Saturday, June 4, 2022


Chapala Birders Newsletter, June 2, 2022
Sightings this Month

There were 131 species reported for the lake area in April. The complete list is shown at the end of this newsletter. Interesting sightings included the following:

  • John and Rosemary saw Grace's Warblers at the top of Cerro Viejo at 10,000 ft (3,000m).
  • Jeff Morrow reports that the Sparkling-tailed Hummingbirds and Rivoli's Hummingbirds have returned to his feeders in the Racquet Club.
  • Nicola Cendron saw Rose-throated Becard and Gray-collared Becard on the Caracol Trail.
  • Kate and Carl Anderson observed Least Bittern at Riberas del Pilar.

Help us Improve our Web Site

We are asking each of you to look at our website ( and tell us how you think it could be improved. Please send your ideas to John at

The main purpose of our website is to let people know:
  • That we have a birding club at Lake Chapala.
  • That there is a newsletter that you can sign up for.
  • The birds we have here and our birding routes,
  • About birding books and birding equipment.

The Bird Folders Have Been Reprinted

Once again people can buy the illustrated folders showing the 150 most common species here. Buy them from John Keeling or from Diane Pearl's Gallery, 11 am to 4 pm, Santa Margarita #23, in Riberas del Pilar.
Featured Bird: Streaked-back Oriole
A male Streak-backed Oriole showing the streaks on the back and the orange shades on the frontal parts.
  • The Streaked-back Oriole, commonly seen in Ajijic, is a central American bird, resident on the pacific coasts of Mexico, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
  • Males develop more orange frontal coloring in the spring. Females and immatures feature a more greenish or 'dirty' yellow coloring.
  • It likes dry thorny forests, eating mainly insects, but also seeds, fruits and nectar. It uses its sharp bill to pierce through the side of larger trumpet flowers to suck up the nectar inside.
  • A pair will be monogamous for the summer, building an iconic long hanging nest at the end of a tree branch. The female lays four eggs which she incubates for two weeks. The male assists in the feeding of the chicks, which fledge in another two weeks.
A Mexican Conservation Success Story
The Pacific Islands off the coast of Baja California used to be the nesting home of dozens of species of oceanic birds for thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of years. In particular, the volcanic island of Guadalupe was known as the Island of Birds - that is, until the early 1800's when whalers and sealers visited, introducing cats, goats, and other mammals. The cats ate the nestlings and the goats ate all the trees and bushes, completely changing the nesting environment. Five oceanic species went extinct and many others went elsewhere to breed.

In 1995, first steps were taken by Mexican biologists on another island, Isla Rasa, where the invasive mammals were rats. Implementing advice obtained from New Zealand and other countries, the rats were eliminated. Elegant Terns and Heerman's Gulls came back to breed.

In 1998 a non-profit group was formed to obtain funds from the Mexican Government to eliminate the goats and cats on Guadalupe Island. After nine years the sea birds started to come back.

This NGO has now gone on to eliminate 60 populations of invasive mammals from 39 Pacific islands off the coast of Baja California - including wild donkeys, dogs and rabbits. With help from conservationists in other countries, 22 populations of sea birds, out of 27 that were lost, have returned to these islands. For many species it was necessary to encourage them by the use 'social attraction' techniques such as decoys, audio calling equipment and mirrors to give the cautious birds the idea that other birds were already safely using the area. It was an incredible effort and incredibly successful.

This is based on an article by Abby McBride in LIVING BIRD, a publication of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
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).

On Wednesdy June 15, we will meet at 8.00 a.m. at La Cristina on the west side of Ajijic. We will see some shore birds and some birds in the tall trees along the street. At about 10.00 am we will head for Fonda Doña Lola for breakfast and complete the bird list.
How to Get There: Drive about 2 mi (4km) west from Colon, look for signs for Hacienda La Cristina (near signs for Las Palmas, a bus stop and a vivero), turn down to the lake, and park close to the lake.

On Friday June 24, we will meet at 8.00 am at the "Sculpture" (at the only traffic light in La Floresta, south west corner, opposite Restaurant Pranzo) and also at 8.15 am at the Pemex near the intersection of the Chapala-Guadalajara highway with the Libramiento, leaving immediately for the Lake Cajititlan Marsh (30 minutes drive). We expect to see a variety of marsh and lake birds such as Black-necked Stilt, and Whistling Ducks. There will be a break for snacking at 11.00 am. Expect to be back in Ajijic by 1.00 pm. You must reserve - email John at at least 2 days ahead saying if you are bringing a vehicle and can take others, or whether you are looking for a ride.
Birdwalk & Trip Reports
On May 12, a group of eight of us travelled to the Sierra de Tapalpa at 7,500 ft (2,200 m) where we saw a total of 40 species including Eastern Bluebird, American Robin, Collared Towhee, Olive Warbler, Slate-throated Redstart, and an unusual Wood Stork.

On May 25, nine people came with us to follow the Two Dams Road between Ixtlahuacan and the Pumping Station. We observed Rusty-crowned Ground Sparrow, Northern Bobwhite, Stripe-headed Sparrow, Blue Mockingbird, Cooper's Hawk and Groove-billed Ani out of 44 species in total.
Monthly Sightings List
Here are the 131 species sighted around Lake Chapala in April:

Ani, groove-billed
Avocet, American (Ps)
Becard, gray-collared (Ct)
Becard, rose-throated (Ct)
Bittern, least (Rp)
Bobwhite, northern (Ps)
Brushfinch, rufous-capped (Ct)
Bunting, varied (Ct)
Caracara, crested
Coot, American
Cormorant, neotropic
Cowbird, bronzed
Cowbird, brown-headed
Cuckoo, squirrel (Ct)
Dove, common ground (Ps,Ca)
Dove, Eurasian collared
Dove, Inca
Dove, white-tipped
Dove, white-winged
Dowitcher, long-billed (Ca)
Duck, black-bellied whistling
Duck, fulvous whistling
Duck, Mexican
Duck, ruddy
Egret, cattle
Egret, great
Egret, snowy
Elaenia, greenish (Ct)
Finch, house
Flycatcher, ash-throated
Flycatcher, buff-breasted
Flycatcher, cordilleran
Flycatcher, dusky-capped
Flycatcher, gray silky (Av,Ct)
Flycatcher, Nutting's (At,Rp)
Flycatcher, social
Flycatcher, vermilion
Gallinule, common
Goldfinch, lesser
Grackle, great-tailed
Grebe, pied-billed
Grosbeak, black-headed
Grosbeak, blue
Gull, laughing
Gull, ring-billed
Hawk, Cooper's (Ps)
Hawk, red-tailed
Hawk, white-tailed (Jo)
Heron, black-crowned night
Heron, green
Heron, little blue
Heron, tri-colored
Hummingbird, broad-billed
Hummingbird, Rivoli's (St)
Hummingbird, Sparkling-tailed (St)
Ibis, white-faced
Jacana, northern
Kingbird, Cassin's
Kingbird, thick-billed
Kingbird, tropical
Kiskadee, great
Mockingbird, blue
Motmot, russet-crowned (Sa)
Nightjar, buff-collared (Av)
Oriole, black-backed (Rp)
Oriole, black-vented
Oriole, orchard
Oriole, streak-backed
Osprey (Rp)
Owl, ferruginous pygmy (Av)
Owl, mountain pygmy (Ct)
Parakeet, monk
Parrot, red-lored (Rp)
Pelican, American white
Pelican, brown (Ch)
Pewee, greater
Pewee, western wood
Pigeon, rock
Raven, common
Roadrunner, lesser (Ct)
Robin, American
Robin, rufous-backed
Sandpiper, spotted
Seedeater, cinnamon-rumped
Shrike, loggerhead
Solitaire, brown-backed (Cv)
Sparrow, house
Sparrow, rusty (Ct)
Sparrow, rusty-crowned ground
Sparrow, savannah
Sparrow, stripe-headed
Stilt, black-necked
Stork, wood (Jo)
Swallow, barn
Swallow, cliff (Ch)
Swallow, northern rough-winged
Tanager, flame-colored (Ct)
Tanager, hepatic
Tanager, western
Teal, blue-winged
Tern, Caspian
Tern, Forster's
Thrasher, curve-billed
Thrush, orange-billed nightingale
Towhee, canyon
Tyrannulet, northern beardless (Av)
Vireo, golden (Sa)
Vireo, plumbeous (Ct)
Vireo, warbling
Vulture, black
Vulture, turkey
Warbler, Grace's (Cv)
Warbler, MacGillivray's (Ct)
Warbler, Nashville
Warbler, rufous-capped (Ct)
Warbler, Wilson's
Warbler, yellow
Warbler, yellow-rumped
Woodcreeper, white striped (Cv)
Woodpecker, acorn (Cv)
Woodpecker, gila
Woodpecker, golden-fronted
Wren, Bewick's
Wren, canyon
Wren, happy
Wren, Sinaloa (Ct)
Wren, spotted
Yellowthroat, common (Sa)
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.

Illustrated color folders showing our common birds are available for $200 pesos at Diane Pearl's Gallery, 11 am to 4 pm, Santa Margarita #23, in Riberas del Pilar.

We like to hear of bird sightings at:

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