9 - 13 June 1999
by L.R. Hays
A trip to Sinaloa and adjacent montane Durango (June 9-13) did not yield any spectacular rarities but did allow us to spend some quality time with birds that are apparently little known. Many species were actively breeding despite the fact that virtually all (lowland and montane) areas were extremely dry. Among the highlights:
Flammulated Flycatcher: As Howell suggests in his new (1999) birding guide, this species was found to be common in all of the thorn forest habitats (with well-developed understories) that were checked. Easily found from KM 13 to KM 17 on La Noria Road, along the lower Durango Highway (see Howell 1999) and along Panuco Road. Digitally videotaped singing on La Noria Road. (This new technology has tempted us to seriously consider throwing our cameras and tape recorders away). Our experience has been that Flammulated Flycatchers are virtually impossible to find when not singing/calling. Almost certainly the best time of year to find this elusive species, which was frequently heard calling and occasionally singing, particularly in the early morning hours.
Tufted Jays: Three birds along La Petaca Road (near Potrerillos) were well below where species is normally found....A nest in the Rancho Liebre Barranca was attended by 4 birds....2 of which were digitally videotaped while simultaneously incubating. Easily detected in expected range and (somewhat surprisingly) perhaps more conspicuous and cooperative than at other seasons.
Chihuahuan Ravens: 3 of the 5+ detected were circling and calling above Elephant Rock (see Howell 1999), where a nest was detected in May of 1997.
Fan-tailed Warbler: One observed briefly at Hortencia's Barranca (~KM 213, Durango Highway).
Orange-billed Nightingale Thrush: 3+ present and presumably breeding (e.g., apparent pair and 1+ additional birds along La Petaca Road near Portrerillos).
Elegant Euphonia: male and female of 1st of 2 pairs detected were building incredible nest composed (largely if not entirely?) of moss and lichens at Hortencia's Barranca.
Gray-collared Becards: A male at Rancho Liebre and an apparent pair somewhat lower along the Durango Highway. We have found this species to be exceedingly scarce at other seasons.
Keel-billed Toucan: One somewhat wary bird north of Mazatlan Airport in Thorn Forest/Mangroves showed no signs of feather wear or cage confinement.
Gray-crowned Woodpecker: A pair with young at the Road Cut above La Capilla del Taxte on the Durango Highway.
Red Warbler: 2+ singing birds.
Golden-browed Warblers: relatively common in the few wet (e.g., spring-fed) montane areas that were found.
Hummingbird numbers were considerably reduced when compared to other seasons. Military Macaws were not seen; other psittacid #s were considerably reduced from previous trips.....Searched in vain (long and hard) for Sinaloa Martin, Thick-billed Parrot, and Eared Trogon....By contrast, trogon (all 3 species) and motmot #s were impressive...
Muchisimas gracias otra vez to all of the gracious people in Sinaloa and Durango who ensured once again that our stay was pleasant and productive....