Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Gray Catbird, Gage Gardens. Excellent summer record!

Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)

Singing this morning at the Gage Gardens, here in Marathon, Brewster Co.

This is an excellent summer record.  We weren't immediately sure if this was or was not a first summer record.
Kelly Bryan's "Birds of the Trans-Pecos" 2002, lists this species as "Accidental" (= "generally one to three records, region-wide each decade) with the dot on the latest end of June.

I am curious about those records, when and where.  The bird is likely still there.  KBB and I have seen him all morning, thus far.

In fact it seems to be singing on territory.  Maybe it is the same individual that would show itself from time to time in our back 40.
If it actually had a mate nearby, I might start singing.

For my experience this winter to now, it seems quite solitary.


  1. That's a sighting to purr about!

    I always thought it funny that the Catbird sneaks into east Texas and then has this detour whereby it avoids west Texas and Oklahoma, but then turns up again in New Mexico (according to various range maps), even east AZ from time to time.

    NIce find!

  2. No doubt a few fly through, along with other "eastern" species. Part of it is likely a matter of having fewer eyes and ears around.

    Saw a male Phainopepla later this afternoon at the Gage Gardens. While not terribly odd in the winter in the Marathon Basin, it is in the summer. This altitudinal migrant heads to higher elevations in the summer.

    Many of the higher elevations are still gripped in drought. Might be curious what flits around here this summer.

  3. Always a salient point that birds tend to turn up where the birders are to see them : )

    Phainopeplas are too cool for school, like the The Fonz was a bird.

    Do you all ever feel like you're in a desolate outpost on the edge of the frontier? So much space out there, and there's very little else coming out of west Texas in terms of blogs and birding organizations, excepting of course the coming events mentioned at this site.

  4. MWYork ... I wonder if I could get permission to post that Catbird image at http://www.texasbirdimages.com

    That's a good record for the Trans-Pecos and very good photo-documentation.

    Jim Peterson

    1. Jim Peterson,

      I'd be happy to contribute and you have my permission to use that photo. Since my quick initial posting, there are two additional photos that were added when I had more time.

      Would you like the original image, or just to snag it off the album?

      -Matt York

    2. Matt: I can grab it as it is.

      I'm assuming it would read, Gray Catbird, Brewster Co., June 26, 2012. Correct?


    3. Jim,


      It was at Gage Gardens, Marathon, Brewster Co., 26 June 2012


  5. Laurence, it ate my comment the first time around - yes, sometimes it does feel like we're at the end of the road and nobody knows. And that has been a topic of discussion lately. Comments like yours, and folks who either live vicariously through the posts or were inspired to visit the region as a result of our posts... they kind of keep us going, to a degree. I mean, we love it out here, but sometimes we wonder if putting up with mediocre, at times soul-killing jobs, and muddling through life is really worth it. But the wildlife out here - when we come across it - makes things worthwhile. People do provide reassurance that we're doing something right, though. Maybe we should start a guestbook type post: most of our readers never comment and perhaps that would give them an opportunity to do so... /rambling

    1. That's interesting to hear Heidi. At times I've contemplated these sorta out-post positions, as things I might've done if life were different (not remorsefully of course, but it's not the kind of job I'd take now that I'm married). As isolating as the positions seem to be, the freedom they give to be out in the ruff, out in the wild without other petty constraints is very attractive. But knowing myself, I could only do it for so long, and only if I'd eventually be able to share the experiences with other people.
      Like many things, it must be a calling, a vocation of sorts, to take these jobs that are so far and so long removed from the mainstream.

      And you all have some festivals coming up! I'm sad I won't be able to attend this year, but you all have definitely gotten me hooked on the idea of a west Texas trip. I'd love to see Golden-fronted Woodpeckers and Aplomado Falcons, as well as Colima and Golden-cheeked Warblers. Some day I'll make the trek out there. Maybe next summer! It'd be lovely if y'all are still posted in west Texas, but if not that'll just mean you've found something more fulfilling elsewhere.

      Does it look like these upcoming will be well attended? I mean, y'all got Kaufmann...

      How long is this tour of duty?

    2. We lucked out - we were able to take the initial position together (teamwork! releasing Aplomado Falcons), but then staying in town has been the challenge after the field season ended. We've worked almost every odd job the place has to offer!

      We're hoping to be here for the festival next year; unfortunately you'd have to hit south Texas for Aplomados and central Texas for Golden-cheeked Warblers, but the rest we can definitely help with! And if we're not still out here for any reason, we can still help and/or put you in touch with people who can help.

      Fingers are crossed for this festival, we're expecting a lot of last minute registration attempts due to many people thinking the event was in June and/or not realizing that they needed to sign up in advance... we'll see!

      As for tour of duty, this IS the tour of duty. We're dabbling with life out here and how to make it work =)

  6. Jim, on the photo doc requirements - do they have to be alive? We have photos of a deceased Redhead (power line kill) from Marathon... otherwise, it looks like we may be able to fill in a bunch of holes for the region as well, if you'd like. Also of note, Swainson's Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler and Groove-billed Ani. Matt has taken most of the photos, but if you need to contact me directly, heidi at big bend nature . com is the address.

  7. Jim, I tried to comment that we have Redhead (deceased), Lapland Longspur, Bay-breasted Warbler, Swainson's Warbler and a few other photo docs that may be of interest... and then my comment didn't go through.

  8. Heidi... no they don't have to be alive. We're after documented species. If you have dates and counties, I'd love the images. The email to send them is on the website.

    The Catbird image I can grab off this site, but the others would likely need to send. They can be sent in any size. I'll handle the rest.