Big Country Audubon Society

Stories by Laura

May 25, 2009 – Abilene, Oakwood Trails

Highlights:

  • Great-crested Flycatcher
  • Swainson’s Thrush

Complete List:

  • Wild Turkey – 12
  • Northern Bobwhite – 1 heard
  • Great Blue Heron – 1
  • Green Heron – 1
  • Mississippi Kite – 5
  • Rock Pigeon – 3
  • Eurasian Collared-Dove – 1
  • Mourning Dove – 6
  • Yellow-billed Cuckoo – at least 3, maybe more.  They were really vocalizing this foggy morning.
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker – 1
  • Great-crested Flycatcher – 2
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher – 2
  • Blue Jay – 4
  • Barn Swallow- 2
  • Black-crested Titmouse – 2
  • Carolina Wren – 1
  • Bewick’s Wren – 1
  • Eastern Bluebird – 1
  • Swainson’s Thrush – 1; this bird was found by Lorie 5-17-2009 and it is still hanging around!
  • American Robin – 4
  • Northern Mockingbird – 4
  • Northern Cardinal – 1
  • Common Grackle – 4
  • Great-tailed Grackle – 7
  • Brown-headed Cowbird – 5
  • House Finch – 2
  • House Sparrow – 1

Sightings by Lg Packer

May 18, 2009 – Callahan & Eastland Counties

Results of a breeding bird survey, south of Cottonwood, Texas, in Callahan County.  Route ends in Eastland County, near Cross Plains.

Highlights:

  • Cooper’s Hawk
  • Chuck-Will-Widow
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Eastern Kingbird
  • Summer Tanager
  • Yellow Warbler
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • American Goldfinch, late in the season

Complete List for Callahan County:

  • Wild Turkey – 2
  • Northern Bobwhite – 13 heard
  • Great Blue Heron – 2
  • Black Vulture – 2
  • Turkey Vulture – 5
  • Mississippi Kite – 1
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 1
  • Eurasian Collared-Dove – 14
  • Mourning Dove – 41
  • Yellow-billed Cuckoo – 1
  • Chuck-Will-Widow – 1 heard
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker – 4
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker – 1
  • Chimney Swift – 8
  • Black-chinned Hummingbird – 4
  • Eastern Phoebe – 10
  • Eastern Kingbird – 1
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher – 40
  • White-eyed Vireo – 4
  • Blue Jay – 3
  • American Crow – 29
  • Cliff Swallow – 15
  • Barn Swallow – 10
  • Carolina Chickadee – 5
  • Black-crested Titmouse – 16
  • Carolina Wren – 8
  • Bewick’s Wren – 16
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – 2
  • Eastern Bluebird – 4
  • Northern Mockingbird – 37
  • European Starling – 2
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler – 1
  • Summer Tanager – 2
  • Field Sparrow – 4
  • Lark Sparrow – 20
  • Northern Cardinal – 61
  • Blue Grosbeak – 1
  • Painted Bunting – 24
  • Red-winged Blackbird – 1
  • Eastern Meadowlark -6
  • Great-tailed Grackle – 4
  • Common Grackle – 5
  • Brown-headed Cowbird – 26
  • Bullock’s Oriole – 1
  • American Goldfinch – 3
  • House Sparrow – 25

Complete List for Eastland County:

  • Wild Turkey – 2
  • Northern Bobwhite – 8 heard
  • Great Blue Heron – 1
  • Black Vulture – 2
  • Turkey Vulture – 48
  • Mississippi Kite – 18
  • Red-shouldered Hawk – 3
  • Swainson’s Hawk – 2
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 1
  • Cooper’s Hawk – 1
  • Killdeer – 1
  • Eurasian Collared-Dove – 3
  • Mourning Dove – 22
  • Yellow-billed Cuckoo – 2
  • Greater Roadrunner – 3
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker – 3
  • Chimney Swift – 5
  • Black-chinned Hummingbird – 7
  • Eastern Phoebe – 9
  • Western Kingbird – 1
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher -23
  • White-eyed Vireo – 1
  • American Crow – 21
  • Purple Martin – 19
  • Cliff Swallow – 43
  • Barn Swallow – 3
  • Carolina Chickadee – 10
  • Black-crested Titmouse – 9
  • Carolina Wren – 4
  • Bewick’s Wren – 14
  • Eastern Bluebird – 9
  • Northern Mockingbird – 31
  • Yellow Warbler – 1
  • Summer Tanager – 2
  • Lark Sparrow – 15
  • Northern Cardinal – 37
  • Painted Bunting – 19
  • Dickcissel – 9
  • Red-winged Blackbird – 8
  • Eastern Meadowlark – 22
  • Brown-headed Cowbird – 26
  • House Sparrow – 10

Sightings by LgPacker, JPacker, and APacker

March Birding Madness: County Firsts!

The last week of March has revealed some incredibly out-of-range birds in the Big Country.  What is likely a Taylor County first is this Hooded Oriole, showing up at a nectar feeder at a northeast Abilene residence on March 24, 2009:

hoor-closeup-web-img_1158Photo by LgPacker

Hooded Orioles are normally found along the Rio Grande, in southern Arizona, in California and in Mexico.

A couple of days later Lorie found this Anhinga at Lake Fort Phantom at the outflow area establishing a Jones’ County first record:

anhinga_crPhoto by Lorie Black

Anhingas are aquatic birds normally found east of us along the Gulf Coast, along freshwater streams and ponds.  They spend considerable time in the water, body submerged with only the neck, face, and bill visible.  When not swimming the bird sunbathes on branches overhanging water as seen in the above photo.  The oriole, on the other hand, is associated with much drier habitat.  Why a waterlogged species and a desert dweller were seen days apart is anyone’s guess.  Perhaps their breeding hormones or the crazy weather patterns of late caused them to fly a little further than they had anticipated.

While not rare for our area, White-breasted Nuthatches are very uncommon in the Big Country.  They are more of an Eastern species.  But this one was found and photographed by Lorie at Oakwood Trails the first of March.

white-breasted-nuthatch-ldb_cr

Another bird hard to see (because it is nocturnal) is this Common Poorwill.

copo-ht-pict6208_webThought to be roadkill, Heidi pulled over and picked it off the road only to find out it was alive!  A quick trip to the Abilene Zoo’s Rehabilitation center brought it back to full health and it was released the next day.  Can’t find its eye or beak?  Here’s a closeup to help you figure it out.

To see more oriole, poorwill, and other bird photos from our members, go to our March Birding Madness Gallery.  Dan has wonderful pictures of a Fox Sparrow, Lorie has more pictures, John recorded a field trip to Cedar Gap Farm, and Laura has one or two also.  Speaking of Laura, the only poster to this site until now, BCAS is now happy to announce she has two new backups, Dan and Lorie.  They will be adding their birding knowledge and expertise to this site.  Blogging goodness slowed the first of this year when Laura had to take time off to battle cancer.  She appears to be winning the battle and thanks everyone for their many thoughts and prayers.

March 28, 2009 – Lake Kirby

Highlights:

  • Black-bellied Plover
  • Black-necked Stilt
  • Western Sandpiper
  • Bonaparte’s Gull
  • Franklin’s Gull
  • Forster’s Tern
  • Tree Swallow
  • Lark Bunting

Complete List:

  • Gadwall  – 28
  • American Wigeon – 2
  • Mallard – 4
  • Blue-winged Teal – 9
  • Northern Shoveler – 15
  • Green-winged Teal – 4
  • Pied-billed Grebe – 2
  • Eared Grebe – 1
  • American White Pelican – 40
  • Double-crested Cormorant –  8
  • Great Blue Heron –  3
  • Turkey Vulture – 1
  • Common Moorhen – 1
  • American Coot – 200
  • Black-bellied Plover – 1
  • Killdeer – 12
  • Black-necked Stilt – 1
  • Spotted Sandpiper – 1
  • Greater Yellowlegs – 4
  • Western Sandpiper – 6
  • Least Sandpiper – 53
  • Long-billed Dowitcher – 25
  • Bonaparte’s Gull –  5
  • Franklin’s Gull – 5
  • Ring-billed Gull – 41
  • Forster’s Tern – 12
  • Rock Pigeon – 20
  • Mourning Dove –  8
  • Tree Swallow – 1
  • Barn Swallow – 75
  • Bewick’s Wren – 1
  • Northern Mockingbird – 4
  • Curve-billed Thrasher – 1
  • American Pipit – 1
  • Orange-crowned Warbler – 4
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler – 10
  • Chipping Sparrow –  8
  • Clay-colored Sparrow – 20
  • Vesper Sparrow – 7
  • Lark Bunting – 10
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow – 1
  • White-crowned Sparrow –  6
  • Northern Cardinal – 2
  • Red-winged Blackbird – 100
  • Common Grackle –  52
  • Great-tailed Grackle –  12

Sightings by Lorie Black, Kathy Hampton, Dan Symonds, Charline Wheeler, and Linda White

February 23, 2009 – SeaBee Park

Highlights: Bold is only emboldened to note some of the gentle reminders that the first few snowflakes of the spring migration blizzard are upon us.

  • Vermilion Flycatcher – 1, first year male
  • Bewick’s Wren -1
  • Black-crested Titmouse – 4
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • Song Sparrow – 1
  • Mourning Dove
  • Northern Cardinal – 3
  • Gadwall
  • Northern Shoveler
  • Green-winged Teal
  • Double-crested Cormorant
  • American Coot
  • Tree Swallow – 1, drab adult
  • Swallow spp, 1-2 other individuals.  Could not identify due to sun
  • Northern Harrier – 1 female.  She glided around a bit.  I later saw her perched on the ground within the tall grass perimeter of the water.  She had her eye on a foraging female shoveler, but that bird eventually paddle slowly away.  She got close enough that I thought another 6-ft and that NOHA might give it a go.
  • Eastern Bluebird – 2
  • Bufflehead – 2
  • Wilson’s Snipe   – 1
  • Meadowlark spp.
  • Ring-billed Gull
  • Long-billed Dowitcher 45
  • Snowy Egret – 1
  • Northern Pintail – 2, M & F
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 1

Sightings by Matthew York,  Avian Wildlife Biologist

February Announcements

February 5, 2009: General Meeting, 7 pm

sooty-tern-webSooty Tern

Strangers to the Ground:  The Birds of Tern Island, Hawaii

presented by Matthew York

Matthew York is a graduate of Baylor University.  He did his Masters’ work for Sul Ross State University concentrating on life ecology of Montezuma Quail (Cyrtonyx montezumae) in the Davis Mountains, Texas.

In addition to having an interest in birds as far back as he can remember, he has served as an Avian Wildlife Biologist with several species and organizations.  These include work with Golden-cheeked Warblers (Dendroica chrysoparia) for The Nature Conservancy at Fort Hood,  Seabird Field Assistant at Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge on Tern Island Field Station with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service:

rescue-of-hawaiian-green-sea-turtle-webMatt rescues a Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle at Tern Island

This past year he served as Avian Field Biologist with the Institute for Wildlife Studies.  There, he was a part of the San Clemente Island Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus mearnsi)  Recovery and Monitoring Project.  This endangered subspecies is found only on San Clemente Island, the southernmost member of the Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California.  Recently moving back to Texas to be closer to home and loved ones, he will be working for Texas A&M analyzing habitat characteristics, nesting locations, and presence or absence of the Black-capped Vireo (Vireo atricapilla) in portions of central Texas.

Please join us February 5, 2009, 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.

laysan-albatrossl-black-footed-albatross-dance-webA Laysan Albatross (l) saunters past a pair of Black-footed Albatrosses during their bonding dance on Tern Island

Note: February field trips and other activities will be added as soon as they are confirmed.

January 29, 2009 – Lake Ft. Phantom Area

Sea Bee Park:

Highlights:

  • Cinnamon Teal
  • Northern Pintail
  • Neotropic Cormorant
  • Great Egret
  • Snowy Egret
  • Vermilion Flycatcher, first-year male

Complete List:

  • Gadwall – 7
  • Cinnamon Teal – 1
  • Northern Shoveler – 35
  • Northern Pintail – 6
  • Green-winged Teal – 55
  • Bufflehead – 12
  • Pied-billed Grebe – 5
  • Neotropic Cormorant – 1
  • Double-crested Cormorant – 10
  • Great Blue Heron – 6
  • Great Egret – 1
  • Snowy Egret – 2
  • Northern Harrier – 4
  • American Kestrel – 2
  • American Coot – 237
  • Killdeer – 1
  • Greater Yellowlegs – 1
  • Wilson’s Snipe – 1
  • Belted Kingfisher – 1
  • Northern Flicker – 1
  • Vermilion Flycatcher – 1
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet – 1
  • Savannah Sparrow – 3
  • meadowlark sp. – 20

Lake Fort Phantom:

Comlete List:

  • Mallard – 2
  • Northern Shoveler – 105
  • Northern Pintail – 3
  • Green-winged Teal – 75
  • Ring-necked Duck – 4
  • Bufflehead – 6
  • Pied-billed Grebe – 6
  • Double-crested Cormorant – 350
  • Great Blue Heron – 1
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 8
  • American Kestrel – 1
  • American Coot – 250
  • Least Sandpiper – 12
  • Wilson’s Snipe – 1
  • Ring-billed Gull – 25
  • Eurasian Collared-Dove – 3
  • Mourning Dove – 25
  • Inca Dove – 14
  • Belted Kingfisher – 3
  • Golden-fronted Woodpecker – 1
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker – 1
  • Eastern Phoebe – 1
  • Loggerhead Shrike – 1
  • Chihuahuan Raven – 1
  • Northern Mockingbird – 5
  • European Starling – 13
  • American Pipit – 1
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler – 1
  • Vesper Sparrow – 1
  • Savannah Sparrow – 1
  • Song Sparrow – 1
  • White-crowned Sparrow – 16
  • Northern Cardinal – 3
  • Red-winged Blackbird – 1
  • meadowlark sp. – 35
  • Brown-headed Cowbird – 5
  • American Goldfinch – 10
  • House Sparrow – 9

Wildlife Trails

Complete list:

  • Canvasback – 2
  • Ring-necked Duck – 1
  • Pied-billed Grebe – 2
  • Great Blue Heron – 2
  • Great Egret – 1
  • Mourning Dove – 66
  • American Robin – 1
  • meadowlark species – 35
  • Great-tailed Grackle – 10

Sightings by Kathy Hampton and Laura Packer

January 17, 2009 – Haskell County Field Trip

Big Country Audubon’s Wild Goose Chase to Haskell County was attended by Carolyn Wiggins, Charline Wheeler, Linda Beyer and Dan Symonds.  Winchester Lake, where we had captured the awesome video for the membership meeting in November, was dry. However, we were still able to see hundreds of geese feeding in fields and flying in large flocks around the area.

Complete List:

  • Greater White-fronted Goose  –   604
  • Snow Goose   –  50
  • Canada Goose  –   420
  • Duck sp.- 8
  • Double-crested Cormorant  –   5
  • Great Blue Heron   –  1
  • Northern Harrier  –   10
  • Red-tailed Hawk  –   18
  • American Kestrel  –   28
  • Sandhill Crane  –  23
  • Rock Pigeon  –   2
  • Eurasian Collared-Dove  –   3
  • Mourning Dove  –   160
  • Loggerhead Shrike  –   4
  • Northern Mockingbird  –   3
  • European Starling  –   154
  • Vesper Sparrow  –   43
  • Lark Bunting  –   10
  • Savannah Sparrow  –   8
  • White-crowned Sparrow  –  65
  • Northern Cardinal  –   2
  • Red-winged Blackbird   –  460
  • meadowlark sp.  –   590
  • Common Grackle  –   370
  • Great-tailed Grackle  –   130
  • Brown-headed Cowbird  –   410
  • House Sparrow  –   44

Carolyn’s sightings:

  • Gold Eagle – 1
  • White Buffalo  –   1

(If you have to ask for an explanation, then you didn’t go on the field trip!)

A Dove and a Pelican

Two bird occurrences made news here at BCAS this past week:  First, the rare sighting of a Ruddy Ground-Dove was reported in Tom Green County:

rugd-img_0986web

Kudos to Don (who’s identity will remain protected); he found the bird in his backyard hanging out with the Inca Doves.  Also, over at Ocellated, there are some excellent first photos of this rare sighting.  This dove is from Mexico.  If you look in a field guide, you might find a drawing of the bird, but you won’t find its range map because only a few confirmed records have been found in extreme southern Texas, near the Rio Grande River. And yes, technically the dove is not in the Big Country.  But it’s just one county away!  Near enough to chase! And that’s what I did this past weekend.

There were eight of us in Don’s backyard on a stakeout.  Me, Randy, Jay, Amy, Bob and wife from San Angelo, and Heidi and Matt.  Now Heidi and Matt did not come with us.  Heidi just happened to call as we were driving towards San Angelo and found out there was a Ruddy Ground-Dove in the area.  I remember Heidi said something like, “What?  You left town on a rarity chase and didn’t tell me?”  Oops…I thought I had.  Oops…I thought you read Texbirds.  Um, Heidi, I guess I was sneaking out of town without letting you know.  And then I reminded her of how I almost derailed Kathy’s and my friendship by rarity chasing a certain Golden-crowned Sparrow a year ago without telling her.  Oh, man, I get a little too focused…oops.  So anyway, she and Matt race on down to San Angelo; they get to the place about 45 minutes after we got there; and around 3:05, everyone gets really good looks at the little dove sitting in a tree:

rugd-branch-img_0818web

Heidi’s still my friend, I have a new lifer, and all is right with the world. What more could I ask?

Glad you asked.  Back in mid-December, David reported a wing-tagged American White Pelican at Nelson Pond:

awpe-tag-img_0606

Not only did it have a wing tag, it was also banded:

awpe-leg-band-img_0558web

If you find a tagged or banded bird, please report it to http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bbl/. This is the web site of the North American Bird Banding Program.  There are instructions there on how to report your sighting (or  call 1-800-327-BAND). I reported the sighting at their web site and last week I received a letter stating the bird was banded at the Blackfoot Reservoir, 4 miles southwest of Henry, Caribou County, Idaho!  The pelican was banded in 2008 when it was too young to fly.  So it’s not even a year old.  I always wondered where our northern visitors were coming from and now I know one came from the Blackfoot Reservoir! I think it’s enjoying hanging out with the Resident-Rehabbed (years-ago) pelican which has not migrated since its release back to the “wild.”  Hmmm…will the resident pelican take off in the spring with its new-found friend or will it create another slacker like itself?  The drama continues!

awpe-643-web-img_0569Baby Blackfoot (foreground) frolics with Resident-Rehabbed Pelican at Nelson Park, mid-December, 2008.

January 15, 2009 – Lake Kirby

Highlight:

Common Goldeneye,  female

Complete List (fairly standard winter sightings):

  • Gadwall  –   32
  • Mallard   –  12
  • Northern Shoveler  –   12
  • Green-winged Teal  –   35
  • Common Goldeneye  –   1
  • Ruddy Duck  –   2
  • Pied-billed Grebe  –   9
  • Eared Grebe  –   55
  • Double-crested Cormorant  –   27
  • Great Blue Heron  –   2
  • Red-tailed Hawk  –   1
  • American Coot –    40
  • Spotted Sandpiper  –   2
  • Wilson’s Snipe  –   1
  • Ring-billed Gull  –   23
  • Rock Pigeon  –   22
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker  –   2
  • Downy Woodpecker  –   1
  • Northern Flicker  –   1
  • Carolina Wren  –   1
  • House Wren  –   1
  • Marsh Wren  –   2
  • Northern Mockingbird  –   1
  • Orange-crowned Warbler  –   1
  • Savannah Sparrow  –   2
  • Song Sparrow   –  2
  • White-crowned Sparrow  –   35
  • Dark-eyed Junco  –   2
  • Northern Cardinal   –  6
  • Red-winged Blackbird   –  1
  • meadowlark sp.  –   8
  • House Sparrow  –   1

Sightings by LgPacker