Rio Grande Valley Rare Bird Alert

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

Monday, December 22, 2014

Brown Thrasher at Edinburg Scenic Wetlands

Javi G. photographed the Brown Thrasher today near the nature center at Edinburg Scenic Wetlands.  This is a very rare bird in the LRGV, and is reported far more often than it is well documented.  Congrats to Javi for finding  and documenting this very rare bird from the north!  Field marks he has noted in his checklists and posts include bright rufous coloration (including the head) and a very short bill compared to Long-billed Thrasher.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

More Updates...

12/20 a female Hooded Merganser and a male Wood Duck graced Estero Llano Grande.

A pair of Hooded Mergansers and a female Red-breasted Merganser were at Harlingen's Dixieland Park.  This is inland for a Red-breasted Merganser.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Update 12/20/2014

Javi G reports a Brown Thrasher at the Edinburg Scenic Wetlands today.  Present for some time, this skulky easterner has been dashing across the trails around the main HQ building and the dragonfly  pond.  Photos are highly desired!  Remember, closed on Sunday!

Dan J reports two Western Tanagers at RoseLawn Cemetery in McAllen.  He also located a Golden-crowned Kinglet on private property in McAllen for the Santa Ana CBC.

There have been reports of Canada Goose flying over in the LRGV.  This is a very rare bird in the LRGV and needs to be carefully identified and documented, considering both the abundant Greater White-fronted Goose and the very rare Cackling Goose.  Keep your eyes open!

Highlights from the La Sal Vieja CBC on 12/19 included American Bittern, Bufflehead, and Black Phoebe.

At the Brownsville Landfill today, five different Lesser Black-backed Gulls were found.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

RBA - December 18, 2014 with holiday closures

* Texas
* Lower Rio Grande Valley
* December 18, 2014
To report rare birds, e-mail rgvbirds AT (preferred) or call (956)584-2731 option 3.
Updates can be seen on the web at
Capitalized birds marked with a + are Review Species for Texas. Please send sightings/photographs to the Texas Bird Records Committee:
Here’s the information we have been able to compile on holiday closures for the 2014/2015 holiday season.  Please check back on this blog for updates! 
Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park – Park open (December 25 store closed, no trams)
Edinburg Scenic Wetlands – CLOSED December 24, 25, and January 1.
Estero Llano Grande State Park – Park open (December 25 - store closed)
Frontera Audubon Sanctuary – December 25 and January 1 hours - open 8am-12; closed for lunch from 12-2pm; open again from 2-5pm 
Laguna Atascosa NWR – Refuge OPEN daily (Visitor Center CLOSED – no tours – December 25 and 26)
McAllen Nature Center – not impacted by holidays
Quinta Mazatlan - CLOSED December 24, 25 and January 1. 
Resaca de la Palma State Park – Park open (December 25 store closed, no trams)
Santa Ana NWR – Refuge OPEN daily (Visitor Center CLOSED at 1:30 December 24 and all day December 25-26; also closed at 1:30 on December 31 and all day January 1.
South Padre Island Bird and Nature Center – CLOSED on December 25.
Valley Nature Center – December 24, CLOSED at noon.  December 25-26 CLOSED all day.  
NOTE: LRGV Christmas Bird Counts dates are online at  Participate! 
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!  
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
Winter birds are arriving with the cold front.  Ducks and sparrows are in low numbers.  A few Broad-winged Hawks are present with recent sightings from Bentsen and Sabal Palm; these and should be carefully documented to separate the very similar immature Gray Hawk. 
Our rare bird alert this week includes:
Hook-billed Kite (no recent reports)
Wilson’s Phalarope
Red-naped Sapsucker
Tropical Parula
Mangrove [Yellow] Warbler
Palm Warbler  
Prairie Warbler
Painted Redstart (Brooks County)
Black-headed Grosbeak
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.   
A Purple Gallinule continues at the SPI Convention Center boardwalk with very intermittent reports, the last on 12/13.
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.  
A Tropical Parula was at Laguna Atascosa NWR on 12/16 at the photo blind near the visitors center.
A Magnolia Warbler was a great surprise at Sabal Palm on 12/13.  A Tropical Parula and  Townsend’s Warbler also present on 12/12. Two Brown-crested Flycatchers were well photographed at Sabal Palm on 12/6.  Several species of Myiarchus are possible (but not common) in the LRGV in winter; rarely are they so well documented when they are discovered. 
A Western Tanager was found in the Tropical Zone at Estero Llano Grande on 12/13 and continued to 12/18.  Groove-billed Ani continue on the levee and in the Alligator Lake vicinity through 12/18, check with park staff for the latest location.  A drake Wood Duck was found on 12/11.  An Orchard Oriole was recently photographed, and a Hooded Oriole may continue (but it’s uncertain if it is still present).  A Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet is occasionally seen or heard in the Tropical Zone, and an immature Gray Hawk (or two!) as well.  Hummingbirds including an adult male Black-chinned continue in the Tropical Zone. 
At Edinburg Scenic Wetlands, a Winter Wren was found and later photographed on 12/9-10. No additional reports. 
A Tropical Parula continues at Quinta Mazatlan with intermittent reports through 12/12
Three Wood Ducks were at the San Juan Wetlands on 12/15.
At Anzalduas County Park, Black-throated Gray and Pine Warblers continue.  A Zone-tailed Hawk and Hook-billed Kite are in the area.  The park is invaded with Eastern Bluebird flocks, a welcome sight! 
The Red-naped Sapsucker continues to appear in the resaca area, check the willows to the right of the boat ramp for this secretive bird.  This is the third winter for this bird at this site.   
A Reddish Egret continues at Salineno; documentation is requested to determine how many individual birds are involved. 
Several White-collared Seedeaters were at La Laja Ranch on 11/5 with counts in the double digits. See below for visitation information. 
The Painted Redstart returned to the Brooks County Rest Area on US 281 south of Falfurrias on Saturday 9/20 and continues to 12/16.  A Painted Redstart wintered at this site last year.  
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. 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 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 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.   
This spring and summer a pair of Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl with chicks entertained birders at San Miguelito Ranch (fee site), contact Letty at 956-369-3118 or  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 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.

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.  Office closed Wednesday, grounds open. 

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 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tuesday December 16, 2014

Huck reported a Tropical Parula at Laguna  Atascosa NWR at the photo blind around noon today.

Javi G reported two drake Wood Ducks at the San Juan Wetlands this afternoon.

Erik B reported the Tropical Parula continuing at Quinta Mazatlan.

The Painted Redstart was at the Brooks County rest area today.  

Monday, December 15, 2014

Western Tanager at Estero Llano Grande 12/14-15

A Western Tanager initially seen briefly yesterday (12/14) was relocated today in the Tropical Zone at Estero Llano Grande State Park.  It was near the two totem poles on the entrance road, past the park hosts trailers.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Update - December 12, 2014

The Prairie Warbler at Hidalgo Pumphouse was relocated this morning by the "old swimming hole".  This is a very rare bird in the winter, and unusual at any date in south Texas.

Dorian A. ( found a Townsend's Warbler and a Tropical Parula at Sabal Palm on 12/11 along with a more expected Black-throated Gray Warbler.  He found another Tropical Parula continuing (but undetected for some time) at Resaca de la Palma on 12/10.

A Marbled Godwit was on private property well inland in Willacy Co. on 12/11.