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 N. of Rockport, 2018 (KRE photo)

Plain Chachalaca, 2015 (Jeff Stephenson photo)

White-tailed Kite, 2014 (Jeff Stephenson photo)

Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, King Ranch, 2016 (Jerry Pruett photo)

Groove-billed Anis, Estero Llano Grande, 2015 (Linda Sparling photo)

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

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

Buff-bellied Hummingbird, 2017 (Jeff Stephenson photo)

Ringed Kingfisher, 2016 (Jerry Pruett photo)

Golden-fronted Woodpecker, 2016 (Jerry Pruett photo)

Great Kiskadee, 2018 (Jeff Stephenson photo)

Green Jay, 2016 (Jerry Pruett 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, 2018 (Jerry Pruett photo)

White-collared Seedeater, Laredo, 2013 (KRE photo)

Olive Sparrow, 2014 (Jeff Stephenson photo)

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

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

Altamira Oriole, 2017 (Jeff Stephenson photo)

Also see the PHOTO GALLERY

following the summaries of the 2018. 2017, and 2016 MBWeeks.


_________



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 MBWEEK SUMMARY

February 12 - 19, 2017


True, our official species total fell just short of our goal of 200, as we – and just about every other birder I talked to – found this to be a relatively quiet winter. Only a couple of Mexican rarities were being seen (including one in Refugio we'd just as soon forget!), and many winter visitants simply didn't visit this year, as they found the conditions farther north mild enough with no need to head for South Texas. Indeed, we found no wintering geese (probably a first for this MBW), hardly any swallows or flocks of wintering sparrows, and not as many shorebirds as usual (this may be the first time we missed Marbled Godwit, while both Piping and Snowy plovers were strangely non-existent).


But even a sub-par year here is filled with highlights. Probably the best bird on our list was the adult male Rose-throated Becard at Estero Llano Grande, a species not seen here most years. While our timing at Regufio didn't match the erratic appearances of a certain warbler, the Tropical Parula we did see was a very nice consolation prize. Our morning at Santa Ana and nearby a couple days later netted us two Burrowing Olws and the often-elusive N Beardless-Tyrannulet, and an Aplomado Falcon and a couple of Gull-billed Terns were that afternoon's highlights. Our drive up to Salineño the next day was rewarded by the Red-billed Pigeons posing on the upriver island at dawn, our best look at an adult Gray Hawk, an unexpected Summer Tanager, and our only Ringed Kingfishers and Audubon's Orioles. And there was enough time at Anzalduas on our last morning to find Sprague's Pipits, and both Black-throated Gray and Yellow-throated warblers.


In addition to these relatively rare/elusive birds, the Broad-billed Hummingbird at a Fulton feeder just a couple blocks from our motel was a first for this MBweek, representing species #344 on the all-time composite list. Another "write-in" was the heard-only Louisiana Waterthrush in Refugio which was only the second time this species has been recorded on this trip, and listed for only the third time were the Least Bittern in Port Aransas, the Barred Owl in Refugio, and the two Scissor-tailed Flycatchers along Hwy 77.


Note that our species total of 197 did not include nine "unofficial" birds: a Mexico-only Peregrine Falcon, 2 non-countable exotics (White-winged Parakeet, Lilac-crowned Parrot), possible but silent Short-billed Dowitchers, a road-kill Barn Owl, and four species only found with Jonas after the main MBW ended (Fulvous Whistling-Ducks and King Rails at Tiocano Lake, and Carolina Chickadees and American Goldfinch in Refugio; in addition, Jonas was able to see Clapper Rail and the Louisiana Waterthrush).


And think of all the other memorable but more "routine" birds we saw – whistling-ducks (by the 100s at Progreso Lakes), chachalacas, Least Grebe, White-tipped Dove, sleeping pauraques, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Whooping Crane, spoonbills, Harris's and White-tailed hawks, Green Kingfisher, parakeets and parrots, kiskadees and kingbirds, "ignored" Green Jays, Black-crested Titmouse, Clay-colored Thrush, thrashers, Olive Sparrow, orioles, and many more. Considering that about 80 of the nearly 200 species we saw are not regularly found in Minnesota, perhaps it's little wonder that Ellen counted no fewer than 107 lifers (!) since she'd never birded south of Duluth. Jonas figured he had 59 lifers (plus 4 others with me after the MBW), while Rick had about 55.



Itinerary


February 12: Mid-afternoon Delta arrival at HRL (the high was 86º); City Lake, Calvary Baptist Church, and Pendleton Park in Harlingen; dinner at Texas Roadhouse & night in Harlingen.


February 13: Back roads/detours en route to Laguna Atascosa NWR (again 86º at HRL); afternoon drive to Rockport via Hwy 77, Sarita wayside rest, Indian Point, and Sunset Lake Park; dinner at Crab N & first of 2 nights in Fulton.


February 14: Morning at Lions-Shelley Park in Refugio (after heavy rains and a tornado warning siren), and afternoon boat trip to Aransas NWR; dinner at Charlotte Plummer's.


February 15: Cavasso Creek, Big Tree & vicinity, Port Aransas (boardwalk & beach), return to Refugio, and evening drive to Weslaco; dinner at El Tapatio in Kingsville and first of 4 nights in Weslaco.


February 16: Estero Llano Grande, N American Butterfly Assoc feeders, Bentsen State Park, staging parakeets @10th & Trenton, and staging parrots @2nd & Bus Hwy 83; dinner at Blue Onion.


February 17: Progreso Lakes, Unland Road owling, Santa Ana NWR, Old Port Isabel Road, Hwy 48 inlet, and S Padre Island; dinner at Longhorn Cattle Company.  


February 18: Pre-dawn departure for Salineño, Falcon State Park & vicinity, and Roma (unofficial high ~95º); dinner at Blue Onion and owling at Estero Llano Grande.


February 19: Anzalduas Co Park, Hidalgo, return to Estero, and return to HRL (high ~90º) for mid-afternoon Delta flight.


[February 20-21: Jonas and I bird return with Tom Langschied to Lions-Shelley Park (and again we miss the Golden-crowned Warbler, deciding to leave after 3 hours – and less than 5 minutes before the bird is spotted by others!), continue to Rockport, Cavasso Creek, and return to Harlingen; we finish up at Tiocano Lake and an Aplomado area on Hwy 100, before I fly out of HRL and Jonas drives to San Antonio.]



Bird List


• boldfaced species = relatively rare / often difficult to find

italicized species = "non-Minnesota" birds (i.e., absent, Accidental, or Casual in MN)


Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

Gadwall

American Wigeon

Mallard

Mottled Duck

Blue-winged Teal

Cinnamon Teal

Northern Shoveler

Northern Pintail

Green-winged Teal

Canvasback

Redhead

Ring-necked Duck

Greater Scaup (unexpected en route to Laguna)

Lesser Scaup

Bufflehead

Common Goldeneye

Red-breasted Merganser

Ruddy Duck


Plain Chachalaca


Northern Bobwhite (Laguna Atascosa)


Wild Turkey


Least Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Eared Grebe


Rock Pigeon

Red-billed Pigeon

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Inca Dove

Common Ground-Dove (Estero only)

White-tipped Dove

White-winged Dove

Mourning Dove


Greater Roadrunner (only one)


Common Pauraque


Archilochus, sp. (female Ruby-throated/Black-chinned)

Broad-billed Hummingbird

Buff-bellied Hummingbird


Clapper Rail (heard-only on MBW, seen post-MBW)

Sora

Common Gallinule

American Coot


Sandhill Crane

Whooping Crane (also seen near The Big Tree)


Black-necked Stilt

American Avocet


American Oystercatcher


Black-bellied Plover

Semipalmated Plover

Killdeer


Long-billed Curlew

Ruddy Turnstone

Stilt Sandpiper

Sanderling

Dunlin

Least Sandpiper

Western Sandpiper

Long-billed Dowitcher

Wilson's Snipe

Spotted Sandpiper

Solitary Sandpiper (Santa Ana)

Greater Yellowlegs

Willet

Lesser Yellowlegs


Laughing Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Herring Gull

Gull-billed Tern

Caspian Tern

Forster's Tern

Royal Tern

Black Skimmer


Common Loon


Neotropic Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant


Anhinga


American White Pelican

Brown Pelican


American Bittern

Least Bittern

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 (best at Estero)


White Ibis

White-faced Ibis

Roseate Spoonbill (best at Estero)


Black Vulture

Turkey Vulture


Osprey


White-tailed Kite

Northern Harrier

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

Harris's Hawk

White-tailed Hawk

Gray Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk


Eastern Screech-Owl (the mccallii subspecies at Estero)

Great Horned Owl

Burrowing Owl

Barred Owl


Ringed Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

Green Kingfisher (best at Refugio)


Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Ladder-backed Woodpecker


Crested Caracara

American Kestrel

Aplomado Falcon (another seen post-MBW)


Monk Parakeet (Hidalgo nests)

Green Parakeet

Red-crowned Parrot


Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet

Black Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

Vermilion Flycatcher

Great Kiskadee

Tropical Kingbird (best at City Lake on Day 1)

Couch's Kingbird

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher


Rose-throated Becard


Loggerhead Shrike


White-eyed Vireo

Blue-headed Vireo


Green Jay

Chihuahuan Raven


Horned Lark


Purple Martin

Tree Swallow

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Barn Swallow


Black-crested Titmouse


Verdin


House Wren

Sedge Wren (heard-only)

Marsh Wren

Carolina Wren

Bewick's Wren

Cactus Wren


Blue-gray Gnatcatcher


Ruby-crowned Kinglet


Eastern Bluebird

Hermit Thrush

Clay-colored Thrush (best at Bentsen)

American Robin


Curve-billed Thrasher

Long-billed Thrasher

Northern Mockingbird


European Starling


Cedar Waxwing


House Sparrow


Sprague's Pipit


House Finch

Lesser Goldfinch


Ovenbird

Louisiana Waterthrush (leader-only / heard-only; seen post-MBW)

Black-and-white Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler

Common Yellowthroat

Tropical Parula

Yellow-rumped Warbler (incl an "Audubon's" at Anzalduas)

Yellow-throated Warbler

Black-throated Gray Warbler

Wilson's Warbler


Olive Sparrow

Cassin's Sparrow (posing on a fence wire)

Chipping Sparrow

Clay-colored Sparrow (leader-only)

Vesper Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

Black-throated Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

Lincoln's Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow (heard-only)


Summer Tanager

Northern Cardinal

Pyrrhuloxia


Red-winged Blackbird

Eastern Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark

Brewer's Blackbird (Sarita wayside)

Boat-tailed Grackle (Cavasso Creek)

Great-tailed Grackle

Bronzed Cowbird

Brown-headed Cowbird

Hooded Oriole (Bentsen)

Altamira Oriole

Audubon's Oriole


Also Seen:


Fulvous Whistling-Duck (post-MBW at Tiocano L)

King Rail (ditto, heard-only)

Short-billed Dowitcher (probably seen at Sunset Lake)

Barn Owl (road-kill en route to Laguna)

Peregrine Falcon (Mexico-only at Anzalduas)

White-winged Parakeet (exotic staging w/Greens)

Lilac-crowned Parrot (exotic w/Red-crowneds)

Carolina Chickadee (post-MBW at Refugio)

American Goldfinch (ditto)


Significant Others:


Eastern Cottontail

Eastern Fox Squirrel

Nutria

Coyote

White-tailed Deer

Javelina (Collared Peccary)

Hispid Cotton Rat

Atlantic Bottle-nosed Dolphin

American Alligator

Red-eared Slider



*          *          *


SOUTH TEXAS MBWEEKS SUMMARY

February 14 - 22, 2016 (I)  /  February 23 - March 1, 2016 (II)


Certainly, the most eye-catching statistic from these back-to-back MBWeeks was the number of birds found on the second MBW: a record 231 species! This eclipsed the old record of 228 species from 2012, and it was somewhat unexpected given that this total was reached in seven days rather than the usual eight on a standard MBWeek. But we were assisted especially by the scouting of the previous week’s MBW, and by the last-minute arrangements to spend a morning on the King Ranch, as well as this smaller group’s ability to move around at a faster pace.


Although MBWeek I had a more modest total of 202 species, this was just a few species shy of our average and the result of those searches made for all the rarities that were present this winter – which then left us less time to find other species. Most time-consuming were our repeated vigils for White-throated Thrush (successful – not seen on MBW II), Blue Bunting (also successful), and the frustrating Tropical Parula (leader-only, heard-only). But MBW I was also able to find several other South Texas specialties/rarities (also seen on MBW II) in a more timely fashion: e.g., Northern Jaçana, Red-billed Pigeon, Groove-billed Ani, Aplomado Falcon, Greater Pewee, White-collared Seedeater (at Salineño!), and Crimson-collared Grosbeak (twice!).


Combining the two MBWeeks, there was a composite total of 238 species, with 7 of these only found on MBW I, and no fewer than 36 found only on MBW II; see the bird list below for the differences. In addition, note that 5 new species were added to our all-time composite list for this South Texas MBWeek, which now stands at 341: Barred Owl (Refugio; both MBWs), Downy Woodpecker (quite unexpected at Port Aransas; MBW I), Pacific-slope Flycatcher (Sabal Palm Grove, pending confirmation of the ID; MBW II), Louisiana Waterthrush (also Refugio; MBW II), and Rufous-crowned Sparrow (Falcon State Park; MBW II).


There were other noteworthy species as well, considering how few times they have been recorded on this MBWeek (figures indicate the number of previous records since 1988): Least Bittern (1), King Rail (2), Mountain Plover (1), Northern Jaçana (2), Sandwich Tern (3), Greater Pewee (1), Carolina Chickadee (3), White-throated Thrush (4), Spotted Towhee (3), Nelson’s Sparrow (4), Black-headed Grosbeak (3), and Painted Bunting (1).


And, as you consider all these impressive numbers, keep in mind all those other South Texas specialties which almost seem to be taken for granted and fall through the cracks when not included in the highlights – whistling-ducks, chachalacas, White-tailed and other hawks, Whooping Cranes, kingfishers, parrots & parakeets, kiskadees & kingbirds, Green Jays, Clay-colored Thrush & Long-billed Thrashers, Olive Sparrow, Altamira & Audubon’s orioles, and many more…. These would be enough on their own to make an impressive list of highlights without all those other rarities in the spotlight.


Itineraries


MBWeek I


February 14: Meet at HRL at 2:45pm; drive to Rockport via Riviera’s pond and FM 1118 E of Ricardo; dinner at Charlotte Plummer’s / first of 2 nights in Rockport-Fulton.


February 15: Bayside wetlands, Lion’s/Shelly Park, Cavasso Creek, Lamar Peninsula, Skimmer boat trip to Aransas NWR, Fulton-Rockport waterfront, and Cove Harbor marsh; dinner at Aranda’s.    


February 16: Port Bay Club Road, Port Aransas & Mustang Island, Kaufer-Hubert Park, Sarita, meet Ron & Mark at HRL, and parrot roost in Weslaco; dinner at Blue Onion / first of 4 nights in Weslaco.


February 17: Frontera Audubon, Santa Ana NWR, Chimney Rock, Bentsen State Park, Granjeño, and Hidalgo; dinner at Blue Onion.


February 18: Return to Bentsen, Casa Santa Ana, Estero Llano Grande / return to Frontera, and convoluted search for McAllen’s nature center and parakeets; dinner at Blue Onion.


February 19: Tiocano Lake, parula search at Fuller’s, Old Port Isabel Road, U T Brownsville, Sabal Palm Grove, Highway 48 inlet, Laguna Atascosa NWR, and return to Fuller’s; dinner at Longhorn Cattle Company.


February 20: Return to Frontera, Anzalduas County Park, and Roma Bluffs; late lunch/early dinner at Caro’s / first of 2 nights in Zapata.


February 21: Salineño, Chapeño, Falcon County Park & State Park, “secret” gnatcatcher road, San Ygnacio, and Las Palmas; dinner at Steak House.


February 22: Rio Grande City parakeets, brief returns to Bentsen, Anzalduas, and Fuller’s; afternoon return to HRL for flights home.  


MBWeek II


February 23: Meet at HRL at 2:45pm; Harlingen City Lake, and parrot roost at Matz & Breedlove; dinner at Longhorn Cattle Company, night in Harlingen.


February 24: Norias Division at King Ranch, Sarita, Riviera, Kaufer-Hubert Park, Pollywog Pond, Indian Point & Sunset Lake Park; dinner at Crab N, first of 2 nights in Rockport-Fulton.  


February 25: Cavasso Creek, Lion’s/Shelly Park, Port Aransas & Mustang Island, Packery Channel, and Hans Suter Wildlife Area; dinner at Charlotte Plummer’s.


February 26: Skimmer boat trip to Aransas NWR, Dick Kleberg Park, Frontera Audubon, and Estero Llano Grande (briefly); dinner at Blue Onion / first of 4 nights in Weslaco.


February 27: Bentsen State Park, Anzalduas County Park, Granjeño, Peñita pipit-less patch, McCook plover fields, Hargill Playa, Casa Santa Ana, Weslaco parakeet & cowbird search; dinner at Blue Onion.


February 28: Tiocano Lake, Fuller’s yard, Old Port Isabel Road, Sabal Palm Grove, Highway 48 inlet, Laguna Vista sewage ponds, Laguna Atascosa NWR, and Harlingen Civic Center; dinner at Longhorn Cattle Company.


February 29: Salineño, Chele Road, Falcon State Park & County Park, brief return to Peñitas, McAllen Nature Center (it exists!), Hidalgo, Santa Ana NWR, and Weslaco vulture roost; dinner at Blue Onion.


March 1: Pre-dawn at Estero Llano Grande, and returns to Frontera and Bentsen; afternoon return to HRL for flight home.


Bird List


• I = MBWeek I, February 14 - 22

• II = MBWeek II, February 23 - March 1

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

• boldfaced species = rarities and other highlights


Black-bellied Whistling-Duck     (minimum of 2,500 at Harlingen City Lake on II)

Fulvous Whistling-Duck     (Riviera on both I & II; also Santa Ana & Fuller’s on I)  

Greater White-fronted Goose     II only (along FM 628)

Snow Goose      

Gadwall

American Wigeon

Mallard     II only (same FM 628 wetland)    

Mottled Duck

Blue-winged Teal

Cinnamon Teal

Northern Shoveler

Northern Pintail

Green-winged Teal

Canvasback     II only (again at FM 628 wetland)

Redhead

Ring-necked Duck   

Lesser Scaup

Bufflehead

Common Goldeneye     II only (from the Skimmer)

Hooded Merganser    

Red-breasted Merganser     II only (various sites)

Ruddy Duck


Plain Chachalaca


Scaled Quail     II only (unexpected on Salineño short-cut road)    

Northern Bobwhite  


Wild Turkey     (also unexpected at Bentsen on II)    


Common Loon


Least Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Eared Grebe  


Neotropic Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant


Anhinga


American White Pelican

Brown Pelican

  

Least Bittern     II only (Port Aransas boardwalk & 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

    

White-tailed Kite

Northern Harrier

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

Harris's Hawk

White-tailed Hawk

Gray Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk     (heard-only on I)

Broad-winged Hawk

Zone-tailed Hawk     I only (seen by Bill & Paul O at Frontera)

Red-tailed Hawk


Clapper Rail     (heard-only on II)  

King Rail     (ditto, at Tiocano L)    

Virginia Rail     I only (Port Aransas boardwalk)     

Sora

Common Gallinule

American Coot


Sandhill Crane

Whooping Crane     (also near the Big Tree on I)


Black-necked Stilt

American Avocet


American Oystercatcher


Black-bellied Plover

Snowy Plover     (Kaufer-Hubert on I; Hargill Playa on II)    

Semipalmated Plover

Piping Plover     II only (Indian Point)

Killdeer

Mountain Plover     II only (6 stake-outs near McCook)


Northern Jaçana     (Pintail L on I; Willow L on II)


Spotted Sandpiper

Solitary Sandpiper     II only (Frontera)

Greater Yellowlegs

Willet

Lesser Yellowlegs

Long-billed Curlew

Marbled Godwit     II only (Hans Suter)

Ruddy Turnstone

Stilt Sandpiper

Sanderling

Dunlin

Least Sandpiper

Western Sandpiper     II only (various sites)

Short-billed Dowitcher     II only (calling at Laguna Vista sewage ponds)

Long-billed Dowitcher

Wilson's Snipe


Bonaparte's Gull     II only (from the Skimmer)

Laughing Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Herring Gull

Lesser Black-backed Gull     II only (Mustang I. stake-out)     

Gull-billed Tern     (Hwy 48 inlet on I & II)     

Caspian Tern

Forster's Tern

Royal Tern

Sandwich Tern     II only (2 at Mustang I.)

Black Skimmer


Rock Pigeon

Red-billed Pigeon     (2-3 at Salineño on I & II)     

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Inca Dove

Common Ground-Dove     II only (Bentsen)

White-tipped Dove

White-winged Dove

Mourning Dove


Greater Roadrunner

Groove-billed Ani     (very cooperative at Frontera on I & II)     


Barn Owl     II only (King Ranch)     


Eastern Screech-Owl     (heard-only on II)

Great Horned Owl     II only (nest at Sabal Palm)

Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl     II only (King Ranch)

Burrowing Owl     (Granjeño on I & II)

Barred Owl     (Refugio on I & II)  


Common Pauraque


Buff-bellied Hummingbird

Archilochus, sp.     


Ringed Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

Green Kingfisher


Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker     I only (Port Aransas boardwalk)


Crested Caracara

American Kestrel

Aplomado Falcon     (Old Port Isabel Road on I & II)    

Peregrine Falcon     II only (various sites)


Monk Parakeet     (now nesting in Hidalgo)

Green Parakeet     (Rio Grande City on I; Harlingen on II)

Red-crowned Parrot     (Weslaco on I; Harlingen on II)  


Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet     II only (Anzalduas)  

Greater Pewee     (well seen at Refugio on I & II)

Pacific-slope (?) Flycatcher     II only (Sabal Palm)  

Black Phoebe     

Eastern Phoebe

Say's Phoebe     

Vermilion Flycatcher    

Great Kiskadee

Tropical Kingbird

Couch's Kingbird


Loggerhead Shrike


White-eyed Vireo

Blue-headed Vireo


Green Jay

Chihuahuan Raven  


Horned Lark


Purple Martin  

Tree Swallow

Northern Rough-winged Swallow       

Cave Swallow     

Barn Swallow     II only (Pollywog Pond)  


Carolina Chickadee     II only (Refugio)

Black-crested Titmouse


Verdin

     

House Wren  

Sedge Wren     (heard-only on I)

Marsh Wren

Carolina Wren

Bewick's Wren  

Cactus Wren


Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher     I only (the usual side road N of Zapata)     

  

Ruby-crowned Kinglet


Eastern Bluebird

Hermit Thrush

Clay-colored Thrush  

White-throated Thrush     I only (Casa Santa Ana)     

American Robin


Gray Catbird     II only (Frontera)     

Curve-billed Thrasher

Long-billed Thrasher

Northern Mockingbird


European Starling


American Pipit     II only (Anzalduas)    


Cedar Waxwing     II only (various sites)


Ovenbird  

Louisiana Waterthrush     II only (Refugio)  

Black-and-white Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler

Nashville Warbler

Common Yellowthroat  

Tropical Parula     (heard-only on I & II)       

Pine Warbler     

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-throated Warbler

Black-throated Gray Warbler     

Black-throated Green Warbler     (leader-only on I)     

Wilson's Warbler


White-collared Seedeater     (well seen on I & II at Salineño)

    

Olive Sparrow

Green-tailed Towhee     I only (brief view near Salineño)

Spotted Towhee     II only (briefly at McAllen Nature Center)

Rufous-crowned Sparrow     II only (Falcon State Park)    

Cassin's Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

Clay-colored Sparrow    

Vesper Sparrow     II only (various sites)

Lark Sparrow

Black-throated Sparrow

Lark Bunting     

Savannah Sparrow  

Nelson's Sparrow     II only (Cavasso Creek)     

Seaside Sparrow     II only (ditto)     

Lincoln's Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow  

White-crowned Sparrow

  

Crimson-collared Grosbeak     (Laguna Atascosa on I & II; also Frontera on I)    

Northern Cardinal

Pyrrhuloxia

Black-headed Grosbeak     II only (Frontera)

Blue Bunting     (long vigils at Frontera)  

Painted Bunting     I only (female seen by some at Frontera)  


Red-winged Blackbird

Eastern Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark  

Brewer's Blackbird

Boat-tailed Grackle     

Great-tailed Grackle

Bronzed Cowbird

Brown-headed Cowbird

Hooded Oriole     

Altamira Oriole

Audubon's Oriole


House Finch     II only (Hidalgo)

Lesser Goldfinch

American Goldfinch


House Sparrow


Significant Others:


• Lilac-crowned and Yellow-headed parrots (non-countable exotics on II)

• Wood Duck, Prairie Falcon, Field Sparrow (probably seen but not counted on II)

• Eastern Cottontail, Eastern Fox Squirrel, Nutria, Coyote, Nilgai (King Ranch exotic),

  White-tailed Deer, Javelina, Feral Hog, Atlantic Bottle-nosed Dolphin, American Alligator,

  Red-eared Slider



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SOUTH TEXAS MBWEEKS PHOTO GALLERY



Audubon's Oriole, Salineño, 2014 (KRE photo)

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

Pyrrhuloxia, 2016 (Jeff Stephenson photo)

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

Harris's Hawk, 2018 (Jerry Pruett photo)

Roseate Spoonbill, Estero Llano Grande, 2017 (KRE photo)

Lesser Goldfinch, 2018 (Jerry Pruett photo)

Rose-throated Becard, Inn at Chachalaca Bend, 2018 (Linda Sparling photo)

Green Kingfisher, 2018 (Jeff Stephenson photo)

Whooping Crane (the 2-headed, 4-legged subspecies), Aransas NWR, 2018 (Jerry Pruett photo)

Clapper Rail, 2018 (Jeff Stephenson photo)

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

Least Grebe, 2018 (Jerry Pruett photo)