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Bird Surveys

Rice University Bird Survey

Leaders: Cin-Ty Lee, Stuart Nelson, and Mark Kulstad

Bi-Weekly Census on Tuesday Mornings
Next survey: November 26, 2019 at 7:30 AM

We're conducting a biweekly census on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month. During migration periods, we may schedule more frequent counts. Meeting time varies with the season. Meet at Intramural Field 6 (coordinates: 29.714622, -95.402109), which is by Harris Gully and between the Tudor Field House and Wiess College. Park in the Moody Center Visitor Lot, which is accessed from the entrance to campus at the intersection of University Blvd and Stockton St. From the Moody Center parking lot, walk east along the paved road past Reckling baseball park to the intramural area. We begin at Harris Gully. From there, we will make a circuit around campus and end at the café at the Brochstein Pavilion. 

If you'd like to participate in the survey, please contact: Cin-Ty Lee at to be put on the mailing list. Our posted schedule is tentative and subject to updates.

Latest Report: November 12, 2019

A very cold morning today, but still a few people showed up! I was joined by Stuart Nelson (co-leader), Sara Bettencourt, student Rosemary Lach and another Rice student. Because it was so cold, we only birded Harris Gully. Bird list is below. The cold front brought in the first White-throated Sparrows, which were in full force in the dense shrubbery. In with the sparrows was a first-year Indigo Bunting and Blue Grosbeak, both rare at this time of the year. Perhaps the most exciting sighting was several flocks of low flying Turkey Vultures headed south early in the morning. I do not recall seeing such large groups of migrating Turkey Vultures this late in the season and so early in the morning without any hint of thermals. It goes to show that there is something new every day. Even common birds like vultures can surprise you.

-- Cin-Ty Lee

Survey Results
White-winged Dove  40
Killdeer  1
Turkey Vulture  40     Remarkable to see several flocks flying low and south across the university. Never seen so many migrating vultures so late. Winds were blowing south. Very cold.
Blue Jay  10
American Crow  3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1
Northern Mockingbird  3
House Sparrow  8
House Finch  2
White-throated Sparrow  3
Great-tailed Grackle  10
Orange-crowned Warbler  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)  1
Northern Cardinal  1
Blue Grosbeak  1     Immature male. Same bird that’s been here for two weeks.
Indigo Bunting  1 

Previous survey reports are on my blog.

Background Information

228 species of birds have been recorded at Rice. It ranks as one of the top migrant traps in Harris County. At the right time of the year and with the right weather patterns, numerous migrating songbirds and sometimes migrating hawks and waders can be seen. For an urban environment, Rice stands out for the number of unusual birds that have shown up over the years. Oddities have included Wood Stork, Zone-tailed Hawk, Harris’s Hawk, Swallow-tailed Kite, American Woodcock, Virginia Rail, Vermilion Flycatcher, Western Kingbird, Calliope Hummingbird, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Rufous Hummingbird, Sprague’s Pipit, Bell’s Vireo, Cassin’s Vireo, Townsend’s Warbler, Eastern Towhee, Grasshopper Sparrow, LeConte’s Sparrow, Clay-colored Sparrow, Harris’s Sparrow, and Western Meadowlark.

The map below shows the meeting location. The coordinates are 29.714735, -95.402145