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Avifauna from Cerro EL Potosi, Galeana, Nuevo Leon, Mexico.

Abstract.--Cerro El Potosi is located in the state of Nuevo Leon in northeastern Mexico and is one of the highest peaks of the Sierra Madre Oriental (3713 meters nisi). Avian censuses were conducted on a monthly basis during 1995 in order to document the avifauna species known to inhabit this unusual habitat. Due to its high elevation, this peak exhibits six different vegetational types; these were grouped into two scrublands (Quercus intricata and Pinus cultninicula), three pine forests (Pima cembroides, P. avacahuite and P. hartwegii) and one alpine grassland. Eighty species of diurnal birds in three different residency categories were recorded during this study; these were 54 permanent residents, 22 migrant and four unknown. Sixty-three of these species represent new distributional records for this mountainous region. The vegetational association of each species is also given. As a result of this study, the number of avian species known to occur in the state of Nuevo Leon is now increased to 366 species.

Resumen.-El Cerro El Potosi es el pico mas alto de la Sierra Madre Oriental, con 3713 msns, en el estado de Nuevo Leon. Durante 1995 se realizo este trabajo en el area del Potosi con el objetivo de inerementar el conocimiento de la avifauna presente en este cerro. La altitud de este pica del Potosi genera diferentes tipos de vegetacion, las cuales son agrupadas en 2 tipos de matorral: matorral de encino (Quercus intricata) y matorral de pino (Pinus culminicula) asi como 3 tipos de bosque de pinos (Pines cembroides: Pinus ayacahuite y Pinus hartwegii) y una pradera alpina. Durante el estudio fueron registradas ochenta especies las cuales 54 fueron categorizadas como residentes permanentes, 22 migratorias y 4 inciertas.

Cerro El Potosi (24[degrees]52'51.21"N & 100[degrees]12'50.13"W) is one of the highest peaks of the Sierra Madre Oriental with an elevation of 3713 meters (Google Earth 2011a). Due to its elevation, geology and geographical location, this mountainous region exhibits a unique set of environmental conditions in northern Mexico that are extremely important to ecological studies involving relict, endemic, threatened and endangered species of both plants and animals. Six different vegetational types were recognized by Garcia (1989) and Garcia-Arana (1996). In addition, anthropogenic activities have lead to the disappearance of some native vegetation as well as changes in some ecological succession.

This mountainous region of Nuevo Leon has been of particular historical importance to numerous ornithological investigations. This region was included in the surveys of Friedmann et al. (1950), Miller et al. (1957), Martin Del Campo (1959) and Phillips (1986). Martin Del Campo (1959) recorded 169 species from the state of Nuevo Leon state with five species reported from El Potosi.

Several species from the El Potosi region have received noteworthy attention. There are multiple sight records of the endangered Maroon-fronted Parrot (Rhynchopsitta terrisi) from El Potosi (Moore 1947; Friedmann et at 1950; Martin del Campo 1959). Clark's Nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana) was first reported from the area by Leopold (1947); a decade later Miller et at (1957) reported a second sighting of this corvid. Phillips (1986) later reported a resident population of N. columbiana from El Potosi. Contreras-Balderas (1992a: 181) supported the earlier records of Phillips (1986) and indicated that the presence of this species on El Potosi represented a "stable isolated relict population". The Flammulated Owl (Otus flammeolus) was also reported from El Potosi by Contreras-Balderas (1992b). While this was the second record for the state of Nuevo Leon, it was the first record of this species from El Potosi.

This current study was undertaken in order to provide a more extensive listing of the avifauna of the Cerro El Potosi region of Nuevo Leon and determine the residency status of each species as well as the ecological relationships of these species within the six different vegetational types established by the studies of Garcia (1989) and Garcia-Arana (1996).


Cerro El Potosi is one of the highest peaks of the Sierra Madre Oriental with an elevation of 3713 meters. It is located [approximately equal to]15 km WNW (24[degrees]52'17.09"N & 100[degrees] 13'56.92"W) of the municipality of Galeana in the state of Nuevo Leon (Google Earth 2011 a). While the base of El Potosi is considered tropical, the weather encountered at higher elevations is considered cold with the mean temperature of the warmest month less than 10[degrees]C (INEGI 1986). The area is affected by violent high winds during most of the year and snowfall may occur during the months of December through February with accumulations noted on the north and northeast slopes of the mountain.

This study recognizes the six different vegetational types established by the studies of Garcia (1989) and Garcia-Arana (1996). The following vegetation types are: 1) Quercus intricata scrubland which occurs between 2300 to 2600 meters in elevation. 2) Pinus cembroides forest (4-6 m high) which occurs between 2000 and 2500 meters and is found in association with Pinus arizonica, along with some Agave sp., Arbutus xalapensis, Quercus mexicana and Rims virens. 3) Pinus ayacahuite forest (8 to 12 m high) between 2500 to 3500 meters and is associated with Pinus gregii, Pinus pseudostrobus, Pseudotsuga menziesii and Abies vejari. 4) Pinus hartwegi forest (4-20m high) between 2900 to 3000 meters and is associated with Lupinus cacuminus, Euphorbia furcillata, Senecio coahuilensis, S. hintoniorum and S. carnerensis. 5) Pinus culminicola scrubland between 3100 and 3650 meters and is associated with S. loratifolius, Lupinus cacuminus and Arracacia schneideri. 6) Alpine prairie (10-20 cm high) between 3600 to 3713 meters and is characterized primarily by the presence of Potentilla leonina, Arenaria sp., Astragalus purplish, Linum lewisii and Trisetum spicatum.


Avian censuses of the study site were conducted on a monthly basis during all of 1995. Observations followed a narrow range 30 km long linear transect which started at Dieciocho de Marzo (elev. 2045 meters; 24[degrees]53'19.37"N & 100[degrees]10'54.97"W) (Google Earth 2011b) and continued to the peak of the mountain (3713 meters). Additionally, multiple transects were established through all six vegetational types and monitored monthly. Visual observations were made with binoculars; each specimen was recorded along with time of observation, vegetational association and elevation. All censuses were conducted during daylight hours. As a consequence, no nocturnal species were included in this study.


A total of 4147 individuals were observed during this study; these represented seven orders, 28 families, 62 genera and 79 species (Table 1). Four species were recorded on the study area for only one or two observational periods; as such, it is not possible to determine their residency status. Couch's Kingbird (Tyrannus couchii) was observed in March and September; the Rock Wren (Salpinctes obsoletus), was observed on the lower part of the mountain during September; two individuals of the Long-billed Thrasher (Toxostoma longirastre) were observed in March and the Swamp Sparrow (Melospiza georgiana) was observed only once in June.


This study documents the presence of 79 species of diurnal birds from Cerro El Potosi; 63 of these represent new species records for this mountainous region. The residency statuses of the species observed are: 41 permanent residents, 10 summer residents, three occasionals and two species of unknown status. Seasonal patterns of observation indicated that there were 53 species in summer, 47 in spring, 37 in fall and 33 in winter. The vegetational association is given for all but four species (Table 1). Noteworthy among this listing is the fact that two species observed during this study are of special concern. The Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) is listed as Threatened (SEMARNAT-2001) and the Maroon-fronted Parrot (Rhynchopsitta terrisi) is listed as Endangered (IUNC 2012). The documentation of the Swamp Sparrow (Melospiza georgiana) during this study increases the avifauna listing for the state of Nuevo Leon to 366 species.
Table 1, Avifauna present from Cerro El Potosi during 1995,
Residency of each species (1-breeding, 2=migrants, 3=unknown),
Vcgetational association of each species (1=Quercus intricate
scrubland, 2=Pinus cemhroides forest, 3=Pinus ayachuite forest,
4=Pinus hartwegi forest, 5=Pinus culminicola scrubland, 6=Alpine
grassland and 7=all types of vegetation, Taxonomic assignments
follow those of the AOU (1998).

                                 Residency  Vcgetational



Cathartes aura (Zopilote aura:           1             7
Turkey Vulture)


Accipiter cooperi; (Gavilan de                         3
Cooper - Cooper's Hawk)

Parabuteo unicinctus; (Agulilla          1             5
rojinegra - Harris's Hawk)

Buteo jamaicensi;. (Agulilla             1             7
cola roja - Red-Tailed Hawk)

Aquila chrysaetos; (Aguila real          1   2,3,4,5 & 6
- Golden Eagle)


Falco sparverius; (Cernicalo             1   2,3,4,5 & 6
Americano - American Kestrel)



Columba fasciala; (Paloma de             1     2,3,4 & 5
collar - Band-tailed Pigeon)

Zenaida macroura; (Paloma                1         1 & 2
huilota - Mourning Dove)

Columbine inca; (Tortola                 1             1
colalarga - Inca Dove)



Rhynchopsitta terrisi; (Cotorra          1    1,2,3 &, 4
serrana oriental -
Marron-fronted Parrot)



Aeronautes saxatalis; (Vencejo           1        2, 3&4
pecho bianco-White-throated


Lampomis clemenciae; (Colibri            2             3
garganta azul - Blue-throated

Archilocus colubris; (Colibri            2             3
garganta rubi - Ruby-throated

Archilocus alexandi; (Colibri            1       2,3 & 4
barba negra - Black-throated

Selaphorus platycercus;                  2    1,2, 3 & 4
(Zumbador cola ancha -
Broad-tailed Hummingbird)



Melanerpes formicivorus.

(Carpintero bellotero-Acorn              1    2, 3,4 & 5

Melanerpes aurifrons:                    1     1,2, 3& 4
(Carpintero chejc -
Gulden-fronted Woodpecker)

Picoides scalaris;                       1             7
(Carpinterillo mexicano -
Ladder - backed Woodpecker)

Picoides villosus; (Carpintero           1           3&5
velloso mayor - Hairy

Colaptcs auratus; (Carpintcro            1             7
de peehera - Northern Flicker)



Contopus borealis; (Pibi boreal          2             3
- Olive-sided- Flycatcher)

Contopus virens; (Pibi oriental          2             3
- Eastern Wood-Pewee)

Empidonax sp. (Mosquero)                 2  1. 2,3,4 & 5

Myiarchus tyrannulus;                    2             1
(Papamoscas tirano -
Brown-crested Flycatcher)

Tyrannus couchii; (Tirano                3             1
silbador - Couch's Kingbird)


Hirundo rustica; (Golondrina             I          1 &2
tijereta - Barn Swallow)


Cyanocitta steller; (Chara               I   2,3.4,5 & 6
crestada - Steller's Jay)

Aphelocoma ultramarma; (Chara            1  1,2.3.4. & 5
pecho gris - Mexican Jay)

Nucifraga columbiana;                    1       3,5 & 6
(Cascanuece Americano -
Clark's Nutcracker)s

Corvus corax; (Cuerv o comun -           1             7
Common Raven)


Poecile sclateri; (Carboncro             1     3,4.5 & 6
mexicano - Mexican Chickadee)


Sitta carolinensis; (Sita pecho          1             3
bianco - White-breasted

Sitta pygmaea; (Sita enana -             1   2,3,4,5 & 6
Pygmy Nuthatch)


Certhia Americana; (Trepador                     2.3 & 4
Americano - Brown Creeper)


Salpinctes obsaletus; (Chivirin                        2
salta roca - Rock Wren)

Thryomanes bewickii; (Chivirin           1          1 &2
de cola oscura - Bewick's Wren

Troglodytes aedon; (Chivirin             1   1.2,3,4 & 5
saltapared - House Wren)


Regulus calendula; (Reyezuelo                       1 &2
de rojo - Ruby-crowned


Sialia sialis; (Azulejo                  1             1
garganta canela - Eastern

Sialia mexkaita; (Azuiejo                1     1,2,3 & 4
garganta azul - Western

Turdus migratorius; (Mirlo               1     3,4,5 & 6
primavera - American Robin)


Oreoscoptes montanus;                    2             I
(Cuitlacoche de chias - Sage

Toxostoma longirostre;                   3             1
(Cuitlacoche pico largo -
Long- billed Trasher)

Toxostoma curvirostre;                   1         1 & 2
(Cuitlachoce pico curvo -
Curved-billed Trasher)


Bombycilla cedrorum; (Ampelis            2             2
chinito - Cedar Waxwing)


Ptilogonys cinereus;                     1          1 &2
(Caoulincri gris - Gray

Phainopepla nitens; (Cardenal            1         1 & 2
negro - Phainopepla)


Vireo griseus; (Vireo ojos               1             2
blancos - White-eyed Vireo)


Vermivora celata; (Chipe corona          2             1
anaranjada - Orange-crowned

Dendroica coronata; (Chipe               2             7

Dendroica towsendi; (Chipe               2             1
negro Amarillo - Towsend's

Mniotita varia; (Chipe trepador          2             1
- Black-and-white Warbler)

Wilsonia pulsilla; (Chipe                2             1
corona negra - Wilson's

Myioborus pictus; (Chipe ala             1             1
blanca - Painted Redstart)


Pcucedramus taeniafus; (Ocotero          1     3,4,5 & 6
enmascarado - Olive Warbler)


Piranga flava; (Tangara                  1             2
encinera - Hepatic Tanager)

Piranga rubra: (Tangara roja -           1             2
Summer Tanager)


Cardinalis sinuatus; (Cardenal           1             1
pardo - Pyrrhuloxia)

Pheucticus melanocephalus;               1             2
(Picogordo tigrillo -
Black-headed Grosbeak)

Guiraca caerulea; (Picoaordo             1             1
azul - Blue Grosbeak)


Atlapetea pileatus; (Atlapetes           1             2
gorr rufa - Rufous-capped

Pipilo erythropthalmus; (Toqui           1             7
oriental - Eastern Towhee)

Pipilo fuscus; (Toqui pardo -            1          1 &2
Canyon Towhee)

Spizella passerina; (Gorrion             1          1 &2
ceja blanca - Chipping

Spizella pallida; (Gorrion                             1
palido - Clay-colored Sparrow)

Spizella pusilla; (Gorrion               1             1
pusila - Field Sparrow)

Spizella atroguluris; (Gorrion           1             1
barba negra - Black-chinned
Sparrow )

Melospiza melodia; (Gorrion              2         5 & 6
canlor - Song Sparrow)

Melospiza georgiana; (Gorrion                          1
pantanero - Swamp Sparrow)

Junco phaeonotus; (Junco ojo                           1
oscuro-Dark-eyed Junco)

Junco phaeonotus; (Junco ojo de          1             7
lumbre - Yellow-eyed Junco)


Sturnella magna; (Pradero                1             1
tortilla con chile - Eastern

Sturnella neglecta; (Pradero             1             1
occidental - Western

Quiscalus mexicanus; (Zanale             1         1 & 2
mexicano - Great-tailed

Molothrus aeneus; (Tordo ojo             1             1
rojo - Bronzed Cowbird)

Icterus parisorum; (Bolsero              1             2
tunero - Scott's Oriole)


Carpodacus mexicanus; (Pinzon            1             1
mexicano - House Finch)

Carduelis pinus: (Jilguero                  2, 3, 4, 5 &
pinero - Pine Siskin)                                  6

Carduelis psaltria; (Jliguero            1             1
dominico - Lesser Goldfinch)

Carduelis tristis; (Jilguero             2             3
americano - American


AOU. 1998. American Ornithologists Union. Check-list of North American Birds. 7th edition. Allen Press, Inc. Lawrence, Kansas, U.S.A, 829pp.

Contreras-Balderas, A. J. 1992a. Status of Clark's Nutcrackers on Cerro El Potosi, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. Western Birds 23: 181-182.

Contreras-Balderas, A. J. 1992b. Second record of the Flammuated Owl in Nuevo Leon, Mexico. Wilson Bull., 104(2):375

Contreras-Balderas, A. J. 1997. Resumen Avifaunistico de Nuevo Leon, Mexico. Pp. 35-44, in The Era of Allan Phillips. A Festschrift. Dickennan, R. W. (compiler). Published by Horizon Communications, New Mexico, 246 pp.

Friedmann, H., L. Griscom & R. T. Moore. 1950. Distributional check-list of the Birds of Mexico Part I. Pacific Coast Avifauna, 29:202 pp.

Garcia, A. 1989. Analisis de la Flora y Vegetacion del Cerro Potosi Mpio. de Galeana, N. L., Mexico. Universidad Autonoina de Nuevo Leon, Facultad de Ciencias Biologicas, 61 pp.

Garcia-Arana, M. A. 1996. Analisis de la Cubierta Vegetal y Propuesta para la Zonificacion EcolOgica del Cerro El Potosi, Galeana, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon, Facultad de Ciencias Forestales. Tesis inedita, 92 pp.

Google Earth. 2011 a. "Cerro Potosi, Nuevo Leon, Mexico". Google Earth. August 20, 2011. July 25, 2012.

Google Earth. 2011b. "Dieciocho de Marzo, Nuevo Leon, Mexico". Google Earth. August 20, 2011. July 25, 2012.

IUNC. 2012. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Website: www.iucnredlistorg/apps/redlist/details/142614/0

INEGI. 1986. Sintesis Geografica del Estado de Nuevo Lean. Instituto Nacional de Estadistica Geografia e Infonnatica. Instituto de Geografia UNAM. 1970. Cartas de Climas. Monterey 14R-VII S.P.

Leopold, A. S. 1947. Clark's Nutcracker in Nuevo Lek, Mexico. C7Ondor, 48(6):278

Martin del Campo, R. 1959. Contribucion al Conocimiento de la Ornitologia en Nuevo Leon. Universidad, 16-17:121-180. Universidad de Nuevo Leon.

Miller, A. H., H. Friedmann, L. Griscom & R. T. Moore. 1957. Distributional checklist of the Birds of Mexico Part II. Pacific Coast Avifauna, 33:435 pp.

Moore, R. T. 1947. New species of parrot and race of quail from Mexico. Proc. Biol. Soc. Wash., 60:27-28

Phillips, A. R. 1986. The Known Birds of North and Middle America, Part 1. A. R. Phillips, Denver, CO, 259 pp.

SEMARNAT-2001. A Continuacion se Presenta el Listado de Especies de Fauna Silvestre Protegidas por la NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2001 y la CITES. Website:

JAG-S at:

Juan A. Garcia-Salas, Armando J. Contreras-Balderas, Oscar Ballesteros-Medrano and Antonio Guzman-Velasco

Laboratorio de Ornito Factihad de Ciencias Biologicas Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon, Apartado Postal 425 San Nicolas de los Garza. Nuevo Leon, Mexico. 66450
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Author:Garcia-Salas, Juan A.; Contreras-Balderas, Armando J.; Ballesteros-Medrano, Oscar; Guzman-Velasco, A
Publication:The Texas Journal of Science
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2010
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