Rio Grande Valley Rare Bird Alert

Rio Grande Valley Rare Bird Alert
Call 956-584-9156!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

RBA - March 26, 2015

.
* Texas
* Lower Rio Grande Valley
* March 26, 2015
.
To report rare birds, e-mail rgvbirds AT hotmail.com (preferred) or call (956)584-2731 option 3.
.
Updates can be seen on the web at http://rgvbirds.blogspot.com
.
Capitalized birds marked with a + are Review Species for Texas. Please send sightings/photographs to the Texas Bird Records Committee: ecarpeATgmail.com.
.
_____________________________________________________________
***NOTE: The last day for Salineno’s feeding station was Sunday, March 22; thanks to Lois, Merle, Jake, Larry, and Judy for greeting all those visitors and feeding the birds!  There is an opening for a host at this site next winter.  ***

NOTE: A local researcher is looking for territorial Harris’s Hawks.  If you regularly see Harris’s Hawks on territory or you locate a nest, please contact Bill Clark at raptours AT earthlink.net.
______________________________________________________________
Spring is here, migrants are arriving including Anhinga, Green Heron, and Great Blue Heron, early raptors, and early season migrants including American Golden-Plover. 
.
Our rare bird alert this week includes:
.
Blue-winged x Green-winged Teal hybrid (returned 3/23, no additional reports)
Hook-billed Kite (no reports)
Chihuahuan Raven (Hidalgo)
Brown Thrasher
Winter Wren
Tropical Parula
Mangrove [Yellow] Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Painted Redstart (Brooks County)
+GRAY-CROWNED YELLOWTHROAT (no reports for 3 days)
.                                         
This is a general reminder that playing recordings is not allowed in Texas State Parks, federal properties, nor in many LRGV birding sites. All State Park and National Wildlife Refuge visitors must stay on trails. Thank you for not disturbing the wildlife or damaging the vegetation.
.
The Valley from east to west.   
.
Early migrants were reported from the South Padre Island by those braving the Texas week crowds.  Be sure to go early at spring break!  Species reported include Least Tern, Eastern Kingbird, Prothonotary Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, Tennessee Warbler, Yellow-throated Vireo, and similar early migrants.
.
Mangrove Warbler, a well-marked subspecies of Yellow Warbler that may be distinct enough to warrant full species status, can be seen by contacting the Sealife Center at (956) 299-1957.  
No recent reports for the Tropical Parula at Resaca de la Palma State Park. 
.
A stunning hybrid duck with a face pattern similar to a Baikal Teal was at Ibis Pond at Estero Llano Grande on 3/18 and returned on 3/23.  This bird matches descriptions and photographs of a hybrid Blue-winged x Green-winged Teal and is not a Baikal Teal.  The face pattern of a Baikal Teal is similar to the ancestral pattern.  The bird at Estero has a very large bill, irregularly blotched plumage, and lacks parts of the green bridle on the face.  It is a gorgeous and educational bird. 
.
Also at Estero, a Tropical Parula is in the Tropical Zone with intermittent sightings through 3/16.   An Orchard Oriole and two Hooded Orioles continue, making the park a great place to study orioles.  A Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet is occasionally to be seen or heard; this is the eastern limit for this species.  Hummingbirds are present and new birds arriving, with both Black-chinned and Ruby-throated. 
.
A Reddish Egret has been reported at the Hargill Playa over the last week. This is a rare bird in the county. 
.
At Edinburg Scenic Wetlands, the Brown Thrasher and Winter Wren continued last week; they will be heading north shortly.  The last date on the Brown Thrasher is 3/23, while the Winter Wren was detected through 3/20.
.
A Tropical Parula was found on 3/22-23 at Santa Ana NWR on the cutoff trail going east from the Cattail Lakes Trail.
.
Presumably the same Prairie Warbler was relocated at the Hidalgo Pumphouse on 1/20 and 1/26-3/22.   Many reports are from the north side of the Pumphouse where the metal picnic tables are present. 
.
At Anzalduas County Park, a Hook-billed Kite was reported 3/18.  Photos are appreciated of this species as we are trying to track individual birds. 
.
Hook-billed Kites may still be in the Bentsen area but there are no reports this week.  The overcast and rainy conditions are not the best for this species to travel longer distances in search of snails.  A small flock of apparently wild Wild Turkey continue at Bentsen.  This is a locally distributed species near the river. 
.
Four Chihuahuan Ravens were a most welcome report from Goodwin Rd. near the Expressway; this species had withdrawn from Hidalgo County about 10 years ago perhaps in response to West Nile Virus. 
.
The last day for the feeding stations at Salineno was March 22.  Irregular reports of Red-billed Pigeon have come in from the boat ramp over the last two weeks.  A northern Mallard continues on the river. 
.
EXTRALIMITAL REPORTS
.
The Painted Redstart returned to the Brooks County Rest Area on US 281 south of Falfurrias on Saturday 9/20 and continues through 3/25.  A Painted Redstart wintered at this site last year.  
.
PARROT REPORT
Red-crowned Parrots are sometimes seen in the areas of Quinta Mazatlan in McAllen, Valley Nature Center in Weslaco in the evening, Calvary Baptist Church in Harlingen (1815 N 7th Street). Brownsville’s Oliveira Park (Los Ebanos Road/El Paso Road across from Pace High School) has Red-crowned Parrots as well, mingling at dusk with escaped Yellow-headed, White-fronted, Lilac-crowned and Red-lored Parrots. Red-crowned Parrots and Green Parakeets are seen in urban areas irregularly all over the Valley.
.
Green Parakeets can be seen staging in McAllen near 10th and Dove in the evening (at the Loew’s fountain on warm evenings), sometimes winging a few blocks over to Nolana x McColl or up to 10th and Trenton. Watch for a couple of Mitred Parakeets that sometimes mingle with them.  There is another staging area in Mission on the north expressway. 
.
In Hidalgo, at 5th and Gardenia near the Hidalgo Pumphouse World Birding Center, a few Monk Parakeets have taken up residence building nests on telephone poles, keeping company with an escaped Rose-ringed Parakeet. These birds have been present since winter 2010. 
.
WHITE-COLLARED SEEDEATER INFORMATION - Most sites for White-collared Seedeaters are in Zapata and Webb counties. Information is provided as a service to visiting birders. Sites to check include the San Ygnacio County Park/Seedeater Sanctuary at the foot of Washington Street in San Ygnacio, the Raptor Trail at the west end of San Ygnacio, the library pond in Zapata, and Laredo's Las Palmas Trail, North Central and Father McNaboe Park.  Access to La Laja Ranch, also a Seedeater site, is by advance reservations only. E-mail the owner at Edward.herbst AT att.net. This is a fee site.  White-collared Seedeaters are singing in mid-April to May, which makes them muck easier to locate! 
.
Updated FERRUGINOUS PYGMY-OWL INFORMATION - Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls are present on the King Ranch, along with reliable Tropical Parulas (Norias Division only).  This is the only breeding site for Tropical Parula in the LRGV most years.  Contact 361-592-8055 or visit@king-ranch.com for more information.  Tours are over (with the exception of the RGVBF) until spring 2015.  The only tours that have a chance to find the owl are birding tours to the Norias Division.  Historic tours and birding tours to Santa Gertrudis Division will not be able to find the owl as it does not occur near Kingsville.   
.
El Canelo Ranch, located north of Raymondville, offers opportunities for "day birders" as well as for birders staying at their lovely B&B.  A pair of Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls currently reside in the backyard of the Inn.  All visits by reservation only.  For more information, see http://www.elcaneloranch.com/ or email Monica at monica@elcaneloranch.com
.
Other private ranches are no longer open to birders or do not have accessible pygmy-owls.  This owl is very difficult to find at any other location at present and has not been seen or heard at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park since the summer of 2010, when the park was inundated by the Rio Grande.
.
See http://rgvbirds.blogspot.com/p/ferruginous-pygmy-owl-sites.html for more information.
.
Directions are provided only for sites not included in the ABA Birders' Guide to the Rio Grande Valley or the Birders' Guide to the Texas Coast. These guides are indispensable for visiting birders.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Site Closures:

Allen Williams residence, Pharr, open by appointment ONLY; Call or text 956-460-9864.

Bentsen-RGV State Park, open daily, first tram at 8:30 AM.

Brownsville Landfill closed on Sundays.

Camp Thicket (formerly Methodist Camp Thicket), Weslaco, group reservations (fee) only. Contact Estero Llano Grande State Park.

Edinburg Scenic Wetlands World Birding Center, building and grounds closed on Sundays.

Estero Llano Grande State Park, open daily; building/store open daily. 

Frontera Audubon Thicket, Weslaco, closed Sunday mornings and all day Mondays except by appointment; open Tues-Sat.  

Laguna Atascosa NWR – Bayside Drive closed to private vehicles to protect ocelots.  Visitor Center open 7 days through March. 

Los Ebanos Preserve, San Benito, Appointment ONLY; 956-241-2494.

McAllen Nature Center – OPEN Saturdays from 8-12 noon (and Sunday?)  Call 956-681-3333 for information. UPDATE Beginning on Friday, January 2nd, open 8 am to noon, Wednesdays through Sundays.

Camp Thicket, Weslaco, group reservations (fee) only. Contact Estero Llano Grande State Park.

Quinta Mazatlan, McAllen, closed Sundays and Mondays.  Open on Thursdays to dark. 

Resaca de la Palma State Park, open daily; building/store closed/no trams Monday-Tuesday, grounds open (self-pay station).  

Salineno –feeding station is CLOSED until November.     

Santa Ana NWR- closed to bicycles


Valley Nature Center, Weslaco, closed Sunday mornings and Mondays 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Update 3/23

The hybrid Blue-winged x Green-winged Teal has returned to Estero today!

Still no reports on the Gray-crowned Yellowthroat even after the rainy weather cleared out.

Yellow-throated Vireo and early migrant warblers were found yesterday at various locations.

Tropical Parula was singing away at Santa Ana NWR found by Javi G.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

RBA - March 19, 2015

* Texas
* Lower Rio Grande Valley
* March 19, 2015
.
To report rare birds, e-mail rgvbirds AT hotmail.com (preferred) or call (956)584-2731 option 3.
.
Updates can be seen on the web at http://rgvbirds.blogspot.com
.
Capitalized birds marked with a + are Review Species for Texas. Please send sightings/photographs to the Texas Bird Records Committee: ecarpeATgmail.com.
.
_____________________________________________________________
***NOTE: The last day for Salineno’s feeding station is Sunday, March 22 ***
______________________________________________________________
Spring is here, migrants are arriving including Anhinga, Green Heron, and Great Blue Heron, early raptors (Turkey Vulture, Swainson’s Hawk), and early season migrants including American Golden-Plover. 
.
Our rare bird alert this week includes:
.
Blue-winged x Green-winged Teal hybrid (no additional reports)
Hook-billed Kite
Brown Thrasher
Winter Wren
Tropical Parula
Mangrove [Yellow] Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Painted Redstart (Brooks County)
+GRAY-CROWNED YELLOWTHROAT (no reports for 3 days)
.                                         
This is a general reminder that playing recordings is not allowed in Texas State Parks, federal properties, nor in many LRGV birding sites. All State Park and National Wildlife Refuge visitors must stay on trails. Thank you for not disturbing the wildlife or damaging the vegetation.
.
The Valley from east to west.   
.
Early migrants were reported from the South Padre Island by those braving the Texas week crowds.  Be sure to go early at spring break!  Species reported include Eastern Kingbird, Prothonotary Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, Tennessee Warbler, Yellow-throated Vireo, and  similar early migrants.
.
Mangrove Warbler, a well-marked subspecies of Yellow Warbler that may be distinct enough to warrant full species status, can be seen by contacting the Sealife Center at (956) 299-1957.  
.
TWO Tropical Parula continue at Resaca de la Palma State Park this week through 3/16.  NOTE that access to Resaca may be restricted to access from the south; see http://rgvbirds.blogspot.com/2015/03/update-access-to-resaca-de-la-palma-on.html
.
At Estero Llano Grande, a +GRAY-CROWNED YELLOWTHROAT was found on the bird walk by a long time park volunteer on 1/24 and seen through 3/16.  THIS BIRD HAS NOT BEEN SEEN SINCE Monday 3/16, but it’s not unusual for it to be undetected on overcast days.  The usual area is on Spoonbill Trail from the gazebo area on Ibis Pond almost to the next major trail intersection.  This is a dry upland bird, not a wetland species.  The call notes that have been reported in the area are similar to this recording http://www.xeno-canto.org/87401 and the bird was singing when last reported.  THE SPOONBILL TRAIL IS FLOODED and MUDDY.  Rubber boots are recommended, or try going out the Llano Grande Trail to the Spoonbill Trail instead of taking the Boardwalk.  
.
A stunning hybrid duck with a face pattern similar to a Baikal Teal was at Ibis Pond at Estero on 3/18.  This bird matches descriptions and photographs of a hybrid Blue-winged x Green-winged Teal and is not a Baikal Teal.  The face pattern of a Baikal Teal is similar to the ancestral pattern.  The bird at Estero has a very large bill, irregularly blotched plumage, and lacks parts of the green bridle on the face.  It is a gorgeous and educational bird, and worth looking for especially if it is refound.  A hybrid Blue-winged x Cinnamon Teal has been present intermittently in the same pond. 
.
Also at Estero, a Tropical Parula is in the Green Jay Trail vicinity with intermittent sightings through 3/16.   An Orchard Oriole and two Hooded Orioles continue, making the park a great place to study orioles.  A Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet is occasionally to be seen or heard; this is the eastern limit for this species.  Hummingbirds are present and new birds arriving, with both Black-chinned and Ruby-throated. 
.
At Edinburg Scenic Wetlands, the Brown Thrasher and Winter Wren continued last week; they will be heading north shortly.  The last date on the Brown Thrasher is 3/13, while the Winter Wren was detected through 3/18.
.
Presumably the same Prairie Warbler was relocated at the Hidalgo Pumphouse on 1/20 and 1/26-3/16.   Many reports are from the north side of the Pumphouse where the metal picnic tables are present. 
.
At Anzalduas County Park, a Hook-billed Kite was reported 3/18.  Photos are appreciated of this species as we are trying to track individual birds. 
.
Hook-billed Kites may still be in the Bentsen area but there are no reports this week.  The overcast and rainy conditions are not the best for this species to travel longer distances in search of snails.   
.
The last day for the feeding stations at Salineno will be March 22.  Irregular reports of Red-billed Pigeon on the river over the last two weeks but still more people miss them. 
.
EXTRALIMITAL REPORTS
.
The Painted Redstart returned to the Brooks County Rest Area on US 281 south of Falfurrias on Saturday 9/20 and continues through 3/19.  A Painted Redstart wintered at this site last year.  
.
PARROT REPORT
Red-crowned Parrots are sometimes seen in the areas of Quinta Mazatlan in McAllen, Valley Nature Center in Weslaco in the evening, Calvary Baptist Church in Harlingen (1815 N 7th Street). Brownsville’s Oliveira Park (Los Ebanos Road/El Paso Road across from Pace High School) has Red-crowned Parrots as well, mingling at dusk with escaped Yellow-headed, White-fronted, Lilac-crowned and Red-lored Parrots. Red-crowned Parrots and Green Parakeets are seen in urban areas irregularly all over the Valley.
.
Green Parakeets can be seen staging in McAllen near 10th and Dove in the evening (at the Loew’s fountain on warm evenings), sometimes winging a few blocks over to Nolana x McColl or up to 10th and Trenton. Watch for a couple of Mitred Parakeets that sometimes mingle with them.  There is another staging area in Mission on the north expressway. 
.
In Hidalgo, at 5th and Gardenia near the Hidalgo Pumphouse World Birding Center, a few Monk Parakeets have taken up residence building nests on telephone poles, keeping company with an escaped Rose-ringed Parakeet. These birds have been present since winter 2010. 
.
WHITE-COLLARED SEEDEATER INFORMATION - Most sites for White-collared Seedeaters are in Zapata and Webb counties. Information is provided as a service to visiting birders. Sites to check include the San Ygnacio County Park/Seedeater Sanctuary at the foot of Washington Street in San Ygnacio, the Raptor Trail at the west end of San Ygnacio, the library pond in Zapata, and Laredo's Las Palmas Trail, North Central and Father McNaboe Park.  Access to La Laja Ranch, also a Seedeater site, is by advance reservations only. E-mail the owner at Edward.herbst AT att.net. This is a fee site.  White-collared Seedeaters are singing in mid-April to May, which makes them muck easier to locate! 
.
Updated FERRUGINOUS PYGMY-OWL INFORMATION - Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls are present on the King Ranch, along with reliable Tropical Parulas (Norias Division only).  This is the only breeding site for Tropical Parula in the LRGV most years.  Contact 361-592-8055 or visit@king-ranch.com for more information.  Tours are over (with the exception of the RGVBF) until spring 2015.  The only tours that have a chance to find the owl are birding tours to the Norias Division.  Historic tours and birding tours to Santa Gertrudis Division will not be able to find the owl as it does not occur near Kingsville.   
.
El Canelo Ranch, located north of Raymondville, offers opportunities for "day birders" as well as for birders staying at their lovely B&B.  A pair of Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls currently reside in the backyard of the Inn.  All visits by reservation only.  For more information, see http://www.elcaneloranch.com/ or email Monica at monica@elcaneloranch.com
.
Other private ranches are no longer open to birders or do not have accessible pygmy-owls.  This owl is very difficult to find at any other location at present and has not been seen or heard at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park since the summer of 2010, when the park was inundated by the Rio Grande.
.
See http://rgvbirds.blogspot.com/p/ferruginous-pygmy-owl-sites.html for more information.
.
Directions are provided only for sites not included in the ABA Birders' Guide to the Rio Grande Valley or the Birders' Guide to the Texas Coast. These guides are indispensable for visiting birders.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Site Closures:

Allen Williams residence, Pharr, open by appointment ONLY; Call or text 956-460-9864.

Bentsen-RGV State Park, open daily, first tram at 8:30 AM.

Brownsville Landfill closed on Sundays.

Camp Thicket (formerly Methodist Camp Thicket), Weslaco, group reservations (fee) only. Contact Estero Llano Grande State Park.

Edinburg Scenic Wetlands World Birding Center, building and grounds closed on Sundays.

Estero Llano Grande State Park, open daily; building/store open daily. 

Frontera Audubon Thicket, Weslaco, closed Sunday mornings and all day Mondays except by appointment; open Tues-Sat.  

Laguna Atascosa NWR – Bayside Drive closed to private vehicles to protect ocelots.  Visitor Center open 7 days through March. 

Los Ebanos Preserve, San Benito, Appointment ONLY; 956-241-2494.

McAllen Nature Center – OPEN Saturdays from 8-12 noon (and Sunday?)  Call 956-681-3333 for information. UPDATE Beginning on Friday, January 2nd, open 8 am to noon, Wednesdays through Sundays.

Camp Thicket, Weslaco, group reservations (fee) only. Contact Estero Llano Grande State Park.

Quinta Mazatlan, McAllen, closed Sundays and Mondays.  Open on Thursdays to dark. 

Resaca de la Palma State Park, open daily; building/store closed/no trams Monday-Tuesday, grounds open (self-pay station).  

Salineno –feeding station is OPEN until March 22, then closed until November.     

Santa Ana NWR- closed to bicycles


Valley Nature Center, Weslaco, closed Sunday mornings and Mondays 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Update 3/18

The hybrid Blue-winged x Green-winged Teal at Estero is not present on Ibis this morning.

The Gray-crowned Yellowthroat was not seen or heard yesterday (or before 10 AM this morning) at Estero.  It is less likely to be seen on days with heavy overcast.  It is singing now.  The Spoonbill Trail is flooded in several locations.  The bottom of the trail is firm, so if you wear rubber boots (4" water) it's easy walking.  An alternative is to bring sandals and roll your pants up.  The access from the east side is not as wet; but it all depends where the bird turns up.  Try the Llano Grande Trail to the east end of the Spoonbill Trail instead of the boardwalk.
http://www.theworldbirdingcenter.com/images/estero-map/PWD_MP_P4502-179B_Estero.pdf


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Hybrid Teal - Estero - NOT a Baikal, but a look-alike

A gorgeous hybrid duck is loafing on Ibis Pond at Estero and impersonating a Baikal Teal, which it isn't.  As with so many things, identifying hybrids by appearance can be more difficult than finding what two birds are intermediate.  The bird at Estero looks superficially like a Baikal Teal, but lacks the details in the face pattern of that species, has blotchy gray and buff flanks, and has a much larger bill than a Baikal Teal.  Stay tuned for photos.  Remember it's March, and male dabbling or puddle ducks are in full plumage now.

Here's a similar bird also from Texas in 2012, photo by J. Chiles on the texasbirdimages.com website https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-z1Jg43dZLTM/Uy4SDy96zSI/AAAAAAAATD8/8yN6mgobJC8/s1600/hybrid-teal-grayson-3-22-14-jc.jpg.  The Estero bird is similar, but more complex in the face pattern and less marked perhaps on the flanks.  Here's another similar bird from Texas, from Brazoria, and thought to be a Blue-winged x Green-winged Teal http://10000birds.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/brazostealhirsch.jpg.

The face pattern of Baikal with the bridle is evidently an ancestral trait primitive to all dabbling ducks and can appear in hybrid combinations not involving Baikal Teal.  There is a good collection of hybrid ducks here http://10000birds.com/hybrid-teals.htm including a captive bred hybrid Blue-winged x Green-winged.  Note that with some ducks the hybrid offspring look different depending on which parent is the male.

Stay tuned for some photos of the bird, as many people have some excellent pictures.

Monday, March 16, 2015

UPDATE - ACCESS to RESACA DE LA PALMA on 3/18/2015

The main access road to Resaca de la Palma State Park will be ***closed*** on Wednesday, March 18. New Carmen Ave. will be closed all day from FM 1732 to the park.  You should plan instead to enter the park from Hwy 281. 

If you are driving south from Harlingen or San Benito:
Exit at Olmito/ FM 1732.  Continue west on FM 1732 past New Carmen to the light at FM 1421.  Turn left and travel south to Hwy 281.  Turn left on Hwy 281, then left again on New Carmen to access the park from the south.

If you are in Brownsville:
Take Hwy 281 past River Bend Resort and the high school.  Turn right on New Carmen, then right at the park entrance.


New Carmen from Hwy 281 to the park has some potholes, so please give yourself a little extra travel time.  Please also make sure you turn from Hwy 281 onto New Carmen, not the road at the high school entrance (GPS may try to entice you to turn on this road).

Update 3/16

The Gray-crowned Yellowthroat is now singing along the Spoonbill Trail and was seen today.  It's been very wet in the LRGV and more rain is forecast; rubber boots are recommended.