Distribution and Status of Birds of Conservation Interest and Identification of Important Bird Areas in Sonora Mexico


Flesch, A. D.

Ornithological studies in Sonora, Mexico began over a century ago and have continued to the present day (Stephens 1885, Moore 1938, van Rossem 1945, Marshall 1957, Short 1974, Russell and Monson 1998, Rojas Soto et al. 2002, Villaseñor 2006, Flesch 2008a). A. J. van Rossem (1945) provided the first statewide account of bird distribution in Sonora that he based primarily on museum specimens obtained between 1835 and the 1940s. J. Marshall Jr. (1957) provided detailed information on distribution, abundance, and habitat of birds in pine-oak woodlands in many of the higher mountains of northern Sonora. S. Russell and G. Monson (1998) synthesized information from these and other studies, and from museum specimens and field notes from throughout mainland Sonora that they supplemented with field work at hundreds of localities. Since these unprecedented efforts, several recent studies have contributed additional information. O. Rojas-Soto et al. (2002) summarized information for Tiburon Island, A. Flesch and L. Hahn (2005) described bird communities in several little-known mountain ranges west of the region visited by Marshall (1957), F. Villaseñor (2006) described communities of birds during winter in riparian areas throughout Sonora, and O. Hinojosa-Huerta et al. (2007) summarized status of species found in extreme northwestern Sonora [see Villaseñor (2006) for a historical account of avian studies in Sonora]. Most recently, Flesch (2008a) described the distribution and status of breeding landbirds throughout much of northern Sonora and summarized recent changes in status and distribution. Despite these efforts, many portions of Sonora have remained little studied, few sites visited during past efforts have been revisited, and many areas have yet to be visited (Phillips and Amadon 1952, Russell and Monson 1998, Flesch 2008a). Therefore, current information on the distribution and status of many species is lacking and few insights into changes in these parameters are possible.

Information on status, distribution, and habitat of birds can promote efficient conservation and management. Moreover, information on species richness and threats to birds at a range of spatial scales can help focus conservation priorities and efforts to manage bird populations and their habitats. To aid Sonoran Joint Venture and its partners in understanding the current distribution and status of birds in Sonora, and to help focus ongoing efforts to manage and conserve birds, I summarized field observations that I obtained over eight years and compared my findings to those of previous efforts. I focused on 25 species that I selected subjectively on the basis of interest, notable observations, and quality and quantity of information available. To assess any evidence of changes in distribution or status, I compared my observations with those of Russell and Monson (1998) and other observers. To help focus conservation efforts on regions that support bird communities that are locally or regionally significant, I used information on species richness, status, and threats to recommend important bird areas throughout inland Sonora.

Report to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sonoran Joint Venture, Tucson, Arizona. Cooperative Agreement No. 201816J827

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Technical Reports