Jeremy Dominguez makes a Rogue Run for the Border...

Back of the Book Bird

Jeremy Dominguez makes a Rogue Run for the Border...

Back of the Book Bird
by Jeremy Dominguez

For those who own a “National Geographic field guide to the birds of north America sixth edition” by Jon Dunn and Jonathan Alderfer you’ll know that the back of the book has a section of extremely rare ”accidentals” and extinct species. This is a tale to see of those back of the book birds: Amazon Kingfisher

Back of the Book Bird
Amazon kingfisher ranges from southern Mexico to all the way down into northern Argentina. It has strayed into the US only two time previously. It is most similar to Green Kingfisher but a lot bigger in comparison. This is only the 4th species of Kingfisher recorded in the US. So when Raul Delgado found the third ever Amazon Kingfisher in Laredo Texas on October 29th a lot of people were very interested in seeing it themselves. This included me.

I have a full time job and flights to Texas from Ohio aren’t the cheapest. So for almost a month I waited and kept up on sightings of this bird. I noticed a lot of people went and saw this bird during this time including people I knew and all the Big Year birders this year. Seemed like everyone was making their way down to see the beautiful female Amazon Kingfisher that had seemed to be making Laredo its home for now. I didn’t think I’d have the chance to go and see it. Until a light at the end on the tunnel…Thanksgiving weekend! 4 days off from work would give me enough time (barely) to drive to Laredo and back and see the Kingfisher.

Heading South
Thanksgiving was on November 24th and I told myself I would leave as soon as I was done stuffing my belly full of turkey. Mom’s dinner was great and enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with my family a lot. After dinner I packed my car and hit the road. The drive overall was pretty smooth. I slept in my car somewhere between Nashville and Memphis woke up and made it to Laredo by 9:30PM Friday night. I stayed in a Holiday Inn Express (they have a good free breakfast) I was checked out of my hotel by 7:20AM and at the stake-out spot for the Kingfisher by 7:35. 

For the next 4hours I really enjoyed the birding and cool breeze. Birding in short sleeve shirt at the end of November is very alien to this Ohio birder. Saw several southern Texas birds that I enjoyed good looks at such as Green Jay, Great Kiskadee and Golden-fronted Woodpecker. Also enjoyed seeing the other three Kingfishers seen in the US, Belted Kingfisher, Green Kingfisher and Ringed Kingfisher. 

Finally at about 12:05 it happened The Amazon Kingfisher flew and perched right where I watching.

Amazon Kingfisher - Laredo, TX from Christopher Collins on Vimeo.

I watched this bird by myself for an hour although it seemed like only minutes. The green and white on the bird were more beautiful in person, the bill was huge and the character of the bird was just stunning. It flew out of sight eventually and I had to pull myself away from the birding (had a very long drive ahead of me). 

All Four US Kingfisher Species in One Spot
So after a quick stop for some celebratory Mexican food I headed home. The drive home wasn’t as uneventful as the drive there, lots of traffic and wrecks. I slept in my car right outside Texarkana. Sunday was a long drive but I finally made it home at 8:30pm Sunday night. People kept asking was one bird worth all of that effort? I pondered that question and the answer is YES, Worth the days spent driving and effort and money (under $300 for the whole trip. Gas, hotel and food) Amazon Kingfisher I am very happy you stuck around long enough for me to enjoy you! Now I wonder what the next “back of the book bird” I’ll see next.

Lifer Lunch!

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