For everything that lives is holy, life delights in life.—William Blake
Having grown up among the frozen wastes of Minnesota during the 1960’s and 1970’s (when it was cold!), it’s always a shock to me how early spring begins here in the Texas subtropics. This year breeding behavior seems to have begun even earlier than usual, probably due to the unusually warm winter weather (82° F in Houston on 2/9/15?). February has barely begun and the air is full of birdsong, the four-note song of the Carolina Chickadee being especially prominent. Northern Cardinals and Carolina Wrens are also singing proudly from the bare branches.
On 2/7/15 I observed a pair of Blue-winged Teal mating on Pilant Lake, BBSP. Blue-winged Teal nest primarily in grassy areas around calm ponds and lakes on the prairies (“pothole prairie” habitat) across North America, especially the upper Midwest. In Texas, Blue-winged Teal breed primarily in the Panhandle, although they are known to breed sporadically along the Upper Texas Coast down to the Rio Grande Valley. Females are known for their secretive nesting behavior, so Blue-winged Teal nests and ducklings are definitely worth keeping an eye out for this spring at BBSP.
Despite the oft-purported “widespread” and “common” nature of the Sora reported in the literature, I am always excited to see these quirky and charming (and often—nay usually—photographically uncooperative) rails. One caught my eye recently along the southern margin of Pilant Lake. This bird saw me and ambled into a hollow patch of brush under a fallen limb and kept an eye on me. This foolish bird thought it could wait me out! Me!
Sure enough, after half an hour the bird gave up on the silly man with the camera and came back out for a sun bath. Interestingly, the spot where the rail rested had two trails of tamped-down grasses leading up to it. The spot had several features in common with published descriptions of nesting sites. Although Sora nests are rare in Texas, and the spot this bird hunkered down in was probably just a hidey-hole, hope springs eternal that I found a nesting site, and I’ll keep my eye on it in the weeks to come.
©2015 Christopher R. Cunningham. All rights reserved. No text or images may be duplicated or distributed without permission.