Adapted from Jim Conrad's Naturalist Newsletter of August 10, 2007 with notes about the
BIRDS IN MEXICO CITY

Last weekend I needed to visit Mexico City so at 11 PM Friday night I caught the overnight bus and arrived there at 4:30 AM. Even at such an hour the huge Northern Bus Terminal was so busy that I chose to wait outside until gates to the Metro, or subway, opened. At an official elevation of 7349 feet (2,240 m), that morning it was 58° F, which felt pretty cold to my body long acclimated to tropical lowlands.

The Mexico City metropolitan area, which includes huge and densely populated suburbs, supports a population of over 19 million. That makes it the most populated metropolitan area in the Western Hemisphere, and the second-most populated in the world, after Tokyo.

Still, parks, college campuses and certain upscale residential areas often are graced with shade trees. Moreover, now during the rainy season most afternoons a storm cleanses the air and keeps the dust down, so air pollution isn't nearly as bad as during the winter dry season.

You'd be surprised what birds you can see even in the heart of Mexico City. Paseo de La Reforma, the city's "Main Street" if there is one, is lined along its entire length by well maintained plantings of trees.

Often I saw House Sparrows, Pigeons, and heard House Finches and Great-tailed Grackles singing. Inca Doves -- small, gray ground-doves with long tails and a conspicuous mottling that made them appear "scaled" -- landed on the sidewalk before me looking as if they'd be glad if I thumped a breadcrumb their way. Barn Swallows, present year-round in central Mexico, swooped low over a little park-pool as if it were a farmer's pond in the country. In quieter areas a little off the Reforma, early in the morning, I even heard American Robins singing. They're present in central Mexico and the Sierra Madres of both coasts year-round.

During the winter of 1996/1997 I made a birding trip through Mexico, from the northern border at Juárez, in a sand-dune desert, through mountains, along the coasts, in dense forests, and up a high volcano. Midway my journey I hurt myself and ended up spending a week in a friend's unfurnished apartment in the heart of Mexico City, recuperating. You can read my birding notes from those invalid city days at http://www.backyardnature.net/mexbirds/09mex_df.htm.

If you read that report you'll see that in a tiny park near the apartment, wedged between very busy, loud highways, and with only a handful of trees, I managed to see such interesting species as Berylline and Broad-billed Hummingbirds, Bewick's Wrens, Rufous- backed Robins, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Wilson's and Yellow-rumped Warblers, American Redstarts, and Bronzed Cowbirds.

Some nice pictures and a much more extensive list of birds spotted on wooded slopes above Mexico City, in Desierto de los Leones Recreational Park, appear at http://www.charliesbirdblog.com/~charlie/MEX26mar05/MEX26mar05.html.

Wikipedia's extensive, illustrated page on Mexico City itself is at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexico_City.