“Hi, Laura…Ohio”. “David, Minnesota”. “Leslie, San Antonio”. “Barbara, Lauderdale”. “George, Philly”. These were the brief but polite exchanges as we greeted the young PhD student from Corpus Christie. None of us wanted to engage in actual conversation for fear of missing a glimpse of the Mexican Violetear… a hummingbird that rarely emigrates from central Mexico to the USA. The six of us stayed positioned in one spot at Quinta Mazatlan, a Spanish revival style mansion with gardens – an urban sanctuary. We were desperately hoping for the appearance of a metallic-green bird formerly known as the “Green Violetear” which had made daily trips to the purple and red flowers in front of us the past 13 consecutive days.
Having nailed my two Arizona target birds (both on Father’s Day!) with a vacation day to spare, hitting south Texas on the way home was a no-brainer. For David, the 24 hour drive from Minneapolis earned him the right to occupy the pole position, the location along the short fence with the widest view of the clearing. Laura and Leslie had five second looks at the bird the day before so they were content to stand behind Barbara, David and me, cameras pointed at the mimosa bush. I never did catch the PhD’s name and frankly didn’t care. We waited four hours until closing time. Buff-bellied and Black-chinned Hummingbirds but no Colibri thalassinus.
The next morning the “mansion with a mission” opened an hour early (7am) for us birders. The same group congregated…and waited…four more hours. My last possible flight out of McAllen required I leave at 11am. Disappointed on one hand but also satisfied with my effort, I made it to the airport with minutes to spare. I had failed to calculate the extra time required waiting to clear Border Patrol’s checkpoint. I was in McAllen, Texas….the current focus of NATIONAL attention on (human not avian) immigration. The topic never came up with my fellow self-absorbed birders. But the irony of the situation didn’t escape me.