Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge

Guest post by Dan Weisz

I just returned from the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival and really enjoyed seeing the varied habitat and the rich birdlife there.  The Festival is very well run.  The first day we visited the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge.  This area is famous for having the second highest bird count of any of the national wildlife refuges in the United States.  It is also now famous as the site where the new border wall that President Trump promised is going to be built.  The wall will rest on a levee that is one mile from the border and the vegetation will be cleared for 100 yards on either side of the wall, cutting right through the center of the refuge.  Here is the refuge’s webpage:

A view of the water and thick vegetation in the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge

A Golden Fronted Woodpecker on a snag as viewed from the top of an observation tower above the canopy.  It looks similar to our Gila Woodpeckers but with the added yellow feathers at the base of its upper bill and a golden nape (the back of its head).

Green Jays were everywhere we went over the weekend.  This one was in a group coming to seed feeders in the refuge.

Green Jays are colorful tropical birds found primarily in Mexico and South America.  Green Jays just makes their way into the US in southern Texas (see the range map below).

There is also a resident population of Green Parakeets and Red-crowned Parrots in Harlingen, the town that hosts the festival.  The Red-crowned Parrots are native to a small region of northeastern Mexico, but through illegal pet trade, escaped birds and released pets have established colonies of feral population in a number of cities in the United States.

We found them near sunset in a residential neighborhood of Harlingen.

South Padre Island is a popular destination for Spring Breakers, but it is also a popular stop-over for migrating birds and offers a year-round sub-tropical environment for many other birds.

In one park, we saw a female Tennessee Warbler enjoying fruits on a tree on its way to its wintering home.  This is a bird that summers in the Canadian boreal forest.  Check out the range map to see how far this little bird has already flown on its way south.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks, we value your opinions! Your comment will be reviewed before being published.