Monday, October 3, 2022


Chapala Birders Newsletter, October 2, 2022
Sightings this Month

There were 144 species reported for the lake area in September. The complete list is shown at the end of this newsletter.

Interesting sightings last month:

Nicola Cendron and John Keeling spotted Barn Owl and Black-bellied Plover (see below) on the South Dike at the east end of the lake.
Nicola saw a Rusty-crowned Sparrow on the Allen Lloyd Trail, while Kate and Carl Anderson saw the rarer, larger, Rusty Sparrow at the same location.
The Anderson's reported an unusual Western Screech Owl in Riberas de Pilar.

All of the migrant warblers and other species are now arriving in our area. Some are passing through, while others will stay here for the winter.

Eastern Meadowlark now "Chihuahan Meadowlark"

Every summer, birders await publication of the annual "Check-list Supplement" by the Committee on Classification and Nomenclature of the American Ornithological Society (AOS). Here are the changes that affect us in Western Mexico:

This year, the Eastern Meadowlark has been split in two. In the southern US and Mexico, the Eastern Meadowlark now becomes the Chihuahuan Meadowlark.

The committee has also changed the scientific names of the Violet-crowned Hummingbird and the Mottled Owl.

Another new Bird for the Lake Chapala List

The sighting of a Black-bellied Plover last month on the Dike at the east end of the Lake, brings the Lake Chapala List up to 352 species.

The Black-bellied Plover is one the real long distance migrants. It breeds on the Arctic coasts of Canada and Russia. It winters on the coasts of Central and South America as well as on the coasts of the other continents. It has been logged flying 3,400 miles (5,500km) across the ocean in five days,

October Big Day - Next Saturday

Saturday October 8 is the date of the next Big Day. Those birders who would like to be part of a team effort for our area are invited to contact John at This could take a form similar to the Christmas bird count but with a much larger, more flexible area.

A "Big Day" runs from midnight to midnight. Individuals, teams and groups are invited to search for as many bird-species sightings as they can during the 24 hour period. Sightings must be recorded on eBird.
Featured Bird: Violet-crowned Hummingbird
The Violet-crowned Hummingbird is identified by the white front and underparts. It is common here at the Lakeshore. It tends to dominate other hummers around feeders.
  • The Violet-crowned Hummingbird is a Mexican endemic species that started being seen in the US in 1960 and since then has been slowly expanding its summer range northwards.
  • It is seen in a wide variety of habitats from dry scrub to pine-oak forests and gardens. The female is like the male but with duller coloring.
  • Nesting takes place mainly in the summer, but has been observed in most other months. The nest is built from three to twenty feet (1 to 6 meters) above ground on a horizontal branch, often on a fork of the branch.
  • As with other hummingbird species the male guards the nest area while the female does all the work of building the nest, incubating the eggs and feeding the young.
  • Food consists of tiny insects and nectar from flowers. The tongue is very long and curls to form a tube for sucking out the nectar.
Upcoming 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 $150 pesos for a half day outing, $300 pesos for a day trip).

On Wednesday October 12, we will meet at 8.15 am at Puerta Nueva 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 to Fonda Doña Lola Restaurant for breakfast and complete the bird list.
How to Get There: Drive about one mile (3km) west from Colon, past the French Bakery and the Cemetery; then take the next left exit signed 'Villa Lucerna'; turn left after one block and immediately turn right at the sign Puerta Nueva; park on the side of the street close to this intersection.

On Tuesday October 18, 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 - bring your own snacks. Expect to be back in Ajijic at 12.30 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 (we do not always have enough vehicles).

On Thursday October 27, we will meet at 8.15 am at the Old Train Station in Chapala, leaving immediately to bird the Pumping Station area, east of Chapala. Expect to see a good variety of land and shore birds in a variety of habitats. We will bird until 10.15 am when we will go for breakfast to La Palapa de Don Juan in Chapala. You must reserve - email John at least 2 days ahead of time and please indicate if you can bring a vehicle and can take others, or if you would like to be a passenger (we do not always have enough vehicles). The old train station is on the Lakeshore Road just east of Cristiania Park in Chapala
Birdwalk & Trip Reports
On September 9, we traveled to the Rosa Amarilla Loop with twelve birders. We saw 45 species including Black Phoebe, Spotted Sandpiper, Great Horned Owl, White-tailed Hawk, Gray-silky Flycatcher and Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush.

On September 19, fourteen people gathered at El Bajio on the west side of Ajijic. We spotted Black-backed Oriole, Social Flycatcher, Blue Mockingbird, Groove-billed Ani, Ladder-backed Woodpecker and Violet-crowned Hummingbird out of a total of 32 species.

On September 27, we traveled to Villa Corona on Lake Atotonilco. Unfortunately, several people were unable to come with us because we did not have enough cars. We saw Brown Pelican, American White Pelican, Clark's Grebe, Tri-colored Heron, Yellow Warbler and Broad-billed Hummingbird.
Monthly Sightings List
Here are the 144 species sighted around Lake Chapala in September:

Ani, groove-billed
Avocet, American
Becard, rose-throated (Ca)
Bittern, least
Blackbird, red-winged
Blackbird, yellow-headed
Caracara, crested
Coot, American
Cormorant, neotropic
Cowbird, bronzed
Cowbird, brown-headed
Cuckoo, squirrel
Dove, common ground
Dove, Eurasian collared
Dove, Inca
Dove, white-tipped
Dove, white-winged
Dowitcher, long-billed
Duck, black-bellied whistling
Duck, fulvous whistling
Duck, Mexican
Egret, cattle
Egret, great
Egret, snowy
Elaenia, greenish (At)
Euphonia, elegant (Sa)
Finch, house
Flycatcher, cordilleran (Sa)
Flycatcher, gray silky (Sa)
Flycatcher, Hammond's (Sa)
Flycatcher, least (Sa)
Flycatcher, social
Flycatcher, vermilion
Gallinule, common
Gnatcatcher, blue-gray
Goldfinch, lesser
Grackle, great-tailed
Grassquit, blue-black
Grebe, least
Grebe, pied-billed
Grosbeak, black-headed (Sa)
Gull, laughing
Gull, ring-billed
Hawk, Cooper's
Hawk, red-tailed (Ps)
Hawk, white-tailed (Ra)
Heron, black-crowned night
Heron, great blue
Heron, green
Heron, little blue
Heron, tri-colored
Hummingbird, berylline (Sa)
Hummingbird, broad-billed
Hummingbird, Rivoli's (Sc)
Hummingbird, ruby-throated (Ch)
Hummingbird, rufous (Ca)
Hummingbird, violet-crowned
Ibis, white-faced
Jacana, northern
Kestrel, American (Ps)
Kingbird, Cassin's
Kingbird, thick-billed
Kingbird, tropical
Kingfisher, belted (Rp,Dp)
Kingfisher, green (Dp)
Kiskadee, great
Kite, white-tailed
Mockingbird, blue
Motmot, russet-crowned (Sa)
Nightjar, buff-collared (Av,Ch)
Oriole, black-backed
Oriole, black-vented
Oriole, hooded
Oriole, orchard (Ps)
Oriole, streak-backed
Osprey (Ps,Ca)
Owl, barn
Owl, ferruginous pygmy (At,Rp)
Owl, great horned (Sa,Ra)
Owl, western screech (Rp)
Parakeet, monk
Pelican, American white
Pewee, greater
Pewee, western wood
Phoebe, black (Ra)
Pigeon, rock
Plover, black-bellied (Dp)
Raven, common
Redstart, American
Redstart, painted (Ps)
Robin, rufous-backed
Sandpiper, least
Sandpiper, spotted
Seedeater, cinnamon-rumped
Shrike, loggerhead
Solitaire, brown-backed (La)
Sparrow, Botteri's
Sparrow, chipping (Sa)
Sparrow, house
Sparrow, lark
Sparrow, rufous-crowned (Sa)
Sparrow, rusty (Rp)
Sparrow, rusty-crowned ground
Sparrow, stripe-headed
Stilt, black-necked
Stork, wood (Ps,Ra)
Swallow, barn
Swallow, northern rough-winged
Tanager, western
Teal, blue-winged
Teal, cinnamon
Tern, Forster's (Ch)
Tern, Royal (Jo)
Thrasher, curve-billed
Thrush, orange-billed nightingale (Sa,At)
Towhee, canyon
Tyrannulet, northern beardless (At)
Vireo, Bell's (Ps)
Vireo, golden (Ca,Sa)
Vireo, plumbeous (Oc)
Vulture, black
Vulture, turkey
Warbler, black and white (Sa)
Warbler, black-throated gray
Warbler, hermit (La)
Warbler, MacGillivray's (Sa)
Warbler, orange-crowned (Jo)
Warbler, rufous-capped
Warbler, Townsend's (Sa,Dm)
Warbler, Wilson's
Warbler, yellow
Woodpecker, golden-fronted
Woodpecker, ladder-backed
Wren, Bewick's
Wren, canyon
Wren, happy
Wren, house (La)
Wren, marsh
Wren, Sinaloa
Wren, spotted
Yellowlegs, lesser
Yellowthroat, common
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 once again available for $200 pesos at Diane Pearl's Gallery, 11 am to 4 pm, Santa Margarita #23, at the east end of Riberas del Pilar. Also available from John Keeling.

We like to hear of bird sightings at:

Check our website:
There you will find our newsletters, illustrations of our birds and advice on buying binoculars, books and birding apps.