Texas: Winter 2019 – 2020
The Winter 2019 – 2020, 1 December – 29 February
Carpenter, E. 2020. The Winter 2019-2020: Texas. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-8QF> North American Birds.
Greg Albrecht, John Allendorf, Debra Anderson (DAn), Mary Anderson (MAn), Marie Asscherick (MAs), Danielle Aube (DAu), Mike Austin (MAu), Kenneth Bader, Babe Banner, Bradley Banner (BrB), Barry Barentine (BaB), Sheryl Barker (SBa), James Barnes (JaB), Judy Behrens (JBe), David Bell (DBe), Robert Benson (RBe), John Berner (JoB), Brian Berry (BBe), Chris Bick, Amy Bishop, Gene Blacklock (GBl), Nick Bonomo, Doug Booher (DBo), Justin Bosler (JBo), Robert Bowker (RBo), David Brotherton (DBr), Scott Buckel (SBu), Holly Bundock, Laura Bunton, Geoff Butcher (GBu), Winston Caillouet, Bryan Calk (BrC), Mike Cameron (MiC), Skip Cantrell (SkC), Steve Cardiff (StC), Blaine Carnes (BlC), Eric Carpenter, Maggie Carpenter (MaC), Kristi Carr, Jayton Carroll (JCa), Shawn Chaney (SCh), Anand Chaudhary (AnC), Jack Childs (JCh), Alyssia Church (AlC), Connie Clark (CCl), Jeremy Clark (JeC), Joe Cochran (JoC), Sheridan Coffey (SCo), Fred Collins, Greg Cook, Dennis Cooke (DCo), Arlie Cooksey (ArC), Mel Cooksey (MCo), James Court (JaC), Jim Crites (JiC), Cinda Crosley (CCr), Julie Crouch (JuC), Mike Crownover (MCr), Dorothye Currie (DCu), Tripp Davenport (TDa), Howard Davis, Janet Davis, Bonnie deGrood, Nicholas DeMaio (NDe), Matt Denton, Coen Dexter, Neil Diaz (NDi), Sandy Dillard (SDi), Donna Dittman, Ezekiel Dobson, Samantha Dominguez (SDo), Robert Doster, Ted Drozdowski (TDr), Scot Duncan (SDu), Will Duncan, Betty Dunn, Kathleen Dvorak, Kim Eckert, Gil Eckrich, Michael Emenaker (MEm), Mark Esparza (MEs), Chuck Estes, Eric Faria, Lihua Feng, Christian Fernandez, Todd Fitzgerald (TFi), Kevin Floyd, Andy Forbes (AFo), Tony Frank (ToF), Alycia Fratzke (AFr), Brush Freeman (BrF), Timothy Freiday (TiF), Bert Frenz (BeF), Bob Friedrichs (BoF), Sam Fruehling, Edward Garcia, Kim Garwood (KGa), Laura Gast (LGa), Stephen Gast (SGa), Richard Gibbons (RGi), Sofia Gladwish (SoG), Steve Glover (StG), Mike Goebel (MGo), David Goff (DGo), Javi Gonzalez (JGo), Karen Goodger (KGo), Leslie Goodman (LGo), Berndt Gravenstein (BeG), Robin Gray (RGr), Michael Green (MGr), Tracey Gregorcyk (TGr), Bob Gress (BoG), Dave Grise (DGr), John Groves (JGr), Timothy Guida (TGu), Jonah Gula (JGu), Mary Gustafson (MGu), Skye Haas (SHa), Martin Hagne (MHa), John Haines, John Hale (JHa), Greg Hall (GHa), Jeff Hall (JeH), Lawrence Haller (LHa), Andrew Hamlett (AHa), Chris Hammond (ChH), Cullen Hanks (CuH), David Hanson (DaH), Warren Hardin, Drew Harvey (DrH), John Haynes (JoH), Susan Heath (SuH), Sheila Hebert (ShH), Tim Hebert (TiH), Tyler Hedlund (TyH), Kelli Heindel (KHe), Mitch Heindel, Janie Henderson (JHe), Debra Hendricks (DHe)
Mike Hernandez (MHe), Randy Hesford, Anthony Hewetson (AHe), Troy Hibbitts (THi), Ed Hickl, Kelly Hill, Kelly Himmel (KHi), Barbara Hines (BHi), Jim Hines (JiH), Jim Hinson (JHi), Petra Hockey, Leslie Hoekstra (LHo), Bob Honig (BHo), Caroline Humphries (CHu), Gary Hunter (GHu), Huck Hutchens, Jesse Huth (JHu), Farokh Jamalyaria, Will Jaremko-Wright (WJW), Adrian Johnson, Cameron Johnson (CaJ), Tom Johnson, Charmaine Jones (ChJ), Dan Jones, Eric Julson, Richard Kaskan (RKa), John Keagle (JKe), Kathy Keagle, Susan Keefer, Sue Keener (SKe), Glenda Kelly, Adam Kent (AKe), Eric Kershner, Peter Keyel (PKe), Ted Keyel (TKe), Simon Kiacz (SiK), Florence King (FKi), Laura King, Ruth King (RKi), Larry Kirby (LKi), Vicki Kirby, Taylor Kirkland (TKi), John Kiseda (JKi), Phillip Kite (PKi), Ad Konings (AKo), Peter Koper (PKo), Rich Kostecke (RKo), Fyn Kynd (FKy), Harvey Laas, Mike Lange (MLa), Rick Laughlin (RLa), Justin LeClaire (JuL), Dominic Le Croissette (DLe), Mark Lear (MLe), Arnaud Lecroix, Cin-Ty Lee (CTL), Thomas Leeman (TLe), Jason Leifester (JaL), Manuel De Leon (MDL), Nancy Leonard, Clayton Leopold, Duke Liebler (DuL), Brad Lirette, Dell Little (DeL), Mark Lockwood (MLo), Stephan Lorenz, Rebecca Lovejoy (RLo), Kelsey Low, Lorrie Lowrie, Travis Ly (TLy), Mark Lyon (MLy), Robbin Mallett (RMa), Derek Malone (DMa), Alberto Manterola (AMa), Britney Marchan (BMa), Jean Martin (JMa), Linda Martin-Rust (LMR), Marvin Masters (MMa), Steve Mayes (SMa), Michael McCloy (MiM), Wendy McCrady, Kris McDaniel (KMc), Mark McDermott (MMc), Todd McGrath (TMc), Liam McGuire, Jon McIntyre (JMc), Bonnie McKenzie (BMc), Candy McNamee, Doug McWhirter (DMc), Susan Miles (SMi), Jennifer Miller (JMi), Thomas Miller (ThM), Vicki Milne, Tyler Miloy (TyM), Iliana Mock, Kathy Morales (KMo), Arman Moreno (AMo), Bill Morris (BMo), Tom Morris (TMo), Suzanne Mottin (SMo), Derek Muschalek (DMu), Robert Mustell (RMu), Janet Neath, Stuart Nelson, Bruce Neville, Ron Newhouse, John O’Brien (JO’), Vincent O’Brien, Kyle O’Haver, Pat O’Neil, Ellen Oneil, Robert Opperman, Andrew Orgill, Brent Ortego, Dora Ann Ortego (DAO), Jeff Osborne (JOs), Sally Pachulski (SaP), Amy Packer (APa), Jay Packer (JaP), J.D. Paes (JDP), Karen Pair (KPa), Barbara Pankratz, Skyler Parks (SkP), Patty Pasztor, Jim Paton (JiP), Tim Perkins, Scott Peterson (SPe), Randy Pinkston, Adele Pittendrigh (APi), Dale Plumley, Karen Plumley (KPl), Karl Poetzl (KPo), Carl Poldrack, Fred Pratt, John Pratt (JoP), Niler Pyeatt, Nina Rach, Jane Ramberg (JRa), Fay Ratta, Richard Ray, Leah Razuri, Judy Reeves (JRe), Keith Reich, Martin Reid (MRe), Albert Ribes, Maurice Rich (MRi), James Rieman (JRi), Barrett Riess, Vollie Rifner, Cecilia Riley (CRi), Mike Rogan, Steve Rogow, Michelle Romedy (MRo), Chris Runk (CRu), Bill Sain (BiS), Ben Sandifer (BeS), Laura Sare (LSa), David Sarkozi (DSa), Mike Schackwitz (MiS), Wendy Schackwitz (WSc), Bobby Schat (BSc), Mark Scheuerman, Zachary Schwab, Marcy Scott (MSc), Tonya Seitz, Willie Sekula (WSe), Paul Sellin, Ryan Shaw (RSh), Laurie Sheppard (LSh), Kate Shermon (KSh), Brad Shine (BSh), Lisa Silas (LiS), Laurie Sines (LaS), Jim Sipiora (JSi), Letha Slagle (LSl), Kerri Sloan (KSl), Doug Smith (DSm), Howard Smith, Kevin Smith (KSm), Scott Somershoe, Lucy Spade (LSp), John Sproul (JSp), Barbara Stern (BSt), Victor Stoll, Emily Stoudt, Mary Beth Stowe (MBS), Michelle Summers (MSu), Romey Swanson (RSw), Clay Taylor (CTa), Hillary Thompson, Susan Thompson, Jane Tillman, Tom Toporowoski, Nathan Trimble, Ruth Trimble, Kent Trulsson, Peggy Tsue, Christine Turnbull (CTu), Linda Vegh, Cindy Venus, Krien VerBerkmoes, Patricia Verbovszky, Darrell Vollert, Mary Anne Weber (MAW), Ron Weeks, Ed Wetzel (EWe), Aaron White, John Whittle (JWh), Sarah Wiesbrock (SaW), Shirley Wilkerson (ShW), Jo Willars (JWi), Laura Wilson, Scot Wingo (ScW), Dale Wolck, Erik Wolf (EWo), Cheryl Wolfe, Brenda Wright, Annie Xu, Judy Yellon (JYe), John Yochum, Matthew York, Joe Youtz (JYo), Fred Zagst, Kay Zagst, Lena Zappia, Caralyn Zehnder, Barry Zimmer.
L.R.G.V. (Lower Rio Grande Valley); L.R.G.V. N.W.R., (Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge); U.T.C. (Upper Texas Coast).
Waterfowl through Grebes
A flock of 250 Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks were at Country Club Lake, Bryan early in the morning of 7 Dec (BN), the second highest historical count for Brazos, while a dawn estimate of 2,011 Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks at Shoveler Pond at Anahuac N.W.R., Chambers 31 Dec (NT, RT) confirms wintering numbers continue to grow on the U.T.C. An estimate extrapolated from photos gave a high count of at least 200 Ross’s Geese near Oenaville, Bell 4 Feb (ph. RP). Not far away, in the Troy area, counts of 150 on 9 Feb (GE) and 138 on 10 Feb (CW) also were substantial. Rare in the Trans-Pecos, a lone Cackling Goose was at McNary Reservoir, Hudspeth 16 Dec – 2 Feb (BZ). Two immature Tundra Swans were briefly observed at Village Creek Drying Beds, Tarrant, 2 Dec (JA, ph.). A male Cinnamon Teal was in west El Paso, El Paso 1 Jan (MAn, ph. JiP); more expected were small numbers at Rio Bosque Wetlands Park in Dec and early Jan (m.ob.). Cinnamon Teal is a very early migrant in the El Paso area with birds trickling in starting in mid-Jan, but Dec and early Jan records remain rare. Meanwhile, at least seven different reports of Cinnamon Teal in the Lubbock area through the period (m.ob.) indicate that wintering birds are now increasing in that area.
A male Eurasian Wigeon was an excellent discovery on a small pond five miles north-northwest of Cross Plains, Callahan 5 Jan (ph. StG), as was one at Balmorhea Lake, Reeves 9-18 Dec (RP, StC, ph. DD); another male at Rio Bosque Wetlands Park, El Paso 2 Feb (ph. TJ, JSp, JYe) looked like it could have had some American Wigeon/hybrid influence. As in recent years, up to three Greater Scaup were present through the period at Ascarate Park, El Paso (m.ob.); more unexpected were three at McNary Reservoir, Hudspeth 16 Dec (BZ). An impressive inland count of six Surf Scoters spent the late winter at Belton Lake, Bell 7 Feb – 5 Mar (ph. GE, m.ob.). The Surf Scoter found at Runaway Bay, Lake Bridgeport, Wise last year returned and was found on 28 Jan (MSu). Less than annual in the El Paso area and most regular late Oct – mid-Nov, two Surf Scoters were at McNary Reservoir, Hudspeth 16 Dec (ph. BZ) with one remaining through 5 Jan (ph. JiP).
There are only a couple records of White-winged Scoter along the eastern edge of the Edwards Plateau so one on the Guadalupe River in s. Kerrville, Kerr 28 Dec (ph. PS) was quite notable. Eighteen Black Scoters were at Fairfield Lake S.P. 26 Jan (ph. LB, MMc, KSh) and most remained at the lake through 22 Feb (m.ob.), constituting a second record for Freestone; a lone Black Scoter was seen in flight in Aransas Bay, Aransas 14 Feb (SHa et al.). A third record for McLennan, a Long-tailed Duck visited the City of Riesel treatment ponds 28 Dec-9 Jan (KR, ph. †FR, ph. †MY, ph. †AnC, m.ob.). Elsewhere, Long-tailed Ducks across the state included one at Laguna Atascosa N.W.R., Cameron 24 & 26 Jan (ph. PV), another on a small playa 20 miles south of Lamesa, Martin 26 Jan (ph. JaC, DrH), and two at Cooper Lake, Delta 15-16 Feb (BlC, GC, DCu, ph.). A female Red-breasted Merganser was at the Cochran County Country Club, Cochran 20 Dec (WJW), somewhat unusual as they are mostly found at large deep-water lakes in the region. An estimated 2,000 Red-breasted Mergansers were noted in a single impressive raft along the Texas City Dike, Galveston 19 Feb (SR).
Nine Scaled Quail seen along Brushline Road 18 Jan (CE) provided a rare Hidalgo record. An unusually high count of 70 Horned Grebes were at the Truscott Brine Lake, Knox 15 Feb (ScW). Casual at best every 5-10 years in north-central Texas, a Red-necked Grebe at Hubbard Creek Reservoir, Stephens 14 Jan (TFi, ph.) was an impressive find. A Western Grebe at McAlister Park, Lubbock 2-12 Dec (JoC, JiC, JMi, BP, BSc, ZS) arrived earlier in the season than normal. Outlier Western Grebes included a returning individual in the Hog Island, Harris area 14-30 Dec (MAu, JBe, ph. DW, JoB, TP, ChH, SN), one on the eastern end of Lake Amistad, Val Verde 18 Jan – 8 Feb (ph. WSe), and another at Padre Island National Seashore, Kleberg 19 Jan – 21 Feb (ph. LHo, m.ob.). Clark’s Grebe are making in-roads along the eastern edge of their range with single birds at E.V. Spence Reservoir, Coke 21 Dec – 22 Feb (ES, ph. JCa), at Lake Buchanan, Llano 25 Dec – 9 Feb (ph. GC), and at Champion Creek Reservoir, Mitchell 23 Feb (GC, BlC).
Cuckoos through Cranes
A late Yellow-billed Cuckoo was at San Bernard N.W.R., Brazoria 11-14 Dec (ph. WM, DLe). Two Lesser Nighthawks were observed hawking insects at Mad Island Marsh Preserve, Matagorda 17 Feb (DAu, TGu). A “peenting” Common Nighthawk seen at Terry Hershey Park, Harris 11 Dec (KPo) was late. Chuck-will’s-widows were noted at San Bernard N.W.R., Brazoria 3 Dec (WM) and another overwintered at Sabine Woods, Jefferson 23 Dec+ (HD, ShH, ph. LGo, TLy, JH, ChJ). A calling Eastern Whip-poor-will reported from Goose Island S.P., Aransas 29 Feb (JKe, KK) may have wintered locally. Two chaetura swifts seen well at Guadalupe Delta W.M.A., Calhoun 31 Jan (PH) and another in Austin, Travis 3 Feb (DBo, AB) were intriguing and most likely to be Vaux’s Swifts, a species that still eludes being accepted for the state list.
Still not expected in central Texas, single Anna’s Hummingbirds included a female six miles west-southwest of Dripping Springs, Hays 2 Dec (ph. DHe), a stunning male on the south side of Canyon Lake, Comal 26 Dec (ph. EH) and one at Steep Hollow, Brazos from the fall season that remained until 22 Dec (BMo). Closer to the coast, single birds lingered at Tuleta, Bee 6-19 Dec (ph. LV) and Port O’Connor, Calhoun 9 Jan – 14 Feb (ph. PH). Still rare in winter in the northern parts of Texas, a male Rufous Hummingbird visiting feeders at a Lubbock yard, Lubbock 1 Dec-9 Jan (ph. JiC) was notable for the region. A handsome male Broad-billed Hummingbird was at Mont Belvieu, Chambers 20 Dec-19 Jan (DaH, et al.) while another was discovered near Riverside Park in Victoria, Victoria 26 Jan (ph. BoF et al.). Quite the surprise and a first record for Grimes, a Virginia Rail was heard and briefly seen by some at a pond near the power plant adjacent to Gibbons Creek Reservoir 19 Jan (†JoB, JBo, BeF, m.ob.). Another Virginia Rail originally reported 2 Nov at Paint Creek Road was again heard there 2 Feb (†JaL), a fourth record for Bastrop. Rare in winter at Richland Creek W.M.A., a Common Gallinule was at the North Unit, Navarro 31 Jan (EWe). A Purple Gallinule was spotted at Aransas N.W.R., Aransas 1 Dec (RLo) while sightings from Brazos Bend S.P., Fort Bend 3-30 Jan implied overwintering there (ph. KL, BoG, VR). Three continuing Whooping Cranes from the Louisiana flock were seen along Oak Island Road, Chambers 11 Jan+ (m.ob.).
Shorebirds through Terns
An American Avocet near Petersburg, Hale 23 Jan (BSc) was unusual for late winter in the region. A count of 21 American Avocets on the McNary C.B.C., Hudspeth 16 Dec (ph. BZ) was an excellent winter total. A lingering American Golden-Plover was reported southeast of Mustang Island S.P., Nueces 15 Dec (CTa). An amazing 14 Wilson’s Plovers were found in a roosting flock of Snowy Plovers 12 Dec (ph. JuL) in a restricted area of L.R.G.V. N.W.R., Cameron. Other reports of note were single birds reported from the J.F.K. Causeway, Nueces 19 Jan (TMc) and at Indian Point, San Patricio 12 Feb (ph. AKe, SHa). Undoubtedly the highlight of the College Station T.O.S. meeting field trips was the Mountain Plover found at Horizon Turf Farms in the Brazos River bottomlands of Burleson. First seen 17 Jan it continued until 21 Jan and was observed by over 100 T.O.S. attendees and photographed dozens of times. It is the second record for Burleson, the first being 27 Dec 2011 seen and photographed by only one observer. The regular flock at Halff Brothers Sod Farm, Frio numbered at least 177 this winter. An astonishing 369 Snowy Plovers were counted in a roosting flock in a restricted area of L.R.G.V. N.W.R., Cameron 12 Dec (ph. JuL); two at the Skeen Playa, Lynn 22 Dec (AHe) were noteworthy for wintering so far north and inland.
Whimbrel is a scarce winterer in South Texas and this winter only a handful of birds were reported: two at Sargent Beach, Matagorda 20 Dec (ToF, MAu), another at Matagorda Bay Nature Park/Jetty, Matagorda 3 Jan (ph. WM) and a lone bird from Hans and Pat Suter Wildlife Refuge, Nueces 13 Jan (PKo). Certainly, one of the strangest and more inexplicable sightings of the season was six Ruddy Turnstones found in a wooded area of College Station, Brazos 16 Feb (ph. SMi). Unique for number, date, habitat, mild weather conditions, and far-inland location, were it not for a good photo it is unlikely it would have been believed possible. A Stilt Sandpiper was quite late at the Himmel Farm, Crosby 14 Dec (ph. KHi). Unusual was an inland wintering Dunlin 15 miles west-northwest of Brackettville, Kinney 25 Jan – 8 Feb (ph. THi). A count of 25 Pectoral Sandpipers on Oak Island Road, Chambers 25 Feb were a high count for so early (SS, RD, MGr, TLe, AFo); up to eight Pectoral Sandpipers viewed 22-29 Feb (ph. ShW, †WH, †LSa) at Sims Lane, Brazos was a notable inland number for February. It was a banner winter for Semipalmated Sandpipers with two birds photographed at the Texas City Dike, Galveston 28 Dec (ph. TKe), one photographed at the San Jacinto Battleground, Harris 3 Jan (ph. CTL, ChH, SN), and three early migrants well-described at Yacht Basin Road, Galveston 27 Feb (SS, RD, MGr, TLe, AFo, EK). Rare in the Trans-Pecos in winter, a Western Sandpiper was near Fort Hancock, Hudspeth 16 Dec (ph. JiP).
American Woodcocks brightened the season for the L.R.G.V. in Hidalgo with single birds at Santa Ana N.W.R. (KMo, EJ) and Frontera Audubon 26 Dec (SK). A Solitary Sandpiper northeast of Huntsville, Walker 29 Dec (ph. EWo) was a nice find for the Pineywoods so late in the season; another at MacKenzie Park, Lubbock 12 Jan (GK) was similarly noteworthy. One Lesser Yellowlegs was seen near the Lubbock Dump, Lubbock 14 Dec (BSc), five were at the Cone Playa, Crosby 5 Jan (APa, JaP), two were near Ralls, Crosby (KHi), one was at Rio Bosque Wetlands Park, El Paso 27 Dec (RH), and two were seen near Weinert, Haskell 26 Feb (JHe, CHu, JRa, ph.). – Lesser Yellowlegs is usually very rare in the region during winter, bordering on casual; some feel it is becoming to be a looked-for member of the winter avifauna. An amazing tally of 325 Greater Yellowlegs 24 Jan (MiM) topped the numbers present at Sims Lane 23 Jan-13 Feb and set a new high count for Brazos; similarly, 81 found near Abernathy, Hale 16 Feb (NP) was a high count for northwest Texas. Two Wilson’s Phalaropes on a small playa 20 miles south of Lamesa, Martin 26 Jan (ph. JaC, DrH) were quite unseasonal, exceptionally so for such a northerly location.
An adult Pomarine Jaeger was documented from a Kleberg beach just north of Padre Island National Seashore 1 Jan (ph. JMc) and a Parasitic Jaeger was spotted from shore farther south on Padre Island National Seashore, Kleberg 22 Feb (MRe et al.). Little Gulls are uncommon winter visitors in north-central Texas; three were found this winter, an adult observed from Bowman Springs Park, Lake Arlington, Tarrant 31 Jan- 5 Feb (EWe, m.ob., ph.), another at Joe Pool Lake Dallas 1 Jan (JSi), and one at White Rock Lake, Dallas, 16 Feb (CRu, ph.). In the Pineywoods, single Little Gulls were discovered at Lake Cypress Springs, Franklin 8-11 Dec (StG, GC) and on Lake Bob Sandlin, Camp 21 Feb (GC, BlC). A surprising influx of Laughing Gulls were reported in the Central Brazos Valley. Sightings included a single at Lake Somerville, Burleson 16 Jan (DeL), three at Gibbons Creek Reservoir, Grimes 17 Jan (m.ob.), and more singles 17 Jan (ph. RN) at Peach Creek Ponds, Brazos, 17-18 Jan (†JBo, CCr) at Lake Limestone, Robertson, and 18 Jan (m.ob.) at Lake Madison Park, Madison. More unusual was one at Balmorhea Lake, Reeves 1 Dec (MLo). Out of season Franklin’s Gulls include two at Welch Park, Lake Somerville, Burleson 7-11 Dec (†EF, †MR) and a wounded gull at Big Creek Marina, Lake Somerville, Burleson 1 Jan (KB). The 13 Franklin’s Gulls at Davis Estates Road, Fort Bend 7 Dec were a notable winter tally (JaB, RSh, AR); one was still present there on 4 Jan (TMc).
The bird of the season for north-central Texas was the state’s fifth Heermann’s Gull at Lake Benbrook, Tarrant 2-6 Dec (JA, m.ob., ph.). A first-winter Mew Gull found at Port Aransas 12 Jan (ph. JMc) provided for a first Nueces and Central Coast record. The bird was present through the rest of the season (m.ob.). Amazingly a second Mew Gull was observed at Hans and Pat Suter Wildlife Refuge, Nueces 4 Feb (ph. NB). These two records are the first photo-documented records for the Texas coast. Notable were single California Gulls reported from Boca Chica, Cameron 25 Dec (ph. JuL), Hans and Pat Suter Wildlife Refuge, Nueces 4 Feb (ph. NB) and Port Aransas, Nueces 8 Feb (ph. AMo, AJ). Iceland Gulls that seem to mostly be “Thayer’s” Gulls are found with some regularity each winter. This season singles were at the White Rock Lake spillway, Dallas 1 Dec – 3 Jan (CRu, m.ob., ph.), at J.F.K. Causeway in Corpus Christi, Nueces 27 Dec – 9 Feb (ph. AO), at Lake Buchanan, Llano 1 Jan (ph. VO), at Hagerman N.W.R., Lake Texoma, Grayson 5- 6 Jan (MiC, ph.). at Lake Amistad, Val Verde 18-19 Feb (ph. WSe), and at Davis Estates Road, Fort Bend 19 Dec (ph. AR) & 1 Jan (RW), with three birds including a “Kumlien’s type” there 8 Jan (ph. CTL, NR, KH, LSl, CCl, LMR).
An impressive count of 135 Lesser Black-backed Gulls were at the Davis Estates Road Ponds, Fort Bend 8 Jan (ph. CTL, et al.) Away from the coast, as many as six Lesser Black-backed Gulls were near the dam on Lake Livingston, San Jacinto 6-20 Dec (FC, TDr), one of the higher inland counts for this species in Texas. Elsewhere away from the coast, Lesser Black-backed Gulls included two at Mitchell Lake, Bexar 15 Dec (ph. MRe, SCo), one southwest of Temple, Bell 22 Dec (ph. RP), another at Twin Buttes Reservoir, Tom Green 13 Jan+ (ph. LHa, m.ob.), one spotted flying upriver at Los Corralitos Ranch, Zapata 6 Feb (JBo et al.), and two at Balmorhea Lake, Reeves 15 Dec (StC, ph. DD), while as many as five individuals spent the winter on Lake Amistad, Val Verde 20 Dec – 6 Mar (THi, ph. WSe, MRe).
A “Cook’s Inlet” Gull, the name for Glaucous-winged x Herring Gull hybrids, found on the White Rock Lake spillway, Dallas 28 Dec (CRu, MiC, ph.) was only identified well after the sighting date when photos were carefully examined. Still only an infrequent visitor to central Texas, a first-cycle Glaucous Gull southwest of Temple, Bell 1 Jan (ph. RP) was a great way to start the year off; other inland singles were at Lake Texoma, Hagerman N.W.R., Grayson 17 Dec – 6 Jan (JCh, m.ob., ph.), at Stewart Creek Park Lake Lewisville, Denton 28 Dec – 19 Jan (WC, ph.) and on Lake Amistad, Val Verde 1-23 Feb (ph. TDa). A first cycle Least Tern photographed at Bolivar Flats, Galveston 27-28 Jan was the first mid-winter record for the U.T.C. (CD, ph. BW); the previous U.T.C. late date is 25 Dec and early date is 25 Feb. A Black Tern seen at Mad Island Marsh Preserve, Matagorda 16 Dec (ph. RKo) was quite late. Totally unexpected in north-central Texas in mid-winter was an adult Common Tern in near full breeding plumage at North Holiday Park, Lake Benbrook, Tarrant 10 Jan (ph. EWe), possibly an overshoot after a period of strong south winds.
Loons through Vultures
Two Red-throated Loons on Lake J.B. Thomas, Scurry/Borden 12 Jan (ph. GC, ph. StG, BlC) was a good find as was three on Lake Amistad, Val Verde 19-22 Jan (ph. WSe, ph. SCo). Locally uncommon reports of Pacific Loons in north-central Texas were two at Lake Tawakoni Rains/Van Zandt 28 Dec (GC, SBa) with one there 31 Jan (JBo) while one was at Eisenhower Park, Lake Texoma Grayson 28 Jan (ph. LSh). A Pacific Loon was at McNary Reservoir, Hudspeth 16 Dec (ph. BZ); there are fewer than ten county records. A Great Shearwater was well studied from the Matagorda Bay Nature Park/Jetty, Matagorda 16 Dec (†EC, †PH). A wandering Wood Stork in south San Antonio, Bexar 14 Dec (ph. PP, m.ob.) was well north and inland for so late in the fall/early winter, as was another one near Normanna, Bee 28 Dec (ph. RBe); similarly late wintering birds on the U.T.C. included two on County Road 318 near Cedar Lake, Brazoria 20 Dec (ph. RW, MLa), one at San Bernard N.W.R., Brazoria 17 Jan (ph. WM, SMo) and another at Smith Oaks at High Island, Galveston 19 Jan (BoG).
Brown Boobies continue to be regular visitors with the highest count of the season being eight at Bailey’s Fish Camp, Orange 1 Jan (JWh). The most unexpected location was near the Rice University campus where an adult bird circled and then landed on the Houston Methodist Building, Harris 14 Jan (AX, ph. CTL, JN, BSt, SN, JO’). A tally of 20 Northern Gannets at Boca Chica, Cameron 31 Dec (JuL) was noteworthy for a southerly location. Up to three Neotropic Cormorants were in the parks of Lubbock, Lubbock thru the period (JoC, JiC, DrH, AHe, RKo, JMi, BSc) as the species seems to becoming a low-density resident. Least Bitterns were reported from at least two different locations at Anahuac N.W.R., Chambers with reports 7 Dec (IM, TiF), 8 Dec (LaS) and 19 Dec (JWh); one at Turtle Bayou, Chambers 29 Feb was an early arrival (MAu). A few Turkey Vultures again wintered in and around Rio Bosque Wetlands Park, El Paso (JSp, m.ob.) at their only regular wintering site in the western Trans-Pecos. More unusual were up to two in west El Paso, El Paso 7-15 Feb (JGr, JKi, JiP).
Hawks through Falcons
Two White-tailed Kites near the Littlefield Airport, Lamb 24 Dec-19 Jan (BB, BrB, PKe, ph.) and one near Morton, Cochran 11 Jan (HT) were on the northern edge of any winter sightings for the species in Texas. A Common Black Hawk returned to a resaca in Brownsville, Cameron 22 Dec+ (ph. MEs) for its second winter. The only Harris’s Hawk on the U.T.C. was one on the Kay Prairie, Waller 3 Feb (BHo). White-tailed Hawks continue to creep northward in central Texas; the northernmost sighting this season was one northwest of Holland, Bell 15 Jan (ph. RP). Irregular and rare through much of the Trans-Pecos, a Red-shouldered Hawk at Musquiz Canyon, Jeff Davis 21 Jan+ (MLo) was unexpected. A Broad-winged Hawk reported from Goose Island S.P., Aransas 20 Feb (KE et al.) may have been a wintering bird, while another bird seen at Hazel Bazemore Park, Nueces 29 Feb (MBS, DAn) may have been an early migrant.
A Swainson’s Hawk spotted at Chapman Ranch, Nueces 21 Feb (ph. JBo) was of note since it was well north of the species’ regular wintering spots in the L.R.G.V. Zone-tailed Hawks were noted pushing their range eastward with out-of-place singles at Warren Lake, Harris 8 Dec (ph. SGa, JRi, ph. FC, ph. BHo), Sandy Point, Brazoria 4 Jan (ph. RGi), at Huntsville S.P. south of Huntsville, Walker 4 Jan (DV), west-southwest of Stockdale, Wilson 11 Jan (ph. WSe), and at Stephen F. Austin S.P., Austin 18 Jan (BSt, KGo, BaB, ph. MAW), and two birds near Campbellton, Atascosa 19 Jan (KMc, AlC). It was a good winter for Ferruginous Hawk in South Texas with mostly single birds reported at numerous locations primarily in Hidalgo & Nueces. However, the bounty was at least five birds that wintered near Fashing, Atascosa (ph. WSe, KGa) due to an explosion of rodents; over 60 buteos were tallied in about an eight mile stretch of F.M. 99 from May Feed Lot to Fashing!
Never predictable where they’ll be found in the state so always mentioned here, this season had up to five Long-eared Owls at Trammel Crow Park, Dallas 21-26 Dec (BeS, m.ob., ph.), as many as seven west of Ballinger, Runnels 26 Jan – 6 Mar (ph. JaP, m.ob.) and a lone bird at Hueco Tanks State Historic Site 8 Feb (ph. SDo, KF) that likely overwintered. It was a good winter for Short-eared Owl in South Texas with a high count of 23 birds reported from Chapman Ranch, Nueces 2 Jan (SkC) while up to nine birds were seen near Campbellton, Atascosa 5 Jan (WSe, CTu, KGa).
A Lewis’s Woodpecker was a surprise in Kermit, Winkler 16 Feb (ph. SCo, MRe). A Red-headed Woodpecker was along the extreme eastern edge of where they might be looked for south of Buffalo Gap, Taylor 16 Dec – 26 Jan (ph. JaP). The Red-bellied Woodpecker near Davis Park, Lubbock from the fall remained until 4 Jan (ph., HB, JiC, DrH, AHe, JMi, BSh). Casual in north-central Texas was an easterly Red-naped Sapsucker at Timberglen Park, Denton 26 Jan-22 Feb (ph. KT). A Red-naped Sapsucker at Palo Duro Canyon S.P., Armstrong 2 Feb (ph. DSm) was quite unusual for mid-winter though they are regular migrants in the area. Only the sixth record for Limestone since the first in 1971, a Ladder-backed Woodpecker was in the Groesbeck area 8 Jan (ph. †JT, MLy). Two Hairy Woodpeckers at Lake Palo Duro, Hansford 7 Dec (ph., DrH, BP, BiS) and three at Boys Ranch, Oldham 4 Jan (APa, JaP) were perhaps signs of expansion into more of the Panhandle region. Pileated Woodpecker is rare and on the edge of its range in McLennan, with only five prior records, but this January there were four reports 3-12 Jan (†MHe, ph. †MY, ph. †FR) at Bosque Park spillway on Lake Waco and 28 Feb (MRi) at Lake Waco Wetlands.
A Crested Caracara just south of De Kalb, Bowie 24-25 Dec (JRe) was at the far northeast edge of where the species can be found. An Aplomado Falcon at Brazoria N.W.R., Brazoria 30 Dec was one of few U.T.C. records (SaP, PT). In roughly the same location as last winter, a Prairie Falcon was observed 11 Jan (†MGo) along Old Sayers Road, Bastrop. Much more surprising was a Prairie Falcon at Horizon Turf Farms 14 Jan (†MiM, CaJ) where it is a first county record for Burleson; another Prairie Falcon was seen on the Katy Prairie, Waller 7 Feb (HS, GBu).
Flycatchers through Vireos
It was a good winter for Rose-throated Becard with a continuing female from the fall at National Butterfly Center and Bentsen-Rio Grande S.P., Hidalgo remained through the period (m.ob.), two different birds were present at Resaca de la Palma S.P., Cameron 1 Feb+ (ph. JuL, m.ob.), and a male was reported from Salineno, Starr 24 Jan (MEm). A Dusky-capped Flycatcher visited Resaca de la Palma S.P., Cameron 31 Jan – 4 Mar (ph. MiS, WSc, m.ob.). Single Ash-throated Flycatchers near Lake Buchanan, Llano 25 Dec (ph. GC) and southeast of Thrall, Williamson 1 Feb (ph. JaL) were unusual for late winter/early fall sightings so far inland; they are less seldom detected in the Pineywoods so one near Toledo Bend Reservoir east of Milam, Sabine 4 Jan (DBe) was a highlight of the season for that area. A Brown-crested Flycatcher visited Laguna Atascosa N.W.R., Cameron 13 Jan (ph. VS et al.). A pair of Great Kiskadees below the Lake Livingston Dam spillway, Polk 25 Feb (ph. CCr, JMa) was certainly the same birds detected there in mid-November. Couch’s Kingbird did not reach northward to Brazos until 2004 when it appeared at Country Club Lake; it was reported there again in 2005, but not thereafter until this fall. Then it apparently moved to nearby Finfeather Lake where it was reported regularly 13 Nov-15 Feb (m.ob.). A single flock of 30 Couch’s Kingbirds reported from Aransas N.W.R., Aransas 7 Dec (GBl) was impressive.
Single Western Kingbirds detected on Mustang Island, Nueces 2 Dec (JMc) and along the beach in far eastern Matagorda 3 Dec (ph. BoF) may have been late migrants. A Western Kingbird on West Galveston Island, Galveston 28 Dec-6 Jan implied local overwintering (ph. SaP, ph. Bd, et al.). Others on the U.T.C. were at Thompson Road, Jefferson 3-15 Dec (JWh, ph. ShH) and at Sabine Woods, Jefferson 14 Dec (ph. SMa). A wintering Scissor-tailed Flycatcher that roosted at a car dealership along the Hwy 6 bypass of College Station, Brazos was last reported 11 Jan (ph. JuC). The head-scratching Fork-tailed Flycatcher mini-irruption in Texas continued. A Fork-tailed Flycatcher graced Eagle Lake, Colorado 11-18 Dec (ph. FP, JoP) while the bird found at Rivera, Kleberg in the fall was present until 14 Dec (ph. WSe, DMu). Another bird present in a flock of Couch’s Kingbirds at Aransas N.W.R., Aransas 20-22 Dec (ph. RLa) was hit by a car and the specimen will be held in the collection at Texas A & M University. One more was near Gregory, San Patricio 3 Jan (ph. EG) and yet still another bird was present at Valley Acres Reservoir, Hidalgo 12 Jan-5 Feb (ph. JY, m.ob.). A calling Eastern Wood-Pewee documented at Anzalduas Park, Hidalgo 6 Dec (ph. SPe) was late.
A Least Flycatcher was spotted at Matagorda County Birding & Nature Center, Matagorda 12 Jan (ph. DLe). Out of range were single Hammond’s Flycatchers near Selkirk Island, Matagorda 16 Dec (ph. RW et al.) and at the Falfurrias Rest Area, Brooks 24 Feb+ (m.ob.). More expected, but still noteworthy finds were lone birds at Rio Grande Village, Big Bend N.P., Brewster 4 Jan (MLo) and at Hueco Tanks State Historic Site, El Paso 8 Feb (SDo, ph. KF). Another empidonax flycatcher out of expected wintering areas was a Gray Flycatcher at Muleshoe N.W.R., Bailey 15 Dec (ph., PKi, NP, ST, LZ) and another at Knolle Ranch, Jim Wells/Nueces 31 Dec+ (ph. MCo, ArC). A Black Phoebe visited MacKenzie Park, Lubbock 12 Jan-23 Feb (ph., DMa, MDL, JMi) while another along the Brazos River on the Anderson-Tucker Ranch 11 Jan (†AMa, †NDi), was more far-flung and a first county record for Robertson. Rare in Brazos, a Say’s Phoebe was found at Moore Farm during the T.O.S. meeting field trips and was seen repeatedly thereafter 18 Jan+ (JHa, m.ob.).
A Northern Shrike at Yellowhouse Canyon, Lubbock 10-12 Jan (ph., JiC, JaC, DrH, AHe, BSc) was farther south than they have been typically found in recent years. The White-eyed Vireo in El Paso, El Paso from fall lingered through 8 Dec (ph. BZ) for a first local winter record. Of note for winter were single Bell’s Vireos reported from Carancahua Bay, Jackson 27 Dec (ph. BoF) and a well described bird from Aransas Woods, Aransas 10 Feb (KD). Two Hutton’s Vireos found along the Frio River, Live Oak 20 Dec (WSe, KGa) were well away from the species’ typical Balcones Escarpment habitat; another was at Hueco Tanks State Historic Site, El Paso 8 Feb (SDo, KF) were they are rare but perhaps regular. A great find for central Texas was a Cassin’s Vireo in San Antonio, Bexar 24 Jan – 5 Mar (ph. MRe, m.ob.) while the one found at Rosehill Cemetery, Nueces in the fall continued throughout the season (m.ob.). A Plumbeous Vireo returned to Roselawn Cemetery in McAllen, Hidalgo for another winter while another seen occasionally in El Paso, El Paso 8 Dec – 1 Feb (JiP) undoubtedly overwintered. A Warbling Vireo visited a Progresso Lakes yard in Hidalgo 12 Dec (ph. DJ) while other single birds were reported from the National Butterfly Center, Hidalgo 7 Feb (DMc), and Riverside Park, Victoria 11 Feb (DMu). Lingering Red-eyed Vireos in Missouri City, Fort Bend 10 Dec (RO) and Galveston, Galveston 17 Dec (SBu) were later than typical.
Corvids through Thrashers
A very small number of Steller’s Jays, with counts from one to five, overwintered in a west El Paso, El Paso neighborhood (m.ob.) but there was no broader irruption in the Trans-Pecos or elsewhere. East of its normal range, a Common Raven was described at Camp Swift, Bastrop 1 Jan (†LR). The mild winter allowed small numbers of Tree Swallow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, and Cave Swallow to overwinter in the El Paso area, with most reports from in and around Rio Bosque Wetlands Park, El Paso (m.ob.). A count of 20 Tree Swallows at McNary Reservoir, Hudspeth 5 Jan (JiP) was a good mid-winter total for that area. A male Purple Martin at Village Creek Drying Beds, Tarrant 14 Dec (RMu, ph.) was a first ever documented record for Dec in north-central Texas. This bird was either a record early migrant or less likely a very late lingering bird. This species typically arrives only as early as mid-to-late January in north-central Texas. A Barn Swallow at Lake Pflugerville, Travis 25 Jan (RKa) was perhaps a sign of the mildness of the winter season. Cliff Swallow reports of six at El Franco Lee Park, Harris 21 Feb (KC) and 13 at the San Jacinto Battleground, Harris 22 Feb (SN, ChH) were the earliest ever for the U.T.C. Perhaps due to the drought, Cave Swallows were virtually absent from South Texas this winter. Normally this species can be seen around culverts, bridges and overpasses even in harsh winters, but not so this season.
Unusual after declining the past several years, a Carolina Chickadee at White River Lake, Crosby 28 Dec (PKi, JeC, MDL) was an unexpected find. The only Red-breasted Nuthatches that were reported in south Texas this season were single birds at Goliad S.P., Goliad 6 Dec (LV), Tuleta, Bee 1 Jan (LV) and near Mathis, San Patricio 1 Jan (SKe). Two Winter Wrens and a Winter/Pacific Wren were at McNary Reservoir, Hudspeth 16 Dec (ph. BZ), the only regular wintering location in the El Paso area, with one remaining through 6 Mar (BZ). West of typical range was a Carolina Wren in Bull Draw, Lamb 1 Dec (BB, BrB). A Cactus Wren at Thompson Grove, Dallam 11 Dec-24 Feb (ph., JGu, MCo) was an outlier well north of its expected range.
The most easterly Townsend’s Solitaire reported was one just northwest of Boerne, Kendall 21-24 Jan (ph. MCr). A Wood Thrush was reported sporadically from the Convention Center area at South Padre Island, Cameron 18 Dec – 6 Feb (JGo, BMa et al.), while one at San Bernard N.W.R., Brazoria 22 Feb (ph. JDP) may represent an overwintering bird as it or another was seen at the same location through 11 Dec (ph. WM). A Clay-colored Thrush was found along the Heron Flats Trail at Aransas N.W.R., Aransas 14 Jan (ph. RBo). A Rufous-backed Robin along the Nueces River west of Uvalde, Uvalde 4 Jan (ph. TDa) was certainly last winter’s returning bird but this year was only a one-day wonder. A Brown Thrasher was at Hueco Tanks State Historic Site, El Paso 18 Jan (ph. KF) while another spent much of the winter northwest of Fort Davis, Jeff Davis 16 Dec+ (ph. DD, m.ob.). A fifth record for Bastrop, a Long-billed Thrasher was in the Colovista area 15 Feb (†JaL). A hybrid Curve-billed x Long-billed Thrasher was noted at Estero Llano Grande S.P., Hidalgo 4 Dec (MGu) & 16 Feb (JHu, HH).
Phainopepla through Sparrows
A Phainopepla visited the Lubbock Cemetery, Lubbock 24 Dec (LM, DrH). Texas’s first White Wagtail (ocularis subspecies) was certainly the seasonal highlight. Discovered below Longhorn Dam in east Austin, Travis 8 Feb (ph. JOs, JD), it was enjoyed by at least 100 birders the following day (ph., m.ob.). It remained elusive the rest of the period until it was rediscovered at the same location 28 Feb and remained well into the spring. Huge flocks of American Pipits appeared in the Central Prairie the second week of January, including 220 at Waco, McLennan 9 Jan (ED), 260 at Anderson-Tucker Ranch, Robertson 17 Jan (AMa), and 400 at Horizon Turf farms, Burleson 18 Jan (JBo). A good find for late winter was a Lesser Goldfinch at Ransom Lake, Lubbock 22 Feb (SkP). A Chestnut-collared Longspur was an unusual sight so close to the coast at Pleasure Island, Jefferson on 23 Jan – 17 Feb (ph. JWh, m.ob.). In Milam, where longspurs are rarely reported, a mixed flock included at least two Chestnut-collared Longspurs, 35 Lapland Longspurs, and 4 McCown’s Longspurs in a plowed field near Clarkson 23 Dec (ph.†, KPa).
With only about four prior records in Fayette, a female type Lark Bunting 20 Jan (†BoF) in a weedy field south of Brandt River Bottom Rd was noteworthy. Up to three Lark Buntings present at Warren Lake, Harris 1 Jan-9 Feb were east of normal range (ph. JRi, TMc, NDe, DuL, ChH, SN, ph. SGa). A Clay-colored Sparrow at a Houston, Harris feeder 29 Dec was notable (ph. KSm). A Fox Sparrow was far west at the Davis Mountains Preserve, Jeff Davis 8 Dec (RP, MLo). An impressive 51 American Tree Sparrows at Lake Palo Duro, Hansford 20 Feb (FC, HL) was a notable count in recent years. A Harris’s Sparrow was also out of place to the west of its core range west of Fort Davis, Jeff Davis 24 Jan – 16 Mar (ph. LL, m.ob.); signs of an increase/return to the Lubbock area included one at Muleshoe N.W.R., Bailey 15 Dec (ph., AHe, JaC, NP), another at Lake Six, Lubbock 4 Jan (BSc), and one more in Yellowhouse Canyon, Lubbock 11 Jan (JaC, DrH, AHe). The mist-netting and banding of Baird’s Sparrows around Marfa, Presidio illustrated how regular this species must be in the grasslands; a high count of 10 were handled 29 Jan (SoG et al.). A Rufous-crowned Sparrow at Muleshoe N.W.R., Bailey 15 Dec (ph., PKi, NP, ST, LZ) was a bit of a westerly outlier while another at Ranch Rio Verde near Laredo, Webb 8 Feb (ph. BoF) was am outlier to the south. Wayward Green-tailed Towhees were present at San Bernard N.W.R., Brazoria 14-18 Dec (DLe, WM), Brazoria N.W.R., Brazoria 26 Dec-11 Jan (TMc, MHa, RR, et al.), and at Cullinan Park in Sugar Land, Fort Bend 22 Dec+ (ph. MS, ph. RMa, ph. JaB, et al.). Single Spotted Towhees were on the Katy Prairie, Waller through 21 Dec (JHi, CL) and at the San Jacinto Battleground, Harris 23 Jan+ (ph. SL, m.ob.). An Eastern Towhee wandered to near Fritch, Moore 6 Dec (ph., DrH, BP, BiS).
Orioles through Warblers
Unusual for winter, an adult male Orchard Oriole was reported from Los Corralitos Ranch, Zapata 6 Feb (JBo et al.); another adult male was reported near Calallen, Nueces 25 Feb (DGr). Wintering sightings of Bullock’s Orioles are not expected, so single birds in east Austin, Travis 25-31 Dec (ph. TyM) and in Cedar Park, Williamson 20 Feb (ph. RKo) were notable; more so was one 15 miles northeast of Crockett, Houston 11-15 Feb (ph. BR). On the U.T.C., Bullock’s Orioles had a banner winter with individuals at no less than ten locations. The Audubon’s Oriole slight northward incursion continued with up to four bird south of Belmont, Gonzales thru 6 Jan (ph. FKi), 3 at Lake Wood, Gonzales 24 Jan (ph. BoF), and up to four near Seguin, Guadalupe 13-25 Feb (ph. SF) and one on Dairy Road, Bastrop 16 Feb – 5 Mar (ph. JGu, ph. †JaL, †BrF, †BeG). A male Scott’s Oriole successfully overwintered for the fourth time in an El Paso, El Paso yard (ph. BZ), another may have overwintered in the Chisos Basin, Big Bend N.P., Brewster 22 Jan – 13 Feb (DP, KPl, CuH), while two at the Calliham Unit of Choke Canyon S.P., McMullen 29 Feb (ph. NL) made for a rare South Texas record. More noteworthy was one at Finfeather Lake, Brazos 8 Dec (ph. †SiK), a first for that area.
Rusty Blackbirds wandered west with one at Fort Clark Springs, Kinney 11 Dec (ph. BrC), up to nine at Abilene S.P., Taylor 15-28 Dec (ph. JaP), one at Utopia, Uvalde 15 Feb (MH), one at Lake Palo Duro, Hansford 7 Dec (DrH, BP, BiS, ph.), three at Buffalo Springs Lake, Lubbock 26 Dec (DrH, ph.), one in west El Paso, El Paso 1 Jan (JGr, ph. JKi, JYo) and two near Dell City, Hudspeth 16 Feb (ph. JiP). They also extended to the south a bit with a single bird at Wesley Seale Dam, San Patricio 2 & 17 Dec (ph. SkC), 4 southeast of Bloomington, Calhoun 19 Dec (ph. BoF) and 2 at Matagorda Birding and Nature Center, Matagorda 4 Jan (PH). Rusty Blackbirds have become rare on the immediate coast on the U.T.C. so eight at Freeport, Brazoria 15 Dec (ph. RW, BL, MLe) were notable there.
A Worm-eating Warbler at Challenger 7 Memorial Park, Harris 6 Dec was extremely late (ph. RGr). Unseasonal were single Louisiana Waterthrushes just outside Lost Maples S.N.A., Bandera 18 Dec (ph. CF), at Riverside Park, Matagorda 16 Dec (ph. PO, EO), near McFaddin, Victoria 19 Dec (ph. KZ, FZ) and Goliad, Goliad 1 Feb (DMu). At least ten Tennessee Warblers were reported from L.R.G.V. locations this season (m.ob.); normally only one to two birds are reported. Late Tennessee Warblers on the U.T.C. were at Randolph Park, Harris 1 Dec (BL) and at Wallisville, Chambers 28 Dec (CP, MMa). An out-of-season Nashville Warbler was at Veterans Park, Brazos 15 Dec (†AFr). Well east of normal range and out-of-season as well was a MacGillivray’s Warbler at John Bunker Wetlands Center, Kaufman 4 Jan (BlC, ph.). A male Hooded Warbler at Laguna Atascosa N.W.R., Cameron 8 Dec (MBS, GA) was probably a late migrant. A female American Redstart was present in Brownsville, Cameron 14 Dec+ (ph. WSe, DMu) while single birds at the Hargrove Recycling Center in Pearland, Brazoria 24 Jan (LSp) and at Sabine Woods, Jefferson 6-27 Feb (CD, BW, ShH, JoH) were likely birds that overwintered.
Always a great find in the winter, a Cape May Warbler was seen by several birders while it stayed the season at Aquarena Springs, Hays 7 Jan – 15 Feb (ph. AW, m.ob.) while another was at a feeder in Lake Jackson, Brazoria 7-9 Jan (LKi, VK, ph. SuH). A wintering Northern Parula was at Seydler Road sand/gravel ponds, Fayette 20 Jan-1 Feb (ph. †BoF, ph. MSu, StG). Another was at College Station, Brazos 4 Feb (†LK) and another single was at Lake Somerville S.P.-Birch Creek Unit, Burleson 22 Feb (†EF). Other lingering Northern Parulas included one at Choke Canyon S.P., McMullen 31 Dec (ph. KHe et al.), two at Riverside Park in Victoria, Victoria 12 Jan (ph. WSe, DMu, KGa), one at Bay Area Park, Harris 22 Dec (ph. LF) and another at the Brazos Woods Preserve, Brazoria 4 Jan (ph. RKo, TyM). A Tropical Parula was present at Goliad S.P., Goliad 3 & 18 Dec (ph. DCo, MaC, EC) while one was also at Riverside Park, Victoria 4-19 Feb (DSa et al.). The species is becoming more regular in winter on the U.T.C. as evidenced by birds near Freeport, Brazoria 15 Dec (LGa, SGa, CM), Brazos River County Park, Brazoria 4 Jan (KO, DGo), Armand Bayou Nature Center, Harris 25 Jan-22 Feb (ph. AHa, ph. FJ, et al.), and Seabrook, Harris 8 Feb (ph. AL, SaW).
A late Magnolia Warbler was at Brazos River County Park, Brazoria 4 Jan (ph. KO, DGo) while one at Laguna Vista Nature Trail, Cameron 6 & 13 Feb (ph. KMo, EJ) was likely a wintering bird. Late Yellow Warblers included single birds at Lake Jackson, Brazoria 4 Jan (TMo), the Hargrove Recycling Center in Pearland, Brazoria 23 Jan-23 Feb (ph. MAs, ph. LSp, MRo, et al.), Anahuac N.W.R., Chambers 2 Feb (KV), and Galveston, Galveston 26-27 Jan (GHa, KO, JBo). Amazing was a male Black-throated Blue Warbler which wintered at a suet feeder at Arborside Drive, Dallas 1 Dec – 29 Feb+ (TKi, m.ob., ph.); a female was at Friendswood, Galveston 17 Dec – 3 Jan (ph. DCo, m.ob.) while a male visited High Island, Galveston 4 Jan (ph. CV). It was a good winter for Palm Warblers away from the coast with one south of Massey Lake, Anderson 4 Jan (ph. BMc, LW) that was a bit surprising, one at Big Mineral Marina, Lake Texoma, Grayson 21 Dec (JCh, ph.) and another at Village Creek Drying Beds, Tarrant through the period (EWe, m.ob., ph.). Single birds also wandered to 20 miles northeast of Terlingua, Brewster in mid-November and showed up again 2 Jan (JiH, BHi), 7 Dec (†EF) at Welch Park, Lake Somerville, Burleson, 8 Dec (JeH) at Iron Bridge Park, Belton Lake, Bell, 25 Dec (ph. FR) at Middle Bosque Crossing, west of Crawford, McLennan, and 17 Jan (†CRi, et al.) at Gibbons Creek Reservoir, Grimes.
A Yellow-throated Warbler east of Lakeport, Harrison 30 Jan – 3 Feb (DBr) was certainly one of the northernmost wintering sightings of this species in the state ever. A male Prairie Warbler found on a Christmas Bird Count scouting trip at Mad Island Marsh Preserve, Matagorda 15 Dec (ph. BoF) was seen again 13 Jan (ph. BoF, APi); an exceptional late-winter find was a Prairie Warbler at Proctor Lake, Comanche 31 Jan (ph. KSl). Of note in south Texas were single Black-throated Gray Warblers at Aransas N.W.R., Aransas 20 Dec (RLa) and at two different Laredo, Webb locations 6 & 8 Feb (ph. m.ob.). A Black-throated Gray Warbler in El Paso, El Paso 1 Jan (MSc) was one of only a few local area winter records as was one was at Houston, Harris 7 Dec (ph. TiH). A Townsend’s Warbler at the El Paso Zoo, El Paso 1 Jan (ph. KF, VM) added to just a handful of local winter records. Seven Black-throated Green Warblers seen at Victoria’s Riverside Park, Victoria 12 Jan was a high count for the location (DMu, WSe, KGa). Exceptionally east of normal range and a first for north-central Texas was a stunning photo documented report of a Red-faced Warbler on private property near Whitney, Hill 24 Jan+ (LiS, ph.).
Tanagers through Seedeaters
Noteworthy wintering Summer Tanagers included one in Kerrville, Kerr 15 Dec – 7 Feb (ph. RKi), another in Lufkin, Angelina until 5 Jan (ph. GHu); one in an El Paso neighborhood 1 Jan (ph. AKo) was a winter first for El Paso. Also nice for mid-winter was a Western Tanager just southwest of Boerne, Kendall 2 Jan (ph. BD) and one at El Rio R.V. Park, Starr 20 Jan (ph. SDu, WD, CZ). A Crimson-collared Grosbeak was spotted near the headquarters of Bentsen S.P., Hidalgo 9 Dec (ph. PH) while another bird visited Santa Ana N.W.R., Hidalgo 22 Dec – 13 Jan (m.ob.). Pyrrhuloxias ranged to northwest Texas with one near Plains, Yoakum 23 Dec (TT) and another at the Cochran County Country Club, Cochran 9 Feb (NP). Pyrrhuloxia made a strong showing on the U.T.C. this winter with birds on the Katy Prairie 1 Dec (JHi), at Pilcik Road, Fort Bend 9 Dec (RSh), Galveston, Galveston 5 Jan (ph. RSw, KO, BO, DAO), Centerhill Road, Austin 18 Jan (ph. JWi, et al.), and Quintana, Brazoria 12-13 Feb (MHa, SuH).
Several Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were scattered throughout South Texas this winter with the most notable being two birds from Riverside Park, Victoria 21 Dec (ph. BoF, BBe) and a single bird seen at a feeder along Pauraque Ridge, Bee 8 Feb (RBe). At least seven individual Black-headed Grosbeaks were in South Texas this winter with the most notable birds being in north Laredo, Webb 24 Dec (TyH) and Refugio, Refugio 5 Feb (TGr). A male Blue Grosbeak turned up near Raisin, Victoria 28 Feb (BO) while also early was one at Port Bolivar, Galveston 29 Feb (ph. CTL, CB). Hardly ever reported in winter in the Central Brazos Valley, an immature male Indigo Bunting was found at Washington-on-the-Brazos S.P., Washington 19 Jan (†DV, NDi, ph. TS, et al.).
Rare in winter in the Central Brazos Valley, single adult male Painted Buntings were seen at Bryan, Brazos 25 Jan (ph. SDi) and at Chappell Hill, Washington 20-23 Feb (ph. DV). At least a dozen Painted Buntings were reported from South Texas this season with the most notable being a female seen at Lake Corpus Christi S.P., San Patricio 3 Dec (SkC) and a male reported at Laredo, Webb 5 Feb (ThM). On the U.T.C., the Painted Bunting sighting of the winter was at Jones Creek, Brazoria where six birds, including four males in a single photo, were present 8 Feb (ph. SCh). Chaney commented that males show up every year in December with the females joining in February. Five Dickcissel were present in South Texas at various locations this winter, with the most notable being a bird seen in Corpus Christi, Nueces 14 Dec (MD) and in Victoria, Victoria 21 Dec (BoF, BBe). A tardy Dickcissel was found 4 Dec (†WH) eating seeds with House Finch and American Goldfinch at Country Club Lake, Brazos. Lone Dickcissels were also noted along Fairview Road near Winnie, Chambers 1 Dec (CP) and on the Katy Prairie, Waller 19 Jan (ph. BHo). Unexpected so far north and away from the Rio Grande corridor, a Morelet’s Seedeater at Cook’s Slough, Uvalde, Uvalde 31 Dec – 3 Jan (ph. FKy) was certainly out of place.