My goodness, I'm tired and just about birded out (as well as incredibly itchy and somewhat stinky). The Rio Grande Valley Bird Festival should almost be called the Birder Reunion Bird Festival since so many of us show up here and connect. I started my Texas birding adventure with a field trip to Bensten-Rio Grande Valley State Park. This was the first place I birded the first time I came to this festival years ago. I love it because it gives you a good sample of the valley specialties. What makes this area to bird so fun is that for a Midwest Girl, you can find yourself in a tropical and exotic area on the cheap. Look at the water and the palm trees in the above photo--how could you not love that?
And the birds are crazy looking to add to the exotic appeal of this area, like the green jays. I never get tired of green jays. Seeing something like that makes you feel like you're on another planet, especially when your husband calls and tells you that it's snowing at home.
And it's not just the birds. Instead of squirrels under the feeder, Bentsen as javelinas! These guys were under every feeding station we visited and weren't that scared of humans, they must have a sense that we won't hunt them and I would guess they know humans are the ones who replenish the bird feeders.
One of the coolest birds in the park was a roosting eastern screech owl. The bird is perched on the edge of a cavity in the tree trunk. Check out how well the bird's feathers blend in with the bark--incredible. This was a particularly exciting eastern screech owl, park staff told our group that it was a mccallii, and it's quite possible that the American Ornithologists' Union will make it a separate species from eastern screech owl. So, I kind of banked a life bird for another day.
Another specialty of the area is the buff-bellied hummingbird also known on Cornell's Birds of North America as the "least-studied hummingbird that occurs regularly in the United States." It's a Mexican species that breeds along the gulf coast and makes it across the border into the US.
Another part of birding in south Texas that is unique is watching helicopters for the border patrol pass by. This helicopter was really low and kept going down to one particular patch, leading us to wonder if some people illegally crossing the border had been found.
All part of the fun.
Okay, fatigue has hit me, more later.