Abilene Texas might not be the first location a birder would think to take a birding trip. It might not even rank in the top 50 for most Texas birders. But, why do we bird in the first place? Ask ten birders that question, and you will get ten different sets of answers. For most of us, it boils down to the following reasons: 1) birds are just fun to watch 2) finding a rarity is ...
Abilene in Spring
One of the many pleasures of birding is seasonal change. You can visit the same location at a different time of year and experience a new landscape with some new birds. After enjoying the winter TOS meeting, I was excited to return and see what pleasures Abilene in May might offer. According to the total trip report, our group observed 186 species May 4-7, 2023. In addition, there were beautiful sunrises, wildflowers in abundance, great speakers, good friends, and plenty of sunshine!
Although winter birding has its own charms, bird song in the spring adds immeasurably to the delight of the sport. The singing Grasshopper Sparrows and Cassin’s Sparrows were among the stars of the show this meeting. In Runnels County, driving along country roads we had a conservative count of 21 singing Cassin’s and 8 Grasshopper Sparrows in a little over an hour! A Black Crowned Night Heron posed for photos in a riot of spring color.
The following day in Shackelford County we had the privilege of birding a private ranch where a Cassin’s Sparrow skylarked as the day was breaking. Clay-colored Sparrow perched long enough for photos in morning light. Chimney Creek Ranch is a family owned property that takes conservation and prairie restoration seriously. Much of the history of the place has been preserved in collections and restoration work.
Speaking of ranching, I was inspired by Anita Hoskins talk about how Audubon Texas, through their Private Lands program, is helping landowners find conservation solutions and bridging the gap between agriculture and grassland bird conservation. The Audubon Certified Beef program is a step in the right direction.
On Saturday night Laura Keene was keynote speaker. She shared with us her photographic big year in 2016 when she photographed as many birds in the ABA area as possible. It was a remarkable and moving story of joy, adventure, and the healing power of nature. Her photographs were a beautiful accompaniment to a well told and moving story.
Although I’m a casual Century Club lister, by returning to Abilene in the spring I finished up two more counties. For lots of reasons, it’s great to see a place in more than one season.
Texas Ornithological Society
Welcome to the Amazing World of Texas Birds!
If you love birds, Texas is definitely the place for you! With eight different geographical regions to explore, each offering its own, unique wildlife environment; more than 660 species to be discovered; and a location adjacent to the tropical regions of Mexico and Central America, you never know what you might see when you grab your binoculars and head out!
Texas Ornithological Society is proud to promote the discovery, knowledge, observation and conservation of birds in Texas since 1953.