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      Nature Report: Wintering Birds

      The arid brush country of the western valley is home to a surprising array of wintering birds such as robins and green-tailed towhees, which certainly accent the colorful year round residents like green jays and kiskadees.

      An afternoon spent at a remote ranch country pond reveals a plethora of avian visitors including a variety of sparrows.

      Some like the lark sparrow are bold and enthusiastic bathers, while the black-throated is more inclined to tentatively skirt the water's edge.

      Perched above the small pond, a white crowned sparrow surveys the action below while a timid Lincoln's scurries about in search of seeds and insects.

      Bright yellow kiskadees adorn a variety of perches where they patiently wait to dive on unwary minnows or frogs.

      Joining the native kiskadees is a small, rather drab winter visitor the eastern phoebe who prefers to snare an occasional insect.

      Tucked back amidst the spiny allthorn, a secretive green-tailed towhee scratches out a few seeds.

      Suddenly the towhee emerges from the protective thicket, momentarily revealing its distinctive cinnamon colored cap and long greenish tail.

      Another winter visitor to the Starr county oasis is the yellow- rumped warbler, who shares its chilly bath with an orange crowned warbler.

      Meanwhile, the native pyrrhuloxia will just have to wait his turn.