On Sunday morning, I headed to the Rincon Del Diablo to take advantage of the absolutely gorgeous morning.

I wore a mask, on the off chance I would run into someone else while I was there along the creek. I hardly ever do, but I wanted to be prepared.

I know a lot of us are getting out and about again, and there seems to be a sense that the whole COVID-19 thing is over. Sadly, though, that’s not true, and we still need to do what we’ve been doing to protect ourselves and our loved ones – not to mention the community at large – from this disease.

But social distancing is not a problem in the Rincon, as I hardly ever see anyone else there.

The Rincon was alive with birds on Sunday.

The male Morelet’s Seedeater was singing from the carrizo hedge as I got out of the car, and Yellow-breasted Chats called, whistled and clicked from deeper in the cane.

Olive Sparrows also called from deep in the cane, and I spent some time trying to “pish” one out into the open.

Northern Cardinals sang, and in a weedy patch close to the creek, a male Common Yellowthroat chased a female.

I paused to watch a big Ringed Kingfisher fly overhead, the morning air resounding with its loud “machine-gun” rattle of a call.

I spent most of my time along the creek on Sunday wandering here and there, happy to be alive and outside on such a beautiful morning.

On Monday, I got a text from Mack Pusley, one of our local birdwatchers and photographers.

He sent along a photo of a male Western Tanager he’d found in the back yard of his north Del Rio home.

Male Western Tanagers are truly striking birds: Their bodies are covered in bright yellow and black feathers, but their faces are a bright red.

This species of tanager passes through Del Rio occasionally as it migrates to and from its wintering grounds in southern Mexico and Central America and its breeding grounds, which extend from the pine forests of the mountains in far west Texas up the spine of the Rockies into the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

Western Tanagers eat mostly insects, but according to “All About Birds,” Cornell’s bird web site, they will come to backyard feeders offering dried fruit and freshly cut fruit like oranges.

Mack was very excited, as the Western Tanager is a life bird for him, and I was excited for him and happy he shared his find with me so I could share it with all of you.

The lesson here, of course, is keep your eyes peeled for interesting species, no matter where you may be.

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