Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Trip Report - RGVBF and Birding Mexico

Thursday, November 5th
Day Two

The Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival has reported that over 550 people are participating in the scheduled field trips and seminars. Today I am taking part in a field trip that is centered on finding a small sparrow-like bird from tropical Mexico and Central America called the White-collared Seedeater. It was once fairly abundant in Texas along the river banks of the Rio Grande River from Laredo to Brownsville.  Today it is a rare and coveted species seen only in pockets around Laredo and Zapata.

Port of Entry for Nuevo Laredo, Mexico

For these festival sponsored searches for the seedeater, the privately owned La Laja Ranch has been the place to go.  However, due to recent heavy rains the property is inaccessible.  So we visited Laredo instead.

Seedeater Sojourn - Laredo, Texas

Leaving Harlingen about 5 AM, our group of some forty participants. lead by Chip Clouse, Dudley Edmondson and Ashii Gorbet,  arrived at our destination about 8:30. 

Some good birds seen along the way included Chihuahuan Raven, Harris's Hawk, Crested Caracara, Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers.

The venue for searching for the seedeaters started under the International Crossing on the Rio Grande between Laredo, Texas and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. From this spot one could bird both countries. 
We added Black Phoebe, Great Kiskadee, Green Parakeets, Peregrine Falcon, American Kestrel, Green Kingfisher and a suspect white-collared seedeater. 

Black Phoebe

Moving further down along the river along the Las Palmas Trail, we added Common Yellowthroat, Cooper's Hawk, Chipping and Savannah Sparrows and more than half the group had brief glimpses of the very secretive White-collared Seedeater.  Sadly I wasn't among that group. Maybe another time

Salineño, Texas

Green Jays at Salineño feeders
Next stop were the bird feeders at the small border community of Salineño in Starr County. The location has been noted for Brown Jay, Muscovy Duck, Red-billed Pigeon and Audubon's Oriole. 

Today the first three were not expected, but we did have great views of the Audubon's Oriole at the feeding station. Other birds at the feeders included Green Jays,, Inca Dove, White-winged Dove, Black-crested Titmouse and Northern Cardinals. Down at the Rio Grande we added Osprey, Gray Hawk, Spotted Sandpiper and Red-tailed Hawk.

Black-crested Titmouse at Salineño feeders
Salineño Town History  

Day's List (33)
Neotropic Cormorant, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Rosette Spoonbill, Turkey Vulture, Osprey. Harris's Hawk, Gray Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Spotted Sandpiper, Rock Pigeon, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Inca Dove, White-winged Dove, Green Jay, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Crested Caracara, American Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Great Kiskadee, Black Phoebe, Green Parakeet, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Green Jay, Chihuahuan Raven, Black-crested Titmouse, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Eurasian Starling, Chipping Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Great-tailed Grackle, Audubon's Oriole and House Sparrow.


  1. Another great list of specialty birds, Tom. I can visualize your excitement.