Sightings in Puerto Vallarta
By Griffin Page
Naturalist ~ Eco-guide
Puerto Vallarta is considered to be
a paradise by the locals as well as by those who visit.
Why do you ask? The answer is simple: The large town
(as we’d rather call it because it retained most
of its Mexican flavor) offers all the luxuries of a
big city while allowing you to enjoy the beauty of pristine
nature only 10 minutes away.
The area surrounding the Bahía
de Banderas can only be described as a natural outdoor
concert hall. Over 360 different species of birds either
migrate to or reside in this area. Talk about an orchestra!
Because the bay is surrounded by 3
different types of mountain ranges (including the famous
Sierra Madre), we profit from a wide variety of vegetation
ranging from the sub-tropical jungles on the east and
south sides to the low deciduous type vegetation found
in the north. And if you drive to higher altitudes within
these mountains, the vegetation changes again to offer
you pines and oaks.
does that have to do with birds? Well, depending on
their usual habitat, behavior and diet, some birds will
choose different areas to live and nest in. For example,
rarely will you see a Frigate bird far inland, or see
a Yellow-winged Cacique standing on a sandy beach.
The north side of the bay is dryer
in comparison the east and south sides. There, you may
encounter lagoons, small rivers and arroyos, agricultural
areas as well as a costal environment. A lagoon is the
perfect place to enjoy the beauty of a Purple Gallinule,
an American Coot or a Green Heron. Near arroyos and
in forests, you may come across a Vermilion Flycatcher,
a Rufous-backed Robin, a Squirrel Cuckoo and even most
likely see lots of Orange-fronted Parakeets.
On the coast of the entire bay, Brown
Pelicans and Magnificent Frigatebirds display their
aerial acrobatic talents. A show you will surely appreciate.
Also found on the coastal area is a wide variety of
sea gulls, my favorite being the Heermann's Gull for
it’s 2 tone gray body, white head and beautiful
red beak. At sunset, the beaches, mangroves and estuaries
provide dinner for the Snowy Egrets and Great Blue Herons
while the Neothropic Cormorants perch in preparation
for a night’s rest.
and east, because of the abundance of rivers and lush
sub-tropical vegetation, we can more easily find San
Blas Jays, Green Jays, Yellow-winged Caciques, Barn
Swallows, White-winged doves, and if your lucky, you’ll
even spot an Elegant Trogon, which displays most vibrantly,
the colors of the Mexican flag: Green, white and red.
As you go up in altitude, Military Macaws may be sighted;
resting in a tree or flying in pairs, and their strident
unique voice will surely attract your attention.
Raptors such as Hawks, Ospreys and
Turkey Vultures may also be seen soaring over ocean
cliffs, islands and mountains.
common to the area is the infamous Great-tailed Grackle.
This bird can easily be recognized by its iridescent
black body, purple shimmer and yellow eyes (females
are smaller in size and of a mate darkish brown). It
got its name for its long fan-shaped tail and is locally
known as the “Zanate”. It will boldly steel
your peanuts or dog food if you leave it out on the
balcony, and here, I speak from experience.
Our little corner of paradise has lots
to offer to the novice or experienced bird watcher.
If you’ve never been on a bird watching tour,
try it. You won’t be disappointed as most become
enthralled by the beauty and lovely music these lovely
creatures provide. Besides, an easy stroll in a musical
and peaceful environment may just be what the doctor