El Canelo Ranch, morning of 5/19/15

All photos are Marshall Faintich

We had made reservations for the night at the El Canelo Ranch because they are one of the few reliable places in southern Texas to see a Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl. This tiny owl nests next to the inn on the 1400 acre ranch, and is a favorite stopover for birders (and hunters). We got there just before dinner time, and later that evening went out in the dark and saw a pair of Great Horned Owls in the car headlights. The owner cautioned to make sure the door to our guest house was kept closed, or we might get some rattlesnakes wandering into the building.

We got up and out to do some birding before breakfast. There were a good number of Hooded Orioles, a few Golden-fronted Woodpeckers, and some other birds in the area.


Female Golden-fronted Woodpeckers


Male Golden-fronted Woodpeckers


Male Golden-fronted Woodpeckers


Hooded Oriole


Hooded Oriole

I stopped at the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl nesting box just as it emerged.


Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl

After breakfast, Walt and I got some good looks at the owl as it perched in a nearby tree.


Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl


Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl

We birded on the ranch most of the morning, and saw quite a few species, including three more life birds: Green Jay, White-tipped Dove, and Pyrrhuloxia, although it wasn't until later in the trip before I was able to photograph this dove species.


Green Jay


Pyrrhuloxia


Bronzed Cowbird


Vermillion Flycatcher


Crested Caracara


Eurasian Collared Dove


Eurasian Collared Dove


Brown-crested Flycatcher

I photographed a small sparrow on the ranch that still needs to be identified. Two knowledgeable Texas birders think that it is a female House Sparrow, but I have never seen a House Sparrow with a small pink bill. The white eye-ring, inner pale tail feathers with darker outer tail feathers, white covert feather tips, and light breast streaking suggest a juvenile Cassin's Sparrow to me based on my sparrow books, but I can't count this species as a life bird without confirmation as to what species it is. If there are any sparrow experts reading this who can help, please e-mail me.


Unidentified sparrow


Unidentified sparrow


Unidentified sparrow

Once we left the ranch gate, it was a three mile drive to Hwy 77, and we birded from the car as we drove out. We got a good look at a perched Crested Caracara, and saw flying Red-tailed and Swainson's Hawks. I also saw my twelfth life bird of the trip: Couch's Kingbird


Couch's Kingbird


Crested Caracara


Red-tailed Hawk


Swainson's Hawk


Swainson's Hawk

Click here to continue on the trip to the Estero Llano Grande State Park


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