March Bird ForecastMarch 7th, 2013 at 12:05 am by Jim Spencer under Weather
What to Watch For In March
Golden-cheeked Warblers, Swallows and Sandhill Cranes
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.
Returning Endangered Golden-cheeked Warblers
This small songbird winters in Mexico and Central America. The males will be arriving any day now, usually about a week before the females. While you probably won’t see them in your backyard, you can look for them in oak-juniper parkland on the west side of Austin, particularly at the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. The males will be singing from the treetops, setting up their territories. Every single one of these birds is a native Texan, born here in a 33–county area of central Texas. We will be graced with their bright yellow cheeks through July. If you have always wanted to see a Golden-cheeked Warbler, mark your calendar for an open house at Travis Audubon’s Baker Sanctuary April 13, or register now for a field trip at the Balcones Songbird Festival, April 26-29. Visit http://www.friendsofbalcones.org/festival
Swallows and More Swallows
More visible birds arriving now are our elegant Barn and Cliff Swallows. The Cliff Swallows will settle underneath overpasses, ready to raise a brood. Barn Swallows alternately enchant and aggravate their human landlords as they try to build cup-shaped nests under covered porches. Both swallow species are aerial foragers. Barn Swallows fly low over land and water catching insects while Cliff Swallows fly much higher. Good places to look for swallows are Lady Bird Lake and any bridge near water, where they can get mud for nest building.
Barn and Cliff Swallows, as well as the Golden-cheeked Warblers, are all keeping their feathers crossed that the weather will be mild this month, so they don’t go hungry.
Sandhill Cranes on the Move
Big noticeable birds that you might see this month are Sandhill Cranes on their way to Nebraska’s Platte River Valley where more than 500,000 congregate before heading further north to their breeding grounds. These birds have a haunting primitive call that you often hear first. Look up and try to spot the flock of high-flying large grayish birds with dark wingtips. Their long necks will be extended, and their long legs trailing. Often these cranes fly in a V-shaped formation. Did you know that Sandhill Cranes can live for 20 to 25 years, and they stay with their mates year-round?
Travis Audubon Monthly Meeting
“The Birdchasers: 53 Years of Birds and Birding at Hornsby Bend”
Thursday, March 21 Social time at 6:30 p.m. Meeting begins at 7 p.m.
Rissman Hall, First Presbyterian Church, 8001 Mesa Drive (near Spicewood Springs Road)
Hornsby Bend has played a key role in Austin birding history as a special place for birding. Over the decades, many rare birds have been documented and many birdchasing adventures (and misadventures) have occurred there. Dr. Kevin Anderson will share tales and images of Hornsby Bend birds and birdchasers while discussing the environmental history of this famous 1200-acre site along the Colorado River.
Field Trips — Check the Travis Audubon website for details
Copperfield Nature Trails
Saturday, March 9: 7 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Two-hour Tuesday! at Hutto Lake Park
Tuesday, March 12: 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Hornsby Bend Monthly Bird Walk
Saturday, March 16: 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Super Tuesday! At Palmetto State Park
Tuesday, March 19: 6:00 a.m. to early afternoon
Become a Habitat Steward
If you are interested in attracting birds and butterflies to your yard, join this Travis Audubon-supported training, and be a leader in gardening for wildlife. http://austintexas.gov/department/wildlife-austin
Compiled by Travis Audubon Volunteers Jorjanna Price and Jane Tillman