Written and photographed by Interpretive Guide John Brush
Hello all, it was yet another wonderful day to be outside and enjoying nature. A nice group of visitors joined me for our 8:30 bird walk, and we enjoyed an hours walk around the trails. We briefly ran into a local birder, Mary Beth, who had a few birds we missed on the morning (like flyover Greater White-fronted Goose), and we finished with a decent 26 species. You can view the full list here.
We saw quite a few Golden-fronted Woodpeckers out in the park, and they all really shone in the morning light. In this shot you can really see the supportive action of the stiff tail feathers!
A Red-tailed Hawk (archive shot) has been foraging in and around the park for the past few weeks. This species would be an excellent example of a typical hawk in the genus Buteo, which has many members in North America. Red-tailed Hawks have an incredible array of plumages (check out this rufous morph here) and so can be a source of confusion for beginning birders.
Our Bird of the Day was the Clay-colored Thrush. We saw a small flock of them foraging for fallen fruits out in the open, then this one perched right above our heads in a mesquite tree. You can really see the red eye!
Bird walks are offered Tuesdays and Saturdays at 8:30 am – free with price of admission ($3 adults/$2 seniors and children)
This is a weekly bird report written and photographed by our Interpretive Guide and Birder John Brush.
Three birders joined me for the Tuesday Morning Bird walk. We enjoyed walking slowly through the park, listening for birds and chatting about the bird life of the Valley. As it has been lately, the birds were pretty quiet in the park, but a few mid-walk sightings got our blood pumping.
This Red-tailed Hawk took a perch in one of our palm trees by Ruby Pond, giving us great looks as it tried to balance on the wavering fronds. One thing to notice on this bird is the white fringes on the scapulars (the feathers on the back). This is a good marker for Red-tailed Hawks. However, these hawks show great variety in plumages, so you may not always see as much white, or any at all!
Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks are starting to check out the park again for suitable nesting sites. We saw four of them (not my photo) flying around the park. These ducks are actually one of our cavity nesting birds in the RGV! They look for large cavities, either an old and expanded woodpecker hole, or a natural cavity in a tree. They also will sometimes nest on flat roof-tops. Note the large white patch on the upper wing – this is a distinctive feature in flight.
The Bird of the Day wasn’t hard to choose this time – it was definitely this beautiful Hooded Oriole we saw in the parking lot. These orioles look superficially similar to the larger Altamira Oriole, but can be distinguished from that species in several ways. As mentioned, size can be a good indicator: Hooded Orioles are much smaller and have slender bills built for capturing insects and drinking nectar. They also have a white patch on the shoulder, whereas the Altamira would have an orange patch. Lastly, the calls are different. We heard this bird giving the typical call – a soft, musical wheet. Look for their nests tucked underneath a palm frond.
Join us for a Bird Walk! Tuesdays 8:30am-10:00am at Quinta Mazatlan in McAllen, Texas.