Songbird Stroll — November 10, 2015

This morning was cool, and perfect for a bird walk.

Our first bird of the morning was this lovely White-winged Dove.

Quinta Maztalan Nov 2015

They have striking orange eyes and bright blue coloring under their eyes.

Speaking of doves, we also saw one of my personal favorites, the Inca Dove.

Quinta Maztalan Nov 2015

These small doves engage in some pretty odd behavior. They pyramid roost, which means they huddle together, sometimes sitting on the backs of the other doves. Some of the pyramids may be three layers high and include up to a dozen birds!

As our walk continued we saw our resident Eastern Screech-Owl observing us somewhat sleepily.

Quinta Maztalan Nov 2015 2 FB

We next saw this Buff-bellied Hummingbird flitting around the Turks Cap, one of it’s favorite sources of nectar.  I got a picture while it was imitating the Thinker’s pose.

Quinta Maztalan Nov 2015 4 FB

Our bird walks are always full of interesting sights, sounds and smells.

One of our visitors remarked on how clean smelling it was, and John Brush said he liked to imagine that all the trees were working hard purifying the air for us.



Here is the bird list

Plain Chachalaca 16
Inca Dove 3
White-winged Dove 10
Eastern Screech-Owl 1
Buff-bellied Hummingbird 1
Golden-fronted Woodpecker 3
Ladder-backed Woodpecker 1
Great Kiskadee 8
Tropical Kingbird 1
Green Jay 3
Black-crested Titmouse 1
House Wren 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
Hermit Thrush 1
Clay-colored Thrush 7
Long-billed Thrasher 1
Northern Mockingbird 3
European Starling 2
Black-and-white Warbler 1
Orange-crowned Warbler 1
Northern Cardinal 1
Indigo Bunting 1
Great-tailed Grackle 4
House Sparrow 35

Bird Walk July 8, 2014

Bird Report written and photographed by John Brush

Eastern Screech-Owl juveIt was another sunny and warm summer morning at Quinta Mazatlan, and with lots of bird activity. Orchard Orioles are starting to migrate back through as they make their journey south. One of the most exciting sights of the morning was this young Eastern Screech-Owl. After looking at us sleepily a few moments, it suddenly cracked it eyes open and gave us this wonderful look. This is the first juvenile screech-owl I’ve seen in the park this summer.

Cane ToadWe don’t only take time to look at birds on the walk – we love enjoying all the wonderful wildlife Quinta Mazatlan has to offer. This Cane Toad sat stoically by a water feature.

Texas Spiny Lizard (1)Another fun non-bird sighting was this Texas Spiny Lizard. It was thoroughly unafraid of us. Look at how long its claws are – great for climbing trees!

Bronzed Cowbird in HOOR nestThe mystery of what species the nestling in the Hooded Oriole nest was solved today. The dark feathers and big bill both indicate its a cowbird, and most likely Bronzed. Hooded Orioles get parasitized by cowbirds very commonly, and it has affected their population in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

Full Bird List:

Plain Chachalaca  7     chicks of different ages in same group – one newly hatched and one much older
Green Heron  1
White-winged Dove  20
Inca Dove  2
Eastern Screech-Owl (McCall’s)  1     juvenile
Chimney Swift  10
Buff-bellied Hummingbird  2
Golden-fronted Woodpecker  6
Green Parakeet  2
Brown-crested Flycatcher  1
Great Kiskadee  3
Couch’s Kingbird  2
Purple Martin  8
Black-crested Titmouse  1
Carolina Wren  2
Clay-colored Thrush  3
Curve-billed Thrasher  5
Long-billed Thrasher  2
Northern Mockingbird  3
European Starling  1
Olive Sparrow  3
Northern Cardinal  1
Bronzed Cowbird  1     nestling in Hooded Oriole nest
Orchard Oriole  5
Lesser Goldfinch  1
House Sparrow  15

Bird Walk June 21, 2014

Bird Reports are written and photographed by Naturalist John Brush


Plain Chachalacas are some of the most stand-out birds in the Valley, with their gawky behavior and chicken-like appearance. Somewhat surprisingly, I have personally yet to see a chachalaca chick running around the forest this year (though I know some co-workers have).



This female Golden-fronted Woodpecker posed for the group in an odd fashion, and we also got to see the shiny band on her left leg – meaning she’s been banded right here at Quinta Mazatlan!


The bird walk enjoying some Green Parakeets.


As always, the Curve-billed Thrashers made appearances. We got to see one building another nest in Ebony Grove, only about 20-30 feet away from a Northern Mockingbird nest.

Bird list is below:

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck  1
Plain Chachalaca  8
Green Heron  1
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron  1
Swainson’s Hawk  1
White-winged Dove  15
Inca Dove  2
Buff-bellied Hummingbird  2
Golden-fronted Woodpecker  9
Ladder-backed Woodpecker  2
Green Parakeet  4
Brown-crested Flycatcher  5
Great Kiskadee  4
Couch’s Kingbird  1
Carolina Wren  2
Clay-colored Thrush  1
Curve-billed Thrasher  4
Long-billed Thrasher  1
Northern Mockingbird  4
European Starling  5
Olive Sparrow  2
Northern Cardinal  1
Great-tailed Grackle  8
Bronzed Cowbird  1
House Sparrow  15

Bird Walk May 24, 2014

Bird reports are written and photographed by John Brush

Hello all,

Another beautiful morning at Quinta Mazatlan. We had some light sprinkles for a moment and partly cloudy skies, but our south Texas sun broke through for most of the walk. There has been a Long-billed Thrasher that is always singing from the top of the same Anacua tree near the amphitheater. He, as always, wowed all of us on the walk with his musical prowess.

While we were watching the thrasher, a Couch’s Kingbird came up and perched nearby. While Couch’s Kingbirds are tyrant-flycatchers and eat many insects, they also are frugivores. This individual was making short sallies and plucking anacua fruits off the tree.

The Plain Chachalaca is what I would say the most seen bird at Quinta Mazatlan. In fact, our top three birds with the highest frequency of sightings are: Golden-fronted Woodpecker (84.3%), Plain Chachalaca (83.8%), and Great Kiskadee (82.0%).

As usual, full bird list from the walk is below:

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 2     flyover

Plain Chachalaca 7

Cattle Egret 1

White-winged Dove 12

Inca Dove 2

Yellow-billed Cuckoo 1

Eastern Screech-Owl (McCall’s) 1

Chimney Swift 5

Buff-bellied Hummingbird 1

Golden-fronted Woodpecker 5

Green Parakeet 3

Red-crowned Parrot 2     eating anacua fruits

Brown-crested Flycatcher 2

Great Kiskadee 4

Couch’s Kingbird 2

Green Jay 1

Clay-colored Thrush 1

Curve-billed Thrasher 2

Long-billed Thrasher 1

Northern Mockingbird 1

European Starling 4

Common Yellowthroat 1

Magnolia Warbler 1

Olive Sparrow 2

Northern Cardinal 1

Great-tailed Grackle 3

Bronzed Cowbird 1

Brown-headed Cowbird 1

Lesser Goldfinch 1

House Sparrow 50

Bird Walk May 5th, 2014

Buff-bellied Hummingbird QM May 2014
It was a gray and humid morning to start off, with forecasts of rain coming along later. The bird walk managed to get more than half way through before the rains came. The first bird we saw was the Buff-bellied Hummingbird. The bird pictured above (photographed earlier in the week) is an adult male, with a large amount of red on the bill and a deeply forked tail. Hummingbird mating systems aren’t fully understood, but the majority of hummingbirds are polygamous, with females doing the nest building and taking care of the young.

???????????????????????????????On the opposite end of the traditionally “beautiful” birds, such as the hummingbirds, would be the Turkey Vulture. For me, Turkey Vultures lend a mystique to any area in which they occur. On hot, sunny days seeing a Turkey Vulture flying has its own resonance. On a gray, rainy day like this, seeing large, dark Turkey Vultures roosting adds a whole other component to the atmosphere of the park. These vultures are waiting until the inclement weather lifts, so that they can have an efficient lift-off.


Have a great week!


Bird Walk December 3rd, 2013

This is a weekly bird report written and photographed by our Interpretive Guide John Brush

Bird Walk 12-3-2013 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker John Brush
Hello all,
Another fun morning birding at Quinta Mazatlan. We were joined by folks from Dallas, the northwest, and our fine locals, Marcia and Jane.
We started off by seeing a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in its usual Mesquite tree outside front desk area. Note the white bar in the wing, the single black line through the eye, and the red cap. This younger male bird has been hanging around the park for over a month.

Bird Walk 12-3-2013 Carolina Wren John Brush
We got a life bird Carolina Wren for one of our visitors this morning, and it obliged with some of the best looks you could get! These wrens are loud, musical singers, but are often hidden away in dense foliage.

Bird Walk 12-3-2013 Birders and School Group
This is a great example of the multifarious uses of Quinta Mazatlan. Some of the bird walk group is looking at an Eastern Screech-Owl while one of the many school groups we host is walking up Bougainvillea Lane. We love being able to share our beautiful property with visitors of all ages!

Bird Walk 12-3-2013 American Robin John Brush
American Robin is an irregular, somewhat irruptive visitor in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Last year, finding a robin was quite a difficult venture, but this year birders are finding American Robins sporadically across the area.

Have a great week!