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!

Bird Walk: April 16th, 2013

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

Had a nice group of birders come along for the morning walk, along with our regular crew. We started off the morning with a bang, seeing a Green Jay, a couple female Summer Tanagers, and an Ovenbird (a cute little warbler that walks on the forest floor).

Bird Walk 2013-04-16 Swainsons Thrush

We also got looks at this Swainson’s Thrush, a migratory thrush, at the water feature beneath the big Anacua tree. Many thrushes have the same general appearance, with speckled breasts and an overall brownish color. One of the field marks of this species is the tan eye-ring, and pale supraloral band going from the bill to the eye.

Bird Walk 2013-04-16 Nashville Warbler

We also saw some migrant warblers, such as this Nashville Warbler. These birds have bright yellow breasts and bellies, but the distinguishing marks is the gray hood and large white eye ring. They are migrating through in large numbers, and are fun birds to see.

Bird Walk 2013-04-16 Yellow-breasted Chat

Yellow-breasted Chat is another neotropical migrant in the warbler family. They are larger than most warblers, and have much thicker bills. They like to be in thickets near water, but will occasionally come out into the open. Today we got to see one bathing in Ruby Pond!

Bird Walk 2013-04-16 Mississippi Kite

Mississippi Kite is another species of raptor that migrates through the Rio Grande Valley in large numbers. These birds have the stereotypical shape of a kite – long, thin wings and a slender body. Watch for them in the evenings as they come down to roost in wooded areas; they’ll even spend the night in your neighborhood, as they have mine!

Join us for a Bird Walk! Tuesdays (through April) 8:30am-10:00am at Quinta Mazatlan in McAllen, Texas.