Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the July 6, 2007 Newsletter issued from Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, QUERÉTARO, MÉXICO

Long-time readers may recall that wherever I am I like to make a birdlist on July 4th. One attraction of such a list is that it records only nesting birds -- no migrants or mere visitors. Since at the Reserve July 4th is just another workday (Mexican Independence Day from Spain is September 16th), this year I decided to make my list last Sunday, July 1. Since I saw only species adapted to the special environment in which I found myself that day I saw a limited number of species, but the species seen were interesting ones. In the following list I provide links to those species not represented in North American field guides. The birds are listed phylogenetically -- related species next to one another.

LOCATION: Secondary pine/oak forest becoming cloudflorest along ridges, just south of El Madroño, Querétaro, Mexico, ±2000 meters elevation, sunny in the morning, afternoon stormy.

RED-TAILED HAWK, spooked from leafless oak snag

SPOT-BREASTED WREN, 2 scolding from roadside thicket http://www.rainforest.org/resources/gallery/birds1/10sbwren.html  

BUMBLEBEE HUMMINGBIRD, pair putting on a show http://www.camacdonald.com/birding/Bumble-beeHummingbird(DM).jpg

WHITE-EARED HUMMINGBIRD, zips through harassing Bumblebee Hummingbirds

MOUNTAIN TROGON, many along slopes calling with their nasal cow-cow-cows http://www.ansp.org/~wechsler/Mexico.html

ACORN WOODPECKER, squawking one in top of pine

OLIVACEOUS WOODCREEPER, creeping up oak trunk http://chandra.as.utexas.edu/~kormendy/brazilss/OlivaceousWoodcreeper2597ss.jpg

TUFTED FLYCATCHER, preening in shadowy pine

GREATER PEWEE (COUES' FLYCATCHER), family of 3 or 4 beek-beek-beeking among pine tops

BROWN-CRESTED (WIED'S) FLYCATCHER swooping for flying insects

GRAY-BREASTED (MEXICAN) JAY, 3 soaring among pine tops calling wenk?-wenk?-wenk?

BROWN-BACKED SOLITAIRE, singing complex, bubbly song http://www.mangoverde.com/birdsound/picpages/pic138-66-2.html

BLACK-HEADED NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH, several males on slope singing fluty song similar to Hermit Thrush's, a female carrying beakful of insects as for nestlings, the male's open mouth when singing as orange as it is yellow, note the red-orange eye ring

CLAY-COLORED ROBIN, several with fluty singing http://www.flickr.com/photos/mountainpath/59213755/

GRAY SILKY, several calling in treetops http://www.birdinfo.com/MexicoImage_016.html

WARBLING VIREO, many singing along slopes, vigorously deworming trees

SLATE-THROATED REDSTART, 3 or so gleaning caterpillars from treetops http://identify.whatbird.com/obj/886/_/Slate-throated_Redstart_Breeding_Male.aspx

GOLDEN-BROWED WARBLER, family of 4, juveniles quivering wings wanting to be fed by adult foraging in undergrowth

FLAME-COLORED TANAGER, song like a loud, hoarse Red- eyed Vireo http://www.tucsonaudubon.org/birding/afield13.htm

COMMON BUSH-TANAGER, building nest in oak, Quercus crassifolia http://panamabirding.com/shows/birds/pic.php?b=471&p=t

BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK, singing & plucking caterpillars from oak branches

RUFOUS-CAPPED BRUSHFINCH, pair giving warning calls from bushes along road http://www.camacdonald.com/birding/Rufous-cappedBrush-finch(CM).jpg

BLACK-HEADED SISKIN, male on snag preening next to open weedy area http://www.oiseaux.net/photos/william.frohawk/chardonneret.a.tete.noire.1.html

To my mind, the star of the above list is the Bumblebee Hummingbird. I should also mention the real abundance of Warbling Vireos, who were singing their complex calls everywhere I went, all day. Golden-browed Warblers were also very common, singing loudly.

I was surprised by the lack of woodpeckers. Pine-dominated parts of this forest suffer greatly from bark-beetle infestation. Elsewhere chemicals have been used to control the beetles and I've been told that that killed woodpeckers, so I wonder if this might explain why so few woodpeckers inhabit a forest with many oaks?