BAJA SUR

Three international airports serve the region - San Jose del Cabo [Cabo San Lucas], La Paz, and Loretto - listed in order of traffic volume. A comprehensive birding route includes areas served by all three, so open jaw flights are often selected to save time.

Endemic MUST-SEE BIRDS of this region include: CAPE PYGMY-OWL, XANTUS' HUMMINGBIRD, VIZCIANO THRASHER, GRAY THRASHER, and BELDING'S YELLOWTHROAT.

In addition this region has a number of key ENDEMIC FORMS that likely will be elevated to FULL SPECIES STATUS with the completion of comprehensive field studies. Included among these are isolated lowlands races of California Gnatcatcher [maragitae] California Towhee [albigula], and Sage Sparrow [cinerea]. In the Sierra la Laguna - virtually an island in its isolation - forms recognized by Howell and/or Sibley include Cape Titmouse [cineraceus], Cape Warbling Vireo [victoriae], San Lucas Robin [confinis], and Cape Junco [bairdi], and isolated populations of Bushtit [grindae], White-breasted Nuthatch [lagunae], and Cassin's Vireo [lucasanas]. These birds should not to be discounted because they are not yet countable! The avifauna of this region is Sierran in its origin, not Californianů the ancestors of these birds came from what is now the mainland of western Mexico - the Sierra Madre Occidental and/or the Sonoran Desert. Genetically these birds aren't simply separated from their ancestral populations by a few hundred miles of the Vizciano Desert which trap them in their present-day biotic zones, rather these forms are detached from their distant mainland roots by the violent geological movements and rising seas that formed the Baja Peninsula.

Another exciting aspect of this region is the nesting colonies of seabirds of the Gulf of California, including Black and Least Storm-Petrels, Red-billed Tropicbird, Craveri's Murrelet, Brown and Blue-footed Boobies, and Yellow-footed Gull. In season these birds are seen from shore, or in near-shore waters with the use of a panga [a small boat].

There are two strategies for seeing these birds: [1] Late Spring/Early Summer, with a hiking-camping trip into the Sierra la Laguna; and [2] Fall-Winter, using dirt roads in get into mid-elevation habitat instead of a camping trip. The first, though very difficult, will ensure seeing all of the key species and forms. The second, though much easier and quicker, may limit seeing some of the highland forms. Either way, areas that require extended birding time include:

1. The tip of the Baja Peninsula [San Jose del Cabo/Cabo San Luca]
2. La Paz and vicinity
3. Mulege for panga ride into the Gulf of California
4. Vizciano Desert

Birding trips in this region will average between five and nine days, depending on activities [hiking-camping into the Sierra la Laguna] and/or season of the year [during migration and early winter lowland birding is outstanding]. In additon this area can be easily visited in conjunction with the birding trip to the NW Mexico Region.