A Field Guides Birding Tours Report

Texas' Big Bend & Hill Country 2021

April 17-26, 2021 with Chris Benesh guiding

Field Guides Birding Tours
One of the wonderful Golden-cheeked Warblers encountered at Lost Maples SNA. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

This tour marked our long-awaited return to bird watching ecotourism and I cannot imagine a better group to get back into the swing of things with. It was not without it hitches, most notably the horrible fire that broke out in the Chisos Mountains of Big Bend National Park that prevented us from visiting the National Park. Sent scrambling, we switched up some things and turned it into a South Texas and Texas Hill Country adventure. The tour itself was a big success with lots of terrific highlights. The big fallout along the coast was remarkable, the best many had seen in years there. A terrific encounter with a Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl was a treat, as was a big variety of valley specialties. The Hill Country was wonderful and scenic, highlighted by our visit to Lost Maples State Natural Area where local Golden-cheeked Warblers showed well for us (including an active nest). Icing on the cake for us was a wonderful evening spent at the Frio Bat Cave witnessing one of nature’s great wildlife spectacles, the emergence of many thousands of Brazilian Free-tailed Bats.

Thanks to all of you for making my return to guiding such a wonderful experience. Hoping to see you all again in the field and wishing you safe and joyful birding. — Chris

One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)

BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna autumnalis)

Here's a video compilation of our sightings from the tour, including highlights like the Tamaulipas Crows, our experience at the Frio Bat Cave, that wonderful Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, and much more! Video and photographs by guide Chris Benesh.

FULVOUS WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna bicolor)

We lucked into a couple of these at Santa Ana NWR and another five at Anzalduas later that morning.

MUSCOVY DUCK (Cairina moschata)

The only ones seen that are worth mentioning are the two wild-looking ones at Bravo Park in Zapata. Despite their appearance, they are best considered non-wild.

BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Spatula discors)

Good numbers of this attractive teal, with as many as 27 at Santa Ana.

CINNAMON TEAL (Spatula cyanoptera)

Seen at Estero and Santa Ana. Much more scarce than Blue-wing here.

NORTHERN SHOVELER (Spatula clypeata)

Despite its size, this is a teal that is closely related to Blue-winged and Cinnamon. This is now reflected in their sharing the genus Spatula.

GADWALL (Mareca strepera)

MALLARD (Anas platyrhynchos platyrhynchos)

MEXICAN DUCK (Anas diazi)

MOTTLED DUCK (Anas fulvigula)

GREEN-WINGED TEAL (AMERICAN) (Anas crecca carolinensis)

REDHEAD (Aythya americana)

The only one seen at this late date was a female sleeping with other ducks at Estero Llano Grande.

LESSER SCAUP (Aythya affinis)

Two female plumaged scaup seen briefly at Salineno.

RUDDY DUCK (Oxyura jamaicensis)

Cracidae (Guans, Chachalacas, and Curassows)

PLAIN CHACHALACA (Ortalis vetula)

One of the iconic birds of the valley. Great to hear them sounding off to each other some mornings.

Odontophoridae (New World Quail)

NORTHERN BOBWHITE (Colinus virginianus)

A couple of these were seen near Falcon by the side of the road.

SCALED QUAIL (Callipepla squamata)

We had a covey of seven birds near Falcon. A treat to see this declining species here.

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One of the many Baltimore Orioles present along the coast during the fallout. Photo by guide Chris Benesh
Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)

WILD TURKEY (Meleagris gallopavo)

A few seen while driving.

Podicipedidae (Grebes)

LEAST GREBE (Tachybaptus dominicus)

There were good numbers of this species in the valley this year. Our first were at Sabal Palm.

PIED-BILLED GREBE (Podilymbus podiceps)

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]

RED-BILLED PIGEON (Patagioenas flavirostris)

We eventually saw about five of these along the Rio Grande at Salineno.

EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto) [I]

INCA DOVE (Columbina inca)

COMMON GROUND DOVE (Columbina passerina)

WHITE-TIPPED DOVE (Leptotila verreauxi)

This is another border species that enters the United States in south Texas. It has been moving northward in recent years and is now regular in the Hill Country.

WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenaida asiatica)

MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura)

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

GROOVE-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga sulcirostris)

The main Spring arrivals were still a few weeks away, but we did see a bird at Bentsen from the hawk platform that made decent scope views.

GREATER ROADRUNNER (Geococcyx californianus)

Great views of a couple of birds along the road between Salineno and Chapeno.

YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO (Coccyzus americanus)

A few migrants seen near the coast, including a really exhausted looking bird.

BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO (Coccyzus erythropthalmus)

Great views of one at the Convention Center on South Padre Island.

Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)

LESSER NIGHTHAWK (Chordeiles acutipennis)

Seen flying around Bentsen while we waited for the Elf Owls to show. Another was near Salineno. Later seen near the Frio Bat Cave.

COMMON NIGHTHAWK (Chordeiles minor)

A calling bird was flying over Santa Ana during the day. Another was seen at the bat cave.

COMMON PAURAQUE (Nyctidromus albicollis)

A magical moment watching a bird with two nestlings roosting quietly at Estero.

CHUCK-WILL'S-WIDOW (Antrostomus carolinensis)

We had a few flight views in Corpus Christi, and then saw a bird roosting along the boardwalk at South Padre Island.

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One of the wonderfully plentiful species present in the Texas Spring is the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.
Apodidae (Swifts)

CHIMNEY SWIFT (Chaetura pelagica)

Quite a few around. We also noticed the impressive chimney roost in Harlingen with about 300 birds coming in to roost.

Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Archilochus colubris)

BLACK-CHINNED HUMMINGBIRD (Archilochus alexandri)

The only ones seen were in the Hill Country.

BUFF-BELLIED HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia yucatanensis)

Several great studies of this south Texas specialty.

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

CLAPPER RAIL (GULF COAST) (Rallus crepitans saturatus)

Good views of this species in the mangroves at South Padre Island.

SORA (Porzana carolina)

Seen on several days.

COMMON GALLINULE (Gallinula galeata)

AMERICAN COOT (Fulica americana)

PURPLE GALLINULE (Porphyrio martinica)

A beautiful adult bird was present at the Convention Center boardwalk.

Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)

BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus)

AMERICAN AVOCET (Recurvirostra americana)

A couple of good sized flocks of this distinctive shorebird.

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola)

We had a couple of singles.

AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER (Pluvialis dominica)

We had a migrant flock of eight fly past us in Corpus Christi.

SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus)

KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus)

Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

UPLAND SANDPIPER (Bartramia longicauda)

We had three flyovers early in the trip but it was the single bird that dropped in to a field in the Hill Country that was a real treat.

LONG-BILLED CURLEW (Numenius americanus)

There were four of these hanging out at the Hwy 48 shrimp bridge area near Brownsville.

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Among my favorite sightings along the coast were the super cooperative Philadelphia Vireos such as this one. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

MARBLED GODWIT (Limosa fedoa)

A dozen or so were on South Padre Island and at the Shrimp Basin Bridge.

RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres)

In the same area as the godwits.

STILT SANDPIPER (Calidris himantopus)

There were an impressive number of these present at Estero Llano Grande with smaller numbers elsewhere.

SANDERLING (Calidris alba)

DUNLIN (Calidris alpina)

Two were on SPI.

LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla)

PECTORAL SANDPIPER (Calidris melanotos)

It was really cool to be looking straight down on this species on the SPI boardwalk.


SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER (Limnodromus griseus)

LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER (Limnodromus scolopaceus)

WILSON'S SNIPE (Gallinago delicata)

One that flushed a couple of times at Santa Ana.

WILSON'S PHALAROPE (Phalaropus tricolor)

Three migrants seen.

SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius)

SOLITARY SANDPIPER (Tringa solitaria)

Four different flyovers seen and heard.

GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca)

A small number seen including a flock of 20 that flew over Blucher Park on the first afternoon.

WILLET (Tringa semipalmata)

Birds seen were the eastern type Willets staking out their territories.

LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes)

Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)

LAUGHING GULL (Leucophaeus atricilla)

This is by far the most abundant gull in coastal south Texas.

FRANKLIN'S GULL (Leucophaeus pipixcan)

We had some memorable encounters with this species including close views in Brownsville and some big flocks flying overhead.

RING-BILLED GULL (Larus delawarensis)

HERRING GULL (AMERICAN) (Larus argentatus smithsonianus)

Seen from the causeway out to South Padre Island.

LEAST TERN (Sternula antillarum)

A small number of these were present on South Padre Island and at the Shrimp Basin Bridge area.

GULL-BILLED TERN (Gelochelidon nilotica)

Seen at scattered locations including all of the way up river in Salineno.

CASPIAN TERN (Hydroprogne caspia)

The largest of the terns; most were along the coast with the exception of four at Salineno.

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Clay-colored Thrush, one of the iconic south Texas birds and one that has become increasingly common in recent years. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

FORSTER'S TERN (Sterna forsteri)

ROYAL TERN (Thalasseus maximus)

SANDWICH TERN (Thalasseus sandvicensis)

About 25 or so were detected on South Padre Island. It is possible that New World birds might be split out someday as Cabot's Tern.

BLACK SKIMMER (Rynchops niger)

A couple of sizable flocks seen on South Padre Island and the boat launch.

Anhingidae (Anhingas)

ANHINGA (Anhinga anhinga)

Some nice views including a large migrant flock of birds soaring north of Edinburg.

Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)

NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax brasilianus)

DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax auritus)

Pelecanidae (Pelicans)

AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)

A huge flock estimated to be 300 birds was seen flying in the distance from the boat ramp near Brownsville.

BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis)

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

AMERICAN BITTERN (Botaurus lentiginosus)

One was seen flying at Estero Llano Grande.

LEAST BITTERN (Ixobrychus exilis)

This was a nice treat in the reeds at the convention center boardwalk.

GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias)

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)

SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)

LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea)

TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor)

REDDISH EGRET (Egretta rufescens)

Well seen along the coast.

CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis)

GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens)

BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)

YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nyctanassa violacea)

A small number of this attractive species in the valley.

Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)

WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus)

WHITE-FACED IBIS (Plegadis chihi)

Cathartidae (New World Vultures)

BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus)

TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)

Pandionidae (Osprey)

OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus)

There are many Osprey that winter in south Texas, but by the later part of April many had left. We ended up seeing singles of this species at Blucher Park in Corpus Christi and at Salineno.

Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

WHITE-TAILED KITE (Elanus leucurus)

Rather scarce this time around with just a pair of birds seen near Bentsen.

MISSISSIPPI KITE (Ictinia mississippiensis)

There were a couple of good flight days noted, with nearly 140 estimated on April 22nd.

NORTHERN HARRIER (Circus hudsonius)

SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (Accipiter striatus)

Seen on five separate days.

HARRIS'S HAWK (Parabuteo unicinctus)

South Texas is the motherlode for this attractive species.

WHITE-TAILED HAWK (Geranoaetus albicaudatus)

GRAY HAWK (Buteo plagiatus)

A few of this border species were seen in the valley. This species has become much more numerous in south Texas in recent years.

RED-SHOULDERED HAWK (Buteo lineatus) [*]

BROAD-WINGED HAWK (Buteo platypterus)

It was nice to see a small number of migrants moving at Bentsen. Also of interest were the pair at Lost Maples that appear to be breeding there.

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Broad-winged Hawks put on a decent showing on the tour. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

SWAINSON'S HAWK (Buteo swainsoni)

Small numbers of these were seen migrating north.

RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis)

Strigidae (Owls)

EASTERN SCREECH-OWL (Megascops asio)

Thanks to Huck for pointing out this species to us at Estero Llano Grande.

GREAT HORNED OWL (Bubo virginianus)

Great looks at a fuzzy fledgling at Sabal Palm.

FERRUGINOUS PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium brasilianum)

Thanks to Dan Lane for arranging a visit to this private reserve to see this scarce species. It showed nicely despite the windy conditions.

ELF OWL (Micrathene whitneyi)

Great to see this species at a stakeout spot near Bentsen.

Trogonidae (Trogons)

ELEGANT TROGON (Trogon elegans)

Quite a rarity in the Rio Grande Valley, this female overwintered at Estero Llano Grande and was thankfully still there when we visited.

Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)

RINGED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle torquata)

Two of these were scoped from the hawk platform at Bentsen and another was seen at Salineno.

BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon)

GREEN KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle americana)

Our best looks were of two birds at Santa Ana.

Picidae (Woodpeckers)


Two interacting with each other at Blucher Park at the start of the tour.

GOLDEN-FRONTED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes aurifrons)


Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

CRESTED CARACARA (Caracara cheriway)

South Texas is a terrific place to see this species, and we saw many over the course of the tour.

AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius)

MERLIN (Falco columbarius)

One was seen at Santa Ana.

APLOMADO FALCON (Falco femoralis)

Yay! One was at the hacking tower off of Hwy 100.

PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus)

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Participant Paul Beerman captured images of these two memorable sightings, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl and Black-capped Vireo.
Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)

RED-CROWNED PARROT (Amazona viridigenalis)

We saw almost a dozen at Sabal Palm and another three at Estero Llano Grande.

GREEN PARAKEET (Psittacara holochlorus)

Great looks at this species near our motel in Mission.

Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)


This species was pretty elusive for us, but most got a peek of it at Santa Ana.


One was high on the hillside at Lost Maples SNA.

EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE (Contopus virens)

Best views were of a couple of migrants along the coast.

ACADIAN FLYCATCHER (Empidonax virescens)

We saw one really well at the coast fallout. In the Hill Country we could hear them singing, but they stayed mostly out of view.

EASTERN PHOEBE (Sayornis phoebe)

One seen in the Hill Country.

VERMILION FLYCATCHER (Pyrocephalus rubinus)

We saw a couple pairs of these, the first at Starr County Park, and the other at Fort Clark Springs. This is one of the most sexually dimorphic flycatcher species.

ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus cinerascens)

Our best looks were at Lost Maples.


A few migrants were seen beginning at Blucher Park.

BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tyrannulus)

This species popped up at many locations, mostly away from the Hill Country.

GREAT KISKADEE (Pitangus sulphuratus)

Another real iconic species of south Texas. We had some wonderful looks along the way.

TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus)

We encountered several of these but we took some time to enjoy them late one afternoon near Edinburg.

COUCH'S KINGBIRD (Tyrannus couchii)

This is the common species in much of south Texas this time of year when they are quite vocal.

WESTERN KINGBIRD (Tyrannus verticalis)

EASTERN KINGBIRD (Tyrannus tyrannus)

A few scattered individuals seen.


A kingbird by another name, and a stunning one at that. One of the finer species in the Hill Country.

Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)

BLACK-CAPPED VIREO (Vireo atricapilla)

This one was tough to see well but with persistence, all of us got to see its fine plumage.

WHITE-EYED VIREO (Vireo griseus)

Quite common along this tour route, we saw some daily.

BELL'S VIREO (Vireo bellii)

We had a few of these in the western Hill Country where we noted its scratchy song.

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Participant Paul Beerman also captured this lovely shot of two Dickcissels pausing during their migration.

YELLOW-THROATED VIREO (Vireo flavifrons)

We saw our first one along the boardwalk on South Padre Island and recorded others in the Hill Country.

BLUE-HEADED VIREO (Vireo solitarius)

Seen at Santa Ana NWR and Lost Maples SNA.

PHILADELPHIA VIREO (Vireo philadelphicus)

Absolutely outstanding views of a few of these during the fallout and almost direct comparison with the similar looking Warbling Vireo there.

WARBLING VIREO (Vireo gilvus)

RED-EYED VIREO (Vireo olivaceus)

We saw a few migrants in south Texas and some breeders at Lost Maples (where they were mostly heard).

Laniidae (Shrikes)

LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE (Lanius ludovicianus)

The only one noted was one on South Padre Island.

Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)

GREEN JAY (Cyanocorax yncas)

Most definitely one of the most iconic species of the Rio Grande Valley.

TAMAULIPAS CROW (Corvus imparatus)

This was a wonderful rarity to pick up on the trip. This species has become an exceedingly rare visitor to south Texas with just a handful of sightings in recent years.

CHIHUAHUAN RAVEN (Corvus cryptoleucus)

This is the expected species of raven away from the Edwards Plateau (Hill Country) in south Texas.

COMMON RAVEN (Corvus corax)

Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)

CAROLINA CHICKADEE (Poecile carolinensis)

A couple of these were at Lost Maples.

BLACK-CRESTED TITMOUSE (Baeolophus atricristatus)

Remizidae (Penduline-Tits)

VERDIN (Auriparus flaviceps)

About eight recorded in total.

Hirundinidae (Swallows)

NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)

PURPLE MARTIN (Progne subis)

TREE SWALLOW (Tachycineta bicolor)

BANK SWALLOW (Riparia riparia)

Seen at Sabal Palm and Salineno.

BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)

CLIFF SWALLOW (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)

CAVE SWALLOW (TEXAS) (Petrochelidon fulva pallida)

Seen at a few scattered locations, but more memorably at the Frio Bat Cave.

Regulidae (Kinglets)

RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET (Regulus calendula)

A lingering bird at Fort Clark Springs was our only one.

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This Upland Sandpiper posed nicely for us in the Hill Country. Photo by participant Paul Beerman.
Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)

BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER (Polioptila caerulea)

Troglodytidae (Wrens)

CANYON WREN (Catherpes mexicanus)

We were serenaded by this wonderful songster at Lost Maples SNA.

HOUSE WREN (Troglodytes aedon) [*]

SEDGE WREN (Cistothorus platensis) [*]

CAROLINA WREN (Thryothorus ludovicianus)

BEWICK'S WREN (Thryomanes bewickii)

CACTUS WREN (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus)

We managed to track one down at Starr County Park.

Sturnidae (Starlings)

EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris) [I]

Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)

GRAY CATBIRD (Dumetella carolinensis)

Another species well represented at the fallout.

CURVE-BILLED THRASHER (Toxostoma curvirostre)

Some examples of this species at the eastern edge of their range where they are relatively pale and contrasty.

LONG-BILLED THRASHER (Toxostoma longirostre)

A characteristic voice of much of south Texas; we saw our first one at Blucher Park in Corpus.

NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos)

This is the state bird of Texas.

Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)

VEERY (Catharus fuscescens)

A type of thrush, but more lightly spotted than other species. A couple were at the coast fallout.

GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH (Catharus minimus)

A relatively plain faced species, there were a couple present along the coast.

SWAINSON'S THRUSH (Catharus ustulatus)

A few of these were part of the coast fallout. This species typically shows a big, buffy eye-ring.

HERMIT THRUSH (Catharus guttatus)

One one South Padre Island as part of the big fallout was a bit of a rarity there.

WOOD THRUSH (Hylocichla mustelina)

Some close studies of this species at the coast fallout.


A few seen and heard with our first at Estero Llano Grande.

Bombycillidae (Waxwings)

CEDAR WAXWING (Bombycilla cedrorum)

Three of these were at Lost Maples.

Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]

Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)

HOUSE FINCH (Haemorhous mexicanus)

Scarce in this region, we had some at Zapata (Bravo Park) and some at Starr (Falcon) County Park.

PINE SISKIN (Spinus pinus)

There were remarkable movements of Pine Siskin across the country this past winter and a few flyovers heard on the tour were likely holdovers from that event.

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A brilliant male Vermilion Flycatcher stands out against the dark green of a Hill Country tree. Photo by participant Paul Beerman.

LESSER GOLDFINCH (Spinus psaltria)


Passerellidae (New World Sparrows)

CASSIN'S SPARROW (Peucaea cassinii) [*]

A couple heard singing in the distance north of Bracketville.

OLIVE SPARROW (Arremonops rufivirgatus)

This valley specialty was heard and/or seen at several sites with the best viewing coming at Salineno.

CHIPPING SPARROW (Spizella passerina)

CLAY-COLORED SPARROW (Spizella pallida)

BLACK-THROATED SPARROW (Amphispiza bilineata)

This hardy desert species was well seen in the drier habitats near Salineno and west of Uvalde.

LARK SPARROW (Chondestes grammacus)

VESPER SPARROW (Pooecetes gramineus)

SAVANNAH SPARROW (Passerculus sandwichensis)

LINCOLN'S SPARROW (Melospiza lincolnii)

RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROW (Aimophila ruficeps) [*]

Heard singing while looking for vireos.

Icteriidae (Yellow-breasted Chat)


Recently placed in its own family. We were treated to a number of sightings.

Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)

YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)

Small numbers were mixed in with the blackbirds on South Padre Island.

EASTERN MEADOWLARK (Sturnella magna)

A few were seen in coastal areas west of Port Isabel.

ORCHARD ORIOLE (Icterus spurius)

Good numbers of these were part of the coastal fallout. A few additional birds were seen at Starr County Park and Fort Clark Springs.

HOODED ORIOLE (Icterus cucullatus)

We noted how the birds in south Texas were quite orange in coloration.

BULLOCK'S ORIOLE (Icterus bullockii)

One was at Starr (Falcon) County Park.

ALTAMIRA ORIOLE (Icterus gularis)

Some nice studies of this large, attractive species, including nesting birds.

AUDUBON'S ORIOLE (Icterus graduacauda)

Our first was seen near the visitors center at Bentsen and another pair were present at Salineno.

BALTIMORE ORIOLE (Icterus galbula)

This spectacular species was one of the commonest species seen during the coastal fallout.

SCOTT'S ORIOLE (Icterus parisorum)

One singing bird was spotted perched out high on the ridge line at Lost Maples SNA.

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Our single Cactus Wren posed well for participant Paul Beerman at Starr County Park.

RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius phoeniceus)

BRONZED COWBIRD (Molothrus aeneus)


GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus)

One of the common sights in urban south Texas, with hundreds gathering to roost some evenings.

Parulidae (New World Warblers)

OVENBIRD (Seiurus aurocapilla)

A few were part of the coastal fallout, often seen strutting around in the open.

WORM-EATING WARBLER (Helmitheros vermivorum)

Two were at Blucher Park on the first afternoon.

LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia motacilla) [*]

Alas, one calling at the Edinburg Ranch turned out to be the only one encountered.

NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis)

Several yellowish looking ones seen along the coast.

BLUE-WINGED WARBLER (Vermivora cyanoptera)

The only one seen was at Blucher Park on our first afternoon.


TENNESSEE WARBLER (Leiothlypis peregrina)

ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER (Leiothlypis celata)

NASHVILLE WARBLER (Leiothlypis ruficapilla)

A few were encountered on every day of the tour.

KENTUCKY WARBLER (Geothlypis formosa)

This species is often quite skulky, so it was great to see a few of them so well during the coastal fallout.

COMMON YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis trichas)

HOODED WARBLER (Setophaga citrina)

There were a good number of these as part of the coastal fallout.

AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla)

A few migrants seen on the first three days of the trip.

CAPE MAY WARBLER (Setophaga tigrina)

A scrappy male was hanging out near a nectar feeder on South Padre Island. This species is a scarce migrant in Texas.

CERULEAN WARBLER (Setophaga cerulea)

Charlie was fortunate to see one of these at Santa Ana NWR but it split before the rest of us could track it down.

NORTHERN PARULA (Setophaga americana)

A couple of migrants seen with one at Blucher Park and another on South Padre Island.

TROPICAL PARULA (Setophaga pitiayumi)

We heard one at Lost Maples that would not come into view for us. Thankfully, we got a hot tip on where to find this species in the Hill Country.

BAY-BREASTED WARBLER (Setophaga castanea)

One in the parking lot of Santa Ana NWR created a bit of a stir.


A striking male at Estero Llano Grande turned out to be the only one seen.

YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia)

YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (Setophaga coronata)

YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER (Setophaga dominica)

A few seen at Lost Maples SNA.

GOLDEN-CHEEKED WARBLER (Setophaga chrysoparia)

A really good showing of this species at Lost Maples SNA including a nest that was being tended.


WILSON'S WARBLER (Cardellina pusilla)

Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)

SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra)

SCARLET TANAGER (Piranga olivacea)

Small numbers of these were part of the coastal fallout.

WESTERN TANAGER (Piranga ludoviciana)

A male seen on South Padre Island was a bit surprising.

NORTHERN CARDINAL (Cardinalis cardinalis)

PYRRHULOXIA (Cardinalis sinuatus)

Sometimes called the desert cardinal, we saw this species near Salineno and again in the western Hill Country.

ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus ludovicianus)

One of the common species present at the coastal fallout. The males were striking!

BLUE GROSBEAK (Passerina caerulea)

A small number seen here at there and a good chance to compare with Indigo Bunting.

LAZULI BUNTING (Passerina amoena)

Two males were seen in the brush country near Falcon.

INDIGO BUNTING (Passerina cyanea)

Seen most days, and many during the big fallout along the coast.

PAINTED BUNTING (Passerina ciris)

A stunning species that we saw on so many occasions from migrants along the coast to breeders in the Hill Country.

DICKCISSEL (Spiza americana)

Quite a few migrants seen and heard on the tour.

Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)

MORELET'S SEEDEATER (Sporophila morelleti)

We had great looks at a pair of birds at Salineno where they are now breeding. We also had scope views of a distant bird at Bentsen from the hawk platform. This species is still a rarity in Hidalgo County.


BRAZILIAN FREE-TAILED BAT (Tadarida brasiliensis)

EASTERN COTTONTAIL (Sylvilagus floridanus)

DESERT COTTONTAIL (Sylvilagus audubonii)

ROCK SQUIRREL (Spermophilus variegatus)

FOX SQUIRREL (Sciurus niger)

COLLARED PECCARY (Tayassu tajacu)

SPOTTED DEER (Axis axis) [I]

WHITE-TAILED DEER (Odocoileus virginianus)

BLACKBUCK (Antilope cervicapra) [I]

Totals for the tour: 256 bird taxa and 9 mammal taxa