Today was my 6th and final full day in Texas and it sure was a busy one. Rafael and I got up early and headed out to Quinta Matzlan to walk the trails and do some bird watching. The home and the property was very beautiful and we ran into the couple I met from Wisconsin at Las Palomas yesterday.
We began our journey walking south on the trail towards the pond and the bird feeding station. We first stopped at the pond where we saw an egret, lots of grackles and one other bird. We sat there for a bit, but not much activity happened, so we continued to move along and find the bird feeding station. As we were approaching the bird feeding station we saw two chachalaca's. The chachalaca is a common bird in southern Texas that is very loud. Often times people hear them, but never see them as they stay hidden in the thicket and eat all the berries off the mulberry trees. In fact, Rafael hears chachalaca's all the time, but today was the first time he's ever seen them. We even got some really nice photos of them.
We eventually stumbled upon the bird feeding station and it was set up so nicely. The feeding station was on one side of the trail and on the other side was theater seating made out of rock. It was a really cool setup and we sat and watched for a while. We only saw a few species of birds, but it was really cool. We saw the chachalaca's, red-winged blackbird, white tipped doves and great kiskadee's. We stayed for about a half hour and enjoyed watching the birds come in and feast and then fly away.
While talking to the couple from Wisconsin, Rafael learned of a place we could go for monk parakeet's, so when we left Quinta Matzlan, we headed towards the parakeets. The parakeets were in a neighborhood in Hidalgo near the Old Hidalgo Pumphouse Museum and World Birding Center. There were seven nests on transformer boxes, but one nest in particular was absolutely huge. It's shape was long and somewhat narrow and it was more of a nest complex than a bird nest as there were at least four different nests for the monk parakeets and at the bottom the sparrows had their nests.
This was my first time ever seeing monk parakeets and it was truly awesome to watch. We watched them going in and out of their nests and collect nesting material to bring back.
The monk parakeet is also known as the Quaker parrot. It is a small, bright green parrot with a grayish breast and green/yellow abdomen. It is native to South America, yet popular in the pet trade. The wild population was established in the 1960's. They are the only parakeets to nest communally with dozens living together year-round in large, multifamily stick nests that are built in trees and on power poles. These group nests allow for the survival of the parakeets who go as far north as Chicago and New York. Their bulky nests provide a year-round home for the colony. The insulation is what makes it possible for the birds to survive the cold winters. A monk parakeet nest generally contains up to 20 nest chambers and in extreme cases can house more than 200 nests. Monk parakeets who live in captivity can learn to mimic human speech. Their live span is generally 6 or more years in the wild and as long as 15 years in captivity.