Texas: Summer 2021
Summer 2021: 1 Jun–31 Jul
Carpenter, E. 2021. Summer 2021: Texas. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-c5u> North American Birds.
After consecutive fall, winter, and spring season reports that had incredible numbers of noteworthy birds, this Texas summer report is a bit lighter, as rarity-finding seems to have dropped-off to normal levels once again. A wetter than average spring in the eastern two-thirds of the state set up decent and occasionally lush breeding habitat there. Unfortunately, the story was different in the Trans-Pecos, where drought continued into early summer causing many birds there to skip nesting. By the last week of June, the monsoonal rains finally came to much of the Trans-Pecos and had a visible impact, turning much of the brown landscape into one with green and color. El Paso received 22.7cm of welcome precipitation 15 Jun–14 Aug, the second wettest on record for that time period. Thus, by the end of the Jul, the overall drought status of the entire state was as good as it has been at the end of summer in several years, with Big Bend being the only region considered to be in Moderate Drought (or higher).
The major story was that Limpkins continue to expand into Texas. Following the first state occurrence in Fort Bend Co in May, this summer saw four additional records come to light. Copulation and a nest-site have been observed at the original Fort Bend location and breeding is almost certainly to follow soon. Real state-wide rarities were few as is typically the case in many summers, but a semi-cooperative Green-breasted Mango was the main attraction as it afforded nice views for most folks that tried for it during its 12-day stay in Nueces Co.
As seems to be the trend lately, notable were numerous late spring migrants into Jun that might be better classified as lost migrants that probably never made it to their breeding grounds. We also find that there are still under-birded pockets of the state that can yield surprising resident or breeding birds. A weekend trip to the Eagle Mountains, a mostly inaccessible mountain range in southern Hudspeth Co that has probably never been surveyed well by birders, has several highlights of that variety mentioned below.
Steve Cardiff (eastern Trans-Pecos, email: firstname.lastname@example.org), Eric Carpenter (Central Texas, email: email@example.com), Bert Frenz (Central Oaks and Prairies, email: firstname.lastname@example.org), Anthony Hewetson (Panhandle and South Plains, email: email@example.com), Jim Paton (El Paso and Hudspeth Counties, email: firstname.lastname@example.org), Ross Rasmussen (North-central Texas, email: email@example.com), David Sarkozi (Photo editor, email: firstname.lastname@example.org), Willie Sekula (South Texas, email: email@example.com), Ron Weeks (Upper Texas Coast, email: firstname.lastname@example.org), David Wolf (East Texas/Pineywoods, email: email@example.com)
UTC (Upper Texas Coast).
Waterfowl through Sanderling
A Wood Duck at Aransas NWR, Aransas Co 18 Jul (Bob Showler) might have been a post-breeding wanderer. A pair of Wood Ducks at Independence Creek Preserve, Terrell Co 1 Jun (ph. Rich Kostecke et al.) were either very late or attempting to breed in the area; there are only a few previous summer occurrences for the region. A male Cinnamon Teal observed at Tiocano Lake, Cameron Co 8 Jun (Evan Farese) was noteworthy for early summer. A summering pair of Gadwalls at Musquiz Creek, Jeff Davis Co, first noted during May, remained through the period, with both individuals present to at least 4 Aug and the male present to at least 9 Aug (ph. Carolyn Ohl et al.); there were no indications of breeding activity. An unseasonal male Ring-necked Duck was near Brazos Bend SP, Fort Bend Co 30 Jun (Troy Hibbitts, Marla Hibbitts). The male Lesser Scaup, present through the spring at Horizon City, El Paso Co continued through the period (ph. Michael Harvey, m. ob.). Another male Lesser Scaup was at Del Rio, Val Verde Co 14 Jun (ph. Mike Miller) and 28 Jun (ph. Brigitte Brantley). A male Surf Scoter at Bolivar Flats, Galveston Co 24 Jun (Pete Deichmann) was the latest ever for the UTC. A late female Hooded Merganser was at the Katy Prairie Conservancy’s Indiangrass Preserve, Waller Co 7 Jun (Stephen Gast). A Red-breasted Merganser found on Rubbersnake Island, Kleberg Co 22 Jul (ph. Justin LeClaire) was likely a summering bird. More unusual away from the coast, another was at Walter E. Long Lake, Travis Co 22–28 Jun (ph. Jeff Osborne, Janet Davis). A White-tipped Dove at Independence Creek Preserve 1 Jun (Eric Carpenter) was just the third for Terrell Co; all so far have been heard-only individuals.
Mexican Violetears put in appearances northwest of Leakey, Real Co 17–18 Jun (ph. Mike Woods, Pam Woods), at Boerne, Kendall Co 24–25 Jun (ph. Dick Park), and at Mission, Hidalgo Co 18 Jul (Candy Welliver, ph. Kristy Baker et al.). An immature Green-breasted Mango that graced a yard in Calallen, Nueces Co 6–17 Jul (ph. Clay Taylor, m. ob.) was enjoyed by well over 100 birders. A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird in a Lubbock yard, Lubbock Co 25–29 Jul (Anthony Hewetson) was a bit early there. A female Black-chinned Hummingbird in Sugar Land, Fort Bend Co 31 Jul (ph. Robert Opperman) was the earliest ever documented for the UTC. An adult male Anna’s Hummingbird in the Davis Mountains west of Fort Davis, Jeff Davis Co 30 Jul, and joined by a female there 31 Jul, were the only reports of the season (ph. Jeff Sexton, ph. Nick A. Komar Jr., Beth McBroom, Barbara Pankratz). An adult male Costa’s Hummingbird in the Davis Mountains west of Fort Davis 7 Jul+ (ph. Maryann Eastman, Marc Eastman et al.) was only the second ever documented for Jeff Davis Co and just the second summer record for the state. A relatively early-arriving southbound migrant adult male Calliope Hummingbird was in the Davis Mountains west of Fort Davis, Jeff Davis Co 4 Jul (Steven W. Cardiff, ph. Donna L. Dittmann). Less expected outside the mountains of the Trans-Pecos in late summer, other early Calliope Hummingbirds included one in Midland, Midland Co 24–26 Jul (ph. Greg Palko) and another southeast of Lorenzo, Crosby Co 26–29 Jul (ph. Mark Lockwood).
Also relatively early was an adult male Rufous Hummingbird in the Davis Mountains west of Fort Davis, Jeff Davis Co 29 Jun–4 Jul, with an adult female at the same location 3 Jul, and a different adult female there 4 Jul (Steven W. Cardiff, ph. Donna L. Dittmann). Additional early Rufous Hummingbirds were detected in Lubbock, Lubbock Co 6 Jul (Anthony Hewetson) and in northwest Austin, Travis Co 7 Jul (Jane Tillman). An adult male Broad-billed Hummingbird that first appeared 12 Apr in the Davis Mountains west of Fort Davis, Jeff Davis Co was last reported 18 Jul (ph. Dell Little, D. D. Currie, Cecilia Riley). A (presumably) different adult male was a one-day-wonder at nearby Davis Mountains SP 28 Jun (ph. Steve Whitmer, Sue Whitmer). The Buff-bellied Hummingbird in New Braunfels, Comal Co in mid-May remained until at least 3 Jun (Rebekah Rylander). Summer records for Sora are quite rare in the state, especially away from the coast, so two vocalizing west of Bryan, Brazos Co 15 Jul (Meredith Anderson) were noteworthy. Only first documented in the state in May, Limpkins appear to be here to stay. As many as four Limpkins continued on property adjacent to Brazos Bend SP, Fort Bend Co through the period (m. ob.), where copulation was reported 7 Jul (Brad Shine) and documented 9 Jul (ph. Henry Jerng). No confirmed breeding yet but that is almost certain to happen. Taking into consideration the way the species has been expanding in Louisiana, it was still somewhat unexpected to have two Limpkins reach north-central Texas, with one in Sherman, Grayson Co 3–4 Jun (ph. Rick McCoy) and the other at Garner, Parker Co 4–5 Jun (ph. Judy Holbrook). Back on the UTC, another Limpkin was discovered at Anahuac NWR, Chambers Co 9 Jul (ph. Timothy Freiday) while at least four appear to have settled in at Sheldon Lake SP, Harris Co 17 Jul+ (ph. Tom Rollins, m. ob.).
A tardy American Golden-Plover was at the Cone Playa, Crosby Co 6 Jun (Sheri Anderson, ph. Anthony Hewetson) while another the same day at Twin Buttes Reservoir, Tom Green Co (ph. Randy Hesford) only had one leg. A lone Piping Plover stopped at Hornsby Bend, Travis Co 20 Jul (ph. Jeff Osborne, Janet Davis). A count of 164 Wilson’s Plovers made at Charlie’s Pasture, Nueces Co 18 Jul (Justin LeClaire) was encouraging along with 87 tallied in Oso Bay, Nueces Co 28 Jul (Mel Cooksey). Although breeding has not been confirmed at the location, the presence of two pairs of Snowy Plovers at Amistad National Recreation Area, Val Verde Co 4 Jun (ph. Troy Hibbitts, Marla Hibbitts) was suggestive and added to a few previous late spring-early summer occurrences for the area. An Upland Sandpiper heard calling multiple times near Hebert Road, Waller Co 18 Jun constitutes a rare summer record for the UTC (John Berner, Mikayla House). Nineteen Long-billed Curlews at Marfa, Presidio Co 26 Jun (ph. Scotty Lofland, Bryan Box) was a sizeable group for early southbound migrants. A lingering Hudsonian Godwit was at Laguna Atascosa NWR, Cameron Co 4–5 Jun (ph. Dan Jones, Tamie Bulow). A breeding plumaged Red Knot spotted on the beach at Padre Island National Seashore, Kleberg Co 5 Jun (ph. Willie Sekula) was a late migrant while 79 tallied along the beach in Kenedy Co 10 Jul (ph. Greg Cook, Steve Glover) were mostly in basic plumage, thus indicating non-breeders that decided to stay in Texas. A Sanderling at O. C. Fisher Lake, Tom Green Co 2–3 Jun (ph. Christopher Daniels) was a late northbound migrant while another at Hornsby Bend, Travis Co 21–22 Jul (ph. Richard Kaskan) was rather early for a returning bird.
Peeps through Woodpeckers
A Baird’s Sandpiper at Terlingua, Brewster Co 3 Jun (ph. Jane Tillman, Mark Lyon), and five at Amistad National Recreation Area, Val Verde Co 4 Jun (ph. Troy Hibbitts, Marla Hibbitts) provided some of the latest-ever well-documented spring occurrences for the Trans-Pecos. Elsewhere, late stragglers included one southeast of Oakville, Live Oak Co 13 Jun (Sheridan Coffey, Willie Sekula, Martin Reid) and another at Hornsby Bend, Travis Co 22–23 Jun (ph. Jane Tillman). Rare but regular, three White-rumped Sandpipers in Horizon City, El Paso Co 3 Jun (Michael Harvey) were in the expected late spring window. A one-legged Pectoral Sandpiper at Hornsby Bend, Travis Co 23 Jun (ph. Jeff Osborne, Jeff Davis) was almost certainly a non-breeder. Four Solitary Sandpipers near Dumont, Cottle Co 7 Jul (Scotty Lofland) were a notable count for early south-bound birds. Only the second summer record for Brazos Co, two Willets were at Lake Bryan 28 Jun (ph. Rhett Raibley); one at Independence Creek Preserve 14 Jul (ph. Nathaniel Watkins et al.) was possibly the first occurrence of a fall migrant for Terrell Co. Along the coast, a Wilson’s Phalarope at Port Arthur, Jefferson Co 23 Jun (ph. Timothy Freiday) and three more at Bahia Grande, Cameron Co 27 Jun (Javi Gonzalez) were perhaps fall migrants. An adult Parasitic Jaeger was reported offshore from Port Aransas, Nueces Co 5 Jun (Jon McIntyre). Quite unseasonal was a non-breeding plumaged Sabine’s Gull offshore almost 30 miles southeast of Port Aransas, Nueces Co 29 Jun (ph. Andrew Orgill, Rylee Gonzales); it may well be a first photo-documented summer record in the state. Five Laughing Gulls at Amistad National Recreation Area, Val Verde Co 4 Jun (ph. Troy Hibbitts, Marla Hibbitts) were conceivably some of the same individuals present in that area the preceding spring.
A Bridled Tern was picked up at the Corpus Christi Marina on Corpus Christi Bay, Nueces Co 11 Jul and brought to the Animal Rehabilitation Keep; unfortunately, the bird died (fide Andrew Orgill; specimen to Texas A&M). A Least Tern was a nice find at White River Lake, Crosby Co 3 Jun (ph. Mark Lockwood). A surprisingly scarce visitor to the eastern Trans-Pecos, a Caspian Tern at Balmorhea Lake, Reeves Co 13 Jul (ph. Anita Meagher) was only about the second photo-documented summer occurrence. An Elegant Tern was a great find at Magnolia Beach, Calhoun Co 10 Jul (ph. John Maresh). The lingering Common Loon on Lake Travis, Travis Co through 6 Jun likely over-summered as one was found again there 4–5 Jul (ph. Vincent O’Brien). A Great Shearwater just off the Freeport jetties, Brazoria Co 14 Jul was a county first (ph. Jana Stutzman, Ray Stutzman). Another or the same bird was photographed offshore near the Galveston jetties, Galveston Co 19 Jul (ph. Shane Cantrell). A group of 120 Wood Storks seen near Hebbronville, Jim Hogg Co 24 Jun (Jenna Hatfield) was impressive for a location away from the coastal plains. Likewise, impressive kettles totaling 200+ Wood Storks were near the Navasota River east of College Station, Brazos Co 26–29 Jun (Bill Eisele, Rhett Raibley). An impressive count of 118 Magnificent Frigatebirds was tallied at Smith Point, Chambers Co 28 Jul (Sonny Bratz). A healthy immature Masked Booby was on the beach at San Luis Pass, Galveston Co 26 Jun (Cin-Ty Lee). A Masked Booby well inland on Bowie Lake, Montague Co 10 Jun (ph. Debbie Ashley) was a real shocker; with one found last summer in Denton Co, this is a surprising second record for north-central Texas.
It is still difficult to get used to the idea of inland Brown Boobies, but they continue to show up. Central Texas had four this season with an adult on a small pond between Grapetown and Luckenbach, Gillespie Co 9–20 Jun (ph. Matthew Underwood, Justin Bosler), a pair of adults detected as they briefly flew around the ponds at Hornsby Bend, Travis Co 26 Jun (Eric Stager, ph. Matthew Law et al.), and an immature at the Canyon Lake Dam, Comal Co 18 Jun–6 Jul (ph. Greg Steeves, m. ob.). Offshore, four Brown Boobies were around near-shore oilrigs off North Padre Island, Kleberg Co 18 Jul (Dale Gawlik). Possibly the first documented to over-summer in Jeff Davis Co, a Double-crested Cormorant was at Musquiz Creek from May-early Jun (ph. Chris Pipes, m. ob.), with up to three individuals there 16 Jun+ (ph. Carolyn Ohl, m. ob.). American White Pelicans summered in above average numbers on the UTC as evidenced by 250 at Baytown, Harris Co 5 Jun (Cin-Ty Lee) and 135 at Brazoria NWR, Brazoria Co 26 Jun (ph. Ron Weeks). A Brown Pelican wandered inland all the way to Ransom Lake, Lubbock Co 27 Jun–20 Jul (Sheri Anderson, ph. Jim Crites, m. ob.). An American Bittern in Freeport, Brazoria Co 1–2 Jun (Ryan Locke) was unusual but not unprecedented for a wet summer. A Least Bittern was at Rio Bosque Wetlands Park, El Paso Co 30 Jun–10 Jul (John Sproul); appropriate habitat for this rare El Paso area breeder is sporadic at best and few, if any, sites are reliable year to year. The Tricolored Heron from spring at Keystone Wetlands Park, El Paso Co continued through 9 Jun (m. ob.), with another appearing at Rio Bosque Wetlands Park, El Paso Co 4 Jun (John Sproul). A roost south of Slaton, Lubbock Co held impressive numbers of waders, including high counts of 2908 Cattle Egrets and 226 Black-crowned Night-Herons 13–15 Jul (Glenda Kelly, Anthony Hewetson, Sheri Anderson).
An Osprey at Independence Creek Preserve, Terrell Co 12 Jul (Ryan Smith) was a very rare summer visitor to west Texas. Swallow-tailed Kites nested again at Ganado, Jackson Co; up to seven birds were present (m. ob.). A Cooper’s Hawk below Lake Six in Lubbock, Lubbock Co 18 Jun (Jim Crites), another near Afton, Dickens Co 8 Jul (Scotty Lofland), and two at White River Lake, Crosby Co 22 Jul (Mark Lockwood) were indicative of the species’ increased summer presence on the High Plains. A Mississippi Kite near Brownsville, Cameron Co 8 Jun (ph. Mary Beth Stowe, Hud Baker) may have been a lost or very late migrant. Mississippi Kites have likely been breeding in Travis Co since 2015 though few actual nests have been located. While confirming an active nest with two fledglings just west of downtown Austin 14–17 Jul, as many as 18 individuals including several adult and one year old birds were seen in the area (ph. Bret Whitney). A Common Black Hawk at Yellowhouse Canyon, Lubbock Co 19 Jun (Sheri Anderson, ph. Anthony Hewetson) was exceptionally out of range; interesting that a pair did breed at this location in the early 1980s. Continuing since late 2018, a pair of Harris’s Hawks, accompanied by a juvenile, were at the Alpine cemetery, Brewster Co 1 Jul (Bill Sain). A Broad-winged Hawk at Santa Ana NWR, Hidalgo Co 7 Jun (Tim Brush, John Brush) was likely a late migrant. Two Red-headed Woodpeckers were a good find at Yellowhouse Canyon, Lubbock Co 7 Jun (Drew Harvey). A Golden-fronted Woodpecker was just west of expected range at Lamb County Sandhills Historical Marker south of Springlake, Lamb Co 20 Jun (ph. Bradley Banner). Unusual for mid-summer was a Northern (Yellow-shafted) Flicker in Snyder, Scurry Co 24 Jun (ph. Scotty Lofland). A Pileated Woodpecker present on the King Ranch, Kleberg Co 2–5 Jun (ph. Tom Langschied et al.) was well away from the closest known breeding locations along the Guadalupe River drainage to the north.
Caracaras through Thrashers
A Crested Caracara along Highway 385 south of Marathon, Brewster Co 8 Jun (ph. Wesley Hochachka), added to the growing swarm of reports from between Marathon and Big Bend NP. The only nesting pair of American Kestrels in Brazos Co again produced fledglings in College Station 3 Jun, mated again 17–18 Jun, and were on the nest again 5 Jul (Linda Hale). A pair at Alcoa Lake 24 Jun and a family group there 21 Jul (Sean Mecredy, Autumn Russell) suggested another successful brood at Milam Co. Although there has been no direct evidence of nesting in McLennan Co, this season a single American Kestrel was territorial on the Baylor University campus in Waco 8 Jun–30 Jul (Randolph King). A juvenile Peregrine Falcon was seen eating one of the released Aplomado Falcons (!) on Padre Island National Seashore, Kleberg Co 23 Jun (Spencer England). In addition to the nesting pairs present all period at Ascarate Park, El Paso Co (m. ob.), two Tropical Kingbirds were audiotaped in extreme western El Paso Co 16 Jul (ph. John Groves, John Kiseda). The species seems to be expanding its base in the county but additional nesting sites have yet to be found. Another hint of expansion in west Texas was a well-documented Tropical Kingbird at Kermit, Winkler Co 24 Jun (ph., audio Scotty Lofland, Bryan Box). On the UTC, a vocalizing Tropical Kingbird west of Sabine Pass, Jefferson Co 30 Jun+ (audio Timothy Freiday) may have been one of the birds still present from last year’s sightings there. The second McLennan Co record of Couch’s Kingbird dates to 1 Nov 2019 and had been seen periodically at the Baylor University campus ever since, last reported 11 Jun (Anand Chaudhary). A Couch’s Kingbird between Twin Buttes Reservoir and O. C. Fisher Lake, Tom Green Co 8–14 Jun (ph. Christopher Daniels) may be a pioneering bird looking to expand the species’ range; one was seen nearby in early May as well.
An Eastern Kingbird present at South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, Cameron Co 15 Jun (Bill Beaty) was an oddity for the date and location as was one on El Sauz Ranch, Kenedy Co 21 Jun (Isaac Grosner, Ari Rice). In the southern portion of the Trans-Pecos, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers are regular breeders at least locally west to northwestern Brewster Co, but the species is rare in summer in adjacent Jeff Davis Co. During 2021, at least 1–2 individuals were repeatedly documented along Highway 118 in Jeff Davis Co just west of the Brewster Co line 6 Jun–11 Jul (ph. Carolyn Ohl, Dale Ohl et al.), with an active nest monitored 28 Jun–7 Jul (Steven W. Cardiff, ph. Donna L. Dittmann, ph. Carolyn Ohl). The nest, possibly a first for Jeff Davis Co, was determined to be abandoned by 9 Jul (Carolyn Ohl). A very late Olive-sided Flycatcher visited Estero Llano Grande SP, Hidalgo Co 19 Jun (ph. John Yochum) while a relatively early Olive-sided Flycatcher was at the Davis Mountains Preserve, Jeff Davis Co 31 Jul (ph. Jeff Sexton, ph. Nick A. Komar Jr., Beth McBroom, Barbara Pankratz). A Greater Pewee near Boot Spring, Chisos Mountains, Big Bend NP, Brewster Co 11 Jun (ph. Jim Collins) was apparently a first summer occurrence for Texas away from the Davis Mountains. Three to four Western Wood-Pewees in the Eagle Mountains, Hudspeth Co 17–18 Jul (Michael Harvey) was noteworthy; this date would be very early for migrants and the birds were presumably on nesting territory, something not known for the county though this area had not been checked in summer before. Single vocalizing Eastern Wood-Pewees at White River Lake, Crosby Co 3 Jun (Mark Lockwood) and at Yellowhouse Canyon, Lubbock Co 7 Jun (Drew Harvey) were surprising as most wood-pewees this far west are Westerns.
A Cordilleran Flycatcher in El Paso, El Paso Co 13 Jun (Jim Paton) was getting late even for this notoriously late migrant; an Empidonax photographed by a trail camera in an El Paso yard, El Paso Co 11 Jun (Barry Zimmer) was probably this species. Well north of core breeding areas, a Vermilion Flycatcher at Buffalo Lake NWR, Randall Co 7 Jun (ph. Sonja Mendoza) was surprising. A White-eyed Vireo at White River Lake, Crosby Co 6 Jun (Sheri Anderson, Anthony Hewetson) was perhaps the same out of range individual from the spring. A singing Yellow-throated Vireo was unusually far west at Davis Mountains SP, Jeff Davis Co 16–21 Jun (ph. Steve Whitmer, Sue Whitmer et al.). A Plumbeous Vireo in the Eagle Mountains, Hudspeth Co 17 Jul (Michael Harvey) was presumed on breeding territory, something not confirmed for the county. A singing Yellow-green Vireo south of Olmito, Cameron Co 29 Jun (audio Mary Beth Stowe) was the only one reported. The nine Tamaulipas Crows around the Brownsville Landfill, Cameron Co had dwindled to just two birds by Jun, with the last sighting 19 Jun (ph. Jerry Dominguez). A lone Chihuahuan Raven at Powderhorn Ranch, Calhoun Co 4 Jun (Daniel Walker) was at an odd location well away from the species usual haunts much further west. A Common Raven was well-described and seen for comparison with Chihuahuan Ravens at the Sierra Blanca landfill, Hudspeth Co 18 Jul (Michael Harvey); there are few well-documented records for El Paso or Hudspeth Cos. Unexpected were 1–2 Carolina Chickadees at White River Lake, Crosby Co 15–26 Jun (Mark Lockwood, Drew Harvey, Anthony Hewetson) where the species was formerly regular but is rarely found in recent years. A titmouse seen poorly but audiotaped in the Eagle Mountains, Hudspeth Co 18 Jul (Michael Harvey) was believed to be a Juniper Titmouse, which would be a first county record. Black-crested Titmouse was recorded here in the 1990s.
Up to three Bushtits were in the Eagle Mountains, Hudspeth Co 17–18 Jul (ph. Michael Harvey), their westernmost outpost in Texas. Cedar Waxwings staying into early Jun is not unusual but noteworthy were several in late Jun including one at Dagger Point at Aransas NWR, Aransas Co 20 Jun (Bob Showler), another on Fort Hood, Coryell 22 Jun (Charlie Plimpton, Chelsea Plimpton), two at Chisos Basin, Big Bend NP, Brewster Co 26 Jun (ph. Sebastian Jones et al.), and a single near Girvin, Pecos Co 27 Jun (Scotty Lofland, Bryan Box). A White-breasted Nuthatch was present at one of the few semi-reliable spots for it in central Texas along the Little River east of Holland, Bell Co 24–26 Jul (ph. Sheridan Coffey, ph. Martin Reid); additional individuals farther down river east of Val Verde, Milam Co 23 Jul (Jeremy Webster) and in Temple, Bell Co 31 Jul (Jeremy Webster) hint that there might be a small population in the area. Another White-breasted Nuthatch near Camp Swift, Bastrop Co 4 Jun (ph. Brian Burgoyne) was also a good find. A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in the Eagle Mountains, Hudspeth Co 18 Jul (ph. Michael Harvey) carrying food was perhaps the first county breeding record; appropriate habitat exists in the Eagles and the Sierra Diablo, but access has not been available. A House Wren lingering in El Paso, El Paso Co through at least 4 Jun (Grant Paton) was several weeks late. Two summer records of Gray Catbird in El Paso Co were a surprise: at Franklin Mountains SP 12 Jun (ph. Cesar Mensez) and in El Paso 7 Jul (ph. Barry Zimmer). A Brown Thrasher at Sundown, Hockley Co 1 Jul (ph. John Berner, Drew Dickert) was west of known breeding areas.
Bluebirds through Buntings
Along the western edge of their breeding range in northwest Texas, up to four pairs of Eastern Bluebirds bred in Yellowhouse Canyon, Lubbock Co 1 Jun+ with at least two successful nests documented (ph. Jim Crites, ph. Joe Cochran, m. ob.). A Hermit Thrush in a Lubbock yard, Lubbock Co 3–5 Jun (Jordan Cochran) was rather late. Outside of regular breeding range, a singing Wood Thrush at Frisco, Collin Co 29 Jun–8 Jul (ph. Jason Hunt) was unexpected. A well-documented Clay-colored Thrush in the Davis Mountains west of Fort Davis, Jeff Davis Co 5 Jun (ph. Lorrie Lowrie) was a county first, and only about the fourth overall and second summer regional occurrence from west of the Del Rio area. After the preceding state-wide winter-spring influx, Pine Siskins lingered into the early summer, mostly in and around the Trans-Pecos mountain ranges. Notable counts included up to 26 at a feeding station in the Davis Mountains west of Fort Davis, Jeff Davis 1–2 Jun (Dell Little, D. D. Currie), as many as 17 at Independence Creek Preserve, Terrell Co 1–2 Jun (Rich Kostecke et al.), and 11 at Chisos Basin, Big Bend NP, Brewster Co 1 Jun (Peter R. Engler). Late reports included one at Palo Duro Canyon SP, Randall Co 13 Jun (Matt Haberkorn), another near Quanah, Hardeman Co 15 Jun (John Pike), and 1–2 at Chisos Basin, Big Bend NP, Brewster Co 18 Jun (Ryan Pierce, Mary Beth Stowe). An injured bird remained in Lampasas, Lampasas Co 12 Jul (Daniel Lodges). A Lesser Goldfinch first found in the spring period lingered at Friendswood, Galveston Co until 2 Jun becoming the first ever summer record for the UTC (Steve Berenzweig).
An adult male American Goldfinch in the Davis Mountains west of Fort Davis, Jeff Davis 4 Jun (Dell Little, D. D. Currie) was late; two at Riverpark in Richmond, Fort Bend Co 16 Jun (Mark Scheuerman) were rare for mid-summer. The Olive Sparrow that wandered north to Lockhart SP, Caldwell Co in late May apparently lingered during the summer with additional sightings there 24–28 Jun (audio Tim Brush, audio Shelia Hargis). A Chipping Sparrow north of Lorenzo, Crosby Co (Mark Lockwood) and another in El Paso, El Paso Co both 3 Jun (Liz Walsh) were running late. An unseasonal Dark-eyed Junco was still near Follett, Lipscomb Co 6 Jun (Barrett Pierce). A Savannah Sparrow along the Barton Creek Greenbelt in southwest Austin, Travis Co 11 Jun–2 Jul (ph. Caleb Helsel) appeared unhealthy as it seemed to have difficulties flying. Three Spotted Towhees were in the Eagle Mountains, Hudspeth Co 17–18 Jul (ph. Michael Harvey) where they presumably nest. At least 15 reports of Yellow-headed Blackbirds scattered over Jeff Davis, Presidio, Brewster, and Val Verde Cos 27 Jun–18 Jul (m. ob.) suggested an unusually early southward movement into the region. Two Bronzed Cowbirds at Buffalo Lake NWR, Randall Co 4–18 Jul (ph. Sue Smith, Doug Smith, Vicki Wilmarth) were pushing the northern edge of the species’ range. Late was an Ovenbird at Hornsby Bend, Travis Co 5 Jun (ph. River Corcoran). A bit west of the species’ range and also a bit early and westerly for a migrant, a Louisiana Waterthrush at Spring Creek Park in San Angelo, Tom Green Co 12–13 Jul (ph. Christopher Daniels) was a noteworthy find. Only the third record for Limestone Co, a Swainson’s Warbler at Fort Parker SP 9 Jun (ph. Richard Kaskan) was singing as if on territory, though this is not a known breeding location.
A MacGillivray’s Warbler at Rio Bosque Wetlands Park, El Paso Co 13 Jun (Liz Walsh) was several weeks past expected departure dates, though there are previous early Jun records for the county. An American Redstart along Walnut Creek in north Austin, Travis Co 8 Jun (Kenneth Bader) was tardy. A stray first year male American Redstart was in the Davis Mountains west of Fort Davis, Jeff Davis Co 21 Jun (ph. Barbara Pankratz, Lorrie Lowrie, Crystal Ledezma). Also running rather late was a Magnolia Warbler at Fort Hood, Bell Co 16 Jun (audio Charlie Plimpton). A male Bay-breasted Warbler was a bit tardy at the Valley Land Fund Lots South Padre Island, Cameron Co 8 Jun (ph. Daniel Berra). A female Blackpoll Warbler in Port Aransas, Nueces Co yard 22 Jun (Warren Pulich, Jr.) was exceptionally late. Lingering or late Yellow-rumped (Audubon’s) Warblers included one at Marathon, Brewster Co 9–11 Jun (ph. Emma Mathis, ph. Carolyn Ohl, ph. Dale Ohl), one in El Paso, El Paso Co 11 Jun (Dan Belcher), two at Yellowhouse Canyon, Lubbock Co 13 Jun (Sheri Anderson, ph. Anthony Hewetson), and two more at Ascarate Park in El Paso, El Paso Co 16 Jun (John Kiseda). A Yellow-throated Warbler along Spring Creek in Mertzon, Irion Co 5 Jun (ph. Jane Tillman) was an outlier away from known breeding areas.
An early migrant Prairie Warbler was at Sabine Woods, Jefferson Co 28 Jul (John Haynes). A Black-throated Gray Warbler in El Paso, El Paso Co 10 Jun (ph. Barry Zimmer) was very late. Two territorial male Hepatic Tanagers along with a female were a surprise in the upper Eagle Mountains, Hudspeth Co 17–18 Jul (ph. Michael Harvey). Breeding is not known or suspected in the county, but this area had not been checked before in summer. A Pyrrhuloxia near Childress, Childress Co 7 Jul (Scotty Lofland) was a bit farther north than expected for a summering bird. Another tardy migrant, a Rose-breasted Grosbeak was a nice find near Brackenridge Park in San Antonio, Bexar Co 11 Jun (ph. Elizabeth Walker). A male Black-headed Grosbeak at Palo Duro Canyon SP, Randall Co 29 Jun (Dee Susong) was at an odd location for mid-summer. A Lazuli Bunting at White River Lake, Crosby Co 15 Jun (ph. Mark Lockwood) was a very unusual summer find for northwest Texas. Small numbers of Varied Buntings were in the Eagle Mountains, Hudspeth Co 17–18 Jul (ph. Michael Harvey), further indication the species may be widespread along the northwest corner of its range in Texas.
Report processed by José Ramírez-Garofalo, 20 Nov 2021.