Winter residents arrive

2007 October 10
by David J. Ringer

DUNCANVILLE, TEXAS — A cool front came through earlier this week, and the weather is much more tolerable — now it’s only in the 80s! This morning, with a temperature near 60, I decided to see whether any winter residents had arrived yet.

They have!

  • Double-crested Cormorant – 35 in a V headed south
  • American Coot – several hundred (numbers have rather suddenly exploded)
  • Northern Flicker – 4 (No, flickers don’t generally breed here, but they are common in winter.)
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet – 3 (To see my first kinglet brought a smile.)
  • American Pipit – 3 (Only two previous reports in the state this season, but today they were seen in several places.)
  • Savannah Sparrow – 7

I still can’t find a Sabine’s Gull at Joe Pool Lake (or much of anything, other than coots), but I did see a flock of about 20 Monk Parakeets fly by. They are well established in the surrounding areas, but I hadn’t seen them from the dam before. With a yellow sea of broomweed behind them, their greens and blues were spectacular.

Related posts:

  1. Winter in the Piney Woods
  2. Warm-winter birds
  3. Sydney residents
  4. Birding on the winter solstice
  5. Taste of winter, taste of fall
2 Responses
  1. October 11, 2007

    You know a lot more about these things than I do, so I thought it prudent to ask…

    I live on White Rock Lake in Dallas. Double-crested cormorants and American coots live here throughout the year (although both enjoy a lot more company during winter!). JPL isn’t all the way across the state from us, yet these birds reside in this area year-round. Is WRL somehow strange in this regard? Do we happen to enjoy a permanent local population of these birds whereas most other areas in the metroplex only see them in winter?

  2. david permalink*
    October 11, 2007

    You are right, Jason, both species occur in small numbers through the summer, but numbers increase dramatically at this time of year as birds that were distributed farther north retreat southward. So that fact that I saw coots and cormorants is not what indicates a change; rather, it is the numbers. Earlier in the season, I was seeing coots by ones and twos on the lake, but now there are hundreds. I still haven’t seen really big numbers of cormorants, but the flock I did see evokes images of winter, when thousands of cormorants will stream across the lake each evening.

    It is possible that WRL holds more coots and cormorants in summer than nearby lakes, like Joe Pool, but I really don’t know the answer to that question. If it is true, it would presumably have something to do with food supply and/or availability (or proximity) of nest sites.

    I checked eBird for some charts. You might find them interesting too. Here’s data for nine counties in this region. The frequency with which the species are reported takes a notable upswing in mid-September. If you take a look at some of the graphs that show actual numbers, rather than just presence/absence (such as “Average Count”), you will see a huge upswing in the number of birds reported per checklist in late September and early October.

    Hope this helps. Thanks for asking.


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