Big Country Audubon Society

Stories from April, 2007

Boom-Stomp; Strut-Rustle

ATPC

Prairie Chickens and Wild Turkeys began their displays the middle of April; and several Audubon members were privileged to see the Attwater’s Prairie Chickens at the Abilene Zoo (above). Attwater’s are endangered because they are loosing their habitat. Read more about the Abilene Attwater’s Prairie Chicken Reintroduction Program at the Zoo’s website and for a more thorough explanation of the recovery program, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has an excellent website.

You’ll need special permission from the Abilene Zoo to see the Prairie Chickens, but if you want to see Wild Turkey displaying,

WITU-displays

come on out to Cedar Gap Farm. The toms are strutting for the hens and you can see plenty of other birds there, too. More pictures are in the Boom-Stomp; Strut-Rustle Gallery.

Now here’s a question to ponder: how do those toms stay puffed up without hurting themselves?

April 13, 2007 – DAFB, Cedar Gap Farm, and Sweetwater

Dyess Air Force Base

There’s a nice mix of lingering winter birds, spring migrants, and resident birds.

Best bird(s) of the day:

  • Green Heron, 1: FOS
  • Chimney Swifts: 2, FOS


Complete List (most seen around Totten Pond):

  • Blue-winged Teal, 17
  • Green Heron, 1
  • Turkey Vulture, 1
  • Cooper’s Hawk, 1
  • Swainson’s Hawk, 1
  • Red-tailed Hawk, 1
  • Eurasian Collared-Dove, 2
  • White-wing Dove, 9
  • Mourning Dove, 25
  • Chimney Swift, 2
  • Belted Kingfisher, 1
  • Eastern Phoebe, 2
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, 12
  • Blue Jay, 6
  • Cliff Swallow, 50+
  • Barn Swallow, 1
  • Black-crested Titmouse, 3
  • Bewick’s Wren 6
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 1
  • Northern Mockingbird, 8
  • Curve-billed Thrasher, 1
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler, 1, now singing
  • Spotted Towhee, 1
  • Clay-colored Sparrow, 2
  • Lark Sparrow, 1
  • Lincoln Sparrow, 12
  • Northern Cardinal, 5
  • Common Grackle, 3
  • Brown-headed Cowbird, 3
  • House Finch, 2
  • Other Wildlife: Almost-stepped-on Rattlesnake, 1

Sightings: LgPacker

Cedar Gap Farm

Best bird(s) of the day:

  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, 2 working the oaks around the bird house

Complete List:

  • Wild Turkey, 5: three displaying toms and 2 hens
  • Black-chinned Hummingbird, 3 seen at once, but there are certainly more there
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker, 2: male and female. I watched them enter and exit a tree cavity. Be happy to share the location with anyone who wants to know OR you can sit and observe for awhile and find it yourself.
  • Carolina Chickadee, 2
  • Black-crested Titmouse, 1
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, 2
  • Spotted Towhee, 3, haven’t left yet
  • Canyon Towhee, 1
  • Chipping Sparrow, 37, all in brilliant breeding plumage
  • Field Sparrow, 1
  • White-throated Sparrow, 2, with one in brilliant breeding plumage
  • White-crowned Sparrow, 3
  • Northern Cardinal, 5
  • Brown-headed Cowbird, 10
  • House Finch, 6
  • Pine Siskin, 2. I understand they’ve been at Cedar Gap all winter; I saw none in town.
  • Lesser Goldfinch, 3
  • Other Wildlife: Cottontail Rabbit, not a rattlesnake

Sightings: LgPacker

Sweetwater, Texas

  • Carol Cain reported two Lazuli Buntings (male and female) feeding in her backyard!

April 12, 2007 – Lake Kirby

Highlights only:

  • American White Pelicans, 50+
  • Forester’s Terns
  • Willets
  • Baird’s Sandpiper

Sightings: LBlack

April 12, 2007 – DAFB

Complete list:

  • Blue-winged Teal, 5
  • Ruddy Duck, 5
  • Wild Turkey, 2
  • Great Blue Heron, 1
  • Turkey Vulture, 2
  • Swainson’s Hawk, 1
  • Killdeer, 2
  • White-winged Dove, 3
  • Mourning Dove, 22
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, 29
  • Blue Jay, 1
  • Cliff Swallow, 75+
  • Black-crested Titmouse, 6
  • Bewick’s Wren, 3
  • Eastern Bluebird, 1
  • American Robin, 21
  • Northern Mockingbird, 3
  • Eurasian Starling, 8
  • Clay-colored Sparrow, 1
  • Vesper Sparrow, 2
  • Lark Sparrow, 1
  • Savannah Sparrow, 3
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow, 1
  • Northern Cardinal, 1
  • Red-winged Blackbird, 3
  • Brown-headed Cowbird, 4
  • Bullock’s Oriole, 1
  • House Finch, 6
  • House Sparrow, 10

Sightings by LgPacker

April 10, 2007 – DAFB

A complete list will be posted later, but for those wanting to know highlights of what flew in this day:

  • Western Kingbird, 1: FOS
  • Grasshopper Sparrow, several: FOS
  • Yellow-headed Blackbird, 1: FOS
  • Bullock’s Oriole, 1: FOS

Sightings by KWalton, LgPacker

April 6, 2007 – Lake Kirby

This is a truncated list; only highlights are included.

Best bird(s) of the day:

  • Tree Swallow

Others:

  • Common Loon, 1
  • Pied-billed Grebe, 1
  • Great Egret, 1
  • American Coot, still fairly numerous, 50+
  • Black-necked Stilt, 1
  • Spotted Sandpiper, 1
  • Greater Yellowlegs, 1
  • Franklin’s Gull, 1
  • Bonaparte’s Gull, 1
  • Ring-billed Gull, 6
  • Forster’s Tern, 4
  • Tree Swallow, 5
  • Bank Swallow, 2
  • Cliff Swallow, 12
  • Cave Swallow, 3
  • Barn Swallow, 35

Sightings by L. Black, LgPacker

April 5, 2007 – DAFB

Complete List:

  • Blue-winged Teal, 10
  • Wild Turkey, 2
  • Northern Bobwhite, 6
  • Great Blue Heron, 1
  • Swainson’s Hawk, 1
  • Red-tailed Hawk, 1
  • Killdeer, 2
  • Mourning Dove, 33
  • Golden-fronted Woodpecker, 2
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker, 2
  • Eastern Phoebe, 2
  • Ash-throated Flycatcher, 3
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, 14
  • Chihuahuan Raven, 2
  • Black-crested Titmouse, 4
  • Bewick’s Wren, 4
  • Marsh Wren, 1 singing
  • Eastern Bluebird, 10
  • American Robin, 7
  • Northern Mockingbird, 26
  • European Starling, 22
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler, 1
  • Vesper Sparrow, 2
  • Lark Sparrow, 1
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow, 7
  • Northern Cardinal, 8
  • Red-winged Blackbird, 1
  • Meadowlark species, 25
  • Common Grackle, 42
  • Great-tailed Grackle, 1
  • Brown-headed Cowbird, 10
  • House Finch, 17

Sightings by LgPacker

Another Lake Kirby Adventure

TRES

The phone rang late Friday evening; my friend Lorie was looking at Tree Swallows (above) out at Lake Kirby. Friday’s cold front had stalled the migrating swallows and several hundred were flying around barely inches from the water’s surface. Needing my birder’s fix for the day, I grabbed the camera and ran (OK, drove) out to Lake Kirby to see if I could photograph a few of the swallows. On the way out I told myself all the reasons I shouldn’t be photographing: cloudy, diminishing evening light, cold north wind, subjects probably too far away, and John English wouldn’t photograph in such conditions. But I love a challenge and sure, the images could be much better; but all the images are at least diagnostic. Besides, no one really gets great looks at swallows; they’re always darting back and forth eating bugs.

BANS

Not only were a few Tree Swallows hovering above the lake but Bank Swallows (above), Barn Swallows, Cliff Swallows, and Cave Swallows were present as well. The strong north wind slowed them down just long enough for the camera to lock in on them allowing me a few shots. They are in the Migrating Swallows Picture Album. And if you think the two images posted here are less than decent, don’t bother looking at the album; they aren’t much better. But if you’re a birder needing a fix, enjoy!

So as daylight began to slip into darkness, I put the keys into the ignition and prepared to leave water’s edge. Uh-oh, nothing happened when I turned the key in the ignition. The truck wouldn’t start! Several warning symbols flashed on the dashboard. Incredulous and wondering how I was going to explain this one to my non-birding spouse, I got the vehicle’s manual out thinking I could decipher what was wrong with the truck. Hmm…I discovered the red glowing battery symbol surely meant I had a dead battery. So I called the non-birding spouse, confessed my predicament, and waited for help to arrive in the form of jumper cables. Slamming shut the glove compartment in frustration then caused the truck’s horn to sound off. Quickly punching a few buttons on the keyless remote stopped the blare of the horns and then I realized why my truck wouldn’t start. I had locked myself in the truck with the remote and when I attempted to start it, the truck thought I was someone trying to steal it. Only when I unlocked it with the remote did the truck start just fine. Chagrined, I called my non-birding spouse, confessed my stupidity and stopped him from driving all the way out to Kirby.

My, ain’t technology grand?