Monday,18 Feb 2013


Justin Henderson is responsible for most of the the text on this site. Justin is an established writer, having published six novels as well as many non-fictions and travel guides. When he’s not writing, he’s usually riding waves on a surfboard or a paddleboard in Sayulita or Punta de Mita.


Here’s one of my very favorite local birds: these awesome beauties are known as Black-throated Magpie Jays (Latin name Calocitta Formosa colliei), and they are truly one of the most strikingly beautiful species of bird in the area, primarily due to their bright blue coloring, and especially their long, elegant tails, which flow behind them, rippling in the wind as they fly. They live in the drier lowland scrub forests from Sonora all the way down to Colima, according to one source, although others say the Bahia Banderas region is their primary habitat.

The Black-throated Magpie Jay, one of Central Pacific Mexico's most beautiful birds

In any case, they are obviously jays, since they have the appearance of supersized blue jays, bright blue with a white chest. What makes them stand out is the amazingly long blue tail, the black throat and bill coloring, and the perky black crest on top. With any luck, you should see some if you spend much time on the edges of town—there are plenty of them around.

The Black-throated Magpie Jay features bright blue color on its back and tail

They live in pairs, although I have seen them in larger groupings, and they tend to hang out with other birds while feeding. I’ve seen them with chachalacas, with yellow-rumped caciques, with doves, and even with green parakeets. They are party birds, as it were. The jays are omnivorous, eating berries, bugs, fruits, seeds, even baby birds and small reptiles, rodents, or amphibians.

The Black-throated Magpie Jay, one of Central Pacific Mexico's most beautiful birds

Their good looks have unfortunately made them popular as house pets. Along with all the pretty green parakeets and other captive critters, you’ll often see them for sale at the side of the road in San Ignacio, just south of Sayulita on the road to Puerto Vallarta. Their tails barely fit into those stinking little cages; I know I’m projecting, but they do not look happy, being wild birds slammed into small cages. There are a couple of guys who sell birds in San Ignacio, taking advantage of the traffic slowed by speed bumps, to hawk their live, caged wares to everybody driving past. I only wish I could afford to buy every bird they’ve got for sale, and set them all free. But then they’d be back with another batch of caged birds for sale. That’s the way the world works. Meanwhile, enjoy the Magpie Jays flying free around the outskirts of town, their long tails floating on the breeze.

A Black-throated Magpie Jay, with black crest and long, lovely tail