Birding at Rancho Mababi in Old Mexico
Rancho Mababi is a 6,000 acre wildlife haven located in the Sierra Madre mountain range, the Sky Islands Ecological area of Sonora, Mexico, at an altitude of about 5,000 feet. Located in one of the top five birding sites in the western hemisphere, Rancho Mababi is in a migratory zone of 4 million birds annually, representing 350+ species. Its diverse habitat contrasts sharply with the neighboring, largely arid landscape. Except in years of near total drought, the place enjoys water. In fact, Mababi means "place where bears bathe' in Optat Indian. You also find the word Mababi in some Sonoran towns, usually affiliated with watering holes serving humans.
Massive cottonwoods and stately sycamores line creeks flowing from the mountains. Mesquite trees, assorted shrubs and grasses add more greenery. The ranch is productive and well-managed for cattle and sheep, and there is access to an additional 25,000 acres for exploration. Jackrabbits, javelina, roadrunners, coyotes, bobcats, three types of quail and more abound. The habitat also holds Coues deer, and wild turkey, which then attract mountain lions, up to four cats routinely live on the ranch, according to Alice.
According to NABCI, the North American Bird Conservation Initiative, there are more than 20 IBAs in this Bird Conservation Region, with such important species, such as Golden Eagle, Military Macaw, Thick-billed Parrot, and Eared Trogon. Other priority land birds of this BCR in Mexico are the Rose-throated Becard, Spotted Owl, Bald and Golden Eagle, Peregrine and Prairie Falcon, Burrowing Owl, Red-Faced and Lucy's Warbler, Mountain Plover, several hummingbird species, Strickland’s Woodpecker, and Montezuma Quail. The whole region is an important corridor for migration of many species in the west.
The main compound and surrounding land were once part of a British couples' 500,000 acre holding called the Sonora Land and Timber Co. The compound, with several adobe dwellings and work buildings, was finished in 1912. Rooms have ceilings 11-13 feet high and stay remarkably cool, even when temperatures outside exceed 90 degrees.
An authentic Sonoran experience, birding at Rancho Mababi is an all-encompassing delight to the senses. From the smells of family recipes emanating from the wood-fired oven in Alice’s kitchen, to the thick adobe walls adorned with regional art inside the cool and comfortable haciendas, to the ranch hands, sheep and dogs, and the garden—oh the garden—it’s hard to imagine a more perfect sanctuary. Add some great birding and you have the makings of a vacation worthy of the expense.
A birding trip can be 3 to 5 days long, depending on whether visitors “just” want to see birds at the ranch, or whether you want side trips of historical or cultural interest. These might include local points of interest in Agua Prieta (the border town with Douglas), such as a tour of the tunnels between Agua Prieta and Douglas built by the drug cartels (yes, this is a tourist attraction!), a visit to the local tortilla factory, etc.
Visitors fly in to Tuscon, Arizona and are responsible for transportation to and from Douglas, Arizona at the border. We provide a personal greeting in Douglas and from there you will be personally transported over the border. It is approximately an hour and 45 minutes from the Mexican border to the lodge.
Excursions are offered mid-March through September. Details on dates and pricing will be posted soon - This is a new adventure we are planning and we hope you will join us!
Pictures are Coming!
Pictures are Coming!