Beatnik Birding: Central Texas

by Bryce W. Robinson

Scissor-tail Flycatcher- Tyrannus forficatus

Scissor-tail Flycatcher- Tyrannus forficatus

Out of Arizona, I streamed through dust storm upon dust storm. After the road ran the dust out, I knew I was in the great and free state of Texas. I had my heading pointed to a small nowhere town in west central Texas, to meet with Caitlin Davis. She was working on a Northern Bobwhite project in the area, and I was to lend a hand for a week and prepare to take the behemoth GRE in Abilene.

It was a great reunion, but I was in shock with where I had landed myself. Trucks trucks and trucks. It was the land of trucks. But, there were some redeeming qualities of the land, and they were all birds. While heading to the lab to band a covey of Bobwhite, I saw my first Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. I’ll remember that bird for time and all eternity. They sail through the Texas desert, grossly beautiful and calling for all attention; the bird certainly catches mine.

The project that Caitlin was working for used funnel traps to capture the Bobwhite. This provided a fun task of checking the traps twice a day for birds. There was always the excitement of the unknown that we might catch in the traps. My favorite was the Roadrunner. I had always wanted to experience this bird in hand.

The Beatnik Birder and the Roadrunner- Geococcyx californianus

The Beatnik Birder and the Greater Roadrunner- Geococcyx californianus

There were a great deal of Roadrunners bee-boppin around the Texas desert. I love watching the runners as they negotiate the desert terrain at top speed. Often, they stop atop a perch, and look about.


Greater Roadrunner- Geococcyx californianus

All in all, it was a strange time in the rural country of the cowpoke state. I saw some great birds, met some strange folk, and took the GRE. Afterwards, the road continued south, and I settled into the hill country.