• Bird of the Week: Ruby-throated Hummingbird

    By Abby West Feature photo by Tibor Nagy Flashes of red and green whiz by our back patio and my kids run out shrieking, “the hummers are back!” The arrival of the Ruby-throated hummingbirds marks the beginning of summer in our backyard, although hummingbirds arrive from their wintering range in Mexico or Central America here […]

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  • Bird of the Week: Crested Caracara

    By Abby West Lead Photo by Suzie McCann Crested caracaras are noticeable– photos of them intermittently pop up in my neighborhood group typically captioned something like, “what is this weird looking bird?” My neighbors aren’t wrong: they look like weird vultures but with flattened heads, sporting their signature black crest (aka fohawk) and donning a […]

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  • Bird of the Week: Monk Parakeet

    By Abby West Monk parakeets are an Austin favorite, giving an ordinary stroll around Townlake an exotic feel with their bright green feathers, hooked orange beaks and tropical-sounding call. They look exactly like escaped pets because they are (at least, descendants of escaped pets). Native to temperate low-lands in South America, a few rogue parrots […]

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  • Bird of the Week: Northern Cardinal

    By Abby West Northern cardinals are a gateway bird, introducing many of us to the nerdy and fascinating world that is bird watching. That bright red flash has caught many an eye and led us into the realization that this world, as it turns out, is full of all kinds of interesting birds. Cardinals are […]

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  • Image courtesy of Alabama Ag Extension

    Bird of the Week – Barred Owl

    Image courtesy of Alabama Ag Extension By Abby West Owls have captured the imagination of humans for thousands of years, apparently striking fear, or at the very least a kind of reverence into our hearts. For centuries, Native cultures across the world have crafted this reverence into stories where owls embody restless spirits of the […]

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  • Bird of the Week: Spotted Towhee

    Photo by Gregory Vinyard Written by Abby West Hiking around with my family at Enchanted Rock last January, we were all startled by a sudden flurry of leaf litter that shot out at us from beneath some bushes several feet away. Kneeling down, I took a peek under the brush, expecting to see a fidgety […]

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  • Bird of the Week – Ruby-Crowned Kinglet

    Photo by Kenneth Cole Schneider By Abby West We’ve camped at Enchanted Rock at least once every year for the past ten years. Except this time, I’d been paying attention to birds for the better part of a year and every glimpse of an unfamiliar bird sent me feverishly thumbing through my David Sibley book […]

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  • Bird of the Week: Downy Woodpecker

    Photo by Evan Lipton Downy woodpeckers can be found here in Central Texas year-round. Downy woodpeckers are common in any woods, especially near rivers or groves of deciduous trees. Perhaps this is not the right crowd for this confession, but here goes: if you’re anything like me all woodpeckers look more or less.. the same. […]

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  • Bird of the Week: Green Heron

    Photo by Daniel VanWart Let me introduce you to the Green Heron, my favorite bird. The few times I’ve mentioned this fact to my friends after we spot one wading in the reeds or flying overhead they look at me.. puzzled. That’s because at first glance or from a distance, these birds look drab and […]

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  • Bird of the Week: Belted Kingfisher

    Photo credit: Johann Schumacher Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) By Abby West There’s no shortage of gorgeous photos of kingfishers on the internet. These peculiar birds fly sort of like a hummingbird, dive a little like an osprey, and burrow like a mole. Not to mention they are vibrantly colored and interesting to look at because […]

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  • Bird of the Week: Zone-tailed Hawk

    A Zone-tailed Hawk in flight. Photo by Erick Houli. Before either of us got interested in bird-watching, my husband had a funny habit of hollering, “Look! An eagle!” at every vulture he spotted in the sky. That is, it was funny the first time or two. After a while it got old, and I told […]

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  • Bird of the Week: Turkey Vulture

    Photo courtesy of South Dakota Turkey Vultures (Facebook). Another name for Turkey vulture is Cathartes Aura- emanating catharsis; purifying breeze. Catharsis: to purify, to purge. Perhaps vultures are the emblem of purity, which of course, would mean we’ve had it all wrong. Here in Central Texas, Turkey Vultures are ubiquitous and easy to spot. You’re […]

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  • Bird of the Week: Black-crested Titmouse

    Black-crested Titmouse (Baeolophus atricristatus) Black-crested Titmice like it hot – at least that’s how it seems when comparing their range to their cousins, the Tufted Titmouse, who occupy the entirety of the eastern half of the United States. Tufted and Black-crested Titmice diverged around 250,000 years ago, but often hybridize here in Central Texas where […]

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  • Bird of the Week: Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

    Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (Tyrannus forficatus) Annie Dillard once wrote, “beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” It’s a sentiment I have come to live by, to help me open my eyes to the daily miracles around me. For me, Scissor-tailed […]

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  • Bird of the Week: American Crow

    Photo credit: Andy Reynolds. American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) “A large, long-legged, thick-necked bird with a heavy, straight bill…American Crows are very social, sometimes forming flocks in the thousands…They thrive around people, and you’ll often find them in agricultural fields, lawns, parking lots, athletic fields, roadsides, towns, and city garbage dumps.” – The Cornell Lab Chances […]

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