Late on Saturday, I picked up another life bird in the Rio Grande Valley - a Bronzed Cowbird. I know, cowbirds are not people's favorite bird, and yes, behind the bronzie you can also see a Brown-headed Cowbird. What can I say? We tend to overlook the blackbirds, but there can occasionally be a different one mixed in. BTW, remember that orioles and meadowlarks are also blackbirds.
We took the bird festival trip to Laguna Atascosa NWR on Saturday - a day of exceptional birding, even though we did miss the Alpomado Falcon. One of the dramas we watched was this Caspian Tern with a fish in its beak being chased by another tern, probably a youngster looking to steal or be fed.
There were large flocks of Long-billed Curlews, along with many other shorebird species and most of the waders.
The Great-tailed Grackle is hardly anybodies' favorite bird, but it is a southern species, and abundant. A bird may not have flashy colors, or the perilous circumstance of being rare or lost, but that doesn't mean that it should not be photographed or even appreciated from time to time.
The Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival has been a treat, with exceptional leaders on every trip. They confirm what I have occasionally said or written - that there are more exceptionally skilled birders alive today than there have ever been in history. Even the icon of birding, John James Audubon, could not hold a candle to the skill of today's field birders. In part that is because his only equipment was a shotgun. The optical equipment of modern birding, combined with knowledge, experience, and skill in visual and auditory identification, has seldom been matched in the past, and then by only a handful. Today there are many handfuls of these talented birders, and we have had the chance to bird the last three days with a few of them.
Sunday we will be on our own. Good birding wherever you may be.