Bird Walk July 29, 2014

This morning’s bird hike was nothing short of thrilling. Plain Chachalacas serenaded us with their repetitive calls. Inca Doves cooed softly with their gentle calls of “no hope.” Northern Mockingbirds filled the tree tops with chatter. The happy-toned songs of Lesser Goldfinches meandered throughout the thickets as these tiny finches fed on mid-summer seeds.

Adult male Lesser Goldfinch, keeping  watch over his young.

Adult male Lesser Goldfinch, keeping watch over his young.

As the morning bird hike progressed, we came across a gorgeous Curve-billed Thrasher taking a delightful dust bath in ebony grove. Although it may seem desolate, the ground within ebony grove is packed with seeds that are ready to germinate when the timing and conditions are just right.  The intermittent spacing between the young and old trees in the grove makes this area an insect-rich environment, which draws-in the bird numbers and bird diversity. Be sure to visit ebony grove when you are here birdwatching, as there are always birds flying overhead and feeding within the trees. Because of the dusty soil conditions existing within this area, ebony grove has become a favorite spot for Curve-billed Thrashers looking for refreshing dust baths on a regular basis!

Curve-billed Thrasher taking a dust bath.

Curve-billed Thrasher taking a dust bath.

With a careful set of ears, the Tropical Kingbird can be heard locally, as some of these individuals meander out of their more densely-populated areas of Mexico this time of year. This species is known for their twittering bursts of call notes. Tropical Kingbirds look extremely similar to Couch’s Kingbirds, which are a more-common year-round resident of the lower Rio Grande Valley. These two species can be differentiated by their call notes.

Tropical Kingbird

Tropical Kingbird

We were treated to some sunlit views of Golden-fronted Woodpeckers this morning. Both the adult female and adult male Golden-fronted Woodpeckers will have a golden-orange nape (back of the head and rear portion of the neck). The adult females will have a pale crown (top of the head), whereas the adult males will have a deep-red crown. Did you know that the only places where you can find Golden-fronted Woodpeckers in the lower 48 states, is in Texas and southwestern Oklahoma?

Female Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Female Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Below is the eBird list of birds observed during this morning’s bird hike.

Hope to see you at the upcoming bird hike this Saturday! Good birding,

Erik Bruhnke

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck  2
Plain Chachalaca  9
Swainson’s Hawk  1
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  8
White-winged Dove  35
Mourning Dove  4
Inca Dove  4
Chimney Swift  10
Buff-bellied Hummingbird  3
Golden-fronted Woodpecker  4
Ladder-backed Woodpecker  2
Tropical Kingbird  1
White-eyed Vireo  1
Green Jay  1
Purple Martin  25
Black-crested Titmouse  2
Clay-colored Thrush  1
Curve-billed Thrasher  3
Long-billed Thrasher  1
Northern Mockingbird  14
European Starling  1
Olive Sparrow  1
Northern Cardinal  2
Great-tailed Grackle  11
Bronzed Cowbird  2
Orchard Oriole  3
Lesser Goldfinch  15
House Sparrow  18

Bird Walk July 5th, 2014

Bird Report written and photographed by John Brush

???????????????????????????????One of my favorite individual trees at Quinta Mazatlan is a large, lush Texas Ebony located outside the Discovery Center. It gets great light on it in the mornings, and a pair of Couch’s Kingbirds (pictured above) have been nesting in it this summer. The Texas Ebony is a great tree for a wide variety of nesting birds.

???????????????????????????????The Plain Chachalaca chick is one of the more cute sights in the park. They stick pretty close to their parents, and will dash after the adult when its time to move on.

Tropical Kingbird fledglingThis is our other “South Texas specialty” kingbird, the Tropical Kingbird. A family group came in to the trees by Ruby Pond. The one pictured above is a fledgling, judging by its shorter, developing tail feather. I made it a three kingbird morning when a family group of Western Kingbirds flew in.

Full list below:

Plain Chachalaca  8     saw one young chick
White-winged Dove  10
Inca Dove  3
Chimney Swift  5
Black-chinned Hummingbird  1
Buff-bellied Hummingbird  3
Golden-fronted Woodpecker  6
Ladder-backed Woodpecker  1
Brown-crested Flycatcher  3
Great Kiskadee  2
Tropical Kingbird  4     family group
Couch’s Kingbird  2
Western Kingbird  3     family group flying around QM – seen a few times over past week
Black-crested Titmouse  2
Carolina Wren  1
Clay-colored Thrush  3
Curve-billed Thrasher  4
Long-billed Thrasher  3
Northern Mockingbird  4
Olive Sparrow  2
Northern Cardinal  2
Great-tailed Grackle  3
Bronzed Cowbird  1
Brown-headed Cowbird  1
Orchard Oriole  5
Hooded Oriole  1
Lesser Goldfinch  2
House Sparrow  20