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August - 1996

by Michael Smith

Just in from a nine-day stay in Mismaloya, in the state of Jalisco, Mexico. It's just south of Puerto Vallarta. I birded mainly on two full days and two half days, walking the road along Rio Mismaloya, and taking a full-day bus tour of the neighboring state of Nayarit (to San Blas). This was my first tropical trip, and though was at times less than fun (my wife and I both caught some bug and were sick for 3-4 days, and no it was *not* from the water), the birding was extraordinary, and I found the citizens of Mexico to be gracious hosts. Here's the skinny:

Birds seen around our hotel (La Jolla de Mismaloya):

Gray-breasted Martin
Barn Swallow (found two nests with young)
Magnificent Frigatebird
Turkey Vulture
Great-tailed Grackle
Black Vulture
Blue-footed Booby (on three different days)
Brown Pelican (one almost bit me! - but that's another story)
White-collared Seedeater
Neotropic Cormorant
Snowy Egret
Rock Dove
Cinnamon Hummingbird

Also many fantastic butterflies, a species of gecko, an "Anolis" lizard, a "Cnemidophorus" lizard, a "Sceloporus" lizard, black and green iguanas, and some unidentified "Bufo".

Birds seen along Rio Mismaloya up to Eden (about a 3 mile hike):

Spotted Sandpiper
Collared Forest-Falcon
West Mexican Chachalaca
Inca Dove
White-tipped Dove
Elegant Trogon
Citreoline Trogon
Green Kingfisher
Golden-cheeked Woodpecker
Masked Tityra
Tropical Kingbird
Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher
Great Kiskadee
San Blas Jay
Bar-vented Wren
Happy Wren
Rufous-backed Robin
White-throated Robin
Yellow-green Vireo
Yellow-winged Cacique
Streak-backed Oriole
Grayish Saltator
Yellow Grosbeak
Stripe-headed Sparrow
House Sparrows were noted in Puerto Vallarta

A full-day bus trip from Puerto Vallarta to San Blas and other spots in Nayarit, including a boat ride through the mangrove swamps there:

Little Blue Heron
Great Egret
Cattle Egret
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
Boat-billed Heron
Wood Stork
White Ibis
Fulvous Whistling-Duck
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
Gray Hawk
Purple Gallinule (with three fuzzy young)
Royal Tern
Groove-billed Ani
Social Flycatcher
Mexican Crow
(Black-throated) Magpie-Jay

Also the following species were probably seen, but from the bus at 60 mph, so they don't get added to my list (my criteria is whether or not I'd bet my binocular on the ID, I wouldn't for the following):

Black-faced Grassquit
Roadside Hawk
Lineated Woodpecker
Ruddy Ground-Dove

I would highly recommend La Jolla De Mismaloya to anyone going to Vallarta. Its a great situation for birders. On our bus trip to San Blas, we stopped at many other hotels in the Vallarta area to pick up other folks, and none were as nice and in such a nice setting. It is the southernmost hotel in Vallarta, and nestled right up against the mountains. One merely has to walk outside and up the road along the Rio Mismaloya to immerse himself in the tropical flora and fauna of this area (but watch where you step - horse manure). The food was great, the service was great, and we didn't have to take a taxi to get out in the woods.


Michael R. Smith
Univ. of Washington, Seattle