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Bird Surveys

Rice University Bird Survey

Leaders: Cin-Ty Lee and Mark Kulstad

Weekly Census on Tuesday Mornings
Next official survey: April 23, 2019

Meet at 7:00 AM in Intramural Field 6, which is 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. Contact: Cin-Ty Lee at ctlee@rice.edu.

Latest Report: April 9, 2019

Jim Winn, Charles Fischer, Stuart Nelson, and I met at 7 AM this morning to conduct the first official Houston Audubon-Rice University bird survey.  We had 35 species of birds. We started at Harris Gully. Dawn is the best time for the birds. Yellow-crowned Night-Herons and one Green Heron flew over. A lingering Sedge and Marsh Wren called from the reeds. Several Swamp Sparrows were in the cattails.  And for the first time ever in 18 years, a male Red-winged Blackbird in bright breeding plumage turned up in the cattails, singing his head off as he was attempting to establish territory. Red-winged Blackbirds are of course not rare at all in Texas, but getting one in the middle of Rice, an urban environment, just shows that small microhabitats can go far for birds.  

After Harris Gully, we wandered over to the oak grove and azaleas by Huff house.  This is usually where warblers find themselves if they are around.  A little bit of work produced Worm-eating, Hooded, Yellow-rumpeds, Northern Parulas, and Black-throated Green Warblers, along with a Red-eyed Vireo.

We then worked our way back to our starting point. Right about when we called it a day, we stumbled across another small flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers. In that flock was a Bell's Vireo, quite a rarity along the upper Texas coast. This represents only the third record ever of a Bell's Vireo at Rice. The other two records were Aug 14, 2013 and April 13, 2016.

All in all, it was a good day. The birds, wildflowers, and pollinators are only going to grow in numbers as we progress into April.  Our next official survey will be April 23. I will send out a reminder for this.

I hope you will join us next time!  In addition to birds, we will look at everything alive as we aim to document biodiversity within this little urban environment.

-- Cin-Ty Lee

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.

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