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¡Bueno dias, bird lovers! (Don't worry; this post will not be a test of your Spanish.)

I recently returned from several months south of the border. Over the weeks ahead I hope to dig myself out from under the pile of photographs I took on the trip. This work is, from my perspective, the primary downside of the digital photography revolution. I used to take a fraction as many pix when I had to pay to print them all.

This installment of what may become a 3 part series will focus on my time in Mexico and Honduras.

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Join me below the fold for the 1st of what may be several diaries about the birds (and other wildlife) I encountered on the southern reaches of North America.

My trip south began in Texas, from where I traveled overland to Mexico and beyond.

The first stop I made was in the town of Saltillo, home to an amazing bird museum.

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The displays featured some of the most amazing birds of North America all in one place. They have taxidermies of nearly 2,000 species overall.

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I kept thinking how my ornithologist friend in Seattle or you, my virtual friends, would love this place. Its displays were very well done, astoundingly life-like even.

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Yes, that IS a monkey.
And this next one shows a bit of inter-avian warfare.

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As does this one of a species familiar to Californians

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The length of the wingspan of a condor is a sight to behold in person, up close.

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Elf Owls?

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Strangely, it is not this species of pelican but the brown pelicans I saw a lot of at this time of year in Mexico.

Considering how close I got to them surfing, etc, it is a shame I didn't try to get some more photos of them .

 Alas...

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I didn't have much luck shooting wild/living birds in Mexico. These magnificent frigatebirds are some of the only shots I took.

magnificent frigatebird

I was, however, able to see some baby turtles being released into the sea.

Not much is cuter than baby turtles trying to get its way to the ocean.

And as much as I want birds to be fed, we were not subjected to the normal feeding frenzy of gulls gobbling up the baby turtles on this day.

These shots of a Great Egret on a boat are from the outskirts of a national park called Jeanette Kawas.

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I am unable to identify the bird seen flying away from me in the following shot.
Anyone able to help?

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Northern Jacana?
Black-bellied Whistling Duck (h/t Kestrel, et. al.)

The birds flying off to the right were the kind who love to play on the shore near the waves. By which I mean they are foraging for baby crabs and the like. At risk of being wrong, could they be sandpipers?

Miami, Honduras

This black vulture was pretty tolerant of me creeping up on him....

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 at first....

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I was able to get some better closeups of this species later on my trip in Nicaragua. Ok....here is a sneak preview.

One of the best days of my trip was when I found an old "Indian Trail" that takes one from one side of an island to the other via a mangrove swamp. Rough going, but rewarding on the other side.

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Conch, Utila

Conch shell on the north shore of the island of Utila

While snorkeling, I later spotted a pair of giant spotted devil rays (no photos available; sorry.) It reinforced my belief that I see more without tanks than most SCUBA divers. The rays were in 5 feet of water as I swam back to the shore. Amazing experience...

The mangrove swamps were alive with rare black iguanas as well as this blue crab with one claw a whole lot larger than the other.

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The most famous attraction in Honduras is the Mayan city of Copán

The Copán site is known for a series of portrait stelae, most of which were placed along processional ways in the central plaza of the city and the adjoining acropolis, a large complex of overlapping step-pyramids, plazas, and palaces. The site has a large court for playing the Mesoamerican ballgame.[64] In two parallel buildings framing a carefully dimensioned rectangle lies the court
The Copan ruins site were a good place for birdwatching as well as ruin hopping.
Great Kiskadee?
These black birds with yellow tails -Oropendola (h/t Karl Rover) - were too much for me to capture with the camera

 I had at the time. But their nests alone were worthy of sharing.

Macaws are rampant at the Copan ruins. They are essentially feral and domesticated. The site provides food for these birds as they were an important part of the Mayan way of life and art depicting this on display at the ruins.

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Finally, there were an abundance of hummingbirds in the region. Shooting them as you all probably know, is not an easy task. This sequence captured the building of a nest by a hummingbird just outside my hotel room. The strands of tree tied together like a swing were not much thicker than blades of grass. But this expectant mother found it suitable to build its nest upon and did so in barely 24 hours.

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And because it is hard for me to post a diary without an action item of some kind, here is a bit of an email I got this week if anyone is interest in doing a little something for our winged friends.

A rising tide of threats is clouding the future for many of America’s most familiar birds. Suburban sprawl, toxic chemicals, industrial agriculture and a changing climate are taking an ever-growing toll on birds and their habitats.

Won’t you donate today to our summer fundraising campaign? Make your bird-saving donation by July 25 and your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to a total of $200,000.

...Audubon values: a love of birds and nature, a belief in the power of local communities and an unshakeable faith that where birds thrive, people prosper.

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Thanks for reading.

And I promise the shots from my other stops in Central America are even better if you are able to tune in next time, whenever that might be.

Originally posted to The Laughing Planet on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 06:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Birds and Birdwatching.

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