Texas: Winter 2018-2019
1 December – 28 February
Carpenter, E., et al. 2020. Winter 2018-2019: Texas. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-8Z0> North American Birds 73 (2).
Contributors (subregional editors in boldface)
T. Jay Adams (TJA), John Allendorf, Mary Anderson (MAn), Lisa Appelbaum, Marie Asscherick (MAs), Mike Austin (MAu), Don Baker (DBa), Melissa Baker (MBa), Sheryl Barker (SBa), James Barnes (JBa), Kathy Bearden (KBe), Bill Beasley (BBa), Bill Beaty (BiB), Judy Behrens (JBe), Michael Behrens (MBe), David Bell, David Benn (DBe), Susan Bergeson (SBe), John Berner (JoB), Brian Berry, Brandon Best (BrB), John Biddick (JBi), Stephanie Bilodeau (SBi), Gene Blacklock, Jason Bonilla (JaB), Doug Booher (DBo), Aaron Boone (ABo), Justin Bosler (JBo), Robert Boyd (RBo), Marcia Braun (MBr), Ron Braun (RBr), Donald Brightsmith (DoB), David Brotherton (DaB), Luanne Brotherton (LuB), John-Edd Brown (JEB), Lamont Brown (LaB), Tammy Brown, John Brush (JBr), Allen Bryan (ABr), Kelly Bryan (KBr), Marissa Buschow (MBu), Chris Butler, Mike Cameron (MiC), Gene Campbell (GCa), Kris Cannon (KCa), Skip Cantrell (SkC), Steve Cardiff (StC), Eric Carpenter (Central Texas), Maggie Carpenter (MaC), Paula Channel, Jack Childs (JCh), Alyssia Church, Jack Cochran, Sheridan Coffey (SCo), Matt Colbert, Kaia Colestock (KaC), Carlton Collier, Fred Collins, Tom Collins, Mark Conway (MCo), Greg Cook (GCo), Janet Cook (JCo), Mel Cooksey (MeC), Michael B. Cooper (MBC), Kim Cortez (KiC), Jim Crites (JCr), Tripp Davenport (TDa), Nicholas DeMaio (NiD), Dennis Devlin (DeD), Nancy Devlin (NaD), Coen Dexter, Drew Dickert (DrD), Teri Dickinson (TDi), Sandy Dillard, Mike Dillon, Donna Dittman (DoD), Bob Doe (BDo), Jeremey Dominguez, Ted Drozdowski (TDr), Bill Duke (BDu), Kathleen Dvorak, Kim Eckert, Gil Eckrich, Linda Edinger, K. Dean Edwards (KDE), Bill Eisele, Mark Elliott, John Ewan, Sue Ewan, Ed Fair, Stephen Falick, John Faragher, Mike Fast (MFa), Tim Fennell (TFe), Christian Fernandez, Kevin Floyd, Maggie Forbes (MFo), Kent S. Freeman (KSF), Tim Freiday (TFr), Bert Frenz (Central Oaks & Prairies), Bob Friedrichs, Pam Garner, Steve Garner, Kim Garwood, Laura Gast, Stephen Gast (SGa)
Richard Gibbons, Steve Glover (SGl), Javi Gonzalez (JGo), Caleb Gordon, Harold Grabs, Sue Griffin (SGr), Dave Grise, John Groves (JGr), Mary Gustafson, Skye Haas (SkH), Martin Hagne (MaH), Deborah Hailey (DeH), Jim Hailey (JiH), John Hale, Greg Hall, Jeff Hall (JHa), Patty Hallmark (PHa), Chris Hammond (CHa), Bryce Hardway (BHa), Robert Hardway (RHa), Ken Hartman, Dan Harvey, Dave Harvey (DHa), Drew Harvey (DrH), Morgan Hay (MoH), John Haynes (JHy), Sue Heath (SuH), Sheila Hebert (SHe), David Henderson (DHe), Jonathan Henderson (JHe), Randy Hesford (RHe), Anthony Hewetson (AnH) (Northwest Texas – Panhandle and South Plains), Aveline Hewetson (AvH), Troy Hibbitts (THi), Ellen Hildebrandt, Barbara Hines (BHi), Jim Hines (JHi), Petra Hockey (PHo), Doug Hogg (DHo), Lisa Holmes, Joan Holt (JHo), Scott Holt (ScH), Joanie Hubinger (JHb), Mark Hubinger (MHu), Cynthia Hudson (CHu), Johana Huff (JHu), Jason Hunt (JaH), Shannon Husband (SHu), Jesse Huth (JHt), Thomas Hutson (THu), Patsy Inglet (PIn), Tom Inglet, Pat Isaacson (PIs), Eric Isley, Don Jeane (DJe), Thomas W. Johansen (TWJ), Cheryl Johnson, Austin Jones, Dan Jones (DJo), William Kaempfer, Peter Kaestner, Stephen Kasper, Denise Kelley, Gary Kelley, Richard Kinney (RKi), Ray Kirkwood (RaK), John Kiseda, Kendra Kocab, Nick Komar Jr., Ad Konings, Bob Kornegay (BKo), Rich Kostecke (RKo), Brad Krimmel (BKr), Tom Langschied, Matthew Larson (MLa), Ian Layton, Justin LeClaire (JuL), Dominic Le Croissette, Mark Lee (MLe), Rob Lee, Jason Leifester (JaL), Amber Lemons, Manuel De Leon (MDL), Clayton Leopold, Donna Lewis (DLe), Brad Lirette (BLi), Scotty Lofland, Bryce Loschen (BLo), Barry Lyon (BLy), Andrea MacLeod, Neil MacLeod, Robbin Mallett, Alberto Manterola (AlM), William Marengo (WMa), John Mariani (JMa), Ron Martin (RMa), Tricia Martin (TMa), Steve Mayes, Anne Mayville (AMa), Kathryn McAleese (KaM), Kristina McCauley (KrM), Donna McCown (DoM), Dan McCrady (DaM), Wendy McCrady (WMc), Mark McDermott, Todd McGrath (TMc), Liam McGuire, Bonnie McKenzie, Colette Micallef, Paul Micallef, Jennifer Miller (JMi), Vicki Milne, Jake Mohlmann (JMo), Derek Muschalek (DMu), Vincent O’Brien, Kyle O’Haver, Cullen Ondracek, Robert Opperman, Andrew Orgill, Brent Ortego, Dora Ann Ortego (DAO), Sue Orwig, Tira Overstreet, Jay Packer (JaP), Greg Palko (GPa), Sheryl Parker (SPa), Jim Paton (JPA) (Trans-Pecos), Caleb Paul, Laura Paulson, Jim Perkins (JPe), Vaughn Phillips, Barrett Pierce, John Pike (JoP), Randy Pinkston (RPi), David Poortinga, Ray Porter (RPo), Gene Prejean (GPr), Scott Priebe (SPr), Niler Pyeatt, Pablo Quintanilla, Nina Rach (NRa), Jane Ramberg, Ross Rasmussen (North Central Texas), Janet Rathjen (JRa), Richard Redmond (RRe), Avis Reed (AvR), Martin Reid (MRe), Adrian Resh (AdR), Albert Ribes (ARi), James Rieman (JRi), Colton Robbins (CoR), Niki Robertson (NRo), Philip Robinson (PRo), Janice Rodriguez (JRo), Mike Rogan (MRo), Carlos Ross (CaR), Peggy Rudman (PRu), Chris Runk (CRu), Rebekah Rylander (RRy), Isaac Sanchez, Ben Sandifer (BeS), Sarah Sargent (SSa), David Sarkozi (DSa), Rick Schaefer (RSc), Bobby Schat (BSc), Mark Scheuerman (MSc), Steve Schmit (SSc), Bill Schneider (BiS), Julie Schneider (JSc), Willie Sekula (South Texas), Bob Shackleford (BSh), Scott Shaum (SSh), Ryan Shaw (RSh), Nancy Sheard, Jeff Shenot (JSh), Dennis Shepler (DSh), Brad Shine (BrS), Letha Slagle, John Smelser (JSm), Doug Smith (DoS), Sue Smith (SSm), D. Smyth (D.S), Tanya Smythe (TaS), Thomas Smythe (ThS), Carolyn Spidle, Joel Springer, John Sproul (JSp), David Stekoll, Denise Stephens (DeS), David Stevens (DSt), Joyce Stevens (JSt), Harlan Stewart, Mary Beth Stowe (MBS), Michelle Summers (MSu), Jean Suplick (JSu), Romey Swanson (RSw), Bryan Tarbox, William Tarbox, Linda Taylor, Sandi Templeton (SaT), Mark Terry, Sharon Terry (ShT), Rob Thacker (RTh), Jane Tillman, Anne Tindell (ATi), Aaron Tjelmeland (ATj), Peggy Trosper, Robert Truss (RTr), Kirsten Tucker, Tom Unsicker, Gustavo Valero, John VanOrman, John Vanderpoel (JVa), Linda Vegh, Darrell Vollert, Ashley Wahlberg (AsW), Christian Walker, Al Wallace (AlW), Nancy Webber, Jeremy Webster (JWe), Ron Weeks (Upper Texas Coast), Bert Wessling (BWe), Steve Weston (SWe), Ed Wetzel (EWe), Greg Whitaker, Bob White (BWh), John Whittle (JWh), Brad Wier (BWi), Jay Wilbur (JWi), Laura Wilson, David Wolf (DWo) (East Texas Pineywoods), Erik Wolf (EWo), Adam Wood (AdW), Janey Woodley (JWo), Bill Wright (BiW), Brenda Wright (BrW), Sue Wright (SWr), Maria Yanez, Gary Yoder, Tim Young, Kenny Younger, Lena Zappia, Barry Zimmer, Robert Zirl.
L.R.G.V. (Lower Rio Grande Valley); U.T.C. (Upper Texas Coast).
A hybrid Black-bellied x Fulvous Whistling-Duck was in a Progresso, Hidalgo yard 15 Feb (DJo). Fulvous Whistling-Ducks wintered in good numbers at Anahuac N.W.R., Chambers with 125 counted 22 Dec (Anahuac N.W.R. staff) and 100 still there 3 Feb (DHe). The highest ever count of Ross’s Geese for Bell was 500 estimated 11 Jan (RPi) from a flock that included 2,500 Snow Geese at Zane Lake near Rogers. A lone Cackling Goose was found in a flock of Greater White-fronted & Snow Geese at Adams Garden Reservoir, Cameron 22 Jan (ph. PRu); it was seen again 11-13 Feb (MG et al.). Casual was a flock of 5 adult and 5 immature Tundra Swans along F.M. 422, Megagrel, Archer 18 Dec – 1 Jan (SL, ph.), 3 near Wellington, Collingsworth 22 Dec-14 Feb (JEB, ph.), and a flock of 16 at a playa along County Road 143, Crowell, Foard 2 Feb (SL, ph.).
Rare in the county, 9 Wood Ducks at Fort Hancock Reservoir 15 Dec (JPa) were a record high count for Hudspeth. A Mexican Duck wandered to Guy Park, Lubbock 12-21 Jan (DrH, MLe, ph.). A count of 1600 Ring-necked Ducks from Warren Lake, Harris 1 Jan was exceptional (KK, TY, JWo, KT). Locally rare but now annual in the region the past few years in north-central Texas, 2 Surf Scoters wintered at Lake Bridgeport, Runaway Bay, Wise 21 Dec -28 Feb+ (MSu, ph.). A White-winged Scoter frequented the lower basin of Lake O’the Pines, Marion 3 Jan-8 Feb (JiH, DeH, m.ob., ph.). It was an exceptional season for Black Scoters with several large groups and an unusually high percentage being adult males; the cause is unclear, perhaps breeding failures during the breeding season was part of it. A male was off Cedar Springs Park on upper Lake O’the Pines, Upshur 1 Dec (MD, DaB, LuB), only the third record for the Pineywoods and the first since 1990. Other inland Black Scoters included 2 stunning male Black Scoters at Hornsby Bend, Travis 11-27 Dec (ph. EI, m.ob.) and a pair of females off Lake Lewisville Park, Denton 1 Feb (DHa, ph.). Another one was present at Boca Chica, Cameron 8-28 Dec (JuL et al.) provided for a rare winter record for deep South Texas. Elsewhere along the coast, impressive counts were 41 birds from Matagorda Bay Nature Park/Jetty, Matagorda 17 Dec (PHo, EC) and up to 48 Black Scoters reported in Nueces Bay, Nueces in Jan (m.ob.), 50 flying by High Island, Galveston 7 Dec (BLo) and a raft of 40 at Galveston Island S.P., Galveston 17 Feb (ph. BiS, JSc).
The Long-tailed Duck at Mitchell Lake, Bexar from late November lingered there until 19 Dec (m.ob.) while the fall bird at Southside Water Treatment, Dallas remained through the period and until 14 Mar (EWe, m.ob., ph.). Elsewhere, a Long-tailed Duck was at the South Texas Nuclear Plant cooling ponds in Matagorda 17 Dec (ph. JBo, SGa, LG) while another was an unexpected find just a couple miles southeast of Imperial, Pecos 26 Dec (ph. WS). A count of 94 Hooded Mergansers flying up Cocklebur Slough at San Bernard N.W.R., Brazoria at dawn 25 Jan was notable (RW). Common Mergansers irrupted into north-central Texas region this winter. The first of the 6 sighting were up to 6 at Greenville Lakes, Hunt 1 Dec – 14 Jan (RKi, PIs, ph.), 2 at Lake Benbrook, Tarrant 19 Dec + (JA, ph.) with singles from White Rock Lake, Dallas 15 Dec+ (MiC, m.ob., ph.). and n. of Midlothian, Ellis 1-4 Jan (SBa, TDr, ph.). A little farther south, a Common Merganser wandered to just east of Belton, Bell 9 Dec (ph. RPi). Red-breasted Merganser is becoming more of a regular wintering bird in northwest Texas with one in west Lubbock, Lubbock 15 Dec (BSc), 2-5 at Lake Meredith, Hutchinson 11 Dec-10 Feb (FC, JCr, DSh, DoS, SSm), and up to 5 at Lake Meredith, Moore 10 Dec-26 Jan (SCo, MRe, JCr, KG, SGl, BP, WS, MSu).
Grebes through Hummingbirds
A Western Grebe observed 13 Feb (†WT) at Lake Fayette is the third record for Fayette while even farther east was one near Hog Island, Harris 15 Dec (ph. MAu, JoB, DrD, DSa). Two Clark’s Grebes at Lake Meredith, Moore 20 Jan (BP, KG, WS, DoS, SSm) was a nice winter find for the Panhandle while one was east to Lake Buchanan, Llano 10-12 Feb (TJA, VO). Max A. Mandel Golf course near Laredo, Webb was the place to see Red-billed Pigeon this season with up to 20 birds there (m.ob.). Groove-billed Anis were much more conspicuous this winter in South Texas than normal. Up to 14 birds were at Oso Bay Wetlands Preserve, Nueces 4 Dec (BBa) with varying numbers were reported from here the rest of the season. Further inland, 3 were at Lake Findley, Jim Wells in Dec and Jan (TL et al.). The highest count for the L.R.G.V. was 8 near Los Fresnos, Cameron 17 Dec (LP, TU). A single Groove-billed Ani seen in Brooks 11 Dec was late (DJo).
Late and out of place was a day-roosting Common Poorwill in downtown Austin, Travis 9 Dec (ph. BKr). Lingering and perhaps wintering Chuck-will’s-widows were at 2 different locations at San Bernard N.W.R., Brazoria 14 & 16 Dec (WMc, et al.), along Big Slough in Clute, Brazoria 16 Dec (MAu, SGa, LG, CC), and at Sabine Woods, Jefferson 13 Dec, 30 Jan, and 2 Feb (JWh, ph. JS, SM, JHy, ph. MBC). A first-year male Anna’s Hummingbird visited a feeder in a Port O’Connor, Calhoun yard 4 Dec (ph. PHo). There were two Costa’s Hummingbirds in El Paso, El Paso 18 Dec – 8 Feb (BZ, ph.) and 16-19 Dec (JK, ph.). The male Calliope Hummingbird that had previously wintered in New Braunfels, Comal was again present, at least through 31 Dec (ph. DL). An adult male Allen’s Hummingbird wintered again in a Harlingen, Cameron yard (JuL). A banded female Broad-tailed Hummingbird was photographed 25-26 Dec (ph. HS) at a residence near Belton Lakeview Park, Bell. It was banded in Rocky Mountain N.P. 7 Jun 2012 and has been observed at Belton Lake in winter-spring seasons since 2013. An immature male Broad-tailed Hummingbird was reported from Nederland, Jefferson 28 Jan+ (JWh). A male Broad-billed Hummingbird was in El Paso, El Paso 1-2 Jan (LE, JGr, ph.) while a female in Willis, Montgomery 23 Feb was exceptional for East Texas (ph. AdR).
Gallinules through Shorebirds
Only an irregular visitor to the Edwards Plateau, a Common Gallinule was at Love Creek Preserve, Bandera 19 Dec (TC) where the species has been seen in past winters. Only one Purple Gallinule was reported this season in South Texas, a bird at Welder Wildlife Refuge, San Patricio 17 Dec (RaK). Inland Yellow Rails were found at Highlands, Harris 15 Dec (DSa) and along F.M. 443 in Fort Bend 19 Dec (CB, AJ, MLa, AL). Three Black Rails were detected by call on 9 Dec (MeC, SkC), and 2 more birds found 15 Dec (SkC) along the north edge of Nueces Bay, San Patricio, in appropriate salt/brackish marsh habitat; this is a regular, historic site for the species.
Sandhill Crane is a rare and irregular migrant along the eastern edge of the state, so 12 over Antioch, Shelby 3 Dec (SO) were noteworthy; one was low over Alazan Bayou W.M.A., Nacogdoches 9 Dec (DW et al.); and 6 were over Walker 5 Jan (JHe, EWo). Additional sightings east of Dallas included 25 over F.M. 3039, Kaufman 3 Dec (JaH), one flying over Lake Tawakoni S.P., Van Zandt 22 Dec (SPa, DJe) and 16 over Wolf Springs Road, Dallas 29 Dec (DH, DHa). Quite unusual was a Whooping Crane wintering with local Sandhills in and around O’Donnell, Lynn/Dawson 22 Jan+ (ph. m.ob.); perhaps the same one was present nearby in Jan 2017. More expected was one present again near Ricardo, Kleberg 1-28 Dec (SGr et al.) while another near Wallisville, Chambers 15 Feb may have been one of the presumed Louisiana flock birds that eventually settled into the Winnie area this winter (DSa).
Rare and late were four Black-bellied Plover at a playa near Weinert, Haskell 15 Jan (ph. JR). Three Semipalmated Plovers north of Lenorah, Martin 5 Jan (ph. GPa) were unseasonal for being so far inland in mid-winter. A count of 121 Piping Plovers made at Boca Chica, Cameron 17 Feb (JuL) was impressive. Two Wilson’s Plovers wintered at Pass Cavallo, Matagorda Island, Calhoun (PHo) while a count of 25 at Bolivar Flats, Galveston 18 Dec was a good winter total (BLo). A count of 328 Mountain Plovers tallied at a traditional wintering site 15 miles northwest of Pearsall in Frio 19 Feb (TO, NRa) was encouraging for this threatened shorebird. Unexpected were 4 potentially overwintering Snowy Plovers at a playa off near Weinert, Haskell 14 Jan (JR, ph.). A count of 128 Snowy Plovers at Cedar Bayou, Aransas 4 Jan (AO) and 171 at Boca Chica, Cameron 4 Feb (JuL) was impressive. A pair attempted to nest at Charlie’s Pasture, Aransas in mid-February though the eggs failed to hatch (KrM).
A total of 9 Whimbrel at Yacht Basin Road, Galveston 17 Dec was notable (SWr). Surprising for the winter season were 4 Long-billed Curlews near the Lubbock Power Plant, Lubbock 20 Feb (DrH). A Dunlin west of Eldorado, Schleicher 8 Dec (ph. TFr) and 2 east of Stith, Jones 17 Feb (JaP) were exceptionally north for the winter season; one at Sims Cutoff 30 Dec (†MM) was only the ninth record in Brazos since 1969. As in the previous couple of winters, a wintering Buff-breasted Sandpiper were detected again in south Texas. This year, it was a lone bird at Mission Lake, Refugio 8 Jan (ph. BO, DAO). A Pectoral Sandpiper on Follett’s Island, Brazoria 21 Dec was late (TaS, ThS); one near Nome, Jefferson 16 Feb (CHu, RZ) and another at Santa Ana N.W.R., Hidalgo 16 Feb (JHb, MHu) was likely very early migrants. Two lone Solitary Sandpipers were in El Paso, at Rio Bosque Wetlands Park 20 Dec (JWi, ph.) and in west El Paso 1 Jan (MAn, JPa, ph.); the species is casual in winter in the Trans-Pecos. Similarly, another at White River Lake, Crosby 30 Dec (SBe, AvH) was quite unexpected.
Jaegers through Terns
A Parasitic Jaeger was seen off the Surfside Jetty, Brazoria 16 Dec (RW, ph. JWo, BLi). Little Gulls made a strong showing this season in north-central Texas; one first cycle was documented at the White Rock Lake spillway, Dallas 20 Dec-4 Jan (BeS, ph.), a second cycle at White Rock Lake spillway, Dallas 30 Dec+ (CRu, m.ob.), and an adult was observed from Bowman Springs Park, Lake Arlington, Tarrant 31 Dec- 7 Feb (PC, m.ob.), Farther south on the coast, an adult was along the beach in Port Aransas, Nueces 20 Feb (KE, ph. WMa). At least 220 Laughing Gulls were carefully counted at the Lake Livingston dam, Polk/San Jacinto 26 Jan, a very large number for this far inland (DW). A surprise on the Gibbons Creek C.B.C. was 5 Franklin’s Gulls on Gibbons Creek Reservoir, Grimes 20 Dec (†JoB); one was also seen the next day (†ph. GY). A first-cycle Western Gull at the White Rock Lake spillway 21 Feb – 9 Mar (MiC, CRu, ph., m.ob.) was a mega rarity in the state, establishing only the fifth record for Texas and the first for north-central Texas.
Inland, lone California Gulls were at Fort Hancock Reservoir, Hudspeth 15 Dec (JPa), at Kirby Lake, Taylor 18 Jan (JaP), on Lake Nasworthy, Tom Green 16 Feb (JBo), and 2 different individuals at White Rock Lake spillway, Dallas 12-13 Dec (CRu, ph.) and 21-25 Feb (CRu, ph.). On the coast, 2 were at the Brownsville Dump, Cameron 23-25 Feb (ph. MRe, WS) while another was in Port Aransas, Nueces 20 Jan (ph. MRe, SCo). The Herring (Vega) Gull present the previous couple of winters at the Brownsville Dump, Cameron was seen again this winter 25 Feb (ph. DJo). An apparent first winter Herring x Glaucous-winged Gull was picked out of the gull flock at the Brownsville Dump, Cameron 25 Feb (ph. AO, fide MRe, WS). A first winter Herring x Glaucous (Nelson’s) Gull was a surprising find at the Zapata County Landfill, Zapata 8 Feb (ph. KBr et al.). The Iceland (Thayer’s) Gull on Lake Nasworthy, Tom Green from the fall season was last seen 20 Feb (ph. RHe), while other inland Thayer’s included one at the White Rock Lake spillway, Dallas 19 Dec+ (CRu, ph.), and another at the Lake Wichita spillway, Wichita 21 Dec (SL, ph.). Nearer to the coast, one was at the Brownsville Dump, Cameron 25-26 Feb (ph. MRe, WS) and another was at Davis Estates Road 2-25 Feb, a first for Fort Bend (TMc, ph. RW, ph. SaT, et al.).
Inland Lesser Black-backed Gulls included one at Lake Meredith, Moore 10 Dec (SCo, MRe, ph.), 2 on Lake Amistad, Val Verde 12 Jan – 15 Feb (ph. SCo, CF, ph. THi), another at Zapata County Landfill, Zapata 8 Feb (ph. KBr et al.), and one more in southeast Amarillo, Randall 26 Feb – 21 Mar (KDE, ph.). On the U.T.C., an impressive 109 were counted at Davis Estates Road, Fort Bend 25 Jan (RW). Single Glaucous Gulls were at Humble, Harris 19 Dec (MRe), Freeport, Brazoria 26 Dec-3 Jan (ph. TDa, DSh), Ash Lake, Harris 29-31 Dec (ph. DrD, KK, TMc, NiD), at the White Lake spillway, Dallas 2 Jan (CRu), at Lake Texoma, Hagerman N.W.R., Grayson 2 -21 Feb (JCh, m.ob., ph.) and at the Brownsville Dump, Cameron 23 Feb+ (ph. WS, MRe). Notable for the inland and Brush Country location was a Caspian Tern in Brooks 5 Jan (SCo, MRe). Totally unexpected, out-of-season, and accidental in north-central Texas was a Royal Tern at White Rock Lake, Dallas 22 Jan (BeS, ph.).
Loons through Ibis
A Pacific Loon was near the dam on Lake O’the Pines, Marion 8 Jan (DSa, BWh), while one seen at the opposite end of the lake in Upshur 10 Feb (DaB, LuB) was conceivably the same bird. The only Pacific Loon reported in north-central Texas was one at Hubbard Creek Reservoir, Stephens 23 Dec (SCo, MRe) which provided a first county record. In the Panhandle, one at Lake Meredith, Moore 10 Dec (SCo, MRe, ph.) and one (probably the same bird) at Lake Meredith, Hutchinson 11 Dec (JCr) were good finds. A Common Loon on a golf course pond in Lajitas, Brewster 9-12 Feb (ph. DHo) must have been a strange desert sight. An injured wing probably explains a late Wood Stork’s presence south of San Antonio, Bexar 19 Dec – 1 Jan (ph. RW, m.ob.). On the U.T.C., lingering or perhaps wintering Wood Storks were at Terry Hershey Park in Houston, Harris 9 Jan (KH), Sabine Woods, Jefferson 27 Jan (ph. SHe), Lakeside Park, Montgomery 12 Feb (GPr), and Cattail Marsh in Beaumont, Jefferson 15 Feb (ph. HS).
A Magnificent Frigatebird noted off the end of the Quintana Jetty, Brazoria 1 Dec was late (BB). Four Brown Booby were along the coast in Kenedy 7 Jan while 3 were in Willacy 13 Feb (SBi). Further up coast in Nueces, 2 were in Laguna Madre 16 Dec (SkC) and single birds were noted in Corpus Christi Bay 7 Feb (MeC) and 16 Feb (GCo). On the U.T.C., Brown Boobies continue to be seen into winter with one to 2 seen 1-11 Dec at Pleasure Island, Jefferson (ph. SaT, RM, SHe, SM, MBC) and an immature inland at Smithers Lake, Fort Bend 15 Dec (ph. RSh, ph. RW, ph. RM, ph. SaT, ph. ARi, JBa, MBu). As many as 20 Neotropic Cormorants, mostly adults in breeding plumage, were at Lake Murvaul, Panola 19 Jan (DW) and 35 were there 22 Jan (JCo, BM, LW). At least 220 were around an old nesting colony at the Lake Livingston dam, San Jacinto 26 Jan (DW). Clearly this species is now wintering further and further inland in the Pineywoods in much greater numbers as it continues expanding its range. In northwest Texas, one at Buffalo Springs Lake, Lubbock 20 Jan (DrH, LM) and another at McAlister Park, Lubbock 21 Feb (EH, ph.) were also indicators of this species being more regular to the north in all seasons now.
A good find for Bell was an American Bittern 15 Dec-6 Jan (RPi) at Slough Pond, Temple and another 28 Feb (GE) in Pershing Lake, Fort Hood. Both sites have harbored bitterns in the past. Less expected was one at McAlister Park, Lubbock 16 Dec (JCo). Least Bitterns are being found more often in winter with singles at San Bernard N.W.R., Brazoria (DaM, WMc) 18 Dec and Anahuac N.W.R., Chambers 1 Jan (ph. LW, BM). The first winter record for Milam, a Little Blue Heron landed in a pasture near Gause 3 Dec (†DLe). Unseasonal Green Herons were an immature at Alazan Bayou W.M.A., Nacogdoches 1 Jan (DW, RTr) and an adult in Lufkin, Angelina 10-27 Jan (DW, AsW); this species is usually not found in the Pineywoods in the winter. Farther north, one at the Amarillo Medical Center, Potter 17 Dec (KDE) was even more unusual. A count of 15 very late White Ibis were near Texarkana, Bowie 21 Dec (RBo, JPe), while 430-500 were in flooded fields near Sour Lake, Hardin 25 Jan-16 Feb was a very high count for winter, even on the southern edge of the region (CHu, RZ). A Glossy Ibis was seen at Port Aransas Wetlands, Nueces 30 Jan (MeC) & 1 Feb (AO) and another bird was reported from Goose Island S.P., Aransas 13-23 Feb (CHa et al.). On the Central Coast, local observers continue to puzzle with hybrid birds but apparent full-blooded Glossy Ibis were photographed 20 Dec in Calhoun (ph. JT), 1 Feb in Port Aransas, Nueces (ph. AO) and 12-23 Feb at Goose Island S.P., Aransas (CHa, m.ob.). A total of 130 White-faced Ibis at Rio Bosque Wetlands Park, El Paso 2 Dec (JSp) was an excellent winter total; smaller numbers were there sporadically through the period.
Vultures through Hawks
Small numbers of Turkey Vultures were again present all period in and around Rio Bosque Wetlands Park, El Paso (JSp, m.ob.), the only regular wintering location for the species in the western Trans-Pecos. More unusual was a lingering bird near Dell City 13 Dec (TJA, ph.), for a very rare winter Hudspeth record. At its only reliable site in the western Trans-Pecos, a White-tailed Kite was seen several times at Rio Bosque Wetlands Park, El Paso 8-30 Jan (JSp), not to reappear there until 15 Apr. A nesting pair of White-tailed Kites was present near Shallowater, Lubbock 2 Feb+ (DrH, JCr, JMi, BrS, ph.). An early Swallow-tailed Kite was reported along Hwy 35, on the west edge of the Aransas N.W.R. boundary in Aransas 17 Feb (KaC). A Golden Eagle will occasionally join the Bald Eagles at Canyon of the Eagles, Burnet but 4 there 12 Jan (RSw et al.) was rather surprising.
A rarity anywhere in Texas and one that has proven hard to document, an immature Northern Goshawk gliding over Balmorhea Lake, Reeves 27 Dec (ph. AC et al.) was an incredible find; likewise, for one that posed briefly at Palo Duro S.P., Randall 10 Jan (ME, ph.). A very early Mississippi Kite was at San Ygnacio, Zapata 18 Feb (JHt, AvR). A Common Black Hawk first photographed at a resaca in Brownsville, Cameron 20 Jan (ph. DP) was enjoyed by throngs of birders 8 Feb+ (m.ob.). Farther west, a Common Black Hawk was at San Ygnacio, Zapata 13 Feb (JMo et al.). The Roadside Hawk that was found in the fall at the National Butterfly Center/Border Patrol Corral near Mission, Hidalgo lingered until at least 13 Dec (m.ob.). A Harris’s Hawk near Wildorado, Oldham 9 Feb (SWe) was exceptionally far north, especially for a winter sighting. As part of a range expansion, single White-tailed Hawks were reported 15 Dec (ph. JH, et al.) at the Texas A & M Aquaculture Center, an eighth record for Burleson; the same day (†JHa) at Union Grove W.M.A., a fourth record for Bell; and 24 Feb (†WT) near Flatonia, a seventh record for Fayette. A Swainson’s Hawk at San Bernard N.W.R., Brazoria 14 Dec was notable for the season (MaH, DeS).
A Zone-tailed Hawk photographed near Schulenburg 4 Jan (†ph. SF) is the third record for Fayette. Another Zone-tailed Hawk lingered along the Colorado River, Bastrop 19 Dec-15 Feb (CaR, IL, TB, MoH). Formerly more regular, documented Rough-legged Hawk sightings in the winter have become a rare event in recent years in the Trans-Pecos; one in the grasslands 20 miles northwest of Marfa, Presidio 1 Dec (ph. SF) was a nice prize. A Ferruginous Hawk has not been reported in Brazos in over 18 years and before that only 5 times after the 1962-1976 time frame when it was uncommon. This winter’s sighting was 29 Dec (ph. JH) at Fazzino Road. It is the first photo-documented record for Brazos. In Bastrop an oft-seen Ferruginous Hawk was along Sayer’s Road 18 Nov-6 Jan (m.ob.) where it has been reported wintering for decades.
Owls through Falcons
A Burrowing Owl on South Padre Island, Cameron 19 Dec – 13 Jan (ph. JSt, DSt) was quite unexpected away from mainland locations. A Long-eared Owl on the Austin C.B.C. at Hornsby Bend, Travis 15 Dec (MaC et al.) was a first for the heavily-birded location. One to three Long-eared Owls were seen at Rio Bosque Wetlands Park, El Paso 2 Dec- 15 Jan (AK, JSp, AlW), another was faithful to a roosting site west of Fort Davis, Jeff Davis 11-16 Dec (StC, ph. DoD), and one was flushed in the desert a couple miles southeast of Permission Gap in Big Bend N.P., Brewster 9 Jan (SSa). A new county record for Milam is a single Short-eared Owl first seen near Alligator Road in the Bartlett area 30-31 Dec (†BHa, †RHa, †CW, †NW) and then 1-2 owls 2-10 Jan (†SSc, †JWe) 25 miles east of that location, in the direction of Rockdale.
A Ringed Kingfisher reported from Aransas N.W.R., Aransas 19 Jan (GH et al.) was odd for the coastal location. Three birds were seen chasing each other around below Wesley Seale Dam, San Patricio 25 Feb (PHo). A Green Kingfisher well up-river on the Rio Grande corridor at the B.J. Bishop Wetlands in Presidio, Presidio 26 Dec (MeC) was likely the same bird seen at that location in October. A Lewis’s Woodpecker was enjoyed by many in Fort Davis, Jeff Davis 12 Dec+ (StC, ph. DoD). A juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsucker near McNary Reservoir 15 Dec (BZ, ph.) was just the second for Hudspeth; more expected were other juveniles in El Paso, El Paso 1 Jan (MAn, JPa, ph.) and 20 Dec – 9 Jan (BZ). A Red-naped Sapsucker was an outstanding find in the area of F.M. 2003/Leland Road adjacent to Lake Graham Young 25 Jan (SL), providing only the fourth report of the species in north-central Texas.
A Crested Caracara was near Sour Lake, Hardin 16 Feb (RZ, CHu). Crested Caracaras are still not regular any distance into the Pineywoods region; another near Peacock, Stonewall 6 Feb (BSc) was also noteworthy. The third documented record for Lee and the first photo-documented Prairie Falcon was near Dime Box 2 Dec (ph. RKo). Another Prairie Falcon reoccurred on a ranch near Calvert, Robertson 26 Dec (AlM) where it has been seen in winter since 2015.
A Rose-throated Becard visited Salineno Wildlife Preserve, Starr 4 Dec (ph. AM, NM). A calling Dusky-capped Flycatcher was well described from Sabal Palm Sanctuary, Cameron 15 Dec (DBe, PQ). Another Dusky-capped Flycatcher was discovered at Greenhill Cemetery, Jim Hogg 5 Jan (ph. MRe, SCo). It was present to the end of the season (m.ob.). An Ash-throated Flycatcher southeast of Thrall, Williamson 5 Dec (ph. JaL) was late or perhaps a bird that would attempt to winter there. A Great Crested Flycatcher wintered at Laguna Atascosa N.W.R., Cameron (m.ob.). A Brown-crested Flycatcher at San Bernard N.W.R., Brazoria 5 Jan was notable for mid-winter (ph. WMc).
Totally surprising was a lingering Western Kingbird along F.M. 47, Mabank, Van Zandt 27 Dec (JSu). Numerous Western Kingbirds were seen along the coast in early Dec with birds lingering at Settegast Road, Galveston until 3 Jan (ph. DSh) and Thompson Road in northwest Jefferson 9 Dec-6 Feb (ph. MBC, ph. JWh, m.ob.). An Eastern Kingbird reported from Attwater N.W.R., Colorado 19 Dec (JBa, JaB) was late. Lingering Scissor-tailed Flycatchers were at Eagle Nest Lake, Brazoria 5 Jan (ATj), Thompson Road, Jefferson (ph. JWh), Whaley-Long Point Road, Fort Bend 8 Jan (SF), Brazoria N.W.R., Brazoria 26 Jan (WMc), and near Booth, Fort Bend 10 Feb (JF). A highlight for central Texas was a Fork-tailed Flycatcher with a Scissor-tailed about 5 miles south-southwest of San Marcos, Hays 16 Dec (ph. CoR). Similarly, the mega-rarity of the season in north-central Texas was a totally unexpected, irregularly observed, adult Fork-tailed Flycatcher along F.M. 47 just east of Wills Point, Van Zandt 27 Dec – 10 Jan (JSu, ph., RKi). Incredibly, even more Fork-tailed Flycatchers were elsewhere in Texas with one at Los Fresnos, Cameron 13-14 Dec (ph. JD et al.) and another at The Nature Conservancy’s Brazos Woods’ Preserve 4 Jan-15 Feb was a first for Brazoria (ph. ATj, et al.). This bird was likely seen the week previous and thought to be a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. It spectacularly long stay allowed many to see this rare flycatcher.
An Eastern Wood-Pewee photographed and heard vocalizing at El Franco Lee Park, Harris 2 Dec followed up on the spectacular numbers lingering into Nov (ph. MAs, JBe). A very late Eastern Wood-Pewee was studied at the headquarters of Aransas N.W.R., Aransas 6 Dec (PHo). Two calling Least Flycatchers were reported from Formosa-Tejano Wetlands, Jackson 27 Dec (MSc, JBa). Hammond’s Flycatchers may be low-density winter visitors to central Texas; this season, one stayed at Lost Maples S.N.A., Bandera 19 Dec – 24 Feb (RSw, ph. CF); more expected was one northeast of Ruidosa, Presidio 28 Dec (ph. WS). A bit surprising was a Dusky Flycatcher 10 miles southeast of Fort Davis, Jeff Davis 27 Dec (ph. JBo). A silent Cordilleran/Pacific-slope Flycatcher was observed near the headquarters of Aransas N.W.R., Aransas 6 Dec (PHo).
Vireos through Nuthatches
Wintering Bell’s Vireos seem to be on the increase with one at Houston’s Robert C. Stuart Park, Harris 24 Dec-27 Jan (ph. JRi, et al.), one at Old Hidalgo Pumphouse, Hidalgo 26 Jan+ (KaM et al.), another at Los Fresnos, Cameron 7 Feb (BrW, CD) and one more at Breckenridge Park, San Antonio, Bexar 10 Feb (ph. WS). A continuing Hutton’s Vireo from fall in El Paso, El Paso continued through 1 Jan (JPa). A late Yellow-throated Vireo was reported from north of Dayton, Liberty 1-2 Dec (CM, PM); one at Las Palomas W.M.A. – Arroyo Colorado Unit, Cameron 23 Feb was very likely an early migrant (JuL). A Cassin’s Vireo at Berry Springs Park, Georgetown, Williamson 4-9 Dec (ph. JC, TFe) was perhaps the first photo-documented for the county and quite a rarity for central Texas; another Cassin’s Vireo was described from Santa Ana N.W.R., Hidalgo 10 Dec (PHo).
A Plumbeous Vireo was in El Paso, El Paso 1 Jan (KF, ph., VM). Any Solitary-type Vireo is noteworthy in El Paso in winter, with Plumbeous being the most regular. Elsewhere in west Texas and also unusual for winter were singles at the Van Horn Cemetery, Culberson 3-8 Dec (BKo, DBo) and Del Rio, Val Verde 1 Jan (ph. SCo, MRe). Plumbeous Vireos also made their presence known in South Texas this winter. Single birds were reported from the Falfurrias Rest Stop, Brooks 9-29 Dec (ph. JGo et al.), Roselawn Cemetery in McAllen, Hidalgo 4 Dec+ (MG et al.), Lake Corpus Christi S.P., San Patricio 16 Dec (GB), Estero Llano Grande S.P., Hidalgo 27 Feb (ph. MBS), Greenhill Cemetery, Jim Hogg 17 Jan (ph. JoP), and finally another bird at Salineno, Starr 13 Dec (JVa, WK). A most unexpected Warbling Vireo was documented at El Lago, Harris 29 Dec (ph. PRo).
Probably a continuing bird that never left from the big invasion of fall 2017, a Steller’s Jay was in Dell City 13 Dec (TJA) for a very rare Hudspeth record. A Cliff Swallow seen at Galveston Island S.P., Galveston on 23 Feb was a new early for the U.T.C. (KO). A Carolina Chickadee at Lake Alan Henry, Garza 23 Jan (SK) was notable along the western edge of its range, especially in recent years. After a strong influx of Red-breasted Nuthatches in the fall season, only small numbers remained at feeders in Bastrop, Brazos, and Washington 6 Dec-16 Feb (m.ob.) based on about a dozen reports. The moderate winter incursion did not seem to reach the Central Coast: a single bird was seen at Aransas N.W.R., Aransas 18 Feb (SSh), a male & female spent most of the winter visiting a feeder in Tuleta, Bee (LV), and a single bird present at Branch Nature Park in Goliad, Goliad 23 Dec & 6 Jan (WS, DMu, KG). One bird did manage to make it to South Padre Island, Cameron 15 Dec (ph. JGo). A pair of Brown-headed Nuthatches excavating a nest in northeast Waller 12 Feb is the first reported in recent years (ph. CP).
Wrens through Waxwings
A Rock Wren found along the rip-rap of Wesley Seale Dam, Lake Corpus Christi, San Patricio 31 Jan provided for a very extralimital eastward record (PHo). A Winter Wren was at McNary Reservoir, Hudspeth 15 Dec (BZ) where the species has wintered before. A group of 5-6 Western Bluebirds at Mitchell Lake, Bexar 20-22 Dec (ph. CF et al., BDo) where unusually eastward. Elsewhere on the eastern edge of their range were 3 at Copper Breaks S.P., Hardeman 30 Dec-6 Jan (SL, ph.) and 3 near Possum Kingdom S.P., Stephens 5 Feb (DSa). More noteworthy, a male was along Wesley Seale Dam, Lake Corpus Christi, San Patricio 31 Jan (PHo). Mountain Bluebirds also wandered east with one at the headquarters of Aransas N.W.R., Aransas 9-16 Dec (ph. WS, KG), a popular pair delighted multiple observers along Old Sayers Road, Bastrop 14 Dec-24 Feb, 2 along West Washington St., Sherman, Grayson 9-10 Jan (JCh, ph.) and one south of Mitchell Lake, Bexar 14-27 Jan (ph. CF, m.ob.).
A Wood Thrush visited Estero Llano Grande S.P., Hidalgo 28 Dec-7 Feb (m.ob.). A pair of Clay-colored Thrushes were exceptionally far up the Rio Grande corridor in Del Rio, Val Verde 13 Jan (ph. SCo, ph. WS et al.) with at least one individual remaining until 17 Feb (m.ob.). Quite surprising was a Rufous-backed Robin along the Nueces River just west of Uvalde, Uvalde 1 Jan – 1 Feb (ph. TDa, m.ob.), continuing a recent trend of scattered records of the species in the southwest corner of the Edwards Plateau and surrounding areas. Lone Sage Thrashers wandered east to Commons Ford Park in west Austin, Travis 24 Dec (ph. KY) and 5 miles west of San Marcos, Hays 8-16 Dec (ph. BT). Notable single Sage Thrashers were seen in South Texas this season: one was present at Estero Llano Grande S.P., Hidalgo 4 Jan (ph. IS), one was seen on a private ranch in McMullen 11 Jan (CO), and another bird reported from Old Port Isabel Road, Cameron 13 Feb (KSF). Another highlight of the season was a single Bohemian Waxwing found in a small flock of Cedar Waxwings along F.M. 3003/Leland Road, Lake Graham, Young, 13-16 Jan (SL, LaB, AdW, ph.), the first one documented in the state since 2007.
Finches through Sparrows
Purple Finches staged a banner invasion that rivaled anything we have seen from this species in recent years. They were widely reported throughout the Pineywoods region all the way to the southern edge (m.ob.). Numbers in the central Pineywoods peaked from late Dec-mid-January, some feeders attracting as many as 25-40 birds at once. By February most had moved to feeding more “in the wild” on budding trees and by mid-March almost all were gone. On the U.T.C., sightings came from all counties with the highest count was a whopping 70 birds at Jesse Jones S.P., Harris 19 Jan (DMu, RTh, ph. PK). Farther west, nearly 200 reports of the species in the Central Brazos Valley with a high count of 13; 8 in far north Austin, Travis 6 Jan+ (MRo, ph. m.ob.) was a high count there; 2 made it as far south as Sublime, Lavaca 18 Feb (ph. CW). Four Purple Finches near Bay City, Matagorda 4 Jan (SuH) were as far down-coast as they were reported. Cassin’s Finches had a smaller irruption limited to some northerly locales with one at Clapp Park, Lubbock 5 Dec (DrH), 2 at Muleshoe N.W.R., Bailey 16 Dec (RRe, LZ), one in Plainview, Hale 1 Jan (NP), and one at Palo Duro Canyon S.P., Randall 29 Jan-9 Feb (DoS, SSm, BT, ph.).
Not tied to any noticeable irruption a Red Crossbill at Lake Rita Blanca, Hartley 22 Jan (KG, WS) was quite unusual. Pine Siskins were found throughout the Pineywoods in good numbers this winter (m.ob.); farther west, there seemed to be above-average numbers, such as 26-27 Jan (BE) when 73 on the 26th and 130 on the 27th seemed to be dripping from the trees at Woodcreek Subdivision, College Station, Brazos. A few Lesser Goldfinches spilled to the eastern edge of their normal range with 1-2 at Lake Waco, McLennan 28 Jan-8 Feb (LT). More significantly, one reached eastward to Brazos at Austin’s Colony Park 27 Jan-17 Feb (†SD).
A flock of 70 Lapland Longspurs seen in Colorado 29 Dec (TMc) was notable for the southerly location. A Grasshopper Sparrow at White River Lake, Crosby 29 Dec (JBo, MDL, RL) was rather unusual as winter lingerer so far north. Unusual for the winter season in central Texas were 3 Clay-colored Sparrows at Kyle, Hays 3 Feb (BLy). A (Red) Fox Sparrow at Santa Ana N.W.R., Hidalgo 10 Dec (PHo) provided for a rare deep South Texas record; another was a surprising find at Davis Mountains S.P., Jeff Davis 10 Jan (ph. ABr). Two American Tree Sparrows at White River Lake, Crosby 29 Dec (BrB, RKo) were a nice southerly find as they have retreated to the north in recent years. A Dark-eyed Junco at Quinta Mazatlan, Hidalgo 1 Feb (AM, ph. NM) provided for a rare L.R.G.V. record.
A Golden-crowned Sparrow 10 miles south of Kent, Jeff Davis 28 Feb (ph. RKo) was the only one reported in the state this winter. A count of 5 Harris’s Sparrows were along the edge of their expected range near Jayton, Kent 30 Dec (RKo). Rarely detected in the Trans-Pecos, a LeConte’s Sparrow flushed some 20 miles northeast of Terlingua, Brewster 3 Feb (ph. JHi, BHi) was an exceptional find; likewise, for 3 at White River Lake, Crosby 29 Dec (BrB, JBo, MDL, RKo, RL). Since Hurricane Harvey in August 2017, Seaside Sparrow populations have been severely lowered in the Coastal Bend. Only one compelling record was found for the season a single bird in a mangrove marsh 11 Jan near Port Aransas, Nueces (JHo, ScH).
A well described Song Sparrow reported from Brownsville, Cameron 8 Feb (JSh) was notable for the southerly location. In some falls and winters, Canyon Towhee will move downslope into lowland habitats. There was a slight hint of that this winter in Hudspeth with one Canyon Towhee along the Rio Grande by Esperanza 15 Dec (BZ) and two near Dell City 23 Dec (JPa). A Green-tailed Towhee farther east than usual at Commons Ford Park, Travis 9 Dec+ (EF, ph. m.ob.) was a real treat for Austin-area birders. A Spotted Towhee present along Cannon Road, Cameron 2-8 Feb (MCo et al.) was noteworthy for the L.R.G.V.; unusually eastward, one was at Sabine Park in Houston, Harris 17 Dec (ph. CG, VP, MY). Two Eastern Towhees ranged to Palo Duro Canyon S.P., Randall 5 Dec-23 Jan (DoS, SSm, KDE, PT, ph.).
Chats through Blackbirds
An apparent overwintering Yellow-breasted Chat was reported from Pollywog Pond, Nueces 9 Jan (NaD, DeD); another was at Saxet Lakes, Victoria 16 Jan (DMu). Presumably late and lingering migrants, lone Yellow-headed Blackbirds were at Oppliger Cattle Farm, Parmer 23 Dec (JaL), near Floydada, Floyd 24 Dec (AnH, ph.), and at Clapp Park, Lubbock 5 Jan (BSc); one 5 miles north of Hamilton, Hamilton 26 Jan (ph. BrB) and another in Dumas, Moore 16 Feb (JVa) may have been wintering. Along the coast, 6 Yellow-headed Blackbirds at Powderhorn Ranch, Calhoun 18 Dec were noteworthy (BF) as were 23 near Sinton, San Patricio 22 Feb (RW). An immature Bullock’s Oriole reported from Max A. Mandel Golf Course, Webb 11 Dec (DS) was late while a male seen in a Victoria, Victoria neighborhood 27 Jan may have been a wintering bird (ph. CJ). On the U.T.C., late/lingering Bullock’s Orioles included a female in Lake Jackson, Brazoria 18 Dec (MaH, SuH) and a male at near Orangefield, Orange 16 Jan (ph. DK, GK).
An adult male Baltimore Oriole at Hornsby Bend, Travis 1 Dec (ph. MC) was probably a late migrant rather than a wintering bird. Two Baltimore Orioles lingered at the headquarters of Aransas N.W.R., Aransas 6-19 Dec (PHo et al.). Another Baltimore Oriole was spotted at Goose Island S.P., Aransas 27 Jan (ph. KD), while one seen in Goliad, Goliad 2 Dec was late (ph. WS, DMu, KG). Present since fall and in the same El Paso, El Paso yard that it typically would share with Hooded Oriole, a male Scott’s Oriole overwintered through the period for the third straight year (BZ, ph.). Another Scott’s Oriole at Sam Nail Ranch, Big Bend N.P., Brewster 15 Dec (ph. NRo) was perhaps a late migrant. Rusty Blackbirds scattered along the edge of their typical range included up to 5 near Bay City, Matagorda mid-to-late Dec (RSh, RW et al.), 3 in a flooded area of the Peach Creek bottoms near the Navasota River, Brazos 1 Jan (DV), 4 near Whiteflat, Motley 13 Jan (GCo, SGl) and a group seen intermittently through the period (m.ob.) at Mitchell Lake, Bexar, with a high tally of 9 there 10 Feb (ph. CF).
A Worm-eating Warbler described from Sabal Palm, Cameron 16 Dec (GV) was most likely a late lingerer. Exceptionally late was a Louisiana Waterthrush along the San Marcos River in San Marcos, Hays 16 Dec (ph. JHt) while another at Lions Shelley Park, Refugio, Refugio 12 Feb was at its traditional overwintering location (ph. SkH). Black-and-white Warblers wintered well inland in the central Pineywoods, where 4 were found on the Nacogdoches C.B.C., Nacogdoches 16 Dec (RSc, DW). Later one was in Nacogdoches, Nacogdoches 4 Jan (DW), 2 were at Alazan Bayou W.M.A., Nacogdoches 12 Jan (DB, JSm, ATi) and a female was in a different part of Alazan Bayou W.M.A., Nacogdoches 10 March (AsW, DW, RTr,). All of the latter three records could have been birds found on the C.B.C. A well described Prothonotary Warbler was found on the Womack Ranch, Victoria 20 Dec (SuH).
Quite puzzling was a Tennessee Warbler just a few miles southeast of Gillett, Karnes 5 Jan (DMu) that had been found in that same tree on 6 Jan the prior winter; another one was 15 miles north of Yorktown, DeWitt 18 Feb (ph. CW) while one at Moody Gardens, Galveston 26 Jan was a rare winter record for the U.T.C. (GW, CL, PIn, TI). A Tennessee Warbler present at Estero Llano Grande 26 Dec-1 Feb (ph. BWe, m.ob.) along with a single bird reported from a Cameron yard 20 Jan (ph. DoM) while in Matagorda two birds were seen at the South Texas Nuclear Plant 17 Dec (JBo, LG, SGa) along with a single bird present near Palacios 22 & 24 Feb (ph. BiW et al.) all provided an increasing number of (previously rare) winter records for this species. Casual so far north in mid-winter, a Nashville Warbler persisted in a Lubbock yard, Lubbock 25 Dec-26 Jan (JCr).
A MacGillivray’s Warbler made a rare winter appearance in a Progresso Lakes, Hidalgo yard 3 Jan (ph. ABr) while one at Riverpark Nature Trails 24 Dec-5 Jan was a first for Fort Bend (ph. MSc, ph. RSh, ARi, RW, et al.). A lingering male Hooded Warbler was detected near the tower at Aransas N.W.R., Aransas 4 Dec (TWJ, RPo). An American Redstart was at San Bernard N.W.R., Brazoria 6-7 Jan (DL, WMc) while another over-wintered in Breckenridge Park, San Antonio, Bexar 29 Jan – 16 Mar (ph. BWi, m.ob.). A Cape May Warbler at Hornsby Bend, Travis 13 Feb – 10 Mar (ph. NK, m.ob.) was an outstanding wintering warbler for central Texas; another at the Littlefield Cemetery, Lamb 24 Dec (GCo, ph.) and one at Quinta Mazatlan, Hidalgo 27 Jan (ph. JBr et al.) were also rare winter finds. A male Northern Parula seen at Choke Canyon S.P., South Shore Unit near Three Rivers, Live Oak 1 Dec (DL) was noteworthy. Notable Tropical Parulas away from their typical L.R.G.V. haunts were: a single bird at Goliad, Goliad 2 Dec (ph. WS, DMu, KG), one found on a private ranch along the Nueces River, San Patricio 15 Dec (MBe, MeC), 3 at Lake Findley, Alice, Jim Wells 31 Dec+ (ph. DBa, MBa et al.), and single birds in Victoria 22 Dec (ph. BO) and 22 Feb (ph. ShT, MT). On the U.T.C., one made a rare winter visit to Houston Audubon Society’s Edith Moore Sanctuary in Houston, Harris 17-30 Dec (ph. DL, ph. SO, JoB, KCa, et al.).
A Magnolia Warbler wintered at the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, Cameron (JGo et al.) while another was present at the Laguna Vista Nature Trail, Cameron 4 Dec-11 Feb (BiB, ph. CS); one at Harris Reservoir, Brazoria 5 Jan was one of very few winter records for the U.T.C. (BO). Yellow Warblers were widespread in Jan with singles from Harris Reservoir, Brazoria 5 Jan (BO), near Hempstead, Waller 11 Jan (SaT), Sea Center Texas in Lake Jackson, Brazoria 17-25 Jan (ph. JRo, DaM, WMc), and the Freeport marshes, Brazoria 20 Jan (ph. DSh). A Yellow Warbler seen in Hebbronville, Jim Hogg 10 Feb (MG) may have been an overwintering bird. A late Chestnut-sided Warbler was well described from Santa Ana N.W.R., Hidalgo 1 Dec (JHb, MHu, AMa, JE, SE). A Palm Warbler in the Brazos River bottoms 15 Dec (ph. JH, et al.) is only the sixth record for Burleson and the first in 22 years. A Yellow-throated Warbler wintered along the San Antonio River Walk, Bexar 14 Dec – 11 Feb (SPr, ph. m.ob.) while one visiting a suet feeder on Lake Palestine, Henderson 17 Feb (TDi) was also unseasonal.
The Black-throated Gray Warbler found originally in the fall season at George Ranch Historical Park, Fort Bend was seen through 3 Dec (ph. BDu). A Townsend’s Warbler graced Estero Llano Grande S.P., Hidalgo 31 Dec (ph. JHb, MHu et al.) while one in a Lubbock yard, Lubbock 10 Feb (LM) was a remarkable winter find for northwest Texas. The Golden-crowned Warbler continued through the season from the fall at Frontera Audubon, Hidalgo until 19 Feb (m.ob.). Also, in Weslaco another Golden-crowned Warbler visited the Valley Nature Center 16 Dec+ (D.S, m.ob.). Lastly, another Golden-crowned Warbler at a private residence near San Benito, Cameron since October lasted until 7 Jan (ph. KiC). These 3 Golden-crowned Warblers present in one season set a new precedent for South Texas. A Wilson’s Warbler on the Beech Creek C.B.C., Jasper 29 Dec was noteworthy inland in winter (JWh).
Tanagers through Buntings
A male Summer Tanager in Nacogdoches, Nacogdoches 28 Dec -15 Jan fed on the larvae of beehive beetles (MFo), while another visited a feeder in Warren, Tyler 25-28 Feb (LA). Though unexpected in winter this species turns up somewhere in the Pineywoods at this season almost annually. A well described female Scarlet Tanager was reported coming to a nectar feeder in a suburban Corpus Christi, Nueces yard 1 Jan (DG). A Western Tanager was in a Smithville backyard 28 Jan (†RMa), providing a seventh record for Bastrop. Another Western Tanager was observed 22 Feb (†RG) in northern Austin near its border with Washington, a fourth record for Austin.
One of the avian stars this winter was a Crimson-collared Grosbeak present at Quinta Mazatlan, Hidalgo 18 Jan+ (ph. THu, m.ob.). Another bird was observed at a water feature at Resaca de la Palma S.P., Cameron 6 Feb (ph. NS). The highlight of the season for the entire state was Texas’s first Yellow Grosbeak a few miles north of Concan, Uvalde 4 Jan – 5 Apr (ph. SG, PG, ph. BSh, m.ob.). The bird would typically only visit its favorite feeders a few minutes during the day and quite irregularly at that. Thanks to the very accommodating home owners as well as excellent hosting by Shackleford, hundreds of birders were able to enjoy this first state record. Single Rose-breasted Grosbeaks in New Braunfels, Comal 10-15 Dec (ph. RRy) and in northeast San Antonio, Bexar 3-10 Feb (ph. ABo) were unusual winter records for central Texas. Also unseasonal were singles at Paradise Pond, Nueces 16 Jan (ph. JV) and 10 Feb (†MBr, RBr) at a feeder near La Grange, Fayette. Noteworthy wintering Black-headed Grosbeaks included singles near Beaumont, Jefferson 20 Jan-17 Feb (ph. SHu, et al.), at a backyard feeder early each morning 8-12 Feb (†HG) near Cedar Creek, Bastrop, at Liberty, Liberty 18 Feb (LH), and east of Cherokee, San Saba 21-23 Feb (ph. JHu).
A female Blue Bunting was spotted at Laguna Atascosa N.W.R., Cameron 7 Jan (AM, NM) and again 13 & 24 Feb. A Blue Grosbeak near Sour Lake, Hardin 5 Dec (JMa) was a very late migrant. A Lazuli Bunting south of San Antonio, Bexar 30 Dec – 10 Feb (ph. PHa) and another at Garner S.P., Uvalde 25 Feb (ph. LS) were unexpected winter finds. A pair of Varied Buntings at the Chisos Basin wastewater ponds in Big Bend N.P., Brewster 1 Feb (JBi, KBe) may have been overwintering birds instead of early migrants. Painted Buntings at the Oyster Bayou Hunting Club, Chambers 3 Jan (GCa), Seabrook, Harris 19 Jan (MFa), Houston, Harris 1 Feb (JRa), and near Dewalt, Fort Bend 5 Feb (RO) were noteworthy on the U.T.C. Surprisingly for Washington, a female/immature Painted Bunting wintered in Chappell Hill 20 Jan-23 Feb (†DV). Another green Painted Bunting was observed 30 Jan (†DoB) at Lick Creek Park, Brazos. A male Painted Bunting 5 miles north of Bandera, Bandera 6 Feb (ph. TMa) may have been an unusual over-wintering bird rather than an extremely early spring migrant, likewise for a female at Lake Corpus Christi S.P., San Patricio 24 Feb (GB).
Report processed by Byron Swift, 7 Oct 2020