February 27, 2009

Last Day on the Rio Grande

Dawn on the Rio Grande - by Renee Haip

We were down at the river by Salineno by daybreak hoping to see Red-billed Pigeons, which are only seen as far north as the Rio Grande.  There were two other birders already waiting and as the mist burned off and the sun came up more people showed up!  At around 7:30 AM, the birds showed up on a towering snag on an island upstream.  They were there for about 10 minutes before they disappeared from view.

Anticipating the Red-billed Pigeons - by David Such

We again visited the feeders at Salineno and saw our first Bronzed Cowbird amongst the numerous Red-winged Blackbirds.  It was easiest to find by scanning through the flock in search of a ruby-eyed bird!  The keeper here said that the birds have dropped off a lot in the past few weeks, but that there was at least one representative of each of the normal species found here.  Only one Hooded Oriole was making an appearance anymore and he was only showing up 2-3 times per day.  Our time for this trip is running out and so we moved on without waiting for him.  As we headed out and drove through the small town, Marcel noted an oriole in a tree and on quick inspection called out …. Hooded Oriole!  It was in a tree out in front of a house and we all got a great look at this stunning bird!

Great Kiskadee (with a Red-winged Blackbird) - by Marcel Such

Olive Sparrow - by Marcel Such

Bronzed Cowbird with some Red-winged Blackbirds - by Joel Such

Head Detail of Bronzed Cowbird (note red eye)

White-winged Dove - by Joel Such

 Hooded Oriole - by Marcel Such

Upstream at Falcon Dam State Park presented a whole suite of new birds.  It was past prime birding time, as the quail species had already taken cover for the late morning.  We did see a lot of Greater Roadrunners, Pyrrhuloxia, a few Cactus Wrens,  Curve-billed Thrashers, and Chihuahuan Ravens. 

Pyrrhuloxia - by Joel Such

Cactus Wren - by Joel Such

As we drive north in a serious attempt to put miles behind us, we continued to see some Crested Caracaras and Harris’s Hawks.  By dark we were off the Rio Grande Valley in Fort Stockton, TX.

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