By KATHY RAINES
This wide-eyed thrush — pot-belled, brown-spotted and robin-like in posture — traipsed among eager photographers at the South Padre Island Convention Center one October. It, like other migrants resting and refueling during their southward journey, looked weary.
The Rio Grande Valley is like a busy airport. It sponsors a perpetual rainbow of avian traffic. Migrants like the wood thrush stop off during northern and southern trips. Other migrants winter here, like white pelicans, avocets and various raptors. They relish our ample food supplies. Groove-billed anis breed here each summer. Post-breeding wood storks feed in our well-supplied mudflats and salt marshes. In addition, numerous species thrive here year-round, including vivid green jays and great kiskadees.
The rusty head, chestnut back and mottled underparts of the wood thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) help it blend in with the thick understory it prefers. The thrush’s huge, white-ringed eyes enhance its vision in shady woods, especially at dusk and early dawn, when it is often the first to burst into song. Its upright posture, shared with its fellow thrush, the American robin, readily distinguishes it from the similarly colored brown thrasher.
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