By Quinta Mazatlán World Birding Center
Every year, thousands of people around the world watch and enjoy the birds that live around us. Because birdwatching is such a popular pastime, different citizen science projects have sprung up to add scientific value to the hobby. One such project is eBird, started by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in 2002, which has grown to be a favorite for birdwatchers. By submitting checklists, which can include photos and sounds of birds, people can keep track of what birds they’ve seen in a convenient online format. Those checklists are also used by scientists to help better understand bird migration, distribution, and population trends.
“Last year, over 390 species were reported from the Lower Rio Grande Valley through eBird,” said John Brush, Urban Ecologist for the City of McAllen. “Part of what makes this sort of project so enjoyable is learning about the incredible diversity of birds we have – and it’s fun to see what cool birds’ other folks are finding.”
One particularly cool sighting from last year was a Bald Eagle flying along the Rio Grande in February, an unusual visitor this far south.
There are even special events to encourage more focused birdwatching. The Great Backyard Bird Count happens every February and helps create a snapshot of where birds are living throughout the United States – including yards and neighborhoods. Visitors joined Quinta Mazatlan for a cold morning of birdwatching this year, hoping to see the colorful Green Jays, Great Kiskadees, and Buff-bellied Hummingbirds in McAllen’s “Big Backyard”.
“Here in McAllen, we have some great places to watch birds at our city parks and public green spaces.” Brush said, noting that over 270 birds have been reported from Quinta Mazatlan as it enters its 15th year of being open.
One of the urban nature center’s popular programs is “Begin to Birdwatch”, which is all about the joy of birds and how to get started on your birdwatching journey, including tips and tricks for identifying birds. The program is offered on March 13th at 10 a.m. Advanced registration required via Ticketleap; search for “Begin to Birdwatch” or “Quinta Mazatlan”.
“Birdwatching is a timeless hobby and a great way to relax and de-stress in nature,” Brush added. “It’s also a great community of people to be a part of.”
Quinta Mazatlán thanks visitors for following the most current COVID-19 safety guidelines while visiting the park. For more information on Quinta Mazatlán, follow on Facebook and Instagram or call (956) 681-3370. Hope to see you birding at Quinta Mazatlán.