August 12, 2015 Songbird Stroll and more!

The bird life at Quinta Mazatlan is exciting as ever. Families of Black-crested Titmice are seen daily as they feed as a flock throughout the various levels of our forest. One of the summer specialties of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, a Groove-billed Ani, was heard several times during yesterday’s Songbird Stroll. Juvenile Golden-fronted Woodpeckers check out nearly every tree cavity in search of food. Juvenile Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are being seen on a daily basis throughout our native flowers now. They mingle and share scolding notes with the local Buff-bellied Hummingbirds.

BBHU without tail2

BBHU without tail1 This juvenile Buff-bellied Hummingbird is growing its tail. Those wings look so long without having a nearby tail!

The families of songbirds are seen all over our trails. The beautifully-bedraggled young Inca Doves are following their parents around through the forest clearings. Juvenile Great-tailed Grackles are hosting a sharp-looking array of golden-brown and black mottled feathers throughout their appearance. The grackles’ continuous begging can be heard from quite a distance. The pale blue-headed juvenile Green Jays flutter their wings in hopes of a free meal from their parents. Recently-fledged Clay-colored Thrushes give their soothing call notes as they check under many dried layers of leaves. It is a unique time of summer when the bird life both young and old can be found on nearly every tree!

GRKI adult juvenile

Parent (left)  and young (right) Great Kiskadees. Note the adult’s dark bill and yellow crown stripe. Juvenile Great Kiskadees have a yellow gape and a solid black crown.

OLSP feeding close

As you walk through our trails you’re bound to hear the ping-pong ball song and shrilling call note of the Olive Sparrows that live throughout our woods. Several families of Olive Sparrows can be found here this summer.

Two our month-long birding workshops are going on right now. Today’s Intermediate Birding Workshop had some exciting finds including two roosting Common Nighthawks, the popular Common Pauraque, and even a Gray Hawk calling and circling high overhead!


Common Nighthawk roosting during today’s Intermediate Birding Workshop. Digiscoped.


Another Common Nighthawk seen roosting this morning! Digiscoped.


This Common Pauraque’s tail is growing longer every day! Look how those stunning feather details and colors blend into the leaves. Digiscope.

GRHA adult

Adult Gray Hawk circling high up in the sky this morning.

Below is yesterday morning’s Songbird Stroll bird list.
Plain Chachalaca  20
Black-necked Stilt  1
Killdeer  1
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  3
Inca Dove  25
White-tipped Dove  2
White-winged Dove  15
Mourning Dove  10
Groove-billed Ani  1
Eastern Screech-Owl (McCall’s)  1
Common Nighthawk  1
Common Pauraque  2
Chimney Swift  3
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1     Juvenile
Buff-bellied Hummingbird  4
Golden-fronted Woodpecker  4
Ladder-backed Woodpecker  2
Green Parakeet  6
Great Kiskadee  10
Couch’s Kingbird  5
White-eyed Vireo  1
Green Jay  3
Purple Martin  5
Cliff Swallow  3
Cave Swallow  5
Black-crested Titmouse  6
Carolina Wren  2
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  1
Clay-colored Thrush  5
Curve-billed Thrasher  3
Long-billed Thrasher  1
Northern Mockingbird  7
European Starling  1
Olive Sparrow  5
Northern Cardinal  2
Great-tailed Grackle  12
Bronzed Cowbird  1
Brown-headed Cowbird  2
Orchard Oriole  5
Lesser Goldfinch  5
House Sparrow  15

This morning’s Intermediate Birding Workshop bird hike results are below.

Plain Chachalaca  21
Gray Hawk  1     adult
Swainson’s Hawk  1     migrating adult
Killdeer  1
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  5
Inca Dove  4
White-winged Dove  25
Mourning Dove  10
Eastern Screech-Owl (McCall’s)  1
Common Nighthawk  2
Common Pauraque  1
Chimney Swift  3
Buff-bellied Hummingbird  3
Golden-fronted Woodpecker  2
Ladder-backed Woodpecker  1
Great Kiskadee  4
Couch’s Kingbird  1
Green Jay  3
Purple Martin  3
Cliff Swallow  1
Black-crested Titmouse  4
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  1
Clay-colored Thrush  4
Curve-billed Thrasher  1
Northern Mockingbird  3
European Starling  1
Olive Sparrow  5
Great-tailed Grackle  20
Lesser Goldfinch  2
House Sparrow  30

Good Birding,

Erik Bruhnke


Bird Walk August 24th, 2013

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

It was a surprisingly cool and fresh morning over at Quinta Mazatlan – almost felt like some fall weather blowing in! Though there weren’t many migrating birds to accompany it (aside from Yellow Warbler and Orchard Oriole), it still ended up being a great morning of birding. There are still some juvenile birds around in the park, from species like Plain Chachalaca, Curve-billed Thrasher, and Golden-fronted Woodpecker.

Quinta Mazatlan Olive Sparrow

One permanent resident that I have a hard time photographing is this thorn forest denizen – the Olive Sparrow. These subtly colored birds like to hang out in the dense understory of our Tamaulipan Thorn Scrub, often in the shadows, making it tough to get prolonged views. This one hopped out onto a bench in our Ebony Grove, and made a beeline for a seed!

Bird Walk 2013-08-24 Olive Sparrow2 John Brush

And here its got it! Look at that angular, thick bill – perfect for munching on that seed.

Bird Walk 2013-08-24 Buff-bellied Hummer John Brush

Buff-bellied Hummingbirds have been very active in the park lately, constantly chasing each other and attending plants of all sorts in our gardens. If you’re patient and listen for their “tikking” calls, you can get rewarded by some fantastic looks.

Bird Walk 2013-08-24 Common Pauraque John Brush

One of our local Common Pauraques made an appearance this morning along Bougainvillea Lane. Always a treat to encounter these well-camouflaged beauties. You can really see the white in this bird’s tail – it looks as if it may be molting.

Bird Walk 2013-08-24 Common Nighthawk John Brush

The pauraque wasn’t the only species of nightjar (family Caprimulgidae) seen this morning. I was excited to get photos of this Common Nighthawk, a species I had never photographed before. These nighthawks, and their close relative the Lesser Nighthawk, frequently nest on gravel rooftops of schools and other buildings. This one was roosting in typical fashion – on a horizontal limb of a mesquite. They are incredibly acrobatic, using their long thin wings to great avail as they catch flying insects high in the air.

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