Songbird Stroll September 26, 2015

The past 24 hours have been quite wet and humid here at Quinta Mazatlan, and one can only imagine the overnight activity of insects, toads, raccoons, and more the park experienced. The bird walk started off the morning with a brief, but bright, look at a male Hooded Warbler (not pictured). These neotropical migrants are migrating through the Valley on the way to their wintering grounds in Central America.

Great Crested Flycatcher

Great-crested Flycatchers have a distinctive “wheep” call that is regularly given as they migrant through the Valley. Other field marks include the bright yellow belly leading up to olive-gray on the chest, and a rich brown on the back.

Another migrant we saw was a Great Crested Flycatcher. This species nests in the eastern half of the United States and winters in Central and South America. It is a member of the genus Myiarchus in the Tyrant Flycatcher family. There are two other Myiarchus flycatchers that we see in the Lower Rio Grande Valley; the Brown-crested Flycatcher and the Ash-throated Flycatcher (both of which nest in our area). This was a bird one of our visitors had mentioned as an example of a migrant species he’d like to see – sometimes we do get what we wish for!

This Green June Beetle was feeding on the flowers of one of our Potato Trees, yet another example of the natural resources Quinta Mazatlan provides for wildlife!

This Green June Beetle was feeding on the flowers of one of our Potato Trees, yet another example of the natural resources Quinta Mazatlan provides for wildlife!

Even though our main purpose on Songbird Strolls is to look at birds, one can’t help but notice and admire all the other wildlife for which Quinta Mazatlan provides food and shelter. As the walk was finishing up this morning, some of us noticed these large, green beetles flying around a Potato Tree. After a little online research, I figured these insects to be Green June Bugs (Cotinis nitida). These pretty beetles feed on pollen, nectar, and flowers themselves.

Here is the eBird list for the walk – hope to see you out here next time!

29 species
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck  2
Plain Chachalaca  17
Great Egret  1
Inca Dove  3
White-winged Dove  35
Common Pauraque  1
Chimney Swift  10
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  3
Buff-bellied Hummingbird  2
Golden-fronted Woodpecker  6
Great Crested Flycatcher  1
Great Kiskadee  8
Cave Swallow  1
Carolina Wren  1
Bewick’s Wren  1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  2
Clay-colored Thrush  9
Curve-billed Thrasher  4
Long-billed Thrasher  2
Northern Mockingbird  1
European Starling  5
Hooded Warbler  1
Yellow Warbler  1
Olive Sparrow  2
Northern Cardinal  2
Dickcissel  3
Great-tailed Grackle  15
Lesser Goldfinch  2
House Sparrow  40

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Bird Walk 9-21-13

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

The birding was excellent on this gray, wet morning. I finished the morning with 53 species – nearly equaling my previous high for a morning of birding at QM – and warblers had much to do with it! I saw 13 species of warbler in the park, most of them moving through the forest along the Wildcat trail and the path to Ebony Grove.

Bird Walk 9-21-13 Great Crested Flycatcher John Brush

We started off our walk over by Ruby Pond, where this Great Crested Flycatcher sat very cooperatively in some open branches of a mesquite. Flycatchers in the genus Myiarchus look very similar for the most part, so it can take a little time to get familiar with IDing them. This isn’t the most diagnostic shot of a Great Crested, but you can see a touch of the darker gray on the throat, and the light base to the lower part of the bill (mandible). Overall, Great Crested Flycatchers are much more bright and contrasting than the other Myiarchus in the area. Learning the calls always helps too! Great Crested Flycatchers are a species that migrates through the Lower Rio Grande Valley, spending the winter mostly in Central America.

Bird Walk 9-21-13 Swainson's Thrush John Brush

This Swainson’s Thrush popped up for a half minute or so along the far eastern portion of hte Ebony Grove trail. The buffy line extending from the bill to the similarly colored eye ring is a good field mark for this species. This is another neotropical migrant species, one that has much of its breeding range in the northern US and in Canada.

Bird Walk 9-21-13 Yellow Warbler John Brush

And now we come to a couple warbler pictures. Given the gray, dark morning it was difficult getting shots of these quick-moving birds, but this Yellow Warbler took a brief moment to pause near a water feature. These mostly uni-colored birds (varying shades of yellow, with males having rusty streaks on the breast) are a very common migrant through the LRGV – their yellow plumage and distinctive flight calls of “zeet” make them pretty easy to find.
I could choose any one of the 13 species of warbler for my Bird of the Day (heck, I could choose any of the 53 species we saw) but I can’t deny that Blackburnian Warblers are some of my favorites.
Bird Walk 9-21-13 Blackburnian Warbler John Brush
This female Blackburnian was foraging somewhat by herself on the edge of a mixed flock of warblers, and boy does she catch the eye; between the yellow and dusky contrast on the face and the white wing-bars, this really is a fine looking bird. I highly encourage you to get out and do some birding, even if its in your backyard – the Valley is starting to heat up (with birds).
Have a great weekend!