Birder's Guide

MAR 2016

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 39 of 75

Texas's Sky Islands 38 Birder's Guide to Travel | March 2016 Colima Warblers are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to birds of the Chi- sos Mountains. Visitors are instantly sur- rounded by activity. Say's Phoebes and Cactus Wrens dart around the parking lot, picking dead insects off parked cars. In summer, the melodic songs of Scott's Ori- oles and Black-headed Grosbeaks seem to come from every direction. White-throated Swifts soar overhead. Hepatic Tanagers nest in some of the taller trees behind the lodge, but be aware that Summer Tanager also nests in the vicinity. Peak spring migration in the Chisos Mountains is the frst week of May. This is the best time to visit for target species. Elf Owls sing near the visitor center, and Common Poorwills and Western Screech-Owls also occasion - ally sing. Approaching Boot Springs at frst light, Mexican Whip-poor-wills sing from every direction, and perhaps the soft hoot of a Flammulated Owl can be heard. Black-crested Titmice make their presence known, and before long, Hut- ton's Vireos chime in. The past few years, Dusky-capped Flycatchers have been found around Boot Springs, and in 2013, a Flame-colored Tanager paired with a Western Tanager just up the trail toward the beginning of the Juniper Canyon Trail. Painted Redstarts and Broad-tailed Hum- mingbirds are likely in this stretch of trail. Be sure to listen for the warbler-like chip of Blue-throated Hummingbird, as this is an excellent location for this species. When returning to the Basin from Boot Spring, head down Laguna Meadows Trail for a steady descent (this is a great trail to take to Boot Spring for a longer, easier as- cent) or return via Pinnacles Trail. Either trail is birdy with year-round resident Acorn Woodpeckers and "Couch's" Mexi- can Jays and a chance for any migrants. The United States's southernmost grove of quaking aspens stands about halfway down Pinnacles Trail. The Window Trail is an easy and pleas- ant hike from the Chisos Basin parking lot. This is one of the best trails to search for the federally threatened Black-capped Vireo. n TOP RIGHT: A purple prickly-pear in Big Bend National Park. Photo © Brian Gibbons n BELOW: Courting Lucifer Hummingbirds Photo © Ron Cook

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