Date: 2/5/18 8:59 pm
From: <dmarc-noreply...> (Redacted sender drbirdie for DMARC)
Subject: [texbirds] 2018 SparrowFest Report - an awesome day with 19 sparrow species
Hi Texbirders,
We conducted the 14th annual SparrowFest on Saturday February 3, 2018 at Balcones Canyonlands NWR, and it was awesome!
Even though we missed Eastern Towhee and Swamp Sparrow for the day, Jeff Patterson found a Lark Bunting on our afternoon Peaceful Springs tour for the 19th sparrow species of the day. Jeff and I saw all 19 of them, tying my personal SparrowFest best sparrow day ever.

Continued drought is beginning to become evident on the eastern plateau, but grasses are still in good shape and we had good numbers of birds and excellent variety. I think that every festival participant had good looks at LeConte's Sparrows, which are present in good numbers again. Snd just about everyone got to see Canyon Towhees, which are not always reliable here at the eastern edge of their breeding range in central Texas. Song Sparrows are everywhere, and Vesper Sparrows seem particularly numerous this year. Savannah Sparrows seem less numerous locally than usual, but were still quite evident, providing good opportunity to compare with Vespers.

Many thanks to co-leaders Bill "Spizella" Reiner, Randy "Pink-note" Pinkston and Jeff "Towhee Boy" Patterson. It is a privilege to be able to continue to lead trips with such a talented, dedicated group. And thanks, too, to Jane Brunclik and the other volunteers from Friends of Balcones Canyonlands NWR, who set things up and feed us well.

If the remaining property authorized for Balcones Canyonlands NWR is ever to be acquired, private funding will probably be an important part of the equation. Fundraisers like SparrowFest help further that cause.

Become a member of Friends of Balcones

And you will get email notices of events like Songbird Festival (late April) and of course, SparrowFest (early February next year).

A sparrow list and mention of a few other notable birds follow.

Spotted Towhee - lots & lots, but no EATO among them
Canyon Towhee - Flying X, Peaceful Springs
Rufous-crowned Sparrow - Flying X, Peaceful Springs
Chipping Sparrow - quite a few
Field Sparrow - lots (Balcones Canyonlands CBC often leads the nation for this species)
Vesper Sparrow - abundant this winter
Lark Sparrow - 2 or 3 at Peaceful Springs, one of their winter strongholds
Black-throated Sparrow - 4 or 5, Flying X, Peaceful Springs
Lark Bunting - 1 - Bonus Bird found by Jeff Patterson on the afternoon PS trip
Savannah Sparrow - quite a few
Grasshopper Sparrow - Best at the X, but a few in the morning on Eckhardt tract
Le Conte's Sparrow - Enough for everyone to have great looks!
Fox Sparrow - several, especially Peaceful Springs
Song Sparrow - lots
Lincoln's Sparrow - most trips had a few
White-throated Sparrow - Eckhardt and Peaceful Springs
Harris's Sparrow - Another good winter on the eastern pleateau for this species
White-crowned Sparrow - most trips had several groups. Maybe not as abundant as usual
Dark-eyed Junco - a few Slate-colored at PS

a few other notable birds -
Merlin - Flying X and Peaceful Springs (probably the same bird)
Wild (?) Turkey - heard at eastern Eckhardt in the morning
Blue-headed Vireo - stunning bird in brilliant afternoon light at PS

one participant from Colorado marveled at "all those Red Cardinals," yes we do have those in abundance, too

It was a good day to be a Sparrowhawk!

Good birding ya'll,

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