Recent birds: Ladder-backed Woodpecker and siskins

2007 December 11
by David J. Ringer

DUNCANVILLE, TEXAS — December has been warm. It was 80 degrees on Friday, and Saturday was nearly as hot. I’ve managed a few short birding trips over the last few days, and I’ve seen some good birds.

Monday, I nearly froze during a picnic lunch at Cedar Hill State Park — a cold front had briefly invaded, dropping temperatures into the 30s. A Forster’s Tern fed over the water, calling occasionally. A White-winged Dove fluttered around in the mesquite trees — surprising only because I usually see them in cities and suburbs this far north.

Several dozen Pine Siskins fed in the trees, calling and flitting around.

I had seen them a week earlier, on Monday the third, when I made a morning visit to the park. They are hanging out with House Finches and goldfinches, feeding on sunflower and ragweed heads and, apparently, hackberry fruits. I haven’t been able to spot any Purple Finches or, ahem, redpolls among the flock.

Harris’s Sparrows are present, vocal, and looking fine — oh yes.

Also on the third, I had a male Ladder-backed Woodpecker feeding in the mesquite brush at Joe Pool dam. I had heard that the species ranges as far east as Dallas County, but it was my first encounter with the species here. I was pretty excited. His crest caught the sun and practically glowed. Nice.

Saturday, I birded roads south of Wilmer in southern Dallas County, where I found a few Brewer’s Blackbirds and Eurasian Collared Doves.

Farther south, around Bardwell Lake west of Ennis, I had about 100 white pelicans, several Forster’s Terns, and a flock of about 40 American Pipits. Despite walking several grassy areas, I didn’t find any longspurs or Sprague’s Pipits, but I did do pretty well with sparrows: Swamp (gorgeous), Lincoln’s (exquisite), Song, Savannah, White-crowned, Harris’s, and Field.

Today was wet, warm, and muggy. I watched a gull fly past my office window. I think it’s supposed to get colder again overnight — please!

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One Response
  1. January 7, 2009

    HELLO- I LIVE 4 MILES FROM JONES STATE FOREST IN CONROE TEXAS THAT BOASTS OF THE RARE RED COCKADED WOODPECKER-
    I HAVE IT ON MY LIST OF PLACES TO SEE-I AM NEW TO BIRDING- WE HAVE BEEN SEEING THE SMALL LADDERBACK WOODPECKER AT OUR FEEDERS AND THE RED BELLIED FEMALE
    OUR MAINTANCE MAN WAS HERE OUTSIDE WHEN THEY CLEARED THE LAND FOR A CHURCH ACROSS THE FIELD-HE HEARD THE BIGGEST SCREECH AND SAW 2 RED HEADED WOODPECKERS FLY OFF AS A BIG PINE WAS CUT DOWN-HE SWEARS THEY WERE 12 INCHES LONG
    BUT THE ONES IN MY BOOK ARE SMALLER
    THANKS FOR THE GREAT SITE
    CLAIRE

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