Here’s the Central Texas bird forecast for the month, courtesy of Travis Audubon. Learn more about Central Texas birds and bird-related events for all ages at travisaudubon.org or by calling 512-300-BIRD. Follow us at www.facebook.com/travisaudubon
It’s hard to believe summer is over. Many migratory birds are headed to central and South America for the winter. Fall migration is a more leisurely affair than spring, when the race was on to get to the best breeding territories. Often adult birds leave their breeding grounds first, and the birds born this spring and summer leave last, finding their way without parental help.
Birds are moving through central Texas but unless you are paying attention they will pass you by. Many adult warblers, for example, have molted into what’s called “basic plumage,” and are drab. The males are not singing – what’s the point when spring is a long way away? It is still a good time to go birdwatching though. The changing of the guard brings new arrivals that plan to stay the winter, in addition to the transients that might just be one minute wonders. If you get out in the early morning, you might hear Dickcissels making their “bzheet” flight call, or the bubbly liquid call of Upland Sandpipers as they pass overhead. Dickcissels breed in the Austin area, but their breeding range extends into the Great Plains states and southern Canadian grasslands. They are en route to central America and northern South America.
Upland Sandpipers are grassland shorebirds that are not dependent on wetlands. They eat insects like grasshoppers and spend more time in South America (eight months) than they do in North America. Most of them will be gone by mid-September according to the All About Birds website.
For up-to-date bird forecasts predicting daily movements across the U.S. and Canada tune into BirdCast.
Welcome Migrating White-eyed Vireos
You might be hearing an unfamiliar song in your yard throughout the month of September as White-eyed Vireos, which are short-distance migrants, move south for the winter. (They do breed in Austin but more are coming through from the eastern part of the U.S.) Their explosive “quick, pick up the beer check, quick” song is quite different from our resident Northern Cardinals, Carolina Wrens and Carolina Chickadees. These birds are more commonly heard than seen, but if you are quiet and lucky, you might get to see the two white-wing bars, yellow spectacles, and white eyes of this somewhat secretive songbird.
Farewell to Green Herons
If you walk Lady Bird Lake you may notice that the number of Green Herons, our smallest heron, will diminish as the month wears on. These stocky dark birds tend to winter in Mexico, although one overwintered in Austin last year. They have some fun tricks for nabbing dinner. They often will sit perfectly still for long stretches awaiting a fish or a frog to spear with their beak, but they also have been known to use twigs or insects as bait for fish. It’s one of the world’s few tool-using bird species, according to the All About Birds website. In basic plumage the Green Heron’s legs fade from bright orange to yellow. Try to see that field mark when you see one around town.
Travis Audubon September Events
With fall in the air, Travis Audubon has many events scheduled. Check the website calendar and field trip pages for many other events such as Travis Audubon’s Book Club and weekday field trips to places like Devine Lake, Doeskin Ranch, Champion Park and Commons Ford Park. Many require registration.
Travis Audubon Monthly Meeting Join us for the September 19 meeting featuring Rob Cahill. Topic: Birds, Birding and Conservation in Guatemala. New location: First Unitarian Universalist Church Sanctuary, 4700 Grover Ave, Austin, TX 78756. Doors open at 6:30 with the speaker at 7:00 p.m.
Birds of Central Texas Presentation at Pioneer FarmsSeptember 7, 10:30 a.m.Join us to learn about our central Texas birds. Travis Audubon birders will be sharing information about the sights, sounds, and habits of our local birds. Afterwards, take time to explore the prairie, woodland, and creek habitats of Pioneer Farms looking for birds. No registration required. Pioneer Farms’ Dance Hall 10621 Pioneer Farms Drive, Austin TX, 78702 in the IH35/Braker Lane area of Northeast Austin. Note: Presentation is free; Admission to explore the ground afterwards is as follows: Adults $8, Youth (3-17) $6, Seniors (65 and over) $6, Children 2 and under are free. Pay admission at the General Store on arrival.
Field Trips — Beginners welcome.
Beginner Bird Walk: Roy Guerrero Park September 7, 7:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. 400 Grove Blvd. The Beginners’ Bird Walk is held on the first Saturday of each month and is open to birders of all levels and ages. It’s free. It’s fun. Membership and registration are not required. Need binoculars? We’ve got loaners.
Come join us near the Colorado River to look for migrating warblers, hawks, kites and other surprises. At this time of year, rarities can show up. Bring bug spray, wear long pants, and no sandals. Water and hats are recommended. (Google map shows “Grove Blvd Trail Head-Country Club Creek Trail.” Look for Travis Audubon leaders across the street in the parking lot. Also, “Montopolis Youth Sports Complex” signs will help you find the parking lots.)
Hornsby Bend Monthly Bird Walk September 21, 7:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. 2210 FM 973, Austin, TX. Join us to explore Austin’s premier birding site. All levels of birders are welcome and no registration is required. Meet in front of the Center for Environmental Research. Wear closed toe shoes and bring a hat and water. Long-sleeved shirts and pants recommended.
Birdability: Richard Moya Park September 21, 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Join Virginia Rose for a bird walk tailor-made for folks with mobility challenges. No registration required.
Compiled by Jane Tillman, Travis Audubon Volunteer