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Desert Diary
Birds/Rufous-backed Robin


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Birds sometimes turn up in places where they don't belong. Often this is because of vulnerability to storms during migration, with weather systems carrying them far from their usual routes. The Cattle Egret managed to end up across the Atlantic Ocean from its African home, successfully—though perhaps unwillingly—colonizing the New World. Other times, it seems like flying critters turn up far from home just because they can.

The American Robin is one of the most widespread birds in North America, but its southern relative, the Rufous-backed Robin, is rare until you get well south of the border. New Mexico boasts of three records, all from the Chihuahuan Desert along the Rio Grande. One of the only four Texas records is from El Paso. Although unfortunate from the point of view of our wanderer, this bird entered into ornithological history by having the good sense to expire on the grounds of the Centennial Museum. Now reposing peacefully in the Museum's bird collection, this robin records both the glory and the danger of doing something "just because you can".

pen and ink

Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.



Web Resources

New Mexico's BISON-M site.