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Birding in Mexico

December 27, 2018

LIMG_1806Dave and I took off to vacation in Mexico – two and a half weeks in late November and early December. We flew into Mexico City without any huge goals or big endurance things planned (I know, unusual for us), aiming to eat lots of mole sauce and visit the butterflies. But of course, we always have our eyes out for the birds! So, more about the other parts of the trip coming – for now, here are some of our birding highlights.

BTW, I didn’t have my “good” camera equipment with me (my SLR and big lenses), but brought my new Canon G3X along. It is much harder to aim and focus than a bigger SLR – but for the size trade-off it actually is a really amazing camera: perfect for travelling.

Cerro Pelón / Macheros

LpIMG_1948Macheros is a very tiny village southwest of Mexico City, at an elevation of 2430 m (around 8000′), and the closest access point to the Cerro Pelón Monarch Butterfly Reserve. We stayed at JM’s Butterfly B&B – which was amazing in every way, including the birdwatching bonus of a rooftop that Dave and I could go up to every morning with our coffee mugs and binocs, and have 360° views of all the birds waking up! The cinnamon-bellied flowerpiercer at the top of this post is from there – and here are a few more highlights:

LsqIMG_1776The hummingbirds were fun – this is a white-eared hummingbird.


And this is a Rivoli’s hummingbird – very hard to catch the turquoise glow of his throat in a photo unless the light catches it just right, but for good reason this species used to be called the magnificent hummingbird!


And these guys are part of the morning crew that we viewed from the rooftop – gray silky flycatchers.

Angangueo / El Rosario


Angangueo is a funny little town that is the closest access point to the El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary. It’s bigger than Macheros, and a few hundred m higher – but I say it’s funny because, even though it is the big tourist access point to the monarchs, it is SO untouristy! The few restaurants there close around 7:30 (and they may run out of food before that). But we still liked it anyway – both our visit to El Rosario, and a hike up to the cross above town, where we saw muchos hummingbirds!

LIMG_1983I think these guys would have to be the birding highlight of our trip: red warblers! They have a very small range, so not many birders will ever get to see them. But we actually saw several. This guy was one of our first, up at El Rosario – but we saw several on our “hummingbird hike” up to the cross, too. I’m amazed I got this shot at all – he was moving pretty fast!

LsqIMG_2299This hummer was super-fast moving, and this is the only photo I managed to get of him. He had dark purply “cheeks” and made a loud clacking noise – I am pretty sure he is a hummingbird called a green violet-ear.

LsqIMG_2306And there were lots more magnificents/Rivolis.


As well as lots more white-eared hummingbirds too!

LsqIMG_2280Oh, and a new species to me – the broad-tailed hummingbird. I found this guy by the high-pitched whining of his wings. I peered into the bush where the sound had come from, and there he was, all puffed up!

Mexico City/Chapultepec Park

LIMG_2403Dave and I are not really city people – so put us in the largest city in North America, and we will find the wilderness! We headed out to the wilder western section of Chapultepec Park – a forested green area right in the middle of the city, that has been preserved as a wilderness area and water source since Aztec time. LshIMG_2394We walked for over an hour and saw almost no one: only one runner and two horsemen.

When we first entered the bush from the road, we spotted this bright summer tanager. Once we were in the forest we saw mostly warblers and flycatchers… I guess it’s time for me to learn my flycatchers!


So, I think this is a Hammond’s flycatcher.

LsqIMG_2406And I think this guy is a gray flycatcher. Interestingly, both of those flycatcher species also occur at home, in British Columbia (as do many of the warblers we saw down here). Just like us, they’re hanging out in Mexico for the winter!



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