On my first morning in Huatulco, Mexico, I found a hidden pathway leading to Las Brisas Huatulco’s front lobby. As I made my way past a small hidden beach and a wild array of foliage (aloe vera sitting side-by-side with flower of may anyone?), I heard a loud squawk and a rustle in the trees. I stopped and stared, entranced by what appeared to be a half-dozen oversized bluebirds hopping up and down the branches.
I had time to spare, so I climbed a set of stairs to get a better view. I grew up in a birding family, and though I’m not an avid birdwatcher myself (sorry Mom and Dad!), I knew enough about this bird to know it wasn’t a typical bluebird. In fact, it wasn’t a bluebird at all. From head-to-tip of tail, the birds probably measured at least a foot and a half long. The chest was white while the tail was a deep blue. A poof of feathers crowned its head.
This wasn’t the last time I encountered the unusual bird during my stay. In fact, bird watching is popular in this part of the state of Oaxaca because of the diverse and colorful bird population. So popular, in fact, that Las Brisas offers a morning birdwatching excursion. It was then that I put a name to the unusual blue bird: A white-throated magpie jay.
Our guide took us just past the front lobby, overlooking the tennis courts. We didn’t even have to leave the parking lot for the entire hour we were together to see an incredible selection of birds. Among the highlights were:
The chachalaca, which looks a bit like a goofy turkey. It gets its name from its call and is clumsy as it flutters from branch to branch. The chachalaca was endangered for awhile due to indiscriminate hunting, but the population is starting to grow again.
The yellow-winged cacique stands out from its surroundings as it jumps from branch to branch and flutters from bush to tree. These birds are unusual because, while they have a black body with a few yellow patches and a long yellow tail, their bills are long and almost pale green.
With its brilliantly colored yellow and orange body, the spot-breasted oriole also stands out against its backdrop. We saw these birds flying to and from a group of bushes nearby. As they eat insects, fruits and nectar from flowers, I can only assume they were on a food binge.
We heard the golden-cheeked woodpecker knocking around one of the large trees nearby. They also have beautiful coloring, with a little painting of yellow and red on their head.
My favorite find of the day, though, were two green parrots, which were really far away from us. They were past the tennis courts, way up in the trees on the hillside, and even through the binoculars they were itty-bitty. I couldn’t even tell you if the green parrots we were looking at were of the same variety as the ones in this photo because they were so far away. But I did see them, in all their wild, green parrot glory!
Photos courtesy of the following people:
White-throated magpie jay: Taken by me
Chachalaca: Flickr – barloventomagico
Yellow-winged cacique: Flickr – jerryoldenettel
Spot-breasted oriole: Flickr – Len Blumin
Golden-cheeked woodpecker: Flickr – jerryoldenettel
Green parrots: Flickr – Nikonsnapper
My stay at Las Brisas Hotel and in Huatulco, Mexico, were paid for by the Mexico Tourism Board but all opinions are my own.