Friday, December 2, 2022


Chapala Birders Newsletter, December 2, 2022
Sightings this Month

There were 170 species reported for the lake area in November. The complete list is shown at the end of this newsletter. Interesting sightings included:

  • Jules Evens observed a Zone-tailed Hawk on the Allen Lloyd Trail.
  • Carlo Cuevas saw a Bonaparte's Gull at the Jocotepec Malecon.
  • Nicola Cendron spotted a Military Macaw on the Allen Lloyd Trail. We consider this to be an escapee. Macaws are a popular purchase by well-heeled Mexican families particularly in the period leading up to Christmas.
  • Broad-billed Hummingbirds were reported in Ixtlahuacan and Rosa Amarilla.
  • Wood Stork and Lesser Scaup were reported on our group trip to Rosa Amariilla.

Sign Up Now for the Christmas Bird Count

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC) for the Ajijic Area will be on Wednesday December 14.This is a special morning to count birds for science. Everyone with an interest in birds is welcome to take part.

Participants must register by email to Please provide:
  1. Your name
  2. Your cell phone number
  3. Whether you can bring a car or need a ride,
  4. Whether you plan to attend the potluck supper in the evening.

We divide participants into 5 or 6 teams, with each team having 4 to 6 members. Each team will go to a particular part of our designated 15 mile diameter circle which runs from San Juan Cosala to San Nicolas, and north to Lake Cajititlan. Your team leader will contact you close to the time of the count to confirm your meeting point. We generally do the counting from 8.00 am to 1.00 pm.

The Potluck Supper celebration will be held at 6.00 pm on the same day (December 14) at the Keeling's house in Ajijic. Bring your spouse. This is an opportunity to meet the other participants and compare sightings. We will provide wine and beer and Rosemary will make her traditional shepherd's pie.

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 about $8,000 pesos per year.

The "Dike CBC" at the east end of the lake will be on Friday December 16. This is an all-day affair as it is 80km (50 mi.) from Ajijic. Please sign up by email for this count. We will have one large team for this circle which extends from Ocotlan to La Palma and east to Briseñas.

The first 'Christmas Bird Count' was held in December 1900. The CBC now extends to the Caribbean and Latin America. All count results are forwarded to the Audubon Society in New York for analysis.
Featured Bird: House Finch
A male House Finch. The red coloring is brighter in the breeding season. The female has dull brown coloring with the same brown wings, and brown streaks on the breast and belly.
  • The House Finch is one of our commonest birds. An open country bird, it thrives around human habitations.
  • Originally a Mexican bird, it slowly expanded its range up the US Pacific Coast and into the mountains. In the 1940s it was sold in New York City as a 'Hollywood Finch' and from there it has spread across the whole of the eastern US.
  • The female builds a grass and twig nest. The male feeds the female while she incubates the eggs. Both feed the nestlings. The male feeds the fledglings.
  • Their diet is mainly seeds picked from the ground, supplemented in season with small berries. It is one of the few species which feeds only seeds to their young (not supplemented with insects or caterpillars.)
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 Friday, December 19, we will meet at 8.15 am at El Bajio on the west side of Ajijic. We will walk down the lane to the lake, expecting to see a good variety of birds in the tall trees and fields. At about 10.00 am we will head to Fonda Dona Lola for breakfast and review the bird list.
How to Get There: From Ajijic go about 2 mi. (3 km) west from the light at Colon, turn downhill for El Bajio (across from the west end of the large retirement community of El Pueblito) and park immediately on the lateral road parallel to the carretera.

On Tuesday September 27, we will meet at 8.00 am at the "Sculpture" (at the only traffic light in La Floresta, south west corner, opposite Restaurant Pranzo), departing immediately for Villa Corona on Lake Atotonilco (60 minutes drive). We expect to see various shore birds such as White-faced Ibis and Roseate Spoonbill. Bring your own mid-morning refreshments. There will be a break for snacking at 11.00 am. We will be back in Ajijic by about 1.30 pm. You must reserve - email John at least 2 days ahead of time, saying if you can bring a vehicle and can take others, or whether you are looking for a ride. Remember, we do not always have enough vehicles.

Birdwalk & Trip Reports
On November 8, we had twelve birders on the trip to the Sierra de Tapalpa. The day was cool, but we managed to get 45 species, inlcuding Gray Silky Flycatcher, Rufous-capped Warbler, Acorn Woodpecker, Buff-breasted Flycatcher, Brown-backed Solitaire and American Robbin.

On November 14, we had seven people willing to do the five hour hike in the oak forest at Las Trojes. We observed Cordilleran Flycatcher, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Squirrel Cuckoo, Townsend's Warbler and White-eared Hummingbird out of a total of 33 species.

On November 18, we had only six people out at La Cristiania Park in Chapala. We saw Groove-billed Ani, Northern Jacana, Monk Parakeet, Black-vented Oriole, Marsh Wren, Tropical Kingbird and Vermillion Flycatcher among 39 total species.

On November 25, we had a car load of keen birders on the Rosa Amarilla Loop on the El Tigre Plateau. We saw 54 species including Blue Mockingbird, Stripe-headed Sparrow, Summer Tanager, Cinnamon-rumped Seedeater, Wood Stork, Black-necked Stilt, Lesser Scaup and Ruddy Duck.
Monthly Sightings List
Here are the 170 species sighted around Lake Chapala in November:

Ani, groove-billed
Avocet, American
Bittern, least (Rp)
Blackbird, red-winged (Ch)
Blackbird, yellow-headed
Bobwhite, northern (Av)
Bunting, indigo (Sa)
Bunting, lazuli
Bunting, varied
Caracara, crested
Chat, yellow-breasted
Coot, American
Cormorant, neotropic
Cowbird, bronzed
Cowbird, brown-headed
Cuckoo, squirrel (Sa,Jo)
Dove, common ground (Ja)
Dove, Eurasian collared
Dove, Inca
Dove, mourning (Mz)
Dove, white-tipped
Dove, white-winged
Dowitcher, long-billed
Duck, black-bellied whistling (Ja,Ca)
Duck, fulvous whistling
Duck, Mexican
Egret, cattle
Egret, great
Egret, snowy
Elaenia, greenish (Sa)
Finch, house
Flycatcher, ash-throated
Flycatcher, buff-breasted
Flycatcher, cordilleran (Rp)
Flycatcher, dusky-capped
Flycatcher, gray silky
Flycatcher, Hammond's
Flycatcher, least (Av)
Flycatcher, social
Flycatcher, tufted (Jo)
Flycatcher, vermilion
Flycatcher, willow
Gallinule, common
Gallinule, purple (Rp)
Gnatcatcher, blue-gray
Goldfinch, lesser
Grackle, great-tailed
Grebe, least
Grebe, pied-billed
Grebe, western (Ch)
Grosbeak, black-headed
Grosbeak, blue
Grosbeak, yellow (Sa)
Gull, Bonaparte's (Jo)
Gull, laughing
Gull, ring-billed
Harrier, northern (Dp)
Hawk, Cooper's (Rp)
Hawk, gray (Sa)
Hawk, red-tailed
Hawk, sharp-shinned
Hawk, zone-tailed (Sa)
Heron, black-crowned night
Heron, great blue
Heron, green
Heron, tri-colored
Hummingbird, berylline
Hummingbird, black-chinned (Sa)
Hummingbird, broad-billed
Hummingbird, broad-tailed (Xt,Ra)
Hummingbird, ruby-throated (Tr)
Hummingbird, rufous (Rp)
Hummingbird, violet-crowned
Hummingbird, white-eared (Tr)
Ibis, white-faced
Jacana, northern
Kestrel, American (Sa)
Kingbird, Cassin's
Kingbird, thick-billed
Kingbird, tropical
Kingbird, western
Kingfisher, belted
Kinglet, ruby-crowned (Tr)
Kiskadee, great
Merlin (Jo,Xt)
Mockingbird, blue
Mockingbird, northern
Nighthawk, lesser (Sn)
Oriole, black-backed
Oriole, black-vented
Oriole, Bullock's (Av)
Oriole, hooded
Oriole, orchard (Rp)
Oriole, streak-backed
Osprey (Rp,Ca)
Owl, barn (Ps)
Owl, ferruginous pygmy Rp)
Owl, great horned
Owl, western screech (Rp)
Parakeet, monk
Pelican, American white
Pewee, greater
Pigeon, rock
Pintail, northern
Rail, Aztec
Raven, common
Redstart, American (Dm)
Robin, rufous-backed
Sandpiper, least
Sandpiper, spotted
Scaup, lesser (Ra)
Seedeater, cinnamon-rumped
Shoveler, northern
Shrike, loggerhead
Sparrow, clay-colored (Ra)
Sparrow, house
Sparrow, lark
Sparrow, Lincoln's (Ca)
Sparrow, savannah
Sparrow, stripe-headed
Stilt, black-necked
Stork, wood (Ra)
Swallow, barn
Swallow, northern rough-winged
Swallow, tree (Ch)
Swallow, violet-green (Sa)
Tanager, hepatic
Tanager, summer (Ra)
Tanager, western
Teal, blue-winged
Teal, cinnamon
Teal, green-winged
Tern, Caspian (Ch)
Tern, Forster's
Thrasher, curve-billed
Thrush, orange-billed nightingale
Tyrannulet, northern beardless (Sa)
Vireo, golden (Sa)
Vireo, plumbeous
Vireo, warbling (Sa)
Vulture, black
Vulture, turkey
Warbler, black and white (Ra)
Warbler, black-throated gray (Av)
Warbler, Lucy's
Warbler, MacGillivray's (Sa)
Warbler, Nashville
Warbler, orange-crowned
Warbler, rufous-capped (At)
Warbler, Townsend's (Sa,Tr)
Warbler, Virginia's (La)
Warbler, Wilson's
Warbler, yellow
Warbler, yellow-rumped
Waterthrush, northern (Rp,Jo)
Woodpecker, acorn (Tr)
Woodpecker, golden-fronted
Woodpecker, ladder-backed
Wren, Bewick's
Wren, canyon
Wren, happy (Sa)
Wren, house (Sa)
Wren, marsh (Rp,Jo)
Wren, spotted (Ca)
Yellowlegs, greater
Yellowthroat, common (Sa,Jo)
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
Mz - Mezcala
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.