David McDonald Photography
Oct 15, 2007
Bulletin #16 – Rio Grande Valley Oct 5-7, 2007 – part 1
I had a quick weekend trip to the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas the first weekend in October. This is a unique location in the ABA birding area as it contains several Mexican species that just cross over the border into the USA.
I had birded there only once before in the early 1990’s, but had not been back since I started doing photography. I had to postpone the trip once already due to excessive rain in the summer that made some of the target areas inaccessible.
I hired a guide to show me around and locate the birds for me to photograph. My guide was Roy Rodriguez, who was extremely knowledgeable for all the wildlife and plants. He gives back much to the Hispanic community with outreach programs in the schools etc. Birding is mostly confines to the white community. However, I feel that it is important for the future to encourage minorities to learn about nature and the benefit animals & birds can have to the economic health of their community as well as the positive psychological effects on the person. Roy is doing yeoman work in this regard in the ‘valley’. He is even teaching the blind to bird by ear and having birding contests among various groups. Roy can be reached on his cell phone at 956-221-1340.
The first group of birds belong to the Mimidae family – mockingbirds and thrashers.
The Long-billed Thrasher (Toxostoma longirostre) has black streaking on the breast. He also has white wing bars similar to the more common Brown Thrasher. This was a lifer for me. Here are 3 photos.
http://www.pbase.com/image/109480366 click ‘next’ twice
The Curve-billed Thrasher (Toxostoma curvirostre) just has some faint spots on his breast and no wing bars. Here are 2 views of this bird.
http://www.pbase.com/davidmcd/image/109480371 click ‘next’ once
Lastly, a Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) was sitting on top of a bush about 6 feet from the Curve-billed Thrasher in the first picture above, so I had to take a photo of this wonderful bird as well.
The next group belong to the Tyrannidae – the tyrant flycatchers. This huge Neotropical family has many plain dull colored birds, but there are also some beautiful members.
The Vermilion Flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus) is the most beautiful flycatcher in the USA. This male allowed me to approach within 30 feet as he sat on top of a cactus about 10 feet off the ground.
A typical dull colored flycatcher is the Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet (Camptostoma imberbe) This tiny bird (4.5 inches) is shorter than his name written out. He has buffy wingbars and a bushy crest, but is best identified by voice. He occurs only in extreme south Texas and southeastern Arizona in the USA.
The Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus) is a large (10”) vociferous flycatcher. He calls out his name constantly.
The last flycatcher is Couch’s Kingbird (Tyrannus couchii). This bird is identical with Tropical Kingbird and can only be separated by voice. The first photo shows the olive back along with gray face with black strip through the eye.
The next photo shows the bright yellow breast and dark tail without any white. This field mark separates this bird from the similar Western Kingbird.
Lastly, the tail is notched as shown in this photo.
The next bird is a member of the thrush family. The Clay-colored Thrush (Turdus grayi) is another Mexican species that just makes it across the border into south Texas. It isn’t particularly colorful, but its shape sure resembles the American Robin.
All comments and suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.
photos copyright 2007 David McDonald
Notice – photos with name preceded with an asterisk (*) were updated for this blog and the text was edited accordingly