Thursday, December 3, 2020


Chapala Birders Newsletter, December 2, 2020
150 Species Seen in November
The complete list appears at the end of this newsletter.

This has been a busy birding month as we have ventured afield to Tapalpa, Mazamitla and Colima Volcano, all of these being trips that in normal times we would have invited others to join us.

Interesting sightings:
  • Brown Pelicans are being seen on Lake Cajititlan.
  • We went to the Dike at the east end of the lake with Nicola Cendron and Lizzy Martinez of Guadalajara, seeing Purple Gallinule and Long-billed Curlew.
  • John and Nicola hiked to the Oak Forest from the International School, seeing White-eared Hummingbird and ten species of warblers including Red-faced Warbler.
Another New Species for the Lake
Nicola Cendron was able to photograph a Brewer's Sparrow near the Pumping Station. This is a new species for Lake Chapala.

It is known as a nondescript sparrow of gray-brown color, which summers in the western U.S. and winters in western Mexico. In the summer it is the most common bird in sagebrush country. We are at the southern end of its winter range in Mexico.
Christmas Bird Count Details
Our Ajijic area Christmas Bird Count will be held on Tuesday Dec. 15. You should register by contacting John Keeling by email ( or phone (376.766.1801 or 331.091.2136) giving us your name, phone, email, city of residence and donation preference - see below. John will assign you to a team. A typical team might have a maximum of 4 or 5 people in two cars. Usual start time is 8.00 am and counting normally continues until mid-day. We intend to follow government protocols for Covid control with small teams, compulsory masks and social distancing. This year there will not be a group dinner at the end of the day.

There is no fee for the Count, but in the past, members have encouraged me to ask for a donation towards the out-of pocket costs of Chapala Birders. These are for website hosting and newsletter mailing, which together cost $7,000 pesos per year.

The "Cienega" Christmas Bird count at the dike at the east end of the lake will be on Thursday Dec. 17. This will be a full-day affair leaving at 8.00 am and returning at 6.00 pm. Please let John know if you are interested in joining us.

Other Christmas Bird Counts near us:
  • The Guadalara Count will be held December 20.
  • The Primavera Forest Count will be on December 18.
History of the Christmas Bird Count
The tradition of a Christmas bird count started when Frank Chapman, an officer of the Audubon Society in New York, thought there must be a better way to celebrate the holiday season than spending the day in the great outdoors trying to shoot as many ducks and geese as you could, in competition with your buddies trying to beat your numbers. They proposed to look for as many birds of every kind that they could find in one day and to record totals. On Christmas Day 1900, 27 birders took part in the first Christmas Bird Count.

The tradition has been spreading across the Americas. Now more than 2,600 counts are conducted, including 58 in Mexico. More than 80,000 people participate annually in the event. The count area currently reporting the most species is the Yanayacu count in Ecuador with 491 species.
Featured Bird: Canyon Wren
Canyon Wren
The Canyon Wren is an elusive bird that sometimes sits on a prominent rock or roof line, waving its head from side to side while it sings a signature song of loud descending notes. It likes dry, rocky areas and is quite common in Ajijic.
  • It is found in Mexico, the western U.S. and British Columbia.
  • It is a resident in all locations, but sometimes relocates to lower altitudes in winter.
  • It has a very long bill to get at spiders and other insects in narrow crevices.
  • Pairs are monogamous, cooperating in nest building. The female incubates five eggs for 15 days. Both feed the nestlings for 15 days until they fledge. They may nest more than once in a summer.
Bird-walks and Trips
Unfortunately, we have not been scheduling any Bird-walks or any Birding Trips for Chapala Birders, due to the ongoing Covid restrictions.
Monthly Sightings List
Here are the 150 species sighted around Lake Chapala in November:
Ani, groove-billed
Bittern, least (Ds)
Blackbird, Brewer's (Ch)
Blackbird, yellow-headed
Bunting, lazuli (Dp)
Bunting, varied
Caracara, crested
Chat, yellow-breasted (Xt)
Coot, American
Cowbird, brown-headed
Cuckoo, squirrel (St,Sa)
Curlew, long-billed (Dp)
Dove, Inca
Dove, mourning
Dove, white-winged
Dowitcher, long-billed
Duck, fulvous whistling (Ca)
Duck, Mexican
Duck, ruddy
Egret, cattle
Egret, great
Egret, snowy
Elaenia, greenish (Sa)
Euphonia, elegant
Falcon, peregrine (Te)
Finch, house
Flycatcher, ash-throated (Sa)
Flycatcher, cordilleran
Flycatcher, dusky-capped
Flycatcher, gray-silky
Flycatcher, social
Flycatcher, vermillion
Gallinule, common
Gallinule, purple (Cu)
Gnatcatcher, blue-gray
Goldfinch, lesser
Goshawk, northern (Te)
Grackle, great-tailed
Grebe, pied-billed
Grosbeak, black-headed (Sa,Dp)
Grosbeak, blue
Gull, ring-billed
Harrier, northern (Cu,Dp)
Hawk, Cooper's (Xt,Dp)
Hawk, gray (Ca)
Hawk, red-tailed
Heron, black-crowned night
Heron, great-blue
Heron, green
Heron, little blue (Dp)
Heron tri-colored
Hummingbird, beryline
Hummingbird, black-chinned (Te)
Hummingbird, blue-throated (Te)
Hummingbird, broad-billed
Hummingbird, bumblebee (Te)
Hummingbird, violet-crowned
Hummingbird, white-eared (Ch)
Ibis, white-faced
Jacana, northern
Kestrel, American
Kingbird, Cassin's
Kingbird, thick-billed
Kingbird, tropical
Kingbird, western
Kingfisher, belted
Kingfisher, green (Tz,Dp)
Kinglet, ruby-crowned
Kiskadee, great
Kite, white-tailed
Mockingbird, blue
Mockingbird, northern
Oriole, black-backed (Dp)
Oriole, black-vented
Oriole, Bullock's
Oriole, hooded
Oriole, orchard (Dp)
Oriole, streak-backed
Osprey (Cu)
Owl, great horned
Parakeet, monk
Pelican, American white
Pelican, brown (Ca)
Pewee, greater (Ch,Dp)
Phoebe, black (Tz)
Phoebe, eastern (Dp)
Pigeon, rock
Pintail, northern
Raven, common
Robin, rufous-backed
Sandpiper, least
Sandpiper, spotted
Seedeater, cinnamon-rumped
Shoveler, northern
Shrike, loggerhead (Dp)
Siskin, pine (Ch)
Snipe, Wilson's (Ds)
Solitaire, brown-backed (Sa)
Sparrow, Brewer's (Ch)
Sparrow, clay-colored
Sparrow, house
Sparrow, lark
Sparrow, Lincoln's (Cu,Ds)
Sparrow, rusty-crowned ground
Sparrow, stripe-headed
Sparrow, white-crowned (Ch)
Spoonbill, roseate
Stilt, black-necked
Swallow, barn
Swallow, northern rough-winged
Swallow, tree
Tanager, hepatic
Tanager, western
Teal, blue-winged
Teal, cinnamon
Teal, green-winged
Tern, Caspian
Thrasher, curve-billed
Thrush, hermit (Ch)
Thrush, orange-billed nightingale
Vireo, Cassin's
Vireo, golden (Sa)
Vireo, Hutton's (Sa)
Vireo, plumbeous
Vireo, warbling (Sa)
Vulture, black
Vulture, turkey
Warbler, black and white
Warbler, black-throated gray
Warbler, hermit (Ch)
Warbler, Nashville
Warbler, orange-crowned
Warbler, red-faced (Ch)
Warbler, rufous-capped (Ch)
Warbler, Townsend's (Ch)
Warbler, Wilson's
Warbler, yellow-rumped
Woodcreeper, white-striped (Ch)
Woodpecker, golden-fronted
Woodpecker, ladder-backed
Wren, Bewick's
Wren, happy (Sa)
Wren, house
Wren, marsh
Wren, spotted
Yellowlegs, greater (Ca,Dp)
Yellowthroat, common (Cu)
Sighting 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.

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