The segment of the Rio Grande between International Falcon Reservoir and Del Rio, Texas (distance ca. 350 km), remains largely unexplored ornithologically. We surveyed nocturnal birds monthly during February-June 1998 at 19 stations along the Rio Grande (n = 6) and at upland stock ponds (n = 13) in Webb County, Texas. We conducted 10-min point counts (n = 89) after sunset and before moonset. Four species of owls and five species of nightjars were detected. Nightjars, as a group, were nearly five limes more abundant (mean number/count = 2.63) than owls (mean number = 0.55). The most, common owl, the great horned owl (Bubo virginianus), had a mean number of 0.25/point count. The mean for elf owls (Micrathene whitneyi) was 0.16/point count. The most common nightjars were the common poorwill (Phalaenoptilus nuttallii; 1.21/point count) and lesser nighthawk (Chordeiles acutipennir, 1.16/point count). Survey sites on the river supported more species (mean = 2.2) than did upland stock ponds (mean = 1.4). However, only one species (common pauraque, Nyctidromus albicollis) showed a preference for the river sites. Our results establish this segment of the Rio Grande in southern Texas as an area of high diversity of nightjars in the United States, matched (in numbers of species) only by southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico.
Additional publication details
Species richness, relative abundance, and habitat associations of nocturnal birds along the rio grande in Southern texas