Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Heart of Texas


Mississippi Kite

We were recently in Abilene, Texas for a family wedding so of course we decided to squeeze in some birdwatching during our visit. We flew into San Antonio and spent a few days in the "Hill Country" before heading deep into the heart of Texas for the remainder of the trip.


Curve-billed Thrasher

Texas is fantastic for birds, but trying to locate them in the heat of July when breeding activity is largely finished is not particularly easy. Spring would have been a more advantageous season, but unfortunately the engaged couple did not consider our birdwatching preferences when they selected their wedding date. The nerve!


Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

The two most sought-after species in the Hill Country region are Golden-cheeked Warbler and Black-capped Vireo. We were successful in finding the vireo, but could not locate the warbler despite a fairly intensive effort.


Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Texas has a great variety of birds, but we would have had to visit the Rio Grande Valley, coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico, the Piney Woods region and several key locations in West Texas in addition to the Hill Country to fully appreciate the richness of bird species represented within the state. The large geographical area of Texas makes a visit to all of these areas impractical in a single short visit.


Mexican Ground Squirrel

Black-tailed Jackrabbit

In addition to birds, Texas is an interesting destination for viewing reptiles and mammals. One highlight of the trip was the opportunity to witness approximately 10 million Mexican Free-tailed Bats as they emerged from their maternity colony at dusk.


video

Texas is also well-known for its impressive variety of flying insects, particularly butterflies and dragonflies.


Halloween Pennant

Below is a complete list of birds recorded during our trip:
  1. Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
  2. Northern Bobwhite
  3. Least Grebe
  4. Pied-billed Grebe
  5. Neotropic Cormorant
  6. Anhinga
  7. American White Pelican
  8. Great Blue Heron
  9. Great Egret
  10. Snowy Egret
  11. Little Blue Heron
  12. Tricolored Heron
  13. Cattle Egret
  14. Green Heron
  15. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
  16. White-faced Ibis
  17. Black Vulture
  18. Turkey Vulture
  19. Mississippi Kite
  20. Harris's Hawk
  21. Red-shouldered Hawk
  22. Swainson's Hawk
  23. Red-tailed Hawk
  24. Black-necked Stilt
  25. Killdeer
  26. Least Sandpiper
  27. Spotted Sandpiper
  28. Lesser Yellowlegs
  29. Rock Pigeon
  30. Eurasian Collared-Dove
  31. Inca Dove
  32. Common Ground-Dove
  33. White-winged Dove
  34. Mourning Dove
  35. Groove-billed Ani
  36. Yellow-billed Cuckoo
  37. Common Nighthawk
  38. Chimney Swift
  39. Black-chinned Hummingbird
  40. Belted Kingfisher
  41. Golden-fronted Woodpecker
  42. Ladder-backed Woodpecker
  43. Crested Caracara
  44. Peregrine Falcon
  45. Acadian Flycatcher
  46. Eastern Phoebe
  47. Ash-throated Flycatcher
  48. Couch's Kingbird
  49. Western Kingbird
  50. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
  51. Loggerhead Shrike
  52. Black-capped Vireo
  53. White-eyed Vireo
  54. Hutton's Vireo
  55. Red-eyed Vireo
  56. Blue Jay
  57. Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay
  58. Common Raven
  59. Purple Martin
  60. Barn Swallow
  61. Cliff Swallow
  62. Cave Swallow
  63. Carolina Chickadee
  64. Black-crested Titmouse
  65. Verdin
  66. Canyon Wren
  67. Carolina Wren
  68. Bewick's Wren
  69. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  70. Eastern Bluebird
  71. American Robin
  72. Curve-billed Thrasher
  73. Long-billed Thrasher
  74. Northern Mockingbird
  75. European Starling
  76. Louisiana Waterthrush
  77. Black-and-white Warbler
  78. Yellow-throated Warbler
  79. Olive Sparrow
  80. Chipping Sparrow
  81. Lark Sparrow
  82. Canyon Towhee
  83. Rufous-crowned Sparrow
  84. Summer Tanager
  85. Northern Cardinal
  86. Pyrrhuloxia
  87. Blue Grosbeak
  88. Indigo Bunting
  89. Painted Bunting
  90. Red-winged Blackbird
  91. Yellow-headed Blackbird
  92. Common Grackle
  93. Great-tailed Grackle
  94. Brown-headed Cowbird
  95. Scott's Oriole
  96. House Finch
  97. Lesser Goldfinch
  98. House Sparrow