Monday, November 24, 2014

Nov 24 (Day 328) - Red-billed pigeon, Round 1

Red-billed pigeon is a Central American species that reaches its northern limit right at the Rio Grande. There is generally a single strategy to finding this species, and it entails pulling up a piece of riverbank and waiting. The key thing appears to be the time of day as the birds fly up and down the river during the very early morning hours. I saw this bird in Salineno on my 2008 South Texas trip, and it was here that I started the search today. I had to ride 30 miles from Zapata to Salineno, so I missed the all important early morning hours today. I was joined for the entire day by Texas birder Bill Sain. Bill and I birded together at Sabine Woods in April, and we have kept in close contact for most of the year. We spent the entire day rapping shop (talking) as we bounced between the riverbank and the Salineno bird feeding station jut a few feet up the hill. It was an incredibly nice, relaxing day or birding. I did not, however, find the pigeon despite scanning the river until sunset.

41 miles today

The Rio Grande at Salineno

Looking for this bird is sort of frustrating since there is little I can do to improve my odds of finding it. There are a few other nearby points at which the river can be accessed, but Salineno is as good as any of them. The problem is that I feel sort of helpless since I just have to wait for one to fly by my vantage point. It's not as though I can try another area since access is so limited, nor can I hike further or harder as I could for some other birds. I just have to sit and see what happens. The other consideration is that I am unlike to add anything else while I sit and wait. I will say that today was filled with raptors as I saw Black vulture, Turkey vulture, Crested caracara, Osprey, Red-tailed hawk, Harris's hawk, Zone-tailed hawk, Gray hawk, Sharp-shinned hawk, and American Kestrel. The Salineno feeders hosted all the usual suspects: sparrows, doves, chachalacas, jays, woodpeckers, kiskadees, orioles, and so forth.

Plain chachalaca - I had a heard-only one of these yesterday

Green jay

White-tipped dove

Clay-colored sparrow

Common ground-dove

Altamira oriole 

Golden-fronted woodpecker

I am going to make a nice early start to try for the pigeon again tomorrow. Should I not find it, things will get interesting. The town of Salineno has got nothing going on. There is one small store that sells candy and chips and crap (guess what I had for lunch). I am staying in another cluster of houses called "Falcon Heights". There is nothing here either. No restaurants. There is one "grocery store" (with two small shelves of food) where I bought dinner: a loaf of bad bread, peanut butter, a can of spaghetti-o's, and a box of cupcakes. Both breakfast and lunch will be peanut butter sandwiches and whatever cupcakes I don't eat tonight. I hope like hell I find this bird so I can get the heck out of here and back to civilization. McDonald's looks 5 star compared to this. If I miss the pigeon tomorrow, I think I am willing to spend 1 more night here tomorrow. I could then take one last crack at the bird Wednesday morning before I head east. It totally sucks to leave this bird since I have so few left to find. This is my only shot at this bird, but given the food situation, the fact that I am paying for each night and not enjoying the area, and that I have zero control over finding the bird since all I can do it wait for 2 hours each morning, getting out of here is really priority number 1. Oh yeah, the motel at which I am staying is cash only!??! WTF?!?! They wanted $60, and I could only come up with $58. The nearest ATM is 20 miles away! Of course they took what I had since I'm the only one here! I now have no cash left. This is not a good position to be in considering that credit apparently does not fly everywhere around here. The only other motel in town does takes credit but looks less-than-savory (i.e. nasty). Sounds sweet, huh?


  1. Oh man, that food situation sounds rough! Hang in there...plenty of good food ahead in the urban LRGV but you need to get the pigeon first!

  2. I think I've stayed at that motel! Cash and no personal info requested. Hang in there.

  3. When I say bush, you say jump! BUSH!!!

  4. Japanese Murrelet at Pt Reyes. If it overwinters, maybe you could swing back after the LRGV?