circled moving northward out of range. The second sighting
was when most of the underside detail and the hovering
behavior was noted. The bird was very close - about 20
yards from the edge of the road north of the park and no
more than 60 feet high.
Rough-legged Hawk - Gary Clark, Kathy Adams Sept. 2, 1990
(edited version) Observed for 30 minutes at Challenger
Park. The bird's head was whitish with light brown streaks.
The base of the tail had a broad dark subterminal band and
a narrow white terminal band. The breast was white with
rather extensive brown streaking converging to a dark belly
band. Underwing parts were white with little contrast
between flight feathers and wing linings. Distinct comma
marks were at the wrists. The tips of the outer primaries
and the trailing edge of the wing were edged in black. The
bird flew with a dihedral wing pattern.
"Trail's" type flycatchers September 8, 1990 Mike Austin
As is usual, the migration of empidonax flycatchers peaked
during the first week of September. My Piney woods Uildlife
Society field trip had excellent looks at all five regularly
occurring UTC species September 8, 1990. As has been noted
by other observers (Eubanks, et. al.) "Trail's" type empids
seem to have a preference for scrubby type cover during
migration here, particularly salt cedars, although they are
occasionally encountered in woodlands (previous reports to
the Clearing House).
Alder: Ue had one definite Alder and two other
probables on the 8th. This is only the second time I've had
a protracted enough look at a freshly plumaged bird to
identify it on plumage characteristics alone (although this
one, fortunately, confirmed its identity by calling
repetitively). Two of the birds (including the one who is
described below) were in full sunlight on salt cedars at the
northeastern corner of Smith Oaks Sanctuary at High Island.
The third bird was working ragweed at the edge of the (dry)
ditch under "The Willows" at Anahuac NWR. The other field
trip participants had located the bird in my absence (I was
in pursuit of another Least Flycatcher at the time).
It was a very clearly-plumaged bird with clean,
bright white wing bars and tertial edging. The lower belly
was bright lemon yellow, the Breast showed a dark olive vest
and the throat was white, sharply demarcated both from the
facial color in the malar area and along the superior border
of the breast band, a feature none of the Least's or Yellow-
bellied which we has seen showed. Also, unlike the species
above it appeared relatively long-tailed and angular-headed
with moderate primary extension. Also unlike the tiny
empids, although it did jerk it's tail up and down, this was
not accompanied by nervous, kinglet-like wing- flicking.
The head was bluish with a sharp, white eye ring
wider in front of and behind the eye. The back was
brownish-olive, noticeably more green than the nape and
sharply demarcated from same by a paler, grayish semi-
collar. Finally, the bird repeatedly emitted a sharp "bui"
call, subtly sharper and shorter than the Least's call with
which we were all now very familiar. All of the
participants concurred this point. I have quite a bit of
experience with Alder Flycatchers on breeding territory in
Alaska and find this call note quite characteristic.
Willow: Like Alder, these birds were all identified
as "Trail's" flycatchers because of the angular heads, long
tails with languid bobbing and contrasting white throats.
Unlike Alder, these birds all lacked an apparent eye ring in
the field (or had a gray "ghost" eye ring, at best) combined
with bright white to brownish white wing bars (for heavily
molting empids can all appear to lack eye rings as several
Least's seen that day did) and had a uniform olive-brown
head, nape and back.
All of the birds were seen fairly well, two at
extremely close range. One was perching on a fence next to
a patch of giant cane along the dike road on the west side
of Shoveler Pond at Anahuac NUR and two were in a large
patch of salt cedars on the south side of Highway 87 where
the western boundary of Sea Rim State Park borders the
McFaddin Ranch unit of Anahuac (an area where Eubanks
et.al. have encountered "Trail's" type empids in previous
Septembers). Only the Sea Rim birds called, an almost
imperceptible "whit", quite unlike the Alder note but very
much like the Least. Uithout hearing the characteristic
"fitz-biu" song or diagnostic "birrp" call note of Uillow,
all these birds are only probable Uillows at best.
For an excellent discussion of Uillow vs Alder
Flycatchers, see "The Empidonax Challenger; Part III Trail's
Flycatcher The Alder/Willow Problem" in Birding magazine,
Volume XVIII, Nunber 2, PP 153-59, June 1986. Note
particularly Plate 8.
Wilson's Uarbler (male) - (early) Mike Austin
Seen for about 20 seconds feeding on insects on the forest
floor along the east perimeter fence of Smith Oaks Sanctuary
at High Island. Very small, active rather plain warbler.
Unmarked olive back, wings and tail. Yellow face and
underparts (to vent). Sharply defined, black cap. Tiny
sharp bill with pink lower mandible.
Snow Goose - Bob Honig, et. al. September 3, 1990 (early)
One goose at Davis Estate Road ponds. Pink bill with black
"smile" mark; white face and crown; dark eye; upper part of
neck white in front and dark behind; lower 2/3 of neck
(front and back) and chest dark; belly mostly white with
some dark extending onto flanks near rear; folded wings dark
with white, very narrow streaks of white (apparently on
feather edges); pink legs. Seen at approximately 300 yards
walking in grassy area. Observed with binoculars and 200 m
spotting scope up to 40X in bright sunlight. Seen by all
party members approximately 10 minutes. Closely resembled
blue phase variant in National Geographic field guide.
Rufous Hummingbird - Jerry Patrick
Immature Rufous Hummingbird at feeders and "hawking" insects
in backyard from September 20 throught 24.
Black-chinned Hummingbird - Tony and Phyllis Frank
One adult male at feeder in front yard on September 20.
Bird was approximately the size of a Ruby-throated
Hummingbird with a green back and head. The gorget was
black with purple on the lower part of the throat extending
to the side. Bird was observed feeding at feeder until
chased by the Ruby-throated "owner" of the feeder. Observed
with 10 X 40 binoculars at a distance of approximately 15
MODIFICATION TO AUGUST 1990 CLEARING HOUSE
The 15 Chestnut-sided Warblers should be amended to Yellow
LOOKING FORUARD TO NOVEMBER BIRDING
November should have good numbers of geese and ducks on the
UTC. The wildlife refuges (Anahuac, Brazoria and San
Bernard) are good locations to check for these birds.
Brazoria NUR is open the first full weekend of the month and
the other two refuges are generally open any time. Any
flooded fields you see on your way to the refuges are also
good spots to check.
SEND CLEARING HOUSE bird sightings to: Clearing House,
(OG), P.O. Box 271374, Houston 77277.
UTC RARE BIRD ALERT TAPE, sponsored by Piney Uoods
Uildlife Society and Houston Audubon Society,
SEND SPOONBILL MATERIAL to Editor, Judy Boyce, 5546
Aspen, Houston 77081, 668-5359.
OG MEMBERSHIP INFORMATION, dues, subscriptions and
address changes. Arch Dillard, 142 Imperial Dr.,
Friendswood 77546, 996-0107. Annual dues $15. Non-
member Spoonbill subscriptions $13.