Though Spring migration of birds isn’t over yet this year, its winding down along the Gulf Coast of Texas. Its been a good year for me, as it was a good year in general in SE Texas. This is a major stop and refuel area for birds who have spent the winter in central and South America, and are migrating back to their breeding range, in more northerly climes.
I had 3 birds that kept eluding me season after season, and I had hoped to get at least one of them this season. However, I GOT ALL 3!!! These 3 birds are rare here, but not unheard of. I saw a Swainson’s Warbler (bttm), a very secretive bird, here at the park where I work, and finally saw a Black-billed Cuckoo (2nd row) and a Cape May Warbler (top R), who usually migrate far east of here, at the bird watching mecca of High Island, TX.
I’ve also seen a lot of shorebirds this season, and I’m still hoping to get a Blackpoll Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler; Prairie Warbler, and Black-throated Blue Warbler.
A rich, rolling “churee churee churee” rings out from the lush understory of the woods, then the songster itself flits up to a low branch and sounds out again. This golden and olive warbler with the black mustache spends much of its time on the ground in deep woods, where it nests, but the patient birder can often catch a glimpse of one, especially as males stake out their territories each spring.
The Kentucky Warbler’s characteristic loud song is heard less frequently today, and continued losses of bottomland hardwood forests across the southeastern United States may be the reason why. However, destruction of habitat on its wintering grounds through clearing for agriculture and pasture may pose an even greater threat…
Striped bass, or rockfish, is a large, predatory fish with dark stripes across its silvery sides. Usually grows to about 20 in long and weighs about 30 lbs, but some can be as long as 6 feet and weigh as much as 125 lbs. Considered to be semi-anadromous because most do not travel all the way from the ocean to their spawning grounds in freshwater rivers (though they do migrate in to fresh water)…
… also called Atlantic striped bass, striper, linesider, rock, pimpfish, or rockfish. The striped bass is a typical member of the Moronidae family in shape, having a streamlined, silvery body marked with longitudinal dark stripes running from behind the gills to the base of the tail. Maximum size is 200 cm (6.6 ft) and maximum scientifically recorded weight 57 kg (125 lb).Striped bass are native to the Atlantic coastline of North America from the St. Lawrence River into the Gulf of Mexico to approximately Louisiana. They are anadromous fish that migrate between fresh and salt water. Spawning takes place in fresh water.
(read more: Wikipedia) (artwork by Timothy Knepp, USDOI)
If you’re lucky, you might spot the Golden-cheeked Warbler on its breeding grounds in central Texas at this time of year. The snazzy-looking adult male is particularly striking, with a golden-yellow eyebrow and cheek-patch, split by a black eye-stripe that joins its black nape and back.
The Golden-cheeked Warbler depends on the bark of the Ashe juniper for nesting material and tends to forage in deciduous oaks. Its ideal habitat consists of mixed juniper-oak woodlands.
Major threats are habitat fragmentation and degradation caused by ranches and housing developments, the effects of global climate change, lack of prescribed fire, which clears the forest understory to provide habitat, and removal of Ashe juniper trees. Habitat fragmentation compounds the impact of additional threats such as cowbird parasitism, overbrowsing by deer, and the spread of oak wilt fungus…
Currently in Houston area, spotted at High Island and outside Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary. Main feature: black sideburns down face, robust body, underparts yellow, yellow eyestripe, olive back and wings. Diet: insects. Wingspan: 18-22 cm, length: 13 cm. Fun Fact: Only knows a single song, and often, competing males will sing in an identical pitch during mating season.
The Shy Albatross (Thalassarche cauta) is a medium-sized bird that ranges extensively across the Southern Ocean. It measures 90–100 cm (35–39 in) in length and 210–260 cm (83–100 in) in wingspan, making it the largest of the mollymawks (a group of medium sized albatrosses in the genus Thalassarche).