by John Gerwin and Neil Chartier, studying Swainson's Warblers on their wintering grounds in the eastern Maya Biosphere Reserve.

The Tikal National Park is part of the Maya-Lacandon Important Bird Area (IBA GT001) and this Christmas Bird Count is a simple tool to monitor bird populations in this IBA. A total of 18 species of conservation concern were recorded during the 2008 count, including four Near Threatened species (Great Curassow, Ocellated Turkey, Black Catbird, and Golden-winged Warbler) and 16 species restricted to the Gulf Caribbean Slope.

It follows a list of species and numbers of individuals recorded during the third Christmas Bird Count in Tikal (Nomenclature according to AOU 1998 and supplements, most recent update AOU 2008). Species recorded during the count week are marked with (cw).

  1. Great Tinamou Tinamus major 7
  2. Thicket Tinamou Crypturellus cinnamomeus 2
  3. Slaty-breasted Tinamou Crypturellus boucardi 2
  4. Plain Chachalaca Ortalis vetula 6
  5. Crested Guan Penelope purpurascens 9
  6. Great Curassow Crax rubra 29
  7. Ocellated Turkey Meleagris ocellata 63
  8. Spotted Wood-Quail Odontophorus guttatus 2
  9. Least Grebe Tachybaptus dominicus 2
  10. Bare-throated Tiger-Heron Tigrisoma mexicanum 2
  11. Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias 1
  12. Great Egret Ardea alba 3
  13. Snowy Egret Egretta thula 1
  14. Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea 3
  15. Green Heron Butorides virescens 3
  16. Agami Heron Agamia agami (cw)
  17. Boat-billed Heron Cochlearius cochlearius (cw)
  18. Black Vulture Coragyps atratus 36
  19. Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura 29
  20. King Vulture Sarcoramphus papa 5
  21. Swallow-tailed Kite Elanoides forficatus 1
  22. Double-toothed Kite Harpagus bidentatus 2
  23. White Hawk Leucopternis albicollis (cw)
  24. Roadside Hawk Buteo magnirostris 7
  25. Gray Hawk Buteo nitidus 1
  26. Black Hawk-Eagle Spizaetus tyrannus 4
  27. Ornate Hawk-Eagle Spizaetus ornatus 3
  28. Barred Forest-Falcon Micrastur ruficollis 2
  29. Collared Forest-Falcon Micrastur semitorquatus 4
  30. Laughing Falcon Herpetotheres cachinnans 3
  31. Bat Falcon Falco rufigularis 4
  32. Orange-breasted Falcon Falco deiroleucus 2
  33. Ruddy Crake Laterallus ruber 1
  34. Gray-necked Wood-Rail Aramides cajanea 3
  35. Sora Porzana carolina 1
  36. Purple Gallinule Porphyrio martinica 1
  37. Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus 1
  38. Limpkin Aramus guarauna 10
  39. Scaled Pigeon Patagioenas speciosa 14
  40. Short-billed Pigeon Patagioenas nigrirostris 3
  41. Blue Ground-Dove Claravis pretiosa 2
  42. White-tipped Dove Leptotila verreauxi 2
  43. Grey-headed Dove Leptotila plumbeiceps 3
  44. Ruddy Quail-Dove Geotrygon montana 4
  45. Olive-throated Parakeet Aratinga nana 7
  46. Brown-hooded Parrot Pyrilia haematotis 43
  47. White-crowned Parrot Pionus senilis 31
  48. White-fronted Parrot Amazona albifrons 2
  49. Red-lored Parrot Amazona autumnalis 15
  50. Mealy Parrot Amazona farinosa 24
  51. Squirrel Cuckoo Piaya cayana 18
  52. Pheasant Cuckoo Dromococcyx phasianellus 2
  53. Groove-billed Ani Crotophaga sulcirostris (cw)
  54. Vermiculated Screech-Owl Megascops guatemalae 3
  55. Mottled Owl Ciccaba virgata 4
  56. Black-and-white Owl Ciccaba nigrolineata 2
  57. Common Pauraque Nyctidromus albicollis 8
  58. Chuck-will's-widow Caprimulgus carolinensis 1
  59. White-collared Swift Streptoprogne zonaris (cw)
  60. Vaux's Swift Chaetura vauxi 66
  61. Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift Panyptila cayennensis 4
  62. Long-billed Hermit Phaethornis longirostris 1
  63. Stripe-throated Hermit Phaethornis striigularis 7
  64. Wedge-tailed Sabrewing Campylopterus curvipennis 8
  65. Canivet's Emerald Chlorostilbon canivetii 1
  66. White-bellied Emerald Amazilia candida 6
  67. Rufous-tailed Hummingbird Amazilia tzacatl 14
  68. Purple-crowned Fairy Heliothryx barroti 9
  69. Black-headed Trogon Trogon melanocephalus 21
  70. Violaceous Trogon Trogon violaceus 15
  71. Collared Trogon Trogon collaris 5
  72. Slaty-tailed Trogon Trogon massena 26
  73. Tody Motmot Hylomanes momotula 1
  74. Blue-crowned Motmot Momotus momota 7
  75. Ringed Kingfisher Megaceryle torquata (cw)
  76. Belted Kingfisher Megaceryle alcyon 1
  77. American Pygmy Kingfisher Chloroceryle aenea 1
  78. White-necked Puffbird Notharchus macrorhynchos 4
  79. White-whiskered Puffbird Malacoptila panamensis 9
  80. Rufous-tailed Jacamar Galbula ruficauda 11
  81. Collared Aracari Pteroglossus torquatus 56
  82. Keel-billed Toucan Ramphastos sulfuratus 50
  83. Golden-fronted Woodpecker Melanerpes aurifrons 12
  84. Smoky-brown Woodpecker Veniliornis fumigatus 4
  85. Golden-olive Woodpecker Colaptes rubiginosus 2
  86. Chestnut-colored Woodpecker Celeus castaneus 15
  87. Lineated Woodpecker Dryocopus lineatus 5
  88. Pale-billed Woodpecker Campephilus guatemalensis 22
  89. Plain Xenops Xenops minutus 7
  90. Scaly-throated Leaftosser Sclerurus guatemalensis 3
  91. Tawny-winged Woodcreeper Dendrocincla anabatina 14
  92. Ruddy Woodcreeper Dendrocincla homochroa 9
  93. Olivaceous Woodcreeper Sittasomus griseicapillus 26
  94. Strong-billed Woodcreeper Xiphocolaptes promeropirhynchus 2
  95. Northern Barred-Woodcreeper Dendrocolaptes sanctithomae 8
  96. Ivory-billed Woodcreeper Xiphorhynchus flavigaster 30
  97. Barred Antshrike Thamnophilus doliatus 9
  98. Russet Antshrike Thamnistes anabatinus 1
  99. Plain Antvireo Dysithamnus mentalis 5
  100. Dot-winged Antwren Microrhopias quixensis 9
  101. Dusky Antbird Cercomacra tyrannina 1
  102. Black-faced Antthrush Formicarius analis 9
  103. Yellow-bellied Tyrannulet Ornithion semiflavum 7
  104. Greenish Elaenia Myiopagis viridicata 4
  105. Ochre-bellied Flycatcher Mionectes oleagineus 4
  106. Sepia-capped Flycatcher Leptopogon amaurocephalus 3
  107. Northern Bentbill Oncostoma cinereigulare 28
  108. Slate-headed Tody-Flycatcher Poecilotriccus sylvia 1
  109. Eye-ringed Flatbill Rhynchocyclus brevirostris 5
  110. Yellow-olive Flycatcher Tolmomyias sulphurescens 10
  111. Stub-tailed Spadebill Platyrinchus cancrominus 28
  112. Royal Flycatcher Onychorhynchus coronatus 5
  113. Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher Terenotriccus erythrurus 6
  114. Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher Myiobius sulphureipygius 5
  115. Tropical Pewee Contopus cinereus 3
  116. Yellow-bellied Flycatcher Empidonax flaviventris 6
  117. Least Flycatcher Empidonax minimus 7
  118. Bright-rumped Attila Attila spadiceus 17
  119. Rufous Mourner Rhytipterna holerythra 6
  120. Dusky-capped Flycatcher Myiarchus tuberculifer 12
  121. Great Crested Flycatcher Myiarchus crinitus 1
  122. Brown-crested Flycatcher Myiarchus tyrannulus 8
  123. Great Kiskadee Pitangus sulphuratus 3
  124. Boat-billed Flycatcher Megarynchus pitangua 4
  125. Social Flycatcher Myiozetetes similis 14
  126. Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus 6
  127. Couch's Kingbird Tyrannus couchii 5
  128. Thrush-like Schiffornis Schiffornis turdina 21
  129. Rufous Piha Lipaugus unirufus 7
  130. Cinnamon Becard Pachyramphus cinnamomeus (cw)
  131. Gray-collared Becard Pachyramphus major (cw)
  132. Rose-throated Becard Pachyramphus aglaiae 3
  133. Masked Tityra Tityra semifasciata 23
  134. Black-crowned Tityra Tityra inquisitor 3
  135. White-collared Manakin Manacus candei 2
  136. Red-capped Manakin Pipra mentalis 37
  137. White-eyed Vireo Vireo griseus 29
  138. Mangrove Vireo Vireo pallens 2
  139. Yellow-throated Vireo Vireo flavifrons 12
  140. Philadelphia Vireo Vireo philadelphicus (cw)
  141. Tawny-crowned Greenlet Hylophilus ochraceiceps 27
  142. Lesser Greenlet Hylophilus decurtatus 56
  143. Green Shrike-Vireo Vireolanius pulchellus 2
  144. Brown Jay Cyanocorax morio 73
  145. Yucatan Jay Cyanocorax yucatanicus 5
  146. Gray-breasted Martin Progne chalybea 3
  147. Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor (cw)
  148. Northern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis 49
  149. Spot-breasted Wren Thryothorus maculipectus 28
  150. White-bellied Wren Uropsila leucogastra 8
  151. White-breasted Wood-Wren Henicorhina leucosticta 20
  152. Long-billed Gnatwren Ramphocaenus melanurus 7
  153. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Polioptila caerulea 12
  154. Tropical Gnatcatcher Polioptila plumbea 8
  155. Swainson's Thrush Catharus ustulatus 3
  156. Wood Thrush Hylocichla mustelina 78
  157. Clay-colored Thrush Turdus grayi 21
  158. White-throated Thrush Turdus assimilis (cw)
  159. Gray Catbird Dumetella carolinensis 52
  160. Black Catbird Melanoptila glabrirostris (cw)
  161. Tropical Mockingbird Mimus gilvus 1
  162. Blue-winged Warbler Vermivora pinus 5
  163. Golden-winged Warbler Vermivora chrysoptera 2
  164. Tennessee Warbler Vermivora peregrina (cw)
  165. Yellow Warbler Dendroica petechia 4
  166. Chestnut-sided Warbler Dendroica pensylvanica 9
  167. Magnolia Warbler Dendroica magnolia 78
  168. Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler Dendroica coronata 2
  169. Black-throated Green Warbler Dendroica virens 9
  170. Black-and-white Warbler Mniotilta varia 43
  171. American Redstart Setophaga ruticilla 39
  172. Prothonotary Warbler Protonotaria citrea 1
  173. Worm-eating Warbler Helmitheros vermivorum 10
  174. Swainson's Warbler Limnothlypis swainsonii 1
  175. Ovenbird Seiurus aurocapilla 11
  176. Northern Waterthrush Seiurus noveboracensis 9
  177. Louisiana Waterthrush Seiurus motacilla 2
  178. Kentucky Warbler Oporornis formosus 39
  179. Common Yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas 2
  180. Hooded Warbler Wilsonia citrina 36
  181. Wilson's Warbler Wilsonia pusilla 7
  182. Golden-crowned Warbler Basileuterus culicivorus 6
  183. Yellow-breasted Chat Icteria virens 2
  184. Gray-throated Chat Granatellus sallaei 6
  185. Gray-headed Tanager Eucometis penicillata 11
  186. Black-throated Shrike-Tanager Lanio aurantius 25
  187. Red-crowned Ant-Tanager Habia rubica 22
  188. Red-throated Ant-Tanager Habia fuscicauda 39
  189. Rose-throated Tanager Piranga roseogularis (cw)
  190. Summer Tanager Piranga rubra 15
  191. Blue-gray Tanager Thraupis episcopus 1
  192. Golden-hooded Tanager Tangara larvata 2
  193. Green Honeycreeper Chlorophanes spiza 2
  194. White-collared Seedeater Sporophila torqueola 12
  195. Green-backed Sparrow Arremonops chloronotus 5
  196. Buff-throated Saltator Saltator maximus (cw)
  197. Black-headed Saltator Saltator atriceps 5
  198. Black-faced Grosbeak Caryothraustes poliogaster 3
  199. Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis (cw)
  200. Rose-breasted Grosbeak Pheucticus ludovicianus (cw)
  201. Blue-black Grosbeak Cyanocompsa cyanoides 2
  202. Blue Bunting Cyanocompsa parellina 14
  203. Blue Grosbeak Passerina caerulea 3
  204. Indigo Bunting Passerina cyanea 4
  205. Melodious Blackbird Dives dives 11
  206. Black-cowled Oriole Icterus prosthemelas 20
  207. Baltimore Oriole Icterus galbula 12
  208. Montezuma Oropendola Psarocolius montezuma 358
  209. Yellow-throated Euphonia Euphonia hirundinacea 27
  210. Olive-backed Euphonia Euphonia gouldi 30


AOU (1998) The American Ornithologists' Union Check-list of North American Birds. 7th edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.

AOU (2008) Forty-ninth supplement to the American Ornithologists' Union check-list of North American birds. Auk 125: 758-768.

To see results of all Christmas Bird Counts throughout the Americas visit

CBC Tikal 2008
Team of the 2008 Christmas Bird Count in Tikal National Park. The final meeting was kindly hosted by Hotel Jaguar Inn.

Sponsors of the Christmas Bid Count in Tikal 2008

Participants of the Third Christmas Bird Count in Tikal, 2008.

List of participants (group leaders in bold-face): Francisco Javier Aldana Lobos, Claudia Avendaño, Roberto Elizandro Boteo, Tara, Peter, Nathan, Robert, John, and Ruth Cahill, José María Castillo, Neil Chartier, Oswaldo Chi Dubón, Marcial Córdova Álvarez, Knut Eisermann, Anselmo Galicia, John Gerwin, Benjamín González, Aquiles Estuardo Hernández, Rosa Alicia Jiménez, Carlos López, Benedicto Lucas, Julio Madrid, Miguel Antonio Marín, Erick Augusto Márquez, Brian Keith McNab, Roan Balas McNab, Chris Moorman, Marvin Morales, Pablo Najarro Polanco, Luis Antonio Oliveros, Maynor Ovando, Heather Patt, Melvin Rivera, David Rodriguez, Belinda Sánchez, Amelia Savage, Israel Segura, Terry Sharpe, Miguel Vásquez, Julio Vásquez, Wilmer Alexander Vásquez Medina, Délfino Noel Vicente. Compiler: Knut Eisermann. Secondary compiler: Claudia Avendaño, Roan McNab.

Photos from the third Christmas Bird Count in Tikal

Wood Thrush
Wood Thrush is one of the most abundant Nearctic-Neotropical migrants in Tikal, and one of only 13 species which were recorded by all of the 8 birding groups during this Christmas Bird Count.
Christmas Bird Count Tikal
Satellite image of northeastern Petén. The Christmas Bird Count Tikal (white circle) samples bird communities of the largest Neotropical forest north of the Amazon basin. The CBC circle includes tall broadleaf forest, scrub swamp forest, forest edge, open habitat, lagoons, and creeks.
Pheasant Cuckoo
Pheasant Cuckoo is not uncommon in the scrub around Tikal.
Orange-breasted Falcon by Rosa Alicia Jimenez
Resident in the archaeological center of Tikal, the Orange-breasted Falcons nest in cavities in the upper parts of ancient Mayan temples.
Limpkin by Rosa Alicia Jimenez
A quite tame Limpkin can often be seen at the ponds beside the Tikal visitor's center.
Roadside Hawk by Claudia Avendaño
The Roadside Hawk is one of the most common raptors in the lowlands of the Guatemalan Atlantic slope.
Philadelphia Vireo by Chris Moorman
Winter records of Philadelphia Vireo are scarce in the Atlantic slope lowlands of Guatemala.
Ruddy Crake
Ruddy Crake is a resident on the ponds at Tikal's visitor center and with some patience it is possible to see these skulkers.
Black Catbird by Chris Moorman
This Black Catbird was photographed in Uaxactún (10 km outside the count circle) on 23 December 2009 by Chris Moorman. On 22 December he saw another one in Tikal.
Forest birding in the eastern Tikal National Park
One of the bird count teams during CBC in the field.

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