Thursday, February 2, 2023


Chapala Birders Newsletter, February 2, 2023
Sightings this Month

There were 199 species reported for the lake area in January. The complete list is shown at the end of this newsletter. Unusual sightings included:

  • Carlo Cuevas photographed Lilac-crowned Parrots in Jocotepec (see below)
  • Mary Paston observed Bufflehead and Ring-necked Duck at the Chapala Golf and Country Club.
  • Jules Evens identified Red Crossbill by its call on the Mezcala Mountain

Another New Species for the Lake Chapala Area

The Lilac-crowned Parrot is a Mexican endemic that occurs in the wild on the Pacific Slope from Sinaloa to Oaxaca. It has also adapted to living in city parks, so it is now found in every major city in Mexico. It is considered to be an "Exotic Species" rather than "Wild" in these cities. It is a medium-large green parrot with some lilac color on the head. Carlo has seen seven of these birds in Jocotepec for several months, only now photographing them to establish a correct ID.

Notes for eBird and Merlin Users

Some people occasionally put an X for the number of birds of a species they have seen. If you do not put in your best estimate of the number seen and only put an X, then your entry becomes useless for researchers. If you are not good at estimating then at least put in a conservative ball-park figure. Researchers need to know: was it approximately 18 birds, or approximately 200 birds or approximately 3,000?

If you are trying to look up a bird by name but Merlin will not display that species then either you need to go Explore Birds, select the sub-menu (triangular three bars) and select "all installed birds", OR, you need to download the proper Bird Packs. Go to the main menu (three bars) select 'Bird Packs' and download the following two packs: "Mexico All, and "US and Canada Continental"
Featured Bird: Lucy's Warbler
The Lucy's Warbler looks somewhat like a very pale Blue-gray Gnatcatcher or a Virginia's Warble without any yellow patches. The male has maroon feathers in the cap and a reddish-brown rump, but these two features are usually not easily visible. The female is even paler colored.
  • The Lucy's Warbler breeds in the deserts of Northern Mexico and in the U.S. border states. It comes down to the Pacific Slope of Mexico for the six months of winter. We are on the edge of its winter range.
  • It is our smallest warbler and is usually seen in continuous motion in search of food just like other warblers.
  • It eats insects, caterpillars and spiders which it finds on the tree leaves.
  • So if you see a pale and plain-looking Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, you should ask yourself: Is it perhaps a Lucy's Warbler? Does it have any evidence of a reddish-brown rump?
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 Thursday February 9, 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).

On Friday February 17, we will meet at 8.00 am at the "Sculpture" (at the only traffic light in La Floresta, (south-east corner), 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 if 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 Tuesday February 21, 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), Because of construction you must turn right and continue to the end of the malecon (end of the sales booths) then turn left passing by the Red Cross and park as close as you can to the main entrance of the park on your right.
Birdwalk & Trip Reports
On January 9, we had 19 people out in the sunshine to the 'Lakeshore East' from Chapala to 'fisherman's point ' and the pumping station. We observed Common Yellowthroat, Gadwall, Northern Mockingbird, Yellow-breasted Chat, Wilson's Snipe and American Redstart out of a total 65 species.

On January 17, we were joined by eleven birders on the popular Rosa Amarilla Loop on the plateau on the south side of the lake. We saw 75 species including Chihuahan Meadowlark, Brewer's blackbird, Say's Phoebe, Lesser Scaup, Willet, White-tailed Hawk and Wood Stork.

On January 27, we had 19 congenial birders out on the Allen Lloyd Trail close to Ajijic. We identified 42 species including Lincoln's Sparrow, Virginia's Warbler, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Short-tailed Hawk, Squirrel cuckoo, Happy Wren and Bullock's Oriole.
Monthly Sightings List
Here are the 199 species sighted around Lake Chapala in January:

Ani, groove-billed
Avocet, American
Bittern, American (Rp)
Bittern, least (Jo)
Blackbird, Brewer's (Ra)
Blackbird, yellow-headed
Bunting, indigo
Bunting, lazuli (La,Sc)
Bunting, painted
Bunting, varied
Caracara, crested
Chat, yellow-breasted (Ps,Sa)
Coot, American
Cormorant, neotropic
Cowbird, bronzed
Cowbird, brown-headed
Crossbill, red (Mz)
Cuckoo, squirrel (La,Sa)
Dove, common ground (Dp)
Dove, Eurasian collared
Dove, Inca
Dove, mourning
Dove, white-tipped
Dove, white-winged
Dowitcher, long-billed
Duck, black-bellied whistling (Ld)
Duck, fulvous whistling (Ld)
Duck, Mexican
Duck, ring-necked (Ld,Sn)
Duck, ruddy
Egret, cattle
Egret, great
Egret, snowy
Elaenia, greenish
Euphonia, elegant (Mz,Sc)
Finch, house
Flycatcher, ash-throated
Flycatcher, buff-breasted (Mz)
Flycatcher, cordilleran
Flycatcher, dusky (Mz0
Flycatcher, dusky-capped
Flycatcher, gray silky
Flycatcher, Hammond's (Mz)
Flycatcher, least
Flycatcher, Nutting's (Sa)
Flycatcher, social
Flycatcher, tufted (Jo)
Flycatcher, vermilion
Gallinule, common
Gallinule, purple (Rp)
Gnatcatcher, blue-gray
Goldfinch, lesser
Grackle, great-tailed
Grebe, Clark's (Ja,Ld)
Grebe, least
Grebe, pied-billed
Grosbeak, black-headed
Grosbeak, blue
Gull, Bonaparte's (Jo)
Gull, laughing
Gull, ring-billed
Harrier, northern (Oc)
Hawk, Cooper's
Hawk, gray (Sa)
Hawk, red-tailed
Hawk, sharp-shinned
Hawk, white-tailed
Short-tailed (Jo,Sa)
Hawk, zone-tailed
Heron, great blue
Heron, green
Heron, little blue
Heron, tri-colored
Hummingbird, berylline
Hummingbird, black-chinned (Sa)
Hummingbird, broad-billed
Hummingbird, Rivoli's (Sa)
Hummingbird, rufous (Sa)
Hummingbird, violet-crowned
Hummingbird, white-eared (Cv)
Ibis, white-faced
Jacana, northern
Kestrel, American
Kingbird, Cassin's
Kingbird, thick-billed
Kingbird, tropical
Kingbird, western
Kingfisher, belted
Kingfisher, green (Dp)
Kinglet, ruby-crowned (Mz)
Kiskadee, great
Kite, white-tailed (Ps,La)
Meadowlark, Chihuahuan (Ra)
Mockingbird, blue
Mockingbird, northern
Nighthawk, lesser
Nightjar, buff-collared
Oriole, black-backed
Oriole, black-vented
Oriole, Bullock's
Oriole, hooded
Oriole, orchard
Oriole, streak-backed
Owl, ferruginous pygmy (Rp)
Owl, great horned
Owl, mountain pygmy (La)
Parakeet, monk
Parrot, Lilac-crowned (Jo)
Pewee, greater
Phoebe, black
Phoebe, Say's (Ra)
Pintail, northern
Pipit, American (Dp)
Rail, Aztec (Rp)
Raven, common
Redstart, American
Redstart, painted (La)
Robin, rufous-backed
Sandpiper, least
Sandpiper, spotted
Sandpiper, stilt (Dp)
Sapsucker, yellow-bellied (Jo)
Scaup, lesser (Ra)
Seedeater, cinnamon-rumped
Shoveler, northern
Shrike, loggerhead
Snipe, Wilson's (Ps,Ra)
Solitaire, brown-backed (La)
Sparrow, chipping
Sparrow, house
Sparrow, lark
Sparrow, Lincoln's
Sparrow, rufous-crowned (Mz)
Sparrow, rusty-crowned ground (La)
Sparrow, savannah
Sparrow, stripe-headed
Spoonbill, roseate (Dp)
Stilt, black-necked
Stork, wood (Ra)
Swallow, barn
Swallow, cliff (Ct)
Swallow, northern rough-winged
Swallow, tree (Dp)
Swallow, violet-green
Tanager, hepatic
Tanager, summer (Mz)
Tanager, western
Teal, blue-winged
Teal, cinnamon
Teal, green-winged
Tern, Caspian
Tern, Forster's (Dp)
Thrasher, curve-billed
Thrush, orange-billed nightingale (Mz)
Towhee, canyon
Tyrannulet, northern beardless
Vireo, Cassin's
Vireo, plumbeous
Vireo, warbling
Vulture, black
Vulture, turkey
Warbler, black and white
Warbler, black-throated gray
Warbler, Grace's (Mz)
Warbler, hermit (La)
Warbler, Lucy's (Sa)
Warbler, MacGillivray's
Warbler, Nashville
Warbler, orange-crowned
Warbler, red-faced (La)
Warbler, rufous-capped
Warbler, Townsend's
Warbler, Virginia's
Warbler, Wilson's
Warbler, yellow
Warbler, yellow-rumped
Waterthrush, Louisiana (Jo,Rp)
Waterthrush, northern
Wigeon, American
Willet (Ra)
Woodpecker, acorn (Cv)
Woodpecker, golden-fronted
Woodpecker, ladder-backed
Wren, Bewick's
Wren, canyon
Wren, happy
Wren, house
Wren, marsh (Oc)
Wren, spotted
Yellowlegs, greater (Dp)
Yellowlegs, lesser (Dp)
Yellowthroat, common
Yellowthroat, gray-crowned (Ct)
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.