What to Watch For in May
Here is the Central Texas bird forecast for the month of May, courtesy of Travis Audubon. Learn more about Central Texas birds and bird-related events for all ages at www.travisaudubon.org or call 512-300-BIRD. Travis Audubon can be followed at Twitter@TravisAudubon or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/travisaudubon.
Yellow Warbler – Photo by Aaron E. Giroux
Having left the tropics, warblers are on their way to nesting grounds up north and many will pass through Austin in May. This month’s strong southern breezes are like a conveyor belt. They can carry these small songbirds, which normally fly 10-30 mph, at ground speeds approaching 90 mph across the Gulf of Mexico, according to research. This significantly reduces the energy required to make the 600-mile trans-Gulf journey.
If these nighttime migrants don’t collide with oil rigs or cruise ships, they have a good chance of making it to the coast or further inland before stopping to rest and feed. Late cold fronts, however, play havoc with migration by causing “fallouts,” in which exhausted birds literally fall out of the sky onto coastal lands or into the Gulf.
American Redstart – Photo by William H. Majoros via Creative Commons
Warblers including the American Redstart, Magnolia, Blackburnian, Chestnut-sided, Bay-breasted and Yellow will be arriving through mid-May from as far away as Brazil and Peru. These birds don’t announce themselves, so it’s necessary to look for them. The Blackburnian and American Redstart forage high in the canopy, while the Yellow, Magnolia, Chestnut-sided and Bay-breasted are more easily seen in mid-story trees and shrubs—eye level or higher.
Chestnut-sided Warbler – Photo by William H. Majoros via Creative Commons
Search along wooded creeks and greenbelts where native trees like oaks and hackberries grow, and listen for unfamiliar songs like the “sweet, sweet, sweet I’m so sweet” of the Yellow Warbler. (Visit Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s “All About Birds” website to hear recordings of each species.)
Get outdoors to enjoy and wonder at these amazing little birds, traveling on a wing and a prayer.
Travis Audubon May Meeting
“Wildlife conservation Issues in Texas: What does the future hold?”
Thursday, May 16, 2013; 7 p.m. (doors open 6:30 p.m.) at First Presbyterian Church, 8001 Mesa Dr.
John Davis, wildlife diversity program director for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, highlights the amazing array of habitats and species found throughout Texas. Preserving these natural treasures means overcoming serious challenges. Davis discusses possible ways to secure a solid future for Texas wildlife.
May is Bird-a-Thon Month
Support teams of birders and help Travis Audubon raise funds for classes and conservation programs. Each team competes to locate as many bird species as possible, with prizes going to the winners. To participate or make a pledge, visit http://travisaudubon.org/events/bird-a-thon-2013.
Travis Audubon Field Trips (beginning birders welcome)
Since May is the season for bird migration, all field trips may not be listed here. For more information, see http://travisaudubon.org/get-outdoors/field-trips.
Beginners Bird Walk at Riata Pond
Saturday, May 4; 7:30am to 9:30am
Laguna Gloria with Sam Fason
Sunday, May 5; 8:45am to 10:45am
Commons Ford Bird Walk with Diane Sherill
Sunday, May 5; 7:30am to 11:30am
Super Tuesday! at Berry Springs Park, led by Dan Callaway
Tuesday, May 7; 7am to 11:30am
Monthly Bird Count at Hornsby Bend
Saturday, May 11; 7am & 4pm
Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge
Sunday, May 12; 7:15am to 11:30am
Copperfield Nature Trails
Sunday, May 12; 7am to 11:30am
Super Tuesday! in Bastrop County, led by Terry Banks
Tuesday, May 14; 5:45am to early afternoon
Hornsby Bend Monthly Bird Walk
Saturday, May 18; 7:30am to 11am
Travis County East Metro Park
Saturday, May 18; 7am to 11am
Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge: Native Plant Walk
Sunday, May 19; 9am to 1pm
Sunday, May 19; 7am to10:30am
Super Tuesday! at Commons Ford Ranch Park, led by Deb and Lee Wallace
Tuesday, May 21; 6:30am to 10am
Compiled by Travis Audubon volunteers Jane Tillman and Jorjanna Price