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Saturday, May 7, 2016

Birding the Yucatan Part II: Hacienda Tres Rios featuring Rose-throated Becard and Ferruginous Pygmy Owl

[Solidaridad, Quintana Roo. April, 2016] 

It was no coincidence that the hotel chosen for this blogger's sojourn in the Yucatan was a former nature park (incidentally, one that has recovered from Hurricane Wilma's legendary devastation wreaked in 2005). 

The sweet implication of this fact meant that simply meandering the hotel area could yield some lifers in a birding locale that offered a surprisingly rich assortment of habitats (mangroves, coastal, woodlands). Indeed, while other guests enjoyed the (dare I say mundane) attractions of the resort such as the pool and the beach, this blogger was lugging his photographic apparatus to remote areas of the hotel grounds to savor species such as:

  1. Rose-throated Becard
  2. Ferruginous Pygmy Owl
  3. Yellow-billed Cacique
  4. Social Flycatcher
  5. Common Black Hawk
  6. Laughing Falcon
  7. Tropical Mockingbird
  8. Altamira Oriole
  9. Magnificent Frigatebird
  10. Plain Chachalaca

Rose-throated Becard is a very scarce visitor to SE Arizona and S. Texas (indeed, this blogger's maiden sighting was in Texas in 2012). It was earlier classified with the Tyrant Flycatchers and even the Cotingas, however, it is now placed with the Tityras.

The male, shown above, is a striking combination of charcoal grey, black crest and a deep rose throat. The female below is a warm cinnamon and buff-brown:

While rare in the US, this Becard was seen both at the Hacienda as well as at Muyil.

This pair was getting ready for nesting and seen constructing a nest.

And now, the Owl:

Ferruginous Pygmy Owl is a tiny owl about the size of a Starling. It is surprisingly common in the area and its rhythmic hooting can be heard at dusk in seemingly any wooded area. If you look at the EXIF information on the photograph, you will notice the very low shutter speeds necessitated by the crepuscular habits of this raptor.

Our next bird is an Icterid (New World Blackbird) and was a target species for the blogger: Yellow-billed Cacique.


Not much to look at; however, it is highly secretive and gave extremely stingy views.

This was not the case with the Social Flycatcher -- like many Tyrant flycatcher species, it can be found perching conspicuously:


Social Flycatcher looks like a smaller version of Great Kiskadee.

Toward the beach, a Common Black Hawk was observed roosting:


But the real prize for outstanding neotropical raptor of the trip must belong to Laughing Falcon:

Captured in fading light, this falcon's call is said to resemble laughter.

More familiar was the Tropical Mockingbird:

Next, the Altamira Oriole's range barely extends into Southern Texas; this Central American songbird is the largest Oriole found in the US.

The Altamira Oriole is also remarkable for making the largest nest of any songbird in North America; and, this blogger was fortunate to witness a male in the process of building one.

Nearer the beach, Magnificent Frigatebird, a species familiar to those in Florida, were flying by:

Finally, Plain Chachalaca -- the vocalizations of this bird, for those who have not heard them before, can be uniquely eerie:

This landfowl also ranges into Southern Texas (as recently reported here).

Finally, some Bonus animals:

The Coati above is a member of the Raccoon family while the Agouti below is a large rodent:

The Yucatan is rich in birdlife and while the best birding is in the South (towards Muyil), even the touristy areas can offer some fascinating species for the intrepid birder -- species such as Yellow-billed Cacique, Rose-throated Becard and Laughing Falcon.


Bob Pelkey said...

While your writing style again offers great humor, Hemant, it was interesting to hear the call of the Laughing Falcon . . .

The call of the Plain Chachalaca is borderline unnatural sounding . . .

You were extremely well rewarded with your choice of lodging. Wonderful documentation of the wildlife.

France Paulsen said...

You have been blessed once again - what an adventure, hey? My favorite today is the female Becard - what a beauty!

Digital Plume Hunter said...

Thank you both!