Bird Walk October 4, 2014

Cool weather is most welcome this time of year. The recent cold front north of here graced the air with refreshing northeastern winds that brought a relief from the heat, as well as newly-arrived birds. During fall migration, many birds will make their largest migrational jaunts when the conditions are just right, and a tail-wind helps birds make this amazing journey with less effort.

Newly-arrived songbirds made themselves known throughout the vegetation this morning. Four beautiful species of warblers were seen today, including a male TROPICAL PARULA, a male American Redstart, a female Yellow Warbler, and a dapper male Black-and-white Warbler. The Tropcial Parula is a a lower Rio Grande Valley specialist (when considering where it can be found within the United States). They are much more common throughout Central America, and this beautiful, tropical species of warbler is quite sought-after by many birdwatchers that come down to the valley for the winter months!

American Redstart

American Redstart

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Northern Parula

Look closely… Can you find the Tropical Parula?

We were treated to delightful views of the year-round Inca Doves. This small dove species has a unique scalloped appearance throughout the feathers on their bodies, and these fine details compliment their deep-red eyes beautifully. If you’re lucky enough to see them stretching or flying-by, you will see their rusty-red wings.


Inca Dove

INDO pair

Cuddling Inca Doves, with a bit stretch!

The good ol’ Plain Chachalacas were seen grazing throughout the trees as well as the shrubs closer to the ground.  It has been a great time seeing the families of Plain Chachalaca raise their young at Quinta Mazatlan this summer! The chachalaca shown below is one of two siblings from one of the chachalaca families. Note the paler-faced, scruffy look on this young one. As this bird matures, it will have a darker face and more clean-cut look overall.


Juvenile Plain Chachalaca

One lone red-bordered pixie was seen today. This butterfly species is found primarily throughout Central America. While being out at the right time of year (and the right area), you may get lucky at seeing this southern species of butterfly. The only place within the country that experiences this butterfly happens to be the southernmost tip of Texas, right where we are!

red-bordered pixie

Red-bordered pixie

The Great Kiskadees made their presence know with their comical and exciting chatter! Here is one taking a little breather from calling.


Great Kiskadee

If you’re not able to be out first-thing tomorrow morning (to see the upcoming migrating songbirds with this cool front), be sure to keep your eyes to the skies today and tomorrow. The cool temperatures this time of year are not only pushing songbirds south, but raptors as well. Here is an adult Broad-winged Hawk that we saw riding a thermal this morning.


Adult Broad-winged Hawk

Here is the eBird list from this morning’s bird walk:

Plain Chachalaca  18
Turkey Vulture  1
Broad-winged Hawk  2     Both adults. One bird was flushed by accident from a roosting branch, the other was actively migrating upon being sighted.
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  1
Inca Dove  14
White-winged Dove  5
Mourning Dove  2
Chimney Swift  4
Golden-fronted Woodpecker  2
Ladder-backed Woodpecker  1
Olive-sided Flycatcher  1
Great Kiskadee  2
Couch’s Kingbird  4
White-eyed Vireo  2
Purple Martin  3
Tree Swallow  1
Cliff Swallow  1
Cave Swallow  3
Black-crested Titmouse  1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  3
Clay-colored Thrush  4
Curve-billed Thrasher  1
Northern Mockingbird  5
European Starling  3
Black-and-white Warbler  1     Male
American Redstart  1     Male
Northern Parula  1     Male
Yellow Warbler  1     Female
Olive Sparrow  6
Northern Cardinal  2
Great-tailed Grackle  2
Lesser Goldfinch  4
House Sparrow  6

Good birding,

Erik Bruhnke


Bird Banding 10-27-13

Bird Banding 10-27-13 Curve-billed Thrasher John Brush

Hello all, after a busy day of leading bird walks for school groups on Saturday (lots and lots of enthusiastic young birders!), we opened the park up early Sunday morning to let in some local ornithologists for bird banding.

While we waited for the birds to start flying into the mist nets, I took the time to wander around the park a bit. This Curve-billed Thrasher presented a lovely portrait of a truly South Texas chimney – Prickly Pear and Chili Pequin included!

Bird Banding 10-27-13 Buff-bellied Hummingbird John Brush

Our new supervisor Tiffany brought a precious Buff-bellied Hummingbird out from the nets – it didn’t want to leave her hand! You can see the pollen caked on this little birds forehead; a sign its been busy pollinating. After a sip of sugar water, the hummingbird took off into the forest.


The licensed and trained bird banders have to be very careful and patient to safely get the birds untangled, and the nets are checked regularly to make sure no bird is caught for too long. This was one of two Tennessee Warblers that flew into a net together – both were safely taken out and banded.

Bird Banding 10-27-13 American Redstart John Brush

The Bird of the Day was this absolutely stunning American Redstart. This individual was determined to be a younger male of the species because of the orange mottling on the back. These graceful warblers breed to our north and winter to our south, but I will keep my eye out for this individual – maybe it will stay at QM for a bit!