HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Landfall looms enticingly close, just beyond surf breaking along the shore of South Padre Island.
Some 20 hours prior, after launching at dusk from the tip of the Yucatan peninsula and flying nonstop across the vast Gulf of Mexico the marathon 500-mile journey is almost complete.
Exhausted, famished, and craving water colorful songbirds alight amidst remaining woodlots on South Padre Island searching for shelter and sustenance.
This male Rose-breasted grosbeak spots a fresh drip and alights to sip life-giving water while a female descends to savor the liquid refreshment.
Thirst slackened, the grosbeak perches on an agarita branch festooned with ripe berries, and soon the female joins him to pick tasty treats.
Joining grosbeaks is the only completely red bird in North America, the resplendent male summer tanager.
This strikingly vivid bird is also likely a trans-Gulf migrant and possibly spent the winter as far south as Brazil.
As you gaze into his sparkling liquid brown eye you can’t help but wonder where he has been and what he has seen on his arduous journey that will eventually take him to nesting ground in the northeastern United States.
A famished Yellow-breasted chat has discovered a mulberry and snatches a few bites before moving on.
This plucky long-distance traveler with a bright yellow chest and distinctive bold face marking of white spectacles is quick to find the berry bonanza. As he squishes the fruit, you can clearly see the juice spurting forth before consuming it.
Baltimore orioles rest among native mangroves before sampling the ripe purple mulberries.
A Yellow-bellied sapsucker arrives and offers a fleeting glimpse of its yellow-washed breast, while a cautious catbird searches for the last ripe mulberry.
The marvel of migration is peaking, and if you want to see a plethora of colorful songbirds now is the time.