Social Flycatcher at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley S.P., Hidalgo County, TX
In a winter featuring the one of the greatest invasions of Mexican rarities into the Lower Rio Grande Valley in
recent memory, this Social Flycatcher must be considered the crown jewel to date. Discovered by John
Arvin on January 7, this bird stayed near the resaca at the northern perimeter of the park for the next week.
On the morning of the 14th, after patiently searching for over two hours, I and about sixty other birders were delighted
to find the flycatcher right at the boat ramp on the resaca, where it posed facing the morning sunlight for nearly twenty
minutes. Eventually, it worked its way south into the park and disappeared.
In fact I was exceedingly lucky to find the bird, as Friday the 14th was the last day it was reliably reported.
And upon returning home to Pennsylvania where I had a chance to sit down and examine each and every one of the over sixty
photos I took on the 14th, I may have stumbled onto why the bird disappeared. If you look closely in each of the photos
below, you can see a reddish stain on the bird's right leg, accompanied by a reddish streak down the right side of the bird's
breast. In the field I dismissed this as berry stain, but at home on review I discovered the fourth and final picture
below, which seems to show an injury on the right side of the bird's neck. It turns out that the "berry stain"
is almost certainly blood.
We will never know (unless the bird returns sometime before the end of the winter), but this injury may be why the
bird disappeared after the 14th. Several observers of the bird prior to the 14th indicate that they saw no evidence of
an injury, so it is possible that the bird was hurt on the morning of the 14th or shortly before. Of course, except
for the blood stain evident in each of the photos I obtained, it is easy to miss the injury to the neck. You can't see
it in any of the first three pictures below, which is the posture the bird presented most of the time, and as I said
in the field even I missed it despite the fact that I photographed it!
So it is a distinct possibility that it did not survive much longer after the 14th, due to this injury.
This is the first documented record for Social Flycatcher in the ABA area.