Bird Hike February 24, 2015

All five Songbird Stroll participants bundled up well as we birded through the trails of Quinta Mazatlan this morning. The chachalacas were fluffed up and huddled close to each other throughout most of the morning. Being from the north, I found these temperatures to be refreshing, however for the year-round wildlife found throughout the Rio Grande Valley, these cool temps (especially this late in the winter season) came as a bit of a shock to the wildlife. Great Kiskadees were feeding readily at the suet and orange halves. In between feeding sessions, these birds would perch on a branch and rouse their feathers to retain their warmth. One Gray Catbird was seen this morning, staying quite low to the ground. After watching it for a few minutes, it scratched around the leaf litter in search of a meal. We can greatly help birds out by planting native vegetation and offering birdfeeders. Birds benefit greatly from birdfeeders and native habitat, which are especially important when cold fronts and inclement weather comes through.


Gray Catbird, an uncommon but regular winter resident of the Rio Grande Valley

Participants were treated to great views of fun birds at the birdfeeding stations and along Birding Creek. After a few minutes of enjoying the presence of the flurry of birds, a swift-moving Sharp-shinned Hawk took flight overhead and landed atop a nearby perch, keeping its eye out for sudden movements for a potential meal. Following the Sharp-shinned Hawk was a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk. This gorgeous mid-sized accipiter was molting from juvenile plumage into its first set of adult feathers. The belly feathers were mostly white, and vertically-streaked in brown markings’ however the underwings and flanks of the birds were beginning to show the horizontally-barred in rufous appearance. These rufous feathers are seen throughout the entire underbelly on full-adult Cooper’s Hawks (as well as adult Sharp-shinned Hawks too).


Sharp-shinned Hawk taking flight.


The hind end of a White-eyed Vireo


Clay-colored Thrush


Common Pauraque, resting on the ground this morning. Note how fluffed up he is, to stay warm during this cold front.


Great Kiskadee and Green Jay.

PLCH fluffy

Some of the Plain Chachalacas were roosting shoulder-to-shoulder to stay warm.

PLCH feet

Three sets of Plain Chachalaca feet, lined up on the branch.


Eastern Cottontail

The eBird list from this morning’s Songbird Stroll is below.

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck  350
Plain Chachalaca  15
Sharp-shinned Hawk  1
Cooper’s Hawk  1
Harris’s Hawk  1
Buff-bellied Hummingbird  1
Great Kiskadee  3
Tropical Kingbird  2
Black-crested Titmouse  2
House Wren  1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  2
Clay-colored Thrush  7
Orange-crowned Warbler  3
Yellow-rumped Warbler  1
Olive Sparrow  3
Northern Cardinal  2
Red-winged Blackbird  1
Great-tailed Grackle  3
House Sparrow  2

Good birding,

Erik Bruhnke


Bird Walk: May 14th, 2013

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

Red Crowned Parrot Christine Williams


Lilac Crowned Parrot Christine Williams

As we were walking up to the Discovery Center this morning, we came across Christine and saw that she was watching some Red-crowned Parrots, and a Lilac Crowned Parrot (possibly escaped pet) (photos by Christine) in a couple large Coral Beans! I’m assuming they were eating the beans themselves, but the birds quickly flushed. A good start to the morning walk, one that yielded 47 species of bird!

Bird Walk 2013-05-14 Gray Catbird John Brush

As we started onto the trails, we quickly ran into a bunch of migrant birds, such as this Gray Catbird. Migration is still going, with warblers still passing through and Empidonax flycatchers just starting to hit their peak.

Bird Walk 2013-05-14 Buff-bellied Hummingbird John Brush

This Buff-bellied Hummingbird was very cooperative, sitting just a couple meters off the trail. I believe this bird is a juvenile because it really doesn’t have much of the bright green throat that you’d typically see on adults. Also notice the overall dark bill and muted colors. If you can watch for hummingbirds when they dive into a thicket, you’re often rewarded with some great looks!

Bird Walk 2013-05-14 Acadian Flycatcher John Brush

This is yet another shot of an Epidonax flycatcher. This one, after reviewing several guides, looks to be an Acadian Flycatcher. William, who also was snapping a few shots of this bird, noticed that above the eye there appears to be a parasite of some sort (not sure what kind, however). Like other animals, birds will have some specialized parasites that feed only on them, such as Hippoboscid flies.

MacGillivrays Warbler Creative Commons

The Bird of the Day was the skulking MacGillivray’s Warbler that we only got a few glimpses of (too quick to get any photos).  This photo (creative commons photo) really shows the distinctive field mark of the MacGillivray’s Warbler – the wide broken eye-ring. The similar Mourning Warbler also has the dark hood, yellow belly, but lacks the broken eye ring. MacGillivray’s Warblers are listed as occasional visitors to the LRGV, as their range and migration route it mostly to the west.

Join us for our last bird walk of the Spring – Tuesday, May 21st at 8:30am.  Then, join us for a Birding and Nature Walk at 8:30am every Saturday throughout the summer (starting June 1st)!