Monday, October 2, 2017

I would like to thank Tamara Cash who called me on September 30 to report that an unusual bird was acting in a strange manner in the yard of Chris and Lee Ann, neighbors of Tamara.  When I met Tamara to check on the bird, we found an uncommon bird for Travis Country, a Virginia Rail (Rallus limicola).  

Rails are seldom seen but often heard. This medium-sized rail lives in marshes across much of our continent. Commonly nesting in the northern United States and southern Canada in a variety of marshy situations, mostly fresh, but also brackish marsh near the coasts. During migration to Mexico and the southern coast of the United States it is sometimes found in odd spots, even city streets, such as Travis Country!

The Virginia Rail is approximately 7 inches long from the end of its tail to the tip of its bill and feeds mostly on insects, crayfish, snails; & some seeds. It also feeds on a wide variety of aquatic insects and their larvae, especially beetles, flies, dragonflies, many others and eats crayfish, earthworms, snails, slugs, and a few small fish. Seeds may be important in its diet at times.

It was apparent that this individual was no able to fly for some reason, although it was walking around naturally. Because of its inability to fly we were concerned it could not protect itself or find enough to eat.  So we caught it with a net and took it to Blue Valley, releasing it in the reeds at the west end of the pond where there is both cover for its security from preditors and a wide range of food to sustain it. Maybe it will be a permanent resident.

Here are a few photos of the Virginia Rail, some are mine and some were taken by Tamara Cash.

Glen Novinger

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

I was pleased to read the following article on July 1, 2017, about my birding activities in Travis Country, a 2,000 home subdivision in southwest Austin, Texas.  The article appeared in our local "Travis Country Notes" monthly newspaper.

Saturday, March 19, 2016


Birding is today an avocation, an area of intense interest, and a source of great pleasure too millions of devotees in the United States and around the world.  But this increasing millions of bird lovers only occurred in the most recent decades. One hundred years ago the appreciation of birds for their beauty and evolved specialization was considered a bit strange by the general public, if not peculiar.

So I was very interested to receive a call recently from Nancy Jewell, a Travis Country resident, who offered me a book published in 1923.  This book had been in the library of a birder friend of  Nancy's husband.  THE BIRDS OF BIRDVILLE contains a collection of hand painted bird images, only a few of which are from Birdsville, Pennsylvania, to which we believe it refers. 

As bird books in 1923 were not common, this book is fascinating for its age and because it is in color. Here is a video of each page of this short book and the 48 bird images so that you may enjoy it also.  Thank you Nancy.

Saturday, June 13, 2015


Eight people came together this morning for the last Bird Walk of the spring at Blue Valley in Travis Country.  Spring Bird Migration is now over so we didn't see any of the migrants that were present earlier in the spring, but we did see 14 different resident species around Travis Country Lake.

Following is a list of the bird species we saw today:
1. American Robin
2. Common Grackle
3. White-winged Dove
4. Northern Mocking Bird
5. Green Heron
6. Bewick's Wren
7. American Crow
8. Inca Dove
9. Eastern Wood Pewee
10. Barn Swallow
11.Great Crested Flycatcher
12. Turkey Vulture
13. Black Vulture
14. Red Tailed Hawk
15. Northern Cardinal

Green Heron

My favorite bird of the day was our resident Green Heron (above) that can be seen most days along the edge of the lake at Blue Valley. The Green Heron is a resident, largely non-migratory, of North and Central America, also known as the Green-backed Heron.

I would like to thank each of you for your participation in our TC Bird Walks this year.  Hopefully you enjoyed the outings and gained in your understanding of the Birds of Travis Country. A special thanks goes out to Sebastian and Sandra Casarez who traveled from Hutto for each bird walk to assist us in spotting and identifying our birds. Sebastian appears above with Glen & Tracy Novinger.

Thursday, May 7, 2015


The Bird Nesting Season in Travis Country is at its peak.  Even though this is our first year for the TC Nest-box Program, we have had a very successful first season.

We have a total of 34 Bird Nest-boxes plus 1 Bat House installed in Travis Country and of these there are 12 nests with eggs or chicks in them.  In addition, there is a Mocking Bird nest in a tree in the Wild Flower Preserve  and a Greater Roadrunner nest in a tree in the Greenbelt along Magdelena Drive.  At the present time we don’t yet have bats in the Bat House in the Wild Flower Preserve.

Here is a list of the active nest-boxes and what is using them.
No. of Nests                Occupant
5                                  Berwick’s Wrens
6                                  Black-crested Titmouse
3                                  Eastern Screech Owl
1                                  Mocking Bird
1                                  Greater Roadrunner
3                                  European Starling
1                                  Squirrel
6                                  Ants
1                                  Possum
27                               Occupied Nests

So! We are dealing with the Possum, the squirrels, and the ants.  They were uninvited and unwanted.  But overall, we are pleased with the response for our first year with the nest-boxes.  

      Below are our favorite photos of the insides of the nest-boxes from last week.

    Black-crested Titmice, just ready to fly away from the nest.

    4 Newly hatched Eastern Screech Owlets

    5 Bewick's Wren Chicks

Please join us for our 3rd Bird Walk on Saturday, May 9, at 9am, leaving from the Blue Valley parking lot by the Community Office.

Glen Novinger

Thursday, April 2, 2015


Bats are like a cuddly puppy.
Once you have met one, you will love them.
Coming to your neighborhood each night to remove your mosquitos.

Friday, March 20, 2015


The First TC Bird Walk was  a success with 20 people attending. We saw 25 species during a slow ramble around Blue Valley and Carrington Prairie. The bird list for the morning is below the picture.


Number of Species: 25

American Robin
Bewick's Wren
Black Vulture
Black-crested Titmouse
Blue Jay
Carolina Chickadee
Carolina Wren
Cedar Waxwing
Chipping Sparrow
Common Grackle
Cooper's Hawk
Downy Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe
Great-tailed Grackle
House Finch
Ladder-backed Woodpecker
Lesser Goldfinch
Mourning Dove
Northern Cardinal
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Red-shouldered Hawk
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Turkey Vulture
White-winged Dove

Our favorite bird of the morning was a Red-Shouldered Hawk. A pair has been nesting in Travis Country each spring for the past few years.

I took the above photo of a Red-shouldered Hawk at 
the Driskill Hotel in Austin last week.

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