Sunday, December 3, 2023


Chapala Birders Newsletter, December 2, 2023

Sightings last Month

There were 191 species reported for the lake area in November. The complete list is shown at the end of this newsletter.

Unusual sightings in November:

  • Ross's Goose was seen by Nicola Cendron at Chapala.
  • Brewer's Sparrow was reported by Juan Gonzales on the Dike at the east end of the lake.
  • Red Crossbill was observed by Jules Evens on the Mezcala Mountain.
  • Mexican Violetear was sighted by Chris Lloyd and Jules Evens on the Caracol Trail.

Featured Bird: Ross's Goose

An adult Ross's Goose showing the short red bill and the black wing-tip feathers. These are social birds, forming large flocks in the winter, and forming large breeding colonies in the Arctic. It often travels with Snow Geese.

  • The Ross's Goose is a small white goose the same size as a large duck.
  • It winters in the U.S and Mexico, and breeds in the high arctic. First year birds do not breed. The nest is a bowl of twigs and grasses on the ground. The female lays 4 eggs which are incubated for 3 weeks. The young swim on the first day of hatching and fly after 6 weeks.
  • It prefers to nest on islands in small lakes for protection from animal predators.
  • It was seriously threatened by winter hunting which was made illegal in 1931. The population increased and now hunting is permitted once again.

Sign Up Now for the Christmas Bird Count & Potluck Supper

The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) for the Ajijic Area will be held on Thursday 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 with John by email to Please provide:

  •    Your name
  •    Your cell phone number
  •    Whether you can bring a car or need a ride,
  •    Whether you plan to attend the potluck supper in the evening.

We divide participants into 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 or partner. This is an opportunity to meet the other participants and compare sightings. We will provide wine and beer.

There is no fee for the Count, but in the past, our 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 held on Saturday 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 team for this circle which extends from Jamay to La Palma and east to Briseñas.

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 try to limit most car trips to three vehicles and 14 people 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 8, we will meet at 8.15 am at Puerta Nueva on the west side of Ajijic. We will see some shore birds and 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'; after one block the road 'jogs' so you turn left and quickly right. Then park immediately, close to the tree, not far from the sign Puerta Nueva. From here we will all walk slowly down to the lake.

On Thursday December 28, we will meet at 8.00 am at the "Sculpture" (at the only traffic light in La Floresta, south-east 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 you would like to be a passenger. (We do not always have enough cars.)

Birdwalk & Trip Reports

On November 9, there were eleven birders out for the walk on the Allen Lloyd Trail in San Antonio Tlayacapan. We observed 35 species including Western Flycatcher, Happy Wren, Green-tailed Towhee, Painted Redstart, MacGillivray's Warbler, Western Tanager and Western Kingbird.

On November 20, we had one carload of observers on the day-trip to the El Tigre Loop which includes the mountain above Mazamitla. Sightings included Wood-Stork, Brown-backed Solitaire, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Trans-volcanic Jay, Acorn Woodpecker Gray Silky-Flycatcher, Gray Hawk and Elegant Euphonia.

Monthly Sightings List

Here are the 191 species sighted around Lake Chapala in November:

Ani, groove-billed

Avocet, American

Becard, rose-throated (Ct)

Blackbird, red-winged

Blackbird, yellow-headed

Bunting, indigo

Bunting, painted

Bunting, varied



Caracara, crested

Chat, yellow-breasted

Coot, American

Cormorant, neotropic

Cowbird, bronzed

Cowbird, brown-headed

Crossbill, red (Mz)

Cuckoo, squirrel

Dove, Eurasian collared

Dove, Inca

Dove, mourning

Dove, white-tipped

Dove, white-winged

Dowitcher, long-billed

Duck, black-bellied whistling

Duck, Mexican

Duck, ring-necked

Duck, ruddy

Egret, great

Egret, snowy

Egret, western cattle

Elaenia, greenish (Sa)

Falcon, peregrine

Finch, house

Flycatcher, ash-throated

Flycatcher, buff-breasted (Mz)

Flycatcher, dusky

Flycatcher, dusky-capped

Flycatcher, gray silky

Flycatcher, Hammond's

Flycatcher, least

Flycatcher, Nutting's

Flycatcher, social

Flycatcher, vermilion

Flycatcher, vermilion

Gadwall (Ch)

Gallinule, common

Gnatcatcher, blue-gray

Goldfinch, lesser

Goose, Ross's

Grackle, great-tailed

Grebe, Clark's

Grebe, least

Grosbeak, black-headed

Grosbeak, blue

Gull, laughing

Gull, ring-billed

Harrier, northern (Mz)

Hawk, broad-winged

Hawk, common black (Mz)

Hawk, Cooper's

Hawk, gray

Hawk, red-tailed

Hawk, sharp-shinned

Hawk, short-tailed (Mz)

Hawk, Swainson's (Mz)

Hawk, zone-tailed (Ch)

Heron, black-crowned night

Heron, great blue

Heron, little blue

Heron, tri-colored

Hummingbird, berylline

Hummingbird, broad-billed

Hummingbird, ruby-throated (Ch)

Hummingbird, rufous

Hummingbird, violet-crowned

Ibis, white-faced

Jacana, northern

Kestrel, American


Kingbird, Cassin's

Kingbird, thick-billed

Kingbird, tropical

Kingbird, western

Kingfisher, belted

Kinglet, ruby-crowned

Kiskadee, great

Kite, white-tailed


Mockingbird, blue

Mockingbird, northern

Nighthawk, lesser (Mz)

Oriole, black-backed

Oriole, black-vented

Oriole, Bullock's

Oriole, hooded

Oriole, orchard

Oriole, streak-backed


Owl, ferruginous pygmy

Owl, great horned

Parakeet, monk

Pelican, American white

Pewee, greater

Pewee, western wood

Phalarope, Wilson's

Phoebe, black

Phoebe, Say's (Ch)

Pigeon, rock

Pintail, northern

Pipit, American

Plover, semipalmated

Rail, Aztec (Rp)

Raven, common

Redstart, American

Redstart, painted

Redstart, slate-throated

Robin, rufous-backed

Sandpiper, least

Sandpiper, spotted

Sandpiper, stilt

Seedeater, cinnamon-rumped

Shoveler, northern

Shrike, loggerhead

Snipe, Wilson's (Rp)

Solitaire, brown-backed


Sparrow, Brewer's (Dm)

Sparrow, chipping

Sparrow, clay-colored

Sparrow, house

Sparrow, lark

Sparrow, Lincoln's

Sparrow, rusty-crowned ground

Sparrow, savannah

Sparrow, stripe-headed

Sparrow, vesper (Dm)

Stilt, black-necked

Swallow, barn

Swallow, northern rough-winged

Swallow, tree

Swallow, violet-green

Tanager, summer

Tanager, western

Teal, blue-winged

Teal, cinnamon

Teal, green-winged

Tern, Caspian

Tern, Forster's

Tern, least

Thrasher, curve-billed

Thrush, hermit (Mz)

Thrush, orange-billed nightingale

Towhee, canyon

Towhee, green-tailed (Sa)

Tyrannulet, northern beardless

Violetear, Mexican (Ct)

Vireo, Cassin's

Vireo, golden

Vireo, warbling

Vulture, black

Vulture, turkey

Warbler, black and white

Warbler, black-throated gray

Warbler, hermit

Warbler, Lucy's

Warbler, MacGillivray's

Warbler, Nashville

Warbler, orange-crowned

Warbler, red-faced

Warbler, rufous-capped

Warbler, Townsend's

Warbler, Virginia's

Warbler, Wilson's

Warbler, yellow

Warbler, yellow-rumped

Waterthrush, northern (Sa)

Wigeon, American


Woodpecker, golden-fronted

Woodpecker, ladder-backed

Wren, Bewick's

Wren, canyon

Wren, happy

Wren, house

Wren, marsh

Wren, Sinaloa (Ch)

Wren, spotted

Yellowlegs, greater

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

Cu - Chapala Haciendas & UofG

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

Pz - San Pedro Itzican/Poncitlan

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

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.