Monday, March 4, 2024


Chapala Birders Newsletter, March 2, 2024

Sightings last Month

There were 214 species reported for the lake area in February. The complete list is shown at the end of this newsletter.

Unusual observations in February:

  • Mexican Parrotlet was observed by Emily Beebee at the Racquet Club.
  • Royal Terns were photographed by Bob Forgie at the malecon of San Juan Cosala.
  • Bonaparte's Gull was seen by Jules Evens offshore from La Floresta.
  • On our Bird Walk at El Bajio we saw Tufted Flycatcher which is very unusual. Also two Military Macaws flew high overhead. These are presumed escapes as they are seen in the wild only closer to the coast and in the canyon around Guadalajara.
  • The Dark-eyed Junco has invaded Jalisco this year - seen first on the Tequila Volcano and later by Jules Evens at 10,000 feet on Cerro Viejo in our area. This is a new species for the lake, not usually reported south of Durango in the winter. It summers in the mountains of Wyoming and Montana.

Featured Bird: Brewer's Blackbird

An adult male Brewer's Blackbird. Despite adapting well to human environments, the population of this species has fallen in the last 50 years from 70 million to 10 million due to habitat loss resulting from human development.

Commonly seen foraging on the ground, they eat seeds; berries when available and feed insects to their chicks.

  • The Brewer's Blackbird is a winter migrant to our area seen from October to April. We are at the southern edge of its range, but it may be seen here in feed-lots with other blackbird species and cowbird species.
  • It breeds in the western U.S. and Canada. Like other blackbirds it is a social bird, nesting in groups.
  • Fifty percent of the nests of this species are subject to "brood parasitism" receiving a free egg from a female Brown-headed Cowbird which does not itself build a nest.
  • We think it is under-reported here because the male is easily mistaken for Great-tailed Grackle (which has a longer tail and a longer bill) and the female is easily mistaken for female Brown-headed Cowbird (which has a shorter tail than Brewer's).

Repeat, In Mexico, Do Not Trust Merlin ID, for the Present

It's very simple. Merlin is using Artificial Intelligence and is still in training on the birds of Mexico. We hope that in a year or two it will graduate from its training period.

In the meantime, for instance, anyone reporting Gray Catbird or Red Crossbill is known, with 99.9% probability, to be believing a bad suggestion by Merlin ID.

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 Thursday March 7,  we will meet at 8.00 am at the trail head to hike a mile up the Allen Lloyd Trail which has lots of underbrush in which birds love to hide. Expect to see Blue Mockingbird and hear the Happy Wren. At about 10.00 we will head to Cafe Negro restaurant for breakfast and complete the bird list.

How to get to the trail head: Drive up the Libramiento a half mile (1km) from the traffic light at Walmart, then turn left (carefully) as you would for the new hospital (Ribera Medical Center), double back and drive up the left side of the hospital, keep going uphill another half mile, and park on the only street to your left.

On Friday March 15, 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 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 3.30 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 Monday March 25, 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.

Bird Walk & Trip Reports

On February 9, we went to Fisherman's Point and the Pumping Station with 25 birders. We recorded American Wigeon, Canvasback, Gadwall, Warbling Vireo, Western Flycatcher, Long-billed Curlew, Mourning Dove, Common Yellowthroat, and Forster's tern out of a total of 92 species which is an an unusually large list.

On February 15, nine birders travelled to the Sierra de Tapalpa, where if was overcast and slow until the sun came out at 11.00 am and birds appeared. We had 52 species, including Striped Sparrow, Chihuahuan Meadowlark, Acorn Woodpecker, Slate-throated Redstart, Mexican Chickadee, Pygmy Nuthatch, Olive Warbler and White-striped Wood-creeper.

On February 21, we walked the El Bajio area on the west side of Ajijic with 15 keen birders. We identified 70 species including Gray-silky Flycatcher, Stripe-headed Sparrow, Black-backed Oriole, Crested Caracara, Groove-billed Ani, Greenish Elaenia, Blue Mockingbird and Lucy's Warbler.

Monthly Sightings List

Here are the 214 species observed around Lake Chapala in February:

Ani, groove-billed

Avocet, American

Becard, gray-collared (Ct)

Becard, rose-throated (Sc)

Blackbird, Brewer's (Sc)

Blackbird, red-winged

Blackbird, yellow-headed

Bunting, indigo

Bunting, lazuli

Bunting, painted (Mz)

Bunting, varied



Caracara, crested

Chat, yellow-breasted

Coot, American

Cormorant, neotropic

Cowbird, bronzed

Cowbird, brown-headed

Cuckoo, squirrel

Curlew, long-billed (Ps)

Dove, common ground (Ps)

Dove, Eurasian collared

Dove, Inca

Dove, mourning

Dove, white-tipped

Dove, white-winged

Dowitcher, long-billed

Duck, Mexican

Duck, ring-necked (Rp)

Duck, ruddy

Egret, great

Egret, snowy

Egret, western cattle

Elaenia, greenish

Euphonia, elegant (Sc)

Falcon, peregrine (Ps)

Finch, house

Flycatcher, buff-breasted Cv)

Flycatcher, dusky

Flycatcher, dusky-capped

Flycatcher, gray

Flycatcher, gray silky (Av)

Flycatcher, Hammond's

Flycatcher, Nutting's (Sa)

Flycatcher, social

Flycatcher, tufted (Cv)

Flycatcher, vermilion

Flycatcher, western


Gallinule, common

Gnatcatcher, black-capped (Sa)

Gnatcatcher, black-tailed (Ch)

Gnatcatcher, blue-gray

Goldfinch, lesser

Grackle, great-tailed

Grebe, least

Grebe, pied-billed

Grosbeak, black-headed

Grosbeak, blue

Gull, Bonaparte's (Ch)

Gull, laughing

Gull, ring-billed

Harrier, northern

Hawk, Cooper's

Hawk, gray (Sa)

Hawk, red-tailed

Hawk, sharp-shinned

Hawk, short-tailed (Jo)

Hawk, white-tailed

Hawk, zone-tailed (Jo)

Heron, black-crowned night

Heron, great blue

Heron, green

Heron, little blue

Heron, tri-colored

Hummingbird, berylline

Hummingbird, black-chinned (Sa)

Hummingbird, broad-billed

Hummingbird, broad-tailed (Cv)

Hummingbird, calliope (Sa)

Hummingbird, Rivoli's

Hummingbird, ruby-throated

Hummingbird, rufous

Hummingbird, violet-crowned

Hummingbird, white-eared (Cv)

Ibis, white-faced

Jacana, northern

Junco, dark-eyed (Cv)

Kestrel, American


Kingbird, Cassin's

Kingbird, thick-billed

Kingbird, tropical

Kingbird, western

Kingfisher, belted (Sc)

Kinglet, ruby-crowned

Kiskadee, great

Kite, white-tailed

Mockingbird, blue

Mockingbird, northern

Motmot, russet-crowned (Sa)

Nighthawk, lesser (Rp)

Nightjar, buff-collared

Oriole, black-backed

Oriole, black-vented

Oriole, Bullock's

Oriole, hooded

Oriole, orchard

Oriole, streak-backed

Osprey (Ps)

Owl, ferruginous pygmy

Owl, mountain pygmy

Parakeet, monk

Parrotlet, Mexican (Sc)

Pelican, American white

Pewee, greater

Phoebe, Say's (Jo)

Pigeon, rock

Pintail, northern

Pipit, American (Ch)

Pipit, Sprague's (Ch)

Rail, Aztec (Rp)

Raven, common

Redstart, American (Av)

Redstart, painted

Redstart, slate-throated (Ct)

Robin, American (Cv)

Robin, rufous-backed

Sandpiper, least

Sandpiper, solitary

Sandpiper, spotted

Sandpiper, western

Sapsucker, yellow-bellied (Ch)

Seedeater, cinnamon-rumped

Shoveler, northern

Shrike, loggerhead

Snipe, Wilson's (Jo)

Solitaire, brown-backed


Sparrow, chipping

Sparrow, clay-colored

Sparrow, house

Sparrow, lark

Sparrow, Lincoln's

Sparrow, Rusty (Ct)

Sparrow, rusty-crowned ground

Sparrow, savannah

Sparrow, stripe-headed

Starling, European (Sc)

Stilt, black-necked

Swallow, barn

Swallow, northern rough-winged

Swallow, tree

Swallow, violet-green

Swift, white-throated (Cv)

Tanager, hepatic

Tanager, summer

Tanager, western

Teal, blue-winged

Teal, cinnamon

Teal, green-winged

Tern, Caspian

Tern, Forster's

Tern, Royal

Thrasher, curve-billed

Thrush, hermit (Cv)

Thrush, orange-billed nightingale (Rp)

Towhee, canyon

Towhee, green-tailed (Sa)

Towhee, hybrid spotted x collared

Trogon, elegant ((Tr)

Tyrannulet, northern beardless (Rp)

Vireo, Bell's

Vireo, black-capped (Sa)

Vireo, Cassin's

Vireo, golden

Vireo, Hutton's

Vireo, plumbeous

Vireo, slaty

Vireo, warbling

Vulture, black

Vulture, turkey

Warbler, black and white

Warbler, black-throated gray

Warbler, Colima

Warbler, hermit

Warbler, Lucy's (Mz)

Warbler, MacGillivray's

Warbler, Nashville

Warbler, olive

Warbler, orange-crowned

Warbler, red-faced (Cv)

Warbler, rufous-capped

Warbler, Townsend's

Warbler, Virginia's

Warbler, Wilson's

Warbler, yellow

Warbler, yellow-rumped

Wigeon, American (Ch)

Willet (Ch)

Woodpecker, acorn (Cv)

Woodpecker, golden-fronted

Woodpecker, ladder-backed

Wren, Bewick's

Wren, canyon

Wren, happy (Rp)

Wren, house

Wren, marsh

Wren, Sinaloa (Jo)

Wren, spotted

Yellowlegs, greater

Yellowthroat, common

Yellowthroat, gray-crowned

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.