Bird Walk May 20th, 2014

Bird Reports are written and photographed by Interpretive Guide/Naturalist John Brush

Eastern Kingbird
It was a good day to enjoy looking at flycatchers – I had 6 different species on the morning. It started off with seeing a couple Eastern Kingbirds, which are easy to tell from the other species of kingbird in the area due to the lack of yellow and the black cap and back. They only pass through in migration; the closest area they breed is North and Eastern Texas, starting around the general vicinity of Houston.

Acadian and YB Flycatcher collage
Flycatchers in the genus Empidonax can be very tough to tell apart. They all are small, all have wingbars, and have subtle-to-no differences in plumage. The above photo has two different species of Empidonax: the top is the Acadian Flycatcher (identified by its larger, longer bill and its “peace” calls) and the bottom is the Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (proportionally smaller bill, yellow on throat (whitish in Acadian). We have five regular Empidonax flycatchers that migrate through the area, driving birders crazy!

???????????????????????????????
In the summer, Green Jays can in general get a little less easy to see, but don’t tell that to this individual bird! It came right out in front of me, about two meters away, and perched calmly on a soapberry branch. It is these special moments that make birding so wonderful – you never know when you’ll get an intimate viewing of a beautiful bird.

Eastern Screech-Owl
The Bird of the Day, just because I hadn’t seen one in the park since March, was this Eastern Screech-Owl. A group of visiting birders from San Diego had been hoping to see one, so I was quite pleased it decided to make an appearance. Thank you, Screechy! As always, full bird list from the walk is below. Enjoy!

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 7

Plain Chachalaca 8

White-winged Dove 26

Inca Dove 4

Eastern Screech-Owl (McCall’s) 1

Chimney Swift 4

Ruby-throated/Black-chinned Hummingbird 1

Buff-bellied Hummingbird 1

Golden-fronted Woodpecker 6

Ladder-backed Woodpecker 1

Eastern Wood-Pewee 3

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 1

Acadian Flycatcher 2

Brown-crested Flycatcher 2

Great Kiskadee 3

Eastern Kingbird 2

Green Jay 1

Purple Martin 1

Carolina Wren 3     Family Group

Curve-billed Thrasher 6

Long-billed Thrasher 2

Northern Mockingbird 5

European Starling 1

Yellow Warbler 2

Olive Sparrow 2

Northern Cardinal 2

Red-winged Blackbird 1

Great-tailed Grackle 3

Brown-headed Cowbird 1

Orchard Oriole 1

Hooded Oriole 1

Lesser Goldfinch 2

House Sparrow 35

Bird Walk August 31st, 2013

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

It was a beautiful Saturday morning for a bird walk today – sunny, reasonably warm, and full of activity. Lizards, butterflies, and of course the birds, were all out and about.

Bird Walk 8-31-13 Eastern Kingbird John Brush

Out in the Amphitheater, where the bird feeders were dripping with activity (including bright visits from Lesser Goldfinch and Green Jay), I was puzzled by a twittering coming from the top of a Hackberry. Looking up, the clean white front of a couple Eastern Kingbirds stood out in the sunlight. These kingbirds are migrating from as far north as Canada down into South America. They’re crisp-looking plumage is quite pretty.

Bird Walk 8-31-13 Plain Chachalaca John Brush

The Plain Chachalacas seemed extra beautiful today, and this one definitely proves my point – it was looking quite serene as it sat near the Amphitheater feeding station. There are still some baby chachalacas wandering about the Thornforest with their black mohawks.

The Bird(s) of the Day was a family of Green Herons that were fishing along the shoreline of Ruby Pond.
Bird Walk 8-31-13 Green Heron John Brush
These small herons are some of my personal favorites. Not only do they have beautiful plumage and the graceful (though sometimes awkward) movements that all herons boast, but they also makes neat calls and have interesting behaviors. They are true fisherman – they’ll sometimes use bread, twigs, or other items as bait to help catch fish! The pictured bird is a juvenile, as you can see from the rusty checkers on the wings.
Have a great weekend!
Join us for a Bird and Nature Walk at 8:30am every Saturday throughout the summer at Quinta Mazatlan!

Bird Walk: May 21st, 2013

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

Today the bird walk wanted to focus some on our wonderful array of breeding birds here at Quinta Mazatlan, but of course we also kept our eyes open for all the birds we could see – finished with 37 species for the morning. Bird Walk 2013-05-21 Great Kiskadee John Brush

I started off by taking a few moments to watch a pair of Great Kiskadees hang out near their nest in one of the large Live Oaks near the courtyard. Its a good-sized nest, as you can see in the picture below!

Bird Walk 2013-05-21 Great Kiskadee Nest John Brush

Bird Walk 2013-05-21 White Winged Dove John Brush

This White-winged Dove juvenile (plus its sibling, which you can just the tail of) are being kept under the watchful eye of the adult. Baby White-winged Doves definitely have the “ugly duckling” look – they’re almost cute because they’re so gawky looking!

Bird Walk 2013-05-21 Eastern Kingbird John Brush

There are still migrant bird coming through the Valley, as evidenced by this Eastern Kingbird that was posing for us over by Ruby Pond. You can quite easily see four species of Kingbird in the LRGV (three that nest here), not including the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, which also is a member of the genus Tyrannus.

Bird Walk 2013-05-21 Curve-billed Thrasher Egg John Brush

One of our sharp-eyed visitors spotted this Curve-billed Thrasher egg below a granjeno tree. It looked to already have hatched, and the nest was above it a few feet up, protected by the trees thick double thorns.

???????????????????????????????

The birds that would have hatched from eggs like this are our Birds of the Day – (the great photo was taken by Christine Wolf Williams).   In this picture are four Curve-billed Thrasher chicks! We had seen one of the parents incubating the eggs in the parking lot a few weeks ago, and now the young have hatched are quite well developed. Give it another week or two and they’ll probably be out of the nest, still begging from mom and dad!

Check out more pictures of Spring and Summer babies at Quinta Mazatlan on our Facebook page!

Join us for a Bird and Nature Walk at 8:30am every Saturday throughout the summer (starting June 1st)!