Less than 300 miles below the U.S. border lie some of the most rugged and remote areas of northwestern Mexico—the region known as Copper Canyon.
part of Mexico has some of the most varied habitats in North America,
from the Madrean Conifer Forests at 8,000 feet on the canyon rims to
sub-tropical areas in the canyon bottoms. With four distinctly different
Biotic communities there is a wide diversity of flora and fauna. This
is especially true with respect to bird life.
California Native trips through Copper Canyon travel through all four
Biotic communities and participants see a great variety of birds. There
are at least 270 species found in the region, many of which cannot be
found in the United States.
Traveling on the Copper Canyon train you can see Black-throated Magpie
Jays, Mourning and White-winged Doves, and Vermilion Flycatchers. On
the tops of the Organ Pipe cactus perch Black vultures, with their wings
out-stretched to catch the warming rays of the rising sun, and Crested
Caracaras, the bird depicted on the National Emblem of Mexico.
At Divisadero, “The Viewpoint“, where a breath-taking view
overlooks the deepest part of the canyon, Barn Swallows, White-throated
and Black Swifts soar over the canyon rim and walks through the surrounding
woodlands turn up exciting birds like Blue-throated and Magnificent hummingbirds,
Zone-tailed Hawks, and Hairy Woodpeckers. One time we watched a flock
of about a dozen rare and endangered Thick-billed parrots fly by just
below the rim of the canyon, right in front of our hotel.
At Lake Arareco, not far from the small town of Creel, are various types
of waterfowl including Buffleheads, Ring-necked ducks, Blue-winged teals
and even an occasional Osprey. A hike to Cusarare Falls brings sightings
of Mexican Chickadees, Red-Faced Warblers, Brown Creepers, White-eared
Hummingbirds, Dippers, Belted Kingfishers and the rare and elusive Eared
Trogon, probably the most beautiful bird of the area.
In the semi-tropical habitat at the bottom of the canyon, at Batopilas,
an entirely different array of birds can be seen. Broad-billed, Berylline,
Violet-crowned and Lucifer hummingbirds frequent the many flowers. In
the fruit trees are Orioles and Tanagers. Along the riverside Riparian
areas there is always the chance to see White-fronted and Lilac-crowned
Parrots and Elegant Trogons.
One time while visiting the ancient Cathedral at Satevo, 3 miles down
river from Batopilas, I looked up to see three Military Macaws flying
near by. These large beautiful green and blue parrots are at the most
northern part of their range and seeing them is a memorable experience.
With its close proximity to the U.S. and unique blending of varied habitats,
Copper Canyon affords a great opportunity to see many unique bird species
while at the same time enjoying the spectacular scenery of the Sierra
Chuck is a Biologist and professional nature photographer. His articles
and photographs have appeared in many magazines and publications including
Arizona Highways, Birder's World, and Wild Bird. His areas of specialization
have led to his work on many diverse projects including his role as a
birding consultant for the Nature Science Network. He has been a guide
for California Native since 1990.
Click Here for information on our Copper Canyon Tours.