Arrow Lakes News
In my last article, I described the excitement we had in finding a new species for B.C., the White-eyed Vireo. But now I am in southern Texas, and this handsome little bird is common down here!
When I went birding with a local birder the other day, the vireo was quickly noted, but didn’t rate a second look. In contrast, the Say’s Phoebe we saw elicited great excitement from my Texas friend — a bird that is of regular occurrence in B.C.. This is one of the exciting things about birding away from home — species very rare, or not seen at all in B.C., can be common-place elsewhere. We’ve been here barely a week, but already I’ve seen a number of species very hard to find at home.
The Great Egret is a tall, white bird in the heron family, very common here, but rarely seen in B.C.. The same can be said for Snowy Egret, White-winged Dove, Black Phoebe, Eastern Phoebe, Tropical Kingbird, Loggerhead Shrike, Western Scrub Jay, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Northern Mockingbird, Black-throated Sparrow, and Lesser Goldfinch; all species we have seen in our first week here. The list of species that are here, but have never been reported in B.C. is even longer! I’m not going to list them all here, but I will discuss a couple of them.
The Golden-fronted Woodpecker has a range in North America restricted to the western half of Texas and down into Mexico. Throughout most of the southern and eastern US, it is replaced by the very similar Red-bellied Woodpecker. The Golden-fronted is the most common woodpecker in the Rio Grande Valley, (where we are currently staying). The only woodpecker in B.C. in the same genus as the Golden-fronted is the Lewis’s Woodpecker. The only other common woodpecker in the Rio Grande Valley is the Ladder-backed. This is also a species with a southern distribution; its range is restricted to Texas, southern New Mexico, most of Arizona, Southern California and extreme southern Nevada. This species is in the same genus as our Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers. The call note of the Ladder-backed is very similar to that of the Downy. There are only two other species of woodpecker that occur here, and they are winter residents only: Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Northern Flicker. The flicker is quite rare here; I have seen it only once in the valley.
In B.C., if you want to attract woodpeckers to a feeder, suet is the best option. But as you can see from this photo, fruit is a better attractant for southern species. Any time we camp in a wooded site, we put out some grapefruit halves; it rarely takes long for the woodpeckers, (and other species) to find it.