American Birding Podcast



#ABArare – Red-legged Honeycreeper – Texas

Of course these things happen on holidays. In writing this up on my phone from my family’s Thanksgiving event, so apologies up front for any typos or autocorrect errors.

This morning (11/27), a ranger at Estero Llano Grande State Park in Hidalgo, Texas, found a bird he identified as a strange female vireo. Upon follow up, the bird was found to be a female-type Red-legged Honeycreeper, a species not on the ABA checklist, and a potential 1st ABA record.

Photo by Tiffany Kersten

The bird was seen in what is called the “tropical zone” at Estero, the old RV park west of the visitor center. It was coming to a drip at one of the campsites.

Red-legged Honeycreeper has occurred in the ABA Area at least 6 times, the first in 2003. These south Florida birds have been exclusively males, which raised questions of provenance leading to their ultimate non-acceptance by the Florida committee as the species is known to be kept in captivity.

This female-type bird, though, at least seems more plausibly of natural origin. The species nests in northeast Mexico, and is migratory to some degree. And of course, at least theoretically, a female is less likely to be kept as a cage bird than the stunning males, though this time of year both sexes are similar.