This spring migration is just about history, but it might have been the best one I have ever seen and I doubt there will be another that was this good. It produced a few firsts for me, including Swainson’s Warbler, Golden-crowned Sparrow, and the second Lazuli Bunting I have ever photographed.
The Golden-crowned Sparrow is a bird that breeds in the Pacific northwest but shows up as a vagrant in south Texas and other parts of the country. I was very pleased to get nice photos of this rare sparrow!
It was also nice to get good photos of thrushes, including the Gray-cheeked Thrush. Like many thrushes, this boreal breeding bird tends to be shy and usually frequents the shady understory. Since those factors present big challenges to photography, I am always happy to get good photos of any thrush species.
One of the other star rarities of this spring migration was a beautiful male Lazuli Bunting.
This pretty, sky-blue bird is the rarest of four beautiful bunting species that occur in the Rio Grande Valley.
Magnolia Warblers are much more common migrants. These are truly beautiful warblers that have striking bright yellow and gray plumage with black on the face and black markings on the breast.
The Mourning Warbler is a less common migrant that shows a pretty combination of blue-gray, yellow, and olive.
When taking pictures of migrants, resident species such as Northern Cardinals and Orioles also show up. A Black-bellied Whistling Duck that splashed in the water one fine day of photography was a nice surprise.
Flowering trees such as the Bottle Brush have also been good for attracting various birds. Orioles in particular, love to feed on the nectar.
The marshes in southern Texas also have been good for a wide variety of species. One of the better ones that I was able to photograph was the Least Bittern.
Least Bitterns are fairly common residents in marshes in southern Texas and many parts of eastern North America but they rarely come out into the open. Getting images of this small, skulking heron typically requires lots of patience and a fair amount of luck.
Least Terns are also back on their nests and always make beautiful subjects for photography.
Migration might be mostly over but there are plenty of nesting residents to photograph!