Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Roy G. Guerrero Park

Alright, I want to talk about a good birding spot in Austin, Roy G. Guerrero Park.  Why is it so good?  It's about 15 minutes from my house.  It can be birded in 20 minutes or 4 hours.  It has a history of turning up good stuff (recently Brown Pelican, Reddish Egret, Tricolored Heron, and Prairie Warbler, and I've heard that someone once had an American Dipper here many, many years ago).  It is the easiest and sometimes only place for certain birds (Ringed Kingfisher, Couch's Kingbird).  And, it's just got a lot of cool birds.  In the winter, there are a ton of ducks and waders, in migration there are good amounts of songbirds.  So, if there are any local birders that read this, go bird Roy G. Guerrero.  Find something cool and let me chase it.  Anyways, Sunday morning was spent at Roy G. Guerrero.  Here's some shit from there.

Belted Kingfisher - These birds are always flying up and down the river.  I also had a flyby of its much more sought after kin, Ringed Kingfisher.
Great Blue Heron
Lesser Scaup
Gadwall - Of note are the white inner secondaries on both birds and the chestnut patch on the lesser secondary coverts of the dude.  Dramatic.
Northern Pintail
The Downy Woodpeckers at Guerrero are notorious for sticking out their tongues.
Green-winged Teal
So, in Travis county, we get both Double-crested and Neotropic Cormorants.  Guerrero is a good place to get looks at both species side by side.  Here's what to look for.  Double-crested is considerably larger, although that doesn't mean much when a single bird is flying over.  Neotropics have a longer tail, as long as their necks, so in flight, they look like a plus sign, while Double-cresteds look like an upside down cross.  Neotropics have limited orange in their facial patterns, and they form a V at the gape of the mouth.  Double-cresteds have much more facial skin, and it usually includes the lores.  So, there you go.  Illustrations follow.

Here's a good look at the size difference between Double-crested and Neotropic Cormorants.
Comparison of facial skin patterns - Neotropic is the near bird.
The proportional length between the tail an the neck are important.  Double-crested.
So, that's Guerrero.  Also, there are lots of homeless camps.


  1. Cool, I didn't know Neotropics are so much smaller. Osprey in winter, so weird. Oh and nice 'pecker tongue.

  2. Homeless camps at a park in Austin? No way!

    There are some sweet shots in here, including my first ever Robert Downy Jr. Woodpecker tongue.
    The comparison Cormorant shots are really nice, some of the best side-by-sides I've seen. It looks like you've got all your ducks in a row too...chortle chortle chortle

    So, have you ever had a 3 Kingfisher day at Roy Guerrero's?

    1. Thanks. Never had the Kingfisher trifecta in the county. Green Kingfisher can be super tough.

  3. Great shots! I've gotten some Red-bellied tongue before...but never some Downy! Nice! Interesting to see the cormorant size differences.