West Mexico 21 November -  3 December 1999

Birding trip report  -  John van der Woude   www.jvanderw.nl 

See
map with places mentioned here.

This is a short report of a private birding trip by Nollie and me to West Mexico (West of Mexico City), to give some impressions and especially some information supplementary to Howell's Birdfinding guide to Mexico (1999). We used this essential book for most sites but we also found other sites. Moreover we also paid a visit to the absolutely stunning Monarch butterfly roost a few hours W of Mexico City, and to the immense Aztec archeological site Teotihuacan N of Mexico City. We drove a rental car and stayed in hotels. We used our 20x scope a lot, even in the forests. We made a few sound recordings (on minidisc), but did not apply playback in the field.

For general tourist info (also about the Monarch reserve) we used the Lonely Planet guide for Mexico. Wherever possible we drove toll roads (cuota, supercarretera, ruta corta). Cash machines were everywhere (often also for Cirrus), even in a small city like San Blas (rate was now nine pesos in a dollar). We had no problems with health or safety (but see warning for San Blas below), and found it an easy going trip, except for a few potholes in the road and for finding the way through the biggest cities (Mexico City and Guadalajara). The scenery was often marvellous, especially from the nearly empty toll road to the West. We had sunny weather all the time, with pleasant day temperatures, but cold nights in the interior mountainous region.

For the birding we focused on four regions: 1. San Blas in the state Nayarit at the Pacific Ocean, for the moist tropical and subtropical zones, 2. The coast of the state Colima for the dry tropical zone, 3. The volcanoes of the state Colima for the different, mostly moist mountain zones, 4. Several sites on the central, often rather dry, mountainous plateau, with large lakes.

On the way from Mexico City to the West, our first destination was the Monarch butterfly roost near Angangueo, N of Zitacuaro, W of Mexico City. This is easy to arrange: you just drive into Angangueo, stop at the hotel (we choose Don Bruno, about 350 pesos), and while checking in, one or two of the many 4WD-drivers from the village will ask if he should drive you up the next day to the reserve (for 250 pesos in our case). At the end of the track, the driver has to go back 200 meters or so to a parking place, while you are paying the modest entrance fee and a guide is assigned to you. After a walk of about ¾ hour you enter the tall fir forest lot where several trees (about 40) were absolutely filled with butterflies. We literally saw millions of them, waiting for the sun, and gradually starting to fly out then. The branches of the firs sagged under the load of the butterflies, can you imagine that? See photo of fir
tree with butterflies, and photo of branch. They are not eaten by birds because they are poisonous (one or two bird species know which parts can be eaten). The forest soil is overgrown with lush green plants, to be eaten in spring by the caterpillars before it is their turn to travel back to North America. Our guide was very patient while we birded during the walk up and down, he even tried to find birds for us, and we gave him a generous tip. The best birds here were Red Warbler, Grey-barred Wren, White-eared Hummingbird and a group of Yellow-eyed Junco at an open spot not far before we reached the butterflies.

San Blas is a well-known starting point for N-American birders who want to go Neotropical. We did the lower Singayta track (
photo of start) for the lowland forest remains, the La Bajada track for shaded coffee plantations in the low hills (photo), and the Cerro San Juan for oak (photo) and pine-oak forest around 1000 m a.s.l. These three areas give the full range of forest and semi-forest birds here, and our best birds were (more or less from low to high elevation) Sinaloa Crow, Yellow-winged Cacique, Streak-backed Oriole, Fan-tailed Warbler, Orange-fronted Parakeet, Pale-billed Woodpecker, Happy Wren, Sinaloa Wren, Citreoline Trogon, Mexican Parrotlet, Zone-tailed Hawk (a long-awaited lifer for us), McGillivray's Warbler, Rose-throated Becard, Collared Forest-Falcon, Rufous-bellied Chachalaca, Elegant Trogon, Thick-billed Kingbird, Stripe-headed Sparrow, Black-throated Magpie-Jay, Golden-cheeked Woodpecker, Warbling Vireo, Tufted Flycatcher, Cinnamon Hummingbird, Mexican Hermit, Flame-colored Tanager, Rufous-crowned Warbler, Mexican Woodnymph, Berylline Hummingbird, Blue-throated Hummingbird, White-striped Woodcreeper, Arizona (Strickland's) Woodpecker, Golden Vireo, Red-faced Warbler, Painted Whitestart, Dicky's (Audubon's) Oriole, Black-headed Siskin. We were surprised by the large numbers of North American warblers in the forests here and later on the trip. You start having visions about how you could calculate whole populations of warbler species by counting and multiplying numbers here.

The Collared Forest-falcons made a lot of noise. You can listen here to this
here. A truely amazing sound!

Another well-known birding site in the San Blas area is the panorama point along the old 15 about 5 km before the NW junction with the cuota 15D, about 30 km NW of Tepic. This is a stake-out for Military Macaw, and we got them (6 or so) after only seven minutes waiting, circling in the depth below us, the sun on their backs, the shaded forest on the background in this totally wooded canyon. A glorious sight, with much more blue on their wings than we had expected.
Sunset at the fort, with a wide view over the coastal plain with its extensive mangroves, gave about 100 Lesser Nighthawks.

A real must at San Blas is the river boat excursion through these mangroves (
photo) and marshes with e.g. Chencho from the dock near the bridge for 300 pesos for a boat from 3.30 till 7.30 p.m. Chencho, who knows the birds best and knows how to find them, can be contacted through the hotel (see below), or ask at the dock. We saw all we wished: Rufous-necked Wood-rail, Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, and Northern Potoo. Of the potoo we had as much as 6 or 7 in total, roosting (photo) as well as hunting. We also had Mangrove Warbler, Boat-billed Heron (with young), and lots of Green Kingfisher. A late afternoon visit to the so-called Shrimp Ponds Road just outside town (near the bridge) produced many waders and other wetland birds, but the parking was difficult. Another often mentioned site is the shrubs inside San Blas near the Suites San Blas and the sewage pond, but this was too dirty and smelly now. We just did not like this site, it made an unpleasant and slightly unsafe impression to us, and later we heard from a German birder who walked here alone on this site in late February 2000 that he was held up by a group of four men, trying to rob him (but he chased them off). This site is just too close to the city, and was quite a contrast to the friendly atmosphere of e.g. the lower Singayta track, where local farmers walked along all the time.

At San Blas we stayed in the hotel Garza Canela (formerly called Las Brisas), for four nights. This has been a base for many birders so the staff is used to them, and the restaurant is good and pleasant. We payed 460 pesos per night for a large room. The hotel has a large shady patio with pool. In San Blas city there are some more (and more modest) hotels and restaurants. It is a friendly small coastal town. Note that the bakery is just 20 m off the SW corner of the central plaza, and that this opens at midday only, until about 8 p.m., so buy your breakfast/lunch stuff the night before.

Along the coastal road from San Blas via Puerto Vallarta to Colima state we passed a reserve not mentioned in Howell, about 60 km N of the city of Barra de Navidad. This is called Chamela, or anyway Estacion de Biologica Chamela, a research area for a university. We just stayed here an (afternoon) hour but got the impression that it merits a much longer visit. We saw a massive hairy spider (
photo) with legs 1 cm thick and 10 cm long, in total bigger than my hand, and also two coati's (one dead). For a visit you can phone the station 's warden at 335 10200 or 10202, but this we learned only some time after we had driven into the reserve, along the road to the research station, well signed at the main road. There we heard chachalaca's and got our most northern Roadside Hawk ever. We stayed in Barra, an old and pretty tourist place with many hotels, but probably none of them very quiet. We choose one with rooms at the seaside, so no street noise, but thundering breakers!

We hit the Playa de Oro road the next morning, in a wild xerophytic forest at the coast. This old empty road (
photo) is scarcely passable by normal car at some points, but hopefully these spots may be repaired, as they had done with others apparently, but the road leads to a rather deserted place. The best (new) birds for us here were West-Mexican Chachalaca, Lilac-crowned Parrot (a clear cackling Amazona, this one being the only one here), Golden-crowned Emerald, Broad-billed Hummingbird, White-bellied Wren, Blue Bunting, Orange-breasted Bunting (at the only large clearing, not far from the sea), and a pygmy-owl with few spots on the back so probably Colima although this should not occur so near to the coast. At sea (photo) , we scoped Brown Boobies, and two couples of Red-billed Tropicbirds in front of the dark cliff of the rock island in the distance. The nearby wetland site at the Manzanillo airport was not very productive, and here we missed our last chance for seeing the San Blas Jay. But we added Ruddy Duck to Howell's site list, although this was not at all a consolation for missing the jay on our trip.

The twin volcanoes of Colima state (Volcan de Colima and Volcan Nevado) are often mentioned as birding destinations, especially the first one. However, before we left home we got an e-mail from a birdchatter who said that from Ciudad Guzman (the best base for both volcanoes) the Nevado is easier to do than the Colima. Howell describes the Colima in detail but does nearly not mention the Nevado, and calls the road up the Nevado rather bad. But this appeared to be a good gravel road now, possibly better than the one up the Colima. It is nearer to the city and easier to find as well. From Ciudad Guzman central plaza (zocalo) take the 54 well signed for Colima and La Grulla, then after 6.5 km to the right to La Grulla (well signed again), and then after 8.8 km the gravel road starts at your left hand, shortly after a small sign for the National Park. Birding here was good after 1 km already. The road goes on for 17 km to a refuge with a splendid view around and situated not far below the tree line. For more details about the roads to both volcanoes, see the e-mails that I got in response to this paragraph, at the bottom of this report.

We did this road for two days, and from low to high there is a succession from arable fields with many hedges and trees to pine, oak, pine-oak, pine-fir and finally fir forest. See
photo of open spot in pine-fir zone, and photo from refuge towards volcano cone. From about half way, the forest is a bit more moist than below. The best bird for us here (and maybe for the whole trip) was Long-tailed Woodpartridge, two on the forest floor at a hairpin bend at 11.25 km. We found them because we heard them scratching and walking on the dead leaves. A comparable sound did we hear often afterwards at other spots along the upper half of the road, but this always appeared to belong to Green-striped Brush-finch, although this is a good bird as well. Other good new birds were Singing Quail (heard), Green Violet-ear (many at higher elevations), Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Pine Flycatcher, Buff-breasted Flycatcher, Spotted Wren, Grey-breasted Wood-wren, White-throated Thrush, Blue Mockingbird (at first only by Nollie, causing a worried hour before I got another one), Grey Silky, Dwarf Vireo, Crescent-chested Warbler, Golden-browed Warbler, Black-headed Grosbeak, Collared Towhee, Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer (near the Green Violet-ears), Bullock's, Abeille's and Scott's Orioles, Lesser Goldfinch. A tiny female hummer was either Bumblebee or Calliope Hummingbird. An often heard song appeared to be of Brown-backed Solitaire after checking the recordings.

In Ciudad Guzman we stayed three nights in hotel Colon, a while along the Avenida Colon that leaves the zocalo from the NE corner. We were here in the weekend and we much enjoyed the evening life at the zocalo, the more so as this provincial town is not mentioned at all in the Lonely Planet guide (Howell provides a street map with the hotel). The hotel is a sort of motel with big inner courtyard, well done, the restaurant is good and the staff is friendly (some spoke English). The rate is comparatively moderate and probably reflects the non-touristy character of this town, 260 pesos for a large room with your car at your doorstep. We cannot compare the Nevado with the Colima volcano, but we found this combination of motel, zocalo and birding road rather ideal for a stay of several days. On a longer trip we would have stayed more days here and explored more of the basin below the volcanos and have paid a visit to the Colima volcano as well. We did pay a brief late afternoon visit to the Sayula site mentioned by Howell, a lake system (
photo) just N of the city, where we witnessed the roosting of thousands and thousands of Yellow-headed Blackbird along the first side road to the right from the bypass road, coming from the N end of the city.

From Ciudad Guzman we choose an experimental way back to Mexico City for some sightseeing and trying to find some birding areas on our own (none are described by Howell for this stretch, except near to Mexico City). First we drove through the basin E of Ciudad Guzman to Tamazula but could not find a suitable side road, which was a pity as we realised too late that this would be our last chance for lowland birds. From Tamazula we ascended the 110 to Mazamitla and we did some birding along the quieter, looping side road to Valle de Juarez, especially along a creek on the left-hand side at 2.8 km before this side road joins the 110 again. In this bushy countryside we observed a.o. Red Crossbill (in the scope), many Violet-green Swallow, a Crested Caracara with unusual white wing panels, Blue Mockingbird again!, Grey-barred Wren, Rusty-crowned Ground-Sparrow. Listen to the peculiar sounds of this
Blue Mockingbird.

Further on, between Sahuayo and La Barca, we found a nice reservoir lake (
photo), where the road makes a sharp S-bend before the village called Cumuato. From this bend an empty dike road follows the South shore of the lake for several kms, not only producing wetland birds like Northern Harrier, Canvasback, Redhead, and several egrets, but also some songbirds close by in the bushes along the dike (White-collared Seedeater, Savannah Sparrow, Canyon Towhee). But this was mainly a driving day. We stayed the night in Morelia, an impressive colonial town, capital of the mountainous state Michoacan. Here again is a large zocalo, with large mansions and churches. We were happy with the inner room at the hotel Catedral (reasonable rate) with a garage next door, and the zocalo around the corner.

Only 30 km N of Morelia is the enormous lake Lago de Cuitzeo. The road from Morelia (the 43) crosses it via a dam, and first we took the side road left (West) just before the dam. This road is indicated as going to the Balneario Paraiso Escondido. After 1.2 km along this road we took a dirt road (the first I guess; 500 m or so before the one to the Balneareo itself) to the right and we came to a picnic spot between some dry open acacia-type bush with some small ponds and with a nice grassy shore vegetation of the apparantly shallow part of the lake here. The species we found here this morning hour were (I'll mention them all this time): Common Snipe, (Eastern) Meadowlark, Killdeer, Canyon Towhee, Least Sandpiper, Cactus Wren singing on top of a low tree, Yellow-rumped Warbler, two groups of Blue Grosbeak (some drinking on the edge of a pool), Lark Sparrow, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, Greater Yellowlegs, Grey Plover, Northern Pintail, Lesser Goldfinch, Vermillion Flycatcher, several egrets, Loggerhead Shrike. Also a nice Swallowtail butterfly (
photo). Then on the other side of the Cuitzeo lake we crossed the village of the same name and in the shallow lake immediately after that we added Wilson's Phalarope (about 10) and Clark's/Western Grebe.

Much further on to the North is another large lake, called Yuriria. This has an enormous cover of floating vegetation in the West corner (
photo) , and we found a good point to get near to the shore by driving along the main road (the 43 still) around this Western corner of the lake, and then taking the first road to the right (the only asfalted side road). This is really only after you have made a long drive alongside the lake basin and have seen the lake several times already. The short side road ends in a hamlet where you can park on a triangular place, and take the trail going from the right-hand corner towards the lake, just 70 meters or so until the water line. Along the trail we had our only Canyon Wren, in the stonewalls bordering the gardens. On the lake we spotted Canvasback (200 or so), American Wigeon, Blue-winged Teal, and on the floating vegetation Green Heron, White-faced Ibis, etc. Just 1 or 2 km further on along the main road is another side road towards the lake, this one made of sharp lava stones, to be driven only very slowly! After 100 m is a nice spot (photo) with a few trees to pull your car aside for a picnic and have a good view over the whole lake, with some birds around you in the open vegetation of cactus and acacia-like trees. Here we finally had a convincing Orange-crowned Warbler, what a tricky bird.

That last night before Mexico City we stayed in the very peculiar city of Guanajuato, an old silvermine city with two street systems, one below and the other above the ground. We had a reasonable and quiet room in the funny Motel de las Embajadores (400 pesos). It is a small and lively student and tourist town with good shops and with a row of terrace restaurants in the Jardin de la Union. The next morning, on our way to Mexico City to pay an afternoon visit to the famous Aztec site Teotihuacan (photos
1, 2, 3) , we had a breakfast stop of about an hour 150 m up a dirt road that leaves the 45 to the right a while before (North of) Irapuato, at the second or third spot with fresa (strawberry) stalls, at a large blue Corona billboard. Here in this dry and open, slightly bushy vegetation we spotted, just from where we stood with the car, about five Curve-billed Thrashers, three Canyon Towhees, fifteen Lark Sparrows, and our final two trip ticks, a group of Chihuahua Raven and two Pyrrhuloxias.

Our trip total was 235 bird species. 48 of these were lifers for us, including 31 (West) Mexican endemics. Some of the best represented bird taxa (in terms of numbers of species) were the warblers (27), wrens (11), hummers (10), raptors (16). West Mexico is well worth a birding trip, also if you have been to several other neotropical destinations. It is in a large gap between Central America/SE Mexico and the Southern USA, and has many remarkable endemics. The combination with the Monarch butterfly roosts (from early November to early April) and Teotihuacan makes it a big deal!


SPECIES LIST

locations:
AN = Angangueo fir forest of Monarch butterfly reserve 
                                  (about 3000 m a.s.l.)
XI = along the road in interior West Mexico
SB = San Blas (Nayarit state), around town
SI = lower Singayta track in San Blas area
BA = La Bajada track S of San Blas area
CJ = Cerro de San Juan between San Blas and Tepic
XP = along the road in Pacific West Mexico
PO = Playa de Oro road, Colima state 
VN = Volcan Nevado road, Jalisco state 



                                    AN XI SB SI BA CJ XP PO VN

     Western Grebe or Clark's Grebe    XI
              Red-billed Tropicbird                      PO
                        Brown Booby                      PO
   Neotropic (Olivaceous) Cormorant everywhere
                  Am. White Pelican    XI    SI          PO
                      Brown Pelican       SB          XP PO
            Magnificent Frigatebird       SB          XP
                      Reddish Egret       SB
                   Tricolored Heron    XI
                        Snowy Egret many places
                   Great Blue Heron everywhere
                  Great White Egret many places
                       Cattle Egret everywhere
             Striated (Green) Heron    XI SB
         Yellow-crowned Night-heron       SB
          Black-crowned Night-heron    XI
                  Boat-billed Heron       SB
          Bare-throated Tiger-heron       SB
                         Wood Stork          SI          PO
                   White-faced Ibis    XI    SI
                  Roseate Spoonbill       SB
                         Canvasback    XI
                            Redhead    XI
                       Mexican Duck    XI
                    American Wigeon    XI
                  Green-winged Teal       SB
                   Northern Pintail    XI
                   Blue-winged Teal    XI SB
                      Cinnamon Teal       SB
                   Ring-necked Duck    XI
                         Ruddy Duck                   XP
             American Black Vulture everywhere
                     Turkey Vulture everywhere
         White-tailed (Bl.Sh.) Kite    XI
                   Northern Harrier    XI
                 Sharp-shinned Hawk                         VN
                      Cooper's Hawk                         VN
                  Common Black-hawk                   XP
                          Grey Hawk          SI BA       PO
                      Roadside Hawk                   XP
                  Broad-winged Hawk                CJ       VN
                  Short-tailed Hawk                      PO
                  White-tailed Hawk                      PO
                   Zone-tailed Hawk          SI    CJ
                    Red-tailed Hawk    XI       BA CJ    PO VN
                             Osprey    XI
                   Crested Caracara    XI    SI
             Collared Forest-falcon          SI          PO
                   American Kestrel everywhere
Wagler's (Rufous-bellied) Chachalac          SI
            West Mexican Chachalaca                      PO
         Long-tailed Wood-partridge                         VN
                      Elegant Quail       SB
                      Singing Quail                         VN
            Rufous-necked Wood-rail       SB
                     Common Moorhen    XI
                      American Coot everywhere
                    Northern Jacana    XI             XP
                 Black-necked Stilt    XI SB
                    American Avocet    XI SB
          Grey (Bl.-bellied) Plover    XI
                           Killdeer    XI SB
       Fantail Snipe (Common Snipe)    XI
        Hudsonian Curlew (Whimbrel)       SB
                 Greater Yellowlegs    XI SB
                  Lesser Yellowlegs       SB
                  Spotted Sandpiper       SB
                             Willet       SB          XP
              Long-billed Dowitcher       SB
                    Least Sandpiper    XI SB
                 Wilson's Phalarope    XI
                    Heermann's Gull                   XP
                      Laughing Gull    XI SB
                       Caspian Tern       SB
                       Elegant Tern                   XP
                  Red-billed Pigeon          SI
                  White-winged Dove       SB SI
                          Inca Dove    XI SB                VN
                 Common Ground-dove                      PO
                  Ruddy Ground-dove    XI    SI
                     Military Macaw                   XP
            Orange-fronted Parakeet          SI BA
    Mexican (Blue-rumped) Parrotlet          SI BA
               Lilac-crowned Parrot                      PO
                    Squirrel Cuckoo          SI    CJ
                  Groove-billed Ani          SI          PO
                   Colima Pygmy-Owl                      PO?
                     Northern Potoo       SB
                   Lesser Nighthawk       SB SI
             Buff-collared Nightjar       SB
                       Vaux's Swift       SB
                     Mexican Hermit             BA
                   Green Violet-ear                         VN
             Golden-crowned Emerald                      PO
           Broad-billed Hummingbird                      PO
                  Mexican Woodnymph                CJ
            White-eared Hummingbird AN             CJ       VN
              Berylline Hummingbird                CJ
               Cinnamon Hummingbird          SI BA       PO
          Blue-throated Hummingbird                CJ
Calliope (or Bumblebee) Hummingbird                         VN
                  Citreoline Trogon          SI BA       PO
                     Elegant Trogon          SI
                  Belted Kingfisher    XI SB
                   Green Kingfisher       SB
                   Acorn Woodpecker                CJ       VN
          Golden-cheeked Woodpecker             BA       PO
          Golden-fronted Woodpecker    XI    SI
           Yellow-bellied Sapsucker                         VN
           Ladder-backed Woodpecker AN XI                   VN
            Strickland's Woodpecker                CJ
                   Hairy Woodpecker                         VN
                Lineated Woodpecker          SI
             Pale-billed Woodpecker          SI BA
             Olivaceous Woodcreeper                CJ
          White-striped Woodcreeper                CJ
                   Greenish Elaenia             BA          VN
                  Tufted Flycatcher             BA CJ       VN
     Smoke-coloured (Greater) Pewee             BA
   Cordilleran (Western) Flycatcher          SI          PO
                    Pine Flycatcher                         VN
           Buff-breasted Flycatcher                         VN
              Vermillion Flycatcher    XI                   VN
            Dusky-capped Flycatcher          SI BA CJ    PO VN
           Brown-crested Flycatcher    XI
                  Tropical Kingbird          SI
                  Cassin's Kingbird    XI                   VN
              Thick-billed Kingbird       SB SI BA CJ    PO
                  Social Flycatcher       SB       CJ
                     Great Kiskadee    XI    SI
               Rose-throated Becard          SI BA CJ    PO
                      Masked Tityra          SI BA CJ    PO
               Violet-green Swallow    XI
               Grey-breasted Martin                      PO
      Northern Rough-winged Swallow          SI    CJ    PO
              Grey Silky-flycatcher                         VN
                        Cactus Wren    XI
                       Spotted Wren                         VN
                   Grey-barred Wren AN XI                   VN
                        Canyon Wren    XI
                         Marsh Wren    XI
                         Happy Wren          SI
          Sinalao (Bar-vented) Wren          SI    CJ    PO
                         House Wren    XI
        Brown-throated (House) Wren                         VN
                 White-bellied Wren                      PO
            Grey-breasted Wood-wren                         VN
                  Loggerhead Shrike    XI                   VN
                   Blue Mockingbird    XI                   VN
              Curve-billed Thrasher    XI
             Brown-backed Solitaire                         VN
                      Hermit Thrush AN
              White-throated Thrush                         VN
               Ruby-crowned Kinglet AN             CJ       VN
             Golden-crowned Kinglet AN
              Blue-grey Gnatcatcher everywhere
              (Black-eared) Bushtit    XI                   VN
                  Mexican Chickadee AN
            White-breasted Nuthatch                         VN
                      Brown Creeper                         VN
          Black-throated Magpie-jay          SI BA    XP
                       Common Raven    XI             XP    VN
                   Chihuahuan Raven    XI
                       Sinaloa Crow          SI
                      House Sparrow                   XP
                        Dwarf Vireo                         VN
                       Golden Vireo                CJ
             Western Warbling-vireo          SI BA CJ    PO VN
                Black-headed Siskin                CJ       VN
                   Lesser Goldfinch    XI                   VN
                        House Finch    XI                   VN
                      Red Crossbill    XI
             Orange-crowned Warbler    XI
                  Nashville Warbler    XI       BA       PO VN
                    Tropical Parula             BA
           Crescent-chested Warbler                         VN
                     Yellow Warbler          SI
                   Mangrove Warbler       SB
              Yellow-rumped Warbler    XI          CJ
        Black-throated Grey Warbler          SI BA CJ       VN
                 Townsend's Warbler AN                      VN
                     Hermit Warbler AN             CJ       VN
               Blackburnian Warbler AN
                    Grace's Warbler                CJ
            Black-and-white Warbler          SI    CJ       VN
                  American Redstart       SB SI
               Northern Waterthrush       SB
                   Kentucky Warbler             BA
             Macgillivray's Warbler          SI    CJ
                Common Yellowthroat    XI
                   Wilson's Warbler             BA CJ    PO VN
                  Red-faced Warbler                CJ       VN
                        Red Warbler AN                      VN
                   Painted Redstart                CJ
            Slate-throated Redstart                CJ       VN
                 Fan-tailed Warbler          SI
              Rufous-capped Warbler                CJ
              Golden-browed Warbler                         VN
                      Olive Warbler                         VN
             Flame-coloured Tanager             BA CJ       VN
                    Hepatic Tanager                CJ       VN
                    Western Tanager    XI
                  Lincoln's Sparrow                CJ
                  Yellow-eyed Junco AN
                   Savannah Sparrow    XI
                   Chipping Sparrow    XI                   VN
                       Lark Sparrow    XI                   VN
              Stripe-headed Sparrow    XI    SI          PO VN
              Brown (Canyon) Towhee    XI                   VN
                    Collared Towhee                         VN
       Rusty-crowned Ground-sparrow    XI
          Green-striped Brush-finch                         VN
           White-collared Seedeater    XI
            Cinnamon Flower-piercer                         VN
              Black-headed Grosbeak                         VN
             Rose-breasted Grosbeak                CJ
                        Pyrrhuloxia    XI
                   Greyish Saltator          SI
                       Blue Bunting                      PO
                      Blue Grosbeak    XI
                     Varied Bunting          SI?
            Orange-breasted Bunting                      PO
              Yellow-winged Cacique          SI BA       PO
               Streak-backed Oriole    XI    SI    CJ    PO
                     Scott's Oriole                         VN
        Northern (Bullock's) Oriole                         VN
                   Abeille's Oriole                         VN
                     Dicky's Oriole                CJ
            Yellow-headed Blackbird    XI
                 Eastern Meadowlark    XI
               Great-tailed Grackle    XI SB
                 Brewer's Blackbird    XI
               Brown-headed Cowbird    XI


Here are the remarks by David Ferry about those volcano roads in Colima:

After reading a post on MEXBIRD from John van der Woude regarding a recent West Mexico trip, it would seem helpful to explain the Colima Volcano roads again. Howell does not mention access from the east side of the mountain.
There are three roads into the mountains:

1. The well-known western approach from Atenquique up the southwest side of Volcán del Fuego (or Volcán de Colima, as it is sometimes called). This road (described in Howell) crosses open agriculteral fields for a long distance and then climbs up the shoulder of the southern part of the range. Good birding starts as soon as the road reaches the mountain flank, including many Blue Mockingbirds, Singing Quail, etc. At about 5000 feet, the trees are mainly live oaks with the beginning of a few pines. This area is great for White-striped Woodcreeper, Chesnut-sided Shrike-Vireo, Gray-barred Wren, Russet Nightingale-Thrush (best right at dawn), and Collared Towhee. Three years ago in June, we flushed an Eared Poorwill off a nest right by the road just after dusk! Above this zone is mainly pine and then fir forest. At almost 10,000 feet, the road rounds a right hand curve and the sign for the National Park is obvious. The road may be closed before this point if Fuego is still in a "Yellow Alert" condition. If you can get to the curve, you have a wonderful view of the smoking (erupting?) volcano. Birds at this elevation include Red Warbler, Golden-browed Warbler, Crescent-chested Warbler, etc. The road ends in a a sort of parking lot at almost 11,000 feet with a cinder-covered saddle between you and the perfect cone of Fuego.

2. The second road is on the east side of the volcanos on the road described in the recent post by van der Woude. Just remember that you should turn north on the main (free) highway west of Ciudad Guzman, pass under the Cuota road and immediatly pass the Technological College on the right. You also know you are on the right road if you pass a huge abondoned prison a few km on the right. A well-signed road to "Parque Nacional Volcán de Colima" eventually arises on the left. A few km before this road are several agricultural fields on the north side of the road which have Band-backed Wrens, Buff-breasted Flycatchers, and many Bumblebee Hummers. The National Park road is incredible in that it is wide and graveled almost to 11,000 feet. It was easily passable with a regular car until the gravel ran out just before the pass. This side of the volcano is much wetter and cooler, and the birds are slightly different, with high altitude things present in greater numbers. Red Warblers, Red-headed Tanagers, Amethyst-throated Hummers, etc., are more common on this side. The road crests at about 11,500 feet (where there is an emergency cabin) and then descends into the bowl between Nieve (on the left or south) and Fuego (straight ahead). The road passes a nice campground area and then begins to ascend Fuego from the east. The road was closed at the 12,500 foot level when we were there last February (because of the 8 km "exclusion zone") but two Jalisco state disaster workers took us up one at a time on a small four-wheeler for a brief look (at eye level!) of the smoking cone of Fuego. They would not accept a tip for this service.

3. The third road is a wonderful experience. It is the micro ondos (microwave) road that leaves the paved highway on the left exactly at the highest point of the paved road. This road is cobblestoned and reasonably passable by all cars. Since the road starts at over 7,000 feet, you are in high habitat immediately. Lots of good things are along this road, but the real prize is the meadow at the 9,500 foot level. You pass first through a pasture with a barbed-wire fence on both sides, so don't confuse this with the meadow which is at a junction of several dirt roads. This meadow has had a huge, slowly-moving foraging flock in and around it all three times I have been there, with some 35 species last February. Long-tailed Wood-Partridges are common but difficult to see in the vicinity of the meadow. There are at least 6 species of hummers visiting the red flowers, and the requisite pirate, Cinnamon-bellied Flower-Piercer.

If anyone would like more details, please let me know.
David R Ferry, Yucaipa, CA, drferry@aol.com

After this I asked him about the differences in the quality of the roads (road surface), and he wrote me the following:

Yes, the two eastern roads are much better than the southwestern approach to Volcán del Fuego from Atenquique. The latter road should not be attempted in a passenger car. You don't need four wheel drive for the Fuego road, but high clearance and sturdy suspension is a must.