Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the November 20, 2011 Newsletter issued from Hacienda Chichen Resort beside Chichén Itzá Ruins, central Yucatán, MÉXICO


Around my hut on any given day probably you can see two species of saltator, the Black-headed and the Grayish. Howell in A Guide to The Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America calls saltators "fairly plain tropical grosbeaks of forest edge and second growth," and that fits our species, though their thick beaks aren't as massive as the North's grosbeaks.

In fact, I think of saltators as more like towhees. The other day I heard a Grayish Saltator calling with what almost sounded like an eastern North American Rufous-sided Towhee's DRINK-your-TEEEEEEEEEE. Howell describes it as choo-chi-choo or hi-whee chu weeeeh, but when I hear it I think of the towhee's tea. That's a Grayish Saltator tea-calling at the right.

The Black-headed is similar, except that its head is blacker and black fringes its white throat. You can see what I mean on our Black-headed Saltator page at http://www.backyardnature.net/mexnat/saltator.htm.

The Grayish Saltator is a common indicator species of the American humid tropics from Mexico to Peru and Brazil.