Bathing Beauties of Texas - p 2 of 2

 

1 May 2014

Dozens of species of waterfowl winter along the Gulf Coast and then head north in the spring to breed.  But Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, seen here at McFaddin NWR, are year-round residents.  Their range extends from the southern U.S.into South America.    

 

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

Forster's Tern with fish  

 

 

 

Pilot Station Road extends along Sabine Pass, the channel through which oil tankers go from the Gulf up to the Port Arthur refineries.  Here I found Forster's Terns dive-bombing into the water and coming up with a fish.  Their success rate was  surprisingly high.

Both Yellowthroat males and females enjoyed the water at Rose Ann's water feature.

 

Yellowthroat
American Redstart

 

 

 

 

Why do birds fan out their tails?  In Australia & Asia, there's a whole family of birds who do this.  Among our North American warblers, none fan out their tails more than the fidgity, never-still-for-a second American Redstart.  

Few warblers are more colorful than the Magnolia Warbler shown here.  It was so named by Alexander Wilson because he found it in magnolia trees during migration.  But its breeding range is almost exclusively in Canada.  Magnolia Warbler
Eastern Kingbird 2 May 2014

In Miyoko Chu's book Songbird Journeys, she describes how birds migrating across the Gulf may burn their entire store of body fat in order to generate energy.  If they have not yet reached the coast, the bird will then burn muscle mass. 

I saw the rigors of migration first-hand today.   As I sat at Rose Ann's water feature, an Eastern Kingbird fluttered in and landed on the ground.  It made several attempts to fly up and perch on a twig.  But it was too exhasted, too weak to stand.  So back down it came and onto a log.  For an hour or more it sat only a few feet from me.

This bird had made it.  Just barely.