Rare Bird

EDINBURG, Texas - When a rare bird shows up in the Rio Grande Valley it attracts visitors from across the country and some local folks as well. Richard Moore takes us for a look at the Long-eared owl.

Tucked back behind a cluster of branches, a secretive Long-eared owl perches with one eye half open as a group of enthusiastic bird watchers peer thru cameras and binoculars.

The Long-eared owl, a rare visitor to South Texas, has attracted birders from across the country to the Edinburg Scenic Wetlands and World Birding Center since it was first spotted a couple of weeks ago.

Marissa Rodriguez, manager of the Center, says the unusual owl is a magnet for birders.

"We have probably had close to a thousand visitors by now…We have had people here from Pennsylvania. We had somebody who came in from New Mexico…So, it makes it real exciting to ask people where they are from and just see how far they will travel for this rare bird of ours."
 
Tony Arnold from Pennsylvania said, "Oh, it's incredible especially at this distance seeing it so up close and getting to study every detail…Never even seen one in Pennsylvania, so we are excited about it."

The Long-eared owl inhabits western and northern states during the breeding season and is an occasional winter visitor to South Texas with only a handful of documented sightings in the past decade.

Throughout much of its historic range the long-eared owl is now listed as threatened and endangered due primarily to habitat loss.

The rare South Texas sighting is attracting not only folks from other states, but also local birders like Eli Martinez and his daughter Sophia from San Juan.

"They had just posted it a minute ago. I called my daughter and said let's get in the car and go see it…That's my best part, getting to see the world thru her eyes and experience her excitement about what she sees and what she photographs. That just makes me even more happy."

Sophia Martinez added, "I love that the animals are free, and not in captivity. That is my favorite part about photographing wildlife."

 


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