West Mexico: Thorn Forest to the Sierra Madre Jan 12—22, 2018

Posted by Brian Gibbons


Brian Gibbons

Brian Gibbons grew up in suburban Dallas where he began exploring the wild world in local creeks and parks. Chasing butterflies and any animal that was unfortunate enough t...

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Western Mexico holds some amazing treasure, and I’m not talking about Sierra Madre gold! From the sunbaked beaches to the chilly recesses of the verdant canyons, we experienced many avian treasures; 272 species including more than 30 endemics made sure our West Mexico tour was a resounding success. Limonadas cooled us on warm afternoons, and coffee warmed us during the morning chill while the birds entertained us all day long. From our start in a weedy field in Nuevo Vallarta to the finish in San Sebastián del Oeste, birds came through for us, though sometimes we had to wait until the last minute before they revealed themselves.

Bare-throated Tiger-Heron

Bare-throated Tiger-Heron— Photo: Brian Gibbons


Rancho Primavera and the excellent hosting by Pat and Bonnie ensured we would have a wonderful time while exploring the thorn forest and other environs while we enjoyed their breads, soups, dinners, and desserts. Not only did they feed us, they fed the birds too: sugar water, papaya, bananas, and the most popular item, day-old corn tortillas, loved by the jays, saltators, and caciques. By the time we made it to Rancho Primavera on our first day of birding we had already logged Elegant Quail, a mess of Mexican Parrotlets that were just waking up and enjoying some group allopreening, West Mexican Chachalacas, and the comical Yellow-winged Caciques with their floppy crests and raspy voices. The next morning the Mottled Owls hooted in the dark as we gathered for breakfast at Rancho Primavera. After fresh warm muffins and a delightful breakfast, the avian café was starting to stir. Black-throated Magpie-Jays, Grayish Saltators, San Blas Jays, Blue Mockingbird, Yellow Grosbeaks, Streak-backed Orioles, and hummers were all enjoying the feast placed for them by Pat. As we got used to the feeder action, we departed the ranch for some great birding up the Provincia Road in pine-oak forest. A cooperative Rusty Sparrow, excellent looks at a couple of female Sparkling-tailed Hummingbirds, Black-headed Siskins, Buff-breasted Flycatcher, Common Black Hawk, Black-capped Vireo, Gray-crowned Woodpecker, and a great assortment of warblers and other birds made for a fun morning. The afternoon on the ranch produced several new birds and great birding around the pond in the evening. The parade of kingfishers, cormorants, herons, ibises, storks, and ducks was ever-changing and entertained us on many occasions.

Read Brian’s full report in his Field Report.