Friday, April 6, 2012

Where Gray Hawk meets Lucy's Warbler

Gray Hawk and Lucy's Warbler are creatures with rather restricted ranges in the United States. Click on their names to see their range maps, but keep in mind that Lucy's Warbler does breed in a thin ribbon along the western side of Texas, along the Rio Grande.

This morning's short stroll around Cottonwood Campground on the western side of Big Bend National Park yielded a good variety of "first of season" birds for us; Gray Hawk and Lucy's Warbler included. Unfortunately for us, the latter was not particularly cooperative visually. At least two males were singing, however, and stayed around the entrance to the campground. The resident pair of Gray Hawks perched primarily in the tall dead branches of the middle cottonwoods when not soaring.

Gray Hawk; a bird that causes Lower Rio Grande Valley nostalgia for us.

Here's the eBird list from the campground:

2 Mallard (Mexican) Anas platyrhynchos diazi
1 Black Vulture Coragyps atratus
5 Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura
2 Gray Hawk Buteo nitidus
4 Eurasian Collared-Dove Streptopelia decaocto
12 White-winged Dove Zenaida asiatica
2 Inca Dove Columbina inca
4 Golden-fronted Woodpecker Melanerpes aurifrons
2 Ladder-backed Woodpecker Picoides scalaris
1 Eastern Phoebe Sayornis phoebe
12 Vermilion Flycatcher Pyrocephalus rubinus
1 Ash-throated Flycatcher Myiarchus cinerascens
2 Western Kingbird Tyrannus verticalis - FOS
10 Bell's Vireo Vireo bellii
2 Northern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis
1 Bewick's Wren Thryomanes bewickii
3 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Polioptila caerulea
4 Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos
2 Lucy's Warbler Oreothlypis luciae - 2 singing males. Possibly a third bird.
1 Northern Parula Setophaga americana
1 Yellow Warbler Setophaga petechia
2 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's) Setophaga coronata auduboni
2 Wilson's Warbler Cardellina pusilla
2 Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina
3 White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys
3 Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis
2 Pyrrhuloxia Cardinalis sinuatus
6 House Finch Carpodacus mexicanus

A detour to Santa Elena Canyon yielded no Nutting's Flycatcher - the place was rather crowded anyway - but we did hear another bushel of vireos (Bell's, they're everywhere) and were able to soak up our first retama blossoms of the year. Retama is one of our favorite trees, due to its interesting desert adaptations - like the teeny leaflets that emerge in spring and drop as the summer progresses to avoid excessive drying.

Heading back to Panther Junction from Santa Elena, we spotted dozens of clumps of Big Bend Bluebonnets (Lupinus havardii) among the various blooms of, well, everything. Agarita (algerita to some), creosote, ocotillo, claret cups, yellow trumpet flower, mesquite and huisache were in bloom along with what must have been rock nettle along the road.


  1. Thanks! It's teamwork and - finally - a little time on our hands! Not much time on our hands for the next month and a half, though. Ah well.

  2. We had to get down there. When the Flippos mentioned the Lucy's Warblers were out singing, maybe a week ago; well, we had to get down there. We haven't had much time, at the same time, to hit anywhere lately. This was nice.

    Hope y'all are well, north and south county.

  3. Great to hear and see Spring in your post.