Monday, May 2, 2022


Chapala Birders Newsletter, May 2, 2022
Sightings this Month

There were 165 species reported for the lake area in April. The complete list is shown at the end of this newsletter. Interesting sightings included the following:

  • Nicola Cendron photographed a rare Ovenbird (new for the Lake Chapala List) on the Caracol Trail to the oak forest, and also a Semi-palmated Plover in Chapala's Cristiania Park.
  • Kate and Carl Anderson saw a Least Bittern in the Riberas marsh and also a White-striped Woodcreeper in the hills above Las Trojes.
  • We are still receiving sightings of our resident group of feral Red-lored Parrots in San Antonio and Chapala. We don't know if they are continuing to breed here.

Global Big Day

The Cornell Bird Observatory (developer of eBird and the Merlin app) has declared that Sunday May 8 will be 'Global Big Day'. This means that everyone is encouraged to join others around the world in going birding on that day and in uploading their sightings to eBird. Originally a Big Day was one on which a team would compete with other teams to see who could observe the most species in the 24-hour day specified.


The Ovenbird (seen here last month) is a warbler that looks like a small thrush with a streaked breast. Chapala is at the northern edge of its winter range which covers southern Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. It summers in Canada and the north-eastern US. It is known as the walking warbler, as it forages and nests on the ground. The nest has a dome with a side entrance, looking like an oven.
Featured Bird: Snowy Egret
A Snow Egret showing some of the longer feathers associated with breeding plumage.
  • The Snowy Egret is a small white heron found throughout the Americas. In North America it tends to be migratory, but not in South America.
  • It is a common bird on the shores of Lake Chapala throughout the year.
  • It lives near shallow fresh or salt water where it can catch fish, crayfish, crabs, snakes, lizards, frogs and rodents.
  • It nests in colonies in trees together with other similar types of herons.
  • Both sexes share in building the nest of sticks, incubating four blue eggs for 3 weeks and feeding the chicks for 4 weeks.
  • For 40 years in the late 1800s the long, lacy breeding plumes on the head and tail were in high demand internationally for women's hats. Ultimately this was stopped to protect the remaining egret population before it was wiped out.
Bird-walks and Trips
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. Note that we will limit car trips to four vehicles because larger convoys are hard to manage 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 pesos for a day trip).

Government protocols for Covid will apply. When traveling by car, masks will be worn in the car. You will need a mask to enter the restaurant.

On Thursday May 12, we will meet at 8.00 am at the "Sculpture" (at the only traffic light in La Floresta, south side near Restaurant Pranzo), leaving immediately for the Sierra de Tapalpa (90 minutes away). We will bird from 9.30 till 12.30. We expect to see higher altitude birds such as Acorn Woodpecker and Slate-throated Redstart and if we are lucky Trans-volcanic Jay. Bring your own refreshments for the morning. At 1.00 pm We will have lunch at a restaurant on the square in Tapalpa. Expect to be back about 4.00 pm. You must reserve - email John at at least 2 days ahead indicating that you can bring a vehicle and can take others, or you would like to be a passenger. (We don't always have enough cars).

On Wednesday May 25, we will meet at 8.00 am at the "Sculpture" (at the only traffic light in La Floresta, south side near Restaurant Pranzo), leaving immediately for Agua Escondida and the Two Dams (20 minutes drive). We may see Northern Jacana, and a variety of other water birds, woodpeckers and orioles. We will bird until 10.15 am when we will go for breakfast to La Palapa de Don Juan in Chapala and complete the bird list. If you plan on going, please email John at at least 2 days ahead indicating that you can bring a vehicle and can take others, or you would like to be a passenger. (We don't always have enough cars).
Birdwalk & Trip Reports
On April 6, we had nine people out at 'Puerta Nueva', our newest Ajijic birdwalk location. We were all pleased to see 57 species including American Wigeon, Groove-billed Ani, Crested Caracara, Monk Parakeet, Bushtit with nest, Lesser Goldfinch, Stripe-headed Sparrow and Bullock's Oriole.

On April 19, we had 8 participants on the trip to the Rosa Amarilla loop. We mangaged to spot an impressive 68 species including Black-necked Stilt, Killdeer, Wood Stork, White-faced Ibis, Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned Hawk, White-tailed Hawk, Eastern Bluebird and Eastern Meadowlark.
Monthly Sightings List
Here are the 165 species sighted around Lake Chapala in April:

Ani, groove-billed
Avocet, American (Dp)
Bittern, least (Rp)
Blackbird, red-winged (Ra)
Blackbird, yellow-headed
Bluebird, eastern (Ra)
Bobwhite, northern (Ch)
Bunting, indigo
Bunting, painted (Ct)
Bunting, varied
Bushtit (Ra)
Caracara, crested
Chat, yellow-breasted
Coot, American
Cormorant, neotropic
Cowbird, bronzed
Cowbird, brown-headed
Cuckoo, squirrel (At)
Dove, common ground
Dove, Eurasian collared
Dove, Inca
Dove, mourning (Ct)
Dove, white-tipped
Dove, white-winged
Dowitcher, long-billed
Duck, black-bellied whistling
Duck, fulvous whistling
Duck, Mexican
Duck, ruddy (Ra)
Egret, cattle
Egret, great
Egret, snowy
Elaenia, greenish (Rp,Ct)
Euphonia, elegant (Tr)
Finch, house
Flycatcher, ash-throated
Flycatcher, cordilleran
Flycatcher, dusky-capped
Flycatcher, gray silky (Av)
Flycatcher, least
Flycatcher, social
Flycatcher, vermilion
Gadwall (Ch)
Gallinule, common
Gnatcatcher, blue-gray
Goldfinch, lesser
Grackle, great-tailed
Grebe, pied-billed
Grosbeak, black-headed
Grosbeak, blue
Gull, laughing
Gull, ring-billed
Harrier, northern (Ra)
Hawk, Cooper's (Ps)
Hawk, red-tailed
Hawk, sharp-shinned (Ra)
Hawk, white-tailed (Ra)
Heron, black-crowned night
Heron, great blue
Heron, green
Heron, little blue
Heron, tri-colored
Hummingbird, berylline (Ac)
Hummingbird, broad-billed
Hummingbird, violet-crowned
Hummingbird, white-eared (Ct)
Ibis, white-faced
Jacana, northern
Kestrel, American
Killdeer (Ra)
Kingbird, Cassin's
Kingbird, thick-billed
Kingbird, tropical
Kingfisher, green (Rp)
Kiskadee, great
Kite, white-tailed (Rp)
Meadowlark, eastern (Dp,Ra)
Mockingbird, blue
Mockingbird, northern (Ra)
Motmot, russet-crowned
Nighthawk, lesser (Ps)
Nightjar, buff-collared (Av)
Oriole, black-backed
Oriole, black-vented
Oriole, Bullock's
Oriole, streak-backed
Osprey (Oc,Ch)
Ovenbird (Ct)
Owl, ferruginous pygmy (Av)
Owl, great horned (Av)
Owl, mountain pygmy (At)
Parakeet, monk
Parrot, red-lored
Pelican, American white
Pewee, greater
Pewee, western wood
Pigeon, rock
Pintail, northern (Ac)
Plover, semipalmated (Ch)
Raven, common
Redstart, American (Ct,Rp)
Robin, rufous-backed
Sandpiper, least
Sandpiper, solitary (Rp)
Sandpiper, spotted
Seedeater, cinnamon-rumped
Shoveler, northern (Ra)
Shrike, loggerhead
Solitaire, brown-backed
Sparrow, Botteri's (Ps)
Sparrow, chipping
Sparrow, clay-colored
Sparrow, house
Sparrow, lark
Sparrow, rusty-crowned ground
Sparrow, savannah (Ch)
Sparrow, stripe-headed
Spoonbill, roseate
Stilt, black-necked
Stork, wood (Ra)
Swallow, barn
Swallow, cliff (Ch)
Swallow, northern rough-winged
Swallow, tree
Tanager, flame-colored (Tr)
Tanager, hepatic (Tr,Ct)
Tanager, western
Teal, blue-winged
Teal, cinnamon
Teal, green-winged
Tern, Caspian
Tern, Forster's
Tern, least
Thrasher, curve-billed
Thrush, hermit (Ct)
Thrush, orange-billed nightingale
Towhee, canyon
Tyrannulet, northern beardless
Vireo, golden
Vireo, Hutton's (Ct)
Vireo, plumbeous (Ct)
Vireo, warbling
Vulture, black
Vulture, turkey
Warbler, black and white
Warbler, black-throated gray (Ch)
Warbler, crescent-chested (Ac)
Warbler, hermit (Ct)
Warbler, MacGillivray's (Ct)
Warbler, Nashville
Warbler, rufous-capped
Warbler, Wilson's
Warbler, yellow
Warbler, yellow-rumped
Warbler, yellow-throated (Rp)
Wigeon, American (Ac)
Woodcreeper, white striped (Tr)
Woodpecker, golden-fronted
Woodpecker, ladder-backed
Wren, Bewick's
Wren, canyon
Wren, happy
Wren, spotted
Yellowlegs, lesser
Sighting Location codes:

Ac - Ajijic: La Cristina / El Bajio
At - Trails above Ajijic
Av - Ajijic village
Ca - Lake Cajititlan & marsh
Ch - Chapala
Ct - Caracol Trail / Int'l School
Cv - Cerro Viejo
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
Oc - Ocotlan
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 - Potrerillos / Las Trojes / Chupinaya
Tu - Tuxcueca / San Luis Soyatlan
Xt - Ixtlahuacan / Las Campanillas

What is the "Lake Chapala Area"?
We define it as the whole area of the lake plus all land within 15km (or 7 miles) of the edge of the lake.
Lake Chapala Birders is an informal group of bird observers led by John and Rosemary Keeling.

We like to hear of bird sightings at:

Check our website: