If, sometime, you make your method to Morelia, and ask for me to indicate you a few of our greatest birds, I’ll absolutely do my finest to accomodate you. Within the case of most of those fantastic chook species, I in all probability know the place they’re almost certainly to be discovered.
Simply don’t ask me to indicate you an Aztec Thrush.
The Aztec Thrush is a good looking chook, with daring darkish/gentle plumage patterns. These patterns make it surprisingly laborious to see. It hardly ever vocalizes, and strikes slowly, if in any respect, because it forages in dense foliage. And but, the Aztec Thrush appears to hardly ever exhibit these behaviors twice in a single spot.
In ten years of hardcore birding, I’ve seen Aztec Thrushes solely 4 occasions, by no means twice in the identical 12 months (2017, 2018, 2019, and now, 2024). Solely the 2017 and 2019 sighting had been in the identical normal space; though the primary sighting there was of a household unit, and the second was of a single chook.
On January twenty ninth, I made a decision to analyze the outcomes of a serious forest fireplace final 12 months at certainly one of my favourite routes. An enormous swath of forest burned, and whereas Michoacán’s forests are very nicely tailored to low-intensity fires, solely about 30% of the bushes on this space appear to be they are going to come again from this high-intensity conflagration.
However to my shock, at floor stage the realm was now “ablaze” with salvias and different flowers.
Hummingbirds buzzed all over the place, as most of those flowers are designed only for them.
Berylline Hummingbirds had been by far probably the most ample.
However there have been additionally a great variety of Broad-tailed Hummingbirds…
…and White-eared Hummingbirds, within the remaining shadier areas.
Migratory Rufous Hummingbirds introduced up the rear…
…together with a single Mexican Violetear that I used to be capable of see, though a pair extra sang from above.
The flowers additionally attracted fairly just a few Nashville Warblers, Orange-crowned Warblers, and Hooded Orioles.
Apparently the usually insect-eating warblers, just like the hummers and orioles, like a sip of nectar on occasion.
One other native species that loves burnt-over areas is the Grey Silky-Flycatcher. I in all probability noticed a pair hundred of those pretty birds, though their fixed comings and goings made an correct depend unattainable.
American Robins had been additionally unusually ample within the burn zone. Whereas current in Michoacán, you’re often extra more likely to see our endemic Rufous-backed Robin right here. However I noticed a great variety of perched American Robins today, and lots of extra flew overhead among the many sadly naked tree trunks.
I used to be testing a few of these American Robins, transferring by means of the the burnt branches, once I noticed the unmmistakeable sample of a single feminine Aztec Thrush. It was a quick encounter, however lengthy sufficient for just a few photographs.
After which, she was gone. I turned my consideration to a couple extra Robins.
However wait! There she was once more! Besides that it turned out “she” was not there, as this was a “he”. And Aztec Thrushes being as they’re, this male stayed motionless as I progressively drew nearer. My photographs acquired a bit higher…
After which, increase! The cash shot!
As soon as I felt I had gone as shut as ethically potential, I finished and took picture after picture of the male. After some 45 photographs of the identical chook, in the identical pose, I bored with photographing it. Till lastly, it circled and confirmed me a view from behind. After which, it took wing, perched briefly straight above me, and was gone.
And that was it: My first encounter with Aztec Thrushes in 5 years. They’re on the market, at all times. I simply don’t know the place, or when, I’d get to see them.
Whereas we’re on the topic, central Mexico additionally gives the Aztec Rail, a species as soon as thought of a race of the King Rail. It was once a reasonably dependable discover in a water remedy mission on the city of Cuitzeo, half an hour from my house. However the mission was discontinued and the location dried up. I’ve now solely seen Aztec Rails twice previously 5 years, neither time at that web site.
Aztec Rail, Lake Cuitzeo, July 2023
So when you come to Michoacán, go forward and problem me. Ask for a Transvolcanic Jay, Mountain Trogon, Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo, Glowing-tailed Woodstar, or Black-polled Yellowthroat. There’s a great likelihood I can discover all of them.
However please, don’t ask for an Aztec.