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Much of inland southern Texas is known as the brush country.
It is Tamaulipan thorn-scrub habitat, often locally called
chapparal. Everything has spines. This habitat
extends up to the southern edge of the Edwards Plateau, or
the hill country as it is called.
A large number of south Texas species (often incorrectly called
"LRGV (Lower Rio Grande Valley) specialties") are found with
some regularity around Uvalde (which ain't the LRGV) County.
In reality for most, the LRGV is less than 1% of their ranges,
and most are common throughout the south TX brush country, and
far into Mexico, so I'd like to discourage calling them that.
As far as the U.S. goes, "south Texas specialties" would be
a much better term, as most of them are widespread in south Texas.
Good places for them around Uvalde are Cook's Slough, Ft. Inge,
the Uvalde city park on Hwy. 90, the Fish Hatchery, and along any
watercourses in the county (e.g., Nueces, Frio, Sabinal Rivers)
and even up into the southern edge of the Edwards Plateau.
Some are rather recent invaders/colonizers northward, and some of
the south Texas specialty species occurring here include
Least Grebe, Groove-billed Ani, Ringed Kingfisher,
Great Kiskadee, Couch's Kingbird, Long-billed Thrasher,
Olive Sparrow, Audubon's Oriole, and now annual Green Jay
since 2003, that seem to be resident as of 2007-2008.
That is a fine assortment of south Texas specialties here.
Except the Ani, the others all nest in the area (Jay prob. 08).
Other residents of the Tamaulipan thorn scrub of the brush
country in Uvalde County include Harris's Hawk, Verdin,
Pyrrhuloxia, Black-throated Sparrow, Cactus Wren, and if it rains
Cassin's Sparrows. Common are everyone's favorite flycatchers,
Vermilion and Scissor-tailed, and so is Painted Bunting.
To round out the list of south Texas species possible here,
toss in the Tropical Parula (annual singing males - Concan) and
Rufous-capped Warbler (multiple temporary colonists), both of
which are trying to gain a toehold at the edge of the plateau,
as members of their species push the limits of colonization.
Even Paraque is being found in Uvalde Co. brush country now.
Lytle Blankenship lived in Uvalde and birded the county
hotspots for 25 years. As of his 2002 checklist, he knew of
2 Audubon's Oriole and a few Green Jay records (singles) in the
county. Winter of 2003 when I moved here I found the first
flock of wintering Green Jay (5) and in '04 the first
two Audubon's Orioles on the Uvalde CBC, both at Ft. Inge.
Both of which appeared subsequent years, the Green Jay now
appearing to possibly be nesting there, now not leaving in summer.
The Audubon's Orioles are now known nesting and resident up to
Utopia, with reports elsewhere along the edge of the escarpment
from Rio Medina to Camp Wood, near Garner, and up to Leakey.
Several White-tipped Doves have been found (spring, summer and winter)
2003 to 2012. It is probably far more numerous than realized (I wrote
that in 2007). It has exploded since 2012 with multiples at Lost Maples,
Park Chalk Bluff, in Real Co., singles in Utopia last three years.
Clay-colored Thrush (AOU changed it from Robin) has been found thrice
this far north (Uvalde Feb.'05, Utopia May 08 and Feb. 2012. In Feb.
of 2011 Kathy and I watched a Rufous-backed Robin for 10 minutes at Ft. Inge,
another was caught on a critter cam in Edwards Co. April 2014. I've
seen a couple Short-tailed Hawks around Utopia and there are several
Lost Maples records. Mike Overton and I (ph.) found a Common Black-Hawk
along the Nueces River near Uvalde once as well, I saw one at Lost Maples
in the 1980's as well.
The Sennett's Hooded Orioles of south Texas are a very unique
interesting representitive of that species group, found up into the
southern edge of the plateau.
There haven't been any really serious real hard-core naturalists
covering, exploring and recording what is going on here thoroughly.
Couch's Kingbirds nesting and sometimes wintering up on the plateau
was also unknown before.
I had a note here about how there are Chihuahuan Ravens here.
But thanks to this internet thing, I can change things as things
change. The first few years I was here there were a few resident
Chihuahuan Ravens here in the flatlands of the Sabinal Valley.
Since the drought they have left, and have been fall migrants mostly.
As a rule I'd have said until two years ago, the flatland brush-country
Raven sightings should be considered Chihuahuan first as the default,
and once up in the hills of the plateau where cliffs and rock outcrops
are visible, then Common become the default Raven. Very recently
I have seen a few Commons along the roads in the northern-most brush country.
Along 187 above Sabinal, and more recently along Old Sabinal Rd.,
south of Hwy. 90! Common Raven has become much more numerous and
widespread here in the last decade, numbers have skyrocketed, Chihuahuan
is all but gone.
There is much we don't know about the northward explosion of
many southerly origin species as it is unfolding right now in
front of our eyes. It is an unprecedented event, and so we have
nothing to base any expectation on. Except indications I see of
Mexican origin birds and butterflies up on the plateau at e.g.
Utopia, make it clear the magnitude of movement is not yet realized
by the natural history crowd in general.
Note in winter and spring of 2008 the Green Jays invaded north
ONTO the plateau in numbers for the first time ever. There were
several dozen on the plateau to Leakey, Concan and Bandera amongst other
places!! Then, finally, winter 2009 the first 3-4 were at Utopia!
The simple fact is, that with few exceptions, if it has
occurred in the LRGV, or even Big Bend, it has occurred
or could occur here. I have heard more than one local
describe a Trogon very well!
Here we have a some poor pictures (except the one I didn't take)
of a few of these south Texas specialties that many don't realize
often live all the way north to south central Texas, in Uvalde County.
Ken Cave took this great photo of an
immature or sub-adult Harris's Hawk.
Regular in the flatlands of the brush country.
THANKS for letting us use the picture Ken!
Least Grebe at Uvalde National Fish Hatchery
The hatchery and Cook's Slough are best bets.
Couch's Kingbird - widespread in spring to fall
throughout, some few venturing up onto plateau.
Rarer and local in winter.
Couch's Kingbird - an adult feeding one of the
3 young fledged in Utopia on June 5, 2006.
One of further north known nestings and probably the
first ever for the species on the Edwards Plateau - hill country
Groove-billed Ani is a late summer and
fall visitor at places like Ft. Inge,
Cook's Slough and the Uvalde National Fish Hatchery.
Audubon's Oriole - on the Uvalde bird count 12/04
In winter look along watercourses but resident
all the way up to Utopia in NE county hills.
Olive Sparrow is an outlier sparrow among U.S. types,
with green in wing and tail, this south Texas specialty
is at the northern limit of its range here. Some
along Sabinal River regular to Clayton Grade at edge of
escarpment. Easy to hear, sometimes hard to see,
look at Ft. Inge, Neal's Lodges, or Cook's Slough and
you will get them.
First documented Clay-colored Thrush in Uvalde Co.
at Cook's Slough, Feb. 4, 05. Another was in
Utopia May '08, and another 150' from the where the
first one was at Cook's Slough in Feb. '12! There
are more of these skulkers around than detected.
Ringed Kingfisher, female - look at
Ft. Inge, Cook's Slough, yes the fish hatchery,
and along Nueces or Frio Rivers are best bets.
Rare on Sabinal River.
Long-billed Thrasher - look in dense brush along any
watercourse up to the edge of the plateau,
such as at Concan, but rare up in the hills shortly
past that. Cook's Slough and Ft. Inge have lots.
White-tipped Dove making the ID of vulture or hawk.
April 1, 2012, no foolin', in our Seco Ridge yard, the
third to have appeared here, our first spring record.
They have since increased tremendously with multiples
at several sites along southern Edwards Plateau.
Great Kiskadee - the Uvalde city park on Hwy 90,
Ft. Inge, and Cook's Slough usally have them.
Rufous-capped Warbler, this was the male of a pair
at Neal's Lodges in Concan for 6 months plus,
but never seen after the ice storm of '07.
Tropical Parula, this male was territorial
at Utopia on the River for 6 weeks.
One of the Green Jays at Utopia winter 2008-09!
Sennett's Hooded Oriole in mid-March
White-tipped Dove in Utopia, NE Uvalde Co.
Vermilion Flycatcher - the brightest bird
in the brush country. Found year-round in
brush country (fewer in winter), but only
spring to fall up in the cooler hill country.
An adult Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, a
bird you can never tire of watching.
They really do have a display flight in which
they fly a loop and do a quick flip at the top
actually going all the way over, upside-down!
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Painted Bunting -
A common brush country denizen
usually along draws and watercourses
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