By Susan A. Heath
It’s time for Spring Fling! Come join us at the Quintana Neotropic Sanctuary on Quintana Island to witness the spectacle of bird migration. Every April we celebrate the return of the songbird migrants by leading bird walks, providing birding information, selling drinks and snacks, and offering a variety of field guides and t-shirts to the public. If you’ve never been on the coast looking for birds on an April day, now is the time to go. The birds are all dressed up in their finest clothes and there are so many beautiful jewels to observe that you will be amazed. The trees, shrubs, and weedy fields will be full of brightly colored birds that have just flown across the Gulf of Mexico and are fueling up for the rest of their migration to their breeding grounds. Yes, it’s hard to believe but these little birds do fly across the Gulf of Mexico. Even the tiny Ruby-throated Hummingbirds make the 600 mile non-stop across the Gulf to return to their summer homes. This is one of the many things that make birds so incredible!
Here in Brazoria County, we are very lucky to be able to experience this amazing spectacle up close as the birds stop along the coast to refuel. The Gulf Coast Bird Observatory’s primary mission is to provide habitat for these migratory travelers and in support of that mission we work with the City of Quintana to maintain the Quintana Neotropic Bird Sanctuary. This tiny sanctuary is critical to the birds as it provides food, shelter, and water for birds on their journey north. Fortunately for us, the sanctuary also provides a place for people to enjoy these beautiful feathered miracles as they move through our area.
Baltimore Orioles and a Rose breasted Grosbeak – photo by BeaAnn Kelly
Throughout the month of April we will experience an incredible influx of migrants including bright orange Baltimore Orioles, brilliant red Summer and Scarlet Tanagers, the bluest of blue Indigo Buntings and Blue Grosbeaks, black and white and red Rose-breasted Grosbeaks along with the smaller brightly colored warblers that take your breath away when they catch your eye as they flit through the trees in search of insects. Even if you don’t know a cardinal from a Blue Jay, you will enjoy a trip to Quintana to witness this miracle in action. The Quintana Neotropic Sanctuary is located on Lamar Street across from the Quintana town hall building. Our annual tally of bird species during the month of April is about 150 so come on down and see how many you can spot.