Saturday, May 2, 2020


Chapala Birders Newsletter May 2, 2020
Another New Species for our Area
Our visiting birder Nicola Cendron from Mexico City who observed last month's featured bird (Least Tern), has reported to us another sighting of a new species for the lake. This time it is the Baird's Sandpiper. This species is only seen during the last week of March and the first week of April when going north. Nicola has become an expert on this bird having sighted it in various other places in central Mexico.

The sighting was in the area of the old garbage dump on the Two Dams road which runs north between Santa Cruz and San Nicolas.

See 'Featured Bird' below.
131 Species sighted around the Lake in April
This is an excellent number of species for this time of year. How did we do it? At the very beginning of the month, John and Rosemary made a special effort to start the list while the lock-down was still voluntary, by going to Rosa Amarilla, Cajititlan marsh, the pumping station and Allen Lloyd trail at the beginning of the month.

Interesting observations last month:

- Jules Evens reported a Zone-tailed Hawk circling over the shopping area in San Antonio Tlayacapan.

- John Keeling saw a Northern Parula on the Allen Lloyd trail.

- Carlo Cuevas observed an Aztec Rail at the Jocotepec malecon.

- Paul Hart reported a Sinaloa Wren at his house in west Ajijic.
Featured Bird:  Baird's Sandpiper
  Baird's Sandpiper on migration northwards to the Arctic tundra.

The Baird's Sandpiper is unusual in that it normally lives (in the summer and winter) in upland areas with short grass. Only on migration is it sometimes seen at the edge of water with other shore birds.

- It is small, being slightly larger than the very common Least Sandpiper. Note that the legs are black and the wings project  beyond the tail more than on other sandpipers.

- Being a dry-land bird, they run with their heads raised looking for surface insects, more than other sandpipers which keep their heads down probing in the mud.

- They nest on the short-grass tundra in the hills of the islands lying between Canada's northern coast and the North Pole, such as Ellesmere Island and Victoria Island among many others. Eggs are incubated for three weeks and the down-covered chicks can walk and feed themselves within a few fours of hatching.

- They winter in the interior of southern South America including on the slopes of the Andes mountains.

- They are reputed to be able to fly thousands of miles at about 40 mph without stopping. The migration path follows the Central Plains Flyway through Texas and Manitoba. The northern flight is carefully timed to fit the six weeks of Artic Summer. They pass through Jalisco at the beginning of April and cross the Canadian border three weeks later. The return flight south is more casual. The females leave the young first, after incubating the eggs. The males care for the safety of the chicks only until the chicks can fly at three weeks old, while the young ones follow their parents on the southward migration much later.
Another Climate-Change Stressor for Birds
We know that bird populations are being reduced by natural habitat destruction by humans, and by lesser factors such as being prey to domestic cats, flying into tall buildings and wind turbines, etc. A major food source of birds is insects, particularly important as a protein source for feeding the young in the nest.

Thus any reduction in insect populations has the effect of reducing the food supply of many bird species. Currently, insect populations are in steep decline around the world, particularly in Europe. Agricultural pesticides are a major cause, but not all the causes are known or understood.

A new cause of insect decline has been found. Grasshoppers are in decline in the central U.S. because of reduced nutrition in plants as a result of the high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. CO2 in the atmosphere has been increasing ever since iron smelting started in Europe, initially using charcoal from trees, then switching to coal in the 1700's. CO2 and methane are principal causes of climate change.
Upcoming Trips and Bird Walks
Unfortunately, we will not have any bird walks or bird trips this month, due to the official 'Stay-at-Home' orders.
Bird Walk and Trip Reports
There were no birdwalks last month. We are looking forward to a loosening of the 'Stay-at-Home' order in the future.
Monthly Sightings List
Here are the 131 species sighted around Lake Chapala in April:

Ani, groove-billed
Avocet, American (Ra,Ca)
Blackbird, yellow-headed
Bunting, Indigo
Bunting, lazuli (Sa)
Bunting, painted (Ps)
Bunting, varied
Caracara, crested
Coot, American
Cormorant, neotropic
Cowbird, bronzed
Cowbird, brown-headed
Cuckoo, squirrel (Sa)
Dove, common ground
Dove, Eurasian collared
Dove, Inca
Dove, mourning (Ca)
Dove, white-tipped
dove, white-winged
Dowitcher, long-billed (Ra,Ps)
Duck, fulvous-whistling (Ca)
Duck, ruddy
Egret, cattle
Egret, great
Egret, snowy
Elaenia, greenish (Sa)
Finch, house
Flycatcher, ash-throated
Flycatcher, dusky-capped
Flycatcher, social
Flycatcher, vermilion
Gadwall (Ca,Ps)
Gallinule, common
Gnatcatcher, blue-grey
Goldfinch, lesser
Grackle, great-tailed
Grebe, least
Grebe, pied-billed
Grosbeak, black-headed
Gull, ring, billed
Hawk, cooper's
Hawk, red-0taile
Hawk, zone-tailed (Sa)
Heron, black-crowned night
Heron, great, blue
Heron, little blue (Ps)
Heron, tri-colored (Ca)
Hummingbird, berylline
Hummingbird, broad-billed
Hummingbird, violet-crowned
Ibis, white-faced
Jacana, northern
Kestrel, American
Kingbird, Cassin's
Kingbird, thick-billed
Kingbird, tropical
Kingbird, western
Kiskadee, great
Meadowlark, eastern
Mockingbird, blue
Mockingbird, northern (Ra)
Motmot, russet-crowned (Sa)
Nightjar, buff-collared
Oriel, black-backed
Oriole, black-vented
Oriole, streak-backed
Owl, ferruginous pygmy (Jo)
Owl, great-horned
Parakeet, monk
Parula, northern (Sa)
Pelican, American white
Pewee, greater
Pewee, western wood
Pigeon, rock
Rail, Aztec (Jo)
Raven,, common
Roadrunner, greater
Robin, rufous-backed
Sandpiper, spotted
Seedeater, cinnamon-rumped
Shoveler, northern 9
Shrike, loggerhead
Sora (Ps)
Sparrow, clay-colored
Sparrow, house
Sparrow, lark
Sparrow, Lincoln's (Ca,Ps)
Sparrow, rufous-crowned
Sparrow  savannah
Sparrow, stripe-headed
Stilt, black-necked
Stork, wood (Ra)
Swallow, barn
Swallow, cliff (Ra,Ch)
Swallow, northern rough-winged
Tanager, western
Teal, blue-winged (Ca,Ps)
Teal, cinnamon (Ca)
Teal, green-winged (Ps)
Tern, Caspian
Thrasher, curve-billed
Thrush, orange-billed nightingale
Towhee, canyon
Tyrannulet, northern beardless
Vireo, Cassin's (Sa)
Vireo, golden (Sa,Ch)
Vireo, plumbeous (Ps)
Vireo, warbling
Vulture, black
Vulture, turkey
Warbler, black and white (Ps)
Warbler, MacGillivray's (Sa,Av)
Warbler, Nashville
Warbler, rufous, capped
Warbler, Virginia's (Sa)
Warbler, Wilson's
Warbler, yellow-rumped
Wigeon, American
Woodpecker, golden-fronted
Woodpecker, ladder-backed
Wren, Bewick's
Wren, canyon
Wren, happy (Sa)
Wren, house (Ps)
Wren, marsh (Jo)
Wren, Sinaloa (Av)
Wren, spotted
Yellowlegs, greater (Ps)
Yellowthroat, gray-crowned (Ps)

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. NOTE: THIS FOLDER IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT.