Enthusiasts flock to see rare bird in park
Flycatcher, native to Latin America, likely confused migration path.
A local birder has spotted a rare tropical bird in the Austin area during the Travis County Audubon Society’s annual Christmas bird count.
Shelia Hargis recorded a fork-tailed flycatcher, native to Central and South America, on Saturday near McKinney Falls State Park.
The bird is rarely seen so far north. Texas Parks and Wildlife biologist Mark Klym attributed the sighting to a confused migration path.
“The fork-tailed fly- catcher usually comes from Argentina to Mexico at this time of year,” Klym said in a news release. “Every once in a while one of them seems to overfly that northbound migration and end up in Texas.”
Females usually mea- sure about 12 inches; males are about 15 inches. Despite their length, the bird weighs only about an ounce, allowing it to glide thousands of miles.
Birders are flocking to the park from around the state (and as far away as Illinois) to see the bird, said park ranger Amber Conrad.
“This bird is relatively small,” Conrad said. “It’s like a little cotton ball with some black string hanging off of it for its head and its tail.”
State birders have documented only 25 sightings of the fork-tailed flycatcher in Texas during the past 150 years.
A special program showcasing the bird is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at the Smith Visitor Center. The program is free and open to the public after park admission.
The park is at 5808 McKinney Falls Parkway. For more information, call 243-1643.