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Sunday, November 8, 2015

Big Bend Highlights: Scott's Oriole, Black-headed Grosbeak and Acorn Woodpecker

[Big Bend NP, TX. April 2015]

America, as discovered at the advent of Western colonization, was no less than a "Garden of Eden" -- with unspoilt rainforests, grasslands, deserts and endless woods richly adorning the land. 

This pristine scenery hosted land and air migrations featuring thundering herds of buffalo and mega-flocks of pigeons that rivaled or exceeded the best that can be seen in wild Africa today. These grand spectacles of American Nature are no longer with us today; what remains of our earlier awe-inspiring ecosystems are preserved only as a pale shadow of their former glory in our National Forests and Parks that comprise about 15% of the country's total area

And, to visit these areas is the closest we can get to "time travel" -- to witness what this land was like before it was reduced to its present state. A state in which no land is left undeveloped, no tree uncut, no river undammed, no bird unshot and no animal unhunted.  

Without our National Parks, we would have nothing but strip malls, factory farms and endless suburbia; our sterile life would be devoid of the wealth of Nature's gifts that abound only in full wilderness. 

Big Bend National Park, in remote South-Central Texas, is precisely the kind of place that connects us to the land as it once was. A Spring visit to this unparalleled oasis rewarded this blogger with a choice selection of species including:
  1. Scott's Oriole
  2. Acorn Woodpecker 
  3. Black-headed Grosbeak
  4. Pyrrholoxia
  5. Varied Bunting
  6. Roadrunner
  7. Mexican Jay
  8. Wrens -- Canyon Wren, Cactus Wren, Bewick's Wren
  9. Tits -- Bushtit, Black-crested Titmouse
  10. Common Yellowthroat
  11. Bell's Vireo
  12. Great-horned Owl
  13. Inca Dove
  14. Blue-grey Gnatcatcher
First up, a gorgeous Icterid --  Scott's Oriole:

The first thing to strike the observer about this blackbird is the bright lemon yellow chest and underside of the male; as opposed to the orange hues commonly found in other orioles.

Scott's Oriole is found in hilly areas of the Southwest.  Habitat that similarly suits the Acorn Woodpecker as well:

The Acorn Woodpecker is hard to confuse with any other species of woodpecker in our area with a face that has oft been described as "clownish".
Black-headed Grosbeak:

The females of the Black-headed and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are indistinguishable. The two species are known to hybridize where their ranges overlap.
Pyrrhuloxia is also known as the "desert cardinal":

April is when Varied Buntings arrive at Big Bend; and pretty soon they will be establishing their breeding territories:

Greater Roadrunner are commonly found in this Park:

In the Chisos Mountains, Mexican Jays can be seen -- cavorting in small flocks:

Moving on to a few Wrens -- Canyon Wren, Cactus Wren, Bewick's Wren:

Cactus Wren
Canyon Wren
Bewick's Wren
Tits -- Bushtit and Black-crested Titmouse:

Black-crested Titmouse

In Spring many warbler species can be seen in migration at Big Bend but Common Yellowthroat is a breeder:

The race seen here shows a lot more yellow than what's seen in the rest of the country.

Bell's Vireo -- which is suffering serious declines throughout its range:

The almost invisible Great-horned Owl:

Inca Dove:

Blue-grey Gnatcatcher:

About 450 species of birds can be found at Big Bend National Park. Even a short visit to this island will offer rewards to the intrepid birder.


1 comment:

Bob Pelkey said...

It's difficult to imagine a short visit to Big Bend National Park, Hemant. Aside from the great sights, the sounds must be very alluring as well.