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.


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.

2 responses to “March Birding Madness: County Firsts!”

  1. Correction on the poorwill: my neighbor flushed it from some shrubs in his yard and its flight was feeble – they’re just coming out of torpor right now and tend to be groggy! So rehab was to fatten him up and keep him safe while he recovered from his nap (this was when the temps snapped back into the 30s, forcing insect eating birds to cut back on calorie intake).

  2. Thanks for straightening me out, Heidi. You have a reputation, hehe, and I just assumed you found the poorwill on the road. Sorry ’bout that.