Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Singing Winter Birds, Migrants, New Arrivals

Sorry about the late post! I spent about 3 hours birding the neighborhood on Sunday morning in the light mist. I found 43 species and was excited to hear some new bird songs for the year. Many species of migratory birds consider our neighborhood "south" and just live here in the winter. And most of these species don't sing when they're here -- they just make relatively quiet chip notes and various louder scolds and alarm calls. These winter sounds are distinctive and very useful to identify these species by ear. But it's a real treat to hear their songs in the early spring, just before they leave our neighborhood for their northern breeding grounds. Sunday morning I heard Yellow-rumped Warblers, an Orange Crowned Warbler, and a Blue-headed Vireo singing.

At the corner of Stillforest and Chester Forest I was glad to see some tail feathers hanging off the edge of the Red-shouldered Hawk nest (which was all I could see of the adult that was probably incubating eggs). Further down Stillforest I found 2 Nashville Warblers, a relatively common spring migrant which is moving north through central Texas right now.

By the creek at the end of Meadowheath I was pleasantly surprised to find the first Western Kingbird I've seen this year, and I got this picture. These birds are a common summer-resident flycatcher along our creek.

Upstream on Lake Creek Trail I ran into a nice mixed-species flock of songbirds that included Yellow-rumped, Orange-crowned, and Nashville Warblers, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, 2 Spotted Towhees, several Lincoln's Sparrows, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and a White-eyed Vireo. I got this poor photo of one of the Nashville Warblers. At least it shows its distinctive yellow throat, grey head, and bright white eye-ring.

I was also pleased to find a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron on the creek, the first I've seen this year.

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