BIRD WATCHER’S DIGEST • MAY/JUNE ’ 17 •
endangered since 1990. The bird is
a true native Texan, with its breeding range entirely within the Lone
Star State, including Fort Hood.
Habitat loss through conversion of natural areas to parking
lots and housing subdivisions—
urbanization in general—caused
the bird’s numbers to decline.
Having a fair amount of habitat
on a military installation has been
a boon for this bird.
When the warblers return from
their wintertime haunts in Mexico
and Central America, nesting
habitat at Fort Hood welcomes
them home. The number of birds
on the fort is on the rise, and it’s
not been by accident.
The warbler was discovered on
Fort Hood lands in the 1950s, and
biologists, seeing the conservation
need, recommended to the fort’s
commanding general in 1970 that
blocks of land be set aside for the
bird. The Army obliged.
In the 1980s, another bird species, not quite as showy as the
warbler, came into view. Surveys
by scientists revealed that the
black-capped vireo was declining
in the northern part of its summertime breeding range, which
included Fort Hood.
The vireo suffers for many of
the same reasons as the golden-cheeked warbler, but adds nest
parasitism into the mix. Brown-headed cowbirds do not build
nests or raise their own offspring
but let other bird species do it for
them, including the vireo. This
has aggravated the decline of the
vireo. The black-capped vireo is
adorned with its namesake black
“cap” and what looks like white
spectacles bridging its face. They
sing an emphatic song from the
Bradley Fighting Vehicle
at Fort Hood.