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 42 of 75

41 March 2016 | Birder's Guide to Travel tains requires taking Texas 118, the eleva- tionally-highest state-maintained road in Texas. This road winds through mountain prairie, juniper, and pinyon-juniper habi- tats. In winter, Phainopepla, Townsend's Solitaire, Mountain Bluebird, and Spi- zella focks can be found on the side of the road. Eastern (Lillian's) Meadowlark breeds in these grasslands. State Highway 118 passes by the Mc- Donald Observatory, and the road up to the observatory can be birdy in the morn - ings. "Star Parties" are offered many nights, which provide visitors opportunities to look through various telescopes to view the cosmos—a truly rewarding experience. Lawrence E. Wood Picnic Area lies 8.5 miles west of the McDonald Observatory. In winter, this is the spot to fnd Williamson's Sapsucker in Texas. In sum - mer, Hepatic Tanager, Western Bluebird, Cassin's Kingbird, and Plumbeous Vireo breed in the junipers and pines. During the monsoon season, Monte - zuma Quail can be quite com- mon in the grasses. Directly adjacent to L.E. Wood is Madera Canyon Trail, maintained by The Nature Conservancy. This moderate loop trail passes a water tank that occasionally has Mexi- can Mallard. Gray Flycatcher sometimes breeds along the trail, though it is much more common at higher elevation. Just west of L.E. Wood is the entrance to The Nature Conservancy's Davis Mountain Preserve. Open to the public only a few times a year, The Nature Conservancy owns or protects through easement 102,675 acres of the Davis Mountains including the range's highest peak, Mount Livermore (8,382 ft.). Spotted Owl is known to breed on the preserve, but devastating fres in 2011 and an ongoing drought have altered much of the pinyon-juniper habitat in the moun- tain range. In 2013, two Long-eared Owl nests were found on the preserve, representing only a handful of nesting records for the state. Buff-breasted Flycatcher can occasionally be found in summer in Wolf Den Canyon. The impressive Tobe Canyon has Dusky- capped Flycatcher, Steller's Jay, Orange- n Davis Mountains area. Map © Janet Mrazek CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: n Boot Spring's eponymous "boot". Photo © Jay Packer n Montezuma Quail. Photo © Cameron Carver n Grace's Warbler. Photo © Jay Packer

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