Big Country Audubon Society

Big Country Blog

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:


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:


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:


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


If you find a tagged or banded bird, please report it to 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.

What Happened in December?

Nothing happens in the bird world in December, right?  Besides we’re too busy with holidays, CBCs (I did three!),  shopping, baking, and entertaining.  But while we were sleeping and waking and running, some of you noticed the birds and sent us photos.

A lingering Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was found at the wastewater treatment plant in Jones County on December 5:

stfl-img_0219-webIt set the latest “last-seen-in-the-fall” record for the Big Country.

Another flycatcher, the Great Kiskadee, was found December 29 behind a private residence along Cedar Creek in northeast Abilene:

gkis-jpacker_081229_8809webThis makes the “third-consecutive-year” record we’ve found this large Valley resident in the Big Country.

And the charm (third flycatcher) was this young Vermilion Flycatcher seen at SeaBee Park on the very first day of the new year:

vefl-ldb-jan-1-2009webEither this is the latest record or earliest record we have for Vermilion Flycatcher.  I don’t know…I’m confused.

And a little orange hummingbird braved the chill December air in Jones County:

ruhu-img_0260webRufous Hummingbird

Our usual winter residents have been seen in the usual places on fences:

ssha-mg_2586webSharp-shinned Hawk

in the brush:

webl-mg_4132webWestern Bluebird

and coming to the watering hole:

fosp-dsc_0441webFox Sparrow

But wait!  We have other birds that stepped in front of our cameras and in front of our cars   (It’s not gory; Heidi found an excellent specimen.)  I’ve put their pictures up at the December 2008 Gallery.  I even caught that  jolly-bearded, red-suited guy stopping by to grab a treat!

Thanks to those that sent in photos this past month!