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  • Cape May Warbler USFWS

    Songbird Fallout in Texas April 26, 1997

    By John A. Whittle, Golden Triangle Audubon Society
    Credits to Gerald Duhon, John Haynes, Steve Kuritz, Ken Sztraky, Jana Whittle and others for reports.

    "This report is not intended as a complete report -- one will appear in the June Newsletter of the Golden Triangle Audubon Society -- but to describe the highlights and noteworthy sightings*. More than 25 species of Warbler seen each day April 25-27.

    "Friday, April 25: Very strong east wind - line of thunderstorms offshore High Island to Galveston in pm, but rest of Gulf across to Yucatan clear of cloud. Rain showers began about 5pm - by 6 pm lack of light and increasing rain made birding impossible. Very severe thunderstorms passed through from 8 pm through the early hours of the morning - 3-4 inches of rain.

    "Many migrants in woods. Yellow Warblers very numerous as were Red-eyed Vireos (with smaller numbers of Warbling, Philadelphia and White-eyed). In excess of 20 Northern Waterthrushes in Sabine Woods (two La. also). Many Black-and-white, Redstarts. Prothonotary, Bay-breasted and Ovenbird common; smaller numbers of Parula, Blackpoll and Cerulean. Indigo Buntings very numerous, along with both Tanagers, Orchard and Baltimore Orioles, Empids, and Ruby-throats.

    "Saturday, April 26: Probably the most extensive grounding of birds this decade. Others have compared to 1988. The variety may even have been greater this time. Strong east wind, becoming northeast. Rain threatened, but held off until late evening, well after dark.

    "Most obvious: Empids and Pewees; Wood Thrush (and Gray-cheeked, Veery, Swainson's); Catbirds; Indigo Bunting. For Warblers - fewer Yellow; same number of No. Waterthrush; more Chestnut-sided, Redstarts, Black and White. Many Hooded (many of them female), and Magnolia began to appear. Ovenbirds in large numbers.

    "Noteworthy: Black-throated Blue (male and female at Sabine Woods); Most birds seemed to feed for a while then and head north despite the winds. On Saturday at 6 pm; flights of birds landed in Sabine Woods from the NORTH. There was visible heavy weather to the north - perhaps arriving migrants thought better of trying to make it to the next woods to the north.

    "Judging from reports, this grounding appears to have been concentrated between High Island and Cameron, LA. Although the landbirds left the coastal woodlots each evening, reports of migrants in backyards in Beaumont (about 35 miles from the Gulf) did not begin until Monday April 28."

    * Locations of Sightings: Sabine Woods is a TOS sanctuary 4.1 miles west of town of Sabine Pass in Jefferson County, Texas. Other location referenced are the willows and tamarisks on south side of Texas 87 just west of the entrance to Sea Rim SP ("The Willows").