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29 November – 04 December 1998

by Robert Machover & Starr Saphir

Nov. 29th:

We crossed the border at Nogales in our Avis rental car ($10+/day extra for Mexican insurance) at around noon.  After a brief roadside stop (Vermilion Flycatcher, Rock Wren, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher) and securing "Sonora Only" papers at km 21 (a 45 minute delay) we headed to the Hermosillo Reservoir.  This large body of water is visible from the "Periférico Oriente" (by-pass on the E side of the city – follow signs to Guaymas) and there are a couple of convenient pull-outs on the left.  Lots of American White Pelicans, herons & egrets, various waterfowl, shorebirds (many Black-necked Stilts, American Avocets, Long-billed Dowitchers, Long-billed Curlews) & gulls (including at least 1 Heermann's).  Most of  the birds are far and it's worth having a good scope.  We left the reservoir in the late afternoon and drove towards Guaymas, arriving at San Carlos just as the last light had faded over the Sea of Cortez (Brown Pelicans in silhouette).  San Carlos is a lovely low key resort town with various motels and restaurants about 15 Km from Guaymas (the well-signed road splits off to the right, N of Guaymas).  Trip birds: 59.

Nov. 30th:

Spent the morning birding San Carlos.  Gorgeous scenery and lots of birds.  From the "Mirador" on a bluff just outside of town and from the beach near the Club Med to the north, we watched Brown & Blue-footed Boobies, Brandt's Cormorants, Magnificent Frigatebirds (one dueling with a Peregrine), Elegant Terns, Pacific Loons, etc.  Also many landbirds in the town and the surrounding desert – Anna's & Broad-billed Hummingbirds, Ash-throated Flycatchers, sparrows including Grasshopper and Rufous-winged, Streak-backed Oriole, etc.  A small freshwater marsh and pond visible from the main road through town had a Greater Scaup with a few Lessers, Ruddy Ducks, etc.  At around 11AM we left San Carlos and drove through Guaymas to the causeway between there and Empalme.  The causeway itself was disappointing – a few new species but too many noisy smelly trucks – so we found a way onto a dirt track in Empalme that led to mangroves and garbage at the water's edge – grebes, shorebirds, gulls & terns, Great Kiskadees, etc.  After a roadside lunch , we continued SE to Navojoa and took the road to Álamos, stopping at various places where the habitat looked interesting (our first Black-throated Magpie Jays).  We arrived after dark and stayed at La Mansión (elegant in a way but overpriced and noisy – we moved the next day to La Posada de Álamos – more reasonably priced, away from the center of town and very pleasant).  High one day count (thanks to all the water birds) of 119, 72 of which were new for the trip.   Total of 131.

Dec. 1st:

Working our way out the E side of Álamos, we came to a four-way intersection with signs.  Turning sharp left in the direction of "Cuchujaqui", we drove slightly less than 6 miles to the Rio Cuchujaqui.  Since we stopped a few times to bird the mixed species flocks in the thorn forest along the road (plus our first Elegant Quail), it was after 8AM when we arrived at the river.  Despite the crews working on a road construction project (access to the bridge was temporarily closed but there was a ford across the river that was negotiable for our low clearance rental car), we managed to do some birding in the area (Common Black Hawk, Green Kingfisher, White-fronted Parrot, etc.).  Given steep walls on the left and thick brush on the right, we never found easy access to walk along the river side.  [Later we learned that had we taken the middle road back at the intersection, we would have reached (at 6.2 mi.) a wash that gave access to a walk-able stretch along the river.]  After a while at the river, we birded our way back towards Álamos to a one-lane road on the right (N) with an entrance gate marked "La Mercedes".  Following that road down for about 1 km brought us to La Hacienda Mercedes, where we asked permission from the N. American owner, who graciously allowed us to bird on the grounds and along the arroyo below (Berylline Hummingbird, Social Flycatcher, etc.).  The afternoon was spent driving back to Navojoa, searching for access to the water and not leaving enough time to get there – though we added a few species (e.g. Ruddy Ground-Dove).  In the late afternoon we headed back to Álamos, stopping before dark to bird the thorn forest along a road on the left (N), about 10 km before Álamos, that went towards a microwave station (Happy Wrens, still more gorgeous Green-tailed Towhees, etc.).  Added 27 birds, bringing us up to 158 for the trip.

Dec. 2nd:

Arrived before dawn (and before the workmen!) at the Rio Cuchujaqui bridge to find two Bare-throated Tiger-Herons and other species (calling Rufous-bellied Chachalacas, Zone-tailed Hawk, Bell's Vireo) not seen the day before.  Heading back towards Álamos, we stopped at a wash about a 1 km from the river and passing over a loose barbed wire fence on the left, we followed the wash southwest for half an hour to where it was blocked by brush piles (Puplish-backed Jays, Plain-capped Starthroat, etc.).  We returned to the road to find more Purplish-backed Jays, Violet-crowned Hummingbird, etc.  Again we went to La Mercedes where we added a Blue Mockingbird.  After lunch we returned to Navojoa and drove north to just beyond Ciudad Obregón, where we managed to find the road towards Yécora (sign points to Tezopaco).  Some 17 km down the road, distracted by a Merlin and a Harris's Hawk, we fortuitously missed the right turn towards Tezopaco and Yécora, thereby discovering a few lakes with lots of waterfowl (Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, etc.) before finding ourselves at the base of the huge Álvaro Obregón Reservoir.  Retracing our route, we found the correct road, and after a long mountainous drive, arrived in Yécora well after dark.  We found lodging at the King Motel on the E end of town - $18/night, plenty of hot water.  Added 12 new species for a trip total of 170.

Dec. 3rd:

Whole day spent in the Yécora area which is mostly high-elevation oak and pine-oak forest with some cypress and sycamores in the canyons.  Most of the time was spent W of the town between km 258 and km 275, with the major focus being the barranca (canyon) between km 260 – 261 (Brown-backed Solitaire, Spotted Wren, White-eared Hummingbird, etc.).  In the morning, the most productive birding was in areas that the sun had just reached.  Given the mountainous terrain, it was possible to find those areas at anytime from 6:30 to 11:30AM.  In the mid-afternoon we did drive for an hour to a higher pass about 20 km E of Yécora where we saw our first Rusty Sparrows and a probable Pine Flycatcher.  Later we returned to the barranca to find a large flock of Black-headed Siskins and our first Rufous-capped Warbler, etc.  Night back at the King Motel.  Thanks to the change in habitat, we were able to add 39 new species, giving us 209 for the trip.

Dec. 4th:

Spent the morning in the Yécora area again, finding some new species at the barranca (Russet and Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrushes and amazingly, a male Black-throated Blue Warbler that had been seen a few weeks earlier by friends of ours).  After lunch, we headed towards home, stopping for an hour at the river crossing 3.8 miles on a dirt road to Santa Rosa  to the right at km 243 (Sinaloa Wren, Rose-throated Becard).  From there we had a long drive back to Tucson – featuring 6 Elegant Quails at approximately km 200 on Rte, 16 and a Common Poorwill flushed from the road after dark, only 16 km before Hermosillo.  Arrived back in Tucson around midnight.  Added 10 more species during the day for a final count of 219.

Trip List*

* Following sequence in "Field Check-List to the Birds of Mexico" Compiled 1986 by Steve N.G. Howell Published by Golden Gate Audubon Society

The Bold lettering is subjective and is meant to indicate either an unusual sighting or a bird we were especially pleased to see.
Pacific Loon Two seen from the mirador at San Carlos.
Horned Grebe Two in the lagoon between Guaymas and Empalme. ID'd by head and bill shape, extensive white on sides of face, position of rear end in water and direct comparison with nearby Eared Grebes.
Eared Grebe Several flocks at the Hermosillo Reservoir and Guaymas/Empalme lagoon.
Western Grebe About a dozen at the Guaymas/Empalme lagoon.
Blue-footed Booby Several fairly close from the San Carlos mirador. Others farther out.
Brown Booby Ditto. Also from the beach near Club Med, San Carlos. Seemed a bit more numerous than Blue-footed.
American White Pelican Many at the Hermosillo Reservoir and some at Guaymas/Empalme.
Brown Pelican Abundant in the San Carlos area.
Double-crested Cormorant Some at the Hermosillo Reservoir, common at San Carlos and Guaymas/Empalme.
Neotropic Cormorant Many near the Obregón Reservoir and probably present at Hermosillo but we didn't take the time to scrutinize all the distant birds.
Brandt's Cormorant Several seen from the San Carlos mirador.
Magnificent Frigatebird Fairly common at San Carlos. Watched from the mirador as one dueled with a Peregrine.
Bare-throated Tiger-Heron Two birds; one immature feeding at the Rio Cuchujaqui in the pre-dawn and then shortly after, an adult flew by.
Great Blue Heron Common in all areas with water, especially at Hermosillo. Even one by a trickle just outside of Yécora.
Great Egret Ditto. One along the small arroyo at La Mercedes.
Snowy Egret Likewise.
Little Blue Heron Two at Guaymas/Empalme.
Cattle Egret Abundant in agricultural country near Navojoa.
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron A bunch roosting in mangroves at San Carlos.
White-faced Ibis Two flying birds, seen briefly, Álamos Rd., not far from Navojoa.
White Ibis Several at Empalme.
Snow Goose Several at Hermosillo Reservoir.
Green-winged Teal Abundant at Hermosillo. Also at wetlands S of Obregón Reservoir.
Mallard (incl. Mexican Duck) Fairly common at Hermosillo and some near Obregón.
Northern Pintail Numerous at Hermosillo.
Cinnamon Teal Some at Hermosillo.
Northern Shoveler Abundant at Hermosillo.
Gadwall A few at Hermosillo.
American Wigeon Fairly common at Hermosillo.
Redhead About 30 in the lake near the Obregón Reservoir.
Ring-necked Duck About a dozen in wetlands near the Obregón Reservoir.
Greater Scaup One male in the freshwater pond, San Carlos.
Lesser Scaup ± 6 in the San Carlos pond and ± 2000 in the lake near the Obregón Reservoir.
Bufflehead One female in the San Carlos pond and a small flock at Guaymas/Empalme.
Red-breasted Merganser A few flying off shore at San Carlos and a small flock at Guaymas/Empalme. Less than 20 birds total.
Ruddy Duck Abundant at Hermosillo, several in the San Carlos pond, some at Guaymas/Empalme.
Black Vulture Abundant in lowlands throughout.
Turkey Vulture Ditto, plus common in highlands around Yécora.
Osprey Seen at Hermosillo, San Carlos, Guaymas/Empalme, Obregón Reservoir area and the Rio Yaqui crossing on Rte. 16. Perhaps 10 birds in all.
White-tailed Kite Several in the agricultural region between Ciudad Obregón and Navojoa.
Northern Harrier About 6 birds seen, various sites, ranging from northern deserts to wetlands to thorn forest.
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1-2 individuals seen most days, lowlands and highlands.
Cooper's Hawk Ditto. Perhaps slightly less common than Sharpies, though 1 large female Coop chasing a small bird just before dark near km 100 along Rte 16 was striking.
Common Black-Hawk One at the Rio Cuchujaqui on 12/01 and the same, or another (?), on 12/02.
Harris's Hawk Fairly common, various locales, ranging from northern desert to the Obregón Reservoir area where they were especially evident.
White-tailed Hawk One juv. on 11/30 near Navojoa (see Howell & Webb, Plate 9 #6) and two gorgeous adults not far from there, on the road towards Álamos, on 12/01.
Zone-tailed Hawk One flying over the Rio Cuchujaqui, early morning, 12/02.
Red-tailed Hawk Common and widespread, all habitats.
Crested Caracara Fairly common in N desert, thorn forest, agricultural areas. Not in highlands.
American Kestrel Common and widespread in open areas.
Merlin Two sightings - one on the road between Ciudad Obregón and Navojoa attacking a flock of passerines (House Finches?) and another on the road between Obregón and Tezopaco.
Peregrine One seen from the San Carlos mirador and another large falcon, probably this species, over the thorn scrub on the road between Yécora and Hermosillo.
Rufous-bellied Chachalaca A small flock heard calling briefly, at dawn, below the bridge over the Rio Cuchujaqui. 
Elegant Quail One by the roadside between Álamos and the Rio Cuchujaqui, two a short way down the dirt road towards Macuzari, near Álamos, and six near km. 200 on Rte. 16 between Yécora and Hermosillo.
American Coot Common at Hermosillo, the San Carlos ponds and other wetlands.
Black-bellied Plover A few at Empalme.
American Oystercatcher Fairly common at Guaymas/Empalme.
Killdeer Three by the arroyo at La Mercedes, a few elsewhere.
Black-necked Stilt Numerous at Hermosillo and about 20 in an irrigation ditch near Navojoa.
American Avocet Very many at Hermosillo.
Greater Yellowlegs A couple at Empalme.
Willet Some at Guaymas/Empalme.
Spotted Sandpiper A few around San Carlos and a couple along the Rio Cuchujaqui.
Long-billed Curlew One very large group at Hermosillo and a flock of 17 flying over the thorn forest (!), on the road between Álamos and the Rio Cuchujaqui.
Marbled Godwit Fairly common at Empalme.
Western Sandpiper Fairly common at both Hermosillo and Empalme.
Least Sandpiper Abundant at Hermosillo and a few at Empalme.
Short-billed Dowitcher Some at Empalme (calling).
Long-billed Dowitcher Abundant at Hermosillo.
Common Snipe One on the arroyo at La Mercedes.
Laughing Gull Fairly common at Guaymas/Empalme.
Bonaparte's Gull Two roosting at Empalme.
Heermann's Gull One at Hermosillo, abundant at San Carlos and fairly common at Guaymas/Empalme.
Ring-billed Gull Abundant at Hermosillo, San Carlos and Guaymas/Empalme.
Herring Gull Fairly common in the same three areas.
Yellow-footed Gull Abundant at San Carlos.
Caspian Tern A couple roosting at San Carlos and several flying around Guaymas/Empalme.
Elegant Tern Common at San Carlos, seen from both the Mirador and the beach near the Club Med. 
Common Tern Two roosting at Empalme.
Forster's Tern Common at Guaymas/Empalme.
Black Skimmer A large flock roosting on the distant shore of the lagoon at Guaymas/Empalme.
Rock Dove Present in the usual places.
Red-billed Pigeon One perched bird and a few others seen flying over the thorn forest near Álamos.
Band-tailed Pigeon A few flocks seen near Yécora, including one group of over 30 birds.
White-winged Dove Fairly common and widespread in lowlands desert, thorn forest, agricultural.
Mourning Dove Common and widespread, all habitats, but especially common in agricultural areas.
Inca Dove Common and widespread.
Common Ground-Dove Very common on the road to the Rio Cuchujaqui and by the river itself. Also in agricultural area near Navojoa.
Ruddy Ground-Dove Three birds, with many other doves, in agricultural area on the beginning of the road to Álamos, near Navojoa.
White-tipped Dove A few in the thorn forest near Álamos and four by the river crossing on the road to Santa Rosa.
White-fronted Parrot About four small flocks of 1-5 birds each, seen and heard in the early mornings over the thorn forest near Álamos.
Groove-billed Ani One flock of about 10 birds, seen in the town of San Carlos.
Great Horned Owl One seen perched at dusk on a lampost, as we entered San Carlos.
Mountain (Northern) Pygmy-Owl One cooperative individual responded to whistling by coming into a tall pine tree, near km. 263 on Rte. 16, near Yécora. Another called in response to whistles near the pass, about 20 km E of Yécora.
Common Poorwill One flew up by the car at night on Rte. 16, 16 km E of Hermosillo.
White-throated Swift Several medium-sized flocks seen flying near cliffs in both the Sierra de Álamos and above the barranca at km 260-261 near Yécora.
Broad-billed Hummingbird Most common and widespread lowland hummer. Seen in the town of San Carlos and in the Álamos area.
White-eared Hummingbird Common around Yécora, especially at the barranca.
Berylline Hummingbird One female/imm. perched along the La Mercedes arroyo.
Violet-crowned Hummingbird One in a mixed species flock along the Rio Cuchujaqui road.
Plain-capped Starthroat One in a mixed species flock along the wash, near the Rio Cuchujaqui road.
Anna's Hummingbird One heard in the town of San Carlos.
Belted Kingfisher Singles seen in San Carlos, at Guaymas/Empalme, near Navojoa and by the Rio Cuchujaqui bridge.
Green Kingfisher One seen at the Rio Cuchujaqui.
Acorn Woodpecker Abundant in the Yécora area.
Gila Woodpecker Common in the N. desert and around San Carlos.
Red-naped Sapsucker One seen at km 265, Rte. 16, near Yécora.
Ladder-backed Woodpecker Some seen/heard in desert, scrub and thorn forest, various places.
Northern (Red-shafted) Flicker Fairly common in Yécora area and a few around Álamos.
Gilded Flicker Several seen in desert scrub around San Carlos.
Northern Beardless Tyrannulet A few heard in barranca near Yécora.
Greater Pewee Several seen/heard in barranca near Yécora.
Hammond's Flycatcher Common in Yécora area.
Pacific-slope Flycatcher A couple seen and heard calling near the Rio Cuchujaqui. Several other "Westerns" seen in the Álamos area were probably this species.
Pine Flycatcher One bird near the pass about 20 km E of Yécora was probably this species. Superficially similar to a Western Flycatcher (prominent tear-drop shaped eye-ring, bright yellow-orange lower mandible, fairly bright yellow underparts), it was calling repeatedly - a bright whip unlike any Western's call and clearly distinct from Hammond's or Dusky.
Buff-breasted Flycatcher Several heard near Yécora and one seen well by the river crossing on the road to Santa Rosa.
Black Phoebe Present wherever there is fresh water, especially streams; even the slightest trickle suffices.
Say's Phoebe Common in N desert and desert scrub. A few near Yécora. Didn't see any in the Álamos area.
Vermilion Flycatcher Very common and widespread throughout the lowlands, especially near water.
Dusky-capped Flycatcher Common in the thorn forest near Álamos and a few near Yécora. 
Ash-throated Flycatcher Quite common in desert scrub around San Carlos.
Nutting's Flycatcher Some around San Carlos and almost abundant near Álamos and Yécora.
Great Kiskadee Several heard and seen at Empalme and one heard near Navojoa.
Social Flycatcher A small flock present on La Hacienda Mercedes grounds and more along the arroyo below.
Cassin's Kingbird Abundant in lowlands from Navojoa to Álamos.
Thick-billed Kingbird Fairly common in thorn forest near Álamos.
Rose-throated Becard One female (near nest) by the river crossing on the road to Santa Rosa.
Violet-green Swallow Various small flocks seen, San Carlos area, Álamos area and the road to Santa Rosa - mostly over thorn forest.
Northern Rough-winged Swallow Several over the freshwater pond and marsh, San Carlos.
Steller's Jay A couple seen near Yécora.
Black-throated Magpie-Jay Quite common in thorn forest near Álamos. Several flocks of 4-12 birds encountered daily in the area.
Purplish-backed Jay 14 birds in three separate flocks of 2-8 birds/each, seen and/or heard within two hours along the Álamos-Rio Cuchujaqui road and nearby wash.
Mexican Jay Abundant in Yécora area.
Sinaloa Crow Large flocks (some over 100) on the outskirts of Ciudad Obregón and Navojoa and in the surrounding agricultural areas.
Chihuahuan Raven Present in N desert and desert scrub from the US border S to at least San Carlos. Possibly elsewhere but we didn't take the time to check.
Common Raven Common and widespread, all habitats.
Bridled Titmouse Abundant in mixed species flocks throughout the Yécora area.
Verdin Common in desert and desert scrub and fairly common in thorn forest.
Bushtit Encountered two small flocks, foraging with other species, in the Yécora area. Expected to see more. Saw both "Plain" and "Black-eared" types in the same group.
White-breasted Nuthatch Common, with titmice, in mixed species flocks, Yécora area.
Brown Creeper Ditto.
Spotted Wren Two seen at different sides of the km 260-261 barranca. Probably heard a few others as well.
Cactus Wren Seen/heard in N desert and desert scrub at least as far S as San Carlos. Didn't come across any in Álamos or Yécora areas.
Rock Wren Very common and widespread from deserts to the Rio Cuchujaqui to Yécora.
Canyon Wren Quite common around Yécora, especially at the barranca.
Sinaloa Wren One heard scolding and finally glimpsed, by the river crossing on the Santa Rosa road.
Happy Wren Twice heard singing (one at dusk, the other at dawn) from thorn forest near Álamos. Also two seen at dusk on the dirt road to the microwave station, about 10 km W of Álamos.
Bewick's Wren Several heard in N deserts and one seen in a mixed flock, Yécora area.
House Wren Common in most habitats from San Carlos to Álamos to Yécora. Saw a couple of "Brown-throated" types at the barranca.
Ruby-crowned Kinglet Widespread. Common around Yécora and fairly common elsewhere.
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher First found at the freshwater marsh in San Carlos. Then common in the Álamos area.
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher Present in N desert and desert scrub around San Carlos.
Black-capped Gnatcatcher Common in thorn forest around Álamos, at the Santa Rosa river crossing and at a couple of stops along Rte. 16, in thorn forest W of Yécora. It seemed like roughly 1/3 of the gnatcatchers in the Álamos area were this species and 2/3 Blue-grays, though we didn't identify every individual. 
Eastern Bluebird A couple of flocks seen in the Yécora area (km 265 & near km 256).
Townsend's Solitaire One in the same pine tree as the Mtn. Pygmy-Owl.
Brown-backed Solitaire Two well seen and about 8 others heard singing their marvelous song, in the Yécora area, mostly at the barranca.
Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush Two heard singing and calling from down in the barranca, below the road.
Russet Nightingale-Thrush A pair seen where the canyon crosses the road, on the uphill side of the barranca.
Hermit Thrush Quite common in the Yécora area.
American Robin Ditto. Lots flying around the mountains in the very early morning, then fewer as the day wore on.
Northern Mockingbird Present in most lowland areas (San Carlos, Álamos, etc.) but not especially common.
Curve-billed Thrasher Likewise. In desert, desert scrub and thorn scrub.
Blue Mockingbird One at the arroyo below La Mercedes and two at the barranca. One of those at the barranca was right where we saw the Russet Nightingale-Thrushes. It was actively singing whenever we were there, at different times of day.
Phainopepla Fairly common in N desert and desert/thorn scrub.
Loggerhead Shrike Common and widespread in lowlands.
European Starling Widespread in lowlands, not especially common (!). Mostly in agricultural areas.
Bell's Vireo One well seen in a mixed species flock along the Rio Cuchujaqui.
Cassin's Vireo One in desert scrub on a hillside in the town of San Carlos and another with a mixed species flock near Yécora.
Plumbeous Vireo One in a mixed flock along the wash near the Álamos-Rio Cuchujaqui road.
Hutton's Vireo One at the pass, 20 km E of Yécora and another with mixed species near km 261.
Orange-crowned Warbler Most widespread of the warblers. Present in most habitats, lowlands and highlands. Usually at least a few present with every mixed species flock.
Crescent-chested Warbler Two seen. Each with a different mixed species flock, opposite sides of the barranca, Yécora area.
Black-throated Blue Warbler One distinctive male in the same barranca area where we saw the Russet Nightingale-Thrushes and where the Blue Mockingbird held court. Certainly the rarest find of the trip. The same individual had been seen by friends a few weeks earlier, though we certainly didn't expect to find it.
Yellow-rumped (Audubon's) Warbler Locally abundant in some lowland areas (San Carlos marsh, around Álamos) and some elsewhere (in the town of Yécora but only a few in the nearby mountains).
Black-throated Gray Warbler After Orange-crowned, the most widespread warbler, though far fewer numbers. Singles seen with mixed species flocks from the Rio Cuchujaqui to Yécora to the Santa Rosa road river crossing.
Townsend's Warbler Three birds seen, each with a different mixed species flock, Yécora area.
Grace's Warbler Two birds seen. One hanging around the Pygmy-Owl and the other at the pass, 20km E of Yécora.
Common Yellowthroat Common in the mangroves at Empalme, a couple in reeds along the river at km 190 on Rte. 16 W of Yécora and one at the Rio Cuchujaqui.
Wilson's Warbler Three seen in the Rio Cuchujaqui area.
Painted Redstart At least half a dozen in the Yécora area and a couple more along Rte. 16 to the W of Yécora.
Olive Warbler One (female) at about km 262 and another (male) E of Yécora at the pass. Both with mixed species flocks.
Hepatic Tanager Quite common (and vocal) in the mountains around Yécora. Usually in male-female pairs.
Northern Cardinal Several in San Carlos, the arroyo at La Mercedes and a few other places.
Pyrrhuloxia Fairly common in desert, desert scrub and thorn forest.
Indigo Bunting One female plumaged bird perched on a wire at San Carlos was probably this species. It had faint wingbars (suggesting Lazuli) but was noticeably streaked below.
Varied Bunting Quite common in the Álamos area, especially by the Rio Cuchujaqui and at La Mercedes. Also in Yécora and at the Santa Rosa Rd. river crossing.
Green-tailed Towhee First found in scrub around San Carlos. Abundant in thorn forest around Álamos.
Spotted Towhee Several in the Yécora area.
Canyon Towhee Ditto. Perhaps we saw a few more.
Rufous-winged Sparrow Some in mixed sparrow flocks around San Carlos. Others in scrub near the Obregón Reservoir.
Rufous-crowned Sparrow Several seen together at the barranca near km 261.
Rusty Sparrow A pair by the road beyond the pass, E of Yécora. Then another at the Blue Mockingbird/BT Blue Warbler/Russet N-Thrush place. Apart from the larger bill and overall size, we noticed the wider, more prominent eye-ring, giving the face a bolder more contrasty look, as compared with Rufous-crowns.
Chipping Sparrow Common and widespread, from Álamos to Yécora. Especially common in the mountains near Yécora where there were large flocks, including many warmer colored first winter birds.
Brewer's Sparrow Common in desert scrub near San Carlos and one with White-crowns, by an irrigation ditch near Navojoa.
Vesper Sparrow Fairly common in grassy areas by the Álamos-Rio Cuchujaqui Rd.
Lark Sparrow Fairly common in desert scrub around San Carlos and in the Álamos area.
Black-throated Sparrow Some around San Carlos, especially along the road by the Club Med.
Five-striped Sparrow About 6 birds in tall grass on the right, just after turning onto the one-lane road that goes down to La Hacienda Mercedes.
Lark Bunting A few small-to-medium-sized flocks in the San Carlos area.
Grasshopper Sparrow One exquisitely colored bird (bright orange-ochre on the face, almost like a LeConte's or Sharp-tailed Sparrow) perched in the open at San Carlos. Another 2-4 duller individuals on the road to Álamos, near Navojoa (in the same area that had the Ruddy Ground-Doves).
Song Sparrow Several in reeds by the river at km 190, Rte. 16 W of Yécora. Another poorly seen bird by the Rio Cuchujaqui might have been a Song Sparrow.
Lincoln's Sparrow Several at the barranca near Yécora.
White-crowned Sparrow Quite common and widespread in the lowlands. A few in the town of Yécora by the King Motel.
Dark-eyed (Gray-headed) Junco Abundant in the Yécora area.
Yellow-eyed Junco Almost as common. Usually in mixed flocks with Dark-eyes, Chipping Sparrows and often other passerines.
Red-winged Blackbird Several flocks around the Hermosillo Reservoir.
Eastern Meadowlark A few seen from the road between the US border and San Carlos.
Brewer's Blackbird Widespread but not abundant. Flocks seen at Hermosillo, near Navojoa and in the grazed meadows near the town of Yécora.
Great-tailed Grackle Common in the lowlands, mostly in towns.
Bronzed Cowbird About six flew over us, up the hill, ½ km across the Rio Cuchujaqui.
Orchard Oriole One adult male perched in the open in the thorn forest, approximately half way between Álamos and the Rio Cuchujaqui, at 10:45 AM on 12/01.
Hooded Oriole Two female plumaged birds at the arroyo below La Hacienda Mercedes and a male seen the following morning, farther down the arroyo.
Streak-backed Oriole First found a pair in shrubbery in the town of San Carlos. Then others in the Álamos area, mostly on the Álamos-Rio Cuchujaqui Rd. 
Scott's Oriole One at the barranca near Yécora.
House Finch Fairly common and widespread in lowlands. Often in towns but also in desert and thorn forest.
Pine Siskin A number of sightings (2-15 birds) around Yécora.
Black-headed Siskin A couple of sightings of a few birds in the Yécora area and then a large flock of over 50 in the late afternoon near km 261.
Lesser Goldfinch Some in the San Carlos area and a small flock by the arroyo below La Mercedes.
House Sparrow Common in all the appropriate places. 

That's the list. We'd like to extend thanks to all the birders who helped guide our trip: To Steve Ganley, Roy Jones, Dick Palmer and Andy Donnelly for their Sonora trip reports on the Internet; to Rochelle & Forrest Davis for the information on their High Lonesome Ecotours Web Site; to Jack Whetstone for his posting of recent Christmas Count totals on the SABO Web Site and for his detailed letter to our friend, Don Freiday, offering insights on birding the Yécora area; and finally to Don Freiday, who gave us many useful suggestions, having just returned from a week's birding in Sonora with Dave Womer.

We had a great time.

Robert Machover
175 Adamic Hill Rd.
Milford, NJ 08848
(908) 995-9559

Starr Saphir
560 West 218th St.
Apt. 6F
New York, NY 10034
(212) 304-3808