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October 1999

by Ellen Paul

A week in Monterrey, Mexico (attending the Neotropical Ornithological Congress) didn't sound very promising in terms of birding.  It was a pleasant surprise to learn that there is some very good birding in the region, within a short drive of this very large, industrial city about 150 miles south of McAllen, Texas.

On both Thursday and Saturday mornings, we took trips to Chipinque National Park, which is actually owned by a government-private joint enterprise.  It's a beautiful park, only a 1/2 hour drive from downtown Monterrey.  Accomodations include a hotel, restaurant, and childrens' play areas.  Birding itself required entry into a restricted area (be sure to get permission).  The trail was wide and easy to follow.  Great viewing of numerous species was had from a platform a short walk from the trailhead.

Among the species seen here: Blue-throated Hummingbird, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, Rufous-capped Warbler, Acorn Woodpecker, Mexican Jay, Hutton's Vireo, Audubon's Oriole, Rufous-capped Brush Finch, Tufted Titmouse w/ black tuft, Carolina Wren, Blue-Headed Vireo, Hepatic Tanager, Western Tanager, Black-headed Grosbeak, Lazulis Bunting.

A bit down the path, on Thursday, we had an Elegant Trogon.  Due to the fact that the groups split up on both days, some saw all of the following: Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Golden-Olive Woodpecker (called Bronze-winged Woodpecker in this area by Howell and Webb), Flame-colored Tanager, Cooper's Hawk, Sharp-Shinned Hawk, Zone-tailed Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, Crescent-chested Warbler, Bridled Titmouse, Greater Peewee, Blue-grey Gnatcatcher, Brown-backed Solitaire, Lincoln's Sparrow, Band-tailed Pigeon, Whip-poor-will, White-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Grey-throated Beccard.  I know I've missed a few.

The tours were led by Sonia Ortiz of Aventur (; home page and Luz Sada de Hermosillo (author of the Birds of Nuevo Leon and the Birds of Chipinque, both in Spanish).  I highly recommend this tour company - Sonia was really concerned that we all enjoy ourselves and that we all see as many birds as possible.  Her English is excellent.

On Friday, we went to Estanzuela Park - a very pretty park, with a large stream running through the middle.  Unfortunately, it wasn't terribly birdy that day, but we did have Green Jays, Rose-throated Beccard, Mexican Jay, Louisiana Waterthrush, Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, Blue-grey Gnatcatcher.  Heard but not seen was a Blue-crowned Motmot.  Sonia says that they are quite conspicuous during the breeding season.  Also, Acorn Woodpeckers, Painted Redstart.  This park is very pretty and it was a delightful morning, notwithstanding the relative lack of birds.

Monarch butterflies,en route to the Monarcha Reserve, where they winter, were just beginning to arrive on Thurday.  By Saturday, they were quite numerous.  It's incredible enough that a bird can migrate such distances.  That a creature as fragile as a butterfly can make this trip is almost beyond belief.  They were floating lazily through the sky, and you could almost feel their fatigue.

Ellen Paul
Chevy Chase, Maryland