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 14th, 2014

Bird Reports are written and photographed by Interpretive Guide John Brush

???????????????????????????????Quinta Mazatlan has been a favorite hang out for a group of Green Parakeets. We’ve seen groups of 4, 5, and 6 individuals in the park over the past week. These two individuals were busy expanding a nest cavity, with bits of palm falling out from the hole as they did their work.


The beautiful calls and plumage of the male Lesser Goldfinch have a strong connection with the heat of summer in my mind. Maybe its the bright yellow feathers, or the memories of their sweet, yet almost melancholic, whistles on those scorching hot days of past years. Either way, this little bird is one of my favorites.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker Tres Palmas

Male Golden-fronted Woodpeckers often pose wonderfully as they spend time sunning – its always a pleasure to see the golden, orange, and red colors on their heads.


The fledgling Bronzed Cowbird was being fed by a pair of Olive Sparrows. Bronzed Cowbirds are known to parasitize Olive Sparrows, but a study done by one of my father’s graduate students showed that Bronzed Cowbirds respond more to the calls of other species of bird, like Hooded Orioles and Long-billed Thrashers, than Olive Sparrows. This preference may be because Olive Sparrow nests, built low to the ground, experience high predation rates, and so it would not be evolutionarily “smart’ for the cowbirds to parasitize the nests. Still, its fairly common to see Olive Sparrows feeding cowbird young.

As always, the bird list is below. Stay cool!

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck  2
Plain Chachalaca  4
Green Heron  1
White-winged Dove  10
Inca Dove  8
Chimney Swift  4
Golden-fronted Woodpecker  7
Ladder-backed Woodpecker  2     fledgling being fed by adult female
Green Parakeet  6     two expanding hole in palm (saw bits of palm forced from cavity)
Brown-crested Flycatcher  4
Great Kiskadee  2
Couch’s Kingbird  2
Tropical/Couch’s Kingbird  1
Purple Martin  1
Cave Swallow  1
Black-crested Titmouse  2
Clay-colored Thrush  1
Curve-billed Thrasher  3
Long-billed Thrasher  1
Northern Mockingbird  2
Olive Sparrow  3     feeding Bronzed Cowbird fledgling, no other young present
Northern Cardinal  1
Great-tailed Grackle  3
Bronzed Cowbird  1     one fledgling, being fed by Olive Sparrows
Brown-headed Cowbird  1
Lesser Goldfinch  3     aggression between males, fight in flight
House Sparrow  25

Bird Walk: June 22nd, 2013

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

Had the morning bird walk to myself for the first time this summer – interesting because in past years we could go a couple months in summer without any visitors. Not anymore! This allowed me to spend a little more time photographing and taking videos of some of Quinta Mazatlan’s “Backyard Birds”.

Bird Walk 2013-06-22 Northern Cardinal John Brush

One thing I spent time looking for was bands on any of the birds I saw. Mark Conway, a local bird bander, had asked me to do so a while back, and I’ve been keeping a loose eye on it. This Northern Cardinal male has a band on his left leg.

Bird Walk 2013-06-22 Bronzed Cowbird John Brush

I followed this Bronzed Cowbird female around the trails for a few minutes, trying to get a decent shot. After reviewing it, I noticed that she, too, had a band on her left leg! Bronzed Cowbird females often get rather sneaky during the breeding season, as they look for nests to parasitize.

Bird Walk 2013-06-22 Curve-billed Thrasher John Brush

I remember attending the banding session when we caught and banded this specific Curve-billed Thrasher.  The distinctive feature of this bird is the once-broken right leg. You can see it healed a little crooked, but obviously has not had much of an impact on the life of this bird.

Bird Walk 2013-06-22 Curve-billed Thrasher nest John Brush

I checked the Curve-billed Thrasher nest in the parking lot and was excited to see a very newly hatched bird! According to the Birds of North America series, Curve-billed Thrasher eggs hatch asynchronously, with sometimes up to 24 hours between individual eggs hatching. By Tuesday or Wednesday next week all the eggs should have hatched.  Keep up with this nest on our Facebook!

Have a good weekend!

Join us for a Bird and Nature Walk at 8:30am every Saturday throughout the summer at Quinta Mazatlan!