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Mary Jo Peckham Park in Katy, Texas: Bird Sightings and More

I live in Houston, and I have worked as a nurse. My interests include art, traveling, reading, gardening, cooking, and our wonderful pets.

Black vultures in Mary Jo Peckham Park

Black vultures in Mary Jo Peckham Park

A Day in the Park

Come along with us on one day's journey into the Mary Jo Peckham Park in Katy, Texas, where several different types of birds happened to be spotted and photographed on one fine sunny and warm day.

Katy, Texas, is located a few miles to the west of Houston and is an area that is growing by leaps and bounds as the population in and around Houston keeps expanding. It is a relatively flat area and used to be the site of many rice farms. Old rice dryers still punctuate the landscape.

The small lake within the park is an attraction to different types of birds. I photographed five different kinds of birds as my hubby, and I enjoyed discovering this great park made for kids of all ages.

This park also provides a great place to hike, picnic, and do some fishing.

Black Vultures

All of these photos taken while visiting Mary Jo Peckham Park on the day of my husband's and my very first visit to the park show many black vultures.

I have never personally seen so many vultures gathered together in one place, but after researching and learning more about them, it is quite common as they are very social birds. When searching for a place for a daytime nap or overnight, they are often found in large communal groupings.

The ones pictured here all seemed to be getting along well with one another even mingling at times with the other ducks sharing the same spaces when the ducks were out of the water.

Black vultures come from the raptor category of birds and are commonly referred to as buzzards. They are large birds ranging between two to five pounds. They perform an essential function in cleaning up our highways, fields and other places as they feed on dead animals. If you notice, their heads do not have feathers that facilitate their delving deep into the body of a deceased animal to feed upon its flesh.

They primarily seek out their food by sight, whereas turkey vultures do it primarily by smell. Nature is wonderful.Just think of what our planet would be like if it were not for these raptor cleaning machines!

The names for groups of vultures are the following:

Kettle: When in flight

Wake: When feeding

Committee: When resting on the ground, or in trees

Muscovy Ducks

There were numerous Muscovy ducks in Mary Jo Peckham Park also on the day of our visit. They were pretty easy to identify as to the type of duck because of their distinctive caruncles. Caruncles are pinkish to red-colored lumpy looking fleshy outgrowths appearing from behind their eyes and extending towards their bill.

Most of them in this park had the brownish to black looking feathers on their underside topped off with the most beautiful iridescent green to shades of blue and even purple feathering on their top and sides with patches of white showing on their wings. Muscovy ducks do come in a wide variety of other colors.

This type of duck eats everything from seeds and other plants to small fish, amphibians, insects and the like. Muscovy ducks have been domesticated and used as a food source, but there are also wild Muscovy ducks.

The habitat in Mary Jo Peckham Park is perfect for these and the other ducks because of the environment. It consists of the small lake, trees and other grounds conducive to offering shelter as well as a good source of food.

According to Wikipedia, these ducks like to roost in trees at night, and there were plentiful trees in this park. They can also sleep while floating on the water...so these birds have a choice as both exist within this Katy, Texas park.

Mallard Ducks

The photo above shows several male Mallard ducks with their distinctive crowning glory of those beautiful green feathered heads.

In the same photo, a female Mallard duck is on the far right side. She has the typical brown stripe that runs from behind her eye and through her eye towards her bill. Her coloration is a mottled brown and white as compared to her more flamboyantly multi-hued male friends.

Mallards are wild ducks, and most are migratory. They are omnivorous eating a wide variety of plant and animal sources of food. They typically do not dive underwater for their food but graze on the surface of water thus fitting the classification of a dabbling duck.

Two green-headed male Mallard ducks and company

Two green-headed male Mallard ducks and company

Super Star Mallards

My parents once visited the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee and saw the Mallard ducks that parade through the lobby of the hotel on a regular schedule. They are quite a tourist attraction as you can see in the video below.

American Pekin Duck

The pretty solid white ducks with yellow beaks or bills are domesticated ducks most often raised for food. They are also called Long Island ducks.

Pekin ducks are very social animals and intermingle with other ducks.

Some facts regarding these three types of ducks:

Pekin duckMuscovy duckMallard duck

Omnivorous but often fed with pellets if farm-raised

Omnivorous

Omnivorous

Originally from China and bred from mallards, but domesticated and commercially raised in the U.S.

Found in the Americas, Canada, New Zealand, Australia & parts of Europe

Widespread habitats

Lays up to 200 eggs annually

Lays 8 to 16 eggs

Lays 8 to 13 eggs

Weighs 8 to 11 pounds

Weighs 6 to 18 pounds

Weighs 1.6 to 3.5 pounds

American Purple Gallinule

I had personally never spotted an American purple gallinule bird previous to our visit to the Mary Jo Peckham Park in Katy. It was exciting to be able to capture a couple of photos and then find out what type of bird it was.

These birds have very long yellow legs and feet and are lightweight enough to be able to walk on lily pads as they search for food. They typically weight between 5 to 10.8 ounces.

They eat a wide variety of things in their diet as they are omnivorous birds. People in the lower reaches of Florida are familiar with spotting these American purple gallinule birds since they are regular residents in that part of the state. In addition to being spotted in the southeastern U.S., they also exist in Central America, the Caribbean, and northern South America.

They like marshy tropical areas in which to breed and typically lay five to ten eggs.

The distinctive coloration of an adult bird such as the one I got to photograph is quite beautiful and unique.

Location

The location of Mary Jo Peckham Park: 5597 Gardenia Ln., Katy, Texas 77493.

Learn much more about Mary Jo Peckham Park in the video below.

Source:

Mary Jo Peckham Park

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Peggy Woods

Comments

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 02, 2020:

Hi Denise,

I am sure if you lived closer, you would enjoy visiting this Mary Jo Peckham Park. It is so scenic! There always seems to be an abundance of vultures here, at least the times we have gone there. It must be a favorite hangout for them.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on November 02, 2020:

This would be a great place to sit and draw some live birds. Or paint in the open. I'd love that. I saw a vulture once in the heat of the summer standing on a fence post next to our property just airing out his wings. I think he was doing that to stay cool. He held his wings away from his body and looked like he was about to take off. He was huge and a fearsome creature.

Blessings,

Denise

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 30, 2020:

Hi Rajan,

We love visiting this beautiful park. There are always many birds there. So glad you enjoyed learning about it.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on July 30, 2020:

The Mary Jo Peckham Park sure is conducive to bird visits with all that lush greenery, trees and lake, an almost natural habitat. It is a great place to visit. The Mary Jo Peckham Park video was great to watch. Thanks for sharing.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 25, 2020:

Hi FlourishAnyway,

I'm pleased that you enjoyed the photos and descriptions. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 25, 2020:

Hi Linda,

I am pleased that you enjoyed my photo selection. Those spread out wings are impressive!

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 24, 2020:

You have to wonder what the vulture committee is meeting about. Makes you wonder who’s about to go down (cause they are there to clean up). Loved both the descriptions and the photos.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 24, 2020:

Hi Liz,

We have gone to that park occasionally without a camera in hand. It always has birds there, however, so for people who enjoy spotting birds it is a great place.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 24, 2020:

Hi Bill,

I got a message from Maven that I should start consolidating some of my posts because they have too many parks on their site. I may do some of that, but I think that this one deserves its spot because of how unique it is.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on April 23, 2020:

Thank you for another enjoyable look at a park in your part of the world, Peggy. The birds are interesting, especially the black vultures. You've chosen a great photo for the start of the article. Those wings are impressive!

Liz Westwood from UK on April 22, 2020:

This park sounds like a bird spotter's paradise. What a great collection of photos.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 22, 2020:

Hi Lorna,

Not only is this a beautiful park with the water, fishing, picnicking, and trees, etc., but the birds who frequent this area make it truly special.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 22, 2020:

I'm beginning to think Katy is just one big park. This is like the third park in Katy that you have written about, and it's a small city. I really love that fact.

Lorna Lamon on April 22, 2020:

I love birds in general and in particular ducks which we have on the farm. However, it was the committee of black vultures waiting to be served at the picnic table that make me smile. With so many birds to view, it is the perfect spot for a day out. I also enjoyed the videos, in particular the one of Daisy and her brood. Great article Peggy - wonderful photos. Take care.