Set next to one of the last surviving sable palm forests in the country, the Sabal Palm Audubon Sanctuary, operated by the Gorgas Science Foundation, in Brownsville, Texas, draws a jumble of plumes and tail feathers to its feeder cam. From the golden head of a Hooded Oriole to a Green Jay’s pistachio wings, Park Manager Seth Patterson pins the great diversity to the neighboring old-growth sable palms (Sabal mexicana)—a species that once spanned 60,000 acres. Texas is down to just 60 acres today.
“I don’t think there’s anywhere else on the web where you can watch the Green Jay [a tropical bird found mainly in Mexico and South America]," says Patterson. Another special sight is the Plain Chachalaca, a relative of the chicken that dwells in Mexico, Central America, and southern Texas. Sometimes the camera even detects surprise visitors: In early spring last year, there was footage of a female Crimson-collared Grosbeak, says Patterson. “It was the only one in the country that we knew about.”
To spot a feeding guest, tune into the cam closer to the Texas sunrise: “We put out food at 7,” Patterson says. The birds tend to siesta through the afternoon and will return by twilight.
Sabal Palm Audubon Sanctuary’s live feed is sponsored by Rio Grande Valley Chapter Texas Master Naturalists.
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