Mexican Chickadee, Bridled Titmouse, more Painted
Redstart and Acorn Woodpecker. Interestingly, the
woodpeckers were pounding acorns not just into light poles
but also into a stone wall around loosely placed mortar.
After a cold night in an unhealed motel room in the
mountain village of La Cienega (the marsh), we headed
west, out of the mountains and toward the city of Saltillo.
Never heard of it? It was once the capital of Texas.
Diverting us en route were a beautiful male Townsend's
Warbler and White-throated Swifts, plus many of the birds
Not diverting us were Gray-silky Flycatcher,
Crescent-chested Warbler, Olive Warbler and Brown-backed
Solitaire-birds we had hoped for. Do they leave the high
mountains in winter? Did the cold weather drive them
south? Oh, well. Live and learn.
South of Saltillo is an altiplano, surrounded by
mountains and populated by the adorable Mexican prairie
dog. The setting suggested Prairie or Aplomado Falcon, but
raptors actually seen were Ferruginous Hawk and American
This sweeping landscape is also home to Worthen's
Sparrow, a near look-alike to our Field Sparrow. We had
been advised we would have to traipse the grassy fields to
kick up this elusive creature. But no sooner had we parked
than a flock of 60 or more sparrow-like birds landed nearby
on bushes, fence and the ground. Several fed almost at our
feet, with Canyon Towhees. With plain breast, pink bill and
chestnut cap, the bird does closely resemble FieWSparrow.
But the white eye ring is prominent and complete. There is
no line behind the eye. And the legs are blackish. Yep, that
must be a Worthen's Sparrow.
The nearby village of Tanque Emergencia
(Emergency Tank, presumably something to do with the
nearby railroad) contained something completely different:
cultivated cactus gardens of prickly pear and century plant.
Drawn to this habitat were Western Bluebird, Lark Bunting,
House Finch, Cactus Wren, Black-throated Sparrow,
Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Red-shafted Flicker and
Vermilion Flycatcher. A resident proudly showed us her
caged "red sparrow," in actuality a male House Finch.
Our last stop was an improvised campsite alongside
a nearly dry creekbed near Sombreretillo, in the foothills of
the Sierra Picacho, two hours' drive west of Falcon Dam.
Habitat was thorn scrub but also oaks, "olive" and other
substantial hardwoods. A dam at a fann house had created
a small pond. That's where we saw a tree full of Audubon's
Orioles, a good-sized flock of Pine Siskins, plus Great
Kiskadee, Black-headed Grosbeak, Tropical Parula, Black-
and-White Warbler and a pair of Hepatic Tanagers.
Feeding in the rocky creekbed was an unexpected Rock
Wren. More Clay-colored Robins were seen close
by.Further down the creekbed, such Valley specialties as
Brown Jay, Green Jay, Plain Chachalaca and White-tipped
Dove were located. At dusk, and again at dawn, both
Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl and Eastern Screech Owl were
Also heard, but not seen, in the rocky creekbed in
the middle of the night was an extremely loud cow. The
stampeded scene from "Red River" flashed to mind, but
troubled thoughts receded and sleep soon returned.
In summing up the trip, birds seen were species
more of the temperate forest than the neotropics. Yet the
sighting of numerous Painted Redstart (but not the hoped-
for Slate-throated), Yellow-eyed Juncos and Bridled
Titmouse in the rugged mountain setting, plus the Worthen's
Sparrow in the stark altiplano, made the trip very much
worthwhile—even if it meant exchanging traditional
Thanksgiving turkey for enchiladas suizas and Cerveza
Editors: Phyllis and Tony Frank
A total of 202 species were reported for the month.
Interesting sightings this month included the second UTC
record for Mountain Bluebird. Other notables included some
lingering or out- of-range flycatchers. Read the remainder
of the reports to find the other surprises.
Many thanks to everyone who submitted reports and
documentation. Reports are due by January 3rd, but early
reports are welcomed. The CH format remains the same this
month. The listing uses the following format: bird name,
early late dates, reports/total and summary by county oi^
detailed listing. The format of the county summary is as
follows: county designation - number of reports/number of
birds. The detailed listing format is as follows: county-
(number of birds) day, observer code. Very rare birds are
underlined. Birds with no previous record on date or
vagrant status appear in bold. Birds new to the checklist
are capitalized and underlined. Please remember to submit
notes on all those good birds. And with all the reminders
completed - on to the birds.
Loon, Common 7-28 3/5 GA-1/1 JE-2/4
Grebe, Pied-bill 1-28 13/104 BR-5/31 CH-1/3 FB-1/40
GA-3/25 HA-2/4 JE-1/1
Pelican, Amer Uht 7-30 15/1576 U-1/2 BR-3/154 FB-1/2
GA-4/695 HA-3/353 JE-3/370
Pelican, Brown 7-26 5/936 GA-4/466 HA-1/470
Corn, Dbl-crested 1-28 16/691 U-1/6 BR-2/7 FB-1/2
GA-3/176 HA-5/383 JE-4/117
Corm, Olivaceous 7-30 10/105 FB-1/8 GA-5/42 HA-1/40
Anhinga 8-14 2/3 FB-(2)14,HAFT; HA-UHC(1)8,BBT
Bittern, American 7-15 3/3 BR-2/2 CH-1/1
Heron, Great Blue 1-30 33/257 U-4/40 BR-7/36 CH-4/13
FB-1/30 GA-5/56 HA-8/66 JE-4/16
Egret, Great 1-30 30/276 U-4/51 BR-5/38 CH-3/21
FB-1/15 GA-5/41 HA-8/83 JE-4/27
Egret, Snowy 1-30 25/211 U-2/13 BR-5/28 CH-4/17
FB-1/20 GA-4/61 HA-3/14 JE-6/58
Heron, Little Blu 7-28 12/36 BR-4/8 CH-1/1 FB-1/10
GA-2/2 HA-1/4 JE-3/11
Heron, Tricolored 1-28 13/36 BR-3/13 CH-2/2 FB-1/6
GA-4/11 HA-1/2 JE-2/2
Egret, Reddish 7-26 3/5 BR-1/1 GA-2/4
Egret, Cattle 1-30 18/511 U-2/80 BR-2/31 CH-2/12
FB-1/8 GA-1/10 HA-9/367 JE-1/3
Heron, Grn-backed 14-14 1/1 FB-BB(1)14,HAFT