You may not have heard of Quinta Mazatlan. I hadn't until this trip. It's a 30's mansion and property that the city of McAllen has acquired and turned into an environmental education center. They have extensive plantings that have unfortunately been hit hard by the recent freeze. It is a great place to bird. We went there today in part because we had heard there was a Tropical Parula on the grounds. We found it at some oranges they had put out for the birds. We also found a couple of Black-and-white Warblers and Curve-billed Thrashers which were new for the year. There were many Plain Chachalacas and of course Great Kiskadees (photo).
After a late breakfast at IHop, we went east to Santa Ana NWR. Over forty years ago I visited the refuge for the first time and had many lifers, but I hadn't been there for years. In the old days you could drive in, but now you park in a lot at the entrance and walk the refuge which is what we did. I checked at the office to see if Carolyn Stenberg was around. She and her husband were volunteers at Eastern Shore of Virginia NWR and she went on several of my Fisherman Island surveys. She wasn't, but she called me later to wish us well on our Big Year. At Santa Ana we found a pair of Green Kingfishers and some new shorebirds (Solitary Sandpipers, Lesser Yellowlegs, Stilt Sandpipers, and Long-billed Dowitchers) and a Northern Rough-winged Swallow among the Cave Swallows. We also saw many Least Grebes (photo).
Returning to McAllen we stopped again at Quinta Mazatlan where the young naturalist showed us an Eastern Screech-Owl in a hole in a dead palm. On the road again we passed under a wire loaded with Great-tailed Grackles and Bronzed Cowbirds. But the final spectacle of the day was reserved for 600 Green Parakeets who assembled on wires in McAllen before going off to roost for the night (photo). Current total is 220 species.