Sunday, November 18, 2012

Today's Bird: The Common Ground Dove

This whole week, I'm going to be posting birds from a single trip to a single park, Estero Llano Grande in Weslaco, Texas. I'm extremely grateful to live so close to one of the greatest state parks in the country and one of the best hotspots I could imagine. In addition, I'm thankful for the wonderful folks who work and volunteer there including Huck, John, Kyle, Mary and all the desk workers who swipe my pass. You guys make my Saturdays amazing.

Today's bird is the Common Ground Dove.  They live all over the deep, deep south, including the lovely Weslaco, Texas.  They're a bunch smaller than a Rock Pigeon or a White-Wing Dove and they spend mot of their time on the ground (duh) foraging for seeds to eat.  I don't see them every time I'm out, but when I do, I'm always struck by their beautiful color. 

This picture is from Saturday's bird walk--November 17, 2012.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Today's Bird: Sayaca Tanager

Today's bird is the Sayaca Tanager.  The Sayaca Tanager is one of the birds that I only got to see in the lowlands of Bolivia and after that, they disappeared.  These little guys get replaced by birds that look and move similarly at different elevations, but this bird is unique to the lowlands.  They have the same shape and habits as our our tanagers (here's one from a previous post) but better colors, for sure.

This entrepreneurial little guy had figured out how to slip through the chain link fences of the parrot cages at the Santa Cruz Zoo.  He was more than delighted to steal the food from the fancy tropical birds.  I took this picture in Santa Cruz on June 22, 2012.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Today's Bird: Cinnamon Flycatcher

This is a Cinnamon Flycatcher! I liked this bird because the name makes so much sense.  South American birds are usually named for what they are (like the Black-Capped Warbling Finch) but even then I still get a bit confused.  What is a warbling finch, exactly?  Anyway, unlike those, this name is really obvious.  The bird is structured like most of the flycatchers I'm used to seeing around back home.  And as for the Cinnamon part, the name appears to be a perfect fit.

I took this picture along a dirt road somewhere in Bolivia...probably a couple hours outside Cochabamba on June 28, 2012.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Today's Bird: Spotted Sandpiper

Today's bird is the Spotted Sandpiper.  They're pretty common in marshes and wetlands around here.  They're always bobbing their tails and poking around for food in the mud.  I know this bird doesn't look like a Spotted anything, but this fellow (or lady, can't tell) is in the fall plumage, which is actually kind of dull looking.  You can tell Spotted Sandpipers apart from semi-similar birds by checking out the yellow legs, white notch on the flank and the black and white eyebrow stripe.

They live all over the United States, so check out your local wetland.  This one happened to be at Santa Anna National Wildlife Refuge on November 5, 2012.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Today's Bird: The American Kestrel

Happy Hundredth Blog Post!  Today's bird is one of my favorite birds ever, the American Kestrel.  The Kestrel is a type of Falcon--it's a smaller, sleeker bird of prey.  Coming in at only about 9 inches, it's pretty small.  I think I like them so much because they're so colorful and they're so intense looking. The nice colors on this one make him particularly attractive--he's a full grown, adult male.

I took this picture at Delta Lake in Edcouch on October 28, 2012.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Today's Bird: Snowy Egret

Today's bird is the Snowy Egret.  Snowy Egrets are everywhere around here.  I see them flapping their wings over the expressway all the time.  They're in your canals, in the local ponds (hide your kids, hide your wife?)

Anyway, my favorite feature of these waders is the big, yellow feet.  It's like they're wearing socks.  Nice, fashionable look!  I took this picture at Delta Lake in Edcouch, Texas on November 4, 2012.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Today's Bird: Summer Tanager

Today's bird is the Summer Tanager!  Summer tanagers live mostly in the southeastern United States with a little bit of overlap inthe New Mexico and Arizona.  During migrations, they often pass through and a few sometimes even spend the winter here in the RGV.  I think they're pretty awesome looking: the boys are fire-engine red like this one and the girls are a lovely yellow.  You can tell the apart from other birds that may look or move similarly because of the big, thick bill.

I took this picture on October 8, 2012 at the Sheepshead lots on South Padre Island.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Today's Bird: The Red-Capped Cardinal

Today's Bird is the Red-Capped Cardinal.  It's one of the few cardinal species that lives in Peru and Bolivia.  I actually found this guy and IDed him myself, which is exciting because I was pretty reliant on my bird guide for most of the trip.  I actually beat my trip mates into Bolivia because I'd come from Peru, so I spent a couple of days lingering in Santa Cruz and taking some bird walks outside of town.  I spotted this guy at the Bio Center Guembe on June 23, 2012.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Today's Bird: Piping Plover

Today's bird is an endangered species: the Piping Plover. Scientists estimate that there are about 8,000 Piping Plovers left on Earth.  They suffer from a mix of habitat encroachment and from the effects of climate change, which are altering their migration patterns and could potentially destroy even more of the beachfront where they live.  You can read more about Piping Plovers and how to help them here

I took this picture on October 21, 2012 at Mustang Island State Park near Corpus Christi.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Today's Bird: Green-Winged Teal

Introducing, back in the RGV for the thousandth winter in a row: The Green-Winged Teal!  They're one of the many types of ducks that choose to spend the winter with us.  Estero Llano Grande, the park I visit most frequently, is sort of a haven for these guys because they have three or four big ponds that are filled to the perfect depth for migrating and wintering ducks.  I really enjoy when they're here.  They make for easy bird watching and it's fun to watch them shed their less-exciting summer plumage and move into their "dress clothes" for winter and spring.

I took this picture today (November 3, 2012) on my afternoon bird walk at Estero Lllano Grande.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Today's Bird: Brewer's Blackbird

Lots of people have been asking me what the creepy birds are that congregate in and around Texas grocery store parking lots.  There's a variety of birds in those flocks.  Most are Great-Tailed Grackles and Bronzed Cowbirds, but every once in awhile you get one of these--a Brewer's Blackbird!  They're pretty nondescript birds but they're a welcome change from the squawking birds that creep on you when you're picking up your family groceries.  I took this picture near the border checkpoint in Sarita, Texas on October 20, 2012.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Today's Bird: Andean Flamingo!

Yesterday, I asked my friend Melissa what bird she'd like for her birthday, and she said something pink.  Turns out, I can deliver on that.  I give you the Andean Flamingo!  Happy Birthday, Melissa!

I always thought of Flamingos as swap birds.  I figured they wandered around in the Everglades and in zoos and that was about it.  It turns out that Flamingos live in high altitudes too!  There are three types in Peru and Bolivia and here's one of them. As my bird book notes, its the rarest of the Flamingos--not nearly as common as the James and Chilean, its highland counterparts.

I took this picture somewhere outside La Paz, Bolivia on July 6, 2012.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Today's Bird: The Black Vulture

In honor of posting something creepy for Halloween, today's bird is the Black Vulture!  Black Vultures are pretty common around the United States, hanging out on the sides of roads, picking up carrion to eat and nearly getting hit by cars.  You can tell them apart from Turkey Vultures because they have more rounded wing tips, gray heads, and their undersides look different.  Turkey Vultures are kind of white under their wings, but Black Vultures are only white on the tips (I call them the Vulture Hand Prints...).

While Vultures are pretty common in the states, they're also common in Peru.  I took this picture at the Villa Marshes outside Lima, Peru on June 12, 2012.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Today's Bird: The White-tailed Kite

Today's bird is the White-Tailed Kite! White-Tailed Kites are a type of bird of prey (check out the angry looking beak and legs).  They spend a lot of time "kiting" or hanging out in the sky, the way this one is in the photo.  They just sort of hang in the air catching the draft, flapping their wings once in awhile looking for delicious mice to eat.

White-tailed kites are mostly around in the Valley during the winter and spring, so I go through the summer without seeing them and then they're back!  Last weekend, I ran into two at Delta Lake in Elsa, but this picture's actually kind of an old one.  I took it on the side of the road in Mission, Texas on February 21, 2012.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Today's Bird: The Puna Ground Tyrant

This little bird doesn't look like much, but they're extremely cool.  This is the Puna Ground Tyrant.  He's named for the region of the Andes where he lives called the Puna, which is in the high-high mountains (above 3,600 meters!).  There aren't a lot of other birds around up there, so he doesn't have much competition for attention...there's a few other members of his Genus who also hang around up high.  They're apparently called "tyrants'' because they're pretty nasty to their food, although I never got to see it.

I took this picture in the Puna somewhere outside La Paz on July 7, 2012.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Today's Bird: The Smoke Colored Pewee

Today's bird is a lovely but simple Peruvian bird: The Smoke-Colored Pewee.  The Smoke-Colored Pewee lives in mid-level forests.  It's a type of flycatcher so it eats spiders and insects.  This one's a bit more sizable than the ones you might be used to if you live on the East coast of the United States.  He's much than his American cousin (the Eastern Wood Pewee) but his behavior and overall appearance is fairly similar. 

I took this picture outside Aguas Calientes on June 19, 2012.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Today's Bird: The Great Egret

The Great Egret is a pretty common bird around here.  I see them in canals around town, flying over the Expressway while I'm driving, and in the local state park where I bird most often.  Even though they're extremely common, they're also extremely beautiful.  When they're full sized, the white is really pure and they're just SO BIG. 

Sometimes people mistake Great Egrets in flight for cranes.  Look out for a bent neck instead of a straight one.  Cranes fly with their neck straight out, but Egrets have them curled up. 

I took this picture at the South Padre Island Boardwalk World Birding Center on October 8, 2012.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Today's Bird: Ruddy Turnstone

Today's Bird is the Ruddy Turnstone.  They get their name from what they do best--using their little bill to flip over rocks and find the delicious creatures beneath them.  They're a staple here on the Gulf Coast, but I was also delighted to see them in Peru!  I remember turning to my guide and asking if they were the same Ruddy Turnstones and he looked at me, very disappointed and said, "Oh. You have those too.  No point telling you how great they are..." 

Their field marks make them pretty easy to identify, so the next time you're out celebrating an oil-spill free Gulf Coast (or so says BP...), look for these fellows.  I took this picture on Mustang Island on October 21, 2012.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Today's Bird: The Killdeer

It amazes me that Killdeers have not become extinct.  They're actually the most widespread plover in America.  They're extremely common in fields, both man-made and natural.  They lay their eggs out in the open on little stick nests.  Unfortunately, they don't really understand how the game of soccer works (or baseball, or football), so their nests sometimes get trampled by unsuspecting sportsmen.  They also try to draw predators away from their nests by doing a "broken wing dance" and making a sad, sad little noise.

Like I said, can't figure out why they exist.  I took this picture in Corpus Christi, Texas in the parking lot of a La Quinta hotel on October 20, 2012.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Today's Bird: Magnificent Frigatebird

Today's Bird is the Magnificent Frigatebird.  The best place to see these birds is out at sea, but I got lucky with this one and happened to be on shore.  It makes for a better picture if the camera's not rocking.  This is actually my second life-Frigatebird, but my first US sighting.  The first one I ever saw was in Mexico while Emma and I were on a cruise.  I didn't expect to see any birds other than gulls and was delighted to catch a lifer!

I ran into Frigatebird #2 on South Padre Island on May 26, 2012.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Today's Bird: Ash-Breasted Tit-Tyrant

With a name like "Ash-Breasted Tit-Tyrant," it must be South American.  This little guy lives on the slopes of the Andes in the same type of highland forest that the White-Browed Tit-Spinetail lives in.  He's pretty tiny at only about 5 inches, so I was excited to be able to snag a picture.  He posed for me near Abra Malaga, Peru on June 16, 2012.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Today's Bird: White-Faced Whistling Duck

Today's Bird is the White-Faced Whistling Duck.  For those of you who live down in South Texas (or follow my blog, or both), you might be familiar with the Black Bellied Whistling Duck.  This is his Bolivian cousin!  They live in the lowlands, so the two times I saw them on my trip were both in Santa Cruz.  I saw some at a nature park outside of town, but I actually took this picture at the zoo.  This is another one of those birds that could've left if he'd wanted to, but there really wasn't much incentive to be anywhere else.  Nice water, food, and a good atmosphere. 

I took this picture on June 22, 2012.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Today's Bird: Yellow Warbler

Today's Bird is the Yellow Warbler. You can tell a Yellow Warbler apart from other small yellow birds by the streaking on its chest.  There's a few other indicators to help tell females apart, but the streaks are the easiest and most obvious on the boys. The Yellow Warbler is a North American bird that's fairly common.  They migrate through South Texas and a few will stay the winter, but most will head on down to Central America.

I took this picture at the Warbler Rest Stop on South Padre Island on April 29, 2012.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Today's Bird: the Burrowing Owl

The Burrowing Owl is one of the very few owls I've seen.  The reason this one's not as hard to spot is that they actually come out and hang around during the day.  They live in the Western United States, but I actually saw this one in Bolivia.  Oddly enough, the best place to see them is the airport, right near the parking lot.  So, if you're ever looking for a Burrowing Owl...head off to the Viru-Viru Airport!

I took this picture on June 24, 2012.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Today's Bird: Wilson's Snipe

Today's bird is the Wilson's Snipe.  Whenever I think about this bird, I remember the scene in "Up" where the old guy sends the cub scout out to look for a Snipe...turns out they're real!  They don't come out when you clap though; they're really pretty shy.  They have this great streaked camouflage that they use to hide out in dried grasses or reeds just like this one is here.  The thing I like best about them is their head-to-bill ratio and the way the two parts connect in sort of a seamless flow.

While this isn't the best picture ever taken of a Wilson's Snipe, it's the best one I've ever taken...I took this at Estero Llano Grande on October 13, 2012.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Daily Bird: Botteri's Sparrow

Today's bird is the Botteri's Sparrow.  It's the kind of bird you might pass over because of its looks.  Think of it as the ugly duckling of Sparrows. Not because it turns into something's a very ordinary looking bird.  But it's important because it's so rare in south Texas.  Seeing this bird is a pretty big deal.  I took this photo at the King Ranch on April 28, 2012.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Today's Bird: Buff-Belled Hummingbird

Today's Bird is the Buff-Bellied Hummingbird.  Even with all that name, he still lives here in the United States.  He's the only Rio Grande Valley local hummer.  The other ones we get--Ruby-Throated, Black-Chinned and the occasional Allen's, are all migrants.  But the Buff-Bellied Hummers are around pretty much all the time.

If you look really closely, you'll be able to see my favorite feature--at tiny black tip on an otherwise orange bill.  I took this picture at Estero Llano Grande State Park on September 1, 2012.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Today's Bird: The Capped Conebill

Today's bird is the Capped Conebill, one of many different types of Conebills I got to see in Peru.  Capped Conebills live in mid-level altitude in Peru, Columbia, Ecuador and Bolivia between 1500-3000 meters.  They're fairly common but I was still pretty excited to spot one on my own without the aid of my guide.  I took this picture on the road outside of Aguas Calientes on June 19, 2012.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Today's Bird: American Redstart

Last week, I posted a Redstart from Peru, but this one's all home-grown.  These little guys live in the Eastern Woodlands.  The males look all Halloween-y like this one here.  The female has the same feather pattern but is gray and yellow instead of black and orange.  I saw my first American Redstart on my in-laws' property in Western Pennsylvania.  I remember looking through my book and realizing for the first time that it's not just ducks that have different male and female looks. 

When I see American Redstarts now, it's because they're on migration, headed to South or Central America.  This time of year, I run into them with some regularity, but they move so fast and are so small that I have trouble getting a good photograph.  Although this photo isn't perfect, it's the best one I have..If only they'd slow down...

I took this picture at South Padre Island on October 8, 2012.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Today's Bird: The Humbolt Penguin!

By request from my brother (who asked me to hurry it up already with the penguins...) here they are! The Humbolt Penguins!  Humbolt Penguins live off the coast of southern Peru in a small, cold water current called the Humbolt Current.  They're not as cute as baby, fluffy Emperor Penguins but they're pretty awesome all the same.  I took this picture from a small boat that we took from Pucusana, Peru on June 12, 2012.

I feel like any other words I would say would just distract you from looking at this picture, so I'll stop.  Enjoy.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Today's Bird: Fasciated Tiger Heron

Today's bird is the Fasciated Tiger Heron, one of my favorite birds I saw in Peru.  It's a heron, so it's structured like a Great-Blue, the big American Heron you've probably seen before. 

The picture you're looking at is actually a juvenile (a young bird).  The grown up bird was there as well and I have photos but honestly, they're not all that cool-looking.  The "tiger" part really only describes the juvenile.  The adult is kind of dark colored and doesn't look like he's ready for a dance club like this one does...

The Fasciated Tiger Herons live in forested areas with fast moving streams.  That made Aguas Calientes, Peru the ideal place to see one.  I took this picture on June 18, 2012.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Today's Bird: Green Kingfisher

There are three types of Kingfishers in America--the Ringed, Belted and the Green.  The Belted is the one that you're used to seeing if you live, well, just about anywhere in America.  The other two--the Ringed and the Green--live exclusively in South Texas.

The Green Kingfisher is pretty small (only 7-8 inches tall), which makes the giant bill look pretty hilarious.  I always kind of wonder why they're not top-heavy--I'm half-expecting this one to tip over as I'm taking the picture.  This one happens to be female.  The adult male has a red chest instead of a green and white one.  I took this picture at Estero Llano Grande State Park on September 15, 2012.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Today's Bird: Inca Tern

Today's bird is the Inca Tern! Based on its name, you shouldn't be surprised that it's a South American bird.  They live all along the coast of Peru and are fairly common around Lima.  I saw a few perched along the shore in a small town that we visited.  But this shot came from getting on a boat and headed out toward a rock island where we went to look for penguins (we found them...I have photos...they're coming).  The boat driver took a big handful of fish guts and chucked them off the edge of the boat.  Dozens of Inca Terns and Gulls came to see what the deal was.

I took this picture on June 12, 2012 near Pucusana, Peru.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Today's Bird: The Sparkling Violetear

Today's bird is one of many hummingbirds I saw while in South America--the Sparkling Violetear.  My guide said that most of the hummingbirds were named by Europeans, who didn't really know what hummingbirds were (apparently there aren't really any in Europe).  So, they gave them names that kind of described what they looked like.  This one is one of the ones that they did a pretty good job on.  It does, in fact, sparkle and has a violet-blue patch over the ear area.  So, well done conquistadors--you named this hummingbird well.  Everything else...not so much. 

I took this picture on June 16, 2012 at Lake Huacarpay, a highland lake outside of Cusco, Peru.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Today's Bird: Andean Geese

Today's Bird is the Andean Goose.  No shocker--they live at altitude (in the Andes) in highland lakes.  They're not a super-common bird, but they're findable.  We didn't see any at the first highland lake we visited, but when we got to the second they were hanging out right in the middle of the field.  I know they look like domestic geese, but I promise they're not.  I took this picture in the wilds of Lake Piruay, a couple hours from Cuzco, Peru on June 16, 2012.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Today's Bird: The Red-Vented Bulbul

Today's bird is the Red-Vented Bulbul.  Just to help you dissect the name, Red-Vented is a nice way of saying that it has a red hindquarter, which is pretty evident from the photo.  The Red-Vented Bulbul lives in the Pacific Islands, but some crazy people brought 2 birds to Texas years ago.  Turns out it was a male and a female and now there's an established flock living in Houston, Texas.  I ran into two of them in the Montrose neighborhood near Baby Barnaby's (a great place for breakfast!) on June 9, 2012.  It took me awhile to identify it because it was such an odd bird, but with some careful bird guide work (and a little help from Emma) we figured it out.  Turns out if you see one, they ask you to submit some special paperwork, so I even got to send in a form about how and what the bird was doing.  Pretty sweet.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Today's Bird: Anhinga

Today's bird is the Anhinga.  This one happens to be a female (you can tell by the tan neck and head--boys are all black).  I know it looks crazy, but this one's not a South American Bird, they live right here in the USA.  They're in the dinosaur bird collection; I sense that they're closely related to pterodactyls or some similar flying dino.  Anhingas are pretty common along the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida year round.  Their range creeps a bit farther north in the summer, but really, they're water birds.  Keep an eye out for them on your next trip south.  I took this picture at Estero Llano Grande State Park on September 15, 2012.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Today's Bird: The Great Horned Owl (et)

Today's bird is the Great Horned Owl! Lots of birders talk about their "hook" bird--the bird that made them want to be a birder, and the GHO is mine.  I was working at Montezuma Well National Monument and living on the property.  In the late evening, I was going for a walk, when I saw a giant bird swoop low in front of me.  I followed it and it was a Great Horned Owl sitting in a tree.  After a couple of minutes, it took off again and silently flew over my head.  I'm pretty sure it could've picked me off if it had wanted to.

These don't look like the Great Horned Owl I saw back in Arizona.  They're way too FLUFFY! I took these guys' picture at my friend Dianne's wedding, which she had at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin Texas on April 16, 2012.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Today's Bird: The Blue Jay

In hopes of giving you all breaks from birds with insanely long names, here is a friend with whom we should all be familiar.  It's a Blue Jay! They're mean little buggers--squawking at anything that moves, chasing other birds, hogging feeders...but at the end of the day it's undeniable that they're pretty handsome birds.  We actually don't have Blue Jays in the Rio Grande Valley (we've got Green Jays instead).  I actually took this picture in Austin on the trail at Lady Bird Lake on April 16, 2012.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Today's Bird: The Slate-Throated Redstart

Today's bird is another South American bird, the Slate-Throated Redstart.  They're pretty common for their elevation and habitat (humid mountain forest below 2,600 meters) and they're super cute! If you look really closely, you can see a red crown of feathers on the top of his head.  They only get these when they're excited or extra attentive, as I'm sure he was given the fact that I was taking his picture. 

The name Redstart might sound familiar as we have the American Redstart, which is pretty common and then a few others that are more rare, like the Painted Redstart.  No matter which they are, don't be too thrown by the name.  They're really just Warblers, which is bird code for small and fast.

I took this picture on June 18, 2012 near Aguas Calientes, Peru.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Today's Bird: The Golden-Billed Saltator!

Today's bird is the Golden-Billed Saltator.  They're about the size of a Blue Jay and nearly as common, as long as you're in Peru or Bolivia in medium altitude.  I saw my first one in Peru one of my first few days out birding, but I couldn't get a good picture until this one.  I actually snapped this while we were hunting for the Red-Fronted Macaw (another post for another day) in the morning on July 2, 2012.  We were somewhere between Cochabamba and a small town called Cerro Tunari.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Today's Bird: The Blue and White Swallow

Swallows are kind of like day-time bats.  They swoop around and catch bugs.  It's not very often that you catch one sitting down like this.  Usually, they're zipping past you at a zillion miles an hour, twisting and turning as they go. 

This is a Blue-and-White Swallow, another South American bird with a super-long name.  At least it's an accurate description.  For me the most interesting thing about the swallows was where I saw them.  The bird species are layered throughout the different tiers of elevation and one species replaces another.   Blue and White Swallows are extremely common, but once you pass about 4,300 meters, they're replaced by Andean Swallows, their highland cousins.

I took this photo just outside downtown Aguas Calientes (the town you go to on your way to Machu Piccu) on June 18, 2012.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Today's Bird: The Wood Stork

Wood storks don't live in many places in the United States, so it's a pretty big treat to get to see one.  I've met folks whose houses are teeming with them in Florida, but down here by us it's just the lonely bird or two in the summer time.  Then, in September, they disappear further south.  This is actually the third Wood Stork I've seen, but the first time I ever managed to snap a picture.  It's not the best photo (it's the best one I have though!) but I really wanted to share this slightly ugly but totally majestic bird.  I took this picture at Estero Llano Grande State Park here in Weslaco on September 1, 2012.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Today's Bird: Black-Capped Warbling Finch

Today's bird is the Black-Capped Warbling Finch.  It's one of those South American birds that was excessively named.  At least this one's descriptive--it's a Finch that warbles with a black cap.  In going through my notes, it took me a little while to figure out which bird this was as there was a whole collection of black-capped birds we saw on the trip. There were even different types of Warbling Finches; this is one of many.  At least the photo was date stamped, which helped me narrow it down.  I took this picture on June 29, 2012 near a small town called Saipina in Bolivia.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Today's Bird: The White-Cheeked Pintail

Another South American bird with an absurdly long name.  This one's called the White-Cheeked Pintail.  It's a duck (duh) that lives all over south America in both fresh and salty water.  I saw my first one at some salt marshes outside of Lima, but this picture is actually from the zoo in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.  While I don't include captive birds on my blog, this guy was free to come and go from the zoo--he'd discovered water, the free food and wasn't planning on leaving any time soon.  I took this picture on June 22, 2012.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Today's Bird: The White-Browed Tit-Spinetail

Today's bird is extremely exciting.  It's the White-Browed Tit-Spinetail! I often joked with my bird guide, Jose Antonio, that South American birds have WAY too many names.  Saying White-Browed Tit-Spinetail is not the same as saying Blue Jay.  It also takes awhile to type...Anyway, the White-Browed Tit-Spine Tail is what's called an Endemic bird.  It means that it's only found in one country.  They're a special treat to get to see them and usually you have to go to some far-flung place; they're not just hopping around town waiting to be seen.

We hiked 8 miles to see this (and a lot of other birds) at the Royal Cinclodes Polylepis Preserve near Abra Malaga, Peru on June 16, 2012.

And just to show you what endemic looks like, here's the range map for the White-Browed Tit-Spinetail (one more time!) care of the Endangered Species Program at the US Fish and Wildlife Department (see the map and other relevant information here)


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Today's Bird: Red-Crowned Parrot

Today's bird is the Red-Crowned Parrot.  You might think I took this photo in Peru or Bolivia, but actually they live right here in lovely Weslaco, Texas.  Most nights when I'm walking the dog I run into the flock that lives in my neighborhood.  I'd been trying for a few weeks to get a good picture.  Then one morning on my way home from the gym, I saw them hanging out on a power line! I rushed home, grabbed my camera and thankfully they were still there! I took this picture in the parking lot of Hair Trix on Westgate Rd. in Weslaco, Texas on 8/22/12.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Today's Bird: The Common Paraque!

Happy Birthday to my friend Anne! In honor of your birth, I'm posting a bird that we've seen together, the Common Paraque.  I hope that my readership is enjoying the "find the bird" puzzle that is this photograph.  Common Paraque (say: pa-rah-key) live only in South Texas.  They nest and sleep on the ground and like other Nighthawks and Nightjars, they're nocturnal.  I found this one sleeping in its traditional spot at Estero Llano Grande State Park on 9/15/12.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Today's bird: Gray Hooded Parakeet

Today's bird is the Gray-Hooded Parakeet! These guys live in scrubby highland in Bolivia and Chile.  They spook pretty easily, so it was a bit tough to get a photo.  This is the best one of the lot that I took.  Normally, I make a note about where I was when the photo was taken, but to be honest, I'm not entirely sure.  I was somewhere not super-far from Cochabamba, Bolivia on July 2, 2012.