Monarch Gardens at McAllen ISD Schools

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The passing of knowledge: how to plant At Hendricks Elementar

The wind moves some leaves and a butterfly flutters flower from flower, while children watch in wonder. This scene will be common place in several campuses on the McAllen ISD—ten campuses, to be exact—in their newly-planted Monarch gardens.

For a while now, the Monarch butterfly population has been going down at an alarming rate, due to loss of habitat, pesticide and herbicide overuse, and disease. Monarch butterflies pass through the Valley in their journey to and from Michoacan, Mexico, where they overwinter, to places north (all the way to Canada) where they spend the summer. To help them, we can plant a Monarch garden. Butterfly gardens located in homes, businesses, places of worship, schools –really, anywhere there is a patch of soil– provide much needed habitat for butterflies.

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Getting their hands dirty to help Monarchs at Gonzalez Elementary.

This is where the school gardens come in. School gardens have been extolled as having many benefits for children, ranging from academic to social to health. They connect students with something larger than themselves and shows them how they are part of the ecosystem/environment.

In addition, by planting a garden, students are learning they can have a positive effect on the environment and are taking action on an issue– in this case, the decline of the Monarch population. Thus, students are participative citizens in providing a solution to help an environmental issue, which fosters environmental stewardship from an early age.

Last year Quinta Mazatlan reached out to McAllen ISD schools to see if they would be interested in creating Monarch butterfly gardens. Ten schools stepped up to the call and replied they would like to take action and help the monarch. They are 7 elementaries (Fields, Garza, Gonzalez, Hendricks, Perez, Rayburn, and Thigpen-Zavala) and 3 high schools (IB/Lamar Academy, Memorial, and Rowe). These gardens are certified with the National Wildlife Federation, and thus are part of the McAllen’s Mayor’s Monarch Pledge (an initiative to help the Monarchs) and the McAllen ISD Schoolyard Habitat District.

Funding for the plants given to nine of the schools was provided by generous donations of guests at Moon Over Mazatlan, our yearly fundraiser. Schools received native nectar and host plants, and guidance from Quinta Mazatlan if needed. Schools provided their enthusiasm, time, elbow grease, and anything else needed to make this happen. One school funded the project itself, as there were no funds available yet.

Schools tackled this in different ways: gardens were projects for a class, grade, garden club or other student organizations, or a graduation requirement, ranging from Kinder-age students to high school seniors. Adult leaders included teachers of various grades, coaches, principals, custodians, and parent volunteers, without whom this project would not have been possible.

Quinta Mazatlan congratulates these teachers and students who decided to take on an extra project to help the beautiful Monarch. The hope is these gardens and story inspire others to plant more native gardens. You can make a difference, just like these schools.

For more information on how to make a butterfly garden and certify it, please check out our website: http://www.quintamazatlan.com/nativeplants/mayorsmonarchpledge.aspx.

In Sept 2017

 Flower planting flourishing at Rayburn Elementary

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Ocelot

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There are many phantom cats that call the Tamaulipan Forest home. One of the most popular cat is the Ocelot. The word “ocelot” comes from the Aztec word “tlalocelot”, which means field tiger. The small American wild cat is about twice the size of housecats. Their fur coats have distinctive markings in a wide variety of patterns. Each ocelot’s pattern is unique, with dark spots on an orange, tan and white coat.

Ocelots are found in the United States, Mexico, Central America and South America. In the United States, these cats have been found in Arizona and Texas. They have adapted to many different environments, including thorn scrubs, coastal marshes, mangrove forest, savanna grasslands and tropical and subtropical forests.

These solidary wild cats are nocturnal, which means they are active during the night and sleep during the day. They sleep in trees and bushes. Each night, they travel 1 to 5 miles to hunt, and kill one animal per every 3.1 hours of travel.

Ocelots are territorial. They typically have ranges of 2 to 56 square miles for males and .5 to 47 square miles for females. Male territories often overlap with several females’ territories.

Ocelots are not roaring cats: instead they “chuckle” when excited and may “mutter” to one another. They yowl during courtship.

Ocelots hunt prey on the ground and climb trees to hunt. They are carnivores, with specialized teeth for eating meat. They hunt and eat animals such as rodents, rabbits, young deer, birds, snakes and fish. To prevent waste, ocelots will hide their prey and come back to finish it when they are hungry again.

Female ocelots do not conceive easily, consequently male and female ocelots mate between 5 and 10 times daily during mating season. The gestation period of a female ocelot is 80 – 85 days and will give birth to one to three kittens. Kittens are very small at birth, weighing only 7 to 12 ounces. Born with sealed eyes, kittens gain their first glimpse of their mother at 14 days old. They are then weaned at 6 weeks old. Kittens may live in their mother’s territory for up to two years before setting off on their own. Females become sexually mature at 18 to 22 months old and males become sexually mature around 15 months old. They live to around 13 years of age on average.

Ocelots are protected in the United States and most other countries where they live. They are on the endangered list in Texas. The number of ocelots in the US has been reduced to about 30 ocelots in an isolated population in southeast Texas. The habitat of the ocelot is threatened by agriculture, hunting for their fur and pet trade.

Join us for our one-of-a-kind outdoor Sculpture Trail Tour on Thursdays at 10am and develop an appreciation for the vast variety of creatures that call our region home. Each sculpture provides insight into the natural history of the Rio Grande Valley. At each turn of a trail, there’s a new creature to discover.

Jaguar

DSC_1146Jaguars are large cats that can be found in North, Central and South America. They are identified by their yellow or orange coats, dark spots and short legs. The dark spots on their coats are unlike any other cat spots. Each spot looks like a rose and are called rosettes.

Seldom venturing into the high, cooler inland areas, they inhabit the dense chaparral and timbered areas of the New World Tropics. This elegant cat shows a particular fondness for waterside habitats. It is extremely unlikely that this cat occurs in Texas although a rare visit by a wanderer from Mexico is possible. The Jaguar is now considered by most authorities to be extinct from the state. Its food habits are not well known. In Mexico, it is known to prey on peccaries and deer. In the Amazon region it catches fruit-eating fish using its sharp claws as gaff hooks, and it probably preys on deer and large ground-dwelling birds when such items are available.

Large males may grow as long as seven feet and weigh up to 200 pounds, while females are a bit smaller. From head to flank, these cats range in length from 4 to 6 feet. The tail can add another 2 feet in length, though their tails are quite short when compared to other large cats.

In August to September, jaguars mate. The female will be pregnant for about 100 days and give birth to 1 to 3 cubs. They are born with their eyes sealed shut. After about two weeks, the cubs are able to see for the first time. After six months, the cubs’ mother will teach them how to hunt, and after their second birthday, the cub will leave their mother to live on their own.

Join us for our one-of-a-kind outdoor Sculpture Trail Tour on Thursdays at 10am and develop an appreciation for the vast variety of creatures that call our region home. Each sculpture provides insight into the natural history of the Rio Grande Valley. At each turn of a trail, there’s a new creature to discover.

Sculpture Trail Tour – Thursdays at 10am

FEE: Free with general admission.

For groups of 10 or more, please call to reserve a private tour.

Call us at 956-681-3370 for more information.

Cottontailed Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus)

Cotton tailed Rabbits 2 EGCottontail rabbit are global animals that can be found from Canada to South America and, in the United States, from the East Coast to the Great Plains. Cottontails range from reddish brown to gray, but all feature the distinctive “cotton ball” tail for which they are named. Their maximum size is about 18 inches with an average weight of 41 ounces.

The cottontail rabbit seeks out habitat on the fringes of open spaces, such as fields, meadows, and farms, but can adapt to other habitats—including those of humans.

These herbivores browse at night on grasses and herbs and are fond of garden fare such as peas and, of course, lettuce. In winter, their diet becomes a bit coarse and consists of bark, twigs, and buds. During the day, cottontails often remain hidden in vegetation. If spotted, they flee from prey with a zigzag pattern, sometimes reaching speeds of up to 18 miles an hour.

Female cottontail rabbits give birth in shallow ground nests, to young so helpless that perhaps only 15 percent survive their first year. Fortunately, rabbits breed three or four times every year and produce three to eight young each time. Young rabbits mature quickly and are self-sufficient after only four or five weeks. They are sexually mature after only two or three months, so populations are able to grow with staggering speed.

Cottontails are plentiful and can be problematic for farmers; they are also a popular game animal. When they sense danger they thump their hind feet on the ground to alarm others before escaping the danger.

Want to learn more about Cottontail rabbits or other native South Texas animals? Call to schedule a private one-of-a-kind outdoor Sculpture Trail Tour and develop an appreciation for the vast variety of creatures that call our region home. Each sculpture provides insight into the natural history of the Rio Grande Valley. At each turn of a trail, there’s a new creature to discover.

Call us at 956-681-3370 for more information.

Opossums

Opposum EG(1)Opossums are marsupial mammals that originated in South America, and entered North America in the Great American Interchange following the connection of the two continents. The word “opossum” is borrowed from the Virginia Algonquian (Powhatan) language meaning “white dog” or “white beast/animal”. Opossums have prehensile tails. Their semi-prehensile tails are not strong enough to support a mature adult’s weight. Instead, the opossum uses its tail as a brace and a fifth limb when climbing. The tail is occasionally used as a grip to carry bunches of leaves or bedding materials to the nest.

Opossums have a remarkably robust immune system, and show partial or total immunity to the venom of rattlesnakes, cottonmouths, and other pit vipers.

Female opossums often give birth to very large numbers of young, most of which fail to attach to a teat, although as many as thirteen young can attach. The young are weaned between 70 and 125 days, when they detach from the teat and leave the pouch. The opossum lifespan is unusually short for a mammal of its size, usually only two to four years.

Opossums are usually solitary and nomadic, staying in one area as long as food and water are easily available.

Want to learn more about Opossums or other native South Texas animals? Call to schedule a private one-of-a-kind outdoor Sculpture Trail Tour and develop an appreciation for the vast variety of creatures that call our region home. Each sculpture provides insight into the natural history of the Rio Grande Valley. At each turn of a trail, there’s a new creature to discover.

Call us at 956-681-3370 for more information.

Coyote

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Coyotes are members of the dog family (canids) which includes coyotes, dogs, foxes, jackals, and wolves. Coyotes once lived only in prairies and deserts of the western United States and in Mexico. The success of the coyote to thrive almost anywhere in North America, is its ability to adapt to its surroundings. A coyote is naturally adaptable because it eats a wide range of food. Being carnivores, coyotes will eat mice, rabbits, insects, lizards, or even garbage will do.

Coyotes have erect pointed ears and a long drooping tail, which is half the body length and bottle shaped with a black tip. The coloration of coyotes varies from grayish brown to a yellowish gray on the upper parts. The throat and belly are white.

Coyotes are nocturnal predators, but can occasionally be seen during daylight hours. As night falls, one can hear them howl. Howling is a basic communication behavior in coyotes. Either to call the pack back together again after a period of individual hunting or announce their presence to other packs.

Coyotes mate between late January and March. Once the female chooses a partner, the animals may remain paired for a number of years. Young are born after a gestation of 60 to 63 days. Litter size ranges from 1 to 19 pups (the average litter size is 6 pups). They usually breed once each year.

In Native American folklore coyotes are wily and tricky. Some coyotes kill young calves and lambs on people’s ranches and farms. For a century people have tried to kill coyotes by using poison, traps, and guns. Still coyotes continue to thrive. This trickster of Native American tales often gets fooled—but it always bounces back.

Want to learn more about Coyotes or other native South Texas animals? Call to schedule a private one-of-a-kind outdoor Sculpture Trail Tour and develop an appreciation for the vast variety of creatures that call our region home. Each sculpture provides insight into the natural history of the Rio Grande Valley. At each turn of a trail, there’s a new creature to discover.

Call us at 956-681-3370 for more information.

Letterheads

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Jason Matthews research

The year 2018 is a few days away. January 1st will be the start of a new 365-page book in your life, make sure you write a good one. This new year will be an excellent time to embark on a new journey. Visit Quinta Mazatlan and create memories that will last a lifetime. Participate in one of our inspiring tours held throughout the week or bring your little ones out and enjoy one of our many educational programs. To preserve the memories, start a reflective journal and encourage your child to do the same. You can provide authentic writing opportunities for your child by wondering around our 26-acre park with over one mile of trails to explore. Be a writing role model and document the experiences. Quinta Mazatlan has been an oasis of many writing opportunities to various individuals.

 

Many articles, poems, songs, melodies and letters were written here at Quinta Mazatlan by Jason and Marcia Matthews. They both wrote and edited the New American Mercury Magazine articles, Jason penned many poems, lyrics and melodies. Another writing endeavor that the Matthews took on was against Communism. As leaders of, Legion for the Survival of Freedom Inc., many speeches were penned at Quinta Mazatlan. One of the speeches was, How to Recognize the Communist Party Line, the topic that was addressed at various luncheons across the area. Jason would enlist the assistance of then FBI Director, John Edgar Hoover to help facilitate the government’s stance on Communism. The letterheads to their stationary did not stray far from their mission.

Quinta Mazatlán is the City of McAllen’s urban sanctuary that continuously works to enrich people’s lives by sharing knowledge about birds, plants, and environmental stewardship in South Texas. The nature center is an oasis of food, water, and shelter, making it a welcome stopover for birds migrating through the Valley in the spring and fall.

Want to learn more about the history of the area and Quinta Mazatlan? History tours are offered every Friday 10am -11am and are included in the General Admission fee: $2 Children under 12, $2 Seniors (65+) and $3 Adults. Free admission to members and children ages 4 years & under. For groups with 10 or more are required to call in advance and schedule a Private Tour.

Private bookings are available. Quinta Mazatlan is located at 600 Sunset Drive in McAllen, TX.

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