Rio Grande Valley Rare Bird Alert

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

Friday, February 27, 2015

RBA - 2/27/2015

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* Texas
* Lower Rio Grande Valley
* February 26, 2015
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To report rare birds, e-mail rgvbirds AT hotmail.com (preferred) or call (956)584-2731 option 3.
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Updates can be seen on the web at http://rgvbirds.blogspot.com
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Capitalized birds marked with a + are Review Species for Texas. Please send sightings/photographs to the Texas Bird Records Committee: ecarpeATgmail.com.
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NOTE: All the sites with feeding stations appreciate donation of food or funds for the birds.  Fruit, sugar, peanut butter, seeds, and other items are needed and appreciated!  
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Broad-winged Hawk is in exceptional numbers this winter.  They are known and documented from several sites, but any outside those known locations will need details.  Most documented birds to date are immatures. 
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Our rare bird alert this week includes:
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Long-tailed Duck
Hook-billed Kite
+SLATY BACKED GULL
+HERRING  GULL (VEGA) 
Thayer’s Gull
+(LAWRENCE’S) DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER
+WHITE-THROATED THRUSH
Brown Thrasher
Tropical Parula
Mangrove [Yellow] Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Painted Redstart (Brooks County)
+GRAY-CROWNED YELLOWTHROAT
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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.
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The Valley from east to west.   
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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.  
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A DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER of the Lawrence’s subspecies was photographed on 12/31 at Sabal Palm and continued through 2/7.  This is a TBRC review taxon. A Tropical Parula continues in the area, not many reports of this individual.  Note that a Brown-crested Flycatcher is also in the area, and is readily identified as NOT the Dusky-capped by its very large bill, lack of a dark cap, and reddish tail with brown outer webs. 
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Also at Sabal Palm the wintering Magnolia Warbler was relocated on 2/21.
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A +BLUE BUNTING initially reported in the Visitor Center area at Laguna Atascosa 1/24 was photographed in an inaccessible area on 2/14.  It was thought likely that the bird would returned to the water features in the public area, and  indeed  it was reported there 2/15. 
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Warm weather brought out the Groove-billed Anis at Laguna Atascosa this week.  A Tropical Parula – unreported since December – appeared at the feeder area at the Visitor Center on 2/11.
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A pale Thayer’s Gull with a distinct secondary bar was photographed continuing at the Brownsville Landfill on 2/14.  Lesser Black-backed Gulls are also present.  An odd hybrid perhaps a Herring x Glaucous-winged, a first-winter +SLATY-BACKED GULL, and a +VEGA HERRING GULL were reported on 2/21.  
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A Prairie Falcon was described from Old Port Isabel Road between TX 511 and 100.  This road was in poor condition and not passable in places at last report.  Use caution. 
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TWO Tropical Parula continue at Resaca de la Palma State Park this week through 2/26.  The Black-headed Grosbeak was reported on 1/13 continues through 2/21. A Black-throated Gray Warbler is also present. 
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A Rose-breasted Grosbeak is at Hugh Ramsey Nature Park in Harlingen.
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A small flock of Mountain Plover was reported east of Sebastian in a recently plowed field.  The birds were reportedly near 509 half a mile south of 1018. 
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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 2/26.  Recently successful reports are early in the morning before the wind becomes strong.  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 only call notes that have been reported in the area are similar to this recording http://www.xeno-canto.org/87401
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A +WHITE-THROATED THRUSH was photographed at Estero on 2/6 and continued to be seen on 2/7 and 2/8.  No positive reports for 2/9-12.  It was relocated in a fruiting fig tree near the Green Jay Trail where it was seen most days 2/14-2/19.  It’s possible that it could turn up again anywhere in the Tropical Zone with the Clay-colored Thrushes (up to 10 Clay-coloreds are present).  A second hand report was received for 2/26. 
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A Tropical Parula is in the area as well.   
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Also at Estero, recent finds include a single observer Lazuli Bunting on 2/21.  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 in the Tropical Zone (and by the Yellowthroat!).  Hummingbirds are present and new birds arriving, with both Black-chinned and Ruby-throated.  The Black-chinned has been at the orchid tree feeders in the Tropical Zone.  Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are in relatively high numbers this winter at several sites including Estero.  Two Western Tanagers are also present in the Tropical Zone, with a Summer Tanager for good measure. 
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At Frontera a Zone-tailed Hawk has been seen in the area early or late in the day. 
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At Edinburg Scenic Wetlands, a Brown Thrasher was photographed 12/22 after being suspected for a few weeks by the park naturalist.  This species is reported far more often than it is well documented in the LRGV, and it is especially rare away from the coast.  A Winter Wren also continues near the small pond with the “Y” deck and often calls.  Both birds continue this week.  A Tropical Parula briefly appeared, and a Golden-crowned Kinglet was reported on 2/25.
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A Long-tailed Duck was found at a small pond on 1015 north of 490 near Delta Lake on 1/24 and continued to 2/24.  It has at times returned to Delta Lake. 
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A Reddish Egret and a Marbled Godwit were found near Hargill on 1/21 and the godwit continued to 2/20.  A second Reddish Egret was well described on 1/27.  A Golden-crowned Kinglet was seen on Brushline Road on 1/27 and 2/22.   A dark morph Reddish Egret was well described on 1/28. 
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Both Bullock’s and Hooded Orioles are near the HQ at Santa Ana NWR.
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A Tropical Parula continues at Quinta Mazatlan with intermittent reports through 2/3.  A Golden-crowned Kinglet was at McAllen Nature Center on 2/4. 
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Presumably the same Prairie Warbler was relocated at the Hidalgo Pumphouse on 1/20 and 1/26-2/22 after several weeks with no reports.  Many reports are from the north side of the Pumphouse where the metal picnic tables are present. 
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At Anzalduas County Park, a Warbling Vireo was found last week and relocated again 2/25.  Photos are highly desired to document this very rare winter visitor.  The Black-throated Gray continues.  Two apparently wild Mallards (of the northern subspecies) have been present upriver of the boat dock.  Domestics are found in nearby Sharyland but are not found wandering away from their home ponds. 
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Hook-billed Kites have been reported over Bentsen on several recent (calm/warm) mornings at the levee crossing by the HQ (watch for fly-overs).  Most reports are between 8 and 9:30 AM.  At least four or five individual birds seem to be involved including the black morph.  Some individuals from this group have also been seen at Anzalduas by a lucky few observers. 
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A Reddish Egret continues at Salineno last week.  The feeders are well stocked, stop on by.   
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EXTRALIMITAL REPORTS
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The Painted Redstart returned to the Brooks County Rest Area on US 281 south of Falfurrias on Saturday 9/20 and continues through 2/23.  A Painted Redstart wintered at this site last year.  
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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.
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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. 
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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. 
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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! 
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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.   
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San Miguelito Ranch (fee site) is closing to birders as of March 1 due to sale of the ranch.  Contact Letty at 956-369-3118 or Buny55@aol.com.  
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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
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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.
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See http://rgvbirds.blogspot.com/p/ferruginous-pygmy-owl-sites.html for more information.
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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.
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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.     

Santa Ana NWR- closed to bicycles


Valley Nature Center, Weslaco, closed Sunday mornings and Mondays 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Gray-crowned Yellowthroat 2/26

The Gray-crowned Yellowthroat is showing well this morning.  It was also seen yesterday, sorry for the late report!  Estero Llano Grande State Park.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Update 2/24

Huck H reports the continuing Gray-crowned Yellowthroat on the Spoonbill Trail at Estero Llano Grande State Park today.

Update 2/23

Yesterday, even in the adverse conditions, the Gray-crowned Yellowthroat was observed in the usual location on Spoonbill Trail.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Update 2/22

Reports from Estero were of a VERY cooperative Gray-crowned Yellowthroat this morning, though the White-throated Thrush reports were few and far between (and 2nd or 3rd hand to me).  One brief view of the Tropical Parula.

The black morph Hook-billed Kite at Bentsen put on a great show this morning for an appreciative audience.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Update 2/21

Today, the Gray-crowned Yellowthroat and  White-throated Thrush were only seen by a very small number of people early in the day; they were undetected by most people looking for them.  The Tropical Parula was seen by many in the banyan/fig tree area.  A female or immature Lazuli Bunting appeared briefly in the same area.

The scaup at Edinburg are educational indeed; in better light today no Greater Scaup could be picked out.  Body size, bill nail, head shape (when not diving or molting) and plumage (wing stripe extent and whiteness etc.) are all key to identifying this bird, rare most winters in Hidalgo County.  Note that young birds will have less white over the bill in females, or less white on the flanks and mantle in males, compared to young birds.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Update 2/20

Today at Estero, the Gray-crowned Yellowthroat was reported at about 8:15 AM; and the White-throated Thrush was seen well in the mid-morning.

A single Hook-billed Kite at Bentsen was later than normal, not putting in an appearance until 10 AM.