Bird Walk February 4, 2014

Bird Reports written and photographed by Interpretive Guide John Brush

A group of birders braved the cool, misty morning for our bird walk, and were rewarded with lots of bird activity around the feeders. We got fantastic looks at one of our winter resident Summer Tanagers (a female, with more burnt orange on it than the other). She, along with Clay-colored Thrush, Orange-crowned Warbler and our flock of Plain Chachalacas, came down to snack on the oranges. You can view the bird list on our website, which updated after every walk.

Rufous Hummingbird (JSB)

One of the birds we got great looks at was this Rufous Hummingbird (archived shot of same individual). Hummingbirds spend much of their time perched, allowing for good views (if you can find the bird initially!).

Wilson's Warbler bathing

Another bird we were pleased to see was a male Wilson’s Warbler (archive shot). At least one has made Quinta Mazatlan his winter home, and is regularly seen in the front garden or near the Ruby Pond bird feeding station.

The highlight of the day was seeing two Olive Sparrows, which are often reclusive in the winter, come out to the edge of a clearing to forage. I took a video of a family group last summer; you can see the sort of microhabitat the species uses in our forest.

Have a good week, and hope to see you out on the trails!



Bird Walk January 1st, 2014

Bird report photographed and written by Interpretive Guide John Brush

Rufous Hummingbird QM 1-25-2013


It was a crisp and clear morning at Quinta Mazatlan – temperatures in the mid 40s but with the sun shining brightly. The minute we stepped out the doors we had a nice variety of birds. We barely went 50 yards in 20 minutes because we were seeing so much! A Rufous Hummingbird perched above our heads towards the end of the extravaganza, giving us a “rear view”. You can check out the full list of birds here.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker QM 1-25-2013

This Yellow-bellied Sapsucker flew into a Wild Olive tree behind the cottage and gave us some nice views of its red chin. You can see some of the sap wells the bird has dug on the tree trunk. It will come back and eat both the sap and the insects attracted to the sap.

White-eyed Vireo (1)

It took us a few minutes of searching, but we finally got some brief looks at one of the ever elusive White-eyed Vireos in the park (archive shot). We could hear it singing, could see movement, but seeing these thornforest denizens out in the open is not the easiest! You can listen to the song here.

Curve-billed Thrasher 1-18-2014

We got great looks at this Curve-billed Thrasher in the front garden. It hopped up onto one of our lamp posts and looked like it was enjoying the sunshine (just like we were!). Have a good weekend, and hope to see y’all out on a bird walk!

Bird walks are offered Tuesdays and Saturdays at 8:30 am.

Nature At Your Doorstep

Written by Manager Colleen Curran HookBird Walk 2013-08-24 Buff-bellied Hummer John Brush

With the fast pace lives we lead, there is something very calming about having nature at your doorstep.  Real live nature reminds us of the beauty in life, the seasons, the rise and fall of the sun, as well as the pull of the moon.  Most of us won’t have vast reaches of wilderness to get lost in close to home, but we can create patches and pockets of wildness to enjoy in our own backyards.

In the months of September and October, the valley will enjoy the arrival of hummingbirds.  The Ruby-throated Hummingbird has started their migration—returning to their wintering grounds in Central America and Mexico.  Of the 323 different hummingbirds seen in the Americas, 21 species have been seen in North America.  It is interesting that hummingbirds are found only in the Western Hemisphere!  In the Valley you might see four different hummingbirds:  Buff-bellied (permanent resident), Ruby-throated and Rufous (migrant in September/October) and the Black-chinned Hummingbird (uncommon).


The following 5 TIPS will help you attract hummingbirds to your backyard:

Design in Layers:  Build a top, middle and lower canopy of plants in your garden.  The habitat provides food, place to hide from predators, nesting and resting sites in your yard.

Plant Flowers with Nectar:  While hummingbirds are attracted to red tubular plants, they are opportunistic feeders and are mainly looking for nectar.  Nectar is rich in sugar and attracts pollinators like bees and hummingbirds.  Our top plants at Quinta Mazatlan include the Turk’s Cap, Scarlet Sage, Coral Bean Tree and Wild Olive Tree.

Hang Feeders:  Feeders should be used as “frosting on the cake” with the cake being the habitat!  Most flowering plants provide 20% sugar—so that is your ratio for your nectar creation.  Mix 4 parts water to 1 part sugar.  There is no need for red dye as it might hurt the birds—and the red on your “hanging feeder” will attract attention.  The feeders should be cleaned twice a week.

Insects are Good-Avoid Insecticides:  The birds feed their young a diet of small insects. The adults get their protein from mosquitoes, spiders, gnats and others.  Some even hang overripe melons and bananas near a feeder to attract extra insects.  Obviously using a product that kills insects will also harm the birds. Let the hummingbirds control the insects!

Don’t Forget the Water:  A constant source of water will complete your hummingbird haven.  If you have a bird bath, add a couple of rocks to give the tiny birds a shallow place to bathe.  You can also add a drip fountain attachment or a simple sprinkler for them to fly through.

These Jewels in Flight known in Spanish as Joyas Voladores are beautiful to view and they help control our mosquitoes as they feed on insects!  If you are interested in designing a wilderness in your yard consider taking the Backyard Habitat Steward Program at Quinta Mazatlan.