Volume XXIV, No. 12
PUBLISHED BY THE ORNITHOLOGY GROUP, OUTDOOR NATURE CLUB, HOUSTON, TEXAS
BIRDING IN WESTERN MEXICO by Elaine Robinson and Barbara Kendrick
Would anyone who had seen the Rose-breasted Thrush-Tanager, Blackish Crane Hawk and
the Tufted Jay not tel I you about their trip to Mexico?
Very early on Friday morning In February we and our friend and guide, Ben Fe.l-tner,
set off for western Mexico. After two days of hard driving and little birding the
home of the Tufted Jay, The Barranca in the Sierra Madre Occidental on the border of
southwestern Durango and southeastern Slnaloa was reached. The new hotel, Villa Blsn-
ca, only 45 minutes away from the Barranca was more than comfortable, however the e-
lectrtclty Is turned off at 11 pm and does not come on again until 7 am. An early
rising birder needs a good flashlight to dress.
One full day of birding the Barranca failed to produce the Jay, but Red Warblers,
Green-striped Brush Finch, Whlte-strlped Woodcreeper, Slate-throated and Painted Red-
starts, plus wintering US birds were seen.
The next day, some of the more interesting birds found on the western slope of the
mountains on the way to San Bias were: Yel low Grosbeak, Military Macaws, Cinnamon
Hummer, Golden Vireo, Whlte-naped Swifts.
San Bias Is a small town with palm jungle on one side and Pacific Ocean on the other.
The first thing a birder sees as he enters the area Is the thousands of Magnificent
Frigatebirds circling overhead. On this occasion they were accompanied by Short-tailed Hawks, Osprey and Black Hawks. The biggest day of birding the jungle at San Bias
produced 112 species. A few of the birds found were: Bright-rumped Attfla, Blackthroated Magpie Jay, Yellow-winged Cacique, Collared Forest Falcon, Cltrollne Trogon,
Russet-crowned Motmot, Happy and Bar-vented Wrens, Pale-billed Woodpecker, Rusty-
crowned Grown Sparrow, Blue-rumped Parrot let and Fiammulated Flycatcher.
The boat trip down the branch of the Santiago River, besides being beautiful, turned
up every species we had prayed to God, Buddah, and Zeus to see: Rufous-necked Wood
RaiI, Bare-throated Tiger Heron, Boat-biI led Heron, and Common Potoo - a Iifer for
Ben. We saw the Potoo in day!ight and again as we went back down the river at dark,
with eyes glowing as we found them with the flashlights.
Next day on the way back up the coast, the'purplish-backed Jay flew across the road.
"Jay" yelled Ben. We stopped and soon found 4 of these fine Jays. Another lifer for
On we went to the IIttle town of Novltla to see if our tape would calI up the Rose-
breasted Thrush Tanager. We were so taken: by the shell along the beach we could hard-
|y bird. However, friend and guide Ben called our attention to a large black hawk
perched In a tree not far away. Hurray!"
The Blackish Crane Hawk — no, two hawks
Up the beach bordered by an extensive thorn forest we found a cow trail leading Into
the brush. Only a short distance down the trail we stopped and turned on the tape of
the Rose-breasted Thrush-Tanager. It worked! First came the beautiful male Tanager
singing back at the tape, then came the equally beautiful female. They stayed for a-
bout five minutes and we all saw them well...Two more lifers for all of us.
Heading home we stopped again at Villa Blanca Hotel to give the Tufted Jay another
chance to show himself. Early the next morning at the Barranca the first bird we
heard as we started up the path was a Steller's Jay and with It were 6 rare Tufted
jays. To add to our list of lifers several Red-headed Tanagers came by.
A total of 233 species were seen on the trip; 40 IIfers for both of us, and 8 for
Ben. :'■''. .