120 Species

The Border Birders Birdathon team recorded 120 species yesterday.

It was an unusual day. We saw some rather rare birds (Flammulated Owl, Zone-tailed Hawk, Gray Hawk, etc.) but missed a fair number of very common birds (Black-bellied Whistling Duck, White-winged Dove, Savannah Sparrow, etc., etc.). In fact, we reckon that we missed at least 15 common birds that we had seen during our scouting trips prior to the big day.

We’re not complaining, though. Our goal was to have a fun day in the field with old and new birding buddies and to see at least 100 birds. We reached both of those targets with ease.

It’s not too late to support our team. You can still help Frontera Audubon protect bird habitat at the Weslaco Thicket. Visit their web site at www.fronteraaudubon.org to make your donation.

A New Yard Bird

We don’t keep an “official” list of birds we have seen in our quarter-acre yard in Weslaco but we have had quite a few.

In the nearly 20 years that we have lived here we have seen most of what would be expected and quite a few rarer, more interesting birds. Today, we saw the first Clay-colored Thrush in the yard. (The picture is a file photo; not the actual bird we saw.)

The history of this species in the Rio Grande Valley is an interesting one. Twenty years ago we counted ourselves lucky to find one of these “Mexican birds” anywhere in the region. When one showed up somewhere it was a hotline bird and it attracted birders from far and wide. Now, they are fairly widespread and quite regular in occurrence. They are one of the recent success stories in the RGV.

No one knows exactly why the Clay-colored Thrush has been so successful in colonizing the Rio Grande Valley but they are a welcome addition to our avifauna and a great add to our yard list.


Help us protect birds and bird habitat by pledging your support for the Frontera Audubon Bird-a-thon on February 23rd.

We will be leading a team called the Border Birders and we hope that you will make a donation to support our efforts on behalf of Frontera Audubon. Frontera is based in our home town of Weslaco and is well known as the owners of the Weslaco Thicket, a 10-acre paradise for birds very near the heart of town. This small bit of habitat has hosted many mega-rarities in the Rio Grande Valley; Golden-crowned Warbler, Crimson-collared Grosbeak, and Elegant Trogon, to name just a few. It is proof that if you preserve it, they will come!

You can make a donation to help fund this nature preserve in several ways:

  • Log on to http://www.fronteraaudubon.org/ and use their Donate Now box.
  • Send a check to Frontera Audubon, 1101 South Texas Blvd, Weslaco, Texas 78596. (Tell them it’s to support the Border Birders in the Bird-a-thon.)
  • Send them an email at fronteraaudubon@gmail.com and tell them you want to make a pledge to the Border Birders Team for the Bird-a-thon.

Our team will be trying hard to find 100 or more species during the big day on February 23rd. Do your part by making a donation now!

Our Year in Review: Would we do it all again?

We’ve been asked that question several times during the year.

The simple answer is “no.” We seriously doubt that we will ever do another Big Year in the ABA area. That’s not because it wasn’t a great learning experience, or that we didn’t see enough great birds, or that it wasn’t fun (most of the time). We don’t expect to do another Big Year because we came to realize that Big Year birding just isn’t our favorite way to bird. Before the Big Year neither of us was a “chaser” or a meticulous “lister.” The Big Year did nothing to change our minds about that. We will continue to add to our life lists, and we will probably chase more rarities (simply because we are retired now and can) but we don’t expect to become fanatics about it.

On the other hand, our year did give us some ideas for future birding adventures. We do plan to become more active and more wide-ranging in our birding. We won’t restrict ourselves to one continent or try to cram a lifetime of birding into one year, but we may extend our take on the birding on a budget concept to other goal-oriented projects.

2012 was a very special year of birding for us and we’ll remember it for the rest of our lives, but we are glad to be home.