Pelee Wings PIBO Bird Talk: Mexico’s Iconic Bird

On Sunday, May 12, 2024, join Mexican bird guide Rodrigo Lopez on Pelee Island to learn about the natural and cultural history of the Rose-bellied bunting, one of Mexico’s most beautiful endemic birds. Confined to an area about the size of Algonquin Park, the plight of this tiny blue-and-rose bird, which struggles to survive in habitat threatened by a transoceanic railway, wind farms, and global warming, signals the threat to the tens of millions of birds that migrate twice a year through pinch-points such as Pelee Island and the Mexican Isthmus.

Rodrigo has Zapotec roots in the bunting’s home territory, and is now based in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. From there, he leads natural history tours throughout the country, including to the Sierra Gorda Biosphere and Oaxaca state, where the Rose-bellied bunting is an endemic species. The Isthmus of Tehuantapec is a narrow funnel of land at the southern end of Mexico through which passes every species that migrates to South America. As such, it functions very much like Pelee Island, which forms a funnel beneath the confluence of two major avian flyways, the Mississippi and the Atlantic. Conservation efforts in both areas are therefore crucial to the survival of migrating as well as resident species.

Rodrigo is PIBO’s 2024 Guest Birder. A nature guide and photographer, he will be on Pelee Island for the Springsong 2024 weekend, May 9-12, participating in the Baillie Birdathon, and available as a general resource for birders coming to Pelee to greet the spring migration. He is the co-founder of Travelian Tours in San Miguel, is on the board of directors of Audubon de Mexico, and is the founder of Red de Obervadores de Aves del Central Occidente de Mexico, an extensive network of birders and wildlife biologists in west central Mexico that connects environmental groups, individuals and organizations devoted to the conservation of bird species and habitat.

On Sunday, May 12, Rodrigo will present the Pelee Wings PIBO Bird Talk at the Pelee Island Winery. Coffee and Carbs 9:30-10:30 a.m., and the Bird Talk 10:30-11:30 am. Rodrigo’s talk will be available as a PIBO-sponsored hand-bound, limited-edition chapbook, The Rose-bellied Bunting: The Battle for Pinch-Point Habitat, published by Kingsville’s Woodbridge Farm Press. Copies of other Woodbridge Farms chapbooks – including Birding with Graeme Gibson, by Margaret Atwood, A Conversation with Nature, by Helen Humphreys, and Wood Thrush by Ian Davidson,  can also be purchased at the talk and signed by the authors.

Rodrigo’s appearance at the Pelee Wings Bird Talk is made possible by the generosity of the Pelee Wings Nature Store and Camino Silvestre and friends in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

Rodrigo Lopez
Rose-bellied bunting
The Rose-bellied bunting, one of Mexico’s iconic birds.
Photo by Rodrigo Lopez