|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
Texas and New Mexico 2002,
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.
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.
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.
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.