Sunday, January 25, 2009

Participation in First Mazatlan Birding Festival

On January 11, 2009, Evi and I flew to Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico. From January 12-24, we helped lead field trips and gave a 2-hour workshop to Festival attendees about the Butterflies of Sinaloa and the Monarch's Michoacan overwintering sites. The Festival was organized and run by Carolyn Felderhof and husband Paul Beckman, of Sendero Mexico. The principal speaker and leader was Peter Alden, noted ornithologist, author, and tour leader. There were roughly 50 registrants for the Festival and several local visitors.

In preparation for the Festival, I revised the draft list of Sinaloa butterflies by Andrew D. Warren []. There are now roughly 500 species of butterflies and skippers documented for Sinaloa. Local experts may contribute to this effort. The master list of Mexico butterflies is maintained by a group of Mexican scientists at UNAM. We hope that in future fesivals there may be some specific field trips for butterflies and that tour leaders may begin to bring groups to the available facilities in Sinaloa.

Most of the effort was geared to showing birds to the registrants and more than 200 species were located during the Festival and associated field trips. Highlights included visits to the new Tufted Jay Preserve in the Sierra Madre Occidental near El Palmito. There are now several guest cabins in the preserve that facilitate visits to the area. Highlights in the preserve were of course viewing of many flocks of the Tufted Jay, as well as location of the Eared Quetzal, Stygian Owl, Blue-hooded Euphonia, and large mixed species flocks of warblers, tanagers, woodcreepers, and other wintered birds. More than 20 warbler species were seen there including Red-faced, Townsend's, Hermit, Black-and-white, Crescent-chested, Golden-browed, Painted Redstart, Slate-colored Redstart, Colima, and a new state reecord for Black-throated Blue (P.A., C.F., P.B., P.O.).
Other sites visited featured coastal estuaries and lagoons with many thousands of waterbirds. In the lowland and intermediate elevations a rich mixture of wintering and resident landbirds and raptors were observed. These featured West Mexican Chachalaca, Purplish-backed Jay, Black-throated Magpie-Jay, Yellow-winged Caciques, and Military Macaws. The Mazatlan Birding Festival web site [] will feaure lists of species observed and more details of the Festival's program, speakers, leaders, and tour destinations. Plans are already proceeding for the planning of the 2010 meeting.