Once again back in one of my favorite birding spots in Chihuahua. This lush canyon, that also hosts a stretch of the Chihuahua al Pacifico railroad, has perennial surface water and a great mix of evergreen and oak. One of our first encounters was a very close look at Rusty Sparrow, an oversized version of the Rufous-crowned Sparrow that we have in the southwest. After several mixed flocks of typical birds of this habitat, such as Bridled Titmouse and Hutton's Vireo, we were treated to appearances by Rufous-capped Brushfinch and Black-headed Siskin. A flyover Common Blackhawk attested to the health of this mixed riparian habitat. Further upstream we found the Russet Nightingale Thrush in its favorite moss covered boulder habitat. Several Flame-colored Tanagers came in to investigate our Pygmy Owl tape as did an actual Northern Pygmy Owl. As the habitat was fairly humid, we had several close looks at a bird that favors such conditions-Slate-throated Redstart.
After passing through the pueblo of Cuiteco, we started to ascend out of the canyon toward San Rafael. Enroute, we had great looks at White-striped Woodcreeper followed by a first ever meeting in this location, with a pair of Red-headed Tanagers. This representative of the diminutive tanager genus called Tangara, is at the extreme north end of its Sierra Madre Occidental range. The brilliant male was content to remain on the same perch in an oak for what seemed an eternity. We'll take it!