Dusky-capped Flycatcher in Texas

by Dave Dolan on March 3, 2012

I was trying to decide what I was going to do last weekend, when I came across the Estero Llano Grande facebook page that proclaimed that there was a Dusky-capped Flycatcher just found on location. It was vocalizing and showing very nicely, and there was even a video of it posted later that day. I decided that I would have to make a quick run to the valley to see this bird. This was the same species that I was looking for at the Sabal Palm Bird Sanctuary last month.  This bird is supposed to be in Mexico, or at least Arizona! Why are they showing up in southeast Texas?

If that wasn’t enough of a reason to go on this trip, another bird at the same location is the Rose-throated Becard, which has been at Estero since I was there in November.  I have been back three times since, but have not been able to find it.  That is two great birds in one place!  What more could you want?   I left after work on Thursday and drove the six plus hours to Weslaco.

After a 5 hour sleep, I got to the park early and started walking around listening for the whiny call of the flycatcher while looking for any bird larger than a house sparrow. The female becard is a very light tan bird with a dark cap that has a blocky body and is a liitle bigger than a House Sparrow. This particular bird is molting right now and only has one tail feather, so it looks even blockier.

The Dusky-capped Flycatcher was found multiple times throughout the day. I was unable to get as nice of pictures as I would have liked because of the lack of sunshine, but I was happy to see this great bird.  It was only seen from 2/18- 2/21, so it was definitely a good decision to make the trip!

Dusky-capped Flycatcher

Dusky-capped Flycatcher

Dusky-capped Flycatcher

The becard had been seen regularly in the late afternoon, so I went down the road to the Frontera Audubon Center, where I saw the Golden-crowned Warbler, to try to get some pictures of it. There was a group from Minnesota that I had birded with at Estero, who went to Frontera before I did and had good looks at the warbler. I wasn’t so lucky. After looking for a couple of hours, I went back to Estero to find that they had not seen the becard yet. I walked around for awhile and decided to go to see what was on the ponds. I got some pictures of some of the ducks on the pond, including a video of a Canvasback with a strange behavior. She would paddle her feet and then dive below to feed.

Canvasback feeding behavior

Canvasback

Canvasback

Ring-necked Duck

Gadwall

Cinnamon Teal

Green-winged Teal

Least Grebe

I spent the rest of the day looking for the becard, and left just before dusk. I thought that I was the last person there, but the next day I was told that the becard showed up just after I left.

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