Northern Jaguar Preserve (Sonora, Mexico): 2nd-7th October 2010

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to do some bird surveys in east-central Sonora, on the very remote Northern Jaguar Preserve (  The only way to reach the Preserve is by traveling 35 miles of narrow dirt two-track, which at 10-15 miles an hour takes about 3 hours from the nearest town of Sahuaripa.  Considering that Sahuaripa itself is about 3 hours east of Hermosillo by paved road, it really felt like we were "out there!"

The habitat was very interesting, generally similar to upland desert scrub one might find in southeastern Arizona, combined with some elements of tropical deciduous forest from farther south.

Endless rugged terrain!  Looking northwest from the Sierra Zetasora.

These are the foothills of the Sierra Madre Occidental, which break up to form the "sky islands" of northeastern Sonora and southeastern Arizona.  At least one of the canyons I surveyed held multiple Fan-tailed Warblers, and you couldn't walk a hundred yards without hearing or seeing a Sinaloa Wren.  The real avian highlight was watching two Military Macaws flying south.  Evidently this constitutes a new "late date" for them in this region per Aaron Flesch (pers comm, 17 Oct 2010).

In the afternoons I had the chance to do a bit of other naturalist stuff:

A rare stray to southern Arizona and Texas, there were hundreds of these little butterflies in every canyon!  This is an Elf (Microtia elva). 

A not-so-crisp picture of a really neat butterfly.  This is a Black-patched Cracker (Hamadryas atlantis lelaps).

Considering there is only one documented record of this species in extreme southern Arizona, the Northern Jaguar Preserve is probably about the northern limit of their normal range. All species of Cracker land with their heads facing downward, perhaps a way to trick predators who would normally try to grab a butterfly behind the head (most butterflies landing like this would probably orient head-up). Ever wonder why they're called "crackers"?  Apparently the males are known for their ability make an audible click or 'cracking' sound with their wings when approached by a predator, or to defend territories.

White-striped Longtail (Chioides catillus)

This interesting skipper is actually quite regular in south Texas, but much more uncommon in Arizona.  In this portion of Sonora, only 125 miles or so south of the border, they are much more common.

John Yerger
Tucson, AZ
Adventure Birding Company
Specializing in flexible, personalized guiding in SE Arizona

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