700 or Bust – Lifer Countdown

With an obnoxiously loud BEEP BEEP BEEP, my 5:00 am alarm woke me from a deep sleep. The adrenaline instantly kicked in and I was literally jumping out of bed. I was certain that today would bring me lifer species number 700. I was on a return visit to the mystical Yucatan Peninsula, having just visited there a month before. I again requested the services of Amar Aves bird expert, Miguel Amar Uribe and had booked a 6-day tour of the peninsula. Miguel and Claudio Lopez had met me at the Cancun International Airport the night before and we drove to the town of Rio Lagartos to spend the night.

Rio Lagartos Malecón

I opened the door and looked across the street to the malecón and watched the tour boats gently rocking with the water and could hear the waves lap against them. I was sitting at 683 life Birds, with my last lifer being a Green-breasted Mango on the Isla de Cozumel in December of last year (2021). The list of potential life birds in this area was staggering and with visions of exotic hummingbirds, colorful trogons and flamboyant flamingos in my head, I wandered along the malecón, trying to get a sense of just how spectacular the day would be. At 5:30, Miguel, Claudio and I were joined by “Chino” Santiago Contreras and we headed out to explore the nearby forests with plans to return to take a midday boat tour of the bay. Besides being one of the elite birders of the region, Chino would be our skipper for the tour through the Parque Natural Ría Lagartos.

Fast-forward to our arrival back at Rio Lagartos, having just checked off lifers #695 Yucatan Wren and #696 Cinnamon Hummingbird.

Yucatan Wren

We stopped briefly at the hummingbird house on Calle 17 to get a look at dozens of Mexican Sheartails (lifer #697) and Cinnamon Hummingbirds.

Mexican Sheartail (female) and Cinnamon Hummingbird

Mexican Sheartail (male)
Cinnamon Hummingbird

As we boarded Chino’s boat to begin our tour of the bay we had lots of frigatebirds and cormorants and Laughing Gulls flying all around us.

Magnificent Frigatebird

We cruised around the shallow bay adjacent to Rio Lagartos viewing an assortment of shorebirds and herons with a brief view of a Clapper Rail.

American Oystercatcher and Reddish Egret

We continued our slow commute along the banks of the river when Claudio suddenly yells out “Bare-throated Tiger-Heron”! Chino guided the boat skillfully as we floated towards a beautiful bird that acted as if we weren’t there at all. After several dozen photos, we were off in search of my next lifer.

Bare-throated Tiger-Heron

At this point the bay narrowed to more like a river with vegetation towering along each side. First we heard, and then we saw a Common Black Hawk #699. We got to see and photograph first an immature bird and then an adult. ALMOST TO #700!

Common Black Hawk – Immature
Common Black Hawk – Adult

As we rounded a bend, the landscape opened up and before us in the distance was a score of lifer birds #700, otherwise known as AMERICAN FLAMINGOS.

American Flamingos

Chino was very considerate as to in no way bother these magnificent wonders of nature, but my 500mm lens brought me plenty close enough to get some good photographs.

By this time the sun was starting to get low on the horizon bathing the flamingos in a warm glowing light.

As we headed back towards Rio Lagartos, I was exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. What a grand adventure, and this was only the first day!

Finally, a big thank you and shout out to the kind folks at Mexico Kan Tours (Facebook Link), Amar Aves (Website Link), Miguel Amar Uribe, Claudio Lopez (Facebook Link) and our skipper “Chino” Santiago Contreras (Facebook Link).

Do you wash every week?

The Rufous-browed Peppershrike is a member of the vireo family and can be found from Central Mexico south through Central America and into most of South America. It is generally found in the upper canopy of trees and tends to be very vocal all year round. Its song, which it will repeat over and over, kind of sounds like someone saying “Do you wash every week?”.

Here is a link to the sounds made by the Rufous-browed Peppershrike.

It is an omnivorous bird feasting on pretty much anything small enough that is moving or looks edible. We were walking along a side road in northern Yucatan when Claudio Lopez (bird guide extraordinaire) heard it call. In this particular series of images it was eating the berry of a shrub along the path we were walking.

Rufous-browed Peppershrike
Rufous-browed Peppershrike
Rufous-browed Peppershrike

A 4 “Yucatán” Bird Day

As I looked ahead to the list of birds that would be “lifers” (never observed before) for me in the Yucatán peninsula there were upwards of 100 species that I thought I had a fairly decent chance of seeing. This list of 100 species was composed of mostly common to fairly common regional birds with ranges from central Mexico down to South America. However, that group of 100 species also included a subset of around 20 endemic birds that are only found in the Yucatán peninsula. These endemic species ranked highest on my Want-to-See List. And at the Tip-Top of that endemic list were those 8 species with “Yucatan” in their name.

Yucatán Nightjar

Our first day of birding found us driving country roads long before sunrise in hopes of getting either or both members of the Nightjar family, technically called Caprimulgidae. We saw many nightjars on the road that flew up before we could get very close and most of those were clearly Common Pauraque. However I did manage two shots of a Yucatán Nightjar. The two images I have are horrible terrible no good bad photos, but they were enough to show that the bird had no white in the wings or tail and did not have a prominent white throat stripe.

Here is a link to a great image on eBird https://ebird.org/species/yucnig1

Here is my really bad image.

Yucatán Nightjar

Yucatán Flycatcher

The second bird with Yucatán in its name happened to be a Yucatán Flycatcher. This bird very closely resembles the Dusky-capped Flycatcher that is also found in this area. Identification by their calls is the easiest, but this bird was not giving voice lessons this morning. Photographs however, clearly show the pale gray coloration that encircles the eye and what appears to be a relatively smaller bill.

Yucatán Flycatcher

Yucatán Woodpecker

A short time later in the same general area as the Yucatán Flycatcher, we encountered the Yucatán Woodpecker. Once again, this is one of those birds that closely resembles a another bird that is much more widespread. Ranging from the southern US down to Central South America, the Golden-fronted Woodpecker has the same general color patterns as the Yucatán.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker (bigger bill)

The Yucatán woodpecker is smaller with a more slender bill usually with golden feathers circling the base at the bill. As with the Yucatán Flycatcher, its calls ensure its identification. Fortunately for us, this bird cooperated in giving us its beautiful call.

Yucatán Woodpecker (smaller bill)

Yucatán Wren

The final “Yucatán” bird species for the day turned out to be the Yucatán Wren. After spending the morning cruising the back roads of the upper Yucatán Peninsula, we stopped at an intersection with a safe spot to park just outside of Rio Lagartos. There was lots of cactus in the area and before we could get 10 yards from the car, Chino was calling out, “Yucatán Wrens here!”

The Yucatán Wren has a very limited range, only occurring in the dry coastal scrub along north coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Yucatán Wren Distribution from eBird

To me, this species looked almost identical to the common Cactus Wren of the southern US.

Cactus Wrens in SE Arizona

In the images below, a parent Yucatán Wren is feeding a young bird.

Yucatán Wren
Yucatán Wren
Yucatán Wren

A Squirrel Moment – Squirrel Cuckoo that is

Ranging from mid-Mexico down through central South America, the Squirrel Cuckoo is common and is most often seen in gliding from one tree to another, or energetically hopping from branch to branch in search of a wide variety of arthropods. It is a fairly common resident in the Yucatan Peninsula, but had somehow eluded me in my previous birding stops. As I related in my Let’s Groove Tonight post I had been photographing some very cooperative Groove-billed Anis along the side of the road.

Groove-billed Ani

The anis were feeding around a big ant swarm and other birds were joining in on the feast. Seemingly out of nowhere, my “lifer” Squirrel Cuckoo seem to just appear on a branch in front of me. The Squirrel Cuckoo is in the same family of birds, Cuculidae, as the Groove-billed Ani.

Squirrel Cuckoo

The name ‘Squirrel Cuckoo’ comes from their coloration and the fact that their movements in trees resemble those of a squirrel at first glance.

Squirrel Cuckoo

According to BirdLife International, the Squirrel Cuckoo is listed as a species of Least Concern.

Let’s Groove Tonight

Groove-billed Ani – Crotophaga sulcirostris

Ranging from the tip of Northern Chile to the lowlands of Southern Texas, the Groove-billed Ani is a member of the Cuculidae Family that also includes Roadrunners and Cuckoos. It can be found throughout the Yucatán Peninsula often found foraging on the arthropods flushed up from ant swarms.

In Search of…

After getting a great night’s sleep in Rio Lagartos, Yucatan, the four Pajareros left before dawn in search of any number of Lifers for me.

We ended up walking along a very quiet dirt road listening and watching for cooperative birds.

Miguel, Claudio and Chino, Pajareando

One of the three amigos called out rather casually, “Groove-billed Ani.” Unbeknownst to them, the Groove-billed Ani was on my list of US birds that I did not have a photo of. Miguel Amar quickly pointed out a distant Ani and I snapped off a dozen shots of the VERY distant bird. Even though it wasn’t something I’d ever share in a presentation, it was a decent record shot and clearly showed its most unusual bill. Miguel chuckled and commented, “Don’t worry, we’ll see many more. And much closer!” (Yeah right, I thought to myself, I’ve heard that before…)

Groove-billed Ani

Well, it only took another 20 minutes to prove Miguel right! We came upon a swarm of ants and the birds started coming in. 25-minutes and 140 images later, I landed a few really decent images of the GROOVE-BILLED ANI.

Groove-billed Ani
Groove-billed Ani
Groove-billed Ani

Black Phoebe – Sayornis nigricans

A medium-sized flycatcher with a sooty-black back and head with a white belly. Typically seen singly or in pairs, usually sitting conspicuously on a low perch often near water. The Black Phoebe can frequently be seen pumping its tail up and down.

Black Phoebe at Merced NWR 11/18/2021

View from the Valley 

The Black Phoebe is a common year round valley resident that may turn up in your backyard. They are quite vocal giving a Tsip call throughout the year and in several different contexts (e.g., during flight, foraging, interaction with potential nest predator). They can be found in almost any habitat that includes water, i.e., streams, wetlands, ponds and backyard pools. The Black Phoebe is insectivorous and can usually be seen flying out from a low perch to catch flying insects and other arthropods.

Black Phoebe at CSU Stanislaus 12/16/2018

Global Conservation Status

This species has an extremely large range, appears to be increasing and the population size is extremely large (>5,000,000), and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable. For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern. “BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Sayornis nigricans. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 05/01/2022.”

Black Phoebe at Basalt Campground, Merced County 4/16/2016

Fun Facts

Black Phoebes are monogamous and frequently raise 2 broods of young during a breeding season. Their adherent nests are composed of a mud shell lined with plant fibers, typically placed over water and plastered to a vertical wall within a few centimeters of a protective ceiling. Nest construction or refurbishment usually begins in March or April and takes from 1 to 3 weeks. (Wolf, B. O. (2020). Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole and F. B. Gill, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.blkpho.01 on 05/01/2022.) 

Black Phoebe at the San Joaquin River NWR 9/25/2016

In Search of a 5-Star Rated Vermilion Flycatcher Photo

After seeing several recent excellent photos of the returning Vermilion Flycatcher by Doug Krajnovich at Lake Yosemite County Park In Merced County, CA., I decided I ought to try and track it down and shoot it. Digitally that is!

ABOUT THE PARK

Lake Yosemite is a freshwater reservoir built in 1888 for irrigation purposes and is currently owned and operated by the Merced Irrigation District. It is located about 5 miles east of Merced, CA.

Lake Yosemite Park Entrance
Lake Yosemite

VERMILION FLYCATCHER BACKGROUND

Doug Krajnovich first discovered a first fall male Vermilion Flycatcher on 10/10/2019 at the south end of the park along the Fairfield Canal. Generally, they are rare across the Central Valley, but they seem to be occurring more frequently in Merced County over the past 20 years. At one point last year in the winter of 2020/2021 up to 3 were seen at the same time at Lake Yosemite County Park.

Vermillion Flycatcher at the Merced NWR 1/17/2021

THE DIGITAL MEDIA EXPLOSION

When I first started photography, shooting images often came at a steep price and as a beginner I found myself in a quandary. Did I use Ektachrome 100, Kodachrome 64, or Fujichrome Velvia 50 when in the field? It was expensive to buy and then develop. And the worst part was not knowing if you nailed the shot or not until you got them back several days later. With the advent of more reasonably priced equipment and an almost endless number of images that can be captured on one SD Card, I often take upwards of 500 images in a morning’s outing. The challenge then becomes one of which image is the best.

RATING A PHOTOGRAPH

As a birder turned photographer, I strive to both capture an image that will serve to document a bird sighting and to satisfy my artistic expectations of a high quality reproduction. This typically involves taking the first image at a distance and steadily getting closer and capturing more and more images.

eBird Ratings

eBird is an online database of bird observations providing scientists, community scientists, researchers and amateur naturalists with real-time data about bird distribution and abundance. Today, the vast majority of birders record their location sightings using eBird. Along with recording numbers of each species encountered, users can submit images, audio recordings and video snippets to help document what they found. Each image that a user submits can be rated to help with the greater community science needs. According to their website, “Ratings increase the utility of Macaulay Library media for everyone, enabling the best images, audio, and video to be discovered and used in projects such as Merlin and Birds of the World, as well as Illustrated Checklists and external research applications.

From my perspective, getting a good image has helped me to either cinch or reject the identification of a challenging or unusual bird species.

They use a 5-star rating system, with 5 stars being the highest quality. They specifically state that the ratings should be strictly technical in nature and not to take in account the rare status of a species. A great photo of a common, drab bird should still be 5 stars and a poor photo of a very rare or hard-to-photograph bird could still be only 1 or 2 stars.

Drab, common 5-Star Northern Mockingbird

Key Points to Consider When Rating a Photograph for eBird

From the eBird Support Site “How to Rate Media

Sharpness: Is the primary subject in focus? Is the image blurred or grainy?
Visibility of bird: How well can you see the bird? If the bird is very small, partially obstructed from view, or backlit in the photo, the rating should be lower than it would be otherwise.
Size of photo: Lower your rating of any photo that has a noticeably small resolution. Uploading full resolution files is always encouraged.

Descriptions of star ratings for photos: (Remember the rating is a technical rating and does NOT take into account the rarity of the bird.)
1 Star: Very poor quality. Very low resolution or very poor focus; bird may be very small or obscured in the frame or have extremely bad exposure. In general should only be uploaded as record shots, if still identifiable.
2 Stars: Poor quality. Could be a good image but at a noticeably low resolution, or high resolution but with significant flaws. Lighting might be severely backlit or poorly exposed. Image might be good but the bird is extremely small in the frame or mostly obscured.
3 Stars: Decent quality. High or medium resolution with decent focus. Lighting might be less than ideal; bird might be smaller in frame or somewhat obscured. Might have several factors that prevent it from being rated higher.
4 Stars: Very good quality. High resolution and in good focus, at least decent lighting, and bird reasonably large in frame. One or two of these factors may be less than ideal and prevent from achieving 5 stars.
5 Stars: Excellent quality. High resolution and in sharp focus. Lighting should be good and the bird at least fairly large in the frame and not significantly obscured.

HUNTING MY PREY

After downing my morning latte, taking the dog out to use the front lawn and double-checking that I actually had a charged battery this time… I was off to the park. I made a brief circle around to the back of the park and then parked near the entrance. I soon spotting the famous, aforementioned Doug Krajnovich peering intently into a tree not far from the Fairfield Canal. We exchanged salutations and he promptly informed me that he had not yet found the target bird, but he was full of optimism that we would find it eventually. We split up a bit and I went east and he west. I took photos of a California Scrub-Jay, an Osprey and a Black Phoebe while I worked my way back towards Doug.

Soon I could see him waving frantically at me. Alas, the hunt was afoot! As luck would have it I heard those too often vocalized words, “You just missed it!” SIGH… But the morning was young and I was keen on capturing my prey. Barely 5 minutes passed and I saw movement in a tree about 60 yards away and I was certain that I had seen a flash of red! Now the adrenaline was kicking in and I promptly noted the best sun angle and I slowly crept at an angle with my back to the sun while I scanned the tree for further movement. Then I saw it. For certain this time! As most birders that are photographers do, I wanted to get that first 1-Star, record shot. Something that would prove that I had seen it. Click, click, click and I was sure I had to have gotten some type of record. Well, I did, but as you can see below… YUCK!

1-Star Record of Vermilion Flycatcher

Before I could get closer, it flew off, caught an insect and moved farther away. Using my most predator-like stealth techniques, I slowly and quietly moved in for the kill. Killer shot I mean. It allowed me to get a little closer and I snapped off some more images (OK, so maybe a lot more!). But hey, they’re free.

REJECTS VS KEEPERS

When I post an image online, viewers don’t ever see how many never make it to the Keepers folder on my computer. In reality, I may only edit 5 % of the images I capture. However, for your entertainment, here are a few of the typical shots that viewers will never see.

So Far Away… 2-Star Rating
Baby got Back
Peek-a-boo
Peek-a-boo From the Other Side – 3-Star Rating
I’m Hiding – 4-Star Rating

FINALLY – I GOT MY 5-STAR PHOTOGRAPHS – Click to view full-size

Baa Baa Sheepshead, Have you any birds?

Post #6 of The Great Texas Birding Adventure

Previous Post #5 South Padre Island – Migratory Bird Mecca

Smallest of the South Padre Island (SPI) Big Three birding spots, the Valley Land Fund Lots on Sheepshead Dr. seems to have the biggest concentration of birds. The fact that the dense vegetation is at the southern end of the island and birds would head for it first.

preservation efforts of The Valley Land Fund and its volunteers. These wooded lots serve as an oasis to the birds struggling to make it across the Gulf of Mexico during spring migration.

The Valley Land Fund

South Padre Island is located at the confluence of two major flyways: migration routes on which birds travel during Spring and Fall to and from North, Central, and South America.. In the Spring, SPI is a crucial first landfall – a lifesaver – for birds making the arduous cross-Gulf migration. For many years, the 12 lots owned by the Valley Land Fund and private landowners between Pompano and Sheepshead along Laguna Blvd., have been a crucial location for these worn out migrants to stop, rest, feed and regain their energy. Serious birders have long known what an important area this is, and flock there to view some of the 350+ species of birds which have been identified in South Texas. – From The Valley Land Fund Facebook Page

The Birds…

Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Summer Tanager – male
Summer Tanager – female
Magnolia Warbler
American Redstart – male
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Great Kiskadee
Dickcissel – male
Indigo Bunting – male
Orchard Oriole – male
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
Scarlet Tanager – 1st year male

Over the course of the next 4 days, we visited Sheepshead Dr. location 6 times.

eBird Species Link for South Padre Island – – Valley Land Fund (45 species over 6 visits)

What a Dump!

Post #3 of The Great South Texas Birding Adventure

Previous Post #2 Why Birders Flock to the Rio Grande Valley – Lists and Photographs

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology Birds of the World says it best.

Tamaulipas Crow is generally found below 300 m, where it inhabits scrubby farmland and open woodland, as well as habitation, where it regularly attends rubbish dumps.

https://birdsoftheworld.org/bow/species/tamcro/cur/introduction

Listed by the American Birding Association (ABA) as a Code-3 Rare bird, the Tamaulipas Crow occurs annually, but in very low numbers in the US. As many as 6 had been photographed by birders at the ubiquitous Brownsville Landfill in recent weeks, and this was our highest priority bird of the entire trip. The one bird that would be a life bird for all three of us.

As we followed the Google maps directions, our noses told us we were close before we could even see the entrance. The air was a swirling mass of Laughing Gulls with Great-tailed Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds and Turkey Vultures mixed in. As we approached the Brownsville Landfill Information sign, Jim R called out “Hooded Oriole!” and we all spotted the bright orange Icterid flitting around the entrance shrubbery.

Not knowing where to look amid the giant landfill, we asked one of the employees at the entrance booth where to go. With a pair of binoculars in hand, he stepped out and pointed up the road.

Over the course of the next 2 hours we carefully scrutinized every black-colored bird, including one likely candidate that turned out to be a piece of trash! We added Black Vultures, Crested Caracaras, Harris’s Hawks and Herring Gulls to our growing checklist.

Laughing Gull
Crested Caracara
Black Vulture

As we back-tracked to the most likely spot, we found a Chihuahua Raven that got us excited, briefly. But not the crow…

Chihuahua Raven

We chatted with other dump birders, all unsuccessful in our quest to find the Rare Tamaulipas Crow.

And then the call rang out, loud and clear; “TAMAULIPAS CROW ON THE FENCE!!!” Did we finally have our treasure or was it just another close call? A quick survey; small size – check. Small bill – check. Funky squawk – check!

Tamaulipas Crow

This was it! And it posed for us for several minutes, calling and calling the entire time.

Tamaulipas Crow
Tamaulipas Crow

Jim R and Rich posed and celebratory photos were captured as Jim R got his only trip lifer ON HIS BIRTHDAY!

Rich and Jim Celebrate a Great Find

What a great way to start our Great South Texas Birding Adventure!

eBird Location Information – As of 5/30/2021

Our eBird Checklist for Brownsville Landfill 2 HOURS 7 MINUTES 22 SPECIES

Next Blog Post #4 on 6/12/21 – Laguna Vista – A Nature Trail and Fish Tacos

Why Birders Flock to the Lower Rio Grande Valley – Lists and Photographs

Post #2 of The Great South Texas Birding Adventure Series
Link to Post #1 The Great South Texas Birding Adventure Begins

Why would the three amigos from The Great South Texas Birding Adventure choose South Texas as their destination for this grand escapade?
Two things, Lists and Photographs!

Astronomical Growth of Birdwatching

Huge numbers of people are bird-watchers; the United States Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that something like forty-eight million Americans watch birds. In fact, birding is one of (if not the) fastest-growing outdoor hobbies in the country.  Birdwatching is the second most popular hobby in the US (behind gardening) and has become the fastest growing recreational activity among young people in the United States.

Waiting for the Elf Owl @ Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley SP, TX

What’s the difference between birdwatching and birding?

So, although the interest is the same, what separates birdwatching from birding is the level of commitment. While birdwatchers may have a field guide and pair of binoculars to identify yard birds, birders are slightly more obsessed and are prone to actively travel distances (sometimes great) to see a new bird to add to one or more of their lists. Birders are obsessive about keeping a life list, and often maintain country lists, state lists, county lists, and even zoo and tv lists of the birds they have seen or heard.

Birding the Rio Grande River – eBirder Extraordinaire – Jim Rowoth

Advent of the Photobirder

On the birdwatchingdaily.com website is a story about how birding has changed in the 2010s. In his article “How birdwatching changed in the 2010s“, Matt Mendenhall lists bird photography as the number one factor that changed birding the most.

On the Geographical website Paul Jepson shares that bird photography is broadening public engagement with birds and is central to the design and development of social media and Web 2.0. Blogs, in particular, also create connections between bird-photographers and birders.

Photographing a Common Pauraque family from a safe distance, Estero Llano Grande SP, TX

Just as there is a distinction of dedication between the birdwatcher and birder; there are different inclinations in bird photographers. Bird-photographers, or photobirders come in different flavors and distinctions.

Jim Rowoth and Rich Brown digitally shoot birds at the Laguna Vista Nature Trail, TX

Photobirder Type 1 – the Photo-IDer
While in the field recently, I overheard a photographer comment: “I am a photographer first, birder second. I photograph a bird I see it, and then ID it later while editing my photos with the field guide next to my computer.

I feel sorry for true birders that have to ID the bird in the field without the benefit of a dozen photos to confirm the ID.

Photographer’s comments in the field

Photobirder Type 2 – the Photo-Lister
The Photo-Lister tries to get a photo of every species and is not too concerned with quality

Photobirder Type 3 – the Trophy-Hunter
The Trophy-Hunter is looking to get an outstanding action shot with the best photographic composition and exposure possible.

What’s so Special About the Lower Rio Grande Valley?

#1 Birding Destination in the US

The Lonely Planet

Top 10 Best Spots for Bird Watching in the U.S.

Condé Nast

Nowhere else in the United States can the pulse and excitement of spring migration be felt more keenly than in South Texas! Birds funneling up from the Tropics to their summer breeding grounds pass through coastal South Texas in numbers and varieties that stagger the imagination. Adding to that excitement are almost two dozen Mexican northern limit species, plus a slew of regional desert and plains birds.

Santa Ana NWR, TX

The second-largest U.S. state boasts a whopping 639 bird species, and perhaps the hottest birding hot spot in North America: The Rio Grande Valley. In South Texas, you can expect to see many species at the northern limits of their global range.

  • Lower Rio Grande Valley Specialty Birds
    Species at the northern limits of their global range
    • Plain Chachalaca
    • White-tipped Dove
    • Groove-billed Ani
    • Common Pauraque
    • Buff-bellied Hummingbird
    • Green Kingfisher
    • Ringed Kingfisher
    • Aplomado Falcon
    • Great Kiskadee
    • Couch’s Kingbird
    • Green Jay
    • Long-billed Thrasher
    • Clay-colored Thrush
    • Olive Sparrow
    • Altamira Oriole
    • Audubon’s Oriole
  • Southern US Resident Birds – includes birds typical of the Gulf coast, plains and desert habitats found across the southern US. This includes beautiful birds such as Northern Cardinal, Pyrrhuloxia, Verdin, Crested Caracara, Curve-billed Thrasher, Cactus Wren and so on.
  • Migrating Neotropical Birds – includes dozens of species of birds passing through on their visits to/from Mexico, Central and South America.

Next week’s post – What a Dump!