27 February, 2011

Yellow-eyed Junco

Scientific Name: Junco phaeonotus

Population Estimate: 20M

Range / Habitat: Year-round through the southwestern US and throughout Mexico. Preferred habitat is high altitude grassland, shrubland, and forest.

Field Notes: Distinctive plumage as above. Typical Junco behavior: found in groups foraging on the ground then will make a hasty retreat to higher perches. Distinctive fan-like tail in flight with white-flashes on the sides. There are similar-colored variations of Dark-eyed Junco, but the eye color is determinant. Also, per Sibley, the dark-eyed varieties hop on the ground whereas the yellow-eyed birds walk.

Personal Notes: We were more than happy to take a break from summiting Xinantecatl in central Mexico to observe these birds.

Clay-colored Sparrow

Scientific Name: Spizella pallida
Population Estimate: 23M

Range / Habitat: Summers in upper midwestern US and central Canada. Winters throughout Mexico. Found in a variety of habitats including grassland and shrubland, inland water areas.

Field Notes: Above bird in nonbreeding plumage. Sparrow with clear breast and distinct facial markings, particularly the "mustache" and lateral throat stripe. Chipping Sparrow in nonbreeding plumage has duskier chest, more prominent supercilium, darker lores.

Personal Notes: A "random sparrow on a cactus" photo Richard took on our walk out of Teotihuacan.

22 February, 2011

Western Bluebird

Scientific Name: Sialia mexicana

Population Estimate: 1.4M

Range / Habitat: A bird of open forests found in the American West and throughout Mexico.

Field Notes: Medium-sized songbird, small thrush. Male with bright blue on wings, tail and head. Chest and flanks rufous, belly white with some blue, as in lower photo. Female more subdued, as above. Eastern Bluebird with rufous throat, no rufous on shoulders or back, no blue on belly. Mountain Bluebird with same brilliant blue but no rufous. 

Personal Notes: A nice surprise for us in Central Mexico.