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The Texas Rare Bird Alert reports primarily on Texas Review species. An email message service for the Texas Rare Bird Alert reports is available. See the TX RBA Email Service page for more information and to subscribe. For more reports of Texas sightings, please refer to the Texbirds archives. For sightings in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, check the Lower Rio Grande Valley Birding Hotline.
Texas eBird Portal
*Texas Review Species are indicated with CAPITAL LETTERS and an asterisk - please send reports to Eric Carpenter, Secretary, Texas Bird Records Committee.
Pelagic Trip: scheduled aboard the Osprey, leaving from the southern tip of South Padre Island on August 25 (sign up by August 9). Details at www.texaspelagics.com.
Sabine Woods: TROPICAL MOCKINGBIRD* --
first report: Apr 20; last update: July 28
On Apr 20 a TROPICAL MOCKINGBIRD* was identified at Sabine Woods, a TX Ornithological Society bird sanctuary in Sabine Pass. (Map) The bird was first discovered by James Clark and Don Jeane on Apr 18 and later several other birders noticed the unusual looking mockingbird. Terry Ferguson was able to photograph it on the morning of Apr 20 and researched its identification. This is a potential ABA first record, but some feel that the amount of fraying on the tail adds weight to the argument of this being an escapee. (Photos by Joe Fischer) (Photos by Gary Hodne).
Guidelines: TOS sanctuaries are free to TOS members. Registration fee of $5 for non-TOS members.
Tips: When you first enter the gate, look around the open area in front of the woods as the bird often visits this area. Its favorite hang out, is the open area just right (east) of the entrance, often around a large dead oak. If you wait in this area long enough, the bird will show up (it usually doesn't take long).
Latest Reports: Apr 22: continued sightings at same location with the first report at 7:45am. (Photos by Isaac Sanchez) It has been observed being chased/wooed by a Northern Mockingbird and engaged in nest-building activity (Photos by Frank Farese). Apr 23: 1:45pm, present (Margo Holst & DJ Kava). Apr 24: early morning, present (Cody Conway - video) Apr 25: morning, present (Bruce Barrett, others). Sightings have continued through May 22. Currently sharing a nest with a Northern Mockingbird. Kenny Nichols reported that on May 18 he & his wife observed both birds making repeated visits to the nest with food. May 23: 9am, seen in the area east of the entrance--take the first trail on the right, and go east about 30-40 yards into the open area on the left. It was near the top of a tall tree on the West side of this area. (Jim Swarr). May 24: morning, present (Bruce Sherman - photos). June 9: Steve Mayes reported it present & the nest had possibly been abandoned. June 17: Michael Pease spotted it and a Northern Mockingbird taking insects to a/the nest. June 20: Terry Ferguson observed & photographed them at the nest, feeding young. June 21: both birds seen tending the nest (Harlan Stewart - photos, including some of the chicks). Sightings have continued through July 28 --as of June 27 the two young have now fledged. (Photo of fledged hybrid by Andy Bankert). On July 15, John Whittle and David Bradford observed the Tropical Mockingbird feeding two young.
Updated Brazoria NWR: BLACK-TAILED GODWIT* -- first sighting: June 4; last update: Aug 15
On the morning of June 4 at 8am Ron Weeks found and photographed a BLACK-TAILED GODWIT* (female, probable subspecies limosa) at Brazoria NWR. (Map) There were 3 godwits present at the time: two winter-plumaged Hudsonians and the Black-tailed. If accepted, this would be a Texas first. (Photos by Paul Sellin) (Photos by Martin Reid)
Location: The pond is on CR227 just south of FM2004. Look for a flooded field on the west side of CR227 about 1/4 mile south of FM2004. Note that the other ponds & rice fields in the area are closed to entry.
Guidelines: All cars should park on the west side of the road, not both sides. It is a violation of state law to stand on the roadway. It is a violation of federal law to cross the fence. Stay in the right-of way between the pavement and the fence. Please don't damage our welcome by entering a closed area. Park on the west side of the road to limit crossings.
Latest Reports: July 6: evening, negative report. July 7: morning, negative reports from 3 experienced birders. July 20: 8:20-10am, viewed several times in the flooded fields east of the road. (Stephan Lorenz - photos and notes) July 21: 10:30am, brief sighting from the right of CR 227, about 400 yards from the corner of FM 2004. The godwit was in a flock with several ibis about 30 yrds from the road. It promptly flew to the west over some brown vegetation to another field & was out of sight. Despite a stakeout for several hours, it did not return to view. Note: come prepared with strongest insect repellent possible! (Deborah Repasz) July 22: 7:30am, found on CR 227 about 40 yds out in west pond about 1/4 mile south of FM 2004. Spotted again in flight in NE corner of same pond at 1:45pm. July 27: 9am, west pond off CR 227 (John Hintermister, others). July 28: 3pm, north-most pond on the west side of CR 227 (Paul Sunby). Paul noted that this pond is the most difficult to search because of vegetation in the pond and on the levee in front of it, but it also seems to now be supporting the most avian activity of all the ponds along that road. July 31: morning, seen on east side of CR 227 in the pond closest to FM 2004.The lighting was not optimal in the am, but will improve during the day and be best in the late pm. The levee and bushes make observing from the side of the road difficult and for the time being birders have permission from the USFWS to walk up to the levee. Try to stay within the ropes. There is a narrow path existing to the levee- use this one and don't create others. (Tom Morris, others) Aug 5: noon, in the pond beyond the levee on the east side of CR 227 (Rich May). Aug 9: all afternoon till dusk in same pond as Aug 5 sighting -- late afternoon light makes for great views (Chris Runk) Aug 10: 5:30pm, east side of CR 227, near FM 2004. (Tom Morris) Also observed by Kevin Calhoon and Gary Brunvoll. Aug 11: midday at same pond (Eric Lee) Aug 12: present (Ali Iyoob). Aug 15: negative report for 6-8pm.
West Texas: VIOLET-CROWNED HUMMINGBIRD* -- first sighting: Aug 4
On the morning of Aug 4 Brady Surber found a VIOLET-CROWNED HUMMINGBIRD* in Alpine, TX. It was sitting atop the blooming cenizo on the eastmost of the two road dividers as one makes the curve westbound in front of (due SSW of the Sul Ross Library) Sul Ross State University. (Map) When he went back to try to relocate the bird, he was unable to find it. He also noted that with so many blooming flowers right now, it could be anywhere.
Estero Llano Grande SP: ROSE-THROATED BECARD* --
first sighting: Nov 9: last update: Aug 1
On Nov 9 a Big Day van group led by Jon Dale and Michael Retter during the RGV Birding Festival found a female ROSE-THROATED BECARD* (RTBE) at Estero Llano Grande SP by the bathrooms in the tropical zone. (Map)
Latest Reports: Off and on sightings continued through Apr 4 when it was not seen every day, and there was not a predictable time of day. After a long absence, it was once again found in the tropical zone on Apr 20. May 8: reported present by Huck Hutchins, who also discovered she is building a nest. Mating is not believed to have occurred. May 9-July 1: present. After an absence of sightings for several weeks, she was reported present on July 20. Sightings have continued through Aug 1, with the last report by Nina Rach.
UPPER AND CENTRAL TX COAST - Non-Review Species
Sabine Woods: Golden-fronted Woodpecker -- first sighting: April 25; last update: July 28
Harlan Stewart and John Haynes observed a female Golden-fronted Woodpecker (GFWO) on May 18 at Sabine Woods, a TX Ornithological Society bird sanctuary in Sabine Pass. (Map). In addition on April 25 Bryan Tarbox found a male Golden-fronted Woodpecker (probable Red-bellied hybrid) at the same location. (Photos of male, female, and young by Harlan Stewart -- note that additional photos continue to be added.).
Guidelines: TOS sanctuaries are free to TOS members. Registration fee of $5 for non-TOS members.
Latest Reports: The female continued through May 29 and then was not found till June 4 when she was relocated by Terry Ferguson. Both birds were seen on June 7; the male on June 9, and both birds were viewed and photographed on June 10 by Terry Ferguson and Harlan Stewart (see link above for photos). The woodpeckers are excavating a hole in a tree about 25 yards east of the drip. June 17: female seen (Harlan Stewart). June 20: male seen visiting the nest hole (Harlan Stewart). June 21: female landed atop a tall dead tree near the nest hole, with an arthropod in its beak. (Harlan Stewart) Sightings continued through July 17. On July 17, Harlan Stewart found the family in the woods at about 5:30pm and photographed the male feeding a fledgling. "The central tail feathers of the fledgling were nearly all black, except for small thin stripes intermediate between the thin longitudinal stripes of the male and the entirely black feathers of the female. The birds were seen in the east woods area (immediately east and south of the drip/birdbath), while about 7 minutes later, the (a??) fledgling was seen along the fence line in the southern road-side edge of the east woods - (Photo of adult & fledgling by Harlan Stewart)" July 24: adult female in a tall dead tree east of the shelter near the entrance of Sabine Woods; juvenile on the trail near the roadside fence line immediately to the west of the meadow at the entrance. (Harlan Stewart) July 26: Adam Wood reported 4 birds present, presumably 2 adults & 2 juveniles. July 28: juvenile GFWO present (Steve Mayes)
LOWER RIO GRANDE VALLEY - Non-Review Species
For more sightings check the Lower Rio Grande Valley Birding Hotline.
Santa Ana: Tropical Parula -- first sighting: Mar 30; last update: July 27
On the morning of Mar 30 Andy Bankert reported a singing male Tropical Parula at Santa Ana NWR. The bird was seen on the Jaguarundi Trail between the Oriole Trail and the outer loop road.
Latest Reports: Apr 24-May 1: present. On Apr 28 it was heard in the morning near Willow Lake. (Tim Brush). May 5: evening, found singing on Chachalaca Trail near Willow Lake. Visuals obtained (C.J. Goin, Mark Pendleton, Donna Simonetti). May 7: 8:30-10:30am, singing male high in canopy but seen well several times along the north shore of Willow Lake, especially along the trail that connects Chachalaca Trail to the Willow Lakes Trail (David & Christopher Dunford). May 14: morning, singing along Chachalaca Trail (Peter Barnes, Ross Rickett). May 19: morning, singing at Willow Lake (Dan Jones). May 21: present (David Dolan). May 27: 8am, found singing on Willow Lake trail. (Michael Marsden). Sightings have continued through July 27, but the bird is unlikely to be relocated as its song is nearly over for the year.
LRGV pelagic: July 28 Report
On the July 28th pelagic cruise out of South Padre Island on the Osprey, observations included: one Audubon's Shearwater (great looks -- seen in front of boat), 6-7 Band-rumped Storm-Petrels, 2 very cooperative Cory's Shearwaters (at close range), Sooty Tern, Bridled Tern, and Pomarine Jaeger.
Estero Llano Grande SP: American Woodcock -- last updated: July 28
On July 28 during the morning bird walk, an American Woodcock was found along the brick path entering the park at Estero Llano Grande SP . There are no prior records of this species (rare in winter) in the summer in the LRGV. There have been 3 other reports over the past 2 weeks. Documentation desired. On the 28th a Black Phoebe was also present.
Lower Rio Grande Valley: White-collared Seedeater
Locations for White-collared Seedeater (WCSE):
San Ygnacio Bird Sanctuary at the foot of Washington St. in San Ygnacio. (Map) Park at the top of the hill and walk down. San Ygnacio is #87 on the Lower Texas Coast Wildlife Trail.
Zapata: WCSE come in to drink at the county park pond next to the library (south end of 9th Street and Laredo).
Laredo Locations: Las Palmas Trail (annotated map). The trail begins just east of International Bridge II; parking is available just southeast of Water Street underneath the bridge. The trail extends for approximately half a mile along the Rio Grande ending at Zacate Creek. Other Laredo locations: Father McNaboe Park (408 Rienda Drive - annotated map), North Central Park ( annotated map), Chacon Creek Trail (annotated map) .
La Laja Ranch also has WCSE. Access is by arrangement. The ranch is in Zapata County, just over the Webb County line. (Map) The owner of the ranch allows birders to visit by appointment ($25 fee). Phone: 956-763-0045.
Latest Reports: July 22: 8:10am, 2 WCSE near Las Palmas Trail in the reeds (Mike Post). July 25: morning, 5 WCSE at Las Palmas trail (Cameron Carver). July 30: San Ygnacio, 2 male & 5 female/immatures (Fred Collins)
Lower Rio Grande Valley: Red-billed Pigeon, Muscovy Duck
Salineno (#80 on the Lower Texas Coast Wildlife Trail. Map) is a traditional site for Red-billed Pigeons (RBPI) and Muscovy Ducks (MUDU). Highest probability for sightings occurs early and late in the day from the boat ramp. Chapeno and San Ygnacio can also be productive.
Directions: Salineno is #80 on the Lower Texas Coast Wildlife Trail. Map
Chapeno: from US 83 W of Roma, 10 miles, turn W on Fm 2098. Entering Falcon Heights watch for Chapeno Rd across from the Catholic Church. Turn South on Chapeno Rd and go 2.7 miles. (Fee).
San Ygnacio County Park/Seedeater Sanctuary: the park is at the foot of Washington St. in San Ygnacio. Park at the top of the hill and walk down. San Ygnacio is #87 on the Lower Texas Coast Wildlife Trail.
La Laja Ranch also has RBPI. Access is by arrangement. The ranch is in Zapata County, just over the Webb County line. (Map) The owner of the ranch allows birders to visit by appointment ($25 fee). Phone: 956-763-0045.
Latest Reports: June 16: both RBPI and MUDU present (Tripp Davenport). July 1: one MUDU overhead at Salineno Landing (Wayne Scott, John Pancake)
Lower Rio Grande Valley: Hook-billed Kite
The best public areas to look for Hook-billed Kites (HBKI) are Bentsen Rio Grande Valley SP-WBC in Mission, Anzalduas County Park (#68 on the Lower Texas Coast Wildlife Trail), and Santa Ana NWR (often best from the Tree Tower). Hook-billed Kites nested in western Hidalgo County in the summer of 2010 and 2011, the first US nests since 2002. Hook-billed Kites are least difficult to observe in March-April and November, and hardest to detect in summer.
Latest Reports: June 17: male HBKI at Bentsen SP (Dan Jones). Aug 11: Mary Beth Stowe photographed a rare black morph HBKI near the Cattail Lakes. It was circling overhead between the first Willow Lake overlook and the blind. (Photos & Notes by Mary Beth Stowe)
Lower Rio Grande Valley: Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl
Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls (FEPO) have not been seen or heard since the floods in the summer of 2010 at Bentsen Rio Grande Valley SP-WBC. Remember, the use of tapes is not allowed at Bentsen or many LRGV sites. Always ask before using tapes. Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls are at San Miguelito Ranch about 10 miles north of Raymondville, open March through May. There is a fee to access this site, and prior arrangements are required. Contact Leticia Tijerina, at 956-369-3118. (Photos). They are also present on the King Ranch - Norias Division (Map) and often at El Canelo (both fee sites).
Lower Rio Grande Valley: Red-crowned Parrots, Green Parakeets
In general, Red-crowned Parrots are most often seen in flight. They are sometimes seen in the areas of Quinta Mazatlan in McAllen, and Valley Nature Center in Weslaco. Both Green Parakeets (GREP) and Red-crowned Parrots (RCPA) can be seen in Harlingen (near Pendleton Park or 7th and Rio Hondo at dusk), Pharr (sometimes at Allen Williams residence on Sam Houston), and Brownsville. Green Parakeets traditionally can be seen near 10th and Dove (or 10th and Violet) in the evening; however, since a hail storm they have been missing at this location. In Laredo there is a roost of GREP on Saint Peter's Square at Houston Street.
San Benito is also a reliable location, in the area of Camino Blvd and Harvey Dr. RV Park, Cameron County (Google map). Both GREP and RCPA are regular and apparently roost in the area of the RV park and the lots. A few years ago when a neighbor had been putting out peanuts there had been 100's of parrots at the RV park. Now, there are just a few handfuls that come in. At San Benito mornings are better for the parrots and evenings for the parakeets but both can be seen if you start earlier in the mornings before the parakeets fly off. This is a good spot to find both species without having to dash from location to location if your time is limited. (Tips provided by Bill Tarbox.)
TEXAS INTERIOR - Non-Review Species
Marathon: Black-billed Cuckoo -- first sighting: Aug 11; last update: Aug 12
On the morning of Aug 11 Matthew York found a juvenile Black-billed Cuckoo in Marathon. It was observed late morning through midday in the trees between the Gage Hotel/White Buffalo Bar & Johnny B's on the main street. Also seen by Heidi Trudell.
Latest Reports: Aug 12: negative report for the entire day in the immediate area.