Beautiful Birds of Winter: American Kestrel, Song Sparrow, Green Kingfisher

Tammy Brown

Beautiful Birds of Winter

As the landscape evolves from verdant to gray, summer birds quietly leave and winter birds (not so quietly in the case of Robins and Cedar Waxwings) take their place.  We welcome them back with full feeders and delight.  In the past two weeks, an American Kestrel, a Song Sparrow, and a Green Kingfisher have made themselves at home at Little Piney.

American Kestrel

On December 30, I went for a long drive along country roads and through Bastrop State Park birding and exploring–something I had been wanting to do all year.  I hoped to see a Red-headed Woodpecker–rare in Bastrop but seen at times in the park.  That bird didn’t appear, but I was happy to see a number of American Kestrels, beautiful little falcons common here in the winter.  I wondered why I never see Kestrels at Little Piney and wished for one here.  Oddly enough, an American Kestrel appeared the next day, perched on the wire that carries electricity to our neighbor’s house.

Even better, he has decided to stay awhile, giving me many “bird on a wire” photo opportunities.  The American Kestrel is a stunning bird, gray blue on head and wings, russet on back and breast, with bold black spots on his sides and dramatic black lines on his white face.  He perches high up on the wire watching for prey in the field below, sometimes swaying in the wind and bobbing his tail.  He is tolerant of me, and doesn’t mind me moving closer for a photo.

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrows, another winter resident in Bastrop, are back as well.  I can hear their squeaky chips in the reedy bank  of the lake, but don’t often see them.  This sparrow was patient with me, lingering against a perfect background of dry grass and reeds.

Green Kingfisher

The most unusual birds here at Little Piney are Green Kingfishers.  The male made a welcome appearance on New Year’s Day for the Christmas Bird Count team, and the female appeared the day after.  Green Kingfishers are  more common to South Texas than our area, so I am delighted to have them here for the second winter.  I know a little Kingfisher is present when I hear the fast clicking call.  Tiny and speckled, the green bird can be difficult to spot.  I love to see them fly just a foot above the creek. following the curve, mirrored in the water.

Green Kingfisher Bastrop TX
Green Kingfisher, Female
Green Kingfisher Bastrop TX
Green Kingfisher, Female
Green Kingfisher, Female, Bastrop, TX
Green Kingfisher, Female
Green Kingfisher
Green Kingfisher, Male

Happy New Year to everyone reading this post.  May you have a year of happy surprises and natural wonders.


  1. The Kestrel….wow. Gorgeous birds and photos all…. Nice job with the new camera! 🙂

  2. Wow, you have some fantastic pics of birds. I would love to be able to capture some with my camera. Maybe when the weather is better I’ll try. Thanks for the inspiration.

  3. @lostpineslife, can you give me any tips on finding/tracking a Kingfisher in this area. Thanks so much and great photos

    1. Hi Steven,
      Here is a link to the eBird map of Green Kingfisher sitings:
      I would follow those sightings and hang out wherever they were last seen. If you live in Bastrop County or close by, email me
      at I will text you when I see one on the creek, and you can come out if you are available. I’m happy to share Little Piney with birders. I find Green Kingfishers by listening for their call and watching for a bright white spot along the creek bank. Good luck! They are fun to see! Tammy

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