Preliminary Christmas Bird Count -- December 15, 2001

100 W 35' 02" 28 N 54' 16" roughly 18 miles north of Eagle Pass in Maverick County. The most interesting find was a leucistic titmouse that was all white with pale yellowish-gray wings.

This is the first year that we have attempted a CBC and so this was most strictly a "preliminary" count to ascertain the best sites. We were very under represented in the water birds and will need to include more of the Rio Grande where the white pelicans and many species of ducks are to be found in subsequent counts. We were hampered somewhat by the weather, which for the day ran from 49.4 to 64.3 degrees Fahrenheit with the chill factor in the high 30s to lower 40s during the intermittent showers which generally consisted of no more that sprinkles to drizzles at various times throughout the day, with winds ranging from 15 mph and dropping toward the afternoon. We identified 4458 birds and 66 species within a 15 mile diameter circle in Quemado Valley.

On December 15th from 9 a. m. to 12 we birdied the Cunningham Ranch in Northern Maverick County. Our group consisted of Joy Haynes Hester, Susan Cooper, Theo Escobedo, Carol Cullar, Dob and Kay Cunningham. The ranch consists of roughly 700 acres of varied habitat ranging from long established chaparral on the top of rocky bluffs along the Rio Grande to rich bottomland riparian thickets and native grass pastures. There are several water features in the form of sloughs, a major canal of deeply flowing water and the Rio Grande as well as several occasional creeks and minor lateral canals for irrigation. Vegetation varies from sycamores of considerable size, mesquite, huisache, and hackberry in the river bottoms, coastal bermuda in the pastures, and the complex ecostructure of chaparral: whitebrush, guayacan, yucca and prickly pear on the sere uplands. The Cunningham Ranch is birded only with permission of the owners.

In the afternoon 3 people birded the Laurence Ranch, consisting of 400 acres of river bottom covered with mostly carrizo rivercane thickets and several of the farm roads in the Valley, FM 1664, Day Lane, and Quemado Cemetery Road, which runs beside a slough, humorously called "Canyon Grande." The Laurence Ranch is birded only with permission of the owners.

We birded consistently from 1 p. m. to 6 p. m. under somewhat drier and warmer conditions than the morning. We drove about 40 miles and walked 3.

Hawk, unidentified---1
Red-tailed hawk----7
White-tailed hawk---2
Northern Harrier-2
Harris' hawk----1
White-tailed kite---3
American kestrel----9
Great blue heron----2
Black vulture----4
Snowy egret ---2
Great egret---2
Green kingfisher- ---1
Ducks, unidentified ---11
Mallard duck---2
Double-crested cormorant----77
Scarlet tanager----2
Brown-headed cowbird----100
Red-winged blackbird----1055
Eastern bluebird----18
Western meadowlark----27
Yellow warbler----1
Yellow-rumped warbler----4
Tufted titmouse- ---3
Orange crowned warbler----1
Tufted titmouse ---1
[leucistic, with grey wings]
Ruby-crowned kinglet----7
Blue-gray gnatcatcher----1
American goldfinch---2
Spotted towhee----2
Rio Grande turkey----131
House finch----36
Mourning dove----43
Inca dove----1
Northern Mockingbird----6
Common ground dove----1
Vermilion flycatcher----4
Great Kiskadee---2
Say's phoebe---1
Black phoebe----3
Bewick's wren----1
Eastern phoebe---1
Cactus wren----2
Long-billed thrasher----1
Chipping sparrow --10
Vesper sparrow----22
House sparrow---1
Lincoln sparrow-1
White-crowned sparrow----1
Black-throated sparrow ---3
Greater Roadrunner----2
Northern Cardinal----6
Chihuahuan Raven- 2
Great-tailed grackle----1389
Red wing blackbird--910
Tamaulipan Crow---65
Golden-fronted woodpecker----8
Ladder-backed woodpecker----7
Mallard ducks---2
Lark bunting---11

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