Thursday, November 10, 2005

Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival 4

Thursday's Upper Rio Grande field trip began at 5 a.m. with the bus pointed northwest to Chapeno and El Rio RV Park. The park along the Rio Grande is known for the Brown Jays that visit its platform feeders.

We saw Brown Jays soon after arriving at the park. One jay flew to a fruit feeder and took away half an orange!

The trip leaders--Derek Muschalek, Mark Scheuerman, Ben Lizdas and Willie Sekula--pointed out many species coming to the feeders and in the riverside area. I enjoyed seeing Ringed Kingfisher, Altamira Oriole, Green Jay, Audubon's Oriole, Osprey, Green Kingfisher, Spotted Sandpiper and Northern Shoveler.

The generous folks at the RV park not only feed the birds, they feed birders! Our group enjoyed the iced, homemade donuts and coffee before walking down the road in search of more birds, such as Harris' Hawks.

The bus retrieved us and then set off for Salineno, the site of the DeWinds' incredible feeder area. The generous Michigan residents spend the winter in Salineno and set up multiple seed, fruit and sugar-water feeders as well as folding chairs for the visiting birders. The DeWinds certainly know how to make birds and birders feel welcome to their amphitheatre of avian activity.

While the group filled the chairs and nearby area, various species came to the feeders: Green Jays (oh the Green Jays!), Black-crested Titmouse, Chipping Sparrow, Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Orange-crowned Warbler among others. After most of the group left to investigate the river, two much-anticipated species appeared at the same time: Altamira Oriole and Hooded Oriole. The few of us to see the simultaneous visitors had a great chance to compare and contrast the species' field marks.

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