phil jeffrey:: CO/NM/TX, April 2014 trip report


Tripartate Trip: Colorado Grouse, Colima Hike, Upper Texas Coast

An unusual trip that occurred in 3 segments based on 4 concatenated flights: a week in Colorado recreating in part the 2004 Colorado "Chicken Tour"; a few days around Big Bend National Park looking for Colima Warbler and Streak-backed Oriole (NM); a quick visit to the Upper Texas Coast around High Island for migrants.

My 2004 "Chicken Tour" to find grouse and prairie-chickens in Colorado had some success albeit with a farcical amount of backtracking and circumnavigating Colorado in 10 days. I decided to recreate it a decade later in 2014 with a more compressed schedule and combine it with a epic Colima Warbler hike (Big Bend NP) and a quick break in the return leg of the trip at Houston. I did not manage to fit a Lesser Prairie-Chicken search into the schedule - the Campo Lek in CO has been closed for several years, and the leks around Milnesand NM are suffering from ongoing drought (the last two years they appear to have canceled their Prairie-Chicken festival). Having seen that species once, I suspect I might never see one again unless I go on a specific trip to KS or OK soon (or if the drought ever breaks and the species rebounds). The general decline in grouse and prairie-chickens was what spurred me to recreate the trip anyway - Gunnison's Sage-Grouse and Lesser Prairie-Chicken hover on the edge of being classified as endangered species and most of these family exhibit dwindling populations. Colorado remains the definitive place to give you the best chance of seeing a combination of these species, although there are better places to e.g. see Chukar than in Colorado where they have a limited range and low-ish numbers.

Compared to 2004, Colorado was clearly less advanced in spring migration and although the weather was mostly more stable it was also snowier on the ground. Many of the days had good weather and I managed to mostly mitigate the impact of a system that moved through central CO mid-trip. With an eye to greater efficiency I managed to only back-track once (to Hayden on the last day) although Colorado remains a huge state so a lot of road miles were put on the rental car.

Request: I put these trip reports out here so that others can benefit from the details of them and the overall expecations, but reporting bird locations is an increasingly hazardous business for the birds. Please adhere to the guidelines for visiting leks by getting there at least an hour before sunrise and minimizing any movement or sound during the active lek time - birder pressure is undoubtedly responsible for some local declines of grouse species. For the Sharp-tailed Grouse lek near Hayden a photographer was moving around, against protocol, to get better photos. These birds survive at these locations despite developement and birder pressure. Don't be part of the problem.

General Birding Resources

Holt's "Birder's Guide to Colorado" was published in 1997 as part of the Lane Guide series so is close to 20 years old in content and therefore nowhere near as useful as it was on my first trip in 2004. It appears that ABA have largely stopped sponsoring the development of such books which is a real shame. Instead, much of the relevant location and sightings info has moved to the web, where there is a parallel effort in sites and email lists from the Colorado Birding Society (CoBus) and Colorado Field Ornithologists (CFO). I have no idea what the back story is on having two apparently competing organizations but the sightings data, at least, is rather complementary so both sets of sightings have to be monitored. Plus eBird. I tend to find CoBus more useful, although the website presentation is somewhat archaic. Ironically the CoFO site has a more modern design but is visually distracting away from the core data you're looking for

I still brought the Holt guide with me because it remains the best source of context for birding locations. eBird reports provide little or none of that, although I can still mine them with some efficiency for sightings. Even the CFO and CoBus sites don't provide quite the same level of detail that you can get out of Holt's book. Prior experience with the area (April 2004, June 2006) certainly helped with planning the trip, however.

Although I do use eBird for some sightings info, eBird is also responsible for the decline of participation in traditional email lists to the detriment of us all. For this reason I've mostly stopped reporting to eBird except in a few tactical cases. eBird reports rarely have the context necessary for birders to make use of sightings info.

Here's a few links that you might find useful:

CoBus (recent):
CoBus Chickens:
CoBus Sites by County
Sightings spring 2014
CFO Sites by County
CFO Specialties
Colorado Birding Trail
Colorado Counties map
New Mexico Hotline
Birding SE NM:
Colorado Birds list!forum/cobirds
Cobirders list
ABA list archive TX
ABA list archive NE
ABA list archive CO_1
Accuweather Denver
Accuweather Steamboat
Accuweather Gd Junctn
Accuweather Gunnison
Accuweather Wray

Airlines and Rental Cars

I've shifted from United Airlines ("the antiChrist in the form of an airline") who have repeatedly messed with the flights I was on, and switched to South West who while not impeccable are at least on average better. I managed to score three of four flight legs for this trip with South West (EWR-DEN, MAF-HOU, HOU-EWR) off frequent flier miles (points), and only had to pay for the DEN-MAF with actual cash for which United were the only airline to offer a direct flight. That plane was one of the smallest ones I had traveled in (even including Alaska) and caused issues with the photo gear I was traveling with, so perhaps I should have flown South West and changed in Houston for that leg too.

Everybody else's car rental experience has suffered over the last several years and it's no different for me: for some places I prefer to use Dollar based on decent experiences at MIA and PHX, but have started paying more attention to Yelp reviews having narrowly dodged the bullet on the apparently routinely awful Dollar at LAX. My LAX experience with Enterprise was nothing short of exceptional but I imagine this is an outlier on the other side of things - if they were universally that good everyone would be using them. I've realized that I've experienced Dollar "slowing the line" when they run out of cars at MIA and SFO, and while I suspect this is not unique to Dollar it does make me wary that there's been a company-wide trend of reducing the fleet. Thrifty once stuck me in line for 90 mins at SEA-TAC so I pay attention to negative "out of car" reviews. For the HOU car rental *all* the companies had negative reviews of that sort, some companies had little operations that weren't open past noon on Saturday (that counts you out, Enterprise), and I was anticipating enough inconvenience that I double-booked rental car companies that were within walking distance. I never do that, but that was a narrow 26 hour window trip break and I'm not spending 20% of that in a car rental lot. Actual experience on this trip: Enterprise were very good indeed at Denver Airport - not quite as good as the LAX Enterprise, but a very good experience. I got the choose the small SUV I wanted and my Hyundai Tucson worked out well. Budget at Midland-Odessa was OK - at neither pickup or drop-off was there an agent at the Budget desk, but Avis handled the rental just fine and while I'm no fan of the Impala it does get the job done. National at Houston Hobby - despite the horror stories on Yelp - had plenty of cars and the Emerald Club/"Emerald Aisle" program worked out well for me. National were slow getting me out of the exit gate but fast on returning the car. Enterprise warrant a lot more of my business, and National deserves a closer look too.


Formerly a heavy user of Motel 6 on birding trips I've moved away from them because of poor employee performance. Hotels in Colorado are numerous, although sometimes unusually expensive for location (e.g. Sterling had higher prices than expected). I had pretty good experiences at the Steamboat Hotel in Steamboat Springs and in Grand Junction at the Econo Lodge - not high end places but good quality for the price. Hotels around Odessa and Pecos in TX were disproportionately expensive due to the oil worker population - paying $90+ for poor quality hotels does not sit well. Finally the Home Suites in Winnie TX was a place on the Upper Coast that would be a good base for spring migration at High Island and Anahuac NWR - I only got to stay there for one night but was inexpensive for the area. (They seem to have morphed into an America's Best Value Inn - I've used that chain in AZ with good results although I've found them to be variable elsewhere).

Trip Report

Weds Apr 9th - Newark NJ to Denver

The rare (for me) afternoon flight into Denver was full, but relatively comfortable. Unfortunately South West boarded the flight 30 minutes late and although Enterprise did an excellent job of dealing with my car rental it was just too dark to find the Burrowing Owl at the western edge of the airport. I might have seen it, but the bird flying off the fence post could also have been a Western Meadowlark which were vocal at this spot. I overnighted in the Crest Motel in Sterling CO - a very small place in the middle of Sterling.

Thurs Apr 10th - Prairie Chickens at Wray

A pre-dawn departure from Sterling got me to Wray's Greater Prairie-Chicken site before dawn. Not as memorably active as in 2004 I nevertheless managed to see 5-6 males on the lek viewed by spotting scope. The good thing about this lek is that it's somewhat distant so you don't disturb the birds and it is mostly shielded from the road by other ridges. I was also the only traffic on this road for the 90 minutes I was there. In the surrounding sand hills Western Meadowlark, Horned Lark, Mourning Dove, Northern Harrier, American Kestrel.

After watching the lek for a while I edged back down the dirt road and south to Wray itself. At Wray City Park just House Sparrow, Starling, American Robin with Common Grackles seen throughout Wray (and ultimately all the way up through the Front Range) Just west of town at Stalker Lake there were various waterfowl (Green-winged Teal, Gadwall, Mallard, American Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead, Lesser Scaup), Song and White-crowned Sparrows, Red-winged Blackbird, and a surprising Townsend's Solitaire seen on the drive out - surely a migrant through this lowland area as the normal habitat for this species is montane. I didn't find the Sand Sage Wildlife Area indicated via eBird along CR-BB but had Ring-necked Pheasant, Vesper and White-crowned Sparrows, American Kestrel, Northern Harrier, Northern Flicker on the roads in this area. Turkey Vultures were intermittent throughout the area. The area through Wray was wet enough to support quite a few trees, in contrast to the surrounding treeless high plains.

Beyond Wray I made a bee line across the western plains through Yuma (first Eurasian Collared-Doves) and turning north towards the Pawnee National Grasslands. Blue Jay was seen in Sterling. In the South Platte River valley I stopped briefly at Prewitt Reservoir, seeing Northern Shoveler, American Wigeon and also had American White Pelicans nearby. To the west a stop at Andrick Ponds SWA held more waterfowl (Gadwall, Wigeon, Shoveler, Green-winged Teal, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead), a Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Red-tailed Hawk, Say's Phoebe, and more American White Pelicans.

Working the dirt roads north of Andrick I encountered a flock of Horned Larks and McCown's Longspurs (and a possible Chestnut-collared Longspur) along Weld County Road 105, about a mile south of highway 14 as previously reported on the CoBus list. The light was pretty bad and the flock especially flighty making it difficult to pin down any longspurs at all. A sprint west to Murphy's Pasture in Pawnee NG showed it to be very quiet indeed: Western Meadowlark and Horned Larks were the dominant species, as they had been all morning, but any other species were few and far between. I had a grand total of 2 McCown's Longspurs. This became a general theme - the 2nd week in April is too early for many of the passerine migrants in Colorado.

Starting to work towards the mountains I found access to Black Hollow Reservoir not viable, so headed straight for the pass into North Park (i.e. Walden area) out of Fort Collins. In the lower Poudre Cyn two Golden Eagles circled overhead but since I was running short of time I didn't make any of the potentially numerous stops to look for American Dipper along the river. The Poudre Canyon is the east side of a relatively long pass into the Front Range up the Cache la Poudre River and the drive time from Fort Collins to Walden is 2 hours. Nothing else notable seen until just after I crested the summit where I found a flock of ~30 Evening Grosbeaks on the west side of Cameron Pass. I stopped at the "Moose" Colorado State Forest Visitor Center at Gould: Common Raven, Steller's Jay, Dark-eyed Junco (red-backed), a flock of Red-winged Blackbirds, American Robin. I was surprised to see so many blackbirds this high up the valley. However I did not find the recently-reported Rosy-Finch at the feeders nor searched for the Three-toed Woodpecker nearby, lacking time to devote to the search - it was already 6:30pm by now.

In the still-snowy valley past Gould toward Walden I saw Red-tailed Hawk, Golden Eagle, American Crow and Black-billed Magpie and then got another surprise and found Walden Reservoir to be totally frozen - pretty sure it wasn't back in April 2004. Canada Geese were paired up and hanging out next to the currently solid ice, with a Bald Eagle perched nearby. Gadwall and Northern Pintail were on a partially open pond nearby. Lacking anything to scan for on the Reservoir I checked out Delaney Buttes, which was picturesque with Western Meadowlark, American Crows and Black-billed Magpie but otherwise nothing of consequence. A migrating flock of Franklin's Gulls was headed north-west up the side of the valley around here - hopefully headed for somewhere with more open water. I also eyeballed the Sage Grouse lek I was targeting for the following morning, getting a sense of where to park along the dirt road since I'd be doing it in the dark.

Up quickly over the Rabbit Ears pass then into Steamboat Springs where I checked into the Steamboat Hotel then headed out to Hayden in dwindling light, noticing as I did so swallows gathering over the Yampa River and a soaring Golden Eagle thermalling with a Turkey Vulture. 20 Route was unproductive at dusk so I returned to the hotel and prepped for an early start.

Fri Apr 11th : Craig-Hayden-Walden: Greater Sage-Grouse

After a 1-hour-before-sunrise arrival at the Sage Grouse lek I was fairly quickly rewarded by a large number of Greater Sage-Grouse audibly displaying on lek from before first light. About 30 males and 20+ females, many of the latter being clustered at the center of the lek. The lek started to disperse after dawn (6:30) but it took until 7:45 for the last females to leave and 8:20 for the last male to wander off. Protocol is to get there at least an hour before sunrise and leave only after the last bird has left the lek and both the cars at this lek adhered to this protocol. Horned Lark and Common Raven were the only other birds present during this entire time. Quite peaceful, quite cold, but good looks at Sage-Grouse.

Displaying male Greater Sage-Grouse
Displaying male Greater Sage-Grouse

Returning towards Steamboat Springs a Golden Eagle was just north of the junction with US-40. A couple of stops on Rabbit Ears pass yielded: Pine Siskin, American Robin, Mountain Chickadee, possible Cassin's Finch, possible Red Crossbill. Back in Steamboat I found Evening Grosbeak in a residential area near the hotel with Common Merganser and Bufflehead in a pond nearby. On the east side of Steamboat, Fish Creek Falls had Townsend's Solitaire singing, Dark-eyed Junco, Pine Siskin and I heard multiple flocks of Evening Grosbeaks on way back down into town. I headed west to Hayden and 80 Route where I checked out the road as it was tagged as impassable in a prior posting. Initially good going, the road was especially soft where drifting snow was still melting on the road so I was forced to turn around before I got to the third cattle guard and red gate where much of the birding action lies. Nevertheless I found Western Meadowlark, Green-winged Teal, one Rough-legged Hawk, American Kestrel, Mountain Bluebird, and lots of American Crow and Black-billed Magpies. On the Yampa River side of the bluff were two foraging Black-capped Chickadees. Yampa River Preserve, east of Hayden, was very quiet - Song Sparrow, Common Merganser, Northern Flicker, a Mountain Bluebird, and a glimpse of fly-over Franklin's Gulls.

Between the long previous day and the early start I was very tired so I had lunch in Steamboat at the Johnny B. Good diner - think I had eaten there back in 2004 - then backtracked to Craig (Sandhill Cranes and Bald Eagle seen en route) where I was off the road by 4pm. I think this is evidence of getting soft in my old age, where in previous years I would have been birding through sunset.

Sat Apr 12th: Craig-Hayden-Walden: Sharp-tailed Grouse

I was at the 20 Route Lek before dawn but managed to pick the wrong location and did not see any lekking grouse at my first attempt. (This is a trend with me). However I did get transient looks at a displaying male during a drive-by of the correct site, followed by more distant scope views of a secondary lek a mile or so to the south. Not ideal but a mistake salvaged. General rummaging around followed: Spotted Towhee was singing from the sage, Elk were past the 20 route mine; Sandhill Cranes bugling; Ring-necked Duck, Gadwall, Mallard, Cinnamon Teal, Green-winged Teal on the pond north of the main lek plus Bald Eagle. Given the road conditions there was no point in revisiting 80 Route.

I returned to Craig to check out (Common Raven in parking lot) and scan various local ponds. On the approach road to the golf course: White-faced Ibis, Northern Shoveler, Mallard, Red-winged Blackbird, Northern Flicker. On other ponds in area: Gadwall, Bufflehead with Western Grebe at power station ponds - this is the large coal-fired power station that dominates the Craig skyline. Common Merganser was at a nearby power station interpretive site. Neither eBird, CoBus nor the Holt/ABA book had identified any sites between Craig and Rifle that were particularly interesting and south out of Craig on SR-13 nothing specific was seen: corvids, Red-tailed Hawk. There's a vast amount of sagebrush here with periodic pinyon-juniper but no specific sites. Roadside ponds held a few waterfowl (American Wigeon etc.)

Looking for Chukar at Coal Canyon in Cameo was low odds at mid-day on a weekend. The first surprise was the old power station that you used to drive through to get to the canyon had been demolished ! In its stead was a modern transformer station. The second surprise was finding a single Chukar along the canyon road before the parking lot - this species had been reported in ones and twos from the site so this was pretty much the best-case scenario. The parking lot had a number of horse trailers but up the usual left canyon there was still some birding to be had: Rock Wren, Black-throated Sparrow, Say's Phoebe. One Chukar was enough to satisfy me so I didn't need to return to Cameo on the trip - these partridges do not lek and are in relatively low numbers in Colorado. They are, of course, introduced.

At Colorado National Monument: White-throated Swift and Pinyon Jay at the predictably spectacular Fruita overlook, possible Black-throated Gray Warbler and Prairie Falcon fly-bys at the Visitor Center, and then I headed down the side road to Glade Park. Bewick's Wren, Mountain Bluebird, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Mountain Chickadee, Spotted Towhee at the hunter access then in Glade Park itself despite windy conditions: Western Bluebird and Sage Thrasher. That was about as much as I could reasonably hope for and as the Devil's Kitchen picnic/hiking areas at the eastern entrance were full of cars on a Saturday afternoon, I turned south-east towards Montrose.

South-east of Grand Junction, Escalente Canyon was quiet, no Chukar in the farm fields, just American Robins along agricultural land at the valley floor. Confluence Park in Delta was quiet with Bald Eagle, Double-crested Cormorant, Canada Goose. Rain storms were crossing the valley south of Delta on the stretch towards Montrose. The south rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison had Common Raven, Steller's Jay, Spotted Towhee but no Dusky Grouse for the umpteenth time as I searched there from 5:45pm through last light. I returned to Grand Junction stymied with that species yet again (people do sometimes report it from there). At 2.5 hours from Grand Junction I decided not to spend the following morning going back to search for that species.

Sun Apr 13th: Grand Junction to Gunnison

Sunday morning it rained from dawn (6:30am) through 8:30am making for a luxurious late start, and since the rain was clearing west-to-east I started at the west side of Fruita at Highline Lake SP. This turned out to be a decent site. On the west access: Eared Grebes, Western Grebes and one Clark's Grebe (it's a lot easier when they are in breeding plumage), Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, Ruddy Duck, Osprey, 3 Bald Eagles, White-crowned Sparrow, American Avocet, 40 Franklin's Gulls, Barn Swallow, Ring-billed Gull, (heard) Greater Yellowlegs. I also saw my first Barn Swallows for the trip and couple of less cooperative non-Barn Swallows. I found the Great Horned Owl occupying a small ex-heronry at the west side of the dam. From the east side near the campground I added: American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, Snow Geese (5) American Kestrel, Common Raven, Western Meadowlark. The lake is quite small and the surrounding terrain fairly scrubby, but it's worth checking the lake from both sides. A Prairie/Peregrine Falcon was in the lowlands upon exiting the park - I was destined to never get a clear look at a Prairie this trip although it's likely that I saw (at least) one.

Revisiting the eastern entrance of Colorado National Monument in intermittent rain, at Devil's Kitchen picnic area: House Finch, Gambel's Quail pair, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Canyon Wren. Along the generally quiet downslope trail, Black-throated Sparrow, but the novelty of actually seeing a flowing desert wash from the rain upslope. The mesa covered in cloud, one or two vehicles with snow on them, so I abandoned any plans to bird that area. Instead I decided to drive over Grand Mesa - the lower road followed Plateau Creek through Colbran before turning south - and uphill - through Mesa. Yet another Prairie-ish Falcon near Mesa, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel in the sagebrush. From Mesa on upwards large flocks of Dark-eyed Junco, mainly red-backed but also pink-sided subspecies were roadside with a few Vesper Sparrows mixed in and American Robin, Spotted Towhee in the sagebrush.

Continuing upslope more snow, eventually covering the road so the trip over Grand Mesa was difficult and a couple of pulloffs on the plateau had no birds. 10,800 feet at the pass and the descent, again, was through snow, icy snow, sleet etc and eventually low cloud. Quite a scenic and someetimes stressful drive, but not very birdy. Descended eventually to the Post Office at Eckert where three Lewis's Woodpeckers were easily seen. The nearby Fruitgrower's Reservoir had Western Grebe, Ring-necked Duck, Common Merganser, American Coot, Great Blue Heron, Red-tailed Hawk, Northern Flicker Tree Swallow and Northern Rough-winged Swallow - many swallows hunting low over the lake in the cool weather. American White Pelicans were at the distant end of the reservoir. Only the one heron was seen and the heronry not yet occupied - perhaps reflecting the slow thawing of Colorado's lakes ?

Lacking any specific sites before Gunnison I turned east at Montrose to make the trek to Gunnison and saw snow on the ground down to road level near Gunnison Canyon - new from overnight or that morning, and more snow along the road up through the passes to Blue Mesa, then reduced snow as the road descended to Curecanti NRA. The Curecanti NRA reservoir/lake was mostly iced over, with a couple of Common Mergansers at the melting edges. A melted patch at the river inflow had Mallard and Green-winged Teal, two adult alternate Common Loons in deeper water and American Kestrel hunting the shoreline. Otherwise not at all birdy. Along the agricultural valley leading into Gunnison: Black-billed Magpie, Common Raven, American Crow, Turkey Vulture. It was mostly snow-free in Gunnison but I found several Pine Siskin and a few Cassin's Finch at the feeders north of town before I called it a day, rinsed off the car and got an early dinner. 2-6 inches of snow were forecast for the evening but this did not materialize in Gunnison. It fell elsewhere, however....and I drove through the remnants of that storm for a chunk of the following day.

Mon Apr 14th: Gunnison: Gunnison Sage-Grouse

I got to Wuanita Hot Springs lek quite early but I wasn't the first one there - ultimately a group was using the trailer and some independents like myself turned up in cars (I was one of the first). Everyone was on protocol, however, with early arrivals and quiet behavior, which is always good to see. No snow on the ground at Gunnison overnight nor at the lek. 7 male + 6 female Gunnison Sage-Grouse were displaying at the usual lek, but suspicions that others might be lekking elsewhere as there had been reports of tens of them further north up the Wuanita Hot Springs valley - if the total of 13 was the entire lekking population here the situation for this grouse is very bad indeed. The viewing distance is much, much larger than at the Greater Sage Grouse lek - so the scope was essential - but even at this distance the longer philoplumes (head plumes) and wide white bars on the tail features were obvious. The lek effectively ended once farm traffic drove by after dawn. Also there: Song Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, possible American Pipit.

The rest of the day's birding concentrated on hitting a couple of Front Range sites before back-tracking to Hayden to get the visit to the Sharp-tailed Grouse lek right this time. Gunnision is in a strange location with limited roads - mainly US-50 running east-west, so my option was mainly to head out over the Continental Divide by making a moderately tough ascent to the top of Monarch Pass in snow, following a snow plow much of the way. Wasn't a lot of fun, that drive, but I pulled off several miles below (east of) the summit at a birdy spot: American Robin, Northern Flicker, drumming male Red-naped Sapsucker with a morse code-like call, several Cassin's Finches and a few Pine Siskins. The Sapsucker call was so regular I thought it must have been human-originated until I (quietly) played the call to myself and found it to be a very good match to the one in Sibley.

It was still fairly snowy down toward the valley floor, where I turned north onto US-285 just west of Salida and saw two Pinyon Jays near the road. No more jays were seen along CR-251 as it headed into the snowy Pinyon-Juniper habitat - although it did look ideal for Pinyon Jay habitat and birds had been previously reported there. Instead I elected to head for the front range. US-285 endlessly transitioned the snowy high country (Common Raven, Horned Lark) until finally descending into Conifer at the Front Range after an eternity of slow driving (45 mph in 65 mph roads due to snow conditions). That cost me at least an extra hour i.e. at least one projected Front Range site.

Snowy Pinyon-Juniper habitat near Buena Vista
Snowy Pinyon-Juniper habitat near Buena Vista

looking west toward Sawatch range near Buena Vista
Looking west toward the Sawatch range of the Rockies near Buena Vista

Nevertheless I did make it to Reynolds Park near Conifer, ascending Oxen Draw trail where Pacific/Winter Wren showed itself and called (hence Pacific-ish since it sounded wrong for Winter) but no Three-toed Woodpeckers. Instead 4 Townsend's Solitaires singing and calling, then Pygmy Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, Mountain Chickadee and a female Williamson's Sapsucker while descending Raven Roost trail. This 1.8 mile hile at altitude was a small warm-up for the Chisos Mtns hike two days hence. I then checked a couple of other Front Range sites. Morrison Park in the center of the small town of Morrison had an American Dipper and Hermit Thrush - Dipper was the target here. Teller Lake #5 east of Boulder had White-crowned Sparrow, the target Golden-crowned Sparrow (only my second in the Lower 48), Lincoln's Sparrow, but I ignored the ducks on the lake. No Burrowing Owl amongst the Prairie dogs across the road. I also had in mind looking for California Gull at a Front Range reservoir (e.g. Union Reservoir) but simply ran out of time for that.

I took the endlessly suburban US-285 until I-70 and back into the mountains. Looking for Ptarmigan at Loveland Pass was impossible at the top with gale-force winds blowing horizontal snow from the slopes although I might have had better luck if I'd checked the more sheltered eastern slopes. Silverthorne, after passing through the tunnel at the Continental Divide, was more productive: at feeders in a Wildernest residential area: many Pine Siskin, several Brown-capped and two Gray-crowned Rosy Finches and one Pygmy Nuthatch, Steller's Jay. This look at the Brown/Gray Rosy-Finches was substantially better and more informative than on my 2004 trip where the views were more distant and in worse light. I found it odd that Black-billed Magpie and American Crow were present in town despite the high altitude. There was nothing memorable en route to Steamboat via Kremmling - the lake was mostly frozen and other wetter locations had dabbling ducks previously seen on this trip.

SR-9 out of Silverthorne towards Kremmling didn't offer anything in the sage brush and frozen lakes that would delay me, and I opted for a second stay at the Steamboat Hotel in Steamboat Springs for that night. The clerk told me that Steamboat had received a decent amount of snow in recent days, probably also a product of the same storm that I dodged at Gunnison and Grand Junction, but not much of it was lingering on the ground down near Hayden.

Tue Apr 15th: Sharp-tailed Grouse redux

In the notional contest between seeing a total eclipse of the moon and getting some sleep prior to visiting the grouse lek, sleep won. The grouse lek was somewhat active from first light through dawn, with 10 birds leaving early and another 10+ leaving after a Golden Eagle flushed them off the lek just after dawn. Because that lek was cleared by 7am by the eagle I showed the other birders present the more distant lek and left them scoping it while I headed back to Steamboat for breakfast and check-out. I made good time to the west side of Denver but getting stuck in traffic on I-70 precluded me making another attempt at Burrowing Owl near the airport before returning the rental car.

Enterprise were efficient on returning the rental car and the DEN-MAF flight by United was also on time, but a very small plane where I couldn't even get my photo backpack in the overhead compartment. Also the only flight where I've ever witnessed people being re-seated toward the back of the plane for balance reasons. Nevertheless after a cramped 90 minutes I reached Midland-Odessa. The predominant local oil industry was well-illustrated by the displays and ads in the airport itself, as well as the numerous pumpjack sites seen on the landing approach. Budget rental car desk was closed, but Avis took care of me for them. It's a "walk to lot, pick up car" deal at MAF.

The area around Midland-Odessa is flat, arid and brushy. It's dotted in all directions with oil drilling operations, mostly pumpjacks - that particular image from Wikipedia is from near Midland. This area is the permian basin and the habitat does not appear to be particularly birdy - some things like Eurasian Collared-Doves from the small settlements, otherwise little to slow me down en route to Fort Stockton. Having spent the morning in the mountains around Hayden CO there's nothing to recommend this particular slice of landscape by comparison.

There's also no birding of note around Fort Stockton. In fact one commentator on Yelp described it as "A town so bland, so sun-baked, so grim, so devoid of any positive attributes, that even the interstate swerves away from its life-sucking presence." Perhaps a little harsh, but then again this not a town I'd ever stop in if it weren't the logical staging place for the trip to Big Bend NP. I shopped for snacks for the hike at Walmart, where RVs in the parking lot appeared to be camped for the night if not longer. There's an echo here of what I've read about the situation in North Dakota where the oil boom has put major pressure on housing (I wrote this in 2014 before the oil price slide).

Wed Apr 16th: Big Bend National Park

Sunrise at 7:30am is one of the benefits to being in the far west of CDT. I only had to leave at 4:30am to get to Big Bend pre-dawn, prep for the hike, and set off in twilight. A guide was leading two other birders but they moved slower than I did - and it's not like I was moving very fast at all. I hiked up the Pinnacles Trail - the shorter, steeper version that is in the shadow of the mountain for the morning. Rufous-crowned Sparrow was singing near the trail head, Mexican Jay immediately above that and the Jay was ubiquitous throughout the hike, as were Black-crested Titmouse and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Broad-tailed Hummingbird was heard and seen just once on the Pinnacles trail. On the start of the switch-backs toward the top: Plumbeous Vireo, Townsend's Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet in a mixed species flock, then right at the Pinnacles rock formation itself a Hepatic Tanager male calling and singing, White-throated Swift and Wilson's Warbler. It had taken me about 3 hours to climb Pinnacles (3.8 miles) but it wasn't especially active and no sight or sound of a Colima.

Pinnacles in Chisos Mountains viewed from trail
Pinnacles rock formation in Chisos Mountains, viewed from further down the Pinnacles trail

Over the trail crest and into Boot Canyon Trail the canyon itself was far warmer than Pinnacles and much more bird activity. More White-throated Swifts, some unidentified Swallow sp (Violet-green, probably), Rufous-crowned Sparrows, the first of many Bewick's Wrens, and yet more Titmice and Gnatcatchers. In smaller numbers were Townsend's Warbler and Hutton's Vireo, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and at one point a single Acorn Woodpecker. Further down the trail descending into Boot Canyon I heard a COLIMA WARBLER and then spent 15 frustrating minutes before I finally saw it. Keeping mostly to the canopy and singing frequently, I got decent looks three times in 40 minutes, although never close. Its mid-gray color and contrasting orange-yellow vent makes it a pretty easy ID and more dramatic than e.g. a Nashville. I also got flashes of the chestnut crown color. I estimate that this single individual male was about half way around the entire hike, and it had been my intention to do the "loop" anyway. At this point, despite hiking Pinnacles, I was feeling OK if not exactly perky. Mid-April is pretty much the very start of the season for finding Colima, so I wasn't expecting more, and visits in warmer weather can net them well before cresting the trail.

Cactus flower in Big Bend National Park
Flowering cactus trail-side in the Chisos Mountains, Big Bend National Park

Along the remainder of Boot Canyon trail and the first section of the Colima trail the birds were much the same: Bewick's Wren, Black-crested Titmouse, Mexican Jay, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, some Townsend's Warblers, Hutton's Vireo, Ruby-crowned Kinglets. At one point I found a Myiarchus flycatcher that refused to show me the undertail but was likely Brown-crested: it was in the wrong habitat for Ash-throated but it steadfastly refused to show me any plumage ID points. Bushtit was seen here too. Towards the crest on the Colima Trail I heard the now familiar Townsend's Solitaire singing and calling. Bird activity dropped off after the crest and even more so as it joined Laguna Meadows trail. Laguna Meadows is more open, though certainly not meadow-like, and this made the trail hotter on the descent in mid-morning. God forbid you'd be up there in mid-morning in July. Towards a small pass on Laguna Meadows trail I saw Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Spotted Towhee and heard Black-chinned Sparrow. Very little going down the trail, except for right at the bottom (about 2 miles later than I was ready for it to end) when I saw both Greater Roadrunner with a lizard in its beak and a single male Scott's Oriole.

Total distance 9.9 miles and it felt like it, especially towards the end when the temperature had reached the 80's in the basin. After staggering to the rental car like an old man I headed out of Colima basin and saw another Scott's Oriole and a pair of Lark Buntings roadside. I was particularly impressed with the House Sparrow at the National Park HQ given how far we were from anything (sub)urban. Eschewing the Rio Grande Village campground for want of time I turned down towards Castolon and encountered a Common Ground-Dove on the road. In the Cottonwood Campground things were fairly birdy mid-afternoon: Summer Tanager, Great Horned Owl, Vermilion Flycatcher, Inca Dove, White-winged Dove, Wilson's Warbler, (heard) Gray Hawk. Cactus Wren and Wilson's Warbler were at the Sam Nail Ranch and a White-crowned Sparrow was drinking at the water pump along with many bees. At that point, and especially in light of post-trail exhaustion, I exited Big Bend and headed north toward Alpine. Along this stretch of road I encountered a small flock of Brewer's Blackbirds feeding roadside in what seemed to be pretty arid conditions for them.

I did not see or hear much in or near Fort Davis or along the scenic valley that led north toward Balmorhea. I made a quick stop at one corner of Balmorhea Lake and saw American Avocet, Black-necked Stilt, Marbled Godwit, Northern Shoveler - it was already past the posted closing time on the gate (it was 8pm by now) so I didn't want to push my luck on traveling around the lake. Western Kingbirds were in the agricultural fields nearby.

After plotting potential routes to Carlsbad I jettisoned the idea of staying in Van Horn and ultimately I ended up in a crappy Travelodge in Pecos, which was expensive, under construction, and noisy and way overpriced at $90+ but again this reflects the oil industry jacking up demand around there.

Thu Apr 17th: Carlsbad/Rattlesnake Springs

A quick 90 minutes pre-dawn drive to Washington Ranch at Rattlesnake Springs in NM got me there shortly after dawn. Conditions were very windy and I wasn't feeling at all optimistic about finding my target bird, but after about 20 minutes of effort I found the STREAK-BACKED ORIOLE working the trees adjacent to the pool.

Washington Ranch was in general very birdy, with flocks of American Goldfinch and Chipping Sparrow, multiple Western Flycatchers chasing each other, and a good showing by flycatchers: Black Phoebe, Say's Phoebe, Vermilion Flycatcher, aforementioned Westerns and a pair of Ash-throated Flycatchers along the wash. A flock of Wild Turkeys were around the main office. Warblers were limited to Wilson's Warbler and Yellow-rumped Warbler with a Cassin's/Plumbeous Vireo singing away. In addition to Chipping Sparrows were Vesper, Lark, White-crowned and a possible Lincoln's. Summer Tanager, White-winged Dove and Mourning Dove rounded out the list. Sharp-shinned Hawk and Swainson's Hawk were hunting nearby.

When I first found the oriole I did not realize that other birders were present, but after discovering them (or vice versa) I ultimately re-found the oriole from the south end of the pool and put them right on it, given away by its periodic chatter call. I got adequate pictures of it and it was pretty unconcerned about our presence.

Male Streak-backed Oriole, Rattlesnake Springs, NM
Male Streak-backed Oriole, Rattlesnake Springs

Next stop was the adjacent Rattlesnake Springs, which was even windier and held similar species: Vermilion Flycatcher, Say's Phoebe, Chipping Sparrow, Summer Tanager but with the added bonus of Evening Grosbeak, Field Sparrow and Bell's Vireo. Wasn't expecting to see Evening Grosbeaks in the desert.

Relatively nearby was McKittrick Canyon in TX, something that had been on the 2006 itinierary as a possible Gray Vireo site but visited here mostly out of curiosity. I was too tired to even make it out of the parking lot at McKittrick but had Scott's Oriole, Black-throated Sparrow, Canyon Towhee. The day after the Colima hike I had no desire whatsoever to hike up into McKittrick Canyon although it might well have been an interesting place to visit.

I searched for Cave Swallows at Carlsbad Caverns NP but came up with none - although I'd seen a Cliff/Cave Swallow at Rattlesnake Springs so perhaps they had dispersed feeding. Instead I had to content myself with White-crowned Sparrow, Canyon Wren, Townsend's Solitaire. I stopped in Carlsbad at the No Whiner Diner which has limited hours and a similarly limited menu but a good steak sandwich. North of town I visited Lake Avalon for the purposes of building my NM state list: American White Pelican, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, White-faced Ibis, Belted Kingfisher, Cormorant sp., Ruddy Duck, American Coot, Say's Phoebe, Western Flycatcher. This lake appears to be formed by partial damming of the Pecos river.

Since I needed to head back towards Odessa for the night I saw two possible lakes between Carlsbad and Jal but these proved to be dry or extremely salty (potash?) lakes that held no bird life. Jal itself has a park with grass hanging on in arid soil surrounding an unlikely lake that attracted various interesting birds: Ring-billed Gull, my first two Blue-winged Teals of the year, Red-winged Blackbirds (plus inevitable Great-tailed Grackles), Bullock's Oriole, fly-by White-faced Ibis. Scissor-tailed Flycatchers and Chihuahuan Ravens were nearby.

Fri Apr 18th: flight to Houston Hobby

Gave myself the morning off and simply cleaned out the car and returned it for the 11:30am flight to Houston Hobby which was an uneventful short flight. Despite some of the horror stories about car-less car rental facilities National was pretty efficient - I'd recently joined the Emerald Club so to a certain extent one selects a car and leaves. The checkout process occurs at the exit gate, and this was certainly a bottleneck but this is potentially a fast location. Southwest Airlines is the dominant carrier serving Houston Hobby.

Traffic on I-45 toward Galveston slowed me down, so it took me until 3pm to reached Laffitte's Cove in Galveston. This is a nature preserve in a development and despite it being in the mid afternoon there was certainly activity. Several Orchard Orioles were chattering in the trees (females, first spring males, adult males). Warblers weren't much in evidence - I had a single Worm-eating Warbler. However both Scarlet Tanagers and Summer Tanagers were present, one male Baltimore Oriole, fly-over Common Nighthawk, resident Northern Cardinal and Northern Mockingbird. On the ponds Black-necked Stilt, several Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Mottled Duck, Tricolored Heron, probable Spotted Sandpiper. A likely Yellow-billed Cuckoo flashed out of one bush. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was nearby while the Grackles were apparently still Great-tailed. (Fast-forward to the April 2015 TX trip and in retrospect the birds at Laffitte may have arrived that afternoon - trans-Gulf migrants often don't make landfall before then).

I made a quick pit stop for food, consumed while waiting in line for the ferry which took about 1 hour all told from Galveston to the Bolivar peninsula. From the ferry, apart from Laughing Gulls, I saw Herring Gull, Royal Tern, Brown Pelican. Along Bolivar Beach via Retillon Road, Snowy and Great Egrets along entrance road along with Savannah Sparrow, Eastern Meadowlark. On the beach Sanderling mostly, Ruddy Turnstone, several Piping Plovers, Willet, Dunlin, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitchers, Sandwich Tern, Least Tern with Horned Lark in dunes.

A late day stop at a moderately crowded Rollover Pass showed a roosting flock of Black Tern, Sandwich Tern, Royal Tern, Forster's Tern, Black Skimmer and feeding American Avocet, Marbled Godwit. The terns were facing me and many were still in some stage of molt - the dark bills had me wondering if I was looking at Roseates although in retrospect these were almost certainly Commons with winter plumage bill coloration. I skipped High Island and instead tried the Skillern Tract at Anahuac NWR for shorebirds - the old platform is gone and the fields were not flooded but at least I saw a single Sedge Wren of the many that were singing there. The main entrance of Anahuac NWR held nothing more interesting than Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and a couple more Sedge Wrens. Returning along the road towards Winnie there were Whimbrels headed out to roost.

Overnight at Home Suites Winnie which was relatively inexpensive and a good staging hotel (small kitchen in the room) if I was birding the High Island area in spring migration.

Sat Apr 19th: flight to EWR

A last half-day's worth of birding saw me at High Island's Boy Scout Woods at dawn. Migration appeared light with little or nothing coming in off the gulf (by 2015 I realized that this was because migrants arrive at the TX coast in the afternoon, not at dawn). As with the previous day the number of warblers was particularly low, with the larger migrants being more prominent. Several Orchard Orioles, Rose-breasted Grosbeak feeding on someone's lawn, Brown Thrasher. Walking the trails I found Kentucky Warbler via a song fragment and that big fat chip note. Out on the south side of the woods I saw Common Yellowthroat, heard Sora, had fly-by Cattle Egret and Blue Grosbeak and despite the relatively low numbers was watching a Least Bittern perched on the side of the boardwalk while a Yellow-breasted Chat foraged in the bushes behind. Back in the woods themselves, Yellow-throated Vireo, Prothonotary Warbler and Great Crested Flycatcher.

A short hike towards Smith Woods netted a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, then Northern Parula and Warbling Vireo along the entrance road. Again, not especially active here, with White-eyed Vireo then Blue-winged Teal and Spotted Sandpiper along the edge of one lake. The Rookery held a large number of Roseate Spoonbills as well as Great and Snowy Egrets and Neotropic Cormorants. Returning to the woods I saw a mini-flock of Scarlet, Summer Tanagers and Orchard, Baltimore Orioles. Not great diversity but quite high visual impact. I added Carolina Wren to the trip list then hiked back to Boy Scout Woods. Here I re-found Kentucky and Prothonotary Warblers, finally found one of the Wood Thrushes that I had been hearing, and ditto a Cedar Waxwing right outside the entrance. Likely a quiet day by High Island standards but still pretty fun.

The old highway adjacent to the newer road bridge north of High Island let me confirm that the nesting swallows were Cliff, as well as finally get a dark-eyed Boat-tailed Grackle as well as Eastern Kingbird and Green Heron. The Eastern Kingbirds were particularly numerous in this coastal plain that morning.

Checking local fields for shorebirds I found Lesser Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Plover and Pectoral Sandpiper with fly-by Whimbrel and if the light had been better likely a few other species of shorebirds in the air. Cattle Egrets were numerous in the fields. Instead I went to Anahuac NWR where Cliff Swallows had ousted Barn Swallows at the old visitor center site, and a Common Nighthawk was roosting nearby. Flooded fields held Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Black-necked Stilt, Long-billed Dowitcher. The one-way section around the impoundment had high water and I never did see a Marsh Wren despite many singing in the reeds, but had more luck with the American Coot/Common Gallinule/Purple Gallinule full house, Pied-billed Grebe, Foster's Tern, Caspian Tern. A second tour around the place revealed Orchard Oriole, Indigo Bunting and Rose-breasted Grosbeak sheltering in the reeds in the absence of more appropriate cover. A female Yellow Warbler was at the "Willows" migrant hotspot. Other flooded fields held Lesser Yellowlegs, Stilt Sandpiper, Dunlin, small sandpiper sp but I missed the Ruff that had been reported here. Blue-winged Teal, American Wigeon, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler were also here. Although I had been seeing dark Ibis flying around the two I saw at closer range were much better fits for White-faced (unless they were hybrids) with red facial skin and gray bills. Least Bittern flew down the trail and perched up for a short photo session. Finally I returned to the first field along FM-1975 and saw four Upland Sandpipers. Brief bit of time calculation revealed that yet again I'd failed to have enough time to visit Sabine Woods near Port Arthur - it's a much longer road round-trip than the geographical distance - and grabbing lunch I simply repacked the car and headed for a car wash to remove the dirt from the trails and beach driving before returning the car (National efficient) at Houston Hobby. Another full-ish flight from South West nevertheless arrived at Newark at a reasonable time.

Trip List

A pretty high total of 236 driven by the diversity of habitat and region. Particularly you can see how much difference just 24 hours on the Upper Texas Coast made to the list. I've included heard-only birds I was confident of, while at the same time excluding eight "probables" that were nevertheless likely to be correctly ID'd, just not definitive. 236 is a very high list total for the sort of trips that I run.

Common Loon Gavia immer Curecanti NRA/CO
Pied-billed Grebe Podilymbus podiceps UTC/TX
Eared Grebe Podiceps nigricollis Highline Lake SP/CO
Western Grebe Aechmophorus occidentalis Highline Lake SP/CO, Craig/CO
Clark's Grebe Aechmophorus clarkii Highline Lake SP/CO
American White Pelican Pelecanus erythrorhynchos Highline Lake SP/CO, Fruitgrowers Reservoir/CO, Carlsbad/NM
Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis UTC/TX
Neotropic Cormorant Phalacrocorax brasilianus UTC/TX
Double-crested Cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus UTC/TX
Least Bittern Ixobrychus exilis High Island/TX
Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias CO, TX
Great Egret Ardea alba UTC/TX
Snowy Egret Egretta thula UTC/TX
Tricolored Heron Egretta tricolor UTC/TX
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis UTC/TX
Green Heron Butorides virescens UTC/TX
White Ibis Eudocimus albus UTC/TX
White-faced Ibis Plegadis chihi UTC/TX, CO
Roseate Spoonbill Platalea ajaja UTC/TX
Black Vulture Coragyps atratus UTC/TX
Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura widespread
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna autumnalis UTC/TX
Fulvous Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna bicolor Anahuac NWR/TX
Snow Goose Chen caerulescens Highline Lake SP/CO
Canada Goose Branta canadensis widespread in CO
Gadwall Anas strepera CO, NM, TX
American Wigeon Anas americana CO, TX
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos CO, NM, TX
Mottled Duck Anas fulvigula TX
Blue-winged Teal Anas discors NM, TX
Cinnamon Teal Anas cyanoptera Hayden/CO
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata CO, NM, TX
Northern Pintail Anas acuta CO
Green-winged Teal Anas crecca CO
Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris CO
Lesser Scaup Aythya affinis CO
Bufflehead Bucephala albeola CO
Common Merganser Mergus merganser CO
Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis CO, NM
Osprey Pandion haliaetus CO, TX
Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus CO
Northern Harrier Circus cyaneus CO, TX
Sharp-shinned Hawk Accipiter striatus NM
Cooper's Hawk Accipiter cooperii CO, NM
Gray Hawk Buteo plagiatus heard in Big Bend NP
Swainson's Hawk Buteo swainsoni Washington Ranch/NM
Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis CO, TX
Rough-legged Hawk Buteo lagopus 80 Route in Hayden/TX
Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos CO
Crested Caracara Caracara cheriway UTC/TX
American Kestrel Falco sparverius CO, TX
Chukar Alectoris chukar Coal Canyon/CO
Ring-necked Pheasant Phasianus colchicus Plains/CO
Greater Sage Grouse Centrocercus urophasianus North Park/CO
Gunnison Sage Grouse Centrocercus minimus Gunnison/CO
Sharp-tailed Grouse Tympanuchus phasianellus Hayden/CO
Greater Prairie-Chicken Tympanuchus cupido Wray/CO
Wild Turkey Meleagris gallopavo Washington Ranch/NM
Scaled Quail Callipepla squamata TX
Gambel's Quail Callipepla gambelii Colorado NM/CO
Sora Porzana carolina heard at High Island/TX
Purple Gallinule Porphyrio martinicus Anahuac NWR/TX
Common Gallinule Gallinula galeata Anahuac NWR/TX
American Coot Fulica americana CO, NM, TX
Sandhill Crane Antigone canadensis Yampa River valley/CO
Black-bellied Plover Pluvialis squatarola UTC/TX
American Golden-Plover Pluvialis dominica near Anahuac NWR/TX
Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus near Anahuac NWR/TX
Piping Plover Charadrius melodus Bolivar Beach/TX
Killdeer Charadrius vociferus CO, TX
American Oystercatcher Haematopus palliatus Bolivar Beach/TX
Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus CO, TX
American Avocet Recurvirostra americana CO, NM, TX
Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes TX
Willet Catoptrophorus semipalmatus Bolivar Beach/TX
Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularia High Island/TX
Upland Sandpiper Bartramia longicauda UTC/TX
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus UTC/TX
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres Bolivar Beach/TX
Sanderling Calidris alba Bolivar Beach/TX
Semipalmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla Bolivar Beach/TX
Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos UTC/TX
Dunlin Calidris alpina UTC/TX
Stilt Sandpiper Calidris himantopus UTC/TX
Short-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus griseus Bolivar Beach/TX
Long-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus scolopaceus Anahuac NWR/TX
Laughing Gull Leucophaeus atricilla UTC/TX
Franklin's Gull Leucophaeus pipixcan CO, NM
Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis CO, NM, TX
Herring Gull Larus argentatus UTC/TX
Caspian Tern Sterna caspia Anahuac NWR/TX
Royal Tern Sterna maxima Bolivar Beach/TX
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis Rollover Pass/TX
Forster's Tern Sterna forsteri UTC/TX
Least Tern Sterna antillarum Bolivar Beach/TX
Black Tern Chlidonias niger Rollover Pass/TX
Black Skimmer Rynchops niger Rollover Pass/TX
Rock Pigeon Columba livia widespread
Eurasian Collared-Dove Streptopelia decaocto CO, NM, TX
White-winged Dove Zenaida asiatica NM, TX
Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura widespread
Inca Dove Columbina inca TX
Common Ground-Dove Columbina passerina Big Bend/TX
Yellow-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus americanus UTC/TX
Greater Roadrunner Geococcyx californianus TX
Great Horned Owl Bubo virginianus CO, TX
Common Nighthawk Chordeiles minor UTC/TX
Chimney Swift Chaetura pelagica UTC/TX
White-throated Swift Aeronautes saxatalis CO
Ruby-throated Hummingbird Archilochus colubris UTC/TX
Black-chinned Hummingbird Archilochus alexandri NM
Broad-tailed Hummingbird Selasphorus platycercus Big Bend/TX
Belted Kingfisher Megaceryle alcyon NM, TX
Lewis's Woodpecker Melanerpes lewis CO
Acorn Woodpecker Melanerpes formicivorus Big Bend/TX
Golden-fronted Woodpecker Melanerpes aurifrons Big Bend/TX
Williamson's Sapsucker Sphyrapicus thyroideus Reynold's Park/CO
Red-naped Sapsucker Sphyrapicus nuchalis CO
Ladder-backed Woodpecker Picoides scalaris NM, TX
Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens TX
Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus widspread
Black Phoebe Sayornis nigricans CO, NM
Say's Phoebe Sayornis saya CO, NM, TX
Vermilion Flycatcher Pyrocephalus rubinus CO, TX
Ash-throated Flycatcher Myiarchus cinerascens NM
Great Crested Flycatcher Myiarchus crinitus UTC/TX
Western Kingbird Tyrannus verticalis TX
Eastern Kingbird Tyrannus tyrannus UTC/TX
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Tyrannus forficatus NM, TX
Loggerhead Shrike Lanius ludovicianus CO, TX
White-eyed Vireo Vireo griseus UTC/TX
Bell's Vireo Vireo bellii Rattlesnake Springs/NM
Yellow-throated Vireo Vireo flavifrons UTC/TX
Plumbeous Vireo Vireo plumbeus Big Bend/TX
Hutton's Vireo Vireo huttoni Big Bend/TX
Warbling Vireo Vireo gilvus UTC/TX
Red-eyed Vireo Vireo olivaceus UTC/TX
Steller's Jay Cyanocitta stelleri CO
Western Scrub-Jay Aphelocoma californica NM
Mexican Jay Aphelocoma wollweberi Big Bend/TX
Pinyon Jay Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus CO
Black-billed Magpie Pica hudsonia CO
American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos CO
Chihuahuan Raven Corvus cryptoleucus NM, TX
Common Raven Corvus corax CO, ?TX
Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris CO, TX
Purple Martin Progne subis UTC/TX
Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor CO
Northern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis NM
Cliff Swallow Petrochelidon pyrrhonota UTC/TX
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica CO, NM, TX
Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapilla CO
Mountain Chickadee Poecile gambeli CO
Black-crested Titmouse Baeolophus atricristatus Big Bend/TX
Bushtit Psaltriparus minimus Big Bend/TX
White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis Big Bend/TX
Cactus Wren Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus TX
Rock Wren Salpinctes obsoletus CO
Canyon Wren Catherpes mexicanus CO, NM, (heard) TX
Carolina Wren Thryothorus ludovicianus UTC/TX
Bewick's Wren Thryomanes bewickii CO
Sedge Wren Cistothorus platensis UTC/TX
Marsh Wren Cistothorus palustris heard-only UTC/TX
American Dipper Cinclus mexicanus CO
Ruby-crowned Kinglet Regulus calendula CO, TX
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Polioptila caerulea Big Bend/TX
Western Bluebird Sialia mexicana CO
Mountain Bluebird Sialia currucoides CO
Townsend's Solitaire Myadestes townsendi CO, NM, TX
Wood Thrush Hylocichla mustelina UTC/TX
American Robin Turdus migratorius CO, NM, TX
Gray Catbird Dumetella carolinensis UTC/TX
Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos widespread
Sage Thrasher Oreoscoptes montanus CO
Brown Thrasher Toxostoma rufum UTC/TX
European Starling Sturnus vulgaris widespread
American Pipit Anthus rubescens NM
Cedar Waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum UTC/TX
Worm-eating Warbler Helmitheros vermivorus UTC/TX
Prothonotary Warbler Protonotaria citrea UTC/TX
Orange-crowned Warbler Oreothlypis celata Big Bend/TX
Colima Warbler Oreothlypis crissalis Big Bend/TX
Kentucky Warbler Geothlypis formosus UTC/TX
Common Yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas UTC/TX
Northern Parula Setophaga americana UTC/TX
Yellow Warbler Setophaga petechia UTC/TX
Yellow-rumped Warbler Setophaga coronata CO, TX
Townsend's Warbler Setophaga townsendi Big Bend/TX
Wilson's Warbler Cardellina pusilla NM, TX
Yellow-breasted Chat Icteria virens UTC/TX
Hepatic Tanager Piranga flava Big Bend/TX
Summer Tanager Piranga rubra NM, TX
Scarlet Tanager Piranga olivacea UTC/TX
Green-tailed Towhee Pipilo chlorurus NM
Spotted Towhee Pipilo maculatus TX
Canyon Towhee Melozone fuscus CO, TX
Rufous-crowned Sparrow Aimophila ruficeps Big Bend/TX
Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina NM
Field Sparrow Spizella pusilla NM
Black-chinned Sparrow Spizella atrogularis ?Big Bend/TX
Vesper Sparrow Pooecetes gramineus CO, NM
Lark Sparrow Chondestes grammacus NM, TX
Black-throated Sparrow Amphispiza bilineata TX
Lark Bunting Calamospiza melanocorys TX
Savannah Sparrow Passerculus sandwichensis UTC/TX
Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia
Lincoln's Sparrow Melospiza lincolnii NM
White-throated Sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis UTC/TX
White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys CO, NM, TX
Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis CO
McCown's Longspur Rhynchophanes mccownii CO
Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis UTC/TX
Rose-breasted Grosbeak Pheucticus ludovicianus UTC/TX
Blue Grosbeak Passerina caerulea UTC/TX
Indigo Bunting Passerina cyanea UTC/TX
Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus CO, NM, TX
Eastern Meadowlark Sturnella magna UTC/TX
Western Meadowlark Sturnella neglecta CO
Brewer's Blackbird Euphagus cyanocephalus TX
Common Grackle Quiscalus quiscula CO, TX
Boat-tailed Grackle Quiscalus major UTC/TX
Great-tailed Grackle Quiscalus mexicanus CO, NM, TX
Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater CO, TX
Orchard Oriole Icterus spurius UTC/TX
Streak-backed Oriole Icterus pustulatus NM
Baltimore Oriole Icterus galbula UTC/TX
Bullock's Oriole Icterus bullockii NM
Scott's Oriole Icterus parisorum TX
Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch Leucosticte tephrocotis CO
Brown-capped Rosy-Finch Leucosticte australis CO
Cassin's Finch Haemorhous cassinii CO
House Finch Haemorhous mexicanus CO, NM, TX
Pine Siskin Carduelis pinus CO, TX
American Goldfinch Carduelis tristis NM
Evening Grosbeak Coccothraustes vespertinus CO, NM
House Sparrow Passer domesticus widespread

Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus UTC/TX
Prairie Falcon Falco mexicanus Grand Mesa/CO
Solitary Sandpiper Tringa solitaria roadside Galveston/TX
Brown-crested Flycatcher Myiarchus tyrannulus Big Bend/TX
Cassin's Vireo Vireo cassinii Washington Ranch/NM
Violet-green Swallow Tachycineta thalassina Big Bend/TX
Winter/Pacific Wren Troglodytes sp. Reynolds Park/TX
Red Crossbill Loxia curvirostra Rabbit Ears Pass/CO