Please Don’t Ask for an Aztec

If, sometime, you make your technique to Morelia, and ask for me to point out you a few of our greatest birds, I’ll absolutely do my finest to accomodate you. Within the case of most of those fantastic fowl species, I most likely know the place they’re almost certainly to be discovered.

Simply don’t ask me to point out you an Aztec Thrush.

The Aztec Thrush is a phenomenal fowl, with daring darkish/gentle plumage patterns. These patterns make it surprisingly arduous 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 instances, by no means twice in the identical yr (2017, 2018, 2019, and now, 2024). Solely the 2017 and 2019 sighting have been in the identical normal space; though the primary sighting there was of a household unit, and the second was of a single fowl.

On January twenty ninth, I made a decision to analyze the outcomes of a significant forest hearth final yr at one in every 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 timber 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 have been by far essentially the most considerable.

However there have been additionally an excellent 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 in a position to see, though a pair extra sang from above.

The flowers additionally attracted fairly a number of 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 from time to time.

One other native species that loves burnt-over areas is the Grey Silky-Flycatcher. I most likely noticed a pair hundred of those beautiful birds, though their fixed comings and goings made an correct depend not possible.

American Robins have been additionally unusually considerable within the burn zone. Whereas current in Michoacán, you might be normally extra prone to see our endemic Rufous-backed Robin right here. However I noticed an excellent variety of perched American Robins at the present time, and plenty of extra flew overhead among the many sadly naked tree trunks.

I used to be testing a few of these American Robins, shifting by the the burnt branches, once I noticed the unmmistakeable sample of a single feminine Aztec Thrush. It was a short encounter, however lengthy sufficient for a number of images.

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 step by step drew nearer. My images acquired a bit higher…

After which, increase! The cash shot!

As soon as I felt I had gone as shut as ethically attainable, I finished and took picture after picture of the male. After some 45 photographs of the identical fowl, in the identical pose, I uninterested in photographing it. Till lastly, it circled and confirmed me a view from behind. After which, it took wing, perched briefly instantly 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 would get to see them.

Whereas we’re on the topic, central Mexico additionally presents the Aztec Rail, a species as soon as thought-about a race of the King Rail. It was once a reasonably dependable discover in a water therapy undertaking on the city of Cuitzeo, half an hour from my dwelling. However the undertaking was discontinued and the location dried up. I’ve now solely seen Aztec Rails twice up to now 5 years, neither time at that website.

Aztec Rail, Lake Cuitzeo, July 2023

So in the event 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 an excellent likelihood I can discover all of them.

However please, don’t ask for an Aztec.

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