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MEXICO -- SPECIES INFORMATION:

Maroon-fronted Parrot
"Rhynchopsitta terrisi"

Worthen's Sparrow
"Spizella wortheni"

6 April 1998

Original Query:

"Would the Easter Weekend be a good time to find Maroon-fronted Parrot near San Isidro, south of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon?  The bit of info that I have indicates that they leave in early November and are present no later than the end of May, but I do not know if they have returned by the tenth of April.  The directions that I have are from a trip report for October 1990 by Greg Lasley.  Is that still the place to go see them?  Are there any other likely spots in that area?

The directions that I have for Worthen's Sparrow at Tanque de Emergencia near Saltillo are also from the same report.  Is this still the best place to look for this bird?  It is present year-round, is it not?"

Jose Hernandez
Houston, Tx
hernandezj@HOU.VALMET.COM

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Reply #1:

"Just FYI, I have made about 4 visits to the mountains between Saltillo and Monterrey regrading Maroon-fronted Parrots.  These visits have been in June, September and October.  It has been my experience that the birds are nesting in the late summer and fall, so I am not certain what they will be doing or where they might be in April.  I will be anxious to hear what you find.

Regarding the Worthen's Sparrows...far as I know they are in the vicinity of Tanque de Emergencia all year, but are certainly in flocks in the winter whereas in the breeding season they can be harder to find since they are paired up.  Behrstock, Sexton, Eubanks and I just published a paper in the Cotinga, the journal of the Neotropical Bird Club in Number 8 (Aug. 1997) regarding nesting Worthen's Sparrows in this area.  You should get a copy of this article and join this group for some excellent materials on neotropical birds."

Greg Lasley
Secretary, Texas Bird Records Committee
        (Visit the TBRC at http://members.tripod.com/~tbrc/)
Editor, Texas Region, ABA/Audubon Field Notes
305 Loganberry Ct., Austin, TX  78745-6527
Telephone:  (512) 441-9686
email:  glasley@onr.com

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Results from original poster:

"The Maroon-fronted Parrots were spread out at the base of the cliff near San Isidro.  I approached those that I could hear near the face of the cliff which was in the sun in the morning (more easterly facing), rather than the side which faces the road (more northerly facing).  The birds may have been spread out all along the base of the cliff, but this side was closest to where I was birding and this is where I could hear them.  Unfortunately, the path that I took became too steep and brushy, and I ran out of time.  Not being tied down to nests, the birds may have been hard to approach closely anyway.  The looks that I got were at distant birds as they flew across openings.

I arrived at Tanque de Emergencia with no more than a couple hours of good daylight left.  I searched the area east of the broken water tank to no avail.  The north side of the fence which runs parallel to the road seemed the most promising because of the taller grass, but it was made inaccessible by the fence.  The south side had extremely short grass which the Horned Larks liked.  I traveled along the Ground Hog colony on that side of the fence for more than a mile and I still did not see the end of it!  As the sun reached for the horizon, I gave up and started driving back toward the highway.

About 0.85 mile after leaving the fenced area behind (ie, west of the fenced area) I spotted two sparrows sitting together on a very small bush, maybe 30 yards away.  They got nervous and flew to the ground before I could check them out.  Then I got a very brief look at one on the ground.  It had a rusty cap, plain face, pink bill, and plain breast.  BUT its legs were not dark.  My mind recorded only the fact that the legs were not dark as expected, but did not record what color they seemed to be.  The sun was so low now that it looked yellowish, and I think that is the color that I saw.  Field Sparrows that I have seen seem to have a hint of rust around the auricular area.  This one seemed to be a lighter color in that area.  I believe that I saw a Worthen's Sparrow because of the habitat and the location, in spite of the apparent leg color.

My apologies to those who do not know what these landmarks are which I mention.  They are from a report written by Greg Lasley years ago.  Lack of time does not allow me to get into those details.  If anybody is interested, I can provide those details later,

Jose Hernandez
Houston, Tx
hernandezj@HOU.VALMET.COM

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Follow-up Reply:

If you get the chance read an article by Behrstock, Sexton, Lasley, and Eubanks in the August 1997 issue of "Cotinga" (Nimber 8) regarding the first nesting records of Worthen's Sparrow for Nuevo Leon.  Regarding leg color of these birds (which is addressed in some detail in this article) I can state the following.  In October 1990 birds which I and Ro Wauer netted and photographed in the hand had black legs.  This was also true of several other Worthen's we saw in the field.  A photo of one such bird is in the above mentioned article.  HOWEVER, birds photographed at the nest (June 1994) and at other seasons had dark pink legs, certainly not black or dark looking.   Whether leg color is a sex/age factor, or a seasonal cahracter requires more study, but I have personally seen Worthen's with black AND pink legs at different times of the year.  Again, the above article would be good reading.  If anyone is interested, you can get information on the "Cotinga" by contacting the folks that publish it at :   Neotropical Bird Club, c/o The Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire,  SG19 2DL, ENGLAND.   They have a website at:  www.neotropicalbirdclub.org

Sincerely,

Greg Lasley
Secretary, Texas Bird Records Committee
        (Visit the TBRC at http://members.tripod.com/~tbrc/)
Editor, Texas Region, ABA/Audubon Field Notes
305 Loganberry Ct., Austin, TX  78745-6527
Telephone:  (512) 441-9686
email:  glasley@onr.com