Golden Triangle audubon Bird Alert -- July 15, 2012
Sabine Woods this morning the Tropical Mockingbird at Sabine Woods was found after about two hours searching when it came out to the edge of the highway about half way between the entrance and the western boundary. The Tropical Mockingbird (we presume to be a female) was feeding the two juveniles. We were able to get good looks at both juveniles as she fed them not-yet-ripe Lantana berries on the side of the highway and at eye level in the low branches on the oaks at the fence line. The adult was several times seen to perch on top of the Highway 87 sign on the south side of the highway. Terry Ferguson reports that the female is often seen on the side of the road feeding a juvenile.
The juveniles both appear to have "normal" Northern Mockingbird tails, with broad white outer edges when viewed from above or the side, and mostly white underneath. The wings do not have the white patches that are characteristic of Northern Mockingbirds. The wings when perched or in flight do not appear to be as dark as the parent Topical Mockingbird, but they may well be somewhat darker than those of juvenile Northern Mockingbirds in the area. However, the juveniles do have thin white outer edges and tips to the covert feathers, resulting in the narrow wing bars currently readily visible on them. It appears that these white tips wear away with time and results in worn mockingbirds, both Northern and Tropical, showing almost no wing bars. The molt in adult Northern Mockingbirds is recorded as beginning between mid July and early August, and complete by mid-October, so we can probably expect the Tropical Mockingbird to be similar. Juvenile Northern Mockingbirds are stated to molt into their first adult plumage shortly after leaving the care of their parents. If they all stay around, they may begin to look a little different soon!
In Sabine Woods, there are apparently several pairs of Yellow-billed Cuckoos, seemingly feeding young, at least two pairs of Great Crested Flycatchers, also feeding young, one rather noisy family of Eastern Kingbirds, a pair of Loggerhead Shrikes feeding their second brood of the season, and innumerable Orchard Orioles. As usual, there are Blue Jay and Northern Cardinal families.
We saw one young Melanerpes woodpecker, with clearly barred central tail feathers and no visible color on the face, head, or nape but presumably a "normal" Red-bellied Woodpecker. One Melanerpes called from inside a hole in one of the dead trees near the drip, but was not observed to show itself. The female Golden-fronted Woodpecker was seen yesterday (July 14).
Further along Highway 87 between the Woods and McFaddin NWR there were many Common Nighthawks (at least 11) and a family of Scissor tailed Flycatchers. In McFaddin NWR along Clam Lake Road from the Highway to the Intracoastal Waterway there were an astonishing 25 Common Nighthawks. Eastern Kingbirds were also numerous, and at least six Marsh Wrens were heard along the road. Four adult King Rails were along the road edges, and one had at least two chicks following. Two least Bitterns were seen, along with good numbers of Herons and Egrets (Green, Tricolored, Yellow-crowned. Snowy and Great)
With thanks to David Bradford, Terry Ferguson, John Haynes, and Steve Mayes.
John A. Whittle