Welcome to my world!

Backyard Birding in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas:
Surrounded by great birding destinations, our favorite patch is still the backyard (or the front), where we've seen more than 270 species of birds. Sit awhile, and watch the river and yard with us!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Back to the Back Yard (and the Front)

Winter is not my favorite season in most of the country, but it certainly is in South Texas along the Arroyo Colorado! It was nice to sit on the little deck looking over the front yard yesterday and watch our winter birds. An Orange-crowned Warbler enjoyed the grapefruit we put out (fruit picked up from under our neighbor's tree). It was just one of three warblers in the yard. A Wilson's Warbler and a Yellow-rumped Warbler also flitted around.

Best of all, we were surprised by another visitor at the grapefruit--a Baltimore Oriole enjoying the fruit and the warm winter sunshine. I remember being surprised last February when a Baltimore made it a three-oriole day--along with a Hooded Oriole and the usual year-round Altamiras. Yesterday was only a
two-oriole day as there doesn't seem to be a wintering Hooded around. One spring we had a five-oriole day: Hooded, Altamira, Baltimore, Orchard, and Fuertes's. My favorite of course is the rare Fuertes's Oriole that spent a couple of summers in our yard a decade ago. I look for one every spring and keep hoping to see another.

Today is another warm day with temps in the mid 70's. The rest of the week should be in the 80's. We'll probably take the boat out to the bay--or
maybe just fish and bird in the Arroyo. Here's a picture of a Ringed Kingfisher fishing across the Arroyo. (Not a great picture since the camera was zoomed in ((or out)) all the way from my back porch. But it does show that beautiful red breast.)
We have all three kingfishers
(Ringed, Belted, Gre
en) at this time of year. The Green is my favorite. One used to stay in our boat house most of the time. Then we tore the boat house down and replaced it with a lift with no side walls. The little Green Kingfishers still fly by--always low, flying about a foot above the water--but they hang out in someone else's boat house.
The large Ringed Kingfishers nest along the river in holes they excavate out of the banks. About a mile upriver are some old kingfisher holes that are now inhabited by Barn Owls. Maybe tomorrow I'll try to get photos of the owls if we take the boat that direction.

My husband just called me away from the computer to look out the front window at a pair of cardinals. Beautiful birds. Yesterday there were two Pyrrhuloxias in the back. They look like caricatures of cardinals, beaks and crests comically exaggerated.

Other birds in the front yard: Blue-gray Gnatcatcher; Inca, White-tipped, Mourning, and White-winged Doves; Lincoln's Sparrow; Lark Sparrow; Kiskadees and Green Jays (of course); Long-billed and Curve-billed Thrashers; Mockingbirds; Black-crested Titmice; Buff-bellied and Ruby Throated Hummingbirds (maybe a Black-chinned: two of what I assumed were Ruby-throated hummers had dark green heads and another one had more of a grayish head; female hummers are hard to distinguish--at least for me)

Other birds in the back yard (river side): Great Blue and Tri-colored Herons; Black-crowned Night Herons; Great and Snowy Egrets; Osprey; Harris's Hawk; Laughing, Herring, and Ring-billed Gulls; Caspian, Forster's, and Royal Terns; Anhinga; Ruddy Duck; Double-crested Cormorant; Black and Turkey Vultures; Great-tailed Grackles, House Sparrows, Starlings (none of those my favorites); Red-winged Blackbirds. Of course the Brown and White Pelicans.

I'm sure I've left out some birds, but this list shows it was a good day on the Arroyo Colorado! I'll go back out for awhile and see what I can see. From where I sit right now (inside the living room) I can see the brown grass on the bank turning golden in the late afternoon sun. Now I just have to decide whether to sit out on the front deck to look for the Baltimore Oriole or to watch the riverbank from the deck at the top of the boat lift. (Retirement is so full of hard decisions!)

1 comment:

KaHolly said...

Quite the impressive yard list!! You are in the perfect location to enjoy birds as you do. This past Christmas trip to San Antonio, I was amazed at all the Cardinals (no pyrrhuloxias this trip) I heard and saw, esp. along the Cibolo R. Cardinals are one of those birds that do not make the journey to Cape Breton in the summer and I miss terribly! ~karen