February Bird ForecastFebruary 11th, 2013 at 4:03 pm by Jim Spencer under Weather
What to watch for in February: Waxwings and romance
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.
Cedar Waxwings are crowding into town right now before returning to Canada for summer breeding. They come through in large flocks and are distinctive-looking birds: They are brown and gray overall but have yellow bellies, black masks on their faces, red on their wings and tails that look as if they were dipped in yellow paint. They have a thin whistling call, which you can’t miss when you are near a tree with dozens of them!
Waxwings are on the lookout for Possumhaw and Yaupon holly berries, which are being avidly guarded by Northern Mockingbirds. Single mockingbirds have been observed successfully fending off entire flocks of waxwings. You can root for the state bird of Texas or the visiting masked bandits, though there are hopefully enough berries to share.
Looking for love
Spring is in the air, and our resident birds are beginning to have propagation of the species on their minds, so watch for mating Red-shouldered and Red-tailed Hawks (aka the hawks along MoPac Boulevard), and for songbirds starting to build their nests.
Also returning to town are Purple Martins. These snazzy purplish-black birds have many supporters who put up Purple Martin houses for them, as the birds do not nest in any natural structures in this part of the country. You can check the latest purple martin numbers in Texas at http://purplemartin.org/scoutreport/scout.php?Y=2013&S=TX, a website of the Purple Martin Conservation Association.
Celebrate Urban Birds, a fun and free event
On Feb. 16 and 23, local nature experts from Travis Audubon and other groups will host activities to Celebrate Urban Birds! Events at the Austin Nature and Science Center, the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center and Zilker Botanical Garden include live bird demonstrations, bird sculpting, expert lectures, paddling on the lake for bird photography, kids bird drawing with art gallery shows, hands-on crafts and activities, a bird scavenger hunt and more.
Backyard bird count:
Anyone who can look or listen for birds can take part in a global effort to count birds this month for the Great Backyard Bird Count. As organizers of the Feb. 15-18 event explain: “The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are. Beginning in 2013, GBBC checklists will be accepted from anywhere in the world! Everyone is welcome, from beginning birdwatchers to experts. It takes as little as 15 minutes on one day, or you can count for as long as you like each day of the event. It’s free, fun, and easy—and it helps the birds.”
Learn more at http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc
Monthly Travis Audubon meeting: “On the Trail of a Vanishing Ornithologist”
February 21; social time 6:30 p.m.; program begins at 7. Rissman Hall, First Presbyterian Church, 8001 Mesa Drive. Our February speaker will be Kathleen Kaska, author of “The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane: The Robert Porter Allen Story.” This book, a true story set in the 1940’s and ’50’s, is about Audubon ornithologist Robert Porter Allen, whose mission was to journey into the Canadian wilderness to save the last flock of whooping cranes before encroaching development wiped out their nesting site, sending them into extinction.
Field Trips — Check the Travis Audubon website for details
Super Tuesday! at South Travis County Ponds, led by Ken Zaslow: Tuesday, February 12 – 7:30 am to 10:30am
Hornsby Bend Monthly Bird Walk: Saturday, February 16 – 7:30 to 11:00am
Super Tuesday! At Inks Lake State Park, led by Terry Banks: Tuesday, February 19 – 6:00am to early afternoon
Two-hour Tuesday! At East Metropolitan Park, led by Dan Callaway: Tuesday, February 26 – 7:30am to 9:30am
Compiled by Travis Audubon volunteers Jane Tillman and Raeanne Martinez