Last weekend we birded High Island (Boy Scout Woods), Bolivar Flats, and Frenchtown Road. Frenchtown Road is an exceptional spot, and almost always the highlight of any Bolivar trip. It is a great spot for Clapper Rails, Whimbrel, and waders and shorebirds hunting prey, especially crustaceans. But, (rather unexpectedly) grass seed-head-chomping Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrows were the highlight of this visit. Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrows breed mostly in Canada, winter along the Gulf Coast, and are not a common sight in Texas—at least not where we usually bird.
Sparrows, in general, may be the least appreciated of birds, and I myself am often guilty of not affording them the respect they deserve. It’s rare for us to plan a trip around sparrows. This is despite their ecological importance and often beautiful earth-tone color schemes. We usually have more glamorous species in mind, like the rock stars of the birding world, the wood warblers when we plan birding trips. I spotted the the Rufous-crowned Sparrow above, for example, on a Central Texas trip centered around finding Golden-cheeked Warblers. Of course, It wouldn’t have hurt our feeling to have spotted Black-capped Vireos, too.
In my own defense, though, we do make an annual pilgrimage to Barfoot Park, in the Coronado National Forest, Arizona to see Yellow-eyed Juncos, an American Sparrow you’re not going to find by accident. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt my feelings to see a few Hepatic Tanagers while we’re there . . . .
I don’t believe in accidents. There are only encounters in history. There are no accidents.—Pablo Picasso
©2014 Christopher R. Cunningham and Elisa D. Lewis. All rights reserved. No text or images may be duplicated or distributed without permission.