Sunday, November 8, 2009

Nemesis bird

Every birder has a nemesis bird. Mine evidently is Burrowing Owl.

Yesterday on my day off I traveled all the way to Perote, near the state line with Puebla, just to see this bird. A few of them supposedly could be found near a Coca Cola factory just outside Perote, a mid-sized town on a plain at 2,400 m altitude. I searched for several hours but came up empty-handed, just like a few years ago in Florida, when two confirmed locations appeared owl-free during my visit.

I did see many other birds that are typical of this area, part of the Central Volcanic Belt here in Mexico, which you can't see in the coastal lowlands of central Veracruz. None of these birds were lifers, but it was cool to see them. The only thing I didn't like about them was that they weren't Burrowing Owls. Here are some Clay-colored Sparrows. Another abundant sparrow species there was Vesper.

These two birds on the same cactus are Curve-billed Thrasher (left) and Canyon Towhee, both common at this site.

Also abundant there was Loggerhead Shrike, Horned Lark, American Pipit, and Say's Phoebe. Waiting for the bus back into town, and feeling disappointed for having dipped on the owls, I saw a small group of European Starlings. Ten minutes later I saw another one. Starlings are very recent arrivals in the state of Veracruz. Versatile generalists, they are still expanding their range southward.

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