brochure Nature - Birds

Birds at Big Bend Ranch State Park (SP) in Texas. Published by Texas Parks & Wildlife.

TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE BIRDS OF BIG BEND RANCH STATE PA RK A ND VICINIT Y Including Lajitas, Redford, Presidio, Ruidosa, Candelaria, Shafter, Casa Piedra and Terlingua; also Chinati Mountains State Natural Area A FIELD CHECKLIST 2011 Cover: Illustration of Black-tailed Gnatcatcher by Jeremy Boehm. INTRODUCTION N ot to be confused with the similarly named national park to the east, Big Bend Ranch State Park, located in extreme southeastern Presidio County, encompasses 280,000 acres of vast Chihuahuan Desert habitat including grasslands, desert scrub, canyons, riparian woodlands and thickets, streams, rivers and numerous permanent springs. The bulk of the park includes the Bofecillos Mountains, an extinct volcano, and its outlier alluvial fans that form a mountainous plateau averaging 4,000 feet elevation. As such, the majority of the landscape is dominated by igneous soils and rock; however, a number of areas include outcrops of sedimentary rock (limestone) especially along Cienega Creek in the northwestern portion of the park. A prominent feature of the park is The Solitario, a collapsed volcanic dome or lacolith, approximately 10 miles in diameter, which pushed up several concentric geologic layers that are now exposed through the harsh actions of erosion. Overall, the geology of the park is as diverse as any comparable location in the United States. The climate of the area is warm to hot year-round; rainfall averages 8-10 inches per year, most of which (approximately 75%) falls during the late summer/ early fall monsoon season. The lowest elevation in the park is near Lajitas (approximately 2,300'), where the Rio Grande continues its pathway southeastward. The highest elevation is Oso Peak at 5,135'. Big Bend Ranch State Park was acquired in 1988. Long known as the Diamond ‘A’ Cattle Company, its ranching heritage dates back to the 1850s for limited portions of the property and to the 1880s for the bulk of the park. Sheep, goats, beef cattle, horses, exotic game animals and longhorns occupied the land at various periods of the ranching operation; only desert-hardy longhorns and some horses survived the harsh environment and were present at the time of acquisition. Artifacts of that heritage still persist today; watering structures 1 such as windmills, concrete troughs and dirt tanks provide locations for productive birding at times. Albeit, the landscape is adorned with numerous springs and permanent streams. Most of the deeper canyons have permanent water of some kind that is a great benefit to all species of wildlife. In many areas deep pools of persistent standing water called “tinajas” supplement water resources year round. Springs and streams are usually found in association with riparian woodlands (cottonwood-willow-hackberry and shrub thickets) which are often the most productive habitats for bird diversity and abundance. An area easily accessed by park visitors is Ojito Adentro (wayside stop #4) where a trail from the parking area traverses through desert scrub, then into riparian woodlands. This area serves as a prime representative of similar locations and habitats within this vast park and should be productive for birding at most times of the year. A 30' waterfall (seasonal) defines the limit of the woodland and is an excellent location to sit quietly and absorb the sights and sounds of a moist and cool desert enclave. Typical of many Chihuahuan Desert settings, common to abundant resident birds include such species as Red-tailed Hawk, Scaled Quail, White-winged and Mourning Dove, Greater Roadrunner, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Say’s Phoebe, Loggerhead Shrike, Verdin, Cactus, Rock, Canyon and Bewick’s Wren, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Northern Mockingbird, Curve-billed and Crissal Thrasher, Canyon Towhee, Rufous-crowned and Black-throated Sparrow and Pyrrhuloxia. In aquatic-related habitats such as pools, streams and marshes (called cienegas) one can expect to find birds typically associated with these habitats including waterfowl, rails, Common Moorhen, American Coot, shorebirds, Black Phoebe, Vermilion Flycatcher, swallows, Marsh Wren, Common Yellowthroat and Red-winged Blackbird. A number of locations in close proximity to the Sauceda Headquarters can be accessed to watch birds. These include Cinco Tinajas, Leyva Canyon and its associated drainage and the Llano Pasture loop road. 2 Winter months can often be very productive in desert scrub and desert grassland settings. Look for various species of sparrows including but not limited to Green-tailed and Spotted Towhees, Brewer’s Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Sage Sparrow, Lark Bunting, Savannah Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow and Dark-eyed Junco. Longspurs have been observed in the vicinity of the airport runway just east of Sauceda. In these desert settings in winter, look for pools of water, which have persisted from the rains the previous summer and/or fall. Hundreds, sometimes thousands of birds will make multiple trips daily to these locations to obtain moisture. It would not be unusual to observe all of the species mentioned above, plus many more by sitting quietly at a single location with water. In the Rio Grande floodplain (and elsewhere) in winter look for the following species: Pied-billed Grebe, several species of waterfowl, Greater Yellowlegs, Spotted Sandpiper, Wilson’s Snipe, White-throated Swift, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, American Pipit, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Hermit Thrush, Yellow-rumped Warbler and American Goldfinch. Terrestrial Rio Grande floodplain habitats in winter can often harbor some of the less common (rare to occasional) wintering passerines such as Dusky, Gray and Ash-throated Flycatcher, Gray and Cassin’s Vireo, Carolina and Winter Wren, Long-billed Thrasher, Lucy’s Warbler, Blue Grosbeak, Varied Bunting and Painted Bunting. Undoubtedly, the most spectacular seasons for birds include the migration periods in spring and fall. Typically, fall migration is more spectacular with respect to diversity and abundance of bird species. Migrants utilize all habitats but are especially attracted to riparian corridors. Thus, the Rio Grande and its associated floodplain woodland and thorn-scrub thickets provide a zone for major movements of migrants. These habitats have changed historically from an assemblage of native trees, shrub thickets and Common Reed (Phragmites) to a vegetation community dominated by the invasive, non-native species: Salt Cedar, Giant Reed (Arundo) and Tree Tobacco, all in less than 100 years. Common migrants include but are not 3 limited to Olive-sided Flycatcher, Western Wood-Pewee, several Empidonax flycatchers including Willow, Least, Hammond’s, Dusky, Gray and Cordilleran, Western Kingbird, Plumbeous, Cassin’s and Warbling Vireos, Violet-green Swallow, Phainopepla, Virginia’s, Yellow, Townsend’s, MacGillivray’s, and Wilson’s Warblers, Western Tanager and Black-headed Grosbeak. The extent of the summer season is often open to interpretation; for human visitors to the park, 100-degree temperatures can begin as early as February and persist through November. Fortunately, birds recognize the more traditional summer season, arriving in mid to late April and migrating south by the end of September. Typical summer residents which breed within the region are Zone-tailed Hawk, Peregrine Falcon, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Elf Owl, Lesser and Common Nighthawk, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Cassin’s Kingbird, Bell’s Vireo, Cliff and Barn Swallow, Yellow-breasted Chat, Summer Tanager, Blue Grosbeak, Varied and Painted Bunting, Orchard, Hooded and Scott’s Oriole. This checklist includes all species known to occur within the boundaries of Big Bend Ranch State Park and the immediate vicinity of the park as defined above. Seasonal status and distribution information also applies to Chinati Mountains State Natural Area located northwest of BBRSP. Species that typically occupy oak-juniper habitats have abundance designations that only apply to the higher elevations of the Chinati Mountains. CMSNA is not currently open to the general public; inquiries about the status of the future park should be directed to BBRSP. Checklist nomenclature and organization follow the A.O.U. Checklist of North American Birds, 7th Edition (1998). 4 Please help protect natural avian communities by refraining from using playback tapes of bird songs. Frequent use of these tapes alters normal avian activity patterns, disrupts essential territorial behavior, and may lead to nest failure. Also remember that most land in the region is privately owned regardless of whether it is fenced or not. This includes all of the property either side of all major paved roads in the region as well as unpaved county roads such as Casa Piedra Road and Pinto Canyon Road. At the present time, general public access is only permitted Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park. DO NOT TRESPASS ON ANY PRIVATE LANDS. If in doubt of ownership, please do not enter. 5 LEGEND SP S EF LF W Seasonal Occurrence – Spring (March, April, May) – Summer (June, July) – Early Fall (August, September) – Late Fall (October, November) – Winter (December, January, February) Abundance Designations A – Abundant, always present and observed, expect large numbers in proper habitat and season C – Common, always encountered in proper habitat and season, numbers may vary from low to high U – Uncommon, usually present in proper habitat and season but may be overlooked, never common or abundant O – Occasional, not always present but usually encountered at least once during season indicated, may occur in a narrow time frame within a season or in a very specialized habitat, numbers may vary R – Rare, seldom recorded, not expected each season as designated, may not be recorded each year X – Accidental, may be observed only once in ten years or more, not expected I – Irruptive/Irregular, invasion species which may be absent some seasons/years-abundant others 6 CHECKLIST Species ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ SP S EF LF W Black-bellied Whistling-Duck X X X Snow Goose U U R Canada Goose O O R Wood Duck R R R O Gadwall U U U U American Wigeon C U C C Mallard U R O U U [Mexican Duck] A C A A A Blue-winged Teal C C U R Cinnamon Teal U O O U U Northern Shoveler U R U U U Northern Pintail U R U U Garganey X Green-winged Teal C R U C C Canvasback O O O Redhead R R R Ring-necked Duck C U C C Lesser Scaup U U U U Bufflehead C O C C Common Goldeneye O R R Hooded Merganser O O R Red-breasted Merganser R R O Common Merganser R R R Ruddy Duck C U U C C Scaled Quail A A A A A Gambel’s Quail U U U U U Pied-billed Grebe U O O U U Eared Grebe O R O O American White Pelican R R R R Brown Pelican X Neotropic Cormorant R R R Double-crested Cormorant U U U U American Bittern R R R Least Bittern R R R 7 Species ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ SP S EF LF W Great Blue Heron U O U U U Great Egret U O U U U Snowy Egret O O O Little Blue Heron R R Tricolored Heron R R Cattle Egret U O U O O Green Heron U U U U O Black-crowned Night-Heron U R U U O White-faced Ibis U U O I Black Vulture U U U U U Turkey Vulture A A A C Osprey U X U U X White-tailed Kite R Mississippi Kite O R O O Bald Eagle R R R Northern Harrier C O C C Sharp-shinned Hawk C U C C Cooper’s Hawk U R U U U Common Black-Hawk R R R Harris’s Hawk U U U U U Red-shouldered Hawk X Broad-winged Hawk X Swainson’s Hawk U O U R Zone-tailed Hawk U U U R Red-tailed Hawk C C C C C Ferruginous Hawk U O U Rough-legged Hawk X X Golden Eagle O R O U U American Kestrel C O C C C Merlin O R O O Aplomado Falcon X X X Prairie Falcon U R O U U Peregrine Falcon U O U King Rail X X Virginia Rail O X O O O Sora U R U U U Common Moorhen U U U U U 8 Species ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ SP S EF LF W American Coot C U C C C Sandhill Crane U U O Killdeer C C C C C Black-necked Stilt C U C O R American Avocet C R C C O Greater Yellowlegs C R C C U Lesser Yellowlegs O R O R Solitary Sandpiper U O U Spotted Sandpiper U O U U U Upland Sandpiper U O U Long-billed Curlew U O U U R Semipalmated Sandpiper R R O Western Sandpiper U O U U O Least Sandpiper C O C C U White-rumped Sandpiper O Baird’s Sandpiper U O U O Stilt Sandpiper O O Long-billed Dowitcher U R U U O Wilson’s Snipe U U U U Wilson’s Phalarope C O C U Red-necked Phalarope R R Franklin’s Gull R R Ring-billed Gull O O O Rock Pigeon A A A A A Band-tailed Pigeon R R R Eurasian Collared-Dove C C C C C White-winged Dove A A A A A Mourning Dove A A A A A Inca Dove C C C C C Common Ground-Dove O O U U O Black-billed Cuckoo X Yellow-billed Cuckoo U U U Greater Roadrunner C C C C C Barn Owl O O O O O Flammulated Owl R R Western Screech-Owl U U U U U Great Horned Owl C C C C C 9 Species ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ SP S EF LF W Elf Owl C C C R Burrowing Owl O O O O R Long-eared Owl X Lesser Nighthawk A A A Common Nighthawk U U U Common Poorwill A A A U O Mexican Whip-poor-will X X White-throated Swift C U C C C Blue-throated Hummingbird R R Magnificent Hummingbird R R Lucifer Hummingbird O R O O Ruby-throated Hummingbird X O R Black-chinned Hummingbird A A A U Anna’s Hummingbird R U U Calliope Hummingbird R R Broad-tailed Hummingbird U U U Rufous Hummingbird R C U R Belted Kingfisher U U U U U Green Kingfisher X X Lewis’s Woodpecker I I I Golden-fronted Woodpecker C C C C C Yellow-bellied Sapsucker R O U O Red-naped Sapsucker R O U U Red-breasted Sapsucker X Ladder-backed Woodpecker C C C C C Northern Flicker U R C C C Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet X Olive-sided Flycatcher U U Western Wood-Pewee C O C Eastern Wood-Pewee X Willow Flycatcher O O R Least Flycatcher O U R Hammond’s Flycatcher R O O Dusky Flycatcher C C U U Gray Flycatcher C U U O Cordilleran Flycatcher U U O Black Phoebe C C C C C 10 Species ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ SP S EF LF W Eastern Phoebe O R O O Say’s Phoebe C C C C C Vermilion Flycatcher C C C C C Ash-throated Flycatcher C C U O R Cassin’s Kingbird C C C U Western Kingbird C U C O Eastern Kingbird O R Scissor-tailed Flycatcher R R Loggerhead Shrike C C C C C White-eyed Vireo X Bell’s Vireo C C C O Black-capped Vireo X Gray Vireo U O U O R Plumbeous Vireo U U O Cassin’s Vireo U U U O Blue-headed Vireo X Yellow-throated Vireo R R Warbling Vireo C C R Philadelphia Vireo R Red-eyed Vireo O O Steller’s Jay X X Western Scrub-Jay R R R R R Chihuahuan Raven U U U O O Common Raven C C C C C Horned Lark U O U U U Tree Swallow U U O R Violet-green Swallow C O C C R Northern Rough-winged Swallow A O A C C Bank Swallow U O U Cliff Swallow A A A U Cave Swallow C U C O Barn Swallow A A A C Black-crested Titmouse C C C C C Verdin C C C C C Bushtit C C C C C Red-breasted Nuthatch I I I I White-breasted Nuthatch U U U U U 11 Species ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ SP S EF LF W Brown Creeper O O O R Cactus Wren C C C C C Rock Wren C C C C C Canyon Wren C C C C C Carolina Wren O R O O O Bewick’s Wren C C C C C House Wren U U U U Winter Wren R R R Marsh Wren U O U U U Golden-crowned Kinglet O O R Ruby-crowned Kinglet A U A A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher A O A C C Black-tailed Gnatcatcher C C C C C Eastern Bluebird I I I Western Bluebird I I I Mountain Bluebird I I I Townsend’s Solitaire I I I Gray-cheeked Thrush X Swainson’s Thrush U R Hermit Thrush A U A A American Robin I I I Gray Catbird R R Northern Mockingbird A A A A A Sage Thrasher I I I Brown Thrasher R R R Long-billed Thrasher X X X X Curve-billed Thrasher C C C C C Crissal Thrasher U U U C C European Starling C C C C C American Pipit C O A A Sprague’s Pipit R R R Cedar Waxwing I I I I Phainopepla C U C C C Olive Warbler X McCown’s Longspur O O Chestnut-collared Longspur U C C Tennessee Warbler R 12 Species ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ SP S EF LF W Orange-crowned Warbler C U C U Nashville Warbler C U C Virginia’s Warbler C C O Lucy’s Warbler U U U O R Northern Parula O O R X Yellow Warbler A A Chestnut-sided Warbler X Magnolia Warbler X X Yellow-rumped Warbler A U A I Black-throated Gray Warbler U U O R Townsend’s Warbler U A U O Hermit Warbler X R Black-throated Green Warbler O O Blackburnian Warbler X Yellow-throated Warbler O X O Grace’s Warbler X X Palm Warbler X Black-and-white Warbler U U O American Redstart O X O Prothonotary Warbler X Worm-eating Warbler X Ovenbird X X Northern Waterthrush U U O Louisiana Waterthrush R R R Mourning Warbler X X MacGillivray’s Warbler C C O Common Yellowthroat C U C O O Hooded Warbler X Wilson’s Warbler A O A U X Painted Redstart X Yellow-breasted Chat C C C O Hepatic Tanager R R Summer Tanager C C C O Western Tanager C C O Green-tailed Towhee C U C C Spotted Towhee C U C C Eastern Towhee X 13 Species ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ SP S EF LF W Canyon Towhee C C C C C Botteri’s Sparrow X X Cassin’s Sparrow I A A C U Rufous-crowned Sparrow C C C C C Chipping Sparrow A U A A I Clay-colored Sparrow C C O I Brewer’s Sparrow A C A A Field Sparrow O O R Black-chinned Sparrow R R U U Vesper Sparrow A U A A Lark Sparrow A A A C R Black-throated Sparrow A A A A A Sage Sparrow U U U Lark Bunting I R I I I Savannah Sparrow C U C C Baird’s Sparrow O O R Grasshopper Sparrow U I O U O Fox Sparrow R R R Song Sparrow U U U Lincoln’s Sparrow C U C U Swamp Sparrow U U U White-throated Sparrow R R R Harris’s Sparrow X X X White-crowned Sparrow A C A A Golden-crowned Sparrow X X Dark-eyed Junco U O C C Northern Cardinal C C C C C Pyrrhuloxia A A A A A Rose-breasted Grosbeak R R Black-headed Grosbeak C C C U Blue Grosbeak A A A U R Lazuli Bunting U U Indigo Bunting O O U Varied Bunting C C C O R Painted Bunting C C C O R Dickcissel O O Red-winged Blackbird U U U C C 14 Species ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ SP S EF LF W Eastern Meadowlark U U U U U Western Meadowlark C C C C Yellow-headed Blackbird C C U R Brewer’s Blackbird C U A A Common Grackle R R R Great-tailed Grackle C C C C C Bronzed Cowbird U U Brown-headed Cowbird A C C A C Orchard Oriole C U C Hooded Oriole O O O Bullock’s Oriole C U C Scott’s Oriole C C C O R House Finch A A A A A Cassin’s Finch I I I Pine Siskin I X I I I Lesser Goldfinch C C C C U Lawrence’s Goldfinch X X American Goldfinch U U C Evening Grosbeak I I I House Sparrow A A A A A CITATION Bryan, Kelly B. February 2011. Birds of Big Bend Ranch State Park and vicinity: a field checklist. Natural Resource Program, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Major contributions by Mark Adams, Keith Arnold, Bill Bourbon, Steve Cardiff, Donna Dittman, Carol Edwards, John Gee, David and Linda Hedges, Jim Hines, Greg Lasley, Mark Lockwood, Bonnie McKinney and Jody Miller. 15 NOTES 16 In 1983, the Texas Legislature created the Special Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Fund. This fund may be used for nongame wildlife and endangered species research and conservation, habitat acquisition and development and dissemination of information pertaining to nongame management. Money for this fund is obtained through private donations and sale of nongame wildlife art prints and stamps. This fund now gives Texans a unique opportunity to help support this state’s valuable and sensitive nongame resources. Your individual contributions and purchases of nongame art prints and stamps will help determine the level of nongame conservation activities in Texas. For more information call toll-free (1-800-792-1112) or contact: Nongame and Endangered Species Program, Texas Parks and Wildlife, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas 78744. TPWD receives federal assistance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other federal agencies. TPWD is therefore subject to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, in addition to state anti-discrimination laws. TPWD will comply with state and federal laws prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, national origin, age, sex or disability. If you believe that you have been discriminated against in any TPWD program, activity or event, you may contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Federal Assistance, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Mail Stop: MBSP-4020, Arlington, VA 22203, Attention: Civil Rights Coordinator for Public Access. Natural Resource Program Texas Parks and Wildlife 4200 Smith School Road Austin, Texas 78744 © 2011 Texas Parks and Wildlife PWD BK P4501-152H (6/11) In accordance with Texas Depository Law, this publication is available at the Texas State Publications Clearinghouse and/or Texas Depository Libraries.

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