Those of us who enjoy watching birds will raise our binocular to just about every bird that flies across our field of view but we still have our favorites. I have two main categories: 1. Permanent Residents and 2. Migrants.
The following are my top 12 permanent resident bird species of the Lower Rio Grande. I enjoy watching and taking pictures of these species whenever the opportunity arises:
12. Crested Caracara
Crested Caracaras are a fairly common raptor species in southern Texas. I see this photogenic species most times I head into the field. Alhough the Crested Caracara is a falcon species, it acts more like a combination of a hawk and a vulture.
11. Rio Grande Turkey
This is a subspecies of the Wild Turkey that occurs in southern Texas. As familiar as turkeys may be, they are big, majestic birds with iridescent plumage and fun to watch.
10. Green Jay
The only place in the USA where you can see a Green Jay is in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. The combination of black, yellow, pleasant greens, and blue make it one of the most colorful birds in the valley and one of the more beautiful birds in the country. Always a pleasure to watch this bird!
9. Green Parakeet
Green Parakeets have become a fairly common sight in the valley. Although this species is native to Mexico, escaped cage birds have established a healthy population in southern Texas and their numbers are believed to be augmented by wild birds from Mexico. It is always exciting to see parakeets in the wild!
8. Red-crowned Parrot
Like the Green Parakeet, Red-crowned Parrots that escaped from captivity formed the basis for populations of this species in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. The native range of this parrot species is restricted to northeastern Mexico and it has become endangered as a result of habitat destruction and capture for the cagebird trade. Fortunately, it seems to be doing well in southern Texas.
The Pyrrhuloxia is related to the Northern Cardinal but occurs in more arid environments. It also has more gray in its plumage and a distinctive yellow bill with a curved culmen. The combination of reds and grays turn it into a true desert beauty.
6. Yellow-headed Parrot
Yellow-headed Parrots are a stunning species that is native to eastern and western Mexico. Unfortunately, its huge popularity as a pet has helped to eliminate this species from much of its native range and it has become critically endangered. In other words, if serious efforts aren’t made to help this species recover in Mexico, it will probably go extinct in its native range. Fortunately, you can also see it in southern Texas and it seems to be doing alright in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Although it’s not as common as the Red-crowned Parrot, they do occur and breed in the area.
5. White-tailed Hawk
In the USA, the White-tailed Hawk is restricted to the Texas coastal prairie and the Lower Rio Grande Valley. It is a striking raptor species and since it likes to perch on fence posts, I often get nice shots of it.
The coastal lagoons of southern Texas are a great place to see the Reddish Egret. This graceful wading bird is an uncommon species that can be recognized by the pink base to its bill.
3. Roseate Spoonbill
The colors shown by the Roseate Spoonbill have to be seen to be believed. The combination of pink and white plumage with a bit of orange and a spoon-shaped bill make it one of the most exotic and striking bird species in the country. Southern Texas is a great place to see it.
2. Altamira Oriole
The brilliant orange combined with jet black and a bit of white should show why this is one of my favorites. This bird just about glows in the right light and is a fairly common sight in the valley. It is the type of bird that a photographer could easily take hundreds of pictures of without a second thought.
1. Aplomado Falcon
This striking species is often featured on this blog and with good reason- it sits at the top of my favorite resident bird species. Not only does this falcon have attractive plumage, but it is also a very rare species that has been reintroduced to Laguna Atascosa. I feel grateful every time I see one and can’t get enough of this beautiful raptor.
So those are my top dozen favorite resident bird species. I hope to do a similar post about favorite migrants at some time.