Perched at over 7,000 feet in the Sierra Madre del Sur mountains is the rustic mountain town of El Terrero. It is in the heart of the Manantlan Biosphere Reserve, designated as a special conservaton area due to the birdiversity of both its plant and animal communities. It was here that the original genotype of modern corn was rediscovered; in addition six cat species occur here including Jaguar and Mountain Lion as well as some 330 species of birds. See manantlan.conanp.gob.mx and other websites for additional information.
The best way to get there is to take the road towards Minatitlan (see Agua Fria/Agua Dulce for directions from Comala) and go to kilometer marker 39, or about 18 miles from the Rio Armeria bridge. Turn at the tiny abandoned police office on the right and follow the rock road past the turnoff to El Sauz, although a recent one quarter mile detour down that road produced both Scrub and Elegant Euphonia. Along countless switchbacks and through several habitat zones, the El Terrero drive offers breathtaking views of the surrounding forested mountains as the 10 mile road takes you to the rustic mountain town.. The road has been recently improved and now is a smooth, all season drive. Surprisingly, there are lots of places wide enough to pull over and look around.
Winter birding at El Terrero often illustrates a phenomenoa common throughout the tropics; few birds for long periods, then large, mixed species flocks moving past. Birds you may encounter include Hook-billed Kite and other raptors, a variety of hummingbird species, Rose-throated Becard, Brown-backed Solitaire, Crescent-chested Warbler, Red-faced Warbler, Red-crowned Ant-tanager, Yellow-eyed Junco, Black-headed and Blue Grosbeak, and Black-headed Siskin just to name a few.
At the town, roads meander off to the right and left, both offering interesting habitats and birds. Both also deteriorate quickly so keep your birding fairly close to town. One interesting side road goes through mature oak forest to Los Troncones, an almost surreal camping and picnic area set among the stumps and regrowth of a once magnificient cedar forest- watch for the sign. Going straight along the cobblestone road will take you past the Restaurante Campestre on your left, open Friday through Sunday. The food, cooked over a woodburning stove, is simple and well prepared. Continuing uphill will take you higher into the mountains, but be careful not to get lost among the forks of the rutted, similar-appearing roads. It might be a while before anyone else comes along. I have not hired a guide at El Terrero but understand they are available for about 150 pesos for half a day. You can arrange for a guide at the restaurant. Keep in mind they will probably not speak English and are not birders, but could show you some of the more interesting spots and aspects of the area, and get you back safely. See Overnight Trips to El Terrero for additonal contact information.