Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, 2005

Zone-tailed Hawk, Salineño, 2014

Hook-billed Kite, Salineño, 2005

Whooping Crane, Aransas NWR, 2005

White-tailed Hawk, 2017 (Jeff Stephenson photo)

Plain Chachalaca, 2015 (Jeff Stephenson photo)

White-tailed Kite, 2014 (Jeff Stephenson photo)

Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, King Ranch, 2016 (Jerry Pruett photo)

Groove-billed Anis, Estero Llano Grande, 2015 (Linda Sparling photo)

Black Skimmers, 2015 (Linda Sparling photo)

Aplomado Falcon, near Laguna Atascosa NWR, 2011

Common Pauraque, Laguna Atascosa NWR, 2004

Buff-bellied Hummingbird, 2017 (Jeff Stephenson photo)

Ringed Kingfisher, 2016 (Jerry Pruett photo)

Golden-fronted Woodpecker, 2016 (Jerry Pruett photo)

Great Kiskadee, Estero Llano Grande, 2014

Green Jay, 2016 (Jerry Pruett photo)

Black-crested Titmouse, 2009 (Vija Kelly photo)

Clay-colored Thrush, San Ygnacio, 2013

White-throated Thrush, Estero Llano Grande, 2015 (Jena Highkin photo)

Long-billed Thrasher, 2014 (Scott Meyer photo)

Gray-crowned Yellowthroat, Estero Llano Grande, 2015

Red-crowned Parrot, Weslaco, 2012

White-collared Seedeater, Laredo, 2013

Olive Sparrow, 2014 (Jeff Stephenson photo)

Crimson-collared Grosbeak, Alan Williams' feeders, Pharr, 2011

Blue Bunting, Laguna Atascosa NWR, 2009 (Vija Kelly photo)

Altamira Oriole, 2017 (Jeff Stephenson photo)

Also see the PHOTO GALLERY

following the summaries of the 2017, 2016, and 2015 MBWeeks


_________



SOUTH TEXAS MBWEEK SUMMARY

February 12 - 19, 2017



True, our official species total fell just short of our goal of 200, as we – and just about every other birder I talked to – found this to be a relatively quiet winter. Only a couple of Mexican rarities were being seen (including one in Refugio we'd just as soon forget!), and many winter visitants simply didn't visit this year, as they found the conditions farther north mild enough with no need to head for South Texas. Indeed, we found no wintering geese (probably a first for this MBW), hardly any swallows or flocks of wintering sparrows, and not as many shorebirds as usual (this may be the first time we missed Marbled Godwit, while both Piping and Snowy plovers were strangely non-existent).


But even a sub-par year here is filled with highlights. Probably the best bird on our list was the adult male Rose-throated Becard at Estero Llano Grande, a species not seen here most years. While our timing at Regufio didn't match the erratic appearances of a certain warbler, the Tropical Parula we did see was a very nice consolation prize. Our morning at Santa Ana and nearby a couple days later netted us two Burrowing Olws and the often-elusive N Beardless-Tyrannulet, and an Aplomado Falcon and a couple of Gull-billed Terns were that afternoon's highlights. Our drive up to Salineño the next day was rewarded by the Red-billed Pigeons posing on the upriver island at dawn, our best look at an adult Gray Hawk, an unexpected Summer Tanager, and our only Ringed Kingfishers and Audubon's Orioles. And there was enough time at Anzalduas on our last morning to find Sprague's Pipits, and both Black-throated Gray and Yellow-throated warblers.


In addition to these relatively rare/elusive birds, the Broad-billed Hummingbird at a Fulton feeder just a couple blocks from our motel was a first for this MBweek, representing species #344 on the all-time composite list. Another "write-in" was the heard-only Louisiana Waterthrush in Refugio which was only the second time this species has been recorded on this trip, and listed for only the third time were the Least Bittern in Port Aransas, the Barred Owl in Refugio, and the two Scissor-tailed Flycatchers along Hwy 77.


Note that our species total of 197 did not include nine "unofficial" birds: a Mexico-only Peregrine Falcon, 2 non-countable exotics (White-winged Parakeet, Lilac-crowned Parrot), possible but silent Short-billed Dowitchers, a road-kill Barn Owl, and four species only found with Jonas after the main MBW ended (Fulvous Whistling-Ducks and King Rails at Tiocano Lake, and Carolina Chickadees and American Goldfinch in Refugio; in addition, Jonas was able to see Clapper Rail and the Louisiana Waterthrush).


And think of all the other memorable but more "routine" birds we saw – whistling-ducks (by the 100s at Progreso Lakes), chachalacas, Least Grebe, White-tipped Dove, sleeping pauraques, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Whooping Crane, spoonbills, Harris's and White-tailed hawks, Green Kingfisher, parakeets and parrots, kiskadees and kingbirds, "ignored" Green Jays, Black-crested Titmouse, Clay-colored Thrush, thrashers, Olive Sparrow, orioles, and many more. Considering that about 80 of the nearly 200 species we saw are not regularly found in Minnesota, perhaps it's little wonder that Ellen counted no fewer than 107 lifers (!) since she'd never birded south of Duluth. Jonas figured he had 59 lifers (plus 4 others with me after the MBW), while Rick had about 55.



Itinerary


February 12: Mid-afternoon Delta arrival at HRL (the high was 86º); City Lake, Calvary Baptist Church, and Pendleton Park in Harlingen; dinner at Texas Roadhouse & night in Harlingen.


February 13: Back roads/detours en route to Laguna Atascosa NWR (again 86º at HRL); afternoon drive to Rockport via Hwy 77, Sarita wayside rest, Indian Point, and Sunset Lake Park; dinner at Crab N & first of 2 nights in Fulton.


February 14: Morning at Lions-Shelley Park in Refugio (after heavy rains and a tornado warning siren), and afternoon boat trip to Aransas NWR; dinner at Charlotte Plummer's.


February 15: Cavasso Creek, Big Tree & vicinity, Port Aransas (boardwalk & beach), return to Refugio, and evening drive to Weslaco; dinner at El Tapatio in Kingsville and first of 4 nights in Weslaco.


February 16: Estero Llano Grande, N American Butterfly Assoc feeders, Bentsen State Park, staging parakeets @10th & Trenton, and staging parrots @2nd & Bus Hwy 83; dinner at Blue Onion.


February 17: Progreso Lakes, Unland Road owling, Santa Ana NWR, Old Port Isabel Road, Hwy 48 inlet, and S Padre Island; dinner at Longhorn Cattle Company.  


February 18: Pre-dawn departure for Salineño, Falcon State Park & vicinity, and Roma (unofficial high ~95º); dinner at Blue Onion and owling at Estero Llano Grande.


February 19: Anzalduas Co Park, Hidalgo, return to Estero, and return to HRL (high ~90º) for mid-afternoon Delta flight.


[February 20-21: Jonas and I bird return with Tom Langschied to Lions-Shelley Park (and again we miss the Golden-crowned Warbler, deciding to leave after 3 hours – and less than 5 minutes before the bird is spotted by others!), continue to Rockport, Cavasso Creek, and return to Harlingen; we finish up at Tiocano Lake and an Aplomado area on Hwy 100, before I fly out of HRL and Jonas drives to San Antonio.]



Bird List


• boldfaced species = relatively rare / often difficult to find

italicized species = "non-Minnesota" birds (i.e., absent, Accidental, or Casual in MN)


Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

Gadwall

American Wigeon

Mallard

Mottled Duck

Blue-winged Teal

Cinnamon Teal

Northern Shoveler

Northern Pintail

Green-winged Teal

Canvasback

Redhead

Ring-necked Duck

Greater Scaup (unexpected en route to Laguna)

Lesser Scaup

Bufflehead

Common Goldeneye

Red-breasted Merganser

Ruddy Duck


Plain Chachalaca


Northern Bobwhite (Laguna Atascosa)


Wild Turkey


Least Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Eared Grebe


Rock Pigeon

Red-billed Pigeon

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Inca Dove

Common Ground-Dove (Estero only)

White-tipped Dove

White-winged Dove

Mourning Dove


Greater Roadrunner (only one)


Common Pauraque


Archilochus, sp. (female Ruby-throated/Black-chinned)

Broad-billed Hummingbird

Buff-bellied Hummingbird


Clapper Rail (heard-only on MBW, seen post-MBW)

Sora

Common Gallinule

American Coot


Sandhill Crane

Whooping Crane (also seen near The Big Tree)


Black-necked Stilt

American Avocet


American Oystercatcher


Black-bellied Plover

Semipalmated Plover

Killdeer


Long-billed Curlew

Ruddy Turnstone

Stilt Sandpiper

Sanderling

Dunlin

Least Sandpiper

Western Sandpiper

Long-billed Dowitcher

Wilson's Snipe

Spotted Sandpiper

Solitary Sandpiper (Santa Ana)

Greater Yellowlegs

Willet

Lesser Yellowlegs


Laughing Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Herring Gull

Gull-billed Tern

Caspian Tern

Forster's Tern

Royal Tern

Black Skimmer


Common Loon


Neotropic Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant


Anhinga


American White Pelican

Brown Pelican


American Bittern

Least Bittern

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Snowy Egret

Little Blue Heron

Tricolored Heron

Reddish Egret

Cattle Egret

Green Heron

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (best at Estero)


White Ibis

White-faced Ibis

Roseate Spoonbill (best at Estero)


Black Vulture

Turkey Vulture


Osprey


White-tailed Kite

Northern Harrier

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

Harris's Hawk

White-tailed Hawk

Gray Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk


Eastern Screech-Owl (the mccallii subspecies at Estero)

Great Horned Owl

Burrowing Owl

Barred Owl


Ringed Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

Green Kingfisher (best at Refugio)


Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Ladder-backed Woodpecker


Crested Caracara

American Kestrel

Aplomado Falcon (another seen post-MBW)


Monk Parakeet (Hidalgo nests)

Green Parakeet

Red-crowned Parrot


Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet

Black Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

Vermilion Flycatcher

Great Kiskadee

Tropical Kingbird (best at City Lake on Day 1)

Couch's Kingbird

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher


Rose-throated Becard


Loggerhead Shrike


White-eyed Vireo

Blue-headed Vireo


Green Jay

Chihuahuan Raven


Horned Lark


Purple Martin

Tree Swallow

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Barn Swallow


Black-crested Titmouse


Verdin


House Wren

Sedge Wren (heard-only)

Marsh Wren

Carolina Wren

Bewick's Wren

Cactus Wren


Blue-gray Gnatcatcher


Ruby-crowned Kinglet


Eastern Bluebird

Hermit Thrush

Clay-colored Thrush (best at Bentsen)

American Robin


Curve-billed Thrasher

Long-billed Thrasher

Northern Mockingbird


European Starling


Cedar Waxwing


House Sparrow


Sprague's Pipit


House Finch

Lesser Goldfinch


Ovenbird

Louisiana Waterthrush (leader-only / heard-only; seen post-MBW)

Black-and-white Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler

Common Yellowthroat

Tropical Parula

Yellow-rumped Warbler (incl an "Audubon's" at Anzalduas)

Yellow-throated Warbler

Black-throated Gray Warbler

Wilson's Warbler


Olive Sparrow

Cassin's Sparrow (posing on a fence wire)

Chipping Sparrow

Clay-colored Sparrow (leader-only)

Vesper Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

Black-throated Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

Lincoln's Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow (heard-only)


Summer Tanager

Northern Cardinal

Pyrrhuloxia


Red-winged Blackbird

Eastern Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark

Brewer's Blackbird (Sarita wayside)

Boat-tailed Grackle (Cavasso Creek)

Great-tailed Grackle

Bronzed Cowbird

Brown-headed Cowbird

Hooded Oriole (Bentsen)

Altamira Oriole

Audubon's Oriole



Also Seen:


Fulvous Whistling-Duck (post-MBW at Tiocano L)

King Rail (ditto, heard-only)

Short-billed Dowitcher (probably seen at Sunset Lake)

Barn Owl (road-kill en route to Laguna)

Peregrine Falcon (Mexico-only at Anzalduas)

White-winged Parakeet (exotic staging w/Greens)

Lilac-crowned Parrot (exotic w/Red-crowneds)

Carolina Chickadee (post-MBW at Refugio)

American Goldfinch (ditto)


Significant Others:


Eastern Cottontail

Eastern Fox Squirrel

Nutria

Coyote

White-tailed Deer

Javelina (Collared Peccary)

Hispid Cotton Rat

Atlantic Bottle-nosed Dolphin

American Alligator

Red-eared Slider




*          *          *


SOUTH TEXAS MBWEEKS SUMMARY

February 14 - 22, 2016 (I)  /  February 23 - March 1, 2016 (II)


Certainly, the most eye-catching statistic from these back-to-back MBWeeks was the number of birds found on the second MBW: a record 231 species! This eclipsed the old record of 228 species from 2012, and it was somewhat unexpected given that this total was reached in seven days rather than the usual eight on a standard MBWeek. But we were assisted especially by the scouting of the previous week’s MBW, and by the last-minute arrangements to spend a morning on the King Ranch, as well as this smaller group’s ability to move around at a faster pace.


Although MBWeek I had a more modest total of 202 species, this was just a few species shy of our average and the result of those searches made for all the rarities that were present this winter – which then left us less time to find other species. Most time-consuming were our repeated vigils for White-throated Thrush (successful – not seen on MBW II), Blue Bunting (also successful), and the frustrating Tropical Parula (leader-only, heard-only). But MBW I was also able to find several other South Texas specialties/rarities (also seen on MBW II) in a more timely fashion: e.g., Northern Jaçana, Red-billed Pigeon, Groove-billed Ani, Aplomado Falcon, Greater Pewee, White-collared Seedeater (at Salineño!), and Crimson-collared Grosbeak (twice!).


Combining the two MBWeeks, there was a composite total of 238 species, with 7 of these only found on MBW I, and no fewer than 36 found only on MBW II; see the bird list below for the differences. In addition, note that 5 new species were added to our all-time composite list for this South Texas MBWeek, which now stands at 341: Barred Owl (Refugio; both MBWs), Downy Woodpecker (quite unexpected at Port Aransas; MBW I), Pacific-slope Flycatcher (Sabal Palm Grove, pending confirmation of the ID; MBW II), Louisiana Waterthrush (also Refugio; MBW II), and Rufous-crowned Sparrow (Falcon State Park; MBW II).


There were other noteworthy species as well, considering how few times they have been recorded on this MBWeek (figures indicate the number of previous records since 1988): Least Bittern (1), King Rail (2), Mountain Plover (1), Northern Jaçana (2), Sandwich Tern (3), Greater Pewee (1), Carolina Chickadee (3), White-throated Thrush (4), Spotted Towhee (3), Nelson’s Sparrow (4), Black-headed Grosbeak (3), and Painted Bunting (1).


And, as you consider all these impressive numbers, keep in mind all those other South Texas specialties which almost seem to be taken for granted and fall through the cracks when not included in the highlights – whistling-ducks, chachalacas, White-tailed and other hawks, Whooping Cranes, kingfishers, parrots & parakeets, kiskadees & kingbirds, Green Jays, Clay-colored Thrush & Long-billed Thrashers, Olive Sparrow, Altamira & Audubon’s orioles, and many more…. These would be enough on their own to make an impressive list of highlights without all those other rarities in the spotlight.


Itineraries


MBWeek I


February 14: Meet at HRL at 2:45pm; drive to Rockport via Riviera’s pond and FM 1118 E of Ricardo; dinner at Charlotte Plummer’s / first of 2 nights in Rockport-Fulton.


February 15: Bayside wetlands, Lion’s/Shelly Park, Cavasso Creek, Lamar Peninsula, Skimmer boat trip to Aransas NWR, Fulton-Rockport waterfront, and Cove Harbor marsh; dinner at Aranda’s.    


February 16: Port Bay Club Road, Port Aransas & Mustang Island, Kaufer-Hubert Park, Sarita, meet Ron & Mark at HRL, and parrot roost in Weslaco; dinner at Blue Onion / first of 4 nights in Weslaco.


February 17: Frontera Audubon, Santa Ana NWR, Chimney Rock, Bentsen State Park, Granjeño, and Hidalgo; dinner at Blue Onion.


February 18: Return to Bentsen, Casa Santa Ana, Estero Llano Grande / return to Frontera, and convoluted search for McAllen’s nature center and parakeets; dinner at Blue Onion.


February 19: Tiocano Lake, parula search at Fuller’s, Old Port Isabel Road, U T Brownsville, Sabal Palm Grove, Highway 48 inlet, Laguna Atascosa NWR, and return to Fuller’s; dinner at Longhorn Cattle Company.


February 20: Return to Frontera, Anzalduas County Park, and Roma Bluffs; late lunch/early dinner at Caro’s / first of 2 nights in Zapata.


February 21: Salineño, Chapeño, Falcon County Park & State Park, “secret” gnatcatcher road, San Ygnacio, and Las Palmas; dinner at Steak House.


February 22: Rio Grande City parakeets, brief returns to Bentsen, Anzalduas, and Fuller’s; afternoon return to HRL for flights home.  


MBWeek II


February 23: Meet at HRL at 2:45pm; Harlingen City Lake, and parrot roost at Matz & Breedlove; dinner at Longhorn Cattle Company, night in Harlingen.


February 24: Norias Division at King Ranch, Sarita, Riviera, Kaufer-Hubert Park, Pollywog Pond, Indian Point & Sunset Lake Park; dinner at Crab N, first of 2 nights in Rockport-Fulton.  


February 25: Cavasso Creek, Lion’s/Shelly Park, Port Aransas & Mustang Island, Packery Channel, and Hans Suter Wildlife Area; dinner at Charlotte Plummer’s.


February 26: Skimmer boat trip to Aransas NWR, Dick Kleberg Park, Frontera Audubon, and Estero Llano Grande (briefly); dinner at Blue Onion / first of 4 nights in Weslaco.


February 27: Bentsen State Park, Anzalduas County Park, Granjeño, Peñita pipit-less patch, McCook plover fields, Hargill Playa, Casa Santa Ana, Weslaco parakeet & cowbird search; dinner at Blue Onion.


February 28: Tiocano Lake, Fuller’s yard, Old Port Isabel Road, Sabal Palm Grove, Highway 48 inlet, Laguna Vista sewage ponds, Laguna Atascosa NWR, and Harlingen Civic Center; dinner at Longhorn Cattle Company.


February 29: Salineño, Chele Road, Falcon State Park & County Park, brief return to Peñitas, McAllen Nature Center (it exists!), Hidalgo, Santa Ana NWR, and Weslaco vulture roost; dinner at Blue Onion.


March 1: Pre-dawn at Estero Llano Grande, and returns to Frontera and Bentsen; afternoon return to HRL for flight home.


Bird List


• I = MBWeek I, February 14 - 22

• II = MBWeek II, February 23 - March 1

(species not annotated with I or II were found on both MBWs)

• boldfaced species = rarities and other highlights


Black-bellied Whistling-Duck     (minimum of 2,500 at Harlingen City Lake on II)

Fulvous Whistling-Duck     (Riviera on both I & II; also Santa Ana & Fuller’s on I)  

Greater White-fronted Goose     II only (along FM 628)

Snow Goose      

Gadwall

American Wigeon

Mallard     II only (same FM 628 wetland)    

Mottled Duck

Blue-winged Teal

Cinnamon Teal

Northern Shoveler

Northern Pintail

Green-winged Teal

Canvasback     II only (again at FM 628 wetland)

Redhead

Ring-necked Duck   

Lesser Scaup

Bufflehead

Common Goldeneye     II only (from the Skimmer)

Hooded Merganser    

Red-breasted Merganser     II only (various sites)

Ruddy Duck


Plain Chachalaca


Scaled Quail     II only (unexpected on Salineño short-cut road)    

Northern Bobwhite  


Wild Turkey     (also unexpected at Bentsen on II)    


Common Loon


Least Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Eared Grebe  


Neotropic Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant


Anhinga


American White Pelican

Brown Pelican

  

Least Bittern     II only (Port Aransas boardwalk & Tiocano L)    

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Snowy Egret

Little Blue Heron

Tricolored Heron

Reddish Egret

Cattle Egret

Green Heron

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron    


White Ibis

White-faced Ibis

Roseate Spoonbill


Black Vulture

Turkey Vulture


Osprey

    

White-tailed Kite

Northern Harrier

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

Harris's Hawk

White-tailed Hawk

Gray Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk     (heard-only on I)

Broad-winged Hawk

Zone-tailed Hawk     I only (seen by Bill & Paul O at Frontera)

Red-tailed Hawk


Clapper Rail     (heard-only on II)  

King Rail     (ditto, at Tiocano L)    

Virginia Rail     I only (Port Aransas boardwalk)     

Sora

Common Gallinule

American Coot


Sandhill Crane

Whooping Crane     (also near the Big Tree on I)


Black-necked Stilt

American Avocet


American Oystercatcher


Black-bellied Plover

Snowy Plover     (Kaufer-Hubert on I; Hargill Playa on II)    

Semipalmated Plover

Piping Plover     II only (Indian Point)

Killdeer

Mountain Plover     II only (6 stake-outs near McCook)


Northern Jaçana     (Pintail L on I; Willow L on II)


Spotted Sandpiper

Solitary Sandpiper     II only (Frontera)

Greater Yellowlegs

Willet

Lesser Yellowlegs

Long-billed Curlew

Marbled Godwit     II only (Hans Suter)

Ruddy Turnstone

Stilt Sandpiper

Sanderling

Dunlin

Least Sandpiper

Western Sandpiper     II only (various sites)

Short-billed Dowitcher     II only (calling at Laguna Vista sewage ponds)

Long-billed Dowitcher

Wilson's Snipe


Bonaparte's Gull     II only (from the Skimmer)

Laughing Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Herring Gull

Lesser Black-backed Gull     II only (Mustang I. stake-out)     

Gull-billed Tern     (Hwy 48 inlet on I & II)     

Caspian Tern

Forster's Tern

Royal Tern

Sandwich Tern     II only (2 at Mustang I.)

Black Skimmer


Rock Pigeon

Red-billed Pigeon     (2-3 at Salineño on I & II)     

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Inca Dove

Common Ground-Dove     II only (Bentsen)

White-tipped Dove

White-winged Dove

Mourning Dove


Greater Roadrunner

Groove-billed Ani     (very cooperative at Frontera on I & II)     


Barn Owl     II only (King Ranch)     


Eastern Screech-Owl     (heard-only on II)

Great Horned Owl     II only (nest at Sabal Palm)

Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl     II only (King Ranch)

Burrowing Owl     (Granjeño on I & II)

Barred Owl     (Refugio on I & II)  


Common Pauraque


Buff-bellied Hummingbird

Archilochus, sp.     


Ringed Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

Green Kingfisher


Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker     I only (Port Aransas boardwalk)


Crested Caracara

American Kestrel

Aplomado Falcon     (Old Port Isabel Road on I & II)    

Peregrine Falcon     II only (various sites)


Monk Parakeet     (now nesting in Hidalgo)

Green Parakeet     (Rio Grande City on I; Harlingen on II)

Red-crowned Parrot     (Weslaco on I; Harlingen on II)  


Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet     II only (Anzalduas)  

Greater Pewee     (well seen at Refugio on I & II)

Pacific-slope (?) Flycatcher     II only (Sabal Palm)  

Black Phoebe     

Eastern Phoebe

Say's Phoebe     

Vermilion Flycatcher    

Great Kiskadee

Tropical Kingbird

Couch's Kingbird


Loggerhead Shrike


White-eyed Vireo

Blue-headed Vireo


Green Jay

Chihuahuan Raven  


Horned Lark


Purple Martin  

Tree Swallow

Northern Rough-winged Swallow       

Cave Swallow     

Barn Swallow     II only (Pollywog Pond)  


Carolina Chickadee     II only (Refugio)

Black-crested Titmouse


Verdin

     

House Wren  

Sedge Wren     (heard-only on I)

Marsh Wren

Carolina Wren

Bewick's Wren  

Cactus Wren


Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher     I only (the usual side road N of Zapata)     

  

Ruby-crowned Kinglet


Eastern Bluebird

Hermit Thrush

Clay-colored Thrush  

White-throated Thrush     I only (Casa Santa Ana)     

American Robin


Gray Catbird     II only (Frontera)     

Curve-billed Thrasher

Long-billed Thrasher

Northern Mockingbird


European Starling


American Pipit     II only (Anzalduas)    


Cedar Waxwing     II only (various sites)


Ovenbird  

Louisiana Waterthrush     II only (Refugio)  

Black-and-white Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler

Nashville Warbler

Common Yellowthroat  

Tropical Parula     (heard-only on I & II)       

Pine Warbler     

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-throated Warbler

Black-throated Gray Warbler     

Black-throated Green Warbler     (leader-only on I)     

Wilson's Warbler


White-collared Seedeater     (well seen on I & II at Salineño)

    

Olive Sparrow

Green-tailed Towhee     I only (brief view near Salineño)

Spotted Towhee     II only (briefly at McAllen Nature Center)

Rufous-crowned Sparrow     II only (Falcon State Park)    

Cassin's Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

Clay-colored Sparrow    

Vesper Sparrow     II only (various sites)

Lark Sparrow

Black-throated Sparrow

Lark Bunting     

Savannah Sparrow  

Nelson's Sparrow     II only (Cavasso Creek)     

Seaside Sparrow     II only (ditto)     

Lincoln's Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow  

White-crowned Sparrow

  

Crimson-collared Grosbeak     (Laguna Atascosa on I & II; also Frontera on I)    

Northern Cardinal

Pyrrhuloxia

Black-headed Grosbeak     II only (Frontera)

Blue Bunting     (long vigils at Frontera)  

Painted Bunting     I only (female seen by some at Frontera)  


Red-winged Blackbird

Eastern Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark  

Brewer's Blackbird

Boat-tailed Grackle     

Great-tailed Grackle

Bronzed Cowbird

Brown-headed Cowbird

Hooded Oriole     

Altamira Oriole

Audubon's Oriole


House Finch     II only (Hidalgo)       

Lesser Goldfinch

American Goldfinch


House Sparrow


Significant Others:


• Lilac-crowned and Yellow-headed parrots (non-countable exotics on II)

• Wood Duck, Prairie Falcon, Field Sparrow (probably seen but not counted on II)

• Eastern Cottontail, Eastern Fox Squirrel, Nutria, Coyote, Nilgai (King Ranch exotic),

  White-tailed Deer, Javelina, Feral Hog, Atlantic Bottle-nosed Dolphin, American Alligator,

  Red-eared Slider




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SOUTH TEXAS MBWEEK

February 14 - 22, 2015


It's always hard knowing where to begin the summaries of these February MBWeeks in South Texas, since there are so many "routine" birds here that typically fail to make the list of highlights. How can you adequately summarize a trip where we may turn our backs on such specialties as Plain Chachalaca, Least Grebe, Harris's Hawk, Common Pauraque, White-tipped Dove, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Great Kiskadee, Green Jay, Black-crested Titmouse, Clay-colored Thrush, Long-billed Thrasher, Olive Sparrow, and Altamira Oriole? What could possibly be more worthy of our attention than these?


Plenty, it turns out, especially this year when we managed to find no fewer than 208 species in all, a few more than the average for this MBW. Among these were 8 extra species not printed on our checklist, with the exceptionally rare and elusive White-throated Thrush and Gray-crowned Yellowthroat leading the list of Mexican strays – both recorded for the 4th time out of the 30 MBWs here. The other "write-ins" were Broad-winged Hawk (not seen most winters), Monk Parakeet (recently established in Hidalgo), Winter Wren (Jeff's 400th Texas bird; only the 2nd time on this MBW), Prairie Warbler (a first for this MBW, and #336 on the composite list), Painted Redstart (back for the second year in the same place), and Orchard Oriole (another 2nd for this trip).


(Not included in the above totals, by the way, were a possible Black-chinned Hummingbird at Estero, three species of "non-countable" parrots at Oliviera Park, and those 8 or 9 birds seen by Frank, Jeff, and me on our extra day near Austin – including that first U.S. record of Striped Sparrow, and a bonus Song Sparrow, Jeff's former Texas-list nemesis.)


Besides the thrush and yellowthroat, it was especially satisfying this year to find several other elusive birds that we could easily have missed (and which eluded some other birders): an unexpected Fulvous Whistling-Duck on that ordinary resaca, the adult male Hook-billed Kite low overhead at Bentsen 3 hours later than expected, the initially distant Aplomado Falcon that finally chose to fly right by us, two Red-billed Pigeons perched at close range that were even calling (we had 8 pigeon/dove species that day!), our photo-op of responsive and curious Groove-billed Anis, a Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet (in the right park but the wrong tree), a cooperative Black-tailed Gnatcatcher along its "secret" road, an exceptionally visible Sprague's Pipit posing in the grass, and a colorful singing male Tropical Parula


And there were other memorable birds that even the Green Jays could not distract us from....Roseate Spoonbills and other waders, no fewer than 20 species of raptors, tourist-trap Whooping Cranes by the Big Tree, 21 shorebird species, Black Skimmers, Buff-bellied Hummingbirds, Ringed and Green kingfishers, noisy hordes of parrots and parakeets, Tropical and Couch's kingbirds, 12 warbler species, Cassin's and Black-throated sparrows, Audubon's Orioles, and many more.


True, it was disappointing that no one had any good Barn Owl leads for us, and that our Laredo seedeater search was mostly characterized by heavy festival traffic, convoluted streets at the community college, and temperatures in the low 90s. But I'd consider these our only disappointments (with the seedeaters always a challenge, never to be taken for granted), and they certainly pale in comparison with everything else we did find!


Itinerary


February 14 - Meet at 3:00pm in Harlingen, and late afternoon drive to Rockport via Sarita wayside rest; dinner at Aranzu's, and first of 2 nights at Fulton EconoLodge.   


February 15 - Aransas NWR boat aboard the Skimmer, Lamar Peninsula crane pasture, Hwy 35 Boat-tailed cruise, Rockport Beach/Water Street, Conn Harbor, Ingleside, Indian Point, and Sunset Lake Park; dinner at Crab-N.


February 16 - Cape Valero/Port Bay Club Road & vicinity, Port Aransas, and afternoon drive to Weslaco via redstart wayside on Hwy 281; dinner at Blue Onion (where else?!), and first of 4 nights at Weslaco Holiday Inn Express. 


February 17 - Estero Llano Grande, Progresso Lakes, Resaca de la Palma & FM 1732 whistling-duck resaca, Old Port Isabel Road, and Oliviera Park parrot show; dinner at Longhorn Cattle Company.


February 18 - Bentsen State Park, Anzalduas County Park, Granjeño rock pile, Hidalgo, and Lowe's parakeet fountain in McAllen (with a wren search by Jeff & Paul at Edingburg Wetlands); dinner at Blue Onion.


February 19 - Successful return to Estero Llano Grande, Tio Cano Lake, Laguna Atascosa NWR, South Padre Island, Hwy 100 Aplomado search, and Barn Owl-less palms in San Benito; split up for dinner at Longhorn / Blue Onion.


February 20 - Brief return to Estero, Santa Ana NWR, brief return to Hidalgo, plover-less fields near McCook, and drive to Zapata via Salineño; dinner at Steak House (Zapata's finest restaurant), and first of 2 nights at Zapata Best Western.


February 21 - Return to Salineño, and drive to Laredo for Washington's Birthday Jalapeño Festival traffic jam and Community College labyrinth challenge....but no seedeaters in the 90+ degree heat; dinner at Pizza Hut (Zapata's #2 restaurant) 


February 22 - Return to Harlingen via San Ygnacio, the secret gnatcatcher side road, Roma Bluff, and again to Hidalgo (3rd time's a charm), and return to 30-below windchills for most on 3:15pm Delta flight.


Bird List 


(boldfaced species = "non-Minnesota" birds (i.e., absent, accidental, or casual in MN)


Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

Fulvous Whistling-Duck  (FM 1732 resaca)

Snow Goose

Ross's Goose  (near Rockport)

Gadwall

American Wigeon

Mallard  (incl "Mexican" Mallards)

Mottled Duck

Blue-winged Teal

Cinnamon Teal

Northern Shoveler

Northern Pintail

Green-winged Teal

Redhead

Ring-necked Duck

Greater Scaup  (from the Skimmer)

Lesser Scaup

Bufflehead

Common Goldeneye

Hooded Merganser  (Estero Llano Grande)

Red-breasted Merganser

Ruddy Duck


Plain Chachalaca  (especially noisy at Bentsen)


Common Loon


Least Grebe  (best at Estero)

Pied-billed Grebe

Eared Grebe


Neotropic Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant


Anhinga


American White Pelican

Brown Pelican


Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Snowy Egret

Little Blue Heron

Tricolored Heron

Reddish Egret

Cattle Egret

Green Heron

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron  (Estero)


White Ibis

White-faced Ibis

Roseate Spoonbill


Black Vulture

Turkey Vulture


Osprey


Hook-billed Kite  (nice spotting, Frank!)

White-tailed Kite

Northern Harrier

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

Harris's Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Broad-winged Hawk  (not usually present in winter)

Gray Hawk

White-tailed Hawk

Zone-tailed Hawk  (Salineño)

Red-tailed Hawk

Ferruginous Hawk  (great view over Hwy 285; not seen most winters)  


Clapper Rail  (best at Indian Point)

Sora

Common Gallinule

American Coot


Sandhill Crane

Whooping Crane  (from the Skimmer & again in that pasture N of Rockport)


Black-necked Stilt

American Avocet


American Oystercatcher


Black-bellied Plover

Snowy Plover  (Sunset Lake Park)

Semipalmated Plover

Piping Plover  (only 2 marginal views)

Killdeer


Spotted Sandpiper

Greater Yellowlegs

Willet

Lesser Yellowlegs

Long-billed Curlew

Marbled Godwit

Ruddy Turnstone

Sanderling

Dunlin

Least Sandpiper

Western Sandpiper

Long-billed Dowitcher  (plus probable Short-billeds)

Wilson's Snipe


Bonaparte's Gull

Laughing Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Herring Gull

Gull-billed Tern  (displaying pair S of Rockport)

Caspian Tern

Forster's Tern

Royal Tern

Black Skimmer


Rock Pigeon

Red-billed Pigeon  (at least 4 at Salineño, with 2 of them calling!)

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Inca Dove

Common Ground-Dove

White-tipped Dove

White-winged Dove

Mourning Dove


Greater Roadrunner  (only one?)

Groove-billed Ani  (2 cooperative birds at Laguna; not seen most winters)


Eastern Screech-Owl  (the mccallii subspecies)

Great Horned Owl

Burrowing Owl  (roosting in that same Granjeño rock pile)


Common Pauraque  (again sleeping next to that trail at Estero)


Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Buff-bellied Hummingbird


Ringed Kingfisher  (fewer than normal)

Belted Kingfisher

Green Kingfisher  (best at Estero)


Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Ladder-backed Woodpecker


Crested Caracara

American Kestrel

Aplomado Falcon  (more elusive than usual)

Peregrine Falcon  (more than usual)


Monk Parakeet  (increasing in Hidalgo)

Green Parakeet  (again at the fountain at Lowe's)

Red-crowned Parrot  (with Red-loreds, White-fronteds, and Yellow-headeds at Oliviera Park)


Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet  (at Anzalduas....but not in a Huisache or Anacua)

Black Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

Vermilion Flycatcher

Great Kiskadee

Tropical Kingbird  (calling with Couch's at Estero)

Couch's Kingbird


Loggerhead Shrike


White-eyed Vireo

Blue-headed Vireo


Green Jay  (ignored – as usual – by Wednesday)

Chihuahuan Raven


Horned Lark


Purple Martin

Tree Swallow

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Cliff Swallow  (early arrivals in Roma)

Cave Swallow  (Bentsen only)


Black-crested Titmouse


Verdin


House Wren

Winter Wren  (a pork-rinds-worthy bird for Jeff)

Sedge Wren

Marsh Wren

Carolina Wren

Bewick's Wren

Cactus Wren


Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher  (again at the "usual spot")


Ruby-crowned Kinglet


Eastern Bluebird

Hermit Thrush

Clay-colored Thrush  (especially at Estero) 

White-throated Thrush  (hiding with the Clay-coloreds!)

American Robin


Gray Catbird

Curve-billed Thrasher

Long-billed Thrasher

Northern Mockingbird


European Starling


American Pipit

Sprague's Pipit  (better view than usual at Anzalduas)


Black-and-white Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler

Nashville Warbler

Gray-crowned Yellowthroat  (eventually cooperated nicely at Estero)

Common Yellowthroat

Tropical Parula  (nice views at Resaca de la Palma)

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-throated Warbler  (only at the Hwy 281 rest stop?)

Prairie Warbler  (#336 on the all-time S Texas MBW list)

Black-throated Gray Warbler

Wilson's Warbler

Painted Redstart  (2nd consecutive year)


Olive Sparrow  (more elusive than usual)

Cassin's Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

Black-throated Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

Seaside Sparrow  (decent scope views from the Skimmer)

Lincoln's Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow


Northern Cardinal

Pyrrhuloxia  (more elusive than usual)

Indigo Bunting


Red-winged Blackbird

Eastern Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark

Brewer's Blackbird

Boat-tailed Grackle  (N of Rockport)

Great-tailed Grackle

Bronzed Cowbird

Brown-headed Cowbird

Orchard Oriole  (Estero; unusual in winter)

Hooded Oriole  (Salineño)

Altamira Oriole

Audubon's Oriole  (best at Salineño) 


House Finch

Lesser Goldfinch

American Goldfinch


House Sparrow


Significant Others:


Eastern Cottontail

Eastern Fox Squirrel

Nutria  (Port Aransas boardwalk)

Coyote

Bobcat/Ocelot  (brief view at Laguna Atascosa)

White-tailed Deer

Javelina  (Collared Peccary)

bat, sp.  (possibly Mexican Free-tailed; 100's flushed from a bridge by a Harris's Hawk S of Laredo)

Atlantic Bottle-nosed Dolphin

American Alligator

Red-eared Slider

 

....and a Keokuk County, Iowa license plate!




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SOUTH TEXAS MBWeeks PHOTO GALLERY




Audubon's Oriole, Salineño, 2014

Northern Jaçana, Santa Ana NWR, 2016

Pyrrhuloxia, 2016 (Jeff Stephenson photo)

Curve-billed Thrasher, 2017 (Jeff Stephenson photo)

Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Santa Ana NWR, 2017 (Jeff Stephenson photo)

Tropical Kingbird, Harlingen, 2017 (Jeff Stephenson photo)

Harris's Hawk, Santa Ana NWR, 2017

Roseate Spoonbill, Estero Llano Grande, 2017