The Bottom Line
A true urban sanctuary, Quinta Mazatlan offers birders the convenience of a central location in the heart of McAllen paired with exceptional plant and avian diversity. Though only 20 acres, the half mile of trails throughout the grounds wind through several distinct habitats that can provide intimate looks at many regional specialty birds. The facility is also active with community outreach and the knowledgeable and welcoming staff can provide visiting birders an ideal orientation to Rio Grande Valley birding and the local eccentricity of this gorgeous hacienda.
- Located less than one mile from McAllen-Miller International Airport, providing a superb orientation to local specialty birds and culture as soon as visitors arrive in the Rio Grande Valley.
- Ample paved parking is available, including designated spaces for handicapped parking and green vehicles.
- Visitor center hacienda is equipped with restrooms and drinking fountains, as well as a gift shop and art gallery.
- Wide variety of habitats and conscientious focus on native plants attracts a surprising variety of bird species even in the central urban location.
- Small size and urban location limits the appearance of possible rarities, but the great views of local specialty birds makes it worthwhile for visitors who may be new to Rio Grande Valley birding. Experienced birders looking for more unusual birds may want to choose a different location for birding.
- Name: Quinta Mazatlan: McAllen Wing of the World Birding Center
- Location: 600 Sunset Drive, McAllen, Texas
- Size: 20 acres of grounds with one-half mile of meandering trails
- Hours: Tuesdays through Saturdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; open until dark Thursday nights, Closed Sundays and Mondays
- Fees: $2 for adults, $1 for senior citizens and children, free for children 4 and younger; annual memberships are available
- Suggested Birding Time: 1-2 hours
Review - Quinta Mazatlan
Quinta Mazatlan is the McAllen wing of the World Birding Center of south Texas, but it is much more than just birds. The historic adobe brick home was built in the 1930s and its Spanish Colonial Revival architecture features exquisite details, from the tiled Turkish bath of the master suite to the rich wood beams of Cedar Hall. Buildings added to the complex are carefully designed to match the original style, giving the overall property a cohesive look and making Quinta Mazatlan a popular venue for corporate meetings, family reunions, weddings, photo shoots and other events.
Birders, however, will be more interested in the 20 acres of gardens surrounding the historic mansion. The winding trails cover approximately one-half mile and visit several unique habitats, including forest, pond and wetland regions, offering intimate views of a range of species. More than 100 bird species have been recorded at Quinta Mazatlan, and there are more than 100 types of plants throughout the grounds and in specialized gardens, including the butterfly garden. Eighty percent of the plants are native to the Rio Grande Valley, and the exotic plants are generally confined to the interior courtyards rather than along the trails.
The trails themselves are lined with brick, and the gravel and sand footing is level and easy to walk. Excellent views are found adjacent to many of the trails as they cross small water features or pass the "palm condos" – hollow palms preserved as nesting sites for cavity-nesting birds such as the eastern screech owl and the golden-fronted woodpecker. An extensive feeding area is also located just south of the main house, and citrus fruits, seed feeders and nectar feeders, as well as a watering station, attract many bird species.
Depending on the season, weather and time of day, birds that may be seen in Quinta Mazatlan's varied habitats include:
- Plain chachalaca
- Buff-bellied hummingbird
- Green jay
- Great kiskadee
- Common paraque
- Green kingfisher
- Yellow-crowned night-heron
- Ruby-throated hummingbird
- Clay-colored robin
- Green parakeet
- Long-billed thrasher
- Olive sparrow
Not to be missed along the trails are the detailed bronze sculptures of local wildlife accompanied by informational placards. Sculptures include not only local birds such as the Altamira oriole and Harris's hawk, but also other animals native to the Rio Grande Valley, such as the Texas tortoise and ocelot.
The visitor center at Quinta Mazatlan, located inside the hacienda, features additional wildlife displays and short informational films. Local artists are featured in the home, and a gift shop offers local books and artwork as well as a wide range of souvenirs. An eBird Trail Tracker kiosk is available, and an updated board of recent bird sightings on the property can alert visitors to any rarities that may have been spotted.
While Quinta Mazatlan is a prime urban birding location, visitors also need to be aware of the facility's popularity with the local community. Many school groups visit Quinta Mazatlan, and the property features a science lab and classroom setup for students to study local ecology. A natural play area can be entertaining for younger visitors, and frequent programs for children, teens and adults are scheduled. Large visiting groups can disrupt the birding experience, and visitors may want to contact Quinta Mazatlan to check the daily schedule before arriving.
From the exquisite mansion to the extraordinary grounds, inside and out, Quinta Mazatlan is not to be missed.