January bird forecastJanuary 10th, 2013 at 4:36 pm by Jim Spencer under Weather
What to watch for in January: Hummingbirds! (Yes, hummingbirds!)
Here’s the Central Texas bird forecast for the month, courtesy of Travis Audubon. Learn more about Central Texas birds and bird-related events for all ages at travisaudubon.org or by calling 512-300-BIRD. Travis Audubon is on Twitter and Facebook. Follow us on Twitter @TravisAudubon and give us a like at www.facebook.com/travisaudubon.
Expect the unexpected: Hummingbirds in winter!
A surprise this winter has been the number of hummingbirds around town – Rufous Hummingbirds are being seen all over. They are feisty little orange birds (the females are orange and green.) Another one that has made an appearance, in Central and West Austin, is the Broad-tailed Hummingbird, which is unusual, and a Buff-bellied hummer has been spotted at the Hornsby Bend plant in East Austin. There have also been reports of a Calliope Hummingbird in the Ben White Boulevard-Manchaca Road area in South Austin. Put your hummingbird feeders out!
Another bird to watch for on our rivers and ponds this winter is the Hooded Merganser. It’s a small duck with an outsized “hairdo.” The males have flashy black and white patterns with chestnut sides; the females have cinnamon-colored crests. They migrate late and leave early, so the window to spot these birds is fairly short.
Raptors in town
A diverse group of raptors has been spotted as well. Merlins are showing up more frequently than they have in other winters, according to the sharp-eyed experts on the Texbirds group. Look for these small fast fliers on tall light poles in baseball fields and other open areas. They will harass much larger Red-tailed hawks. Also spotted in East Austin are Harris’s Hawks, uncommon in this area. These hawks are dark brown, with chestnut legs and shoulders, white rumps and yellow beaks and faces.
Stir up some suet
Since the weather is so cold, it is a great time for people to put out suet. Squirrels like suet, too, and the best way to prevent them from eating it all is to either have a baffle or use red pepper suet available at specialty wild bird stores. To keep away European Starlings, try attaching the suet cage to a tree trunk or offer it in a feeder that requires the bird to feed hanging upside down. Many colorful birds can access it easily, but starlings cannot, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Want to make your own suet? Check out these sites for recipes and instructions: http://www.sialis.org/suet.htm and http://www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw/Members/FeaturedFeederWatcher/FranRutkovsky.html
Find more advice about nonseed snacks you can put out for your birds at http://www.allaboutbirds.org/Page.aspx?pid=1180
Monthly Travis Audubon meeting: Birds and Birding in Chiapas, Mexico
Our January speaker, Brock Huffman, will be speaking about a project that he established in the State of Chiapas, Mexico, to train local, indigenous people to be bird guides. With 733 species of birds reported in Chiapas, the state is filled with wildly beautiful landscapes, rich indigenous culture, and impressive Maya archaeological sites. Chiapas has habitats ranging from arid scrub to rain forest and humid pine-oak highlands, making birding eco-tourism a natural way to support conservation there. Come learn about this exciting project and some of the cool birds of Chiapas.
Thursday, Jan. 17. Doors open at 6:30 PM for social time. The meeting will begin at 7. First Presbyterian Church, 8001 Mesa Drive
Field Trips — Check the Travis Audubon website for details
Monthly Bird Count at Hornsby Bend
Saturday, January 12 – 7 a.m. & 4 p.m.
Balcones Canyonlands NWR Simons Tract
Sunday, January 13, 7:15 to 11:30 a.m.
Commons Ford January Bird Walk
Sunday, January 13, 7:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Granger Lake Area with Sam Fason
Sunday, January 13
Super Tuesday! At Commons Ford Ranch Park, led by Deb and Lee Wallace
Tuesday, January 15 – 7 to 10:30 a.m.
Hornsby Bend Monthly Bird Walk
Saturday, January 19 – 7:30 to 11 a.m.
Two-hour Tuesday! At Platt Lane, led by Ken Zaslow
Tuesday, January 22 – 7:30 to 9:30 a.m.
Two-hour Tuesday! At Lake Pflugerville Park, led by Dan Callaway
Tuesday, January 29 – 8 to 10 a.m.
Compiled by Travis Audubon volunteers Jane Tillman and Raeanne Martinez