During the latter part of 2020 and into 2021, I visited several countries with the goal to support the eco-tourism industry that had suffered so much during the COVID lockdowns. In May, my eco-tourism support-tour found me in Mexico, a country that still harbored a dozen potential new birds. I spent a week with Mark Stackhouse, a knowledgeable guide based in San Blas, Nayarit. Mark and I birded the west coast of Mexico from Colima to Durango, finding such specialties as the Aztec Thrush, Tufted Jay, and Orange-breasted Bunting.
After a 20-hour drive from Colima, I finally reached the mature pine forests above the town of Madera, Chihuahua. We met Cesar Hernandez Cana from the local CONANP office that is responsible for helping protect the nesting parrots in the area. The biggest threats now are logging of the old trees that are necessary for their breeding, but the Mexican government, NGOs, and academics had made progress. That progress is nowhere more evident than at the Madera Reserve.
By 18:00pm, we had reached the highest levels of the forest in the mountains north of town. The afternoon sun pierced the cobalt sky, as the parrots’ voices reverberated through the tall trees. Overhead, dozens of parrots flew about, investigating nest holes, pair bonding, and even copulating. There was a palpable energy in the air, as the beautiful birds were filled with breeding vitality. The effect was magical – the beauty of the day, the perfect weather, the majestic forest and the insane intensity of the breeding birds combined to create a unique experience that I will never forget.
Peter Kaestner is a retired U.S. diplomat and world birder. As of May 10, 2023, he has seen 9856 species of bird, which ranks him as the #1 birder in the world. Peter also ranks as the #1 eBirder, having birded in 190 eBird countries and territories. In retirement, Peter is on a quest to see 10,000 species, and is working part-time as a bird-tour leader for a major international bird-tour company. When not seriously birding, he enjoys SCUBA diving with his wife Kimberly, and visiting with his adult daughters, Katherine and Laurel.