Big Country Audubon Society

Stories from December, 2006

Eurasian Wigeon’s Point of Reference


Picture of white plastic jug/bouy where the wigeon was spotted the afternoon of December 4 and the morning of December 5, 2006.

wigeon's bouy

This spot is exactly at the end of RR 11 in Concho Recreation area, off of CR 1929 or the Ray Stoker Jr. Highway. If you’ll look at the houses on the opposite side of the lake you’ll notice a house and a flat-roofed barn which are the last two right-most structures in this group of houses. Come down to the water at about a 45 degree angle and you’ll see the white jug. The wigeon did not stray too much to the right or the left of this jug.

Click on this link for directions to Lake Ivie/Concho Recreation Area . Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the maps for a larger view.

Hope this helps. Happy hunting and good luck!

A Nice Winter Mix


I was just reflecting on our past week of birds in the Big Country and shaking my head as to the mixture that was found. This Sage Thrasher (above) was seen and photographed at Dyess AFB. It is a bird of the West, inhabiting sagebrush, brushy slopes, and mesas. It winters in the desert Southwest, and we’re at its northern wintering range. However, it is somewhat irregular in its wintering areas but it concentrates where there are good wild crops of berries.


On the same day the thrasher was seen, a Pine Warbler was out foraging for insects at the golf course at Dyess AFB. It is a bird of the East and breeds almost exclusively in pine woods. This is the third sighting in Taylor County the last 5 years or so. I’m still sleuthing to see how many, if any, sightings were made prior to this time frame. An uncamouflaged picture of this bird can be found at Cornell’s web site, All About Birds.


Remember this guy? The Great Kiskadee! He’s still here! Being a resident of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, he’s waaaaay north of his range. I had expected him to migrate south in the fall but our first blast of real winter weather accompanied by snow obviously didn’t move him out. He was seen at Wilhair Park eating juniper berries as fast as he could stuff them into his mouth on December 2. (Photo by JAEnglish)

Also on December 2 a Eurasian Wigeon was found among thousands of ducks at Lake O.H. Ivie in Coleman County. (The find is courtesy of Jay and Amy.) As its name implies, it breeds in Europe but occasionally flocks with American Wigeons in North America. Oops, I feel a rarity chase coming on!

I’ve collected a few more photographs of other birds found in the Big Country towards the end of November/beginning of December. Horned Grebe, Hooded Mergansers, Loggerhead Shrike and more can be seen in the Winter Mix gallery. What a mix of eastern/western, winter/resident, and north/south birds!

Christmas Social, December 7, 2006


Please join us for a Christmas gathering, Thursday, December 7 at 7 p.m. at the Rose Park Senior Center at the corner of South 7th and Barrow. Bring your favorite finger food (chips, dip, sandwiches, cookies, or whatever goodie can be eaten with the fingers) and a wrapped bird-related under-ten-dollar Christmas gift. We’ll indulge our taste buds, exchange holiday gifts, and watch a few bird videos that Laura took this past birding season if technology cooperates. She will also show off Big Country Audubon’s web site for those that do not have access to computers or the web.

Our gift exchange is purely optional as is dressing like one of Santa’s elves. We’ll number the gifts as they arrive, put corresponding numbers in a “hat,” and draw numbers to determine who gets what gift. If you arrive sans gift; please refrain from drawing a number.

So come hang with your birding friends, eat a few goodies, hear the latest birding news, and enjoy the festive evening.

December 2, 2006 – Shackleford, Coleman, & NE Abilene

Best birds of today:

  • Great Kiskadee, heard then seen in Wilhair Park, NE Abilene
  • Black-throated Sparrow, Shackleford Co.
  • Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Shackleford Co.
  • Brown Creeper, Shackleford Co.
  • Eurasian Wigeon, Lake O.H. Ivie, Coleman Co.

Shackleford County, CR. 147 and Lake McCarty:

  • Gadwall, 7
  • American Wigeon, 4
  • Mallard, 9
  • Northern Pintail, 4
  • Lesser Scaup, 4
  • Wild Turkey, 36
  • Pied-billed Grebe, 1
  • Double-crested Cormorant, 3
  • Great Blue Heron, 6
  • Northern Harrier, 1
  • Cooper’s Hawk, 1
  • Red-tailed Hawk, 14
  • American Kestrel, 7
  • American Coot, 1
  • Killdeer, 2
  • Greater Yellowlegs, 1
  • Ring-billed Gull, 25
  • Eurasian Collared-Dove, 2
  • Mourning Dove, 38
  • Belted Kingfisher, 1
  • Golden-fronted Woodpecker, 1
  • Northern Flicker, 7
  • Eastern Phoebe, 1
  • Loggerhead Shrike, 8
  • Brown Creeper, 1
  • Bewick’s Wren, 2
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 2
  • American Robin, 2
  • Northern Mockingbird, 42
  • Curve-billed Thrasher, 3
  • European Starling, 16
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler, 2
  • Spotted Towhee, 3
  • Canyon Towhee, 1
  • Rufous-crowned Sparrow, 1
  • Field Sparrow, 5
  • Vesper Sparrow, 21
  • Black-throated Sparrow, 3
  • Savannah Sparrow, 15
  • Song Sparrow, 1
  • White-crowned Sparrow, 26
  • Dark-eyed Junco, 9
  • Northern Cardinal, 5
  • Black bird species, 125 ++ (flocked and flew like Brown-headed Cowbirds)
  • Meadowlark species, 51
  • Great-tailed Grackle, 6
  • House Finch, 2
  • American Goldfinch, 2
  • House Sparrow, 14

Shackleford Co. sightings by Kathy Hampton, Bill Hughes, Laura Packer, Charline Wheeler

Lake O.H. Ivie, Coleman County:

  • Eurasian Wigeon, 1 male

Sighting by Jay and Amy Packer
Thousands of ducks present on the lake but don’t have a detailed list yet.

NE Abilene, Wilhair Park:

  • Great Kiskadee, 1

This bird was seen by Kathy Hampton, Laura Packer, and Tom Tustison of Minnesota eating juniper berries. It stayed in the area and was seen well for around ten minutes.

November 30, 2006 – Recent Sightings

For those following the sightings section, sorry for the lack of posts. Holidays, busier schedule and other obligations took priority. However, birds don’t take a holiday and here are the highlights of what’s being seen in the area:

Lake Fort Phantom Area, November 18:

  • McCowan’s Longspurs, 100+
  • Bonaparte’s Gull, 3
  • Forster’s Tern, 26
  • House Wren (at SeaBee), 1

All sightings by Lorie Black

Kirby Lake, November 16:

  • Common Loon, 1
  • Horned Grebe, 5
  • Eared Grebe, 15
  • Snowy Egret, 2
  • Gr Yellowlegs, 2
  • Hooded Merganser, 7
  • Bufflehead, 20

All sightings by Lorie Black

Cedar Gap Farm, November 20:

  • Western Bluebird, 8

Sighting by Earlene Hutto, Tom Lee, Laura Packer and Dr. Lee’s Ecology Lab class

West Abilene, November 26:

  • Prairie Falcon, 1

Sighting by Brandon Best, Lubbock

Dyess AFB, November 29:

  • Greater Yellowlegs, 4
  • Spotted Sandpiper, 1
  • Wilson’s Snipe, 1
  • Marsh Wren, 1
  • Sage Thrasher, 1
  • Orange-crowned Warbler, 3
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler, 4
  • Pine Warbler, 1
  • Chipping Sparrow, 2
  • Field Sparrow, 3
  • Vesper Sparrow, 8
  • Savannah Sparrow, 10
  • Song Sparrow, 30
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow, 12
  • White-throated Sparrow, 1
  • White-crowned Sparrow, 33
  • Dark-eyed Junco, 77+
  • American Goldfinch, 50+

All sightings by Laura Packer

Lake Kirby, November 30:

  • Canvasback, 4
  • Redhead, 3
  • Bufflehead, 8
  • Hooded Merganser, 33+
  • Ruddy Duck, 4
  • Pied-billed Grebe, 10
  • Horned Grebe, 1
  • Eared Grebe, 9
  • Least Sandpiper, 12
  • Greater Yellowlegs, 1
  • Dowitcher sp., 15

Sightings in the howling horizontal falling snow by Kathy Hampton and Laura Packer

Lake Fort Phantom Area, November 30:

  • Snowy Egret, 2
  • Great Egret, 1
  • Sandhill Cranes, 28
  • Bonapart’s Gull, 1
  • Orange-crowned Warbler, 1

Sightings by Kathy Hampton and Laura Packer

Wildlife Trails, NE Abilene, November 30:

  • Gadwall
  • American Wigeon
  • Mallard
  • Northern Shoveler
  • Ring-necked Duck
  • Bufflehead
  • Ruddy Duck

Sightings by Kathy Hampton and Laura Packer