Sumidero Canyon is a spectacular gorge (photo right) near Tuxtla Gutierrez in central Chiapas, Mexico, where the Rio Grijalva cuts north (and then eventually east and out to the Atlantic Ocean). My visit there was very brief, limited to a few hours on the morning of 19 March 2002, during a VENT tour to El Triunfo. These annual trips are now arranged to transect the Sierra de Chiapas from east to west. One flies to Tuxtla Gutierrez, drives to Finca Prusia for the hike to El Triunfo, and then you hike down the Pacific slope, eventually arriving (after further vehicle transport at the end of the hike) to fly out of Tapachula. The first morning of this ten-day trip is spent at Sumidero Canyon where the deepest parts of the canyon are a Mexican national park. One morning is not enough time to bird Sumidero Canyon, but one will encounter some colorful species, such as this male Streak-backed Oriole (below):
The habitat surrounding the canyon is dry thornscrub forest (top photo, below, showing the VENT tour group). Widespread Mexican species in these woods include Barred Antshrike (photo of imm. male, below left) and White-tipped Dove (below right).
A number of more localized birds, some of them endemic to southern Mexico
and vicinity, are present in Sumidero Canyon, including Belted Flycatcher
(this may be the best single locale for it). Our visit was too short to
locate many of these (Belted Flycatcher was only heard).
New for me, however, were Yellow-throated Euphonia (male; right) and Azure-crowned Hummingbird (below). The latter is the southern Mexico replacement for Violet-crowned Hummingbird. These species range from s. Mexico to either w. Panama (euphonia) or Nicaragua (hummer).
More details on birding in Sumidero Canyon are in Steve Howell's (1999) Where to Watch Birds in Mexico. Other portions of the El Triunfo trip are linked from the El Triunfo introduction page and an annotated bird list for the trips in 1986 & 2002 is on-line.
PHOTOS: The photos are all © 2002 Don Roberson , all rights reserved.
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