Foam Lake Birding No. 67

No. 67
Hello from Texas. We had a great trip down with no weather problems of any kind. Never having driven this far south in November, I paid particular attention to the changes in the weather, and of course, the birds. The daytime highs of the low teens (in places) and lows (near freezing) did not vary that much from home until we reached Austin, TX, where temperatures started to rise above that. In Weslaco the temperatures have been in the mid to upper 20sC.
From Foam Lake to Minot, ND, the weather was consistently a few degrees above freezing in the daytime and a few degrees below freezing in the nighttime. With the exception of large bodies of water, all the sloughs and potholes had a thin layer of ice covering them with the resultant lack of water fowl. After crossing the Continental Divide between Minot and Bismarck, the weather seemed to be the same but the small sloughs were not frozen over. Perhaps the nighttime temperatures did not drop as low as they did just a little further north. In any case, geese, ducks and coots were plentiful.
From southern South Dakota to Nebraska, Red Tailed hawks were everywhere. Red Winged Blackbirds, Kestrels and Mourning Doves were still in Nebraska awaiting the colder weather before migrating further south. Once we got to Oklahoma, Turkey Vultures and Crows were common. Incidentally, the state of Oklahoma and adjacent territories are the wintering grounds of the crows that breed on the prairies in the summertime.
Once we got to Texas, we started to see birds that are representative of that part of North America. A few representative species were Caracaras, Chachalacas, Green Jays, Kiskadees and White Tipped Doves to name a few.
This week’s featured bird is very common in thickets around here, but is not found anywhere else in North America. This drab little Mexican bird is the Olive Sparrow, so named because of its overall colour. Although common, it is not easily seen, because it is a ground feeder that is constantly in motion searching for food under brush and deadfalls. Trying to spot one is like trying to spot a mouse. Though not easily seen it gives its position away by its song during the breeding season. Its song is a series of chips that start of slowly and quickly speed up ending in a crescendo much like a dropped ping pong ball coming to a stop.
This week’s picture was taken from a blind near a water feature. Even so its furtive nature resulted in only one good photo out of many taken. Enjoy.