Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (2005, KRE photo)

Zone-tailed Hawk, Salineño (2014, KRE photo)

Hook-billed Kite, Salineño (2005, KRE photo)

Whooping Cranes, Aransas NWR (2018, Bill Sullivan photo)

White-tailed Hawk, Highway 35 (2018, KRE photo)

Plain Chachalaca (2015, Jeff Stephenson photo)

White-tailed Kite (2014, Jeff Stephenson photo)

Groove-billed Ani, Estero Llano Grande (2019, Val Landwehr photo)

Aplomado Falcon, Laguna Atascosa NWR (2011, KRE photo)

Common Pauraque, Laguna Atascosa NWR (2004, KRE photo)

Ringed Kingfisher (2016, Jerry Pruett photo)

Golden-fronted Woodpecker (2020, Jeff Stephenson photo)

Great Kiskadee (2018, Jeff Stephenson photo)

Green Jay (2020, Jay Vancura photo)

Black-crested Titmouse (2009, Vija Kelly photo)

Clay-colored Thrush, San Ygnacio (2013, KRE photo)

White-throated Thrush, Estero Llano Grande (2015, Jena Highkin photo)

Long-billed Thrasher (2014, Scott Meyer photo)

Gray-crowned Yellowthroat, Estero Llano Grande (2015, KRE photo)

Red-crowned Parrot, Weslaco (2019, Lon Baumgardt photo)

Morelet's Seedeater, Salineño (2020, Jay Vancura photo)

Olive Sparrow (2019, Lon Baumgardt photo)

Crimson-collared Grosbeak, Pharr (2011, KRE photo)

Blue Bunting, Laguna Atascosa NWR (2009, Vija Kelly photo)


Altamira Oriole (2020, Doug Kieser photo)



*          *          *



2019 SOUTH TEXAS MBWEEKS SUMMARY

February 17 - 25 (MBWeek I) & February 25 - March 5 (MBWeek II)


I suppose the weather on these two MBWeeks could have been better some days – especially on both days when we toured Aransas NWR aboard the Skimmer, and on the last full day of MBWeek II (with N winds, high only around 40, and non-stop mist/drizzle). But we couldn’t whine too much given the relentlessly unpleasant weather back in Minnesota, as we escaped the winter on these 39th and 40th South Texas MBWeeks and came up with two pretty impressive lists of birds.


Combining our two efforts, we found a composite total of 220 species in all (plus two “non-countable” exotics). MBWeek I did a bit better with 207 species, 24 of these not found on MBWeek II’s list of 196; in turn, there were 13 species on II not seen during week one. And our composite list of species after 40 of these MBWeeks (the first one was back in 1988) now stands at 349 species, as for the first time we listed two out-of-season rarities: Bell’s Vireo (on both MBWs) and an unidentified Myiarchus flycatcher (either a Brown-crested or Great Crested on MBW II).


In addition to these, MBW I found a surprising Little Gull at Port Aransas (for only the second time ever), both MBWs managed to see that wintering Common Black Hawk in Brownsville (3 previous records) and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers (also only 3 previous records), and there were Sandwich Terns and a Nelson’s Sparrow on MBW II (5 previous records of each). Though not as numerically significant, these less-than-annual rarities turned up as well on both MBWeeks: Golden-crowned Warbler, Summer Tanager, and Crimson-collared Grosbeak. In addition, though its species total was lower, MBW II listed these rarities that MBW I missed: Muscovy Duck (2 Salineño fly-bys – our first ones in 10 years!), Northern Gannets (offshore at Port Aransas), Grasshopper Sparrow (by The Big Tree), and 2 Morelet’s Seedeaters (at Salineño, though leader-only and heard-only).


Other special highlights seen on both MBWeeks included those easy-to-miss Red-billed Pigeons at Salineño, and Groove-billed Anis (Estero Llano Grande on MBW I; Laguna Atascosa on MBW II). And MBW I came up with no fewer than 23 shorebird species (there were 24 in all with MBW II’s Snowy Plover at South Padre); a total of 640 Black Skimmers counted by tens at South Padre; an impressive count of 1,060 Green Parakeets at their McAllen staging/roosting site, all 3 kingfishers at the Common Black Hawk resaca (no Ringed here on MBW II), and a shy Tropical Parula at Laguna Atascosa.


A few other random thoughts. First, despite all the birds we did find, it was curious that White-tailed Kites, Ringed Kingfishers, Clay-colored Thrushes, and Black-throated Sparrows proved so difficult to find this year. Second, among all the places we birded, I was especially impressed by that resaca on the UT Brownsville campus, by the rarities that Port Aransas provided for us, and by finding muscovys, pigeons, and seedeaters at Salineño (to see just one of these is hard enough). And, finally, note how many of the South Texas specialties are not included in this summary of highlights – so, my apologies to the chachalacas, pauraques, Buff-bellieds, White-tailed and other hawks, Aplomados, kiskadees and kingbirds, Green Jays, thrashers, Olive and other sparrows, orioles, and all the others for not giving them here the recognition they deserve.

       


Itineraries


MBWeek I:


Feb 17 - Evening arrivals at HRL (dinner at Texas Roadhouse & night at Country Inn & Suites).  

Feb 18 - Oliveira Park, UT Brownsville resaca, Hwy 48 inlet, Old Port Isabel Rd, and Hwy 100; afternoon drive to Aransas Pass via Indian Point (dinner at San Juan’s & first of 2 nights at Microtel).

Feb 19 - The Big Tree & vicinity, Aransas NWR boat trip, Hwy 35/Cavasso Creek, return to Big Tree, and Cove Harbor (lunch/dinner at Charlotte Plummmer’s).

Feb 20 - Port Aransas, Sunset Lake, and Indian Point; return to LRGV via Bishop City Park, Edinburg Wetlands, and parakeet staging site at Trenton & 10th St in McAllen (dinner at Blue Onion & first of 5 nights at Donna Comfort Inn).

Feb 21 - Hook-billed Kite-less levee vigil, Quinta Mazatlan, Valley Nature Center, and Estero Llano Grande (dinner at Blue Onion).

Feb 22 - Resaca de la Palma, UT Brownsville, Old Port Isabel Rd, South Padre I, Hwy 100, and Laguna Atascosa NWR (dinner at Arturo’s).

Feb 23 - Progreso Lakes, Border Rd owl burrow, Santa Ana NWR, Hidalgo, Anzalduas Co Park, and return to Hook-billed levee (dinner at Double Cross BBQ).

Feb 24 - Salineño, Falcon Co Park, Falcon State Park, Peñitas, and Estero Llano Grande (dinner at Blue Onion).

Feb 25 - Final morning at Bentsen State Park and Tiocano Lake; afternoon departures from HRL for home.


MBWeek II:


Feb 25 - Afternoon arrivals (for most) at HRL; Pendleton Park and Tiocano Lake (dinner at Blue Onion & first of 2 nights at Donna Comfort Inn).

Feb 26 - UT Brownsville resaca, Laguna Atascosa NWR, Hwy 100, and Hwy 48 inlet (dinner at Longhorn Cattle Company).                                  

Feb 27 - Valley Nature Center and Quinta Mazatlan; afternoon drive to Aransas Pass via Indian Point and Sunset Lake (dinner at San Juan’s & first of 2 nights at Microtel).                   

Feb 28 - Cove Harbor, Rockport Harbor, Hwy 35/Cavasso Creek, Aransas NWR boat trip, The Big Tree, Cape Valero, Old Port Bay Club Rd, Indian Point, and Sunset Lake (lunch/dinner at Charlotte Plummer’s & Bakery Cafe).

Mar 1 - Port Aransas, Mustang Island, and Hans Suter Wildlife Area; return to Donna via King Ranch Visitors Center, Sarita, and Laguna Atascosa (dinner at Blue Onion & first of 4 nights in Donna).  

Mar 2 - Estero Llano Grande, Border Rd owl berm, Santa Ana NWR, Hidalgo, Anzalduas Co Park, and Bentsen State Park (dinner at Milano’s).

Mar 3 - Salineño, Falcon State Park, Roma, Peñitas, and Alamo cowbird staging area (dinner at Arturo’s).

Mar 4 - Laguna Atascosa, South Padre I, Hwy 48 inlet, Old Port Isabel Rd, UT Brownsville, and Resaca de la Palma (dinner at Blue Onion).

Mar 5 - Staging cowbirds in Alamo, former Hook-billed levee, and Anzalduas Co Park; noon departures from HRL for home.



Bird List


• I = found only on MBWeek I

• II = found only on MBWeek II

(species not marked I or II = seen on both MBWeeks)

• boldface = “non-Minnesota” birds (absent, Accidental, or Casual in MN)


Black-bellied Whistling-Duck     (incl 100s at Progreso Lakes on I)    

Snow Goose

Greater White-fronted Goose     I (heard-only in the fog)    

Muscovy Duck     II (2 fly-bys at Salineño)        

Blue-winged Teal

Cinnamon Teal

Northern Shoveler

Gadwall

American Wigeon

Mallard     (“Mexican Ducks” at Salineño)

Mottled Duck

Northern Pintail

Green-winged Teal

Redhead

Ring-necked Duck   

Lesser Scaup

Bufflehead

Common Goldeneye     I (leader-only)

Hooded Merganser     I    

Red-breasted Merganser

Ruddy Duck     II 


Plain Chachalaca


Northern Bobwhite            


Wild Turkey    


Least Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Eared Grebe


Rock Pigeon

Red-billed Pigeon     (again at Salineño; also calling on II)     

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Inca Dove

Common Ground-Dove

White-tipped Dove

White-winged Dove

Mourning Dove


Greater Roadrunner

Groove-billed Ani     (Estero Llano Grande on I; Laguna Atascosa on II)     


Common Pauraque     (sleeping stake-outs still at Estero)

  

Black-chinned Hummingbird     (Bentsen)         

Buff-bellied Hummingbird


Clapper Rail

King Rail     (Tiocano L: seen on I; heard-only on II)     

Virginia Rail     I    

Sora

Common Gallinule

American Coot


Sandhill Crane

Whooping Crane     (big fans of bad poetry at The Big Tree?)


Black-necked Stilt

American Avocet


American Oystercatcher


Black-bellied Plover

Snowy Plover     II (South Padre in the cold, wind, drizzle)            

Semipalmated Plover

Piping Plover

Killdeer


Long-billed Curlew

Marbled Godwit

Ruddy Turnstone

Stilt Sandpiper     I

Sanderling

Dunlin     I

Least Sandpiper

Western Sandpiper

Short-billed Dowitcher     I

Long-billed Dowitcher

Wilson's Snipe     I

Spotted Sandpiper

Solitary Sandpiper

Lesser Yellowlegs

Willet

Greater Yellowlegs


Bonaparte's Gull

Little Gull     I (big surprise at Port Aransas)

Laughing Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Herring Gull

Lesser Black-backed Gull     I (also at Port Aransas)     

Gull-billed Tern               

Caspian Tern

Forster's Tern

Royal Tern

Sandwich Tern     II (6 recent arrivals at Port Aransas) 

Black Skimmer     (flock of 640 at South Padre on I)


Common Loon


Northern Gannet     II (2 offshore at Port Aransas)     


Neotropic Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant


Anhinga


American White Pelican

Brown Pelican


Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Snowy Egret

Little Blue Heron

Tricolored Heron

Reddish Egret

Cattle Egret

Green Heron

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron    


White Ibis

White-faced Ibis

Roseate Spoonbill


Black Vulture

Turkey Vulture


Osprey


White-tailed Kite     (why so few?)   

Northern Harrier

Sharp-shinned Hawk     II 

Cooper's Hawk

Common Black Hawk     (wintering at UT Brownsville)

Harris's Hawk

White-tailed Hawk

Gray Hawk    

Red-shouldered Hawk     I   

Red-tailed Hawk   


Eastern Screech-Owl     (the mccallii subspecies/species)

Burrowing Owl     (again along Border Rd)     


Ringed Kingfisher     (numbers down)

Belted Kingfisher

Green Kingfisher     (best at UT Brownsville)


Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Ladder-backed Woodpecker


Crested Caracara

American Kestrel

Aplomado Falcon     (best at Mustang Island on II)    

Peregrine Falcon     II (leader-only) 


Monk Parakeet

Green Parakeet     (1,060 counted at 10th & Trenton on I)

Red-crowned Parrot

[White-winged Parakeet - “non-countable” in McAllen]

[Lilac-crowned Parrot - “non-countable” in Weslaco]


Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet     (immediately responsive at Anzalduas!)

Myiarchus, sp.     II (either Brown-crested or Great Crested) 

Great Kiskadee

Tropical Kingbird

Couch's Kingbird

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher     (at The Big Tree on I; 2 at Santa Ana on II)

Black Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

Vermilion Flycatcher


Loggerhead Shrike


White-eyed Vireo

Bell’s Vireo     (Hidalgo stake-out)

Blue-headed Vireo


Green Jay

Chihuahuan Raven     I   


Horned Lark     I


Purple Martin  

Tree Swallow

Northern Rough-winged Swallow     

Cave Swallow     

Barn Swallow  


Black-crested Titmouse


Verdin

  

House Wren  

Sedge Wren     (heard-only on I; seen on II)

Marsh Wren     (heard-only)

Carolina Wren

Bewick's Wren  

Cactus Wren


Blue-gray Gnatcatcher    

     

Ruby-crowned Kinglet


Eastern Bluebird

Clay-colored Thrush     (almost missed)        


Gray Catbird     

Curve-billed Thrasher

Long-billed Thrasher

Northern Mockingbird


European Starling


Cedar Waxwing     I


House Sparrow


Sprague's Pipit     (again at the Peñitas Pipit Patch)    


House Finch          

Lesser Goldfinch

American Goldfinch


Olive Sparrow

Cassin's Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow     I    

Vesper Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

Black-throated Sparrow     I (tough to find this winter)    

Savannah Sparrow

Grasshopper Sparrow     II (a surprise at The Big Tree) 

Seaside Sparrow     I (heard-only)  

Nelson's Sparrow     II (most cooperative at Cavasso Creek)  

Lincoln's Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow    

White-crowned Sparrow     I


Eastern Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark

Hooded Oriole     II (Santa Ana)      

Altamira Oriole

Audubon's Oriole

Red-winged Blackbird     

Bronzed Cowbird

Brown-headed Cowbird

Brewer's Blackbird     

Boat-tailed Grackle          

Great-tailed Grackle


Ovenbird     I     

Black-and-white Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler

Nashville Warbler

Common Yellowthroat

Northern Parula     I     

Tropical Parula          I (both parulas at Laguna)

Pine Warbler          I     

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-throated Warbler     II 

Black-throated Gray Warbler     I (leader-only at Hidalgo)     

Black-throated Green Warbler     I

Golden-crowned Warbler     (Valley Nature Center)      

Wilson's Warbler


Summer Tanager     

Crimson-collared Grosbeak     (female at Quinta Mazatlan)     

Northern Cardinal

Pyrrhuloxia   

Indigo Bunting


Morelet’s Seedeater     II (leader-only / heard-only at Salineño) 




*          *          *



2018 SOUTH TEXAS MBWEEKS SUMMARY

MBWeek I: February 13-20  /  MBWeek II: February 20-27


In all, we came up with a composite total of 227 species on these back-to-back MBWeeks, the 37th and 38th South Texas birding vacations since 1988 that we've had from the harsh realities of a Minnesota winter. Why birders – myself included – insist on living here in winter seems to defy logic: not only is the weather itself bad enough (and even life-threatening on the coldest days!), but also consider you can go out all day in Minnesota and maybe see only 20 or so species in February – compared to 100 or more in a day in South Texas.


During the first week we managed to find 183 species (plus 2 non-countable parrots and a possible Broad-tailed Hummingbird), which is below average for this MBW. But consider that the birding overall had been relatively slow this season, and that at least five of our days faced 20-30 mph winds and high temperatures around 90 – conditions hardly conducive to finding birds. On the positive side, though, this week's group came up with 17 species not found the following week: e.g., Greater Roadrunners, at least 3 Zone-tailed Hawks, Say's Phoebe, Rock and Cactus wrens, a vagrant Brown Thrasher, Black-throated Sparrow, and a flock of 65 Lark Buntings.


The checklist on MBWeek I also included other numerous highlights such as a lost Surf Scoter (new for my TX list!), that pauraque dozing just a foot or so off the trail, no fewer than 26 (!) Whooping Cranes foraging together at one spot at Aransas, a pair of Aplomado Falcons, that striking Rose-throated Becard, an incredible concentration of staging grackles, cowbirds, and parakeets crowded for miles on wires along the expressway on our last evening... All this, plus a long list of other non-Minnesota birds and South Texas specialties too numerous to list in this paragraph.


MBWeek II also had Surf Scoter, the sleeping pauraque, Aplomados (2 pairs), and that becard on its above-average list of 210 species (plus those 2 extra parrots and 4 other "ID?" possibilities). When comparing this effort to the first week, however, keep in mind that the weather this time was not as windy or hot overall, that MBWeek I had scouted things out for those on the latter week, that everyone on MBW II had prior experience with South Texas birds, and that several species on their list were heard-only.    


In all, MBWeek II's checklist included 44 species not found the week before: including Fulvous Whistling-Ducks at Progreso L, Red-billed Pigeons at Salineño's upstream island, an Allen's Hummingbird at the feeder at South Palm Court Dr (Google Maps failed us on MBW I), a stake-out Purple Sandpiper an hour north of Rockport, the Long-eared Owl at Edinburg relocated the day before we left (new for my TX list!; plus a Black-throated Gray Warbler there), a tyrannulet and Yellow-throated Warbler at Anzalduas, that Blue Bunting at Quinta M. (finally, after 4 tries! – plus a Western Tanager there), and a seedeater or two was at least heard at Salineño (2 of us also saw one perched, and most saw it fly by and out of sight).


Our all-time composite list for this MBWeek now stands at 347 species, with the new additions of Surf Scoter, Long-eared Owl, and Bullock's Oriole. Also note that Allen's Hummingbird, Purple Sandpiper, and Franklin's Gull had only been recorded once before, and we also saw Western Tanager (on 2 previous MBWs), Brown Thrasher (3 previously), Common Grackle (4 previously), Rufous Hummingbird and King Rail (5 previous MBWs each)...and let's not forget that Audubon County license plate – #99 on my Texas list!



Itineraries


MBWeek I


Feb. 13 - Arrival at HRL, Hugh Ramsey Nature Park (for those arriving by noon), Pendleton Park & Harlingen City Lake; dinner at Arturo's & night in Donna.


Feb. 14 - Unland/Border Rd burrows, Santa Ana NWR, Quinta Mazatlan (with bad timing), and drive to Aransas Pass via Hwys 281-285-77 & Corpus Christi; dinner at San Juan's & first of 2 nights in Aransas Pass.


Feb. 15 - Aransas NWR boat trip, Rockport area, Port Aransas & Mustang Island, Corpus Christi causeway, Joe Fulton Rd, Indian Point & Sunset Lake; dinner at Charlotte Plummer's.


Feb. 16 - Big Tree area, Cavasso Creek, Lion's/Shelly Park in Refugio, Hazel Bazemore Co Park, Sarita wayside, Dixieland reservoir, Estero Llano Grande (briefly), and staging Indiana Ave parrots in Weslaco; dinner at Blue Onion & first of 4 nights in Donna.


Feb. 17 - Inn at Chachalaca Bend, Hwy 100, S Padre Island, Hwy 48 inlet, Old Port Isabel Rd, Rancho Viejo, Resaca Shores Blvd (well, sort of); dinner at Longhorn Cattle Company.


Feb. 18 - Estero Llano Grande, lunch at Blue Onion, Progreso Lakes, Santa Ana, Hidalgo, Bentsen State Park, and 10th Street parakeets in McAllen; "picnic" dinner at Comfort Inn.


Feb. 19 - Salineño, Chapeño, Falcon State Park area, Peñitas pipit patch, and staging grackles/cowbirds/parakeets (!) at Shary Rd in Mission; dinner at Arturo's.


Feb. 20 - Quinta Mazatlan (with bad timing, again) and HRL for flights home; birding with MBW II group for those on later Delta flight  – see below.  


MBWeek II


Feb. 20 - Arrivals/delays/rescheduled & re-rescheduled flights at HRL; Longhorn Cattle Company lunch, Old Port Isabel Rd, Hwy 48 inlet, Resaca Shores Blvd orioles, Weslaco cemetery & staging parrots on Indiana Ave; dinner at Blue Onion and night in Donna.


Feb. 21 - Midway Rd pond, Quinta Mazatlan (still no luck), Edinburg, drive to Aransas Pass via birding along Hwy 285, Joe Fulton Rd, and Indian Point/Sunset Lake; dinner at San Juan's & first of 2 nights in Aransas Pass.


Feb. 22 - Big Tree area, Cavasso Park, Port Lavaca (for Purple Sandpiper), Lion's/Shelly Park, Bayside, and Country Club/Old Port Bay Club/Cape Valero area; dinner at San Juan's.


Feb. 23 - Aransas NWR boat trip, Rockport, Joe Fulton Rd, Sarita wayside, S Palm Court Drive hummingbirds, and Tiocano Lake (via Kansas City Rd!); dinner at Arturo's & first of 4 nights in Donna.


Feb. 24 - Inn at Chachalaca Bend, Hwy 100, S Padre Island, Hwy 48 inlet, Brownsville landfill, Old Port Isabel Rd, suspenseful/successful vigil at Quinta Mazatlan (via traffic delays on Hwy 83 & 10th St), and staging parakeets on 10th Street; dinner at Blue Onion.


Feb. 25 - Estero llano Grande, Sant Ana NWR, Unland/Border Rd, Anzalduas Co Park, and Hidalgo; dinner at Milano's/Longhorn Cattle Company.


Feb. 26 - Salineño, Chapeño, Falcon State Park area, Roma, Peñitas, Edinburg Wetlands; dinner at Arturo's.


Feb. 27 - Progreso Lakes, return to Tiocano Lake, and HRL for flights home.



Bird Lists


I = seen on MBWeek I

II = seen on MBWeek II

  (species not annotated with I or II were found on both MBWs)

boldfaced species = S. Texas specialties (mostly local, rare, or absent elsewhere in U.S.)

h = heard-only

ID? = additional species possibly seen


Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

Fulvous Whistling-Duck        ( II at Progreso L )    

Snow Goose

Ross's Goose        ( II ) 

Greater White-fronted Goose        ( II )        

Blue-winged Teal

Cinnamon Teal

Northern Shoveler

Gadwall

American Wigeon        ( I leader-only; II )       

Mallard (incl. "Mexican" Ducks)

Mottled Duck

Northern Pintail

Green-winged Teal

Canvasback

Redhead

Ring-necked Duck

Greater Scaup                           

Lesser Scaup

Surf Scoter

Bufflehead

Common Goldeneye

Hooded Merganser        ( II )     

Red-breasted Merganser

Ruddy Duck


Plain Chachalaca


Northern Bobwhite         


Least Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Eared Grebe        ( II ) 


Rock Pigeon

Red-billed Pigeon        ( II at Salineño )      

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Inca Dove

Common Ground-Dove

White-tipped Dove

White-winged Dove

Mourning Dove


Greater Roadrunner        ( I at Falcon S P )  


Common Pauraque


Ruby-throated Hummingbird     

Black-chinned Hummingbird        ( II at Estero )     

( Broad-tailed Hummingbird - ID? on I at Estero )       

Rufous Hummingbird

Allen's Hummingbird        ( II at S Palm Court Dr )     

Buff-bellied Hummingbird               

                              

Clapper Rail

King Rail        ( II h at Tiocano L )      

Virginia Rail        ( II h )      

Sora        ( II h ) 

Common Gallinule        ( I )  

American Coot


Sandhill Crane

Whooping Crane


Black-necked Stilt

American Avocet


American Oystercatcher


Black-bellied Plover

Snowy Plover          

Semipalmated Plover

Piping Plover

Killdeer


Long-billed Curlew

Marbled Godwit

Ruddy Turnstone

Sanderling

Dunlin                                     

Purple Sandpiper        ( II at Port Lavaca) 

Least Sandpiper

Western Sandpiper

Short-billed Dowitcher

Long-billed Dowitcher

Wilson's Snipe

Spotted Sandpiper

Lesser Yellowlegs

Willet

Greater Yellowlegs


Bonaparte's Gull        ( I )

Laughing Gull

Franklin's Gull        ( II near Refugio ) 

Ring-billed Gull

Herring Gull

Lesser Black-backed Gull        ( II at Brownsville dump )      

Gull-billed Tern        ( I; ID? on II at Old Port Isabel Rd )    

Caspian Tern

Forster's Tern

Royal Tern

Black Skimmer


Common Loon


Neotropic Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant


Anhinga


American White Pelican

Brown Pelican

   

( Least Bittern - ID? on II at Tiocano L )

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Snowy Egret

Little Blue Heron

Tricolored Heron

Reddish Egret

Cattle Egret

Green Heron

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron    


White Ibis

White-faced Ibis

Roseate Spoonbill


Black Vulture

Turkey Vulture


Osprey


( Hook-billed Kite - ID? on II at Salineño )   

White-tailed Kite

Northern Harrier

Sharp-shinned Hawk        ( I )

Cooper's Hawk

Harris's Hawk

White-tailed Hawk

Gray Hawk    

Red-shouldered Hawk     

Zone-tailed Hawk        ( I at Weslaco & Salineño )     

Red-tailed Hawk


Eastern Screech-Owl        ( II h at Santa Ana ) 

Burrowing Owl                    

Long-eared Owl        ( II at Edinburg Wetlands ) 


Ringed Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

Green Kingfisher


Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker        ( II ) 

Ladder-backed Woodpecker       

Northern Flicker        ( II at Salineño ) 


Crested Caracara

American Kestrel

Merlin        ( I )

Aplomado Falcon    

Peregrine Falcon        ( I )


Monk Parakeet

Green Parakeet

Red-crowned Parrot ( + exotic Yellow-headed & Lilac-crowned )


Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet        ( II at Anzalduas )      

( Empidonax, sp. - ID? on II at Edinburg )

Black Phoebe        ( II at Anzalduas & Progreso L ) 

Eastern Phoebe

Say's Phoebe        ( I near Falcon S P )

Vermilion Flycatcher

Great Kiskadee

Tropical Kingbird

Couch's Kingbird


Rose-throated Becard     


Loggerhead Shrike


White-eyed Vireo

Blue-headed Vireo


Green Jay

Chihuahuan Raven  


Purple Martin  

Tree Swallow

Northern Rough-winged Swallow     

Cave Swallow     

Barn Swallow        ( II )   


Black-crested Titmouse


Verdin


Rock Wren        ( I at Falcon State Park )     

House Wren  

Marsh Wren        ( I; II h )  

Carolina Wren

Bewick's Wren         ( II h at Salineño )   

Cactus Wren        ( I at Chapeño )


Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  

    

Ruby-crowned Kinglet


Eastern Bluebird        ( II ) 

Hermit Thrush        ( II ) 

Clay-colored Thrush       

American Robin        ( II ) 


Gray Catbird        ( II )      

Curve-billed Thrasher     

Brown Thrasher        ( I at S Padre Island )

Long-billed Thrasher

Northern Mockingbird


European Starling


Cedar Waxwing


House Sparrow


American Pipit        ( II ) 

Sprague's Pipit     


House Finch     

Pine Siskin        ( II )      

Lesser Goldfinch        ( II at Hidalgo ) 

American Goldfinch        ( II ) 


Olive Sparrow

Cassin's Sparrow        ( II h at Salineño ) 

Chipping Sparrow

Clay-colored Sparrow        ( I )

Field Sparrow        ( I )     

Vesper Sparrow        ( II ) 

Lark Sparrow        ( II ) 

Black-throated Sparrow        ( I at Salineño )  

Lark Bunting        ( I at Peñitas)     

Savannah Sparrow  

Seaside Sparrow        ( II at Cavasso Cr )      

Lincoln's Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow


Yellow-headed Blackbird        ( II at Progreso L ) 

Eastern Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark

Hooded Oriole  

Bullock's Oriole  

Altamira Oriole

Audubon's Oriole                 

Red-winged Blackbird     

Bronzed Cowbird

Brown-headed Cowbird        ( II ) 

Brewer's Blackbird

Common Grackle        ( II at Port Lavaca )      

Boat-tailed Grackle          

Great-tailed Grackle       


Ovenbird        ( II )      

Black-and-white Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler

Nashville Warbler        ( I )

Common Yellowthroat

Pine Warbler     

Yellow-rumped Warbler (incl. "Audubon's")

Yellow-throated Warbler        ( II at Anzalduas ) 

Black-throated Gray Warbler        ( II at Edinburg )          

Wilson's Warbler


Summer Tanager        ( II h at Quinta M )        

Western Tanager        ( II at Quinta M ) 

Northern Cardinal

Pyrrhuloxia

Blue Bunting        ( II at Quinta M )      


White-collared Seedeater        ( II at Salineño ) 


Significant Others:


Great Dane (round-trip on Sun Country)

Audubon County, Iowa license plate (! – new for my TX list at S Padre Island)




*          *          *



SOUTH TEXAS MBWEEKS PHOTO GALLERY


Audubon's Oriole, Salineño (2019, Dennis Randall photo)


Northern Jaçana, Santa Ana NWR (2016, KRE photo)

Pyrrhuloxia (2016, Jeff Stephenson photo)

Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Santa Ana NWR (2017, Jeff Stephenson photo)

Rose-throated Becard, Resaca de la Palma (2020, Doug Kieser photo)

Green Kingfisher (2020, Carla Bates photo)

Clapper Rail (2018, Jeff Stephenson photo)

Anhinga, Estero Llano Grande (2018, Jerry Pruett photo)

Least Grebe (2018, Jerry Pruett photo)

Snowy Plover, South Padre Island (2019, Lon Baumgardt photo)

Sandwich Tern, Port Aransas (2019, Lon Baumgardt photo)

Common Black Hawk. UT Brownsville (2019, Dennis Randall photo)

Gray Hawk (2019, Bill Marengo photo)

Burrowing Owl (2019, Dennis Randall photo)

Buff-bellied Hummingbird (2020, Doug Kieser photo)

Tropical Kingbird (2019, Lon Baumgardt photo)

Also see the PHOTO GALLERY

following the summaries of the 2020, 2019, and 2018 MBWeeks


_________



SOUTH TEXAS MBWEEK SUMMARY

February 17 - 25, 2020


This 41st MBWeek in South Texas may have ended up with close-to-normal temperatures overall and an average species total of 205, but at the same time it featured its share of uncommon highlights. Considering the weather, note that an average high in winter is in the 70s, but this mostly seems the result of days in the 50s or even 40s combined with others well into the 80s and even 90 – and not that many in between. True to form, our first full day this year reached 90, but the next day featured a 30 degree drop along with about the heaviest rain showers I’ve ever seen here (where winter rains are rare). Then, strong north winds dropped temperatures down through the 50s and into the 40s as we birded the Rockport area in winter jackets. It then rebounded back to 80 as the MBW ended.


But, as they should be, the ornithological highlights of this MBW were more interesting than the meteorological ones. During our first full day in the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV), we saw a pair of oft-elusive Fulvous Whistling-Ducks among some domestic somethings at Bannworth Park in Mission, and that same afternoon we found all three “countable” parakeets/parrots: Monks at their Hidalgo nests, Greens by chance on a wire during our break at McDonald’s, and Red-crowneds on a wire in Weslaco. Then the next morning at Resaca de la Palma we had views of two Rose-throated Becards, and a Tropical Parula was heard (but not seen, alas). And before we headed north to Rockport there was time to find the Common Black Hawk which had returned from 2019 to the resaca at UT’s Brownsville campus (we had recorded this species only 5 times in the previous 40 MBWs).


During our cold day-and-a-half in the Rockport-Port Aransas-Corpus Christi area, we chose to forgo the boat tour into Aransas NWR for the first time ever (if we had gone, we would have faced 20 mph headwinds and a “high” of 50), but the Whooping Cranes on their now-favorite pasture put on quite a show as 8 unmated sub-adults were methodically displaced by a dominant pair of adults that flew in after we arrived. A staked-out female Painted Bunting at a Goose Island State Park feeder was next (only the 3rd one ever on this MBWeek), but the best sighting that day was at Indian Point when at least 6 Brown Boobies flew by at fairly close range. For some reason they had been wintering out in the bay here, and this represented species #350 on the all-time South Texas MBW list (!) – along with a new addition to my Texas life list.


After our return to the LRGV, we went back to Santa Ana NWR to witness a flight of no fewer than 4 Hook-billed Kite close to the observation tower – this after no one had reported more than 2 that month! (And their timing was perfect as they appeared at 9:58 am after I had announced we were planning to go elsewhere at 10:00.) During the next 10 minutes they flew around us, chased each other at times, and even perched for brief scope views before flying out of sight. Anything later that day was anticlimactic, but at Anzalduas the wintering Sprague’s Pipits were easier than usual to see, scope, and photograph in the shorter-than-normal grass, and we finally found a Clay-colored Thrush (not as easy to find in recent years) at Quinta Mazatlan.


Our pre-dawn departure to spend the next day upriver in and around Salineño was mostly successful. There were 3 brief sightings of uncooperative Red-billed Pigeons that popped up into view on their traditional island, but a Morelet’s (formerly White-collared) Seedeater provided uncharacteristically long and close views for a full minute for most of us. Mexican Duck-type Mallards were also on the river (“countable” on eBird, but not so on ABA’s checklist), all the expected desert-type species were cooperative (e.g., at least 8 roadrunners, Bewick’s and Cactus Wrens, Cassin’s and Black-throated sparrows), plus a bonus Black-tailed Gnatcatcher in “downtown” Salineño.


We spent our last full day along and near the Gulf coast and finally had nice looks at an Aplomado Falcon at its Old Port Isabel Rd platform, after missing this species up at Mustang I. We also rounded out our shorebird list with no fewer than 25 species with Snowy Plovers near one of Elon Musk’s SpaceX facilities and a group of no fewer than 70-80 Reddish Egrets. And a staked-out Rock Wren, which is rare here, was waiting for us in Laguna Vista to complete our trip list of 205 species.


We would have 207 in all if I count the possible fly-by Common Tern at Indian Point and a heard-only goldfinch at Anzalduas which Jeff felt was probably an American. But for now, American Goldfinch goes down as missed for only the second time ever on this MBWeek, and even worse is the inexplicable absence of Cattle Egret from our list for the first time ever! Other “misses” included a Mew Gull which appeared before and after – but not during – our 3 visits to the Port Aransas boardwalk, and the elusive Groove-billed Anis we were unable to find at Santa Ana and Oso Bay. It is also interesting that normally productive birding sites like Laguna Atascosa NWR, Progreso Lakes, and Bentsen State Park were missing from our itinerary, as was Capt Tommy’s boat trip on the Skimmer, and we barely spent any time at Estero Llano Grande.


On the plus side, note that Pectoral Sandpiper had only been seen once before on this MBW, and Bank Swallow only three times. Also consider there are so many other birds cited above that most South Texas specialties failed to make the final highlight reel – chachalaca, Least Grebe, White-tipped Dove, pauraque, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Harris’s & White-tailed & Gray hawks, kingfishers, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, kiskadee, Tropical & Couch’s kingbirds, Green Jay (ignored, as always, after a couple days), Black-crested Titmouse, Long-billed Thrasher, Olive Sparrow, Audubon’s & Altamira orioles, and all the other "routine" species.



Itinerary


February 17: Arrival at HRL @10 am; Hugh Ramsey Nature Park, Resaca de la Palma, and UT Rio Grande Valley resaca; dinner at Blue Onion (!) & first of 2 nights in Mercedes.


February 18: Santa Ana NWR, Border Rd’s owl-less burrows, Hidalgo, Granjeño, Anzalduas County Park, Shary Rd CVS parakeets, Bannworth Park, Westgate Dr cowbirds & parrots; dinner at Arturo’s.


February 19: Return to Resaca de la Palma and UT Rio Grande Valley; afternoon drive to Rockport via the Brewer’s at the Sarita wayside, Chapman Ranch, and Indian Point; dinner at Crab-N (now reopened after the 2017 hurricane!) & first of 2 nights in Rockport.


February 20: Rockport-Fulton bay, The Big Tree’s crane pasture, Goose Island State Park, Cavasso Creek, return to Indian Pt, Sunset Lake, Hans Suter Wildlife Area, North Padre Island, and Mustang Island; dinner at San Juan’s.


February 21: Return to Cavasso Cr (for grackles!), Old Port Bay Club Rd & Live Oak Country Club, Port Aransas boardwalk and beach, Mustang Island, Packery Channel Park, JFK Causeway, Oso Bay Preserve, return to Chapman Ranch, and return drive to LRGV; dinner at Longhorn Cattle Company (Jeff’s favorite) & first of 4 nights in Weslaco.


February 22: Return to Santa Ana, return to Anzalduas, and Quinta Mazatlan; dinner at Blue Onion.


February 23: Pre-dawn upriver drive to Salineño, Chapeño, Falcon State Park, Falcon County Park, and Roma; dinner at Milano’s.


February 24: Tiocano Lake, return to Resaca de la Palma, Old Port Isabel Rd, Boca Chica Blvd (incl SpaceX), Hwy 48/Zapata Boat Ramp, South Padre Island, and Holly Beach Rd; dinner at Arturo’s.


February 25: Estero Llano Grande (briefly) and departure for MN.



Bird List


(boldfaced species = “non-Minnesota” birds (i.e., absent, Accidental, or Casual in MN)


Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

Fulvous Whistling-Duck    

Snow Goose

Greater White-fronted Goose         

Blue-winged Teal

Cinnamon Teal

Northern Shoveler

Gadwall

American Wigeon

Mallard (incl “Mexican Duck”)

Mottled Duck

Northern Pintail

Green-winged Teal

Redhead

Ring-necked Duck    

Lesser Scaup

Bufflehead

Common Goldeneye  

Red-breasted Merganser

Ruddy Duck


Plain Chachalaca


Northern Bobwhite             


Wild Turkey    


Least Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Eared Grebe


Rock Pigeon

Red-billed Pigeon     

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Inca Dove

Common Ground Dove

White-tipped Dove

White-winged Dove

Mourning Dove


Greater Roadrunner     


Common Pauraque

Archilochus, sp.       

Buff-bellied Hummingbird


Clapper Rail     

Sora

Common Gallinule

American Coot


Sandhill Crane

Whooping Crane


Black-necked Stilt

American Avocet


American Oystercatcher


Black-bellied Plover

Killdeer

Semipalmated Plover

Piping Plover

Snowy Plover          


Long-billed Curlew

Marbled Godwit

Ruddy Turnstone

Stilt Sandpiper

Sanderling

Dunlin

Least Sandpiper

Pectoral Sandpiper

Western Sandpiper

Short-billed Dowitcher

Long-billed Dowitcher

Wilson's Snipe

Spotted Sandpiper

Solitary Sandpiper

Lesser Yellowlegs

Willet

Greater Yellowlegs


Bonaparte's Gull

Laughing Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Herring Gull  

Gull-billed Tern     

Caspian Tern

Forster's Tern

Royal Tern

Black Skimmer


Common Loon


Brown Booby  


Neotropic Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant


Anhinga


American White Pelican

Brown Pelican


Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Snowy Egret

Little Blue Heron

Tricolored Heron

Reddish Egret

Green Heron

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron    


White Ibis

White-faced Ibis

Roseate Spoonbill


Black Vulture

Turkey Vulture


Osprey


White-tailed Kite

Hook-billed Kite    

Northern Harrier

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

Common Black Hawk

Harris's Hawk

White-tailed Hawk

Gray Hawk    

Red-shouldered Hawk

Broad-winged Hawk        

Red-tailed Hawk  


Eastern Screech-Owl (the mccallii subspecies and potential split)

Great Horned Owl

Burrowing Owl     


Ringed Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

Green Kingfisher


Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Ladder-backed Woodpecker


Crested Caracara

American Kestrel

Aplomado Falcon    

Peregrine Falcon


Monk Parakeet

Green Parakeet

Red-crowned Parrot


Rose-throated Becard


Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet

Great Kiskadee

Tropical Kingbird

Couch's Kingbird

Black Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

Say's Phoebe

Vermilion Flycatcher


Loggerhead Shrike


White-eyed Vireo

Blue-headed Vireo


Green Jay

Chihuahuan Raven   


Horned Lark


Bank Swallow

Tree Swallow

Purple Martin

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Barn Swallow    

Cave Swallow     


Black-crested Titmouse


Verdin


Rock Wren     

House Wren  

Sedge Wren (heard-only)

Marsh Wren

Carolina Wren

Bewick's Wren  

Cactus Wren


Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher     

    

Ruby-crowned Kinglet


Clay-colored Thrush        

American Robin


Gray Catbird     

Curve-billed Thrasher

Long-billed Thrasher

Northern Mockingbird


European Starling


House Sparrow


American Pipit

Sprague's Pipit     


House Finch         

Lesser Goldfinch


Cassin's Sparrow

Olive Sparrow

Black-throated Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

Field Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

Lincoln's Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

Eastern Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark

Hooded Oriole     

Altamira Oriole

Audubon's Oriole

Red-winged Blackbird     

Bronzed Cowbird

Brown-headed Cowbird

Brewer's Blackbird     

Boat-tailed Grackle          

Great-tailed Grackle

  

Black-and-white Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler

Nashville Warbler

Common Yellowthroat    

Tropical Parula (heard-only)     

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-throated Warbler    

Black-throated Green Warbler

     

Northern Cardinal

Pyrrhuloxia

Indigo Bunting

Painted Bunting


Morelet’s Seedeater

Fulvous Whistling-Ducks, Mission (2020, KRE photo)

Greater Roadrunner (2020, Jay Vancura photo)

Black-necked Stilt, Port Aransas (2020, Jeff Stephenson photo)

white-morph Reddish Egret (2020, Carla Bates photo)

Hook-billed Kite, Santa Ana NWR (2020, Doug Kieser photo)

Harris's Hawk (2020, Doug Kieser photo)

Crested Caracara (2020, Doug Kieser photo)

Green Parakeets, Mission (2020, Doug Kieser photo)

Vermilion Flycatcher (2020, Carla Bates photo)

Sprague's Pipit, Anzalduas County Park (2020, Carla Bates photo)