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Stop 2 - Southern Texas : BIG BEND NP, SANTA-ANA NWR, LAGUNA ATASCOSA NWR, GOOSE ISLAND SP,  BOLIVAR FLATS, HIGH ISLAND, SABINE WOODS

The following page is devoted to my roadtrip photos of birds from various birding hotspots in southern Texas. Clearly, I did not photograph every kind of bird that can be found in southern Texas, but I have provided a selection of some of my favorite photos of the birds I did happen to see as I passed through.

Birds I saw in Southern Texas

April 20-30, 2008

I left the colorful and bountiful birds of SE Arizona and headed towards another great birding area, Big Bend National Park in Texas. This area was not only quite scenic, but also had birds everywhere. I birded for an evening and morning at the Rio Grande Village area on the east end of the park. There were so many birds I had a hard time deciding which one to point my camera at! Then I dove 30 miles over to Chinos Basin, where the increased elevation led to some different birds. I hiked the 9.5 mile loop up to Boot Canyon in hopes of finding the Coloma Warbler (the only place it is found in the US), but unfortunately didn't see one (but got plenty of photos of Blue-gray gnatcatchers and Hutton's vireo in a hopeful attempt that these small birds were actually the Coloma warbler). I would have liked to stay at least one more day in the Park, but I wanted to avoid the weekend crowds at my next Texan destination: Santa-Ana and Laguna-Atascosa National Wildlife Refuges in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

(I went to three major birding areas in Texas: (1) Big Bend National Park, (2) the Rio Grande Valley (where I went to Santa-Ana NWR and Laguna Atascosa NWR), and (3) Upper Texas Gulf Coast (where I went to Goose Island State Park, High Island and Bolivar Flats, and Sabine Woods). These three areas are so far apart and have their own distinct birds, so I grouped the birds separately by location.)

Big Bend National Park

BLACKBIRD:
    Brewer's
CARDINAL:
    Northern
CHAT:
    Yellow-breasted
COWBIRD:
    Bronzed
DOVE:
    Mourning
FLYCATCHER:
    Ash-Throated
    Vermilion
FINCH:
    House
GNATCATCHER:
    Blue-gray
GRACKLE:
    Great-tailed

GREBE:
    Pied-billed
HUMMINGBIRD:
    Broad-tailed
    Unidentified
JAY:
    Mexican
MOCKINGBIRD:
    Northern
ORIOLE:
    Bullock's
    Hooded
    Orchard
    Scott's
OSPREY
PHOEBE:
    Black
    Eastern

PYRRHULOXIA
ROADRUNNER:
    Greater
SPARROW:
    Chipping
    Rufous-crowned
SWALLOW:
    Northern Rough-winged
TANAGER:
    Summer
THRUSH:
    Hermit
TOWHEE:
    Canyon
    Spotted
TYRANNULET:
    Northern Beardless

VIREO:
    Hutton's
VULTURE:
    Turkey
WARBLER:
    Townsend's
    Wilson's
    Worm-eating
WOODPECKER:
    Acorn
    Gold-fronted
    Ladder-backed
    Red-bellied
WREN:
    Cactus
    Canyon

KEY:      favorite photos      SONGBIRDS  WATERBIRDS  RAPTORS & OWLS/NEAR PASSERINES  HUMMINGBIRDS & WOODPECKERS


Brewer's BLACKBIRD (male)
Chisos Basin

Brewer's BLACKBIRD (female)
Chisos Basin

Northern CARDINAL
Rio Grande Village area

Yellow-breasted CHAT
Rio Grande Village area

Bronzed COWBIRD (?)
Chisos Basin

Mourning DOVE
Rio Grande Village area

Ash-throated FLYCATCHER
Rio Grande Village area

Vermilion FLYCATCHER (male)
Rio Grande Village area

Vermilion FLYCATCHER (female)
Rio Grande Village area

House FINCH (male)
Rio Grande Village area

Blue-gray GNATCATCHER
Rio Grande Village area

Great-tailed GRACKLE
Rio Grande Village area

Pied-billed GREBE
Rio Grande Village area

Broad-tailed HUMMINGBIRD
Chisos Basin

Unidentified HUMMINGBIRD
Chisos Basin

Mexican JAY
Chisos Basin

Northern MOCKINGBIRD
Rio Grande Village area

Bullock's ORIOLE
Rio Grande Village area

Hooded ORIOLE
Rio Grande Village area

Orchard ORIOLE (female)
Rio Grande Village area

Scott's ORIOLE
Rio Grande Village area

OSPREY
Rio Grande Village area

Black PHOEBE
Rio Grande Village area

Eastern (?) PHOEBE
Chisos Basin

PYRRHULOXIA
Chisos Basin

Greater ROADRUNNER
Rio Grande Village area

Chipping SPARROW
Chisos Basin

Rufous-crowned (?) SPARROW
Chisos Basin

Northern Rough-winged SWALLOW
Rio Grande Village area

Summer TANAGER (male)
Rio Grande Village area

Summer TANAGER (female)
Rio Grande Village area

Hermit THRUSH
Rio Grande Village area

Canyon TOWHEE
Chisos Basin

Spotted TOWHEE
Chisos Basin

Northern Beardless TYRANNULET
Rio Grande Village area

Hutton's VIREO
Chisos Basin

Turkey VULTURE
Rio Grande Village area

Townsend's WARBLER
Chisos Basin

Wilson's WARBLER
Rio Grande Village area

Worm-eating WARBLER
Rio Grande Village area

Acorn WOODPECKER
Chisos Basin

Golden-fronted WOODPECKER
Rio Grande Village area

Ladder-backed WOODPECKER
Rio Grande Village area

Red-bellied WOODPECKER
Rio Grande Village area

Cactus WREN
Chisos Basin

Canyon WREN
Chisos Basin

After Big Bend, my next stop in Texas was a few days of chasing birds in the lower Rio Grande Valley. I went to two well-known National Wildlife Refuges - the Santa-Ana NWR and the Laguna Atascosa NWR. Together these refuges provided a wide selection of birds - Santa Ana is located along the banks of the lower Rio Grande and Laguna Atascosa is located about 40 miles to the east on the lower Gulf coast. Again, I racked up quite a list of different species and got some photos of a few southern Texan / Mexican specialties such as the Olive Sparrow, Green Jay, Groove-billed Ani, Crested Caracara, Great Kiskadee, Plain Chachalaca, Black-crested Tufted Titmouse, Altamira Oriole, White-tipped Dove, and Clay-colored Robin. Wherever I drove, I saw Scissor Tailed Flycatchers decorating the telephone wires, but whenever I pulled over to get a photograph, the bird would fly away. At this rate, I wondered how many days it would take me to drive to my next birding stop in the famed spring migration birding hot spot of High Island, TX.

Rio Grande Valley (Santa Ana NWR and Laguna Atascosa NWR)

ANHINGA
ANI:
    Groove-billed
BLACKBIRD:
    Red-winged
BUNTING:
    Indigo
CARACARA:
    Crested
CARDINAL:
    Northern
CHACHALACA:
    Plain
COOT:
    American
CORMORANT:
    Double-crested
COWBIRD:
    Bronzed
CURLEW:
    Long-billed
DOVE:
    Inca
    Mourning
    White-tipped
    White-winged

DOWITCHER:
    Long-billed
DUCK:
    Black-bellied Whistling
DUNLIN
EGRET:
    Cattle
    Great
    Snowy
FLYCATCHER:
    Ash-throated
    Scissor-tailed
GRACKLE:
    Great-tailed
GREBE:
    Least
GULL:
    Laughing
HAWK:
    Harris's
HERON:
    Little Blue
    Tricolored
HUMMINGBIRD:
    Ruby-throated

IBIS:
    White
    White-faced
JAY:
    Green
KINGBIRD:
    Couch's
KISKADEE:
    Great
MEADOWLARK:
    Eastern
MOCKINGBIRD:
    Northern
MOORHEN:
    Common
ORIOLE:
    Altamira
    Hooded
PLOVER:
    Black-bellied
    Wilson's
ROBIN:
    Clay-colored
SANDPIPER:
    Purple
SHOVELER:
    Northern

SPARROW:
    Lark
    Olive
STILT:
    Black-necked
SWALLOW:
    Barn
TERN:
    Caspian
    Royal
    Sandwich
THRASHER:
    Curve-billed
    Long-billed
TITMOUSE:
    Black-crested tufted
WARBLER:
    Black-and-white
    Magnolia
    Yellow
WILLLET
WOODPECKER:
    Golden-fronted
WREN:
    Carolina

KEY:      favorite photos      SONGBIRDS  WATERBIRDS  RAPTORS & OWLS/NEAR PASSERINES  HUMMINGBIRDS & WOODPECKERS


ANHINGA
Santa Ana NWR

Groove-billed ANI
Santa Ana NWR

Red-winged BLACKBIRD
Santa Ana NWR

Indigo BUNTING
Santa Ana NWR

Crested CARACARA
Laguna Atascosa NWR

Northern CARDINAL (male)
Laguna Atascosa NWR

Plain CHACHALACA
Laguna Atascosa NWR

American COOTS
Laguna Atascosa NWR

Double-crested CORMORANT
Santa Ana NWR

Bronzed COWBIRD (?)
Santa Ana NWR

Long-billed CURLEW
Laguna Atascosa NWR

Inca DOVE
Santa Ana NWR

Mourning DOVE
Laguna Atascosa NWR

White-tipped DOVE
Laguna Atascosa NWR

White-winged DOVE
Santa Ana NWR

Long-billed DOWITCHER
Santa Ana NWR

Black-bellied Whistling DUCK
Santa Ana NWR

DUNLIN (?)
Laguna Atascosa NWR

Cattle EGRET (breeding plumage) and Royal and Sandwich TERNS
Laguna Atascosa NWR

Great EGRET
Santa Ana NWR

Snowy EGRET
Santa Ana NWR

Ash-throated FLYCATCHER
Santa Ana NWR

Scissor-tailed FLYCATCHER
Santa Ana NWR

Great-tailed GRACKLE (male)
Laguna Atascosa NWR

Great-tailed GRACKLE (female)
Laguna Atascosa NWR

Least GREBE
Santa Ana NWR

Laughing GULL (breeding plumage)
Laguna Atascosa NWR

Harris's HAWK
Laguna Atascosa NWR

Little Blue HERON
Santa Ana NWR

Tricolored HERON
Santa Ana NWR

Ruby-throated (?) HUMMINGBIRD
Santa Ana NWR

White IBIS (adult and juvenile)
Santa Ana NWR

White-faced IBIS
Santa Ana NWR

Green JAY
Santa Ana NWR

Couch's KINGBIRD
Santa Ana NWR

Great KISKADEE
Santa Ana NWR

Eastern MEADOWLARK
Laguna Atascosa NWR

Northern MOCKINGBIRD
Santa Ana NWR

Common MOORHEN
Santa Ana NWR

Altamira ORIOLE
Laguna Atascosa NWR

Hooded ORIOLE
Santa Ana NWR

Hooded ORIOLE (female?)
Santa Ana NWR

Black-bellied PLOVER
Laguna Atascosa NWR

Wilson's PLOVER
Laguna Atascosa NWR

Clay-colored ROBIN
Santa Ana NWR

Purple (?) SANDPIPER
Laguna Atascosa NWR

Northern SHOVELER (male)
Santa Ana NWR

Lark SPARROW
Santa Ana NWR

Olive SPARROW
Laguna Atascosa NWR

Black-necked STILT
Santa Ana NWR

Barn SWALLOWS
Santa Ana NWR

A lone Caspian TERN
Laguna Atascosa NWR

Royal TERNS
Laguna Atascosa NWR

Sandwich** TERNS 
Laguna Atascosa NWR
**the ones with black bills with light-colored tips

Curve-billed THRASHER
Laguna Atascosa NWR

Long-billed THRASHER
Santa Ana NWR

Black-crested Tufted TITMOUSE
Laguna Atascosa NWR

Black-and-white WARBLER
Laguna Atascosa NWR

Magnolia WARBLER
Laguna Atascosa NWR

Yellow WARBLER
Laguna Atascosa NWR

WILLET
Laguna Atascosa NWR

Golden-fronted WOODPECKER
Santa Ana NWR

Carolina WREN
Laguna Atascosa NWR

From the Rio Grande Valley, I began to make my way up the Gulf Coast of Texas. I spent a night in the campground at Goose Island State Park, and found several birds there. Next, I made my way up the coast to the famed High Island and the nearby Bolivar Flats. I spent a few days here, photographing the swarms of shorebirds at Bolivar Flats and colorful variety of woodland and marsh birds in the High Island area (Boy Scout Woods and Smith Oaks Wildlife Sanctuary). There were about as many bird fanatics as birds, and I enjoyed talking to the many interesting people I met from all over the country. I heard of a Painted Bunting being sighted at Sabine Woods (1 hr further up the coast), so I headed over here to find it. Unfortunately, although this stunning bird is relatively common in this part of the country, I did not see one, and. I hoped I would see on at my next stop, which would be Dauphin Island, Alabama, another spring migration birding hotspot.

Upper Texas Coast (Goose Island, High Island, Bolivar Flats, and Sabine Woods)

ANHINGA
AVOCET:
    American
BLACKBIRD:
    Red-winged
BUNTING:
    Indigo
    Painted
CARDINAL:
    Northern
CATBIRD:
    Gray
CORMORANT:
    Neotropic
CUCKOO:
    Yellow-billed
DICKCISSEL
DOVE:
    Eurasian Collared
    Inca
DOWITCHER:
    Short-billed
DUNLIN
EGRET:
    Great
    Reddish (dark morph)
    Reddish (white morph)
    Snowy
FLYCATCHER:
    Acadian
    Fork-tailed
    Scissor-tailed
    Some kind
GALLINULE:
    Purple
GRACKLE:
    Common
    Great-tailed

GROSBEAK:
    Blue
    Rose-breasted
GULL:
    Laughing
HERON:
    Green
    Little Blue
    Tricolored
HUMMINGBIRD:
    Ruby-throated
IBIS:
    White
JAY:
    Blue
KILLDEER
KINGBIRD:
    Eastern
KNOT:
    Red
MARTIN:
    Purple
MOCKINGBIRD:
    Northern
ORIOLE:
    Baltimore
    Orchard
OVENBIRD
PARULA:
    Northern
PELICAN:
    Brown
PLOVER:
    Black-bellied
    Piping
    Snowy
REDSTART:
    American

SANDERLING
SANDPIPER:
    Semipalmated
SHRIKE:
    Loggerhead
SKIMMER:
    Black
SPARROW:
    Savannah?
SPOONBILL:
    Roseate
STARLING:
    European
STILT:
    Black-necked
SWALLOW:
    Barn
    Cliff
    Tree
TANAGER:
    Scarlet
    Summer
TEAL:
    Blue-winged
TERN:
    Common
    Forster's
    Royal
THRASHER:
    Brown
THRUSH:
    Gray-cheeked
    Hermit
    Wood
TITMOUSE:
    Black-crested Tufted

TURNSTONE:
    Ruddy
VEERY
VIREO:
    Philadelphia
    Red-eyed
    White-eyed
    Yellow-throated
WARBLER:
    Bay-breasted
    Black-and-white
    Black-throated Green
    Blackburnian
    Blue-winged
    Cerulean
    Chestnut-sided
    Golden-winged
    Kentucky
    Magnolia
    Prothonotary
    Tennessee
    Yellow
WATERTHRUSH:
    Northern or Louisiana
WILLET
WOOD-PEWEE:
    Eastern
WOODPECKER:
    Red-bellied
YELLOWLEGS:
    Greater
YELLOWTHROAT:
    Common

KEY:      favorite photos      SONGBIRDS  WATERBIRDS  RAPTORS & OWLS/NEAR PASSERINES  HUMMINGBIRDS & WOODPECKERS


ANHINGA
High Island area

American AVOCETS (breeding plumage)
Bolivar Flats

Red-winged BLACKBIRD
Sabine Woods area

Indigo BUNTING
Sabine Woods area

Painted BUNTING
High Island area
hope to see a non-postcard version on this trip!

Northern CARDINAL (female)
Goose Island State Park

Gray CATBIRD
Goose Island State Park

Neotropic CORMORANT
Bolivar Flats

Yellow-billed CUCKOO
High Island area

DICKCISSEL
Sabine Woods area

Eurasian Collared DOVE
High Island area

Inca DOVE
Goose Island State Park

Short-billed DOWITCHERS
Bolivar Flats

Swarms of DUNLIN
Bolivar Flats

Great EGRET and babies
High Island area

Reddish EGRET (dark morph) in wacky dance
Bolivar Flats

Reddish EGRET (white morph) and American AVOCET
Bolivar Flats

Snowy EGRET
Bolivar Flats

Acadian** (?) FLYCATCHER 
High Island area
**note the white breast

Fork-tailed FLYCATCHER
Sabine Woods area

Scissor-tailed FLYCATCHER
High Island area

Scissor-tailed FLYCATCHER
Goose Island State Park
….and there one goes!

Some sort of FLYCATCHER or WOOD-PEWEE
High Island area

Purple GALLINULE
High Island area

Common GRACKLE
High Island area

Great-tailed GRACKLE
Sabine Woods area

Blue GROSBEAK (female?)
Sabine Woods area

Rose-breasted GROSBEAK (male)
High Island area

Rose-breasted GROSBEAK (female)
High Island area

Rose-breasted GROSBEAK (chick?)
High Island area

Comical Pair of Laughing GULLS
Bolivar Flats

Green HERON
Sabine Woods area

Little Blue HERON
High Island area

Tricolored HERON
High Island area

Ruby-throated HUMMINGBIRD
Sabine Woods area

White IBIS
Sabine Woods area

Blue JAY
Sabine Woods area

KILLDEER
Sabine Woods area

Eastern KINGBIRD
High Island area

Red KNOT
Bolivar Flats

Purple MARTIN
High Island area

Northern MOCKINGBIRD
High Island area

Baltimore ORIOLE
High Island area

Orchard ORIOLE
Sabine Woods area

OVENBIRD
Sabine Woods area

Northern PARULA 
High Island area

Brown PELICAN
Bolivar Flats

Black-bellied PLOVER
Bolivar Flats

Piping PLOVER
Bolivar Flats

Snowy PLOVER
Bolivar Flats

American REDSTART (male)
Sabine Woods area

American REDSTART (female)
High Island area

SANDERLING (?)
Bolivar Flats

Semipalmated (?) SANDPIPER
Bolivar Flats

Loggerhead SHRIKE
High Island area

Black SKIMMER (also a Royal TERN and Laughing GULL)
Bolivar Flats

Savannah (?) SPARROW
Sabine Woods area

Roseate SPOONBILL
High Island area

European STARLING
High Island area

Black-necked STILT
Sabine Woods area

Barn SWALLOW
High Island area

Cliff SWALLOW
Sabine Woods area

Tree SWALLOW
Sabine Woods area

Scarlet TANAGER (male)
High Island area

Scarlet TANAGER (female)
Sabine Woods area

Summer TANAGER (male)
High Island area

Summer TANAGER (1st summer?)
High Island area

Summer TANAGER (female)
High Island area

Blue-winged TEAL
Sabine Woods area

Royal TERN (left) and Common** TERN (right)
Bolivar Flats
**note gray belly compared to Forster's Tern

Forster's** TERNS (foreground) and Royal TERNS (background) 
Bolivar Flats
**smaller with black on bill and white belly

Brown THRASHER
Goose Island State Park

Gray-cheeked THRUSH (or Swanson's, or Hermit?)
High Island area

Hermit THRUSH (or Swanson's, or Grey-cheeked?)
Sabine Woods area

Wood THRUSH
High Island area

Black-crested Tufted TITMOUSE
Goose Island State Park

Ruddy TURNSTONE
Goose Island State Park

Bay-breasted WARBLER
High Island area

Black-and-white WARBLER
High Island area

Black-throated Green WARBLER
High Island area

Blackburnian WARBLER
High Island area

Blue-winged WARBLER
Goose Island State Park

Cerulean WARBLER
Goose Island State Park

Chestnut-sided WARBLER
High Island area

Golden-winged WARBLER
Goose Island State Park

Kentucky WARBLER
Sabine Woods area

Magnolia WARBLER
High Island area

Prothonotary WARBLER
High Island area

Tennessee WARBLER
High Island area

Yellow WARBLER
Goose Island State Park

VEERY
Sabine Woods area

Philadelphia VIREO
Goose Island State Park

Red-eyed VIREO
Sabine Woods area

White-eyed VIREO
Goose Island State Park

Yellow-throated VIREO
High Island area

Northern (or Louisiana?) WATERTHRUSH
Sabine Woods area

WILLET
Bolivar Flats

Eastern WOOD-PEWEE
Goose Island State Park

Red-bellied WOODPECKER
High Island area

Greater YELLOWLEGS
Sabine Woods area

Common YELLOWTHROAT (male)
Sabine Woods area

Common YELLOWTHROAT (female)
Sabine Woods area
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