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A Report from

Texas and New Mexico 2002,


Phil and Charlotte Benstead, Norfolk, UK


We spent the period between 14th April and 4th May 2002 birding in Texas and New Mexico. Texas is a great trip, with a stack of birds, great scenery (away from the coast) and mile upon mile of open road. We drove 4,500 miles on our itinerary - so do not go if you are not prepared to spend a bit of time behind the wheel. The driving is however easy and most roads are free from traffic so it is much easier to drive long distances than in the UK. We mostly camped but spent occasional nights in motels when necessary. All state parks and National Parks have camping facilities, though Big Bend only has showers at the Rio Grande campsite shop.

Highlights of a trip to Texas include the great migration hotspots of High Island, the incomparable Big Bend National Park and the Mexican 'feel' to birding along the Rio Grande. We elected to time our trip to allow us to be in Big Bend at the end of April and so left the UK a couple of weeks after most British birders would. As a result we knew we might miss some of the wintering birds (whooping crane and ferruginous hawk for example - which we did) but this was more than compensated for by the quality of the birding in Big Bend and the migration through Rattlesnake Springs. We were perhaps unlucky that we did not get a good fall along the coast but 'fall' conditions seem to be getting rarer so this cannot be guaranteed by any means. Our itinerary did not include a great deal of time in the Rio Grande Valley as we have birded in Mexico and did not 'need' a lot of the widespread Mexican species that are only found there in the US. First time birders to the region would be better off concentrating more time in the Valley and less time out West. Many of the Western species can be seen more easily on a trip to California or Arizona.

We used the excellent 'Sibley' guide in the field and the two ABA site guides: 'A Birder's Guide to the Rio Grande Valley' (Lockwood et al. 1999) and 'A Birder's Guide to the Texas Coast' (Holt 1993). These two site guides are essential for anyone contemplating birding in Texas and contain all the site directions for the sites we visited. This trip report does not therefore go into depth about logistical detail for each site. We found the Cornell Lab's CD 'Bird Songs of the Lower Rio Grande Valley and Southwestern Texas' (Geoffrey Keller) to be an excellent source of audio material for the trip.

We thank Stewart Betts, Bob Proctor and John and Judy Geeson for providing information prior to our trip.

Site details

14/4 - 16/4 and 3/5                            High Island area

We were disappointed here - having to work very hard for the birds we saw. There were no falls along the east coast during the time we spent there - only a slow trickle of migrants. We found Smith Oaks to be much better than Boy Scout's Wood throughout the period. Highlights here included; roosting eastern screech owl, yellow-billed cuckoo, black-billed cuckoo and plenty of migrant warblers and buntings. The nearby Bolivar Peninsula had an abundance of birding spots and we had good birding along Bob's Road and Yacht Basin Road.

15/4 to 16/4                                          Anahuac

We camped on the beach here. Excellent little wetland reserve which produced a good selection of waders and wildfowl as well as some excellent highlights. Good birds here included yellow rail (2 - seen by rope-dragging), seaside sparrow and Le Conte's sparrow. The pools along the farm road before you turn off for the reserve were excellent for passage waders.

15/4                                                        Rollover Pass

Well worth stopping at as you pass. The outflow here attracts pelicans, gulls, cormorants  and waders many of which were only seen at this location (eg ring-billed and Bonaparte's gull).

16/4                                                        Bolivar Flats

Superb location. The waders here are exceptionally tame and allow a close approach. Highlights here included hunting merlin, piping plover, snowy plover, Wilson's plover, marbled godwit, plenty of summer-plumaged western sandpipers, black skimmer, black tern and gull-billed tern.

17/4 and 3/5                                        Sea Rim State Park

We spent several nights camping here whilst birding the nearby Sabine Woods. Spent a few hours on the boardwalk and occasionally checked out the Willows (just past the entrance to the campsite and HQ) for migrants. The boardwalk early in the morning was fairly good for rails (clapper and sora) and also produced a large number of least bittern sightings and also singing marsh wren.

17/4, 18/4 and 4/5                              Sabine Woods

This site was consistently better that the High Island area, it is easier to bird the site and it always seemed to be pulling in more birds. There were usually fewer people here too. Highlights here included many migrants especially; black-billed cuckoo, yellow-billed cuckoo, black-throated blue warbler, yellow-throated vireo and Lincoln's sparrow.

18/4                                                        Village Creek State Park

We chose to spend the morning of one of our  'migration' days chasing birds in the Big Thicket area. We slept overnight at Village Creek and did a bit of birding whilst we waited for the gate to be unlocked during which time we got close to a pair of barred owls and a singing prothonotary warbler. We then headed for Silsbee.

18/4                                                        Silsbee area

We birded along the Gore Store Road and managed to find singing prairie warblers and brown-headed nuthatches fairly easily and after a little searching also had scope views of a singing Bachman's sparrow. Continuing on past the crossroads we had two red-headed woodpeckers before we heard from other birders that there were singing Swainson's warblers by the Waluta Girl's Camp. We nipped down there and were soon watching a superb singing male at close range. An excellent finale to our session in the Silsbee area.

18/4 and 19/4                                      Brazos Bend State Park

We spent the night here to break up the journey south and enjoyed a good early morning session here. On arrival we quickly located a superb barred owl by the toilet block and had another close encounter in broad daylight the next morning. Other highlights included; least bittern, American bittern, yellow-crowned night-heron, pileated woodpecker and prothonotary warbler. We then headed to Aransas.

19/4                                                        Aransas area

Arrived to find that we had missed the last crane by three days. I had expected to miss this species but did not think it would be so close. After a quick look around on arrival we elected to drive up Route 774 where we dug out some good raptors including our first white-tailed hawks and also ashy-throated flycatcher and cave swallow. Returning to Aransas we managed a few migrants as well as another white-tailed hawk. Drove on to Goose Island to spend the night at the State Park.

20/4                                                        Goose Island State Park and the Rockport area

Awoke to the dawn chorus and struggled out of the tent to see what was what. Managed to find our first long-billed thrasher but little obvious migration going on. Checked out the pier area before we left which produced the only goldeneye and American oystercatcher of the trip. Spent most of the morning birding the Rockport area which produced our first black-crested tit, roadrunner, mottled duck as well as our only cinnamon teal of the trip. Best bit though was being invited onto a property to view an adult and juvenile great horned owl that were roosting near their recently vacated nest.

20/4                                                        Dick Kleberg Park and Route 772

Drove on down towards Kingsville picking up our first Harris' hawk en route and stopping briefly at Dick Kleberg Park. Here we met some birders from Alaska who gave us some priceless gen on finding the feral parrots of Brownsville. We also had our first  vermilion flycatcher, clay-colored sparrow and lark sparrow. Spent the remainder of the day undertaking a loop of the 772, doing the chicken farms south of Kingsville and slept overnight near the Kaufer-Hubert Memorial Park. The 772 produced upland sandpiper and another white-tailed hawk. The ponds out towards Riviera Beach produced plenty of waders and wildfowl including our first least grebes.

21/4                                                        Route 77

Spent the morning slowly driving the 77 and picking up more and more southern species as we went including tropical parula, green jay, olive sparrow and buff-bellied hummingbird but also lesser goldfinch and field sparrow. Although Texas is in drought some of the pools along the highway held water and these were packed with waterfowl and included a single late canvasback (the only one of the trip).

21/4                                                        Laguna Atascosa

The drought had not been so kind to this site however which has been empty now for a number of years and is completely devoid of wetland species as a result. The feeders and small pool around the visitor centre did produce a number of migrants however including yellow-headed blackbird and Swainson's thrush, as well as our first plain chachalacas.

21/4 - 22/4                                           Brownsville area

We spent the night in the Holiday Inn on Elizabeth Street, having been advised that this was an excellent spot for roosting parrots. On arrival it became immediately apparent that there were a lot of green parakeets in residence (250+) and as dusk approached a small group of red-crowned parrots also joined them around the swimming pool along with a great horned owl. The next morning we birded at Brownsville airport (NOAA radar station for Tamaulipas crow), along Highway 4 (Botteri's sparrow) and the Old Port Isabel Rd (Botteri's and Cassin's sparrow together).

22/4                                                        Sabal Palms

We arrived here the day after a mini-fall - this site can be good for migrants. In fact we had tried to get in the evening before but the reserve was closed - not realising that you can access it any time between dawn and dusk but this was not obvious from the signs. If the gate is shut, just park your car and walk in. Few birds other than common residents noted.

22/4                                                        Santa Ana State Park

Great site and deserved more time than we gave it. In the short period we spent here we tracked down a singing tropical parula but could not find the clay-colored robin that had set up territory near the visitors centre.

22/4                                                        Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park

Again we spent little time here but had a meal on the trailer loop that was enlivened by the presence of a northern beardless tyrranulet before going to the elf owl show. We arrived early and watched a kettle of raptors spilling over for the night and then the owl put on an amazing performance. Everyone has always told me that these birds just get up and nip straight out of the hole but this one was on show for about 15 minutes of the next hour. Poking his head out and looking around. After dark we spotlighted another two elf owls quite easily before driving through to Chapeño. We had decided to maximise the amount of time we had in the west and cut down on the time spent looking for stuff that we had seen already in Mexico.

23/4                                                        Chapeño

Whatever out plans though we could not miss out on Audubon's oriole and we were not disappointed at this site which also produced muscovy duck, red-billed pigeon, green and ringed kingfisher, Bullock's oriole, and brown jay.

23/4                                                        Salineño

Had a quick trip to Salineño before the big drive up onto the Edward's plateau and the dump road produced a glut of new 'western' species; scaled quail, pyrruloxia, black-throated sparrow, cactus wren, curve-billed thrasher and verdin rounding off an excellent morning.

23/4                                                        Neal's Lodge

Arrived at Neal's Lodge at 1600 and headed straight for the road bridge and the swimming hole just upstream. After successfully getting views of the yellow-throated warbler singing high in the trees here we went for a celebratory swim. Walking back towards the bridge we saw black phoebe and searched in vain for a black-capped vireo. Consolation coming in the form of our first black-chinned hummingbirds and Bewick's wrens. We met some local birders here and they gave us some gen on getting the vireo and warbler that was to prove very useful.

23/4 - 24/4                                           Garner State Park

Acting on information received we decided to spend the night here and walked one of the fire tracks in search of golden-winged warbler. We quickly found our first bushtits and then found a spanking male golden-cheeked warbler collecting food for its young and quietly singing a sub-song as it went. Later after setting up the tent we had poor views of a chuck-will's-widow and heard a common poorwill. A brief session before heading off to the next site in the morning produced our first western scrub jay.

24/4                                                        Kerr Wildlife Management Area

Fantastic place this and by far the best site to attempt to see black-capped vireo. We were given plenty of help by the staff here and were soon watching a singing male black-capped vireo at close range. Also here we had rufous-crowned sparrow and a short walk around a nearby loop trail produced another golden-cheeked warbler.

24/4 - 28/4                                           Big Bend National Park

Big Bend is fantastic! We birded Blue Creek Canyon (gray vireo, varied bunting and Lucifer hummingbird), Sam Nail Ranch (good for migrants), Dugout Wells (migrants and bobcat), Cottonwood Campground (gray hawk, Western screech owl, migrants, Lucy's warbler, tropical kingbird and green-tailed towhee), Rio Grande campground area (common black hawk) and the incomparable Boot Canyon (Colima warbler, hermit warbler and flame-colored tanager). We hiked up to Boot Canyon in the late afternoon and camped overnight which was incredible and allowed us to bird the Canyon at night and in the early morning. The hike up is not too bad - the difficulty is exaggerated by most people. Take plenty of water though and keep your food in the lockers provided and your empty rucksacs outside your tent. Our campsite was visited by a bear/skunk/very strong rodent which opened the tent and threw our rucksacs around but found nothing edible. Much of our success at Big Bend was due to meeting up with Jon Dunn and his WINGS group who gave us plenty of information and found us plenty of birds.

28/4 - 30/4                                           Fort Davis area

Fort Davis and the surrounding area produced some excellent birds. In the park we managed to connect with a pair of Montezuma quail that were coming every morning to a feeding station set up by one of the RV owners. Also present in the campground here were our first phainopepla, the sight of the which was occasion for that rather unsettling but welcome feeling that accompanies seeing a new family of bird. Having struggled to see curve-billed thrasher earlier on in the trip they became rather common here. We spent a fair amount of time birding up the road to Madera Canyon (Laurence E Wood picnic area) and this produced some excellent birds including ; western bluebird, gray flycatcher, western wood-pewee and hepatic tanager.

29/4                                                        Lake Balmorea

Spent one afternoon here and was not disappointed. Got to grips with Western and Clarke's grebe before they drifted off and fell asleep in the middle of the lake and enjoyed the spectacle of hundreds of Wilson's phalaropes in amongst the varied waterfowl. Also here were 30+ long-billed curlew (bird of the trip), at least four Brewer's sparrows and four Franklin's gulls.

30/4 - 2/5                                             Guadaloupe Mountains National Park

Decided to fit this Park into the itinerary hoping to cosh off a few of the montane western species but high winds put paid to that plan. We first accessed the site through New Mexico and Dog Canyon. Here we had Grace's warbler around the campsite but the walk to higher elevations is a long one and we opted out instead deciding on covering the R540 in New Mexico (see below). After Dog Canyon we headed for the Reserve Headquarters at Pine Springs and birded the Rattlesnake Springs (New Mexico - see below) and Frijole Ranch areas (Townsend's solitaire). We had hoped to connect with Juniper titmouse at the latter site (or around the Pine Springs campsite) but inexplicably failed.

1/5                                                          Route 540 (New Mexico)

The morning we set aside for this road was exceptionally windy and despite our best efforts we could only coax mountain chickadee into view although we probably heard and glimpsed Steller's jay.

1/5 - 2/5                                                Rattlesnake Springs (New Mexico)

This site was a fantastic little migrant trap and produced a few surprises including olive-sided flycatcher, black-throated gray warbler and dusky flycatcher.

Systematic list of birds recorded in Texas (and New Mexico) between 14th April and 4th May

Sites visited: High Island (HI) 14/4 - 16/4 and 3/5, Anahuac (AH) 15/4  to 16/4, Rollover Pass (RP) 15/4, Bolivar Flats (BF) 16/4, Sea Rim State Park (SR) 17/4 and 3/5, Sabine Woods (SW) 17/4, 18/4 and 4/5, Village Creek State Park (VC) 18/4, Silsbee area (S) 18/4, Brazos Bend State Park (BZ) 18/4 and 19/4, Aransas area (A) 19/4 and 20/4, R774 19/4, Goose Island State Park (GI) 20/4, R772 20/4, Dick Kleberg Park (DK) 20/4, Route 77 (R77) 21/4, Laguna Atascosa (LA) 21/4, Brownsville area (BV) 21/4 - 22/4, Sabal Palms (SB) 22/4, Santa Ana (SA) 22/4, Bentsen-Rio Grande (BRG) 22/4, Chapeño (C) 23/4, Salineño (SN) 23/4, Neal's Lodge (NL) 23/4, Garner State Park (GSP) 23/4 - 24/4, Kerr WMA (K) 24/4, Big Bend (BB) 24/4 - 28/4, Fort Davis (FD) 28/4 - 30/4, Lake Balmorea (LB) 29/4, Guadaloupe Mountains NP (GM) 30/4 - 2/5, R540 (New Mexico) 1/5 and Rattlesnake Springs, New Mexico (RS) 1/5 - 2/5. Records in square brackets were heard only.

Order and nomenclature largely follows Sibley (2000)

Common loon  Gavia immer    LB Single second year bird on 29/4.

Eared grebe  Podiceps nigricollis     LB

Pied-billed grebe  Podilymbus podiceps AH, SR, BZ, DK, SB, SA

Least grebe  Tachybaptus dominicus     R772, R77, SB, SA

Western grebe  Aechmophorus occidentalis  LB

Clark's grebe  Aechmophorus clarkii  LB At least one bird here.

American white pelican  Pelecanus erythrorhynchos  BF, BV, C

Brown pelican  Pelecanus occidentalis  RP, BF

Double-crested cormorant  Phalacrocorax auritus    RP

Neotropic cormorant  Phalacrocorax brasilianus RP

Anhinga  Anhinga anhinga      Winnie, BZ, A

American bittern  Botaurus lentiginosus       AH, BZ

Least bittern  Ixobrychus exilis  SR, BZ

Great blue heron  Ardea herodias   AH, BF, BZ, GSP

Great egret  Ardea alba AH, BZ

Snowy egret  Egretta thula       AH, BZ, LB

Reddish egret  Egretta rufescens      BF, A

Tricolored heron  Egretta tricolor    AH, BZ, SA

Little blue heron  Egretta caerulea   AH, BZ, SA

Cattle egret  Bubulcus ibis  widespread

Green heron  Butorides virescens     AH, SW, SR, HI, BZ, C

Black-crowned night-heron Nycticorax nycticorax  AH

Yellow-crowned night-heron  Nycticorax violacea   BZ

White ibis  Eudocimus albus     AH

White-faced ibis  Plegadis chihi      AH, LB

Roseate spoonbill  Ajaia ajaja  near Winnie, AH, A

Greater white-fronted goose  Anser albifrons      AH A late single together with a single of the species below on 15/4.

Snow goose  Chen caerulescens  AH

Black-bellied whistling-duck  Dendrocygna autumnalis       AH, SR, BZ, A, SA

Fulvous whistling-duck  Dendrocygna bicolor     AH, BZ, A, SA

Muscovy duck  Cairina moschata    C Three birds present at first light which showed extremely well for the next two hours.

Mallard  Anas platyrhynchos   BB, LB

Many 'Mexican' mallard type birds, one normal male noted at LB.

Mottled duck  Anas fulvigula  A, R772, R77, SB, SA

Gadwall  Anas strepera      R772, R77, LB

Northern pintail  Anas acuta   LB Single male present.

American wigeon  Anas americana       A, R77, LB

Northern shoveler  Anas clypeata   AH, A, R77, SA, BB, LB

Cinnamon teal  Anas cyanoptera     A Single male present.

Blue-winged teal  Anas discors AH, SR, A, DK, SA, LB

Green-winged teal  Anas carolinensis  R772, R77, LB

Canvasback  Aythya valsineria R77 A single female at a roadside pool.

Redhead  Aythya americana     R772, LB

Ring-necked duck  Aythya collaris      LB

Greater scaup  Aythya marila LB Single male at Lake Balmorea on 29/4.

Lesser scaup  Aythya affinis    Bob's Road (Bolivar Peninsula)

Common goldeneye  Bucephala clangula     GI Two birds present off the pier on 20/4.

Bufflehead  Bucephala albeola   LB

Red-breasted merganser  Mergus serrator   SR Single female/first winter flying north on 17/4.

Ruddy duck  Oxyura jamaicensis    R772, SB, LB

Turkey vulture  Cathartes aura widespread

Black vulture  Coragyps atratus       widespread

Northern harrier  Circus cyaneus    AH, A

White-tailed kite  Elanus leucurus HI area, RP

Mississippi kite  Ictinia mississippiensis       R77, BRG

Sharp-shinned hawk  Accipiter striatus BRG, BB

Cooper's hawk  Accipiter cooperi     BRG

Common black-hawk  Buteogallus anthracinus   BB Pair nesting in Rio Grande campsite.

Harris' hawk  Parabuteo unicinctus   en route to Kingsville, BV

Gray hawk  Asturina nitida     BB Pair nesting in the Cottonwood campground.

Red-shouldered hawk  Buteo lineatus R774

Broad-winged hawk  Buteo platypterus BRG

Swainson's hawk  Buteo swainsoni      R774, R77, BB

White-tailed hawk  Buteo albicaudatus   R774, A, R772

Red-tailed hawk  Buteo jamaicensis      R774, BB

Osprey  Pandion haliaetus SW, A, LA, C, LB, RS

Crested caracara  Caracara cheriway    R774, whilst driving elsewhere

Merlin  Falco columbarius  BF Single female hunting waders at Bolivar Flats on 16/4.

American kestrel  Falco sparverius       New Mexico Amazingly only one seen - on the drive out of Dog Canyon.

Peregrine falcon  Falco peregrinus BB, LB At Lake Balmorea an enormous female was watched at close range hunting an unobliging stilt.

Plain chachalaca  Ortalis vetulis     LA, SB, BRG, [C]

Montezuma quail  Cyrtonyx montezumae    FD Pair came into feeding station at 0730 and performed well to an admiring crowd. Ask at the HQ for the location of the favoured feeding station.

Northern bobwhite  Colinus virginianus      AH, A

Scaled quail  Callipepla squamata   SN, BB, LB

Wild turkey  Meleagris gallopavo    R774, A, NL, GSP, BB, RS

Purple gallinule  Porphyrula martinica  AH, BZ

Common moorhen  Gallinula chloropus       AH, SR, BZ, SA

American coot  Fulica americana     AH, SR, BZ, SB, SA, LB

Clapper rail  Rallus longirostris       SR, near SW

Virginia rail  Rallus limicola    AH Two seen whilst rope-dragging in the Yellow Rail Prairie on 16/4.

Sora  Porzana carolina AH, SR

Yellow rail  Coturnicops noveboracensis  AH Two seen whilst rope-dragging in the Yellow Rail Prairie on 16/4. The rope is usually left out in the marsh near the entrance to the Yellow Rail Prairie but if you time it right (weekends) you may be able to go on an early morning  guided rope-drag with Anahuac staff.

Black-bellied plover  Pluvialis squatarola    BF

American golden-plover  Pluvialis dominica R772

Piping plover Charadrius melodus BF

Semipalmated plover  Charadrius semipalmatus      AH, BF

Snowy plover  Charadrius alexandrinus BF

Wilson's plover  Charadrius wilsonia   BF

Killdeer  Charadrius vociferus widespread in east

American oystercatcher  Haematopus palliatus   GI

American avocet  Recurvirostra americana   A, LB

Black-necked stilt  Himantopus mexicanus   AH, SR, LB

Greater yellowlegs  Tringa melanoleuca       AH, LB

Lesser yellowlegs  Tringa flavipes       AH, DK, R77

Solitary sandpiper  Tringa solitaria     BB

Willet  Catoptrophorus semipalmatus     AH, RP

Spotted sandpiper  Actitis macularia   BV, C, NL, LB

Upland sandpiper  Bartramia longicauda    R772 A single flock of seven birds.

Whimbrel  Numenius phaeopus AH, BF

Long-billed curlew  Numenius americanus   LB Incredible flock of 30 birds flying around Lake Balmorea which finally unblocked this species for me.

Marbled godwit  Limosa fedoa  BF

Ruddy turnstone  Arenaria interpres    RP, BF

Red knot  Calidris canutus BF

Sanderling  Calidris alba  RP, BF

Dunlin  Calidris alpina AH, BF

Pectoral sandpiper  Calidris melanotos  AH, R772

White-rumped sandpiper  Calidris fuscicollis     AH

Baird's sandpiper  Calidris bairdii       DK, LB

Western sandpiper  Calidris mauri      BF, LB

Semipalmated sandpiper  Calidris pusilla AH, BF, DK, LB

Least sandpiper  Calidris minutilla      AH

Stilt sandpiper  Calidris himantopus    AH, R772, BV

Long-billed dowitcher  Limnodromus scolopaceus     AH, DK, LB

Short-billed dowitcher Limnodromus griseus BF

Common snipe  Gallinago gallinago    SR

Wilson's phalarope  Phalaropus tricolor       LB

Bonaparte's gull Larus philadelphia     RP

Franklin's gull  Larus pipixican      LB

Laughing gull  Larus atricilla  RP, BF

Ring-billed gull  Larus delawarensis     RP

Herring gull  Larus argentatus RP

Caspian tern  Sterna caspia      AH, BF, A

Royal tern  Sterna maxima RP, BF

Sandwich tern  Sterna sandvicensis      RP

Common tern  Sterna hirundo SR

Forster's tern  Sterna forsteri    AH, C

Least tern  Sterna antillarum    RP

Gull-billed tern  Sterna nilotica       BF

Black tern  Chlidonias niger     BF

Black skimmer  Rynchops niger     BF

Mourning dove  Zenaida macroura       widespread

White-winged dove  Zenaida asiatica  SB, C, BB, FD, GM

Eurasian collared dove  Streptopelia decaocto HI

White-tipped dove  Leptotila verreauxi  LA, SB, C

Inca dove  Columbina inca HI, DK, BRG, BB

Common ground-dove  Columbina passerina S, DK, R77

Rock dove  Columba livia  present in urban areas

Red-billed pigeon  Columba flavirostris C

Red-crowned parrot  Amazona viridigenalis BV

Green parakeet  Aratinga holochlora   BV

Yellow-billed cuckoo  Coccyzus americanus HI, SW, SB

Black-billed cuckoo Coccyzus erythropthalmus   SW, HI Both singles; Sabine Woods on 17/4 and a late record of one at High Island on 3/5.

Greater roadrunner  Geococcyx californianus A, R772, LA, SN, BB

Barn owl  Tyto alba     HI, SR

Great horned owl  Bubo virginianus    BZ, A, BV

Barred owl  Strix varia [VC], BZ

Elf owl  Micrathene whitneyi    BRG, [BB]

Western screech-owl  Otus kennicottii   BB

Eastern screech-owl  Otus asio HI, GSP

[Common pauraque  Nyctidromus albicollis] [BRG]

Common poorwill  Phalaenoptilus nuttallii  [GSP], BB

Chuck-will's-widow  Caprimulgus carolinensis   GSP

Whip-poor-will  Caprimulgus vociferus  BB Incredibly numerous around Boot Canyon (sleep almost impossible) - one spotlighted pre-dawn.

Common nighthawk  Chordeiles minor Winnie, BRG, SR

Lesser nighthawk  Chordeiles acutipennis    BB

Chimney swift  Chaetura pelagica   HI, RP

White-throated swift  Aeronautes saxatalis   BB, R540

Lucifer hummingbird  Calothorax lucifer    BB There is a territory about 2.5 miles up the Blue Creek Canyon trail, the male sits obviously in the tops of a small tree.

Buff-bellied hummingbird  Amazilia beryllina  R77, SB, SA

Blue-throated hummingbird  Lampornis clemenciae BB Pair present right by the hut in Boot Canyon and another a little further up the canyon.

Black-chinned hummingbird  Archilochus alexandri NL, BB, FD

Ruby-throated hummingbird  Archilochus colubris  HI, SW, SA

Broad-tailed hummingbird  Selasphorus platycercus  BB, FD, GM

Belted kingfisher  Ceryle alcyon     AH, A

Ringed kingfisher  Ceryle torquata       C

Green kingfisher  Chloroceryle americana    C

Acorn woodpecker  Melanerpes formicvorus BB, FD

Red-headed woodpecker  Melanerpes erythrocephalus    S

Golden-fronted woodpecker  Melanerpes aurifrons  DK, R77, LA, SA, C, BB

Red-bellied woodpecker  Melanerpes carolinus  VC, BZ

Yellow-bellied sapsucker  Sphyrapicus varius    HI, SW

Downy woodpecker  Picoides pubescens       HI, SW, BZ

Ladder-backed woodpecker  Picoides scalaris    A, R77, SA, C, BB, GM, RS

Northern flicker  Colaptes auratus FD

Pileated woodpecker  Dryocopus pileatus    BZ

Northern beardless-tyrannulet  Camptostoma imberbe    BRG

Olive-sided flycatcher  Contopus cooperi     RS, GM Two birds at Rattlesnake Springs on 1/5 (and one there next day) and one bird at Frijole Springs (GM) on 2/5.

Western wood-pewee  Contopus sordidulus FD Single singing bird at Laurence E Wood picnic area (Madera Canyon) on the scenic loop.

Eastern wood-pewee  Contopus virens  HI, NL, SW

Acadian flycatcher  Empidonax virescens     SW

Dusky flycatcher  Empidonax oberholseri     RS Prolonged scope-views allowed identification of this species.

Gray flycatcher  Empidonax wrightii   FD Single singing bird at Laurence E Wood picnic area (Madera Canyon) on the scenic loop on 30/4. This has been a regular site for a number of years.

Black pheobe  Sayornis nigricans   NL Oddly only one bird seen near the bridge at Neal's Lodge.

Eastern phoebe  Sayornis phoebe    GSP, K

Say's phoebe  Sayornis saya    BB, FD, GM, RS

Vermilion flycatcher  Pyrocephalus rubinus DK, BB, RS

Dusky-capped flycatcher  Myiarchus tuberculifer    BB Single at Laguna Meadows on 27/4.

Ash-throated flycatcher  Myiarchus cinerascens R774, SN, BB, FD, GM

Brown-crested flycatcher  Myiarchus tyrannulus     DK, R77, LA, SB, SA

Great-crested flycatcher  Myiarchus crinitus       HI, DK

Eastern kingbird  Tyrannus tyrannus  widespread in east

Tropical kingbird  Tyrannus melancholicus  BB Single bird at Cottonwood Campground on 28/4 was probably newly arrived.

Couch's kingbird  Tyrannus couchii   DK, R77, LA, SA, C

Cassin's kingbird  Tyrannus vociferans  FD, GM

Western kingbird  Tyrannus verticalis   first seen in Sonora, BB, RS

Scissor-tailed flycatcher  Tyrannus forficatus widespread

Great kiskadee  Pitangus sulphuratus LA, SB, SA

Loggerhead shrike  Lanius ludovicianus       widespread

Gray vireo  Vireo vicinior  BB

Red-eyed vireo  Vireo olivaceus       HI, SW

Warbling vireo  Vireo gilvus   RS

Philadelphia vireo  Vireo philadelphicus      HI, SW

Bell's vireo  Vireo bellii     BB, RS

Hutton's vireo  Vireo huttoni   BB

Black-capped vireo  Vireo atricapillus K Contact staff for location of  best territory and for details of where to find golden-cheeked warbler.

White-eyed vireo  Vireo griseus       SW, VC, A, GI, [NL]

Yellow-throated vireo  Vireo flavifrons  SW

Plumbeous vireo  Vireo plumbeus   BB, FD, GM, RS

Blue-headed vireo  Vireo solitarius      HI, SW

Blue jay  Cyanocitta cristata     HI, SW

Western scrub-jay  Aphelocoma californica   GSP, FD

Mexican jay  Aphelocoma ultramarina  BB

Green jay  Cyanocorax yncas   R77, LA, SB, BRG, C

Brown jay  Cyanocorax morio  C Early morning best as the birds are fed at 0800.

Common raven  Corvus corax GSP, BB

Chihuahuan raven  Corvus cryptoleucus      BV

American crow  Corvus brachyrhynchos        S

Tamaulipas crow  Corvus imparatus   BV Pair nesting in meteorological radar station on edge of Brownsville airport.

Horned lark  Eremophila alpestris   BF, BV

Purple martin  Progne subis     HI, AH

Northern rough-winged swallow  Stelgidopteryx serripennis AH (under-recorded)

Bank swallow  Riparia riparia  AH, BRG

Violet-green swallow  Tachycineta thalassina      BB, FD, GM

Tree swallow  Tachycineta bicolor   AH (under-recorded)

Cliff swallow  Hirundo pyrrhonota       AH (under-recorded)

Cave swallow  Hirundo fulva  R774 (under-recorded)

Barn swallow  Hirundo rustica RS

Tufted titmouse  Parus bicolor  S

Black-crested titmouse  Parus atricristatus   widespread (south and west)

Carolina chickadee  Parus carolinensis  S

Mountain chickadee  Parus gambeli    R540

Verdin  Auriparus flaviceps      SN, BB

Bushtit  Psaltriparus minimus  GSP, BB, FD, GM, R540

White-breasted nuthatch  Sitta carolinensis FD, GM

Brown-headed nuthatch  Sitta pusilla   S

Carolina wren  Thryothorus ludovicianus     HI, VC, BB, SA

Bewick's wren  Thryomanes bewickii   NL, BB, GM, RS

House wren  Troglodytes aedon      S

Sedge wren  Cistothorus platensis   AH

Marsh wren  Cistothorus palustris SR

Cactus wren  Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus   SN, BB

Rock wren  Salpinctes obsoletus BB

Canyon wren  Catherpes mexicanus      BB, [GM]

Ruby-crowned kinglet   Regulus calendula  SW, BB

Black-tailed gnatcatcher  Polioptila melanura      BB

Blue-gray gnatcatcher  Polioptila caerulea    VC, S, R77, K, BB, GM, SW

Townsend's solitaire  Myadestes townsendi GM Single at Frijole Ranch (GM) on 2/5.

Western bluebird  Sialia mexicana       FD

Eastern bluebird  Sialia sialis S, K

Wood thrush  Hylocichla mustelina       HI, SW

Swainson's thrush  Catharus ustulatus    SW, HI, LA

Gray-cheeked thrush  Catharus minimus     SW

Hermit thrush  Catharus guttatus    BB, FD, GM, RS

Gray catbird  Dumatella carolinensis    HI, SR, SW, BZ, A

Northern mockingbird  Mimus polyglottos widespread

Brown thrasher  Toxostoma rufum    HI, SW

Long-billed thrasher  Toxostoma longirostre GI, LA, SB, SA

Curve-billed thrasher  Toxostoma curvirostre C, SN, FD

European starling  Sternus vulgaris     common in east

American pipit  Anthus rubescens   BB

Phainopepla  Phainopepla nitens     FD, GM, RS

Tropical parula  Parula pitaiyumi   R77, SA, [FD]

Northern parula  Parula americana       SW, HI (nest-building)

Orange-crowned warbler  Vermivora celata LA, RS

Tennessee warbler  Vermivora peregrina     HI, SW, LA, RS

Lawrence's warbler  Vermivora hybrid       SW An example of an adult female of this rare recessive hybrid present on 4/5.

Nashville warbler  Vermivora ruficapilla     GSP, BB

Lucy's warbler  Vermivora luciae    BB Singing male at Cottonwood Campground by entrance gate.

Colima warbler  Vermivora crissalis     BB At least two birds in roving warbler flock in Boot Canyon.

Yellow warbler  Dendroica petechia      SW, RS

Chestnut-sided warbler  Dendroica pensylvanica     HI, SW

Magnolia warbler  Dendroica magnolia HI, SW

Black-throated blue warbler  Dendroica caerulescens SW Single singing male seen on 4/5 had been present for 8 days.

Yellow-rumped warbler  Dendroica coronata SW, BB, FD, GM, RS

Black-throated gray warbler  Dendroica nigrescens  RS Single female on 1/5.

Townsend's warbler  Dendroica townsendi BB, RS, GM

Hermit warbler  Dendroica occidentalis  BB Scarce migrant in Texas. Single bird in roving warbler flock in Boot Canyon on 27/4.

Black-throated green warbler  Dendroica virens      HI, SW, SA

Golden-cheeked warbler  Dendroica chrysoparia     GSP, K

Prairie warbler  Dendroica discolor       S, SW

Pine warbler  Dendroica pinus  S

Bay-breasted warbler  Dendroica castanea   HI, SW

Blackpoll warbler  Dendroica striata    SW

Yellow-throated warbler  Dendroica dominica     NL

Grace's warbler  Dendroica graciae      GM

Worm-eating warbler  Helmitheros vermivorus   HI, SW

Prothonotary warbler  Protonotaria citrea     HI, VC, BZ

Black-and-white warbler  Mniotila varia    HI, SW, BB

American redstart  Setophaga ruticilla   SW, HI

Swainson's warbler  Limnothlypis swainsonii     S

Ovenbird  Seiurus aurocapillus HI, SW

Northern waterthrush  Seiurus noveboracensis     HI, SR, SW, A, LA

Kentucky warbler  Oporornis formosus  HI, SW

MacGillivray's warbler  Oporornis tolmiei  BB, GM, RS

Common yellowthroat  Geothlypis trichas   AH, SR, SW, HI, A, LA, SA

Wilson's warbler  Wilsonia pusilla       SW, BB, GM, RS

Hooded warbler  Wilsonia citrina   HI, SW

Yellow-breasted chat  Icteria virens     S, NL, BB, RS

Flame-colored tanager  Piranga bidentata    BB A single male on 27/4. Found at Boot Canyon by Jon Dunn the day before, this was only the fourth record of this Mexican species for Texas.

Hepatic tanager  Piranga flava FD

Summer tanager  Piranga rubra     HI, SW, GSP, K, BB, FD, RS

Western tanager  Piranga ludoviciana BB, GM, R540, RS

Scarlet tanager  Piranga olivacea     HI, SW

Pyrrhuloxia  Cardinalis sinuatus      SN, BB

Northern cardinal  Cardinalis cardinalis       widespread

Black-headed grosbeak  Pheucticus melanocephalus BB, FD, GM

Rose-breasted grosbeak  Pheucticus ludovicianus    HI, SW, LA

Blue grosbeak  Guiraca caerulea      SW, A, K, BB, FD, RS, GM, HI

Lazuli bunting  Passerina amoena   BB Single male at Cottonwood campground on 26/4.

Indigo bunting  Passerina cyanea    HI, SR, SW, LA, BB, GM

Varied bunting  Passerina versicolor    BB

Painted bunting  Passerina ciris     HI, SW, A, LA, K, BB, RS

Dickcissel  Spiza americana     BB Single bird at Dugout Wells on 25/4.

Spotted towhee  Pipilo maculatus   BB, R540

Green-tailed towhee  Pipilo chlorurus   BB, GM

Canyon towhee  Pipilo fuscus BB, FD, GM

Olive sparrow  Arremonops rufivirgatus       R77, [LA], BV, SA, BRG

Rufous-crowned sparrow  Aimophila ruficeps     K, BB, GM

Cassin's sparrow  Aimophila cassinii      BV The Old Port Isabel Road near Brownsville is a must to get to grips with this species and Botteri's sparrow. We had both species on roadside fences together!

Botteri's sparrow  Aimophila botterii   BV

Bachman's sparrow  Aimophila aestivalis    S Familiarity with the song is essential for tracking down this secretive sparrow.

Black-throated sparrow  Amphispiza bilineata   SN, NL, BB, GM

Black-chinned sparrow  Spizella atrogularis  BB Single bird seen on the walk out of Boot Canyon at Laguna Meadows.

Field sparrow  Spizella pusilla  R77, K

Brewer's sparrow  Spizella breweri      LB At least four singing birds in scrub at the dam end on 29/4.

Clay-colored sparrow  Spizella pallida   DK, C, BB

Chipping sparrow  Spizella passerina  GSP, BB, FD, GM, R540, RS

Le Conte's sparrow  Ammodramus leconteii AH

Nelson's sharp-tailed sparrow  Ammodramus nelsoni     Yacht Basin Rd (B. Peninsula)

Seaside sparrow  Ammodramus maritimus   AH, Bob's Rd (B. Peninsula)

Savannah sparrow  Passerculus sandwichensis     frequently encountered in east

Vesper sparrow  Pooecetes gramineus  BB

Lark bunting  Calamospiza melanocorys BB Odd singles by the roadside when driving around the Park.

Lark sparrow  Chondestes grammacus  DK, SN, GSP, K, BB, FD, GM

White-throated sparrow  Zonotrichia albicollis   HI, SW

White-crowned sparrow  Zonotrichia leucophrys      BB, FD, RS, GM

Lincoln's sparrow  Melospiza lincolnii   SW Strangely none seen at High Island but present at Sabine Woods.

Swamp sparrow  Melospiza georgiana   AH, BB, A

Dark-eyed junco  Junco hyemalis    R540, RS R540, grey-backed form; RS, pink-sided form.

Eastern meadowlark  Sturnella magna  widespread

Brown-headed cowbird  Molothrus ater       widespread

Bronzed cowbird  Molothrus aeneus    R774, DK, LA, BB, FD

Yellow-headed blackbird  Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus  LA Single injured bird at the feeders.

Red-winged blackbird  Agelaius phoeniceus  widespread

Brewer's blackbird  Euphagus cyanocephalus    north of Marathon, BB

Common grackle  Quiscalus quiscula   HI, SR, GM

Boat-tailed grackle  Quiscalus major    HI, SR

Great-tailed grackle  Quiscalus mexicanus   HI, SR, DK, LA, BB

Bullock's oriole  Icterus bullocki      C, BB

Baltimore oriole  Icterus galbula      HI, SW

Hooded oriole  Icterus cucullatus     R772, R77, BB

Orchard oriole  Icterus spurius  AH, SR, BB, RS

Altamira oriole  Icterus gularis  SA, BRG

Scott's oriole  Icterus parisorum BB, R540

Audubon's oriole  Icterus graduacauda   C Usually present early in the morning at this site.

House finch Carpodacus mexicanus      NL, BB, FD, GM, RS

Pine siskin  Carduelis pinus     BB, FD, GM, RS

Lesser goldfinch  Carduelis psaltria     R77, NL, BB, RS

House sparrow  Passer domesticus widespread in east, also FD

Phil Benstead is a freelance birder based in the UK and is available to lead tours to Texas and other parts of North America.

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