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 45 of 75

44 Birder's Guide to Travel | March 2016 Texas's Sky Islands with 2,500 feet of elevation gain. I personally enjoy ascending Bear and descending Tejas, but most fnd the reverse more suitable. Tejas will not produce many bird sight- ings until reaching Pine Top. Bear Canyon is steep, and birds are prevalent in the oaks and maples. During migration, Townsend's War- blers are common along this trail. Near The Bowl, the squawks of Steller's Jays will be heard. The Bowl hosts two, pos- sibly three, breeding species of nuthatch. Pygmy Nuthatch, reliably found nowhere else in the state, and White-breasted Nut- hatch are year-round residents. Red-breasted Nuthatch is presumed to breed in The Bowl, but adequate documentation is lacking. Band-tailed Pigeon, Western Wood-Pewee, Hepatic Tanager, Grace's Warbler, and Vir- ginia's Warbler are fairly common breed- ers. At lower elevation, a quick visit to the historic Frijole Ranch offers the best chance to fnd Juniper Titmouse on this side of the mountains. Except for occasional irruptions, the Guadalupes are the only place to fnd Ju- niper Titmouse in Texas. For those with less time to visit this range, Frijole's 2.3-mile loop trail will provide a de- cent sampling of the avifauna of these moun- tains. Western Scrub-Jay, Townsend's Soli - taire (in cooler months), and Phainopepla are likely to be encountered. McKittrick Canyon is located a few miles east of the visitor center and opens at 8 a.m. Mountain Time. Follow a long, winding, birdy road to a large parking lot. In late October, the canyon is ablaze in reds and oranges as the oaks and Big Tooth Maples take on their most photogenic ap - pearance. The trail begins in scrub with Bushtit, Rock Wren, and Lesser Goldfnch. Soon, the canyon walls narrow, patches of water appear, and the pines, oaks, and maples begin. This is the best birding in the entire park and offers shelter when the early spring winds are at their most intense. In winter, Red-naped Sapsucker, Spotted To- whee, and Townsend's Solitaire are abundant. In spring, McKittrick hosts typical western migrants such as Dusky and Hammond's fy- catchers. Western Tanager, Gray Vireo, and Ash-throated Flycatcher breed along the can- yon. Canyon Wren, a year-round resident, hops along the steep canyon walls, delight- ing even the most seasoned birders. Ten miles from the visitor center as the Golden Eagle fies, but more than 100 miles driving distance, Dog Canyon is one of the most secluded birding locations in Texas. In New Mexico, near Carlsbad, take NM 137 until it dead ends at the TX/NM state line. Thick alligator junipers line the road, and Juniper Titmouse often calls from these trees. The Dog Canyon visitor center is best known for its hummingbirds. Magnifcent Hum- mingbird is the main attraction and rarely disappoints. Starting at 6,300 feet, "Dog" holds many of the higher-elevation species without the hike. Grace's and Virginia's warblers breed here, as do Gray and Cordilleran fycatch- ers. Acorn Woodpecker is a mainstay in the campground. Mexican Whip-poor-will and Western Screech-Owl are sure to serenade any camper in summer. Just as stunning as McKittrick in fall, tranquil Dog Canyon is the perfect place to refect upon all that the Texas Sky Islands have to offer. Guadalupe Mountains National Park is lo- cated on Highway 62/180 110 miles east of El Paso and 56 miles west of Carlsbad. The entrance fee is $5. Tent and RV camping are available at Pine Springs. Dog Canyon has nine tent-camping sites. Backcountry camp- ing is available throughout the park. CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM: n Acorn Woodpecker. Photo © Jay Packer n Crissal Thrasher. Photo © Jay Packer n Guadalupe Mountains National Park is the only location in Texas where you can fnd two western tits: Juniper Titmouse (left) and Mountain Chickadee (right). Photos © Tim Lenz Chisos Mountains • Davis Mountains • • • Guadalupe Mountains •

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