on the UTC: many American Redstarts and Palm Warblers, Yellow-
throated, Blue-winged, Blackburnian, and Ovenbird Warblers,
N. Waterthrush, Hooded Warbler, and I saw one Cape May Warbler.
We also found two Golden Warblers, a tropical "cousin" of our
Yellow Warbler and very much like it except for more intense
reddish breast streaks and a rusty cap.
In and around the hotel were many Bahama Honeycreepers, all
of the Cozumel race with white throats. "Cheaters" in the
coevolution between plant and pollinater, these honeycreepers
would sip nectar from holes punctured at the base of hibiscus
flowers. A male Fork-tailed Emerald, exhibiting the aggressiveness so typical of all hummers, tried to maintain exclusive
access to a beautiful red hibiscus right outside our room.
His stunning underside was velvety in appearance, the green
glittering against jet black. A Southern House Wren (the so-
called "Cozumel Wren") snuck cautiously around our patio on
search of food, or perhaps looking for a potential nest site.
It was slightly larger than a House Wren and intensely rusty-
brown in color, like a cross between House and Carolina Wrens.
We heard a Pauraque chorus each night from our patio. I had
hoped to see Orange Orioles during our stay but, alas, the only
orioles found were a pair of Hoodeds' in a. palm at the hote.
The most common bird in open developed areas, like the
airport and around our hotel, was Tropical Mockingbird. Patricia
and I were amazed at the striking difference between this and our
northern species. Their long tails, with more white laterally,
are flicked so smoothly upward upon landing that they seem to
be moving in slow motion. The same holds true for the graceful
beating of their wings in flight. Great-tailed Grackles were
also common and luckily confined in this habitat. Common, and
more commonly Ruddy, Ground-Doves flocked together in open areas
of more rural settings. Tropical Kingbirds were numerous along
the paved road as were Roadside Hawks. Never before had I been
so impressed by the tiny size of these buteos.
A field in front of the airport is a good place to see
Green-breasted Mango, second of two common hummingbirds on
Cozumel. We found a nice male maintaining his territorial vigil
from a cedar tree at the end of a long row of flowering shrubs.
From our angle he appeared almost all black except for an irridescent green stripe extending from his bill down each side. When
feeding, his ample tail was a pulsating bright purple. Just
after this sighting an adult Swainson's Hawk soared overhead, a
familiar but unexpected bird for me. Also at the airport a Bat
Falcon jetted over us at dusk one evening.
In more dense jungle habitat the most numerous species was
Black Catbird. This bird is just what its name implies and it
was rewarding to see them on a few occasions together with
wintering Gray Catbirds. We found two Cozumel Vireos along
unimproved road to El Cedral, one of many Mayan ruins on the
island. This little endemic is sort of a rust-colored version
of our White-eyed Vireo, which we also saw on the trip. I had
hoped to see a Yucatan Woodpecker in the jungle but I succeeded
in finding only a Golden-fronted.
One thing that truly amazed me about this island so close
to the Yucatan shore was the paucity of coastal birds. Laughing
Gulls were most numerous but even they could be easily counted,
and only a few Sandwich and Royal Terns leisured back and forth
over the docks in town. Other than these we saw very little.
Frigatebirds soared by infrequently (at least relative to what
I've seen on the Pacific coast), and we saw only a few Brown
Pelicans. I spotted one immature Herring Gull feeding with
several frigatebirds out over the surf on the Caribbean side.
In the lagoons we found Least Grebe and the same wading birds
one would expect on the UTC, including one spoonbill.
This article would not be complete without some mention of
the fantastic skin diving we enjoyed on the island. After all,
reef fishes are just underwater versions of birds, and equally
challenging to identify. We saw quite a diversity, ranging
from brightly colored triggerfishes and damsels to incredibly
cryptic flounders encircled by ornate fins, one barracuda in
close proximity, a couple of skates, and even a polka-dotte|