WIRED TO NATURE • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Look up these winged winter
visitors to West U (literally)
By Eric Duran
here in the Houston area and at the Nature
Discovery Center. Most of our fall migrants have
Central America. Many of the birds that spend the winter in
our area have begun to arrive. In recent days, we’ve seen some
of these much-anticipated migrant birds moving around the
park, many right out in the front yard area of the Nature Center.
Today, we’ll take a look at a few of these wintering birds.
Pine Warblers (Dendroica pinus) breed in the eastern United
States from East Texas to New England, but we don’t really
have them here in the Houston area until winter. As the name
would suggest, the bird is heavily associated with pine trees,
where they nest and search for food under bark and in pine
cones. They have a varied diet of seeds, berries and insects.
As with most new world wood warblers, the yellowy males are
more vibrantly colored than the females.
Ruby-crowned Kinglets (Regulus calendula) are often found
feeding on sugar water from hummingbird feeders (put out for
winter hummingbirds like Rufous and Black-chinned Hummers)
in our park during the winter. The small gray kinglets
are easily recognized with their black and white wing bars, but
the small ruby colored crest on the top of the head is not always
easy to spot. When the birds are active and excited, they may
raise it up for you. They are bold little birds, often approaching
birdwatchers out of curiosity or to scold them away. Kinglets
are common here in the winter, but during the breeding season,
they completely disappear from this part of the country as they
breed in the Rocky Mountain corridor of the western United
er nectar, insects, tree sap and berries.
One of our favorite winter woodpeckers is the Yellow-bellied
Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius), which feeds on tree sap by
making holes or sap wells in a variety of trees. They maintain
these patches of sap wells, pecking at them occasionally to
keep them running, and defending them from other birds. The
males are more colorfully marked than the females, and they
can be somewhat territorial, even in winter. These woodpeckers
also feed on the insects that come to consume the sap from the
So, those are just a few of the winter birds we’ve seen recently
at the Nature Discovery Center, and hopefully, you’ll come out
to the park soon and see some of them for yourself — and keep
an eye open for them throughout West University. Remember,
it’s not just parks that have wintering birds — you may have
them visiting your yard, as well. Birdfeeders and bird baths are
a great way to invite them close to your home.
If you’d like to learn more about our wintering birds, our next
free guided Winter Bird Walk is Feb. 7 from noon-1:30 p.m. Call
(713) 667-6550 for more info.
ENDORSED BY GOV. GREG ABBOTT
RESULTS, NOT RHETORIC.
SUSANNA DOKUPIL is exactly who we
business owner and mother of four,
liberal obstructionism in Austin. As our
do what she’s always done – focus on
results, not rhetoric.
> CUT PROPERTY TAXES
> EMPOWER PARENTS TO IMPROVE EDUCATION
> WORK WITH GOV. ABBOTT TO REFORM AUSTIN
Pol. Adv. Paid for by Susanna for State Rep. Treasurer Windi Grimes.
Page 7 WEST U ESSENTIALS