Monday, March 20, 2017



Rufous-Bellied Chachalaca
     We enjoy birds: listening to them, looking at them, even trying to identify them, though we seldom remember their proper names. We watch for birds constantly, but we would never be called true 'Bird Watchers'. We have gone on one birding tour in Ecuador so we could see the pink flamingos and we have taken Luis Morales' birding class in San Pancho, but we aren't serious birders. We don't regularly go out in search of interesting birds, but we do enjoy seeing the pretty ones that come to visit us at our home in Sayulita.
Our Porch Swing Bird Watching Area
     "Wine-O'Clock" seems to be the most common time for us to see birds come to visit our yard. Maybe it's just that 6:00 in the evening is when we settle into our porch swing for the next hour with our glass of wine and we sit still long enough to see the birds come to our area. Our yard is surrounded by mango and palm trees that are favorite gathering places for many interesting species as the time of sunset approaches. So we sit in our porch swing, binoculars and camera handy just in case, and wait for the birds to come to us. It seems to be working just fine. 
Chachalacas Land in Our Palm Tree to Eat Red Berries 
     The hardest part about "porch swing bird watching" for us is keeping Bella, our dachshund, quiet long enough to enjoy a bird that comes to perch in our tree or on our garden wall. If I notice a chachalaca that has just landed and point it out to Jon, Bella becomes jealous and starts barking at it in hopes of scaring it away. By now, most of our local birds are used to her and just turn their eye down and look at her as if to say, "What is your problem?"
Juan the Crested Guan Visits Often
Bella Barks at Juan But He Doesn't Mind
     Occasionally we see morning birds as we settle into our porch swing with our bowls of tropical fruit, granola, shredded coconut, and almonds or pecans. Of course, we don't get around to eating our breakfast until 10:00 most mornings, so we probably miss most of the birds that sing at sunrise. That's okay, though, because our sunrise birds are mostly the raucous chachalacas and the neighborhood roosters.
This Rooster Made the Mistake of Landing in Our Yard Once

     This beautiful rooster tried to fly into one of our trees near sunset one day and miscalculated his landing. When he missed his intended branch, he flapped down into our yard, and Bella was right on his heels. (Or would that be "right on his tail"?) The rooster ran back and forth in our yard, attempting to fly up onto our wall but missing repeatedly, squawking and flapping, barely outrunning Bella. I was yelling at Bella to come, Bella was barking and running, the rooster was squawking and flapping, and the neighbors probably thought we were crazy. All I could think was, 'how much would we have to pay our Mexican neighbors if Bella killed their prize rooster?' Luckily the rooster ran/hopped up our exterior stairs toward his original roosting tree, flew onto the garden wall, and made it safely into the tree. Whew! When Bella wouldn't stop barking, the rooster moved on to a different tree for some peace and quiet. Bella does help keep our exterior stairs clean by encouraging the birds to find new overnight roosting trees. Never a dull moment, living in Sayulita, Mexico!
A Rooster Fanning His Wings for a Nearby Hen
A Ring-Necked Dove Croons to Us
Pale-Billed Woodpecker Works on the Old Mango Tree
     Two species of Woodpeckers entertain us while we lounge in our porch swing. Last spring, it was fun to watch Mama and Papa Red-headed woodpeckers teach Junior where to peck for bugs in the giant palm tree nearby. Three woodpeckers marching up the palm tree single-file was quite a sight!
Golden-Cheeked Woodpeckers Visit Our Yard Frequently

     The Yellow-Winged Caciques are beautiful when they fly, flashing slashes of bright yellow on their tails and wings. We are entertained by these pretty birds often when they come to eat the ripe purple fruit on our tree, which I call plums but the Mexican neighbors call almonds.
Yellow-Winged Cacique Eat the "Plums" in Our Trees

     Species that we see but haven't captured in photos yet include Magpie Jay with their long, elegant blue and black tails, the Yellow Warbler, the Orange-Fronted Parakeet, the Mexican Parrotlet, the Cinnamon Hummingbird, the Black Vulture, and some kind of Hawk. Yesterday we spotted a bright orange male and his mate in the mango tree for the first time, but didn't get a close enough look to identify them, though we are pretty sure they weren't Orioles. When we take Wine:O'Clock chairs and refreshments to the beach, we see a completely different group of water birds. That's a story for another day.
     If I have misidentified any of these birds, please feel free to email me with the information at Also, if you are interested in seeing the short video of Bella and Juan the Guan "visiting" at our gate, email me and I will post it again on Facebook. Thank you for reading my blog.
     I hope you will take a look at my newest eBook now available at Amazon. A recent review from Andrew Hallam, author, gives a concise and positive summary on "...This story is personal. It shows how one couple tossed conventional wisdom to the wind. They de-cluttered their lives, sold what they didn't need and bought a RV to travel the U.S. and Mexico. Their personal account of Mexico is fascinating. Eventually they decided to retire there. Their account of why they chose Sayulita over a series of other popular retirement locations is both personal and fascinating. They retired early and built a far healthier lifestyle. I kept thinking of the great book, Younger Next Year.'s a couple that I think epitomises that message. Terry's story is an inspiration that's also filled with wisdom."
     Take a look at the eBook "Retirement Before the Age of 59: Healthy Living in Mexico #2" by clicking HERE
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  1. How wonderful to have these exotic birds visiting your garden. I am envious! I have seen many of them since we lived in both Belize and Mexico (Playa del Carmen), but we usually had to go out to see them rather than having them come to us. Very nice -- thanks for sharing your experiences and your photos!

    1. Hi Emily,
      Thank you for this very nice comment. I'm glad you enjoyed this article and the photos. Your comment gave me a chance to take a look at the photos and enjoy them again myself. Juan the Crested Guan still comes almost every day to pester Bella and make us laugh. We see (and hear) the Chachalacas every day, too. I'm glad you can appreciate my story.