The state of Oaxaca has long attracted travelers for its ancient ruins and vibrant culture, but it’s also off the charts in terms of bird diversity for its size. Oaxaca boasts the largest bird list in all of Mexico, 775 species, including 2 endemics and approximately 54 regional endemics (source: Avibase). What happens when you run into fellow birders during a tour through the canals of La Ventanilla? You might be invited on a pelagic trip the following morning, on which you would happily tick off Townsend’s Shearwater, Red-billed Tropicbird, and Brown Booby. Back on dry land, a visit to Bahías de Huatulco might produce Mexican Pacific Slope endemics such as Lilac-crowned Parrot, Citreoline Trogon, Orange-breasted Bunting, and Yellow-winged Cacique. Heading inland will take you to Oaxaca City, just a few miles east of the ruins at Monte Albán, one of Mesoamerica’s earliest cities, founded around 500 BC. Interior habitats could produce still more endemics, like West Mexican Chachalaca, Dusky Hummingbird, Grey-breasted Woodpecker, and the striking Red Warbler. Eventually, you must take a break from the dry side of Oaxaca, and head for the cloud forests of the Atlantic Slope. With a little luck, you might run into the tiny Bumblebee Hummingbird or Central American “spillover” species like Unicolored Jay, Slate-colored Solitaire, and Golden-browed Warbler. Make sure to get adventurous with your palate, and try cactus pad (nopales), corn-smut (huitlacoche) and grasshopper (chapulín) tacos! And don’t miss the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) celebrations in Oaxaca City, when beloved ancestors are remembered through elaborate and introspective ceremonies that make our Halloween look skeletal by comparison. Contributor: Carolyn Wilcox.