This is the Austin Area Rare Bird Alert for the week of 3/15/2020 through 3/22/2020. To report rare or unusual bird sightings in the Austin area, provide recent sighting updates, or inquire about location details on birds listed below, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If submitting a bird sighting, please include species name, location details, and contact information. County names below appear in italics. Abbreviations are as follows: SP = State Park; NWR = National Wildlife Refuge; NHP = National Historic Park; WMA = Wildlife Management Area; SH = State Highway; CR = County Road; WTP = Wastewater Treatment Plant.
At least 3 WESTERN GREBES continued at Lake Buchanan, Llano, through 3/22. A small group of up to one dozen has wintered at this location.
A COMMON LOON continued at Bob Wentz Windy Point Park on Lake Travis, Travis, through 3/16.
Two ANHINGAS were photographed at Soil Conservation Site 13a Reservoir in Williamson on 3/19.
An immature ZONE-TAILED HAWK was superbly photographed perched along the Colorado River at Emma Long Metro Park, Travis, on 3/17.
A rare spring transient SHORT-EARED OWL was spooked from the tallgrass prairie at Louis René Barrera Indiangrass Preserve near Walter E. Long Lake, Travis, on 3/17.
The resident pair of BLACK PHOEBES continued at Hamilton Pool, Travis, through 3/19.
The most recent report of the wintering SAY’S PHOEBE at Lakeway City Park, Travis, was on 3/16.
At least one VERMILION FLYCATCHER (female) continued at Devine Lake Park in Williamson through 3/22.
Another very early GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER was heard and briefly glimpsed at Arrow Point Trail in Cedar Park, Williamson, on 3/17.
A COUCH’S KINGBIRD returned to Leander, Williamson, on 3/22 with one at Devine Lake Park.
HUTTON’S VIREOS have been reported at various locations around Travis, with seemingly greater numbers than usual so far this spring.
The undisputed rarity of the year, not only for the Austin Area, but in all of Texas, has been the long-staying WHITE WAGTAIL at Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Metro Park, Travis. It continued through 3/22. It is most reliably observed from the bluff overlooking the river at these coordinates: 30°14’42.4″N 97°41’55.7″W. Morning and afternoon/ evening visits have proven fruitful.
A GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE was well described from the Painted Bunting Trail at Guadalupe River SP, Comal, on 3/19. A GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE continued at the St. Andrew’s Episcopal School Nature Trail, Travis, as of 3/18. Access to this site is now prohibited unless you are given advanced permission.
A male EASTERN TOWHEE continued at Commons Ford Ranch Metro Park, Travis, through 3/22. When it is seen, it is most reliable in the shrub-scrub along the river trail. A female towhee that is likely a hybrid EASTERN X SPOTTED was documented at Emma Long Metro Park on 3/22. White spots on the tertials and more extensive white in the primaries eliminate pure Eastern.
A solitary AUDUBON’S ORIOLE was described from Thomas’ Prairie at Warbler Woods, Guadalupe, on 3/20.
A territorial male YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER returned to Commons Ford Ranch Metro Park, Travis, on 3/15 and continued through 3/22. Two, and as many as 3, male Yellow-throated Warblers are on territory at Emma Long Metro Park, also in Travis.
A very rare PALM WARBLER was described from a private backyard in Georgetown, Williamson, on 3/20.
A male PYRRHULOXIA was discovered at Emma Long Metro Park, Travis, on 3/10 and continued through 3/22.
A female-type SUMMER TANAGER was reported from a private ranch in Bastrop on 3/22. The typical average spring arrival for the species is early April and the vast majority of the early vanguard are adult males.
IMPORTANT CLOSURE NOTICES:
Hornsby Bend WTP and CER are closed indefinitely.
Hamilton Pool County Park is closed indefinitely.
State Parks and County Parks remain open but with limited to no access to offices and amenities.
Pictured above: Short-eared Owl by Sylvia Hunt