Big Country Audubon Society

Stories from March, 2008

March 31, 2008-Will Hair Park

  • Turkey Vulture
  • Rock Pigeon
  • Eurasian Collared-Dove
  • White-winged Dove
  • Mourning Dove
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
  • Blue Jay
  • Cave Swallow
  • American Robin
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • European Starling
  • Clay-colored Sparrow
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Common Grackle
  • Great-tailed Grackle
  • American Goldfinch
  • House Sparrow

Sightings by Dan S.

April Calendar, 2008


Do you know what this wildflower is? Or how about this tree…do you know what it is?


Me neither. Until I met Dr. Herb Grover, the most knowledgeable plant person around the Big Country. Dr. Grover, professor of Biology and Environmental Management at Hardin-Simmons University will speak to us on the flora of Taylor County at our April 3 meeting. He has lots of beautiful photos of flowers and plants and he’ll give us names to those plants. Herb Grover received his bachelor’s degree in biology from Rider University, 1974; his master’s in botany (Plant Ecophysiology) from Rutgers University, 1977; and his doctorate in biology (Ecosystems Ecology) from the University of New Mexico, 1982.

For all the time we spend outdoors looking for birds, isn’t it time we put some names to the wildflowers we see?

Please join us April 3, 2008, at 7 p.m. at Rose Park Activity Center, Room A, South 7th and Barrow Streets. Our meetings are free and open to the public.

And we hope you can join us for one or more of our other April activities:

April 12, Saturday: Birding and Work Day at Abilene State Park. Bring your binoculars and your work gloves. We’ll work on the bird blind fence and enjoy returning spring migrants in the park. We’ll meet at the park with work to start around 8:00. Call a fellow birder if you’d like to carpool. Stay as long as your schedule allows. Pack a lunch or enjoy one of the eating establishments in Buffalo Gap.

April 19, Saturday: Spring Festival at Abilene State Park—More information to follow.

March 29, 2008-Callahan County Sightings

Our March 29 field trip to Callahan County had the following:

Best bird(s) of the morning:

  • Black-chinned Hummingbird, first of the season
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • White-eyed Vireo
  • Canyon Wren
  • House Wren
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  • Black-and-white Warbler

Complete List:

  • Wild Turkey
  • Northern Harrier
  • Red-shouldered Hawk
  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • American Kestrel
  • Eurasian Collared-Dove
  • Mourning Dove
  • Black-chinned Hummingbird
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Eastern Phoebe
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
  • Loggerhead Shrike
  • White-eyed Vireo
  • Blue Jay
  • Western Scrub-Jay
  • American Crow
  • Purple Martin
  • Carolina Chickadee
  • Black-crested Titmouse
  • Canyon Wren
  • Carolina Wren
  • Bewick’s Wren
  • House Wren
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  • Eastern Bluebird
  • American Robin
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • Cedar Waxwing
  • Orange-crowned Warbler
  • Black-and-white Warbler
  • Spotted Towhee
  • Chipping Sparrow
  • Field Sparrow
  • Vesper Sparrow
  • White-crowned Sparrow
  • White-throated Sparrow
  • Dark-eyed Junco
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Brown-headed Cowbird
  • Pine Siskin

Sightings by Kathy H, Laura P, Marsha S, Dan & Marie S, Heidi T, and Charline W.

And Waste Water had:

  • Mallard: 6
  • Blue-winged Teal: 10
  • Cinnamon Teal: 2
  • Northern Shoveler: 100
  • Northern Pintail: 1
  • Green-winged Teal: 4
  • Bufflehead: 8
  • Eared Grebe: 6
  • American Coot: 75
  • Semipalmated Plover: 1
  • Killdeer: 1
  • American Avocet: 3
  • Greater Yellowlegs: 1
  • Lesser Yellowlegs: 2
  • Least Sandpiper: 8
  • Baird’s Sandpiper: 4
  • Short-billed Dowitcher: 1
  • Long-billed Dowitcher: 20
  • Wilson’s Snipe: 2
  • Loggerhead Shrike: 1
  • Western Scrub-Jay: 1
  • Barn Swallow: 6
  • Marsh Wren: 1
  • Northern Mockingbird: 1
  • American Pipit: 1
  • Savannah Sparrow: 1
  • Song Sparrow: 1
  • White-crowned Sparrow: 10
  • Northern Cardinal: 1
  • Red-winged Blackbird: 4
  • Great-tailed Grackle: 4
  • House Finch: 2

Waste water sightings by Ben G. and Heidi T.

Love is in the Air (and on Cars)!

March is a great time of year. Many resident birds are staking out territories, singing to attract mates, and starting to build nests. A pair of Eastern Bluebirds were photographed at a natural cavity on Dyess Air Force Base. The couple was pair bonding, evident by the male coming to the cavity and feeding the female:


Wild Turkeys are finding love at Dyess Air Force Base also. But one turkey is finding love in all the wrong places:


Red Crossbills, first spotted in the Buffalo Gap area are now being seen in Abilene!


And a couple of Great Blue Herons are nesting at Nelson Park:


But wait, there’s more Big Country bird news! We’ve got pictures of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Lesser Goldfinches, and Snowy Plovers. In fact, we have so many interesting photos of what’s been happening this past month that two photo galleries were created for your viewing pleasure, March Menagerie and the photos about Love is in the Air (and on Cars)!

We hope you enjoy our birds of the Big Country in March. Keep your eyes up, there’s more to come!

March 23, 2008 – Area Sightings

Lorie drove around Ft Phantom this morning after early service and found some goodies:

SeaBee Park

  • Cattle Egret (3)
  • Snowy Egret (2)
  • Cinnamon Teal (2) across the road from the park
  • Blue-winged Teal (6)
  • Tree Swallow – 20

Johnston Park

  • American Avocet (1)
  • American Pipet (6)
  • Least Sandpiper (20)
  • Western Sandpiper (6)

And this afternoon Lorie went to Kirby Lake:

  • Snowy Plover (1)
  • There was a large (200+) mixed flock of Gadwall, Redhead, Lesser Scaup and Ruddy Duck

(To see a complete list of birds seen around Kirby this morning, look at Dan Symonds’ following list.)

Ben Richey Drive:

  • Red Crossbills (8) flew from the pine trees along the front of the Boy’s Ranch

Wow, look what a little front brought in! Don’t you just love the movements of birds during spring migration?

Above sightings by Lorie Black

And along Cedar Crest Drive during my early morning walk, the Great Kiskadee was heard calling!

March 23, 2008 – Lake Kirby

Kirby Lake:

  • Gadwall 30
  • Northern Shoveler 25
  • Redhead 2
  • Bufflehead 30
  • Ruddy Duck 22
  • Pied-billed Grebe 23
  • Horned Grebe 1
  • Eared Grebe 20
  • Double-crested Cormorant 35
  • Great Blue Heron 2
  • Turkey Vulture 1
  • American Kestrel 1
  • American Coot 100
  • Greater Yellowlegs 1
  • Wilson’s Snipe 1
  • Bonaparte’s Gull 11
  • Ring-billed Gull 10
  • White-winged Dove 2
  • Mourning Dove 6
  • Belted Kingfisher 1
  • Cactus Wren 1
  • Bewick’s Wren 1
  • Marsh Wren 1
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2
  • Northern Mockingbird 8
  • Curve-billed Thrasher 1
  • Spotted Towhee 2
  • Song Sparrow 1
  • White-crowned Sparrow 1
  • Northern Cardinal 4
  • Pyrrhuloxia 1
  • Red-winged Blackbird 10
  • Common Grackle 2
  • Great-tailed Grackle 3

All sightings by Dan Symonds.

March 15, 2008 – Lake Hamlin Field Trip

The field trip to Lake Hamlin included stops at Lake Fort Phantom and Lake Stamford. Sightings for the day also included a few resident Abilene birds. Complete list:

  • American Wigeon
  • Mallard
  • Blue-winged Teal
  • Northern Shoveler
  • Green-winged Teal
  • Redhead
  • Ring-necked Duck
  • Pied-billed Grebe
  • American White Pelican
  • Double-crested Cormorant
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Great Egret
  • Snowy Egret
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Northern Harrier
  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • American Kestrel
  • Common Moorhen
  • American Coot
  • Killdeer
  • Greater Yellowlegs
  • Semipalmated Sandpiper
  • Long-billed Dowitcher
  • Ring-billed Gull
  • Forster’s Tern
  • Rock Pigeon
  • Eurasian Collared-Dove
  • White-winged Dove
  • Mourning Dove
  • Inca Dove
  • Belted Kingfisher
  • Golden-fronted Woodpecker
  • Northern Flicker, red-shafted
  • Eastern Phoebe
  • Loggerhead Shrike
  • Horned Lark
  • Bewick’s Wren
  • Marsh Wren
  • Eastern Bluebird
  • American Robin
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • Curve-billed Thrasher
  • European Starling
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • Vesper Sparrow
  • Lark Bunting
  • Savannah Sparrow
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow
  • White-crowned Sparrow
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • Eastern Meadowlark
  • Western Meadowlark
  • Common Grackle
  • Great-tailed Grackle
  • Brown-headed Cowbird
  • Lesser Goldfinch
  • House Sparrow

Sightings by Kathy Hampton, Dan Symonds, and Charline Wheeler

Blind Sightings

Bird Blind

Big Country Audubon is pleased to announce that our bird blind at the Abilene State Park is now ready for birders, wildlife watchers, and birds! In September, 2007, the blind was delivered to the State Park. Over the next few months our eager volunteers painted the inside, hung feeders, and constructed a water feature. Immediately the birds found the food and water; cameras found the birds; and we hope you find the Bird Blind Photos!

And now I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the wonderful TPWD personnel for helping us with our project: Paul, Okie, Bobby, and Cody. Big Country Audubon volunteers who helped make this dream a reality: John, Lorie, Kathy, Joan, Charline, Carolyn, W.K, Steve, Heidi, Dan, Bera, and Peggy. Special thanks to Earth Share of Texas, and Texas Audubon for helping us achieve our goals.

There’ll be a few more improvements in the near future and we look forward to seeing all at our grand opening during the Abilene State Park Spring Festival, April 19. Stay tuned; I’m sure there will be more birds-from-the-blind photos to come.


March 7, 2008-Area Highlights

Best bird(s) of the day:

  • Common Goldeneye: 1
  • Red-tailed Hawk: 1 at her nest. Where? It’s a secret!
  • Northern Long-eared Owl: 1, too bad it was roadkill but I’m sure it has living breathing companions somewhere waiting to be found
  • Sage Thrasher: 1

This truncated list is DAFB highlights, (sightings by LgPacker) except for the Long-eared Owl which was seen by H.Trudell here.

Long-eared Owl Found in Taylor County


Guest post by Heidi Trudell –

This afternoon (3/7/08) while heading back from work I spotted a lump of roadkill just off the shoulder of 351 and out of the kindness of his heart, my coworker obliged and we investigated the lump. Initially the lump looked like a clump of wood or Great-horned Owl, but Carson pointed out that it was too small and quite buffy. Sadly, I’ve never seen a live Long-eared Owl so I was hesitant to call it LEOW but nothing else would have been close. The whole critter is maybe half the size of a GHOW, has quite small talons, slender ear tufts, lemony yellow eyes, very heavily mottled back and wings and tail… The underwings are overall buffy with a distinct dark splotch near the “wrist.” It’s definitely an exciting bird for me, even if it’s not exactly countable – getting such close looks at fresh specimens of any species is exciting. Many thanks to Carson Brown, Laura Packer, Michael Retter and Jay Packer for their assistance in identifying, photographing, documenting and generally cooperating in getting the LEOW online and into the freezer!

***Please note that state & federal permits are required to pick up dead critters, the LEOW in question is under Texas A&M’s salvage permit and will end up in their collection. This is not to say that you should ignore fresh roadkill, but make sure that someone with permits is able to pick it up.

To see more pictures of this first Taylor County record (or until proven otherwise) click on the Long-eared Owl Photos.