Spring Migration

Banding efforts for the spring songbird migration began in earnest during the first week of April. Our first efforts were often influenced by the passage of several weather fronts that brought high winds and colder that average temperatures in the Concho Valley.  In spite of the weather, we were able to encounter some migrants during the first half of the month. Our most unexpected bird during this time was a Common Ground-Dove which is not a migrant but not expected in the Concho Valley during this season of the year.  On the 19th of April, we banded our first Painted Bunting of the year which arrived several days earlier than past years. This bird was soon followed by Lazuli and Indigo Buntings, Blue Grosbeaks and Summer Tanagers. During the last week of April, the floodgates finally opened and we were rewarded with swarms of migrating Pine Siskins, wood warblers, buntings, and goldfinches. 

With the drought that occurred in the mid-west in the summer of 2012 and the subsequent low number of migrants encountered in the fall, we anticipated that the number of spring migrants would be lower than most years throughout the Concho Valley.  In fact, near record numbers of Orange-crowned, Nashville, Wilson's, and Yellow Warblers funneled through the riparian corridor along with good numbers of less common but still expected warblers. With more than two weeks remaining in the month of May, we are still encountering such species as MacGillivray's Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, and Oven Bird. We expect to see other less common warblers as the season draws to a close. Winter and spring rains have been sparse across the Concho Valley. Perhaps these birds are being forced into the riparian corridor to find water and other resources as they head to their breeding grounds. The conditions and results are beginning to mirror the 2011 season when we encountered many more birds and species than a normal year. The final results will not be written until the last waves of migrants have made their way through our banding stations.
San Saba Nature Park

On May 9th, we participated in the 2nd Annual Birding Festival at the LCRA San Saba Nature Park. Our guests at the bird banding were third grade students and their teachers from San Saba and Richland Springs, children and parents from the San Saba Home School Educators Association, local Boy Scouts and their leaders, and the general public. It was a very well organized event sponsored by the San Saba Bird and Nature Club. Activities for the students included Bird Banding, Nature Scavenger Hunt, Nature Journaling and the Bird Viewing Blind. Bird banding was conducted by the West Texas Avian Research team of Charles and Nancy Floyd along with Kelly and Donna Bryan who banded Black-chinned Hummingbirds and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. Songbird species banded included  Kentucky Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Lincoln Sparrow, Carolina Wren, White-eyed Vireo and House Wren. We want to express our thanks to the San Saba Birding Club for the opportunity, hospitality, and the assistance from the volunteers.

Camp Discovery at Hummer House
 On Monday, May 6, Dan and Cathy Brown of the Hummer House hosted the 2013 Camp Discovery for the 4th grade students of Christoval ISD. Students in the Wall High School Gifted and Talented program also attended. This was the second year that the Browns had hosted the event to further their dream of providing students and teachers an opportunity for learning more about nature. Students rotated through ten sessions of various topics. It was a wonderful day of learning but the temperature was much cooler than expected. Songbird banding was conducted by Charles Floyd and members of the Concho Valley banding team. Special assistants to the banding team were Don Connell, a bird bander from Austin and Bob Wray from Washington. We appreciate their help. Kelly Bryan conducted the hummingbird banding session. The most unique bird of the day was the Tennessee Warbler which is only the third bird of that species to be banded at the Hummer House in more than eighteen years of banding. Twenty-eight species of birds were banded during the day. We want to express our thanks to the Browns for the opportunity to be a part of their dream.


2013 HEB Camp

We were once again priviledged to go to the HEB Foundation Camp with the students from Ballinger and Bronte. We had 20 species of birds to band and show to the students. We were excited to have an Oven Bird and a Ladder-backed Woodpecker find our nets. We never know exactly what species we will find at the camp so we always approach camp with anticipation of unusual species. It was interesting to have four birds be recaptured that we had banded in previous years. We thank the schools for allowing us to be a part of their program.