Sunday, July 3, 2022


Chapala Birders Newsletter, July 2, 2022
Sightings this Month

There were 93 species reported for the lake area in April. The complete list is shown at the end of this newsletter.

We have reached the time of year when most of the resident birds have completed the first nesting cycle and the young have fledged. The visiting Sparkling-tailed Hummingbirds are still being seen on the Lakeshore, but they will soon return to their regular territories.

We are getting more frequent reports of African Love Birds being seen in Chapala and Ajijic. These are cage escapes. They are tiny parrots which are common as pets with green body and orange and yellow head and neck. They are all originally from Africa and are famous for their affectionate, monogamous pair bonding. Feral populations (wild birds derived from escapes) can now be found in the southern U.S, and southern Australia.
Featured Bird: Curve-billed Thrasher
A Curve-billed Thrasher showing the yellow-orange eye and the curved bill.
  • The Curve-billed Thrasher is a non-migratory native of Mexico and the southern U.S.
  • It is adapted to desert and dry scrub land, and is also found in suburbs in such areas.
  • It generally feeds on the ground, being potentially omnivorous. It usually consumes insects, beetles, snails and fruit.
  • It has a 'rib-it' call, and sings beautifully in the spring. A member of the mimid family, it will mimic other bird's songs, and is imitated by other mimids such as the Northern Mockingbird and the Blue Mocking bird.
  • Where possible it will nest in a cactus plant. Both sexes share in nest building, incubation and feeding of the chicks.
A Complexity of Godwits
Godwits are wading birds with long legs and long bills adapted to dip into mud and sense moving things like worms and moluscs. Four hundred years ago when such birds existed by the million, they were considered a delicacy in Great Britain, being naturally fattened up for migration.

They are part of the 70 bird species that migrate every year between the northern hemisphere and the southern hemisphere.

In the spring the Godwits go to the far north of Alaska and Asia to make nests in pairs. The chicks can run and feed only two hours after hatching. Even so more than half of the chicks are eaten by predators before the summer is out. The surviving birds fly south to tidal mud flats in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.

There are four species:
Bar-tailed Godwit (Alaska, Europe, Australia, New Zealand,)
Black-tailed Godwit (Europe, India, Thiland, Australia)
Hudsonian Godwit (Alaska, United States, South America)
Marbled Godwit (Alaska, United States, Central America)

Generally they have stopping points on their migration route, One species, the Bar-tailed Godwit has the choice of increasing its flying time by stopping off in China, or flying directly south across the center of the Pacific Ocean to New Zealand. Last year one bird was tracked leaving leaving Alaska in September and arriving near Aukland, New Zealand 11 days later. It had flown 13,000km (8,100 mi.) non-stop.

In order to accomplish this they metamorphose into a different beast in the two months before flying south. The flying muscles, lungs and heart double in size. They double their weight with a load of fat as fuel, which is used to provide energy very efficiently, producing carbon dioxide and water. At the same time they shrink their kidneys, liver and guts.

While flying, one side of the brain is able to shut down for sleep, as in whales. Where they really excel is with powers that no mammals are capable of. They can sense where they are on the planet, which direction they need to fly, what weather systems are in front of them, and what that implies in terms of winds.

As with a majority of birds, populations are declining. We know many of the threats. For example, we know that due to Global Warming, the Hudsonian Godwits nesting in Manitoba are finding that the peak of the insect food supply is already declining when the chicks hatch. We know that a preferred wintering area of these birds is on the coast of the island of Chiloé in Chile, which is becoming increasingly developed for tourism and industry.
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 $100 pesos for a half day outing, $200 pesos for a day trip).

On Friday July 8, we will meet at 8.00 am at the "Sculpture" (at the only traffic light in La Floresta, south-east corner, near Restaurant Pranzo), leaving immediately for the Rosa Amarilla Loop (60 minutes drive). Expect to see a variety of grassland birds 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. You must reserve - email John at at least 2 days ahead indicating that you can bring a vehicle or you would like to be a passenger. (We do not always have enough cars.)

On Tuesday July 19, we will meet at 8.15 am at the entrance to Cristiania Park in Chapala. We should see an interesting selection of species in the park and on the shore of the lake. At about 10.00 we will go to 'La Palapa de Don Juan' for breakfast and complete the bird list.
How to Get There: From Ajijic go to the traffic light at the main street of Chapala (Av. Madero), cross straight over and keep going straight for five blocks, turn left at the T intersection and park on the right, near the Park entrance.
Birdwalk & Trip Reports
On June 15, we had five keen birders out at Hacienda La Cristina on the west side of Ajijic. It was a windy day so the species count reached a disappointing twenty one species. These included Killdeer, White-winged Dove, Black-crownned Night Heron, Bewick's Wren and Rufous-backed Robin.

On June 24, seven people went out to Lake Cajititlan managing to see 48 species, which is a good count for this time of year. We saw Tri-colored Heron, Fulvous-whistling Duck, Black-bellied Wistling Duck, Spotted Wren, Loggerhead Shrike, Black-backed Oriole and Wood Stork.
Monthly Sightings List
Here are the 93 species sighted around Lake Chapala in June:

Ani, groove-billed
Avocet, American (Sn)
Bittern, least (Rp)
Bobwhite, northern (Ca)
Caracara, crested
Coot, American
Cormorant, neotropic
Cowbird, bronzed
Cowbird, brown-headed
Cuckoo, squirrel (Sa,Av)
Dove, Eurasian collared
Dove, Inca
Dove, white-tipped
Dove, white-winged
Duck, black-bellied whistling (Ca,Rp)
Duck, fulvous whistling (Ca,Rp)
Duck, Mexican
Egret, cattle
Egret, great
Egret, snowy
Euphonia, elegant (Sa)
Finch, house
Flycatcher, ash-throated (Sa)
Flycatcher, dusky-capped
Flycatcher, gray silky (Sa)
Flycatcher, social
Flycatcher, vermilion
Gallinule, common
Goldfinch, lesser
Grackle, great-tailed
Grebe, least
Grebe, pied-billed
Grosbeak, black-headed
Grosbeak, blue
Gull, laughing (Rp)
Gull, ring-billed (Sa)
Hawk, red-tailed (Sa)
Heron, black-crowned night
Heron, great blue
Heron, tri-colored (Ca)
Hummingbird, berylline
Hummingbird, broad-billed
Hummingbird, sparkling-tailed (Sc,Av)
Hummingbird, violet-crowned
Hummingbird, white-eared (Sc)
Ibis, white-faced
Jacana, northern
Kingbird, Cassin's
Kingbird, thick-billed
Kingbird, tropical
Kiskadee, great
Mockingbird, blue
Motmot, russet-crowned (Sa,Av)
Oriole, black-backed
Oriole, black-vented
Oriole, streak-backed
Osprey (Rp)
Owl, ferruginous pygmy (Rp,Av)
Parakeet, monk
Pelican, American white (Rp,Jo)
Pewee, greater
Pewee, western wood
Pigeon, rock
Roadrunner, lesser (Sa)
Robin, rufous-backed
Seedeater, cinnamon-rumped
Shrike, loggerhead
Sparrow, house
Sparrow, rusty-crowned ground (Rp)
Sparrow, stripe-headed
Stilt, black-necked
Stork, wood
Swallow, barn
Swallow, cliff
Swallow, northern rough-winged
Tern, Caspian
Thrasher, curve-billed
Thrush, orange-billed nightingale (Sa)
Towhee, canyon
Tyrannulet, northern beardless
Vireo, golden (Sa)
Vulture, black
Warbler, rufous-capped (Av0
Warbler, yellow
Woodpecker, golden-fronted
Woodpecker, ladder-backed
Wren, Bewick's
Wren, canyon
Wren, happy (Sa)
Wren, spotted
Yellowthroat, gray-crowned (Ch)
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:

Check our website: