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Checklist information

Warren Pulich's original 1988 publication Birds of North-Central Texas, included 385 species from the study area. The study area of North-central Texas was defined by Pulich in his 1988 publication and differs slightly from the Texas Ornithological Society's definition of the study area and is also slightly different from other North-central Texas maps including North American Birds (NAB). Please see the "Area Map" link on the left sidebar for more information. 

A total of 49 species have been added to Pulich's list of North-central Texas birds since the publication in 1988. Two of the additions (Parasitic Jaeger and Royal Tern both at Lake Tawakoni) come from perimeter counties on Pulich's map that are part of East Texas on other maps, but all of the other 47 species come from additional sightings that would be included on all maps of the North-central Texas geographical region. The checklist on this site totals 434 species. As of May of 2014, over 394 of these birds have been photographed (over 90%).

There were weak gaps in the reporting system shortly after Pulich's publication. Most of the 1990s decade was without a good observation reporting system since many venues were in the process of moving to online features. Only the North American Birds reporting system was in place in any consistent format during that period. It's possible that some interesting observations have been lost from that period.

The first part of this century also had significant gaps. This website went up in 2001 and some photographic information regarding North-central Texas was kept by me. But written sightings were housed several different places during that period and much of it wasn't archived. It wasn't until 2010 that ebirds became a recognizable force for reporting bird observations. The future of bird sightings will likely now include ebirds for local and regional checklist information. While there may be problems with this reporting method, I'm not sure it's significantly more problematic than anything that preceded it.

Although gaps in the records exist after Pulich's publication, the rarest bird sightings are not the most serious problem. Those birds deemed as so rare as to be listed as review species by the TBRC can be accessed online. The review records for that entire period from 1988 to the present have been made available. More problematic for this checklist during the period from about 1990-2010, are the fairly common species elsewhere in the state that are irregular to this specific study area (Tree Sparrow) or species splits where documentation is lacking for one species or the other (Cassin's and Plumbeous Vireo).

Since about 2005, digital photography has advanced both technologically and in popularity. Almost everyone in the field has the ability to capture bird sightings without heavy or expensive equipment. Digital cameras are almost part of the standard birding equipment. Since collecting specimens with a gun is no longer a common practice even among organizations that have the proper permits, it is likely that the documentation of unusual bird records will rest solely on photo-documentation and the ability to archive it. This is where it stands today. Unlike Pulich, authors of newer works will no longer be seeking old specimens as part of their research. They will be seeking old photo images.

Jim Peterson


Species Added from Pulich's "Species of Uncertain Occurrence"

Pulich's original publication also had exactly 33 "species of uncertain occurrence" listed in his last chapter. These were species that were not counted as part of the original 385 because of limited documentation. Exactly 15 of the 33 species within this list have been added officially since 1988, and I have added them here. Birds officially added from that list include Least Grebe, Trumpeter Swan, Reddish Egret, Glossy Ibis, Ruff, Thayer's Gull, Sooty Tern, Violet-green Swallow, American Dipper, Brewer's Sparrow, Nelson's Sparrow, Bronzed Cowbird, Hooded Oriole, Scott's Oriole, Common Redpoll. All of the birds added in this list now include photo-documentation with the exception of American Dipper (which was reviewed by the TBRC. See below).

Species Added by Taxonomic Splits or Additional Sightings since 1988

Exactly 35 more birds have been added by observation or taxonomic split since 1988. These include Pacific Loon, Clark’s Grebe, Magnificent Frigatebird, Cackling Goose, Harlequin Duck, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Parasitic Jaeger, Long-tailed Jaeger, Black-headed Gull, Mew Gull, California Gull, Iceland Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, Royal Tern, Arctic Tern, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Broad-billed Hummingbird, Costa’s Hummingbird, Allen's Hummingbird, Ringed Kingfisher, Red-naped Sapsucker, Gray Flycatcher, Couch’s Kingbird, Great Kiskadee, Fish Crow, Cave Swallow, Black-crested Titmouse, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Spotted Towhee, Red-faced Warbler, Sagebrush Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Bullock’s Oriole, Snow Bunting, and White-winged Crossbill. Exactly 29 of the 35 additional species have photo-documentation.

Plumbeous Vireo and Cassin's Vireo have single sight records from North-central Texas after the split in 1997, but these two species need better documentation. I have removed them from the checklist until more documentation has been received.


New Species to the North-Central Texas Checklist without Photo-Documentation

All totaled, of the 49 species added since 1988, 43 have photo-documentation. The six species that do not have photo-documentation include, Magnificent Frigatebird, Harlequin Duck, Iceland Gull, Parasitic Jaeger, American Dipper, and Red-faced Warbler.

Of the six species added to the checklist without photos since 1988, three of these birds - Harlequin Duck, Iceland Gull, and American Dipper - are "review species" (discussion below) and have been reviewed and accepted by the TBRC. One species - Red-faced Warbler - was reviewed and accepted by the TBRC but the species was consequently removed from the Review List. These four records have been published as reviewed species by the TBRC. These records read as follows in the TBRC annual reports:

* Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus). Two birds, a male and female, were at the spillway on Lake Tawakoni, Van Zandt on 5 January 1995 furnishing only the second accepted record for Texas. Review Species.

* Iceland Gull (Larus glaucoides). One first-winter bird in Dallas, on 4 February 2001. Review Species.

* American Dipper (Cinclus mexicanus) - One at Prairie Creek Park, Collin, on 23 December 2004. Review Species.

* Red-faced Warbler (Cardellina rubrifrons) - One at Denton, Denton, on 15 September 2005. Past Review Species


The two remaining unphotographed species that have been observed and added to the checklist since 1988 were either birds that were reported within the North American Bird reporting system for this region of Texas or they came with extensive written documentation. They are not review species. Their accounts follow below.

1. Magnificent Frigatebird was likely a one-day wonder in Denton Co., 1998 after a hurricane hit the Texas coast. It was observed on Lake Lewisville. A second record of a Magnificent Frigatebird was recorded on September 14-15, 2008 on Lake Tawakoni in Van Zandt Co., and seen by several observers. A third observation was recorded by an observer on Joe Pool Lake in Dallas Co., on July 10, 2013. There are no photos of any of these records. 

2. Parasitic Jaeger was observed on Lake Tawakoni by two reliable observers in 2001, and their notes taken at the time pointed to field marks that eliminated other species. 

Also: See single sightings from Pulich's, Birds of North-Central Texas


The Texas Birds Records Committee

The Texas Bird Records Committee is a standing committee of the Texas Ornithological Society (T.O.S.). Its primary purpose is to validate records of birds from the state of Texas and adjacent ocean.

The acronym "TBRC" refers to the Texas Bird Records Committee. A thorough understanding of their mission can be found at http://www.texasbirds.org/tbrc/

The acronym "TPRF" refers to the Texas Photo Records File housed at Texas A & M University and managed by the TBRC

The TBRC assigns "review species" status to birds that have occurred four or fewer times per year anywhere in Texas over a ten-year average. Sightings are reviewed by committee.

A Complete List of Post-1988 Review Species Observations without Photo-Documentation

Texas bird records that have been "accepted" by the TBRC are officially part of the Texas Bird Inventory (TBI) whether they have photo-documentation or not. In North-central Texas, Northern Goshawk was the only accepted unphotographed review species in this area prior to 1988, that has actually gained a cataloged photograph since that time (TPRF 2265). Allen's Hummingbird also gained a cataloged photograph (TPRF 1492), but that species has now been taken off the Review Species List.

The following birds are review species without any photo-documentation. The Lewis' Woodpecker and Red-faced Warbler records were reviewed at the time, but these birds are no longer on the Review List.

Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus) - Two birds, a male and female, were at the spillway on Lake Tawakoni, Van Zandt on 5 January 1995 furnishing only the second accepted record for Texas (MW; 1995-12). New Species since 1988. No Photo.

Iceland Gull (Larus glaucoides) - One first-winter bird at Dallas, Dallas, on 4 February 2001 (BG, RR; 2001-47). New Species since 1988. No Photo.

Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus) - One was in Flower Mound, Denton on 26 December 1989 (ME; 1990-88). No Photo.

Lewis's Woodpecker (Melanerpes lewis) - One at Grand Prairie, Dallas, on 30 November 2000 (KN; 2001-112). Lewis's Woodpecker was removed from the Review List on 17 August 2002. No Photo.

American Dipper (Cinclus mexicanus) - One at Prairie Creek Park, Dallas, Collin, on 23 December 2004 (SA; 2004-120). New Species since 1988. No Photo.

Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) - One at Village Creek Drying Beds, Tarrant, on 1 April 2000 (EW; 2 No Photo.

Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) - One at River Legacy Park, Tarrant, on 21 March 2000 (LBl; 2000-46). No Photo.

Red-faced Warbler (Cardellina rubrifrons) - One at Denton, Denton, on 15 September 2005 (LBr; 2007-45). Red-faced Warbler is no longer a Review Species in Texas. New Species since 1988. No Photo.

Pine Grosbeak (Pinicola enucleator) - One was outside Lewisville, Denton on 28 December 1990 (CBr; 1991-10). No Photo.

Reviewed species having non-digitized photographs cataloged with TPRF numbers and housed at Texas A & M University include, Brant, Northern Goshawk, Arctic Tern, Allen's Hummingbird, and Lewis' Woodpecker.



Checklist Key


Checklist based on Pulich's species accounts, 1988. Updated by Jim Peterson, Martin Reid, and Matt White

All of the following terms presume the species is being looked for in the appropriate habitat.

(Ab) Abundant - Applied to a species that can be found in quantity without any special search
(C) Common - Applied to a species noted at least daily with some search
(FC) Fairly Common - Applied to a species that may require some search to be detected regularly
(U) Uncommon - Applied to a species that may not be possible to find on some days.
(R) Rare - Applied to a species that is seldom encountered except by chance
(Ca) Casual - Applied to a species that is out of its normal range but can be expected to occur again
(Ac) Accidental - Applied to a species that is far from its normal range it is not expected to appear again
(IR) - Irregular. If this term is applied under the "nesting" category, it mean this species does not nest here year after year. If it is applied under a season, it means it is irregular during that season. If it falls under "likely seen," the location is irregular
(L) - Nesting or observed locally. Not widespread. Seen only at certain locations. In the case of certain species, i.e., Scaled Quail, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Canyon Towhee, Pyrrhuloxia, birds may be found only on the fringe of study area in drier habitat. Other birds such as Ruddy Turnstone regularly show up only at one or two lakes
(H) - Historical nest records only. None recently
N,S.E,W (Compass points) Also FW and FE for "far west" and "far east." These compass point indicators are used under the "Likely" seen" category to indicate that a species is predominantly found in a certain direction of the area's center, i.e., Pyrrhuloxia is likely seen with a "FW" indicator suggesting the bird is generally found in the far west part of the study area
Photo - Photo-documentation from the NC-Texas area is available on this website
Review Species (*) - The asterisk under the column "Photo" means the bird is a Texas review species and documentation is required for state acceptance. This documentation must be submitted to the Texas bird Records Committee.

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