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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Texas's Sky Islands 42 Birder's Guide to Travel | March 2016 crowned Warbler, Grace's Warbler, and Virginia's Warbler. The Nature Conservancy biologists suspect Virginia's x Colima Warbler hybrids to occur rarely in this area. Mexican Whip-poor-will and Western Screech-Owl are common at higher elevation. Golden Eagle can occa- sionally be found soaring overhead. The visitor center has hummingbird feeders, and in fall, Calliope, Rufous, Broad-tailed and Black-chinned are abundant. Kelly Bryan, a local bander, has done ex- tensive work with hummingbirds in the area. Davis Mountain State Park is located on Texas 118, three miles west of the intersection with Texas 17. The entrance fee is $6 per day. Tent camping and RV hook- ups are available in the park. The Indian Lodge, built by the CCC and located in the state park, offers 39 rustic and comfortable rooms. Other lodging is available in nearby Fort Davis. Guadalupe Mountains Perhaps better known for its spectacular cave system and fascinating geology (the range is an ancient, uplifted reef), Guadalupe Mountains is one of the National Park System's best-kept secrets. Texas access is fully situated within the 86,367-acre Guadalupe Mountains National Park. With very few paved roads and more than 80 miles of trails winding through Chihuahuan Desert, riparian Big Tooth Maples, and pinyon-juniper, this is a paradise for both hikers and naturalists. Most visitors to the park come to summit Texas's high- est mountain, Guadalupe Peak (8,751 feet). This strenu- ous trail is largely devoid of wildlife, save the occasional Peregrine Falcon or Mountain Chickadee. While that trail can certainly be missed, the dramatic view of "The Rim" and "El Capitan" cannot. There is a scenic pull-off a few miles west of the visitor center on U.S. Highway 62/180, offering the awe-inspir- ing experience of seeing the Guadalupe Mountains for the frst time. The Pine Springs Visitor Center parking lot is always an excellent place to start birding. Phaino- peplas sporadically light in the Texas madrone, collo- quially known as "lady-legs" for their smooth trunks. Black-chinned Sparrows are year-round residents in the grassier areas. In winter, mixed focks of Chipping Spar- rows and Dark-eyed Juncos feed in those grassy areas. From the parking lot, there are several trail options. Devil's Hall is an easy and beautiful hike. Historically, Spot- ted Owl and Painted Redstart nested along this trail. Re- cent trips have not been successful for either species. One of the only true western coniferous forests in Texas is found in these mountains. "The Bowl" can be accessed by either Tejas Trail or Bear Can- yon Trail. Tejas Trail is a long and steady hike, while Bear Canyon is a little over two miles long CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: n Buff-breasted Flycatcher. Photo © Jay Packer n Young male Phainopepla. Photo © Jay Packer n Guadalupe Peak towers over the southern expanses of Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Photo © jb10okie n Greater Roadrunner. Photo © Jay Packer

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