Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge on the coast by Freeport was absolutely inundated with birds including as estimated 400 - 500 Wilson's Phalaropes (Phalaropus tricolor). Phalaropes are shorebirds that also swim. They pick food off the waters surface with their dainty thin beaks. They are unusual among birds in that the female is the brighter color. Three species of phalaropes exist in the world and this is the only one that occurs regularly on the upper Texas coast. The other two can be seen along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Here is a female in breeding plumage with bright red, gray and black markings.
|Wilson's Phalarope - breeding female|
|Wilson's Phalarope - breeding male|
|American Avocet - breeding male|
There are 3 Ibis species in the USA, 1 white and 2 dark. Ibises are heron sized wading birds with long curved beaks. The usual dark ibis in Texas is the White-faced Ibis (Plegadis chihi). In breeding season, it has a white V behind the eye on the face. The rest of the year, the white is gone and it can be difficult to differentiate the 2 species as the only specific mark is the color of the iris of the eye and the bare facial skin. This bird was right beside the road at Brazoria and allowed a close up of his face to show the field marks. The white feathers can be seen on the face, as well as the red facial skin and iris. usually one is not lucky enough to get this close to a bird.
|White-faced Ibis - breeding|
|Baltimore Oriole - male|
|Baltimore Oriole - female|
|Orchard Oriole - 1st year male|
|Rose-breasted Grosbeak - male|
Happy birding and photography,
photos copyright 2013 David McDonald
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