Monday, February 3, 2020


Chapala Birders Newsletter February 2, 2020
  175 Species sighted around the Lake in January
This is almost as many species as we saw in December. It helps to have good birders around! The complete list for last month is shown at the end of this newsletter.

Interesting sightings last month:

-  Rudy Neustaedter sent in a photo of both Lesser Scaup and Ring-necked Duck on the reservoir of the Chapala Golf and Country Club.
-  Jules Evens identified Brewers Blackbirds (female) on the Rosa Amarilla loop.
-  Don Bell reported sighting Lesser Nighthawk on the west side of Ajijic.
-  Carlo Cuevas reported a Willet near the Jocotepec malecon.
-  During breakfast in Chapala after the Cajititlan Birding Trip, the group spotted an unusual Western Grebe on Lake Chapala.
-  Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers were seen at Ixtlahuacan and also on the Rosa Amarilla Loop.
Great Backyard Bird Count this month
The GBBC (Great Backyard Birdcount) runs from February 14 to February 17 - Valentine's Day weekend. Everyone from beginners to experienced birders are encouraged to dedicate a time and place to observe birds and report the sightings on eBird or the GBBC website

Started by the Audubon Society and Cornell Lab of Ornithology in 1998, it has expanded from just backyards to anywhere and  everywhere, and from just the USA and Canada to over 100 countries.

As with the Christmas Bird Counts, the results are used to monitor the changes in bird populations.
Featured Bird:   White-striped Woodcreeper
White-striped Woodcreeper. Photo by Mexican birder Raul Padilla.

The White-striped Woodcreeper is an endemic species to Mexico, meaning it is only found in this country. It's normal habitat is in oak and pine forests.

-  We see this species in the oak forests which grow on the north-facing slopes of the mountains above Ajijic.

-  It is about 22cm (8 in.) long.

-  It is always seen looking for beetles, acending the bark of trees until it gets near the top then flies to the base of the next tree.
Upcoming Trips and Bird Walks
Our bird walks are open to all those interested in birds, both beginners and experienced birders. Just bring binoculars. We always have knowledgeable birders on hand to identify the species. Please note that we will try to limit car trips to four vehicles because larger convoys are less manageable when trying to stop on country roads to look at the birds. If you are being given a ride, we suggest you make a contribution to your driver for gas and tolls (perhaps 50-100 pesos for a half day outing, 150-200 for a day trip).
On Wednesday February 5, we will meet to carpool at 8.30 am at the Old Train Station in Chapala, leaving immediately to bird the "Chapala Lakeshore East" including the pumping station. Expect to see a good variety of shore birds in a variety of habitats. At 10.00 we will head to the Palapa de Don Juan for breakfast and complete the bird list. If you plan on joining us, please tell us if you will bring a vehicle, or if you need a ride at the Train Station, or a ride to get to the Train Station;  email John at at least 2 days ahead of time. The train station is on the Lakeshore Road just east of Cristiania Park in Chapala.

On Monday February 17, we will meet at 8.00 a.m. at the "Las Palmas" Road on the west side of Ajijic. We will see some shore birds, and some birds in the tall trees. At about 10.00 a.m. we will head to Fonda Dona Lola for breakfast and complete the bird list.
How to Get There: Drive about 2 mi (4km) west from Colon, look for a bus stop in front of a vivero (plant nursery) with signs to Las Palmas on one side and Hacienda La Cristina on the other. Park between the bus stop and the vivero, leaving space for others to park there also.

On Friday February 28, we will meet at 8.00 am at Donas Donuts to car pool, leaving immediately for the Rosa Amarilla Loop on the plateau above the south side of the lake (60 minutes drive). Expect to see Wood Storks, and possibly a White-tailed Hawk. Bring refreshments for the morning and sandwiches for the 12.30 lunch stop. We will be back about 3.00 pm. If you plan on going, please email John at at least 2 days ahead of time saying whether you can bring a vehicle, to help in carpool planning. (We don't always have enough cars).
"Field Notes" by Jules
The Call of the Violet-crowned Hummingbird
One of the common bird "songs" heard Lakeside in winter is the vocalization of the Violet-crowned Hummingbird, most often heard in early morning hours. The bird usually calls from an exposed perch several meters above the ground. They are very aggressive toward other hummers, their own kind as well as other resident species. These vocalizing birds are clearly defending foraging or nesting territories and are intolerant of intruders.
In my residential neighborhood Lakeside, singing individuals tend to be spaced about 50 meters from one another. The song is a series of thin, light notes, repeated at even, unhurried intervals a half dozen to a dozen times, usually descending slightly toward the end. Steve Howell's description as a "plaintive chieu, chieu, chieu . . ." is about right.  
There are two other local species with descending song series that may be mistaken for this hummer-Northern Beardless Tyrannulet and Canyon Wren-but neither are as vocal at this time of the year. The tyrannulet's call is more emphatic, louder and fuller than the Violet-crown's, a slow series of 3-9 clear, whistled notes that descends, in pitch, more distinctly. The Canyon Wren's aria is the most musical and complex of the three, aptly described as an opening staccato note followed by a "cascade of sweet liquid notes."
       Violet-crowned Hummingbird                 - photo by Jules Evens
Bird Walk and Trip Reports
On Tuesday January 7, we had eleven participants on the trip to the Sierra de Tapalpa which is 2,000 ft above lake level. We saw a good selection of unusual species including Mexican Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Pygmy Nuthatch, Elegant Euphonia, Olive Warbler and Grace's Warbler, out of total of 58 species.

On Friday January 17, there was a good crowd of 22 birders on the Allen Lloyd Trail in San Antonio Tlayacapan. We observed 44 species including Western Kingbird, Greenish Elaenia, Warbling Vireo, Greater Pewee, Varied Bunting, Cordilleran Flycatcher, and a Townsend's Warbler which is more normally seen at higher atlitude.

On Thursday January 30, we were joined by 16 observers birding the Cajititlan Marsh, managing to see sixty seven species, including White-tailed Kite, Northern Harrier, Painted Bunting, Yellow-breasted Sapsucker, Common Yellowthroat, Lincoln's Sparrow and Least Flycatcher.
Monthly Sightings List
Here are the species sighted around Lake Chapala in January:

Ani, groove-billed
Avocet, American (Dp)
Bittern, least (Sa)
Blackbird, Brewer's (Ra)
Blackbird, yellow-headed
Bluebird, eastern (Ra)
Bunting, indigo
Bunting, lazuli
Bunting, painted (Ca,Dp)
Bunting, varied
Caracara, crested
Chat, yellow-breasted (Jo,Dm)
Coot, American
Cormorant, neotropic
Cowbird, bronzed
Cowbird, brown-headed
Cuckoo, squirrel (Sa)
Dove, common ground (Dp,Ra)
Dove, Eurasian collared
Dove, Inca
Dove, mourning (Ca,Ra)
Dove, white-tipped
Dove, white-winged
Dowitcher, long-billed
Duck, fulvous whistling (Ca)
Duck, Mexican
Duck, ring-necked (Sn)
Duck, ruddy
Egret, cattle
Egret, great
Egret, snowy
Elaenia, greenish (Sa)
Finch, house
Flycatcher, ash-throated
Flycatcher, cordilleran
Flycatcher, dusky (Sa)
Flycatcher, dusky-capped
Flycatcher, gray silky
Flycatcher, least (Ca)
Flycatcher, Nutting's
Flycatcher, social
Flycatcher, vermilion
Flycatcher, white-throated (Sa)
Gallinule, common
Gallinule, purple (Sa,Dp)
Gnatcatcher, blue-gray
Goldfinch, lesser
Grackle, great-tailed
Grebe, least
Grebe, pied-billed
Grebe, western (Ch)
Grosbeak, black-headed
Grosbeak, blue
Gull, laughing
Gull, ring-billed
Harrier, northern (Ca,Dp)
Hawk, Cooper's (Dp)
Hawk, gray (Jo)
Hawk, red-tailed
Heron, black-crowned night
Heron, great blue
Heron, green
Heron, little blue (Dp)
Heron, tri-colored
Hummingbird, beryline (Sa)
Hummingbird, broad-billed
Hummingbird, rufous (Ra)
Hummingbird, violet-crowned
Hummingbird, white-eared (Av)
Ibis, white-faced
Jacana, northern
Kestrel , American
Kingbird, Cassin's
Kingbird, thick-billed
Kingbird, tropical
Kingbird, western
Kingfisher, belted (Dp0
Kingfisher, green (Dp)
Kinglet, ruby-crowned (Ra)
Kiskadee, great
Kite, white-tailed (Ca)
Meadowlark, eastern (Ra)
Mockingbird, blue
Mockingbird, northern
Nighthawk, lesser
Nightjar, buff-collared (Av)
Oriole, black-backed
Oriole, black-vented
Oriole, Bullock's
Oriole, hooded
Oriole, orchard
Oriole, streak-backed
Owl, barn (Jo)
Owl, ferruginous pygmy (Sa)
Parakeet, monk
Pelican, American white
Pewee, greater (Sa)
Pigeon, rock
Pintail, northern
Raven, common
Redstart, American (Dm,Dp)
Roadrunner, greater
Robin, rufous-backed
Sandpiper, least
Sandpiper, spotted
Sapsucker, yellow-bellied (Xt,Ra)
Scaup, lesser (Sn)
Seedeater, cinnamon-rumped
Shoveler, northern
Shrike, loggerhead
Solitaire, brown-backed (At)
Sparrow, chipping
Sparrow, clay-colored
Sparrow, grasshopper (Sa)
Sparrow, house
Sparrow, lark
Sparrow, Lincoln's
Sparrow, rusty-crowned ground
Sparrow, savannah (Ra,Sa)
Sparrow, stripe-headed
Stilt, black-necked
Stork, wood (Ra)
Swallow, barn
Swallow, northern rough-necked
Swallow, tree
Swallow, violet-green
Tanager, hepatic (Ra)
Tanager, summer
Tanager, western
Teal, blue-winged
Teal, cinnamon
Teal, green-winged
Tern, Caspian
Tern, Forster's
Thrasher, curve-billed
Thrush, orange-billed nightingale
Towhee, canyon
Tyrannulet, northern beardless (Sa)
Vireo, black-capped (Sa)
Vireo, Cassin's (Ra,Sa)
Vireo, golden (Sa)
Vireo, plumbeous (Dp,Ra)
Vireo, warbling
Vulture, black
Vulture, turkey
Warbler, black and white (Sa)
Warbler, black-throated gray
Warbler, hermit (Sa)
Warbler, Lucy's (Ac,Sa)
Warbler, MacGillivray's (Jo,Sa)
Warbler, Nashville
Warbler, orange-crowned
Warbler, rufous-capped
Warbler, Townsend's
Warbler, Virginia's (Sa)
Warbler, Wilson's
Warbler, yellow
Warbler, yellow-rumped
Waterthrush, northern (Sa)
Wigeon, American
Willet (Jo)
Woodpecker, golden-fronted
Woodpecker, ladder-backed
Wren, Bewick's
Wren, canyon
Wren, happy
Wren, house
Wren, spotted
Yellowlegs, greater (Ra)
Yellowlegs, lesser (dp)
Yellowthroat, common (Ca)

Location codes:
Ac - Ajijic: La Cristina/El Bajio
At - Trails above Ajijic
Av - Ajijic village
Ca - Lake Cajititlan & marsh
Ch - Chapala
Cu - Cuitzeo/Ocotlan
Dm - Dike: Jamay to Malteraña
Dp - Dike: Maltaraña to La Palma
Hv - Hidden Valley oak forest
Ja - Jamay
La - La Cañada-Hidden Valley
Jo - Jocotepec
Ld - Lerma & Duero rivers
Pe - Petatan area
Ps - Pumping Station/Santa Cruz
Pt - San Pedro Tesistan area
Pz - San Pedro Itzican area
Ra - Rosa Amarilla loop
Rc - Santa Rosa/Carnero dam
Rp - Riberas del Pilar & canyon
Sa - San Antonio/Allen Lloyd Trail
Sc - San Juan Cosala
Sn - San Nicholas/Golf Club
Tz - Tizapan canyon
Te - San Juan Tecomatlan/Mezcala
Tr  - Las Trojes/oak forest
Tu - Tuxcueca/San Luis Soyatlan
Xt - Ixtlahuacan/Las Campanillas
Lake Chapala Birders is an informal group of bird observers led by John and Rosemary Keeling. Don't hesitate to contact us if you are seeking information about birding in the area. We also like to hear about sightings of birds or nests at: or 376.766.1801. Check out the website:

A laminated folder "Quick Guide to the Birds of Lake Chapala" illustrating 150 local species can be purchased for $150 pesos at Diane Pearl Collecciones, Colon #1, in the center of Ajijic. This is especially useful to newcomers - it is produced by "Defenders of Wildlife" which works to protect imperiled species throughout North America.