Bird activity sometimes lasts later into the morning in overcast conditions, so I let myself sleep in this morning and finally got out to Lake Creek Trail at about 10am. I ran into Barry Noret who was pretty sure that earlier he'd heard and briefly seen a Golden-cheeked Warbler, so we returned to the general area and were lucky to find the bird in the cedar elms that grow over the trail where the power lines cross. This was the 217th species of bird for my neighborhood list! Despite the bad lighting, Barry got this great photo:
A locally famous endangered species, Golden-cheeked Warblers are returning to the area right now to find breeding territories in the mixed oak-juniper woods of the Texas Hill Country. So this bird won't be staying in our neighborhood. It's on its way to some place like Travis Audubon's Baker Sanctuary where it can find its Hill Country habitat, the only place they breed in the world. Black-throated Green Warblers are a very similar and much more common species that will also be moving north through the area soon. You can tell them apart by the Golden-cheek's black back (nicely shown in Barry's photo) and darker eye-line and crown.
Barry had also verified that Cooper's Hawks are nesting nearby.
We viewed the nest from the trail, but I decided not to try and get a closer look after Barry told me how he'd been dive-bombed by one of the hawks when he'd gotten too close to the nest earlier. Here's the photo I got. You can just see the female's head through the twigs at the top of the nest. If you can't see it, click through to the photo on Flickr, where I've added a note showing where it is.
Cooper's Hawks are mostly a winter resident in our neighborhood, but also rarely nest in central Texas. So I was excited to learn about this pair on our trail. They specialize in hunting other birds, so I hope the Golden-cheeked Warbler we saw stays clear of them!
Here's my complete list from this morning. Migrants are starting to move through the area already, so get out there and see what you can find!