Texas: Summer 2020

Summer 2020: 1 June–31 July

Eric Carpenter

Recommended citation:

Carpenter, E. 2020. Summer 2020: Texas. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-914North American Birds.

Summer 2020 was the second season of birding during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the effects were similar to what we saw in the spring season. Many birders discovered ample opportunities close to home while both birding and travel opportunities farther afield remained limited. Still, this was not an entirely bad thing, as yard-listing has become a fun challenge for many who are scrutinizing their local birds more and more. Just what can you find without leaving your property? Well, always observant Dan Jones may have set the bar out of reach and about as high as it can go with an A.B.A. area first Blue-and-white Swallow, yowza!

Hurricane Hanna made landfall as a Category I hurricane some 70 miles south of Corpus Christi on the evening of 25 Jul, the first hurricane to make landfall in Texas since 2017 and Texas’ first Jul hurricane since Dolly in 2008. The storm travelled just a little south of a direct westerly path across that part of the state as it weakened into a tropical storm and then tropical depression the next day as it made its way into Mexico. Birders that were able to get out to the western portion of the L.R.G.V. and up to Laredo didn’t find anything really unusual though there were a scattering of coastal birds highlighted by large numbers of inland Magnificent Frigatebirds. The real prizes were north of the eye as Port Aransas had both a beached Red-billed Tropicbird and Manx Shearwater on 26 & 27 Jul.

Besides the hurricane, the tail end of the summer season saw hints of wandering and perhaps non-breeding birds dispersing into Texas from points west due to both widespread drought and perhaps also from some of the fires on the west coast. This story will certainly become clearer in Fall 2020.

Contributors (subregional editors in boldface)

Tony Adler, Debra Anderson, Colby Ayers, Mike Baker, Noreen Baker, Brad Banner (BBa), Dale Bargmann (DBa), Grant Beauprez, Josh Beck, Linda Belssner, Brigid Berger, John Berner (JBe), Brian Berry (BBe), Stepanie Bilodeau (StB), Sherry Bixler (ShB), Daniel Boney (DBo), Aaron Boone, Justin Bosler (JBo), Don Brode (DBr), Tim Brush, Benjamin Byerly (BBy), Winston Caillouet, Mike Cameron (MCa), Skip Cantrell (SkC), Steve Cardiff (SCa), Eric Carpenter (Central Texas, eastern Trans-Pecos, East Texas/Pineywoods. email: ecarpe@gmail.com), Calvin Carroll (CCa), Katherine Cavazos, Jack Chiles (JCh), Sheridan Coffey (ShC), Stephen Cook (SCo), Mel Cooksey (MCo), Benjamin Crawford, Jim Crites (JCr), Melissa Crookshank (MCr), Cinda Crosley (CCr), John Curcuruto (JCu), D.D. Currie (DDC), Janet Davis, Deidre Dawson (DDa), Donna Dittmann (DDi), Dejeanne Doublet (DDo), Greg Drawbaugh, Matt DuRoss, Betty Dunn, Benjamin Dunnington (BDu), Gil Eckrich, K. Dean Edwards (KDE), William Edwards (WEd), Wyatt Egelhoff (WEg), Bill Eisele, Mark Elliott, Stephen Falick, Erich Fickle, Luella Fickle, Andy Filtness, Carlene Fontenot, Bert Foquet (BFo), Brush Freeman (BFr), Bert Frenz (Central Oaks & Prairies. email: bert2@bafrenz.com), Norma Friedrich, Donald Fullmer, Jason Garcia (JGa), Kim Garwood, Hank George, Corina Giron, Steve Glover, Javi Gonzalez (JGo), Rod Goodwin, John Groves (JGr), Mary Gustafson, Martin Hagne, Jeff Hall (JHa), Shelia Hargis (SHa), Ken Hartman, Yvette Haughney, Susan Heath (SuH), Pat Heirs (PHe), Caleb Helsel, Sheri Hemrick (ShH), Richard Hermosillo (RiH), Randy Hesford (RaH), Anthony Hewetson (Panhandle and South Plains. email: fattonybirds@gmail.com), Troy Hibbitts, Petra Hockey (PHo), Joan Holt (JHo), Bob Honig, Jeffrey Jackson, Cameron Johnson (CaJ), Christy Jones (ChJ), Dan Jones, Larry Jordan, Richard Kaskan, Glenda Kelly, Simon Kiacz, Kayla Murphy King (KMK), John Kiseda, Lindi Lagman (LLa), Justin LeClaire (JLe), Crystal Ledezema, Cin-Ty Lee (CTL), Brad Lirette, Dell Little, Mark Lockwood, Scotty Lofland, Jason Loghry (JLo), Kevin Long, Lorrie Lowrie (LLo), Lori Malloy, Jean Martin (JMa), Beth McBroom (BMc), Katchy McCall, Michael McCloy, Wendy McCrady (WMc), Jon McIntyre (JMc), Caleb McKinney, Brittany Meagher (BMe), Jennifer Miller (JMi), Wendy Moore (WMo), Sheila Murray, Stuart Nelson, Ron Newhouse (RNe), Bayard Nicklow (BaN), Bob Nieman (BoN), Raymond Nojek (RNo), Martha Norman, Carolyn Ohl, Andrew Orgill, Jeff Osborne, Tira Overstreet, Amy Packer, Jay Packer (JaP), Courtney Paine (CPa), Greg Palko, Ken Pankhurst, Barbara Pankratz, Jim Paton (JiP) (El Paso and Hudspeth Counties.  email: jnpaton@att.net), Randell Patterson (RPa), Thomas St. Pierre (TSP), John Pike (JPi), Randy Pinkston (RPi), Chris Pipes (CPi), Cathleen Pollard (CPo), Rhet Raibley (RRa), Ross Rasmussen (North-central Texas. email: ross.rasmussen@att.net), Judy Reeves, Martin Reid, Cecilia Riley (CRi), Ryan Rodriguez (RRo), Chris Runk (CRu), David Sarkozi (DSa), Sam Saunders (SSa), Bobby Schat (BoS), Brady Schwab (BrS), Zachary Schwab, Tyler Scott, Willie Sekula (South Texas. email: williebird22@gmail.com), Sheila Shallcross (SSh), Ryan Shaw (RSh), Brad Shine (BSh), Dean Silvers (DSi), Doug Smith (DSm), John Sproul, Shirley Stafford (SSt), Denise Stephens (DSt), Mike Stewart, Byron Stone (BSt), Mary Beth Stowe (MBS), Bill Supulski (BSu), Romey Swanson (RSw), Jane Tillman, Charlie Trapani, Zeke VanZante, Darrell Vollert, Christian Walker, Jeremy Webster (JWe), Ron Weeks (Upper Texas Coast. email: ronweeks@sbcglobal.net), William Wenthe, Ed Wetzel, Shirley Wilkerson, Joanna Willars (JWi), Kenneth Williams, Vicki Wilmarth, Liam Wolff, John Yochum, Gary Yoder, Matt York, Fred Zagst, Lena Zappia, Barry Zimmer.

Waterfowl through Grebes

Out of place was a single fly-over Black-bellied Whistling-Duck at Fort Pena Colorado Park south of Marathon, Brewster 19 Jun (RSw) and 4 at Aquatic Center Park in Hereford, Deaf Smith 21 Jul (ph. EF, LF). Mid- and late-summer Canada Geese numbers in Lubbock, Lubbock were as high as 98 at McCullough Park 26 Jul (GK); these birds are perhaps tied to the increasing resident population in the Amarillo area. A pair of Cinnamon Teal at Fort Pena Colorado Park south of Marathon, Brewster 21 Jun (ph. AB) was an intriguing early-summer sighting. Late single American Wigeons were southeast of Goldwaithe, Mills 7 Jun (BSt) and south of Ingram, Kerr 11 Jun (ph. DBa). A male Canvasback summered 6 Jun­–4 Jul (ph. RiH) at Richland Creek W.M.A., Freestone. Four male Redheads at Fort Stockton Wastewater Treatment Ponds, Pecos 15 Jun (WS) were a nice find; 2 at Witter Lane ponds, Bell remained through the summer season (RPi). A male Greater Scaup was an unexpected summer visitor to the Katy Prairie Conservancy, Waller 13–14 Jun (ph. BH, JBe).

A Surf Scoter found in weakened condition at Mustang Island S.P., Nueces 5 Jun was brought into a rehab facility (fide AO). The female Hooded Merganser that stayed through spring on a west El Paso, El Paso pond was last reported on 14 Jun (JK, ph.). Hooded Mergansers nested at the Old White Rock Lake hatchery ponds in April and produced 10 young which stayed until early Jun (KMK, ph.); this species last nested at this locale in 2016. Unusual was a female Hooded Merganser at Leroy Elmore Park, Lubbock 15 Jul+ (ph. GK, ph. JCr, ph. BSh). A pair of Least Grebes that arrived at Village Creek Drying Beds, Tarrant during spring produced at least 3 young, which remained at the site through the season. This was the northernmost U.S. successful nesting record for the species (CA, EW, m. ob. ph.). Also likely to breed was a pair of Least Grebes in courtship display at Witter Lane ponds, Bell 26 Jul (ph. RPi).

Nightjars through Cranes

Lesser Nighthawks are becoming more established and moving slightly northward on the eastern edge of the Edwards Plateau. Birds were found at multiple locations during the summer; one in Austin, Travis (m. ob.) and 2 in Round Rock, Williamson 13–24 Jun (SHa, m. ob.). Certainly one of the highlights of the season, an immature Green-breasted Mango visited a Weslaco, Hidalgo yard 27 Jul–3 Aug (ph. BSu). Anna’s Hummingbird is normally absent from El Paso in summer with just a handful of previous records, so these El Paso records were of note: a female or young male 28 Jun–2 Aug (BZ, ph.), an adult male 4–13 Jul (JK, ph.), and a female or young male 12 Jul (JiP). The unseasonal Anna’s Hummingbird west of Fort Davis, Jeff Davis continued until at least 7 Jun (BMc, DDi, SCa). A female Broad-tailed Hummingbird in a Lubbock yard, Lubbock 31 Jul (JCr) was a bit early. The female Broad-billed Hummingbird from the spring west of Fort Davis, Jeff Davis continued until at least 8 Jun (DDi, SCa). One or more males made sporadic visits through the season nearby (LLo et al.), and an adult female was northwest of Fort Davis, Jeff Davis 19 Jun+ (DL, DDC). More surprising was a male Broad-billed along the Devil’s River 15 miles northeast of Comstock, Val Verde 11 Jun (ph. MN). The only White-eared Hummingbird of the season was a female west of Fort Davis, Jeff Davis 30 Jun+ (ph. BMc et al.). It seemed like a repeat of last summer/fall with 2 different Violet-crowned Hummingbirds in separate locations in the Davis Mountains, Jeff Davis 20 Jul+ (LLo et al.) and 27 Jul+ (CRi et al.).

Rather unseasonal was a Virginia Rail detected in Andrews, Andrews 19 Jul (JPi). Casual in summer was a Sora at the Dallas Water Treatment Plant, Seagoville, Dallas 8 Jul (MD). A pair of Common Gallinules was found at a nest at Village Creek Drying Beds, Tarrant 20 May (CA, ph.), but no young were reported by 26 Jun (m. ob.). A Common Gallinule found at Lake Fork Reservoir, Wood 24 Jun (CM) was a rare unexpected find east of the species’ normal range at the edge of the Pineywoods. Casual was an unexpected Purple Gallinule in a densely vegetated drainage ditch in Arlington, Tarrant 20–24 Jun (CA, EW, ph.). The Purple Gallinules at Carlos Lake, Grimes are proliferating, and this season 3 pairs­–all with chicks–provided a total of 18 on 6 Jul (RRa). Two Sandhill Cranes near Granger Lake, Williamson 7 Jul (ph. BFr) were a strange sight for mid-summer.


Unusual early/mid-summer sightings of American Avocet included 2 at Hornsby Bend, Travis 22 Jun (ph. BC) and at least 20 there 1 Jul (m. ob.). Migrant Piping Plovers were found in slightly above average numbers in north-central Texas with 5 reports; the first was found on the White Rock Spillway Dallas 14 Jul (CRu, ph.) and the last was at Lake Lewisville Park, Denton 27 Jul (KC, m. ob.). Four Snowy Plovers along the Rio Grande in central Hudspeth 4 Jul (DDC, DL) were at a site with good breeding habitat. A Snowy Plover was a nice find near Granger Lake, Williamson 27 Jul (BFr).

Of note was a Whimbrel present along the Naval Air Station Causeway, Nueces 5 Jun–3 Jul (ph. LJ), 2 in Oso Bay, Nueces 9 Jul (MCo), and a single bird at Sunset Lake, San Patricio 12 Jul (WS). With few records in Burleson, a Long-billed Curlew near Caldwell 9 Jul (BBy) was noteworthy. Extremely rare in the Trans-Pecos, a Hudsonian Godwit at Balmorhea Lake, Reeves 1 Jun (ph. DDi, SCa) was also a bit late. In Nueces, 4 Hudsonian Godwits reported from Corpus Christi Bay/Ship Channel 1 Jun (JMc) along with 2 at the Robstown turf farm 6 Jun (ph. WS, KG) were late migrants. Four Marbled Godwits were reported from Saturday Beach, Calhoun 14 Jun (BB) along with a single bird at Matagorda Island – Pass Cavallo, Calhoun 16 Jun (TO) & Padre Island National Seashore, Kenedy 15 Jun (ph. LLa). Up to 15 birds seen on South Padre Island, Cameron 13 Jun (TSP) were likely non-breeding lingerers. Unexpected was a very early flock of 23 immature Marbled Godwits at Hagerman N.W.R., Grayson 23 Jun (JCh, ph.). A first Jun record for Brazos and rare anytime of the year, a Marbled Godwit was at Sims Lane 28 Jun (ph. MM, CG). Also unusual was a lone Marbled Godwit that briefly circled the ponds at Hornsby Bend, Travis 17 Jul (ph. BC).

Rare for late Jul and found in above normal numbers were 4 sightings of 1–2 Ruddy Turnstones in north-central Texas; the first was at Dallas Water Treatment Plant, Seagoville, Dallas 26 Jul (SSh, MD) and the last was at Lake Lewisville Park, Denton 30 Jul (CaJ, RPa, ph.). Rare and early in late Jul were single Sanderlings at Lake Lewisville Park, Denton 28–31 Jul+ (WC, ph. m. ob.) and at Lavon Collin 29–30 Jul (MCa, ph.). A Baird’s Sandpiper lingered through the season at Hornsby Bend, Travis (ph., m. ob.). A group of 6 White-rumped Sandpipers at Balmorhea Lake, Reeves 1 Jun (ph. DDi, SCa) was a nice count for the region. An alternate White-rumped Sandpiper at Morgan’s Point, Harris 22 Jun was either a late or early migrant (SN).

A late Buff-breasted Sandpiper was seen at a Robstown, Nueces turf farm 6 Jun (ph. WS, KG). A stopover flock of 35 Pectoral Sandpipers was at Sims Lane 31 Jul (BE), a significant count for Brazos, especially so early in migration. The earliest returning Semipalmated Sandpipers were up to 4 detected at Hornsby Bend, Travis 27 Jun (ph. JGa). Unusual for mid-summer in the northwest Texas, single Spotted Sandpipers were at Greenways Park, Randall 20 Jun (KDE), at McAlister Park, Lubbock 24 Jun (JMi) and at Leroy Elmore Park, Lubbock 28 Jun (AH). A Solitary Sandpiper present at Tiocano Lake, Cameron 19 Jun (ZV et al.) was an early fall migrant. There was an unusually large concentration 3 Jul+ (m. ob.) at Witter Lane ponds, Bell, reaching a high count of 18 on 19 Jul (RPi). A Willet at Hornsby Bend, Travis 23 Jun (ph. CH) was on the early side; another was photographed 28 Jun (MM) at Sims Lane, Brazos. A group of 30 Wilson’s Phalaropes about 10 miles east of Pampa, Gray 27 Jun (CW) might have represented an isolated breeding population or very early southbound migrants.

Gulls through Skimmers

An immature Sabine’s Gull reported from Chapman Ranch, Nueces in a flock of Laughing Gulls 26 Jul (JMc) was likely a result of Hurricane Hanna. A first-summer Laughing Gull wandered to Balmorhea Lake, Reeves 4 Jun (ph. DDi, SCa), while a juvenile made it to Twin Buttes Reservoir, Tom Green 24–25 Jul (ph. RaH). Unusual timing for Franklin’s Gulls included 2 at Welch Park, Lake Somerville, Burleson 14 Jun (KH), 3 on Proctor Lake, Comanche 24 Jun (JaP, AP), 2 at Stillhouse Park, Stillhouse Hollow Lake, Bell 24 Jun (ph. GE), and 2 more at the Birch Creek unit, Lake Somerville, Burleson 26 Jun (SHa). A Ring-billed Gull at the Friona Playa, Parmer 19 Jun (GB) was unusual for mid-summer. A first-summer Lesser Black-backed Gull present at Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center in Port Aransas, Nueces 21 Jun+ (ph. WS, KG) provided for a rare summer record. A rather bleached first summer Glaucous-winged Gull at Lake Wichita, Wichita 8–13 Jun (ph. †SL, m. ob., ph.) was thought by most experts to be that species and was accepted by the T.B.R.C. for just the second record for the state.

An injured Sooty Tern was picked up along the roadside at Aransas Pass Wetlands, Nueces 27 Jul and turned in to a rehab facility (fide AO). A first record in summer for Brazos, and one of only a handful of county records, a single Least Tern was on a pond at Easterwood Airport 17–20 Jul (ph. MM, m. ob.). Also unseasonal was a Black Tern on Proctor Lake, Comanche 24 Jun (JaP, AP). With few records for Washington and only the second record for Jul, 8 Black Terns flying over Lake Somerville 24 Jul (ph. SW) were noteworthy. Hurricane Hanna produced inland Royal Terns with 6 at Delta Lake, Hidalgo 26–28 Jul (ph. JLe, StB et al.), 2 at Zapata, Zapata 26 Jul (ph. WS, KG), one near Santa Elena, Starr (ph. LW), 3 at Falcon Lake Dam, Starr 26 Jul (JBo) and a lone bird at Lake Casa Blanca S.P., Webb 26 Jul (JBo). Hurricane Hanna pushed Sandwich Terns well inland; up to 3 were at Delta Lake in Hidalgo 26–28 Jul (ph. JLe, StB et al.) while a lone bird was near Santa Elena, Starr 26 Jul (LW).

Quite inexplicable and with no storm or weather pattern to explain the dispersal, a Black Skimmer briefly circled low over the ponds at the Inks Lake Fish Hatchery, Burnet 13 Jul (†ShB, †FZ). Seven Black Skimmers seen at Falcon S.P., Starr 26 Jul (WS, KG) were likely the result of Hurricane Hanna, as were 6 from Lake Casa Blanca S.P., Webb on the same date (JBo).

Tropicbirds through Boobies

An immature Red-billed Tropicbird found on a Port Aransas, Nueces beach 26 Jul (ph. NB) was very likely a result of Hurricane Hanna. A Common Loon on Lake Livingston, Polk 2 Jun (ph. RNo) may have been late while one on Lake Tyler, Smith 26–27 Jun (RW, BL), and another on Toledo Bend Reservoir, Newton 27 Jun (ph. BBe) was likely over-summering. A summering Common Loon was on Belton Lake, Bell 11 Jun (ph. GE), while another was on Lake Meredith, Hutchinson 16–17 Jun (ph. ME). A Common Loon found in the surf at Malaquite Beach on Padre Island National Seashore, Kleberg 16 Jun (ph. LLa) appeared to be healthy and likely a late lingerer. Another Common Loon was seen on the bay side of Mustang Island S.P., Nueces 4 Jun (JHo). Further south, a rather worn Common Loon spotted from the Birding and Nature Center on South Padre Island, Cameron 10 Jul (ph. JGo) was likely a summering bird. A Manx Shearwater was picked up struggling in the surf at Mustang Island S.P., Nueces 27 Jul; it was taken to the rehab facility in Port Aransas 28 Jul (ph. AO).

Three Wood Storks were the first to appear in Brazos this season, flying over Peach Creek bottoms and then Peach Creek ponds 7 Jun (DV, BFo), but more unusual was an estimated 100 flying over Sulphur Springs Road 13 Jun (BE). A bit early for so far north was a Wood Stork seen in flight along Evelyn Road, Argyle, Denton 27 Jun (KP, ph.). Hurricane Hanna pushed Magnificent Frigatebirds into South Texas 26 Jul. In the L.R.G.V., birds were reported from Delta Lake in Hidalgo westward to Falcon Lake in Starr & Zapata. Even farther west up to 7 were reported from Lake Casa Blanca S.P. in Webb (JBo). Near Rio Grande City, Starr, a group of 77 (ph. LW) was an astounding sight along a rural highway! To the north, up to 11 were at Lake Corpus Christi, Live Oak (ph. MR, ShC).

Totally shocking and unexpected hundreds of miles inland was an immature Masked Booby found by a paddle boarder on Lake Grapevine, Denton 19 Jul (CPa, ph.). Despite a massive search the bird was never relocated. This sighting is likely the farthest north and inland record for the species in the southern U.S. Way more expected, a well described sub-adult Masked Booby was seen feeding with Brown Pelicans just offshore from Malaquite Beach Padre Island National Seashore, Kleberg 14 Jun (MB); another preceded Hurricane Hanna at Port Aransas, Nueces 26 Jul (ph. BP, CL). The adult Brown Booby at Canyon Lake, Comal continued through at least 19 Jul (ph., m. ob.) while a sub-adult was a brief and rather surprising find at Hornsby Bend, Travis 15 Jul (ph. JO, JD). Another Brown Booby made it inland to Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Angelina 2 Jul (ph. CF). An adult Brown Booby was located the following day after the Masked Booby report on Lake Grapevine, Denton/Tarrant and continued to be sighted 20 Jul+ (EW, m. ob. ph.). It is thought that this bird probably arrived with the Masked Booby but was not sighted until the next day. On the central coast, a Brown Booby was reported from Lydia Ann Channel, Aransas 2 Jun (JMc). The Brown Booby count on a channel marker in west Galveston Bay, Galveston 16 Jul had grown to 10 birds (ph. DSi, et al.).

Cormorants through Spoonbills

A latish Double-crested Cormorant was observed at Wright’s Pond, Nueces 2 Jun (SkC). Rare in summer in Bell, a Double-crested Cormorant was at Witter Lane ponds 25 Jul (ph. DDa). At least a dozen American White Pelicans over-summered at Fort Hancock Reservoir, Hudspeth (JiP), while 3 near Hereford, Deaf Smith 21 Jul (EF, LF) was unusual for late summer in the Panhandle. A Brown Pelican visited Balmorhea Lake, Reeves 3–4 Jul (ph. BMe). A Brown Pelican stopped at Walter E. Long Lake, Travis 6 Jul (GD, ph. JO), while another decided to stay at Granger Lake, Williamson 16 Jul+ (KW, ph. m. ob.), and another was over Lake Whitney, Hill 29 Jul (ShH, ph.). A group of 13 Brown Pelicans seen on a private ranch near El Sauz, Starr 26 Jul (ph. LW) was likely due to Hurricane Hanna.

Casual in summer was an American Bittern at Village Creek Drying Beds, Tarrant 18–21 Jun (MD). Always a rare find were single Least Bitterns in the northwest corner of Lake Weatherford, Parker 29 Jun (KL) and at Hidden Cove Park, Lake Lewisville, Denton, 13 Jul (SM). A Least Bittern was seen flying across the Rio Grande at Chapeno, Starr 21 Jul (RRo). A Little Blue Heron at Lake Meredith, Potter 13 Jun (KDE) was more likely a spring overshoot than a post-breeding wanderer. A Tricolored Heron was found west of Rio Bosque Wetlands Park, El Paso 27 Jul (JS). One to 2 Yellow-crowned Night-Herons were again seen throughout the period in west El Paso, El Paso (JGr) where breeding has likely occurred in recent years. The highest historical count for Brazos of White Ibis was 119150 at Sulphur Springs Road 13–15 Jul (TS, BE). At Sulphur Springs Road, Brazos 18 Jun (ph. RNe, TS) a Roseate Spoonbill was the first Jun record for the county; another wandered to 5 miles northwest of Hico, Erath 16 Jul (JWe).

Osprey through Hawks

Osprey seem to be increasing as a summer visitor to several areas throughout the state. Some of the more interesting finds include one at Lake Sweetwater, Nolan 21 Jun (ph. BBa), another over the Heard Museum, Collin 24 Jun (BrS, ph.), one at Lake Fork Reservoir, Wood 23 Jun (CM), and another over Lake Benbrook, Tarrant 30–31 Jul (WEd, ph.). The first Jun record for Lake Somerville, an Osprey was photographed from Welch Park, Burleson 5 Jun (ph. JT) and one more was in the Burton area, Washington 6 Jul (SuH). Three Osprey feeding at the NRG Energy Cooling Ponds in Baytown, Chambers 29 Jul suggests that local breeding could be occurring (DSa, JBe). Also of note were 2 birds reported from Lake Casa Blanca S.P., Webb 26 Jul (JBo). Swallow-tailed Kites delighted birders again at Devers Creek Park in Ganado, Jackson this spring and summer; up to 8 birds were reported along with 3 young in 2 different active nests (m. ob.).

A male Northern Harrier 20 miles northwest of Marfa, Presidio 21 Jul (SF) may have been a bird that summered nearby. A breeding pair of Cooper’s Hawks produced 2 fledglings in an Amarillo yard, Randall during the period with birds being seen from 6 Jun+ (ph., VW) for rare documentation on what is likely increased breeding activity in the Panhandle. A Harris’s Hawk ranged north to Pflugerville, Williamson 29 Jun–3 Jul (ph. RK, m. ob.). A Broad-winged Hawk reported from Santa Ana N.W.R., Hidalgo 8 Jun (TB) was likely a late migrant. A group of 66 roosting Swainson’s Hawks seen in a plowed field near La Joya, Hidalgo 9 Jun was composed of mostly immature birds indicating lingering/wandering non-breeders (MG). A sighting of 3 adult Swainson’s Hawks in rural Lee, near Lexington, 4 Jul (SHa) is a rare summer record. A Zone-tailed Hawk spotted near Penitas, Hidalgo 24 Jun (MG) was a surprise considering that the species doesn’t breed anywhere in or near the L.R.G.V.

Owls through Falcons

A Western Screech-Owl was heard at South Llano River S.P., Kimble 3 Jul (RSw), but more unusual and well out of expected haunts was another heard well at Copper Breaks S.P., Hardeman 6 Jul (BP). An apparent female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at a suet feeder in Cypress, Harris 18–19 Jun (†ChJ) was just the second summer record for the U.T.C. A single Ladder-backed Woodpecker continued in Brenham, Washington through the season (DV), where it is rare. Rare in McLennan, though reported earlier this year, a Pileated Woodpecker was again seen at Lake Waco Wetlands 12 Jul (ph. MY).

A Crested Caracara roughly 10 miles north of Henderson, Rusk 27 Jun (DBo) was about as deep into the Pineywoods as the species gets, while one southeast of De Kalb, Bowie 14 Jun (ph. JR) was near the northern edge of their range. An American Kestrel reported in Atascosa 19 Jun (GY) may have been a local breeder. In Brazos, near Carter Lake, the pair of American Kestrels reported this spring for producing 4 fledglings were at it again when copulation was observed 4 Jun (TS). It appears likely that at least 2 pairs of Peregrine Falcon were in El Paso, with numerous sightings at Ascarate Park (JK), and in the Franklin Mountains around South Franklin Peak (BZ), plus other scattered reports. Elsewhere, notable Peregrine Falcons included singles at Wichita Falls, Archer 28 Jun (SL, ph.) and at the Bison Road Playa, Hockley 29 Jul (WW). Somewhat early were lone Prairie Falcons at Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge, Bailey 25 Jul (BoN) and in Lubbock, Lubbock 30 Jul (AH).


At least one Dusky-capped Flycatcher was present west of Fort Davis, Jeff Davis through the season (DDi, SCa). An Ash-throated Flycatcher along Old Port Isabel Road, Cameron 8 Jun (ph. MBS) was at an odd location for the date. The Brown-crested Flycatcher pair at Commons Ford Park, Travis were there until at least 24 Jul (m. ob.) and presumably bred, though no young were documented. About the sixth record for Bell, a Great Kiskadee was observed on Asa Road northwest of Temple 4 Jun (fide RPi).

Multiple pairs of Tropical Kingbird nested for the third summer at Ascarate Park, El Paso (m. ob., ph.), their only known location in the county, and one was near Dell City 28 Jul (JiP) for the third year at this sole known Hudspeth site. A yellow-bellied kingbird photographed at Quintana, Brazoria 29 Jul (ph. MCr) was in retrospect believed to be a Tropical Kingbird, as a pair was photographed and recorded at the same location 1 Aug+ (ph. RW, et al.). A vocalizing Couch’s Kingbird in Balmorhea, Reeves 7 Jun (audio CW) was a surprising find. Couch’s Kingbird’s apparently bred at Freeport, Brazoria as a pair of fresh juveniles were photographed at the Freeport Wetlands Preserve, Brazoria 21 Jun (ph. RW), and calling adults were seen in the same general area through the summer (m. ob.). A Cassin’s Kingbird was a rare summer find near Thompson Grove, Dallam 11 Jul (ph. SG). Late was an Olive-sided Flycatcher at Dallas Water Treatment Plant, Dallas 25 Jun (TA, ph.) and another on the same date at Williamsburg Colony, Harris (ph. HG), while one in Midland, Midland 22 Jul (ph. SSt) was a bit early. An Eastern Wood-Pewee reported from Kleberg 12 Jun (JLo) was running late.

A Yellow-bellied Flycatcher seen at Alamo Cottage Bird Sanctuary, Hidalgo 9 Jun (PHe) was late for the southerly location. A Least Flycatcher seen at Oso Bay Wetlands Preserve, Nueces 14 Jun (SCo) was quite late. Surprising was a Gray Flycatcher 5 miles south-southeast of Concan, Uvalde 25 Jul (†PHo). A Cordilleran Flycatcher lingered in an El Paso, El Paso yard through 18 Jun (JiP). The Black Phoebe pair at Hamilton Pool, Travis fledged 4 young (JJ) while a juvenile bird being fed by an adult Eastern Phoebe on the south side of Lake L.B.J., Llano 8 Jun (ph. AF) was quite likely a hybrid. A report of 2 Eastern Phoebes at Bear Creek Park, Harris 8 Jun included a photograph of a juvenile implying local breeding (ph. DF).

Vireos through Bushtits

Out of range was a Black-capped Vireo in Midland, Midland 18 Jul (ph. GP). Warbling Vireo is a regular migrant through the first week in Jun in spring and starting in late Jul in fall, but one in El Paso, El Paso 19 Jul (JiP) was a bit early, likewise for one at Pollywog Pond, Nueces the same day (WS, KG). A Red-eyed Vireo detected at Aransas N.W.R., Aransas 7 Jun (WS, KG) may have been a late migrant since it was well away from any known breeding locales. Also late, single Red-eyed Vireos were seen in a Progresso Lakes yard, Hidalgo 3 Jun (ph. DJ) and Port Mansfield, Willacy 7 Jun (RSh). The Yellow-green Vireo at Fort Pena Colorado Park south of Marathon, Brewster continued through the entire season (m. ob.). A Yellow-green Vireo was present on Cannon Road, Cameron 24 & 28 Jun (ph. MS); 3 were in the same area 9 Jul (ph. MS, YH).

A count of 325 Chihuahuan Ravens around Dell City, Hudspeth 28 Jul (JiP) was an impressive total for summer. An amazing find, and easily the best yard bird to be found thanks to extended time at home due to the pandemic, was a Blue-and-white Swallow in a Progresso Lakes backyard in Hidalgo 20 Jul (ph. DJ). Fortunately, it was still present the next day, so more photographs were obtained (ph. †DJ, ph. MBS) to help document the first record of this South American bird for Texas and the A.B.A. area (pending T.B.R.C. acceptance). Bolstered by large numbers of recent fledglings, 100+ Northern Rough-winged Swallows were lined up on utility wires at Witter Lane 17–19 Jul (RPi, JHa), a record count for Bell. As many as 8 Bushtits wandered west to Lake Six, Lubbock 27–28 Jul (ZS, BSh).

Wrens through Sparrows

Cactus Wrens made a good showing in and near the Panhandle with one near Lake Meredith, Potter 27 Jun (ph., RG), 2–6 near Stinnett, Moore 28 Jun–1 Jul (ph. ME, ph. RG, DSm), and one at Caprock Canyons S.P., Briscoe 28 Jul (JCu). A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher seen in Bee 19 Jun (CCr, JMa), along with a single bird at Live Oak Park in Ingleside, San Patricio 2 Jun (SkC), and 2 along Cannon Road, Cameron 24 Jun (MS) may have been local breeders. Perplexing was a lone bird seen at Blucher Park in Corpus Christi, Nueces 6 Jun (WS). A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher found along Montgomery Road, Fort Bend 23 Jun was south of the known breeding range (JWi).

Along the western edge of potential their breeding range were 2 Eastern Bluebirds at Yellowhouse Canyon, Lubbock 21 Jun (BoS). A heard-only and rather unseasonal thrush on the west side of Round Rock, Williamson 25 Jun (audio, LM) sounded very much like a Hermit Thrush. Surprising was a Gray Catbird in an Amarillo area yard, Randall 13 Jun (ph. VW). Quite unusual was a Sage Thrasher near Thompson Grove, Dallam 11 Jul (ph. SG), likely an early dispersing bird from breeding areas to the north & west. A bit late were 3 American Goldfinches below Lake Six, Lubbock 1 Jun (JCr), while another at Palo Duro Canyon S.P., Randall 23 Jul (ph. DSm) was an unseasonal summer report.

A Lark Sparrow at San Bernard N.W.R., Brazoria 2 Jun (ph. WMc) was late for the U.T.C. A female/immature male Lark Bunting at Brazoria N.W.R., Brazoria 18–19 Jul (ph. MCr, ph. SuH, ph. DSt, ph. RW, MH) was just the second summer record for the U.T.C. Ironically, both records were from Brazoria N.W.R. in mid-Jul. Early were 8 Chipping Sparrows along the Purina Mountain Bike Trail, Lubbock 27 Jul (LZ). A sighting of a Dark-eyed Junco at Lake Houston Wilderness Park, Montgomery 13 Jul was most unexpected (†BaN). Quite unseasonal was a White-throated Sparrow detected intermittently through the period in Lindale, Smith (ph. SSa).

Blackbirds through Warblers

A Yellow-headed Blackbird at Gus Engeling W.M.A., Anderson 18 Jun (LB) was a good mid-summer find for the region. A female Yellow-headed Blackbird spotted at Alamo Cottages Bird Sanctuary, Hidalgo 25 Jun (PHe) was odd for the date and location. An unusually plumaged Streak-backed Oriole that perhaps most closely resembled the subspecies found in central America returned to Fort Pena Colorado Park south of Marathon, Brewster for the second straight year 6–21 Jun (ph. CT, m. ob.) Although known to occasionally breed in McLennan, this season at Moody 2 adult Baltimore Orioles were photographed feeding at least 3 nestlings 1 Jun, and fledged birds were photographed 2 Jun (ph. GE). Single Bronzed Cowbirds ranged north to near Weinert, Haskell 7 Jun (RiH) and to Sandy Beach Pecan Plantation, Granbury, Hood 9–11 Jun (WMo, ph.). An estimated 3500 Brown-headed Cowbirds near Dell City, Hudspeth 28 Jul (JiP) was a large total for summer. Unprecedently high summer counts of Brown-headed Cowbirds resided at Sims Lane, Brazos 18–31 Jul, and peaked at 220 on 28 Jul (SK).

An unseasonal or rather late Ovenbird singing at Farwell Country Club, Parmer 13 Jun (audio, GB) was well out of expected breeding range. In the Trans-Pecos, one or more different Louisiana Waterthrushes put in appearances in the Christmas Mountains, Brewster 7–26 Jul (ph. CO), while another was northwest of Shafter, Presidio 23 Jul (ph. CTL), and one more was 10 miles southeast of Fort Davis, Jeff Davis 26 Jul (ph. CPi). A Louisiana Waterthrush below Lake Six, Lubbock 19 Jul (JMi, BSh) and another at Maxey Park, Lubbock 26 Jul (AH) were unusual and a bit early for northwest Texas. Also early was a Black-and-white Warbler in Lubbock, Lubbock 28 Jul (CPo).

A wandering Prothonotary Warbler was east of Boerne, Kendall 25 Jul (BD). Late and west was a Magnolia Warbler at Twin Buttes Reservoir, Tom Green 13–14 Jun (ph. RaH). A Blackburnian Warbler in north San Antonio, Bexar 3 Jun (CCa) was a bit tardy. A Yellow Warbler observed at Llano Grande S.P., Hidalgo 7 Jun (JY) may have been a late spring migrant while one at Pollywog Pond, Nueces 19 Jul (WS, KG) was an early fall migrant. A first record in Jun for Bell, a Yellow Warbler was at Fort Hood East Range 7 Jun (†RPi). A singing Yellow Warbler at Trinity N.W.R., Liberty 10 Jun was late (BDu). Early Black-throated Gray Warblers were in El Paso, 19–20 Jul in El Paso (JiP) and at Franklin Mountains S.P. 24 Jul (DDo). A Hermit Warbler was a great late-summer find at Davis Mountains S.P., Jeff Davis 30 Jul (ph. DBr). Different lone Golden-cheeked Warblers made their way to Boot Canyon, Big Bend N.P., Brewster 20 Jun (JB) and 30 Jun (ph. TH). A migrating Golden-cheeked Warbler that dropped in briefly at the Birding and Nature Center, South Padre Island, Cameron 17 Jul (ph. JGo) was a great find.

A Red-faced Warbler that lingered in Boot Canyon, Big Bend N.P., Brewster 27 Jun–1 Jul (ph. WEg, m. ob.) was a real prize. A Slate-throated Redstart in Boot Canyon, Big Bend N.P., Brewster 16 Jun (ph. CH) was presumably a member of last year’s returning pair; sightings of this year’s bird were few though, with the last one coming on 19 Jun (ML).

Tanagers through Buntings

A female Summer Tanager present at Blucher Park, Nueces 19 Jul (WS) was at an odd location for the date. A few Western Tanagers regularly drift through El Paso in Jul, but this was more pronounced and widespread this year, likely a reflection of dry conditions in New Mexico mountains. Elsewhere, evidence of this early dispersal included one Western Tanager along Armadillo Road, Hockley 13 Jul (WW) and another that wandered east to Boerne, Kendall 22 Jul (ph. KM). A late Rose-breasted Grosbeak was at Estero Llano Grande S.P., Hidalgo 3 Jun (DA, NF); a male in El Paso 12–21 Jul (JiP, ph.) was the first Jul record for El Paso. Black-headed Grosbeaks were seen at many sites in El Paso from late Jun+ (m. ob.). Though the species does not nest in El Paso it is normal to encounter some birds in summer. However, the greater numbers this year likely reflected dry conditions in New Mexico mountains. A Lazuli Bunting at Junction’s Schreiner Park, Kimble 19 Jun (JWe) was an unexpected find.

Report processed by José R. Ramírez-Garofalo on 17 October 2020.