Wednesday, July 23, 2008

More Birding in Patzcuaro

Georgia sez:

Monday July 28, 2008
Birding La Finca Tusa, Zirahuén

Molly Hoopes, a botanical illustrator who studies and paints plants in the Lake Patzcuaro area, will lead a bird walk near Lake Zirahuen. You’ll find information, photos and bird list from a previous trip at Note the photo of the Acorn woodpecker’s granary tree. This outing involves walking/hiking and may require climbing through some barbed wire fences. Bring binoculars, but leave your scope at home--you won’t want to lug it around. Bring nourishments (water and snacks).

Patzcuaro Birding Club will leave Patzcuaro at 9:00 AM, and return by 2:00 PM, mas o menos. Again, let’s try to carpool as much as possible. The point of departure will be the street in front of the Policia Federal by the Pemex Station in Patzcuaro.

Thursday July 31, 4:00 – 6:30 PM
Hummingbird Study

Georgia is hosting another hummingbird study for those of
you who couldn’t make the last one and any who want to come again. Location is Corazon de Durazno, about 3 miles south of Patzcuaro on the highway that goes to Santa Clara del Cobre. Refreshments will be served and ample parking is available.

See and for more information and photos from the initial hummingbird study. Photographers will like this event. You can get close to the birds without disturbing them.

Upcoming Trips
Destinations will include:
Cascadas de Tzararacua - Birding & Natural Beauty
Cerro Burro
Mil Cumbres (SE of Morelia)
Tacambaro - see - -

Please pass the word! Novices and expert birders are welcome.
These outings are free and open to the public.

Inquiries about the Patzcuaro Birding Club
Georgia Conti:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Black-headed Siskin

Wayne and Susan C. of San Miguel recently birded in Patzcuaro. They observed this bird on the Patzcuaro Muelle. Thank you, Wayne, for this photo.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Back to Rio Corucha and Arroyo Frio

I found this great photo of a Chachalaca by geoffreyjp on flickr.

Sunday afternoon a fivesome of us birded south of Tacámbaro. We enjoyed the company of Wayne and Susan C. of San Miguel de Allende. At Tacambaro we really dropped into the Tierra Caliente with a marked rise in temperature (we were hot!) and a change in vegetation. We visited our Rio Corucha and Arroyo Frio sites.

Highlights were seeing a Russet-crowned MotMot and a West Mexican Chachalaca at Arroyo Frio. A Squirrel Cuckoo is "suspected" at Rio Corucha, but confirmation must await more than a fast flash glimpse.

Birding at Rancho Madroño

Rancho Madroño is located on a climbing dirt road northwest of Erongarícuaro in the direction of Yotátiro and La Zarzamora. Access is by permission and prior arrangement with owner, Brian Fey. Rancho Madroño comprises 83 acres of pine and oak forest and, of course, madrone trees, and elevation runs from 7700 up to 8000 feet.

Here one can see ocelots, coyotes, armadillos, wild ferns, mushrooms and orchids in addition to a variety of birds. Immediately on arrival, while we were getting hot tea at shortly after 7:00 AM, we spotted an Elegant Trogon perched right next to the veranda--a good look even with the naked eye. We saw the Elegant Trogon again on our walk, but no luck with a Mountain or Eared Trogon. Two other good birds (not the only ones) were the Pine Flycatcher and Tufted Flycatcher.

Rancho Madroño is "off the grid", meaning that sustainable technologies are used, and there is no city water or power.

Thank you, Brian.

Friday, July 18, 2008

El Chirimoyo - A New Haven for Birders

Located in Arocutín, overlooking Lake Patzcuaro

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Birding Ojo de Agua, Tzintzuntzan

The UV rays on the back of my neck were fierce. I rigged protection with a flannel cloth I found in the car: a fashion statement.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

On a sunny Monday mornng, 14 July 2008, five Patzcuaro birders met at Ojo de Agua. We got excellent looks at birds with both binoculars and scope. A Canyon Towhee scratched around in the sun, showing off his breast streaks and spot which are difficult to see in the shade. We watched a Blue Mockingbird stealthily feed in low vegetation. Highlights were observing Golden-fronted Woodpeckers. A fledgling begged for food with fluttering behavior. A Black Phoebe and a Vermilion Flycatcher showed off in good light. We also saw a pair of Social Flycatchers and their nest. There were many other birds.

Directions to Ojo de Agua [OA]: From Patzcuaro drive through Tsurumútaro to Tzintzuntzan. Pass the main plaza and you will come to a fork. Bear to the right in the direction of Quiroga. Watch the median and when it ends, immediately turn left into a small park at lake edge. Birding here is best on a week day when the park is not humming with activity. Next time I will take a chair and a snack to go with my water. Sun position is good for birding both morning and afternoon.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Birding Sites Map--Starting from Patzcuaro

Here is a fledgling Birding Sites Map.

Birds Sighted in Tacambaro Region

By the way, Happy Bastille Day today.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Black vulture
Turkey vulture
Inca dove
Grooved-billed ani
Lesser roadrunner
White-naped swift
Violet-crowned hummingbird
Berylline hummingbird
Acorn woodpecker
Golden-cheeked woodpecker (nesting at Arroyo Frio)
Black phoebe
Vermilion flycatcher
Great kiskadee
Cassin’s kingbird
Rose-throated becard (nesting at Rio Corucha)
Barn swallow
Spotted wren
Canyon wren
Blue mockingbird
Eastern bluebird
White-throated thrush
Rufous-backed robin
American robin
White-breasted nuthatch
House finch
Red crossbill
Lesser goldfinch
Hepatic tanager
Blue-black grassquit
White-collared seedeater
Canyon towhee
Stripe-headed sparrow
Great-tailed grackle

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Birding Sites in Tacambaro Region

Today Glen, Georgia and I went scouting for good birding venues in the Tacambaro region. See photos of Birding Sites Tacambaro Region .

Following is a list of the sites that we scouted:

From Patzcuaro, take the road to Tacambaro. When you reach a T, turn south toward Tacambaro. This T intersection is designated as mile 0 for the following directions to our birding sites.

Mile 00.0 - T where you turn south.

Mile 05.9 - Road comes to a Y. Go left towards Yuricato.

Mile 06.5 - A road on left goes uphill to top of Salto Santa Paula.

Mile 06.6 - On left, river route to bottom of Salto Santa Paula.

Mile 07.8 - Landmark: large Pemex.

Mile 08.3 - Turn left on road to Cerro Hueco. Landmarks at corner are signs that read Taller Perez Velez and CFE (Comisión Federal Eléctrica). Follow road up to Parque Ecológico Recreativo Cerro Burro. Return to main road to continue.

Mile 10.8 - Landmark: white building on right - Asociación Ganadería.

Mile 12.0 - Turn right onto dirt agricultural road which goes north along Rio Corucha. Easy to miss. On the main road towards Chupio, if you see a cement wall on the right for an irrigation pond, you have missed the turn. The turn for the Rio Corucha site is well before the pueblo of Chupio.

Mile 15.9 - Balneario Arroyo Frio. You will drive through the pueblo of Chupio to reach this site. After Chupio, look for a sign on the right to turn into Arroyo Frio.

Photo courtesy Greg Lasley (see superb Rose-throated Becard photos)

We saw some very good birds. In fact, we all three got lifers. It is difficult to say what was most exciting. We saw the White-breasted Nuthatch, Spotted Wren, Red Crossbill, Rose-throated Becard, Blue-black Grassquit, White-naped Swift and Golden-cheeked Woodpecker, to mention a few... In several instances, we were treated to watch pairs of birds come and go from their nests.

Watch for today's complete bird list.

Friday, July 11, 2008


A number of birds have been added to the checklist and endemic status changed on several:

-known sightings 2004 to present-
This is a working checklist for Pátzcuaro birders. Some locations included.
List will be periodically updated.
First post 6 July 2008; last updated 11 July 2008.
The data can be copied into Excel or Word. Highlight the table, copy, and then paste. You will need to resize the columns in Excel and possibly in Word.

You will also find this link in the sidebar of this site under
"Useful Links".

For notes on dates & locations of recent sightings see

Studying Hummingbirds at Corazon de Durazno

Blue-throated Hummingbird
Magnificent Hummingbird, photo taken yesterday by Bruce Cox
Yesterday, 11 July 2008, a small group from The Patzcuaro Birding Club met at Corazon de Durazno at Georgia and Chuck's interim abode (they are building a house in Arocutin). We thank them both.
Hummingbirds flocked to their feeders; we saw as many as 25 at a time. I personally identified 5 species and got what I call an "eyeful" which helps imprint the image on my brain. I observed them with the naked eye from a distance of 3 feet , watched them at length with binoculars, and studied them through the scope. It was particularly helpful for me to see a Magnificent, a Berylline and a White-eared Hummingbird feeding side by side, to compare size, giz and field marks. I did see the Violet-crowned, which was more elusive, and got several good looks at the unmistakable Blue-Throated Hummingbird. I saw its underside well, as in the photograph above.

Classification of Birders

Wonder where you stand as a birder? Here is one way to rank your abilities:

[Caution! This is, of course, a spoof.]

Top Tier Birder - Life List is comprised of 7 1/2 species not yet seen

Extreme Birder - Intense!

Serious Birder - Extensive knowledge and generously shares it.

Avid Birder - Enthusiastic and very knowledgeable.

Enthusiastic Birder - Long on enthusiasm, short on knowledge.

Recreational Birder - Owns binoculars, comes because there are cookies.

Book Birder - Birds in fabulous reference books and guides. Doesn't leave recliner chair.

Beginning Birder - Potential to become Serious or Extreme Birder, or better.

Casual Birder - Interested, borrows Aunt Mabel's ancient 6 lb binoculars.

Accidental Birder - Trips over the bird.

Patzcuaro Birder is Now Online!

Georgia of Chirimoyo, who earned the prestigious Master Birder designation from Seattle Audubon, now has her site up and running online. Watch
Patzcuaro Birder
for reports and for notices of the events she schedules for the Patzcuaro Birding Club.
Note: Patzcuaro Birder has been added to Useful Links in the sidebar of this site.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Estribo Birders Rained Out

A Cassin's Kingbird soon sought shelter from heavy rain
July 10, as scheduled, six of us met at the gazebo on Estribo at 5:00 PM. The sky had cleared enough to see Huecorio, Urandén, Janitzio, but within five minutes great grey clouds hovering just to the east rolled over us and released a downpour. We retired for hot chocolate. Ni modo to bird.
This is, after all, the rainy season. Some 80% of the Patzcuaro region's 41 inches of average annual precipitation falls between June and September. We reap therefrom green vegetation and profuse flowers. So far in June and July we have birded well between rain showers.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Ruddy-Capped Nightingale Thrush

Photo © Greg Lasley, used with permission

Here is a good photo of the
Ruddy-capped Nightingale Thrush / Catharus frantzii / Zorzalito de Frantzius

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Patzcuaro Birding Club: This Week

White-eared hummingbird

Georgia sez...

Received from Georgia of Chirimoyo:

1. On Wednesday July 9 from 5:00 - 7:00 PM,
join Tracy and Glen [of Villa La Jacaranda] and me for a hike/climb from the Estribo to the top of the hill to see what birds we might find. If it's raining buckets, each of us will decide if we're fair weather birders or not. For those of you not familiar with the Estribo and need directions, let me know. Bring water and snacks. Even though this is a steep climb up the hill, we'll do it at a reasonable pace. After all, we'll be looking for birds.

2. Thursday July 10 from 3:00 - 6:00 PM
a hummingbird study. Have you been stymied by those little [hummers] that zip by so quickly? Several of you have mentioned having trouble, so I decided to offer an outing to help. My two feeders are teeming with several species of hummingbirds, and we'll study them from the comfort of my living room. Please come to Corazon de Durazno... If you need directions, let me know. There's plenty of parking.

Bring binoculars for both events.

We have several other events in the works so stay tuned for more announcements. Also, please pass the word to others who may be interested in birding events. All ages and all skill levels are welcome.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Birding at Lake Zirahuén

Lake Zirahuén is some 10 miles from Pátzcuaro, Michoacán. On Saturday 5 July 2008 we birded in Pine/Oak forest habitat (with an abundance of poison ivy).

Acorn Woodpeckers have been busy here.

Many thanks to Molly-H-in-Paradise of Finca Tusa at Zirahuén for leading us on a hike (5 hours) through her walking territory to scout for birds. There were four of us: Molly, Georgia of Chirimoyo, and Glen and Tracy of Villa La Jacaranda. We identified 28 birds, with the able assistance of Georgia, our resident Master Birder.

Click here to see a newly created Checklist for Pátzcuaro & Michoacán Birds which you can copy and paste into Excel or Word.