Texas: Fall 2016

Fall 2016: 1 Aug–30 Nov

Eric Carpenter

Recommended citation:

Carpenter, Eric. 2021. Fall 2016: Texas. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-9OB> North American Birds.

Fall is usually a very active season for birding in Texas but in 2016, it seemed quite lackluster. Migration seemed painfully slow and uneventful by most accounts; one long-time seasoned Texas birder labeled it “boring”, another called it the “dullest and slowest” fall migration he had ever experienced. As our summering birds left, there were few migrants that seemed to fill the void, particularly inland where there were not all that many weather events to concentrate birds moving through. Strong cold fronts never materialized, mild to warm temperatures prevailed. In the midst of a generally poor migration, there were some incredible vagrants that kept birders entertained. Amethyst-throated Hummingbird and Variegated Flycatcher were both documented in the state for the first time, the hummingbird also being a first for the United States. In addition, a Jabiru lingered for more than one day for the first time since 2008, photos of an offshore Black-capped Petrel provided the first record of that species since 1997, and the state’s third Amazon Kingfisher put in a lengthy appearance along the Mexico border.

Cited observers (subregional editors in boldface): Dan Allen, John Allendorf (JAl), John Anderson (JAn), Stefan Andrew, Marlin Andrus, Ruben Ayala, Bob Baez (BBa), Chuck Baskin, Ron Baughman, Bill Beaty (BiB), Bonnie Bell (BoB), David Bell (DBe), Stacey Benson, Gary Binderim, Aaron Boone, Justin Bosler, David Brotherton (DBr), Luanne Brotherton, Hailey Brown, Tim Brush (TBr), Kelly Bryan, Tamie Bulow (TBu), David Byrant (DBy), Winston Caillouet, Mike Cameron (MCa), Blaine Carnes, Eric Carpenter (ECa) (Central Texas, Trans-Pecos: 674 Goodnight Trail, Dripping Springs, TX 78620. email: ecarpe@gmail.com), Maggie Carpenter (MaC), Melissa Chadwick (MCh), Jack Childs (JCh), Alyssia Church, Sheridan Coffey, Donna Cole, Fred Collins, JR Compton (JCo), Greg Cook

Cited Observers (cont.)

Mel Cooksey (MeC), Michael Cooper (MCo), Elizabeth Cowan (ECo), Julie Crouch (JCr), Mary Curry (MCu), Ian Davies, Chris Deadman-Winston (CDW), Louis Debataz (LDe), Raul Delgado, Mark Dettling (MDe), Andrew Dickinson, Lisa Dillard (LDi), Sandy Dillard, Mike Dillon (MDi), Ken Dixon, Bill Duncan, Betty Sue Dunn (BSD), Marc Eastman, Maryann Eastman (MEa), Gil Eckrich, Mike Egan (MEg), Mark Elliott (MEl), Victor Emanuel, Merriwood Ferguson, Shawneen Finnegan, Tad Finnell (TFi), Tony Frank (TFr), Bert Frenz (East Texas: 221 Rainbow Dr., #12190, Livingston, TX 77399-2021. email: bert2@bafrenz.com), Bob Friedrichs (BoF), Randy Fuentes, Charmaine Ganson, Steve Glover, Javi Gonzalez (JGo), Jo Beth Goodrum (JBG), Mark Gray (MGr), John Groves (JGr), Alban Guillaumet, Mary Gustafson (MGu), Betsy Hall, Jimmy Hayes (JiH), John Haynes (JoH), Sue Heath, Tom Heath (ToH), Mitch Heindel, Thomas Hellwig (ThH), Rhandy Helton (RhH), Janie Henderson (JaH), Randy Hesford (RaH), Anthony Hewetson (Northwest Texas: 4407 36th St., Lubbock, TX 79414. email: fattonybirds@gmail.com), Petra Hockey, Kelly Holligan, Lee Hoy, David Irons, Patricia Isaacson, Laura Jenkins, Earl Johnson, Suzanne Johnson, Dan Jones, Ashley Jordan, John Karges, John Kaye (JKa), Gary Kelley, Joe Kennedy (JKe), Peter Keyel (PKe), Simon Kiacz, Florence King, Richard Kinney (RKi), John Kiseda (JKi), Phillip Kite (PKi), Eric Knight, Rich Kostecke (RKo), Daniel Kraushaar, Brian Kulvete, Mei Kwan, Dana LaVanture, Harvey Laas, Tom Langschied, Rick Laughlin, Greg Lavaty, Cin-Ty Lee (CTL), Javier de Leon (JdL), Michael Lester (MLe), Mark Lockwood (MLo), Alberto Manterola (AlM), Michael Marsden (MMa), Eric Masterson, Steve Mayes, Larry Mays, Anne Mayville (AnM), Dan McCrady (DMc), Wendy McCrady, Mark McDermott (MMc), Jon McIntyre (JMc), Brad McKinney, Jennifer Miller (JMi), Matt Mills (MMi), Arman Moreno (AMo), Derek Muschalek (DMu), Midland Naturalists, Franklin Nejame, Ron Newhouse, Bret Newton, Carolyn Ohl-Johnson (COJ), Andrew Orgill, Brent Ortego, Jim Paton (JiP) (El Paso area: 4325 Boy Scout Lane, El Paso, TX 79922. email: jnpaton@att.net), Jeff Patterson, Jeff Pavlik (JPa), Mike Pease, Randy Pinkston, Dave Pope, Gene Prejean, Niler Pyeatt, Nina Rach, Ross Rasmussen (RRa) (North-central Texas: 1325 S. Goliad St. Apt. 1302, Rockwall, TX 75087. email: ross.rasmussen@att.net), James Rieman, Barrett Riess, Colton Robbins (CRo), Chris Runk (CRu), Rebekah Rylander (RRy), Bill Sain, John Savage (JSa), Robyn Savage (RSa), Mark Scheuerman (MSc), Willie Sekula (South Texas: 7063 Co. Rd. 228, Falls City, TX 78113-2627. email: wsekula@copper.net), Paul Sellin (PSe), Scott Shaw, Dennis Shepler (DSh), Laurie Sheppard (LSh), David Sikes (DSi), Mel Silvas (MSi), James Sipiora (JSi), Letha Slagle (LSl), Jeri Smart (JSm), Leanna Smith (LSm), Jennifer Sorenson (JSo), John Sproul (JSp), Eric Stager, Harlan Stewart, Albert Stock, Michelle Summers (MSu), Paul Sunby (PSu), Gautam Surya, Romey Swanson (RSw), Art Tawater, Barbara Tompkins, Rhonda Townsend (RTo), Carol Trovall, Robert Truss (RTr), Gustavo Valero, Dylan Vasapolli, Tim Vasquez, Christian Walker (CWa), Dan Walker (DWa), Mike Wease (MiW), Mathis Weatherall (MaW), Ron Weeks (RWe) (Upper Coast: 110 Indian Warrior, Lake Jackson, TX 77566. email: ronweeks@sbcglobal.net), Carol Wells (CWe), Ed Wetzel, James White, Rick Wilde (RWi), Carl Williams (CWi), Damon Williford (DWi), Laura Wilson, Dale Wolck, David Wolf (DWo), Bill Wright, Barry Zimmer.


A sizable flock of up to 14 Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks at the Plainview Duck Pond, Hale 12–22 Oct (NP, ph. PKe) was impressive for far nw. Texas. A male Eurasian Wigeon was a great needle-in-a-haystack find at Laguna Atascosa N.W.R., Cameron 31 Oct–7 Dec (ph. DV, m.ob.). A pair of “Mexican” Mallards at Lake Nasworthy, Tom Green 27 Oct (ph. TV) was likely a first for the Concho Valley. Cattail Marsh in Beaumont, Jefferson continues to be the best location in the Upper Texas Coast (hereafter, U.T.C.) for Cinnamon Teal with 7 there 16 Nov (JoH). Inland Surf Scoters included one at Hornsby Bend, Travis 10 Nov–7 Dec (JAn, ph. ECa, MaC, m.ob.) and 1–2 in McKinney, Collin 9 Nov+ (ph. BH, m.ob.). A Surf Scoter in far offshore waters, Calhoun on a 20 Nov pelagic trip was nice (TFr, m.ob.). Two White-winged Scoters stopped briefly at Hornsby Bend, Travis 19 Nov (ph. GS, m.ob.). A female Black Scoter was at the Port Aransas’s Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center, Aransas 11 Nov (JMc, MeC); inland, another was at Lake Benbrook, Tarrant 13 Nov (CWa, ph. MiW). A Long-tailed Duck at Lake Walter E. Long, Travis 10 Nov (ph. ECa, MaC) was the only one reported in the period but served as a prelude to a strong showing in the winter. A Common Merganser at Lake Benbrook, Tarrant 9 Nov (JAl) and another along the San Gabriel River between Tejas Camp and Lake Georgetown, Williamson 13 Nov+ (ph. RKo, AH) were the first of what was a small irruption in early winter.

Well north of its expected range, a Least Grebe at Village Creek Drying Beds, Tarrant 16 Aug (ph. CB, m.ob.) was exceptional. On the eastern edge of their expanding range, as many as 15 Least Grebes were present through the period at Beaumont’s Cattail Marsh, Jefferson (SM, JoH, m.ob.). An impressive 275 Pied-billed Grebes were at Kurth Lake, Angelina 19 Nov (LDe et al.). A Western Grebe on Boerne City Lake, Kendall 22 Nov (BSD) was a bit farther east than usual. Up to 2 Clark’s Grebes from the summer persisted at Lake Meredith, Hutchinson until 22 Sep (MEl). Out-of-place was a Band-tailed Pigeon in Sanderson, Terrell 18 Oct (ph. LH).

A ground-dove seen briefly in El Paso, El Paso 21 Nov (BZ) could not be identified to species but Ruddy is actually more likely than Common. Late sightings of Yellow-billed Cuckoo away from the coast include one at Lake Dunlap, Guadalupe 28 Oct (ph. AS) and another at Lone Star College, Kingwood, Montgomery 30 Oct (MCo). At least one of the summering Lesser Nighthawks in n. Austin, Travis lingered until 25 Aug (m.ob.). Two Chaetura swifts, felt to be Chimney Swifts, were over n. Hudspeth 23 Sep (BZ) while another Chaetura was in El Paso, El Paso 24 Sep (JGr, JKi). Rarely detected but perhaps regular, 5 White-throated Swifts were over Palo Duro Canyon S.P., Randall 27 Nov (fide AH).


The Mexican Violetear that showed up in late summer in the Davis Mountains Resort, Jeff Davis remained until 31 Aug (KB, MDe, MLo, MGr). An incredible find in the Davis Mountains Resort, Jeff Davis was an Amethyst-throated Hummingbird 14–15 Oct (†ph. KB, COJ). As great luck would have it, this encounter was captured on Cornell Lab’s West Texas Hummingbird Cam, with the hummingbird making visits to the only feeder out of dozens that the webcam was focused on. Pending T.B.R.C. review, this will be the first documented record of this species for Texas and the U.S. An Anna’s Hummingbird in El Paso, El Paso 13 Aug (ph. JKi) was several weeks early. Anna’s Hummingbirds made a nice showing in central Texas with one at Topsey, Coryell 29 Oct (GE), one in Kingsland, Llano 6-10 Nov (DBy), another e. of Barksdale, Real 20–21 Nov (RSw), and one in far n. San Antonio, Bexar 28 Nov (RA). Allen’s Hummingbirds are clearly present in very small numbers across the state each fall and winter. This season, singles were found at San Benito, Cameron 17 Oct (GV), in the Christmas Mountains, Brewster 2–27 Nov (COJ), in far n. San Antonio 2 Nov+ (ph. RA), and in Sanderson, Terrell 14 Nov+ (ph. LH). An adult male Calliope Hummingbird in Bryan, Brazos 30 Oct–4 Nov (LDi, ph. SD, m.ob.) provided a first for the Central Brazos Valley. Two Broad-billed Hummingbirds were at El Paso, El Paso: a female 23 Oct (JKi) and an immature male 27 Nov+ (ph. BZ). Other single birds visited the Christmas Mountains, Brewster 9 Sep (ph. COJ) and the Davis Mountains Resort, Jeff Davis 31 Oct (ph. MEa, ME). Much more unexpected was a Broad-billed Hummingbird in Denton, Denton 13 Nov+ (BoB, MCa, ph., m.ob.). A Buff-bellied Hummingbird near College Station, Brazos 28–30 Oct (ph. SK) was an outlier just north of its expected range. The White-eared Hummingbird from the spring in the Davis Mountains Resort, Jeff Davis remained to 9 Aug (KB) while another was present in the Davis Mountains Preserve, Jeff Davis 11 Aug–11 Sep (ph. CRu, DJ, RKo).

A Black Rail in rice fields s. of Monaville, Waller 28 Oct (†FC, HL) was surprising. Purple Gallinules at Kurth Lake, Angelina peaked at an impressive 9 birds 23 Sep with 2 juveniles lingering there as late as 15 Oct (LDe). Early and a bit east were 6 Sandhill Cranes over Edgewood, Van Zandt 2 Oct (RKi). Detecting inland migrant Whooping Cranes mixed with the large flocks of Sandhills is always a treat; one was in Muldoon, Fayette 10 Nov (ph. RRy) while 2 others were e. of Bastrop S.P., Bastrop 12 Nov (ph. DA). Four Whooping Cranes were over Lake Benbrook, Tarrant 28 Oct (JAl). Rare in ne. Texas were 3 Black-necked Stilts at Lake O’ the Pines, Upshur 29 Oct (†DBr, LB). A nice fall count of 7 American Golden-Plovers were near Grassland, Lynn 30 Sep (JB). Two Piping Plovers were a rare find at Hagerman N.W.R., Grayson 13 Aug (GC, SG), as was a single at Lake Tawakoni, Rains 3 Oct (PI). As many as 89 Mountain Plovers were near Harlingen, Cameron 6 Nov+ (DI, SF, m.ob.). Up to 2 Northern Jacanas were present at Santa Ana N.W.R., Hidalgo 12 Oct–2 Nov (FN, ph. BK, m.ob.) but disappeared after the water levels on the lakes rose. A Marbled Godwit near Rio Bosque Wetlands Park, El Paso 13–16 Sep (ph. JSp) was getting late for this typically early migrant. A Sanderling at Welch Park, Lake Somerville, Burleson 23 Sep (†JW) and a Dunlin there 3 Nov (ph. RN) were good local finds. An early Dunlin near Grassland, Lynn 30 Sep (JB) was a good find. Over 250 Buff-breasted Sandpipers in Ferris, Dallas 27 Aug (RRa) was an unusually high count for n.-central Texas while 943 sse. of Wharton, Wharton 7 Aug (BO) was the highest reported near the coast; a lone bird near Harlingen, Cameron 15 Nov (ph. MLe) was late. Rare and late for ne. Texas, 2 Willets were studied at Lake Wright Patman, Bowie 16 Nov (†MDi). Easterly Red-necked Phalaropes included one rather early at Hornsby Bend, Travis 7 Aug (ES, JP), another at Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center in Port Aransas, Nueces 15 Sep (RTo, SB), one at Hagerman N.W.R., Grayson 1–4 Oct (LSh, ph., m.ob.) and 2 at Hornsby Bend, Travis 18–20 Oct (AMo, m.ob.). A Red Phalarope excited birders on a pelagic trip in offshore Calhoun waters 20 Nov (ph. AO, BM, m.ob.).

The summering Pomarine Jaeger at East Beach, Galveston was seen almost daily until 9 Nov (m.ob.) while a second adult was present there 21 Sep (JKe). Sabine’s Gull had a better than average showing this fall with one at Fort Hancock Reservoir, Hudspeth 16 Sep (VE, ph. BZ), another at Canutillo, El Paso 24–25 Sep (ph. JiP), one at Lake Benbrook, Tarrant 28 Sep (JAl, ph.), 2 at Hornsby Bend, Travis 28–30 Sep (ph. AG, m.ob.), and lone birds on South Padre Island, Cameron 30 Sep (GC et al.) and 3 Nov (CTL). Inland Laughing Gulls included one at Lake Sam Rayburn, Angelina 11 Sep (RTr, DWo) and another at Lake Bridgeport Wise 25 Oct+ (fide EW, MP). A California Gull at Lake Lavon, Collin 19 Nov+ (GC) was a great find for the ne. portion of the state. Casual in n.-central Texas, up to 3 Thayer’s Gulls were intermittent near the dump in Lewisville, Denton 21 Nov+ (GC, ph. CWa, BC, m.ob.). Still hard to come by in central Texas, a first-cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull stopped over at Belton Lake, Bell 14–24 Nov (ph. ECo, GE, RP). An amazing flock of 64 Lesser Black-backed Gulls at Quintana, Brazoria 10 Oct (ph. DSh) was indicative of the ever-growing coastal population. A first-winter Great Black-backed Gull was at Bolivar Flats, Galveston 7–15 Oct (ph. LSl, ph. NR, et al.); perhaps the same bird was near there 30 Nov (ph. JKe). An amazing 150+ Sooty Terns were tallied in offshore Cameron waters 27 Aug (RP et al.). Up to 6 Least Terns were s. of Millican, Brazos 13–14 Aug (MMc, RL); one was on Lake Sam Rayburn, Angelina 15 Aug (DWo). There were several Caspian Terns in East Texas this fall with the most unusual being 15 at Lake Nacogdoches, Nacogdoches 17 Aug (CWe). Rarely detected as an inland migrant, a Common Tern at Eldorado’s sewage ponds, Schleicher 1 Sep (ph. SJ) and another at Canyon Lakes of Lubbock, Lubbock 22–27 Sep (PKi) were surprising.


Incredibly, one and possibly 2 Black-capped Petrels were photographed roughly 114 miles sse. of Freeport, Brazoria 5 Nov for just the third record for the state (ph. JMc). A Great Shearwater near an oil platform about 48 miles se. of Port Aransas, Nueces 25 Aug (ph. DP) entertained a fishing charter as it ate some of their sardine bait. A Jabiru s. of Placedo, Victoria/Calhoun 20–25 Aug (ph. JiH, DWa) was only seen by a lucky few after the bird’s presence became known only late on 24 Aug. An impressive 200 Wood Storks at Lemmon Lake, Dallas 3 Sep (JaH et al.) was an unusually high count for n.-central Texas. Late Masked Boobies included one in offshore waters, Matagorda 20 Nov (AMo et al.) and another at South Padre Island, Cameron 29 Nov (JGo). Alas, yet another inland Brown Booby was found in Texas, with one at Lake Bridgeport, Wise 9 Oct–27 Nov (ph. MCu, m.ob.). Offshore, one was in deepwater off Cameron 27 Aug (ph. AMo, m.ob.), another was 30 miles sse. of Freeport, Brazoria 5 Sep (ph. MaW), and one more 150 miles se. of Freeport, Brazoria 30 Sep (ph. JMc). Along the coast, another Brown Booby was captured for rehabilitation near the Port of Houston, Harris (ph. LSl), one was in Corpus Christi Bay, Nueces 10 Oct (ph. DSi) and an amazing group peaking at 11 was in Matagorda Bay, Calhoun/Matagorda 27 Sep+ (ph. PH). A southbound Anhinga near Lake Tawakoni, Rains 13 Nov (RKi, RRa) was recorded late for n.-central Texas. An extraordinary flock of 8000 migrant American White Pelicans at Hagerman N.W.R., Grayson 20 Sep (JCh) was a stunning sight. A Brown Pelican at White Rock Lake, Dallas 28 Oct (JCo, ph.) was quite unusual for so far inland.

An American Bittern seen at Goose Island S.P., Aransas 26 Aug (BS) was a bit unseasonal; another at the Heart of the Hills Fisheries, Kerr 6 Oct (ph. PSe) was a good find for the Edwards Plateau. Late for a northerly location was a Great Egret at Baylor Lake, Childress 11 Nov (DBr, LB). A Little Blue Heron strayed to Midland, Midland 11–27 Aug (MN) while another was at Buffalo Lake N.W.R., Randall 14 Aug–4 Sep (m.ob.). Up to 2 Tricolored Herons wandered west to Balmorhea Lake, Reeves 3–10 Sep (ph. MLo) while another was at Heart of the Hills Fisheries, Kerr 16 Sep (ph. PSe). Late inland Tricolored Herons in East Texas included singles at Richland Creek W.M.A., Freestone 26 Nov (LW) and at Martin Dies S.P., Jasper 28 Nov (†DBe). Single inland Reddish Egrets were at Alazan Bayou W.M.A., Nacogdoches 9 Aug (†BW), at Lake Somerville, Welch Park, Burleson 23 Sep (ph. JW), Bryan’s Country Club Lake, Brazos 24 Sep (†SK), and Lake Nasworthy, Tom Green 21 Oct (ph. RaH). It was a good fall for Yellow-crowned Night-Heron in the El Paso area with 3 juveniles reported: one in extreme w. El Paso 14 Aug (ph. JGr), one near Dell City, Hudspeth 17 Aug (ph. JiP), and another at the El Paso Zoo, El Paso 9 Oct (JKi). A Yellow-crowned Night-Heron also strayed to Balmorhea Lake, Reeves 18 Aug–24 Sep (MLo). A White Ibis was a nice visitor to the Junction Wastewater Treatment Ponds, Kimble 26 Sep (RhH). Inland fall Glossy Ibis are rare; individual birds were detected e. of Belton, Bell 7–21 Aug (ph. RP), at Lake Bridgeport, Wise 21 Aug (MSu, ph., GC, SG), and in Ferris, Dallas 28 Aug (RRa). Wandering Roseate Spoonbills included 2 at Utopia, Uvalde 23 Aug (MH), one at Independence Creek, Terrell 3 Sep (ph. DC) and another at Mother Neff S.P., Coryell 11–14 Oct (ph. MCh).

Hook-billed Kite has become very scarce again in the Lower Rio Grande Valley so up to 2 sporadically at Bentsen S.P., Hidalgo 28 Aug–16 Nov (ph. RP, JKa) were noteworthy. Well west of its usual haunts was a Swallow-tailed Kite over Rio Grande Village, Brewster 16 Sep (LM); another was quite a bit north in s. Throckmorton 7 Sep (AT). Not often found in the East Texas Pineywoods, a White-tailed Kite was s. of Saratoga, Hardin 26 Nov (ph. †RWe). In far nw. Texas where White-tailed Kites are perhaps increasing, one was near Tahoka, Lynn 22 Sep–24 Oct (JB) and another was close to Close City, Garza 11 Nov (JB). Casual in El Paso, a Bald Eagle was near Rio Bosque Wetlands Park 25 Nov (ph. RaH). Two Northern Harriers near Dell City, Hudspeth 17 Aug (JiP), on the heels of a July record, suggested local nesting. A stunning sight was a nearly completely black/melanistic Cooper’s Hawk feasting on a grackle in a Temple mall parking lot, Bell 6 Nov (ph. JK, MSi). The U.T.C.’s first ever Common Black Hawk was an adult at Smith Point, Chambers 21–22 Oct (ph. SH, BBa, TFi). A Harris’s Hawk wandered up the coast to Brazoria N.W.R., Brazoria 29 Oct-16 Nov (DK). White-tailed Hawks continue to creep northward; single pioneering birds were near Hunter, Hays 29 Sep (DL) and in New Braunfels, Comal 20 Nov (JCr). Farther astray, one was near Miller’s Creek Reservoir, Throckmorton 5 Sep (ph. GC, SG) and another was sw. of Calvert, Robertson sporadically 8 Sep–18 Oct (AlM). Perhaps a sign of continued expansion, an adult Gray Hawk was at the Van Horn cemetery, Culberson 4 Oct (ph. BoF) while an immature was also around Van Horn 25 Nov (ph. WS). Single Short-tailed Hawks were documented at Santa Ana N.W.R., Hidalgo 29 Sep (MMa, ph. RG, JPa) and at Utopia, Uvalde 29 Sep (ph. MH). Wandering Zone-tailed Hawks included one at Lake Nasworthy, Tom Green 2 Sep (ph. CWi), another at the Norias Division of the King Ranch, Kleberg 4 Nov (TL et al.), and one more near Riviera 24 Nov (MeC). Two Zone-tailed Hawks at Elm Lake at Brazos Bend S.P., Fort Bend 8 Oct (ph. BD) represented the first time more than one bird had been seen on the U.T.C.


A Long-eared Owl was a one-day wonder at Rio Bosque Wetlands Park, El Paso 21 Oct (JSp); another was present at the McAllen Nature Center, Hidalgo 11–12 Nov (JdL, AnM, MGu). Banding operations in the Davis Mountains Resort, Jeff Davis yielded a surprising Northern Saw-whet Owl in their nets 30 Sep (ph. KB). Surprising for East Texas was a Ringed Kingfisher at Lakeside Park, The Woodlands, Montgomery 5–12 Sep (†GP, ph. JBG, m.ob.) and another one at Shangri La Botanical Gardens, Orange, Orange 29 Nov–1 Dec (ph. AJ). A female Amazon Kingfisher discovered in Laredo, Webb 30 Oct+ (ph. RD, m.ob.) provided the state with its third record. Up to 3 Lewis’s Woodpeckers were discovered in ne. Midland, Midland 25 Nov (ph. MN); 2 of the birds remained through the period (m.ob.). A juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker was in El Paso, El Paso 26 Sep (ph. BZ); there are fewer than 10 county records. A Red-bellied Woodpecker in Plainview, Hale 4 Nov (NP) was on the western extreme of its range. A Williamson’s Sapsucker was present in perhaps its most regular location, the Lawrence E. Woods rest area, Jeff Davis by 1 Oct (ph. BoF) while one in the upper Chisos Mountains, Brewster on that same early date (ph. EK) was more surprising. A stunning Red-naped x Red-breasted Sapsucker hybrid was enjoyed by many birders at Crescent Bend Nature Center, Cibolo, Bexar 20 Nov+ (ph. AB, m.ob.). A Hairy Woodpecker wandered west to Buffalo Lake N.W.R., Randall 3–25 Nov (LJ, ph. MA).

The Bear Creek Park, Harris Greater Pewee appeared for the fifth year in a row 20 Sep+ (JMi, ph. DW†). Extremely rare in the western third of the state, a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher was picked up in Lubbock, Lubbock 26 Sep (fide LSm, ph.) and taken to a rehabber. A silent “Western” Flycatcher was at Anzalduas Park, Hidalgo 6 Nov (ph. RKo, WS et al.). Say’s Phoebe wandered northeast to Gainesville, Cooke 28 Sep (BN) and near the Lake Tawakoni Dam area, Rains 26+ Nov (RRa, RKi). Last year’s Vermilion Flycatcher that wintered sw. of Jenkins, Morris returned 2 Oct+ (ph. DBr); one at Lake Arrowhead S.P., Clay 18 Sep (GC, SG) was a first for the county. Establishing the latest record for the Central Brazos Valley, a Great Crested Flycatcher was at Lake Madison Park, Madison 27 Oct (†BR); out-of-place were 2 in Lubbock, Lubbock 8 Sep (KD). The pair of Great Kiskadees that built and then abandoned a nest in the spring were discovered in the same area at Lake Walter E. Long, Travis 22 Oct–20 Nov (PSu, m.ob.). More surprising were at least 2, perhaps 3, present at Lake Nasworthy, Tom Green 23 Sep+ (ph. RaH, m.ob.). A Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher at Lafitte’s Cove, Galveston 10 Sep (ph. CDW†) was an outstanding find. A Variegated Flycatcher was one of the highlights of the season, providing a first record for Texas as it was seen by countless birders at the Birding & Nature Center, South Padre Island, Cameron 28 Sep–2 Oct (BiB, ph. JGo, m.ob.). More signs of possible range expansion were pioneering Couch’s Kingbirds near Post, Garza 22 Sep (ph. JB), at Spring Creek Park, Lake Nasworthy, Tom Green 23 Sep+ (ph. RaH), and near Tahoka, Lynn 29 Sep (ph. JB). Two Eastern Kingbirds in the El Paso area were more than normal with one in El Paso, El Paso 25 Aug (ph. BZ) and one near Dell City, Hudspeth 4 Sep (JiP). The find of the season in central Texas was a completely out-of-place Rose-throated Becard at Spring Creek Park, Lake Nasworthy, Tom Green 20–22 Oct (ph. TV); the bulk of Texas records of this species are along the Rio Grande corridor.

Two Blue-headed Vireos at Rio Grande Village, Brewster 12 Nov (ph. MLo) were a good find for this easterly species. Casual in fall for n.-central Texas was a Philadelphia Vireo near Lewisville Lake, Denton, 3 Oct (WC). Farther west than usually expected was a Philadelphia Vireo in Utopia, Uvalde 11 Sep (MH). Fish Crows continue to expand west along the Red River where one was identified at Moss Lake, Cooke 19 Sep (CWa). A Chihuahuan Raven over the Hazel Bazemore Hawkwatch, 14 Oct (ph. EJ) was one of very few Nueces documented records. A pair of vocal Common Ravens nw. of Throckmorton, Throckmorton 5 Nov+ was the first sight- and vocal-confirmed record for n.-central Texas (ph. GC, RWi). Up to 30 Cave Swallows and a few Barn Swallows lingered at Rio Bosque Wetlands Park, El Paso through the period (JSp). Along the eastern edge of their range, 3 Bushtits w. of Strawn, Palo Pinto 30 Sep (JSi) were a great find. Red-breasted Nuthatches seemed to show signs of an irruption by mid-fall with one reaching Bear Creek Park, Harris 29 Sep (DW). Singles made it to Padre Island National Seashore, Kleberg 23–24 Oct (ph. RL) and South Padre Island, Cameron 22–24 Oct (GV) and there were birds at various locations in the northern two-thirds of the state through the period though not in any substantial numbers. A Rock Wren at Hazel Bazemore 1 Oct provided for a second Nueces record (ph. CT). A candidate Pacific Wren was audio-recorded in McKittrick Canyon, Guadalupe Mountains N.P., Culberson 23 Nov (audio, MLo). Increasingly difficult to find in East Texas and especially in Polk, a Bewick’s Wren was near Livingston 23 Sep (DMc, WM).


A Swainson’s Thrush at Sabine Woods, Jefferson 4 Sep was the second earliest ever for the U.T.C. (MCo). A bit westerly and unexpected as a fall migrant was a Wood Thrush in Utopia, Uvalde 14 Sep (MH). A Clay-colored Thrush was farther north than usual at Blucher Park, Nueces 16 Sep (JB). An early wandering Gray Catbird was in Lubbock, Lubbock 17 Aug (AH). Large numbers of migrating Sage Thrashers were detected in Hudspeth with up to 50 in the Dell Valley 19 Oct (GL, LSl) and 30 at the Hudspeth unit of Guadalupe Mountains N.P. 25 Oct (CRu). Notable eastward Sage Thrashers visited Attwater Prairie Chicken N.W.R., Colorado 18 Nov (ph. EM) and Estero Llano Grande S.P. Hidalgo 16 Nov (ph. JSm et al.). The U.T.C.’s first ever Phainopepla was at Texas Point N.W.R., Jefferson 22–25 Oct (GK, ph. HS, et al.). Quite early was a Chestnut-collared Longspur east of Tahoka, Garza 29 Sep (JB).

Single Golden-winged Warblers in Grapevine, Tarrant 10 Sep (BT), in w. San Marcos, Hays 17 Sep (CRo) and in far n. Austin, Travis 23 Sep (AD) were good finds as inland fall migrants. A MacGillivray’s Warbler at Sabal Palm, Cameron 3 Nov (ph. ID) was unexpected. A late Kentucky Warbler was at the Quintana Neotropical Bird Sanctuary, Brazoria 6 Nov (CG). A migrant Hooded Warbler, rare in n.-central Texas, was at Lake Tawakoni S.P., Hunt, 29 Sep (RKi). Rare were single Cape May Warblers at Frontera Audubon, Hidalgo 20 Oct (TBr) and South Padre Island, Cameron 7 Nov (GV). A Cerulean Warbler stopped at South Padre Island, Cameron 4 Sep (MF, JGo). Quite unexpected was a Tropical Parula on the Davis Mountains Preserve, Jeff Davis 12 Aug (ph. DJ); one in Refugio, Refugio 24 Sep+ (SC, WS) and another se. of Blessing, Matagorda 21 Nov+ (RSa, JSa) were also outside usual haunts. A Magnolia Warbler on Matagorda Island, Matagorda 22 Nov was late (PH). A Blackburnian Warbler in Kingsville, Kleberg 14 Aug (ph. DWi) was rather early. A rare fall Blackpoll Warbler was at Sabine Woods, Jefferson 15 Oct (JoH, SM, MCo). A Black-throated Blue Warbler was at Hans and Pat Suter Wildlife Refuge, Nueces 2 Oct (AC) while another visited South Padre Island, Cameron 5 Nov (RF, MK, JSo). Quite early, a wandering fall Pine Warbler was in Lubbock, Lubbock 10 Sep (KD). A Prairie Warbler banded at the Heard Sanctuary, McKinney, Collin, 7 Sep (ToH) was west of the typical migration route. Exceptional for central Texas was a Black-throated Gray Warbler in Round Rock, Williamson 28 Aug (ph. KH); another was at Blucher Park, Corpus Christi, Nueces 22 Oct (DMu). Townsend’s Warblers well east of their normal migration path included singles at Landa Park, San Marcos, Comal 31 Aug (ph. SS), at Sabine Woods, Jefferson 13 Sep (JoH et al.), at South Padre Island, Cameron 28–29 Sep (ph. DJ, m.ob.), another at Sabine Woods, Jefferson 15 Oct (JoH et al.), another at South Padre Island, Cameron 21 Sep–13 Oct (ph. DJ, m.ob.), and one at Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center in Port Aransas, Nueces 8–10 Oct (ph. WS et al.). A Painted Redstart was an unexpected visitor at the U.T.E.P. campus, El Paso 4 Sep (JSp); up to 3 were on the Davis Mountains Preserve, Jeff Davis 11 Aug–11 Sep (CRu, m.ob.); and one strayed to McKittrick Canyon, Guadalupe Mountains N.P., Culberson 24 Aug (CRu).

With no sign of an irruption, the only far-flung Green-tailed Towhee was one sse. of Belmont, Gonzales 28 Oct (ph. FK). Not expected at this location, 2 adult Lark Sparrows accompanied a barely-fledged juvenile at Alazan Bayou W.M.A., Nacogdoches 7 Aug (DWo). A Black-throated Sparrow was out-of-place near Ropesville, Hockley 17 Sep (ph. AH). Fox Sparrows are very rare along the upper coast so one at Cattail Marsh, Jefferson 27 Nov was notable (ThH, JoH). Three White-throated Sparrows at Rio Bosque Wetlands Park 24 Nov (ph. RaH) was a nice total for El Paso. A male Dark-eyed Junco visited Laguna Atascosa N.W.R., Cameron 11–12 Nov (HB). Western Tanagers wandered east to se. Houston, Harris 2 Oct (JR) and Sugar Land, Fort Bend 23 Oct+ (MSc, et al.). Amazingly early was a Crimson-collared Grosbeak at the Valley Land Fund Lot on South Padre Island, Cameron 3 Sep–27 Oct (ph. GV, m.ob.); the bulk of Texas records of this species are from early winter to spring. Northern Cardinal has been regular in El Paso only at Rio Bosque Wetlands Park in recent years; a male feeding a juvenile there 23 Aug (GB) was the first confirmation of nesting. A Rose-breasted Grosbeak was in El Paso, El Paso 27 Aug (JKi) where they are rare but perhaps regular migrants. Casual for n.-central Texas was a Black-headed Grosbeak in Colleyville, Tarrant 11 Sep (ph. BT) while one in Lubbock, Lubbock 6 Oct (NP) was late moving through.

Two Rusty Blackbirds near Ferndale Lake, Camp 20 Sep (RB, JaH) were early; one returning for the fourth fall to Utopia, Uvalde 19 Oct+ (MH) and another near Port Isabel, Cameron 10 Nov (ph. TBu) were outliers to the south. A Bronzed Cowbird was an unexpected find well north of its expected range at Texas A&M University, College Station, Brazos 4 Oct (SA). Two male Hooded Orioles lingering in El Paso, El Paso were joined by a female 30 Nov+ (ph. BZ); another male was one mile away 13 Nov (BZ). A Scott’s Oriole at the Corpus Christi Hawkwatch at Hazel Bazemore, Nueces 22 Sep (ph. MEg, MMi) provided a rare Coastal Bend record; another lingered later than usual in El Paso, El Paso 15 Nov+ (ph. BZ).

Report processed by Eric DeFonso, 4 Feb 2021.

Photos–Texas: Fall 2016

Hover or click on each image to read the caption.