Fall migrants don’t just fly up into the night sky and wing their way south whenever they feel like it. They need to eat enough to have the reserves necessary for flying hundreds of miles and even when they have more than enough fat reserves, still don’t take chances with the weather. They wait for clear skies and winds that help them fly south and this is why they come through South Texas in waves. While I can head into the field during October and see migrants just about any day of the week, I only see large numbers of migrants when the winds bring them down from the north. This past Saturday was one of those days and it was a wonderful day of birding on South Padre Island.
Even though I was there for just one afternoon, I had several Ruby-throated and at least one Rufous Hummingbird.
Quite a few warblers were also around, including such beautiful little sprites as the Northern Parula. It’s always nice to get close looks at this common warbler with pretty plumage.
Magnolia Warblers are another common yet beautiful migrant. Although their spring plumage is much more handsome, they are still a joy to watch in the fall.
Common Yellowthroats are indeed common in South Texas. These small birds are one of the most common of the wood warbler species that occur in North America. They breed in marshes,wet thickets, the grassy edges of ponds, rivers, and other wetlands habitats, and other types of second growth. Although they don’t breed in South Texas, lots of Common Yellowthroats migrate through and winter in the area.
Not all of the warbler species that migrate through South Texas have bright plumage. The Tennessee Warbler is one of them.
Some of the other bird species I saw but didn’t pictures of were a male Vermillion Flycatcher, Couch’s Kingbird, Yellow Warbler, Loggerhead Shrike, Indigo Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, male and female American Redstarts, and an Eastern Phoebe. I also heard a report about a Black-throated Gray Warbler but didn’t find that rarity. Maybe next time!