This past year has been a whirlwind of hustle as I worked to finish up the last two years of my bachelor’s degree. After just over a year at UC Irvine, I finished my schooling and set my sights on what comes next: rejoining the workforce. Just as I was wrapping up my final quarter of school, Mubark landed a job offer in San Antonio, Texas. We tied up our loose ends in California, sold all of our bulky items, and hit the road with anything we could cram into our cars.
After three days of driving we finally reached the city and moved our belongings into the apartment. I agreed to move to San Antonio sight unseen, and besides a few photos I saw seen online, I had no idea what I was in for. The main thing I knew about San Antonio is that it’s the 7th largest city in America. I expected both colder and hotter weather than what is found in Los Angeles. Other than these tidbits, the main thing that kept me ponder was birds. What kind of new birds should I expect?
The following morning I took the dogs out on their walk and took in the new scenery. Fortunate enough to live across the street from a nice park, bird song bombarded me the moment I stepped out of the building. Unprepared for the many birds in the vicinity of the building, I didn’t have binoculars on me. I corrected this mistake by the time it was turn for dog #2’s walk.
Great-tailed Grackles, male and female, dotted the patchy grass and hung out in various trees. Their funny calls could be heard coming from all directions. Another common city-dweller, the European Starling, was also found in mass numbers all around, in trees, on buildings, on the ground.
I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t do any research beforehand to prep myself for which kinds of birds are found in Texas. In retrospect this made the first surprise of the morning all the more exciting. After walking a fair distance in the park, a flash of blue caught my eye. I followed it and was delighted to spot a Blue Jay, a bird not found in California; I had only seen this bird on my brief trip to New York. California’s equivalent is the Scrub Jay, and less-striking version of the more commonly-known Blue Jay. Here is the first, blurry, terrible photo I took of it.
Shortly thereafter, a bright spot of red gleamed from one of the trees and a Northern Cardinal quickly flew past me. I thought to myself, “Wow, two iconic birds not found in California are right outside my apartment!”
I took the dog inside, returned to the park with my binoculars, and spotted a beautiful Red-bellied Woodpecker clinging the side of a tree foraging for food. The next morning, I thought I spotted the same woodpecker, but as soon as he showed his gold feathers, I knew it was a Golden-fronted Woodpecker. I only knew this because I saw him in my field guide the night before when confirming the Red-bellied woodpecker.
Here are a couple of other feathered friends from around the neighborhood.
Ruby-crowned Kinglet. I am still terrible at ID’ing the many small olive-colored birds you see bouncing around in trees. I thought this one may be a Hutton’s Vireo at first, but a nice birding pal pointed me in the proper direction.
This Cooper’s Hawk was found a couple of blocks away from the park and was being harassed by two grackles.
The final bird of the day was a White-winged Dove that was sitting serenely as I approached it to take a photo.
Texas is known as a hot spot for birding. I am very excited to see what types of new birds it will offer and anticipate connecting the local Audubon and other birders as I begin a new birding adventure!
Have you ever made a big move? What was it like discovering your new local birds? Comment below!