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Saturday, January 2, 2016

Estero Llano: Clay-colored Thrush, Green Jay and Long-billed Thrasher

[Weslaco, TX. Dec 2015]

In the prior post, we noted how Texas dominates diversity in avifauna in the country not only because of its massive size but also because of its proximity to Mexico. And, proximity to Mexico inevitably implies a bonanza of tropical species. 

But unlike our other neotropic species such as warblers and tanagers that are found across the country; these tropical species barely reach into US territory and remain localized in our border regions with Mexico. The RGV (Rio Grande Valley) region includes fabled hotspots such as Estero Llano Grande State Park in Weslaco, TX, where a quick visit gave up some iconic tropical species such as:
  • Clay-colored Thrush
  • Long-billed Thrasher
  • Curve-billed Thrasher
  • Green Jay
  • Great Kiskadee; and,
  • Plain Chachalaca
We start with a very special thrush -- one that is the state bird of Costa Rica and is found in the US only in Southern Texas; the Clay-colored Thrush (fka Clay-colored Robin):

This beautiful thrush with its delicate hues of brown and cinnamon is about the same size as an American Robin. Note the white throat with fine streaking; the yellow bill and dark red eyes.

Next, the tropical version of Brown Thrasher -- Long-billed Thrasher:

Compare with Brown Thrasher:

In addition to the obvious difference in bill length, note the grey face of the Long-billed (vs. brown) and dark streaking vs. rufous streaking on the Brown Thrasher.

Another thrasher -- the much more widely ranging Curve-billed Thrasher:

The next bird, Green Jay, could be the poster child for a tropical species:

Flamboyantly colorful with green, blue, black and yellow, the Green Jay is our most colorful corvid.

Next, an imposing flycatcher:

Great Kiskadee is a flycatcher on steroids -- large, colorful and loud.

Plain Chachalaca is the only member of the Cracidae family in the US comprising Chachalacas, Guans and Curassows.

These are loud and gregarious birds and, despite their size, remain mostly hidden in the shadows.

The tropics hold a special fascination for American birders and an easy way to visit the tropics without leaving the US is to partake of the avian delights found in the RGV region.


Bob Pelkey said...

The birds appear with a great three dimensional appeal, Hemant. The thought of visiting the "tropics" without leaving the United States is comforting.

Tom Obrock said...

Awesome photography. I had enjoyed my visit to Estero Llano last November.

Digital Plume Hunter said...

Thanks Guys. Tom -- I hope it brought some memories back!