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Temps de lecture: 2 minutes

A magical encounter with the endangered

Thick-billed Parrot

Thick-billed Parrot

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.

My most wanted bird was the Thick-billed Parrot, which breeds in the pine forests of north-west Mexico. A century ago, they were seen regularly in the sky islands of Arizona and New Mexico. But sadly, through years of hunting, the U.S. populations of the Thick-billed Parrot were wiped out.Peter Kaestner

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.

Aztec Thrush, Turdus PoecilopterusOrange-breasted Bunting Passerina

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.

One of the keys to the experience was the performance of my NL Pure 10x42 binoculars. Being able to view the birds with perfect fidelity and a bright, clear image allowed me to fully enjoy the incomparable Thick-billed Parrot spectacle on that mountain that afternoon.Peter Kaestner
NL Pure 10x32 Burnt Orange
ONE FOR EVERYWHERENL Pure 32
Swarovski Optik Binocular NL Pure 10x42
ONE FOR NEW INSIGHTSNL Pure 42
Peter Kaestner

About the Author:

Peter Kaestner


Peter Kaestner is a retired U.S. diplomat and world birder. As of June 15, 2021, he has seen 9540 species of bird, which ranks him in the top five world birders. Peter also ranks as the #1 eBirder, having birded in 182 counties 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 two grown daughters, Katherine and Laurel.

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