It doesn’t take much to get a serious birder excited and on an airplane or in a car. Here is an example:
The A.P. and the New York Times are reporting a sighting of a Pine Flycatcher in Choke Canyon State Park in Texas.
A Pine Flycatcher is a tiny bird, maybe 5 inches long including its tail feathers. A dull looking little bird that has serious birders on their way to south Texas in droves. That is because it is not supposed to be in south Texas or anywhere else north of central Mexico. The one seen in Choke Canyon is, in fact, the first one ever seen in the United States. It lives — or is supposed to live — more than 200 miles south of the Texas/Mexico border.
Ah, but what a bird to have on your life list; the first-ever sighting of a Pine Flycatcher in the United States. (We checked for you. Choke Canyon lies about half-way between San Antonio and Corpus Christi. Southwest flies to both. You still get peanuts on Southwest and probably water. Go!)
We can’t find a public domain photograph of a Pine Flycatcher but here is a link to a photograph of one from a U.K. touring company. Just scroll down the page. The Pine Flycatcher is about half-way down on the right. There is also a photo here, on the American Birding Association’s blog.
A couple of years ago, a Yellow Grosbeak traveled North all the way to Albuquerque, New Mexico. It too was way out of its proper range and people came from all over the place to see it. It spent a part of a summer hanging out in the back yard of a local lawyer, who put a sign up in her front yard directing people around the side of her house to the backyard, where she provided coffee and doughnuts and chairs. The bird divided its time between a big pine tree and a feeder. Here is its photo. As you can tell, a Yellow Grosbeak is really just a goldfinch on steroids.