Flora & Fauna

July 10, 2015
 

Birding in the Rio Grande Valley

red_crowned_parrot_kennysalazar_2432(r)

“I think it’s called me to a deeper sense of stewardship for the land,” remarks Father Tom Pincelli, pastor of St. Anthony Catholic Church in Harlingen, who helped found the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival.

His stewardship, and that of others he has inspired, has widened the horizons of this heaven, not only for birds but also for birders. Both experts and novices trek down here to spy nearly 500 species of wildfowl that inhabit a range of habitats and topography. Subtropical and temperate zones meet here, with desert to the west and prairie to the east–all within a short drive.

Both veteran birders and those with brand-new binoculars love the convenience of so much winged life being so accessible. With a variety of places and programs, the Valley makes it easy for new birders to step into this hobby.

Here are some suggestions on when, where, and how to bird in the Valley.

When to come: Anytime. Late fall through spring are the best times, though.

Breakfast for birders: Before you head out, stop for pan dulce, or sweet rolls, at a local Mexican bakery. Try the pastries at La Mexicana ([956] 421-3155) and Lara’s ([956] 423-1219) in Harlingen and La Especial Bakery ([956] 399-6829) in San Benito. Those are just three of many in the Valley that Southern Living Executive Editor Scott Jones admires.

Bring cameras too: Even rank amateurs can snap great photographs at places such as the visitors center at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. There you can sit in a blind and photograph birds that pause for water and food just feet away.

Where to find them: There are numerous birding spots in the Valley, among them Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, which encompasses much of the habitat and species found elsewhere in the Valley. Take the 15-mile Bayside Drive loop through thorn forest and coastal prairie to Laguna Madre, or the 11⁄2-mile Lakeside Drive, great for spotting some 20 species of wintering waterfowl. Six walking trails meander through forest and prairie and beside the water.

Other sites include Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Falcon State Park, and Resaca de la Palma State Park. The beauty of birding in the Valley, however, remains its accessibility. You can bird just about anywhere, from Weslaco Water Treatment Plant to Sabal Palm Audubon Sanctuary to Brownsville’s Gladys Porter Zoo.

Take a hike: Bird and butterfly walks are sponsored by the new World Birding Center, headquartered at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park near Mission. Here you’ll find a new visitors center that features bird blinds and a birding wall. The center includes eight other satellite locations, such as the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. At this coastal playground, a boardwalk crosses salt marshes and tidal flats.

To learn more about the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival visit www.rgvbirdfest.com. South Texas Nature lists many birding programs and other nature tours; visit www.southtexasnature.com.

Facebook Comments

comments


About the Author

Nydia O
A bird does not sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.-Maya Angelou. La Vida Valle is where I write about "la vida" my life in the Rio Grande Valley. From this bi-cultural corner on the tip of Texas, I share my poems and my spiritual and travel experiences. I also blog about the arts, nature and my passion for historic preservation and architecture. But most importantly, let's talk about "la vida" - living our lives - in a vacation state of mind. Contributions and comments are always welcome .



Visit Art.com
 
 

 
green jay

Why is the Rio Grande Valley so Rich in Birds and Wildlife?

If you Enjoy Bird Watching and Nature, South Texas is Waiting for you! Texas offers the richest bird watching in USA – 630 species, more than any other state. The Lower Rio Grande Valley offers the richest birding in Texa...
by Nydia O
 

 
 
green jay

NewsOK Publishes Article about the Birds of the Rio Grande Valley.

NewsOK of Oklahoma published this great article about the birds of the Rio Grande Valley on May 2015. The tremendous natural resources the Valley has attracts thousands of visitors and journalists to the area every year. Articl...
by La Vida Valle
 

 
 
Perula

Our Feathered Visitors

This little cutie is a Northern Perula that is migrating through the Rio Grande Valley. Some say its timing is early for spring migration, while others have stated that Northern Perulas have actually wintered here near Brownsvi...
by Nydia O
 

 

 
Hooded Warbler

Birding Matters

With all the buzz ecological and nature preservation projects are creating in today’s media, it is an interesting fact that few residents of the Rio Grande Valley realize the richness found in our wild habitat. There are curr...
by Nydia O
 

 
 
red_crowned_parrot_kennysalazar_2432(r)

Kenny Salazar Photography

I met Kenny Salazar through the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival where he volunteers as communications director handling all social media and website related issues. Our Valley is blessed with abundant wildlife, and Kenny’s...
by Nydia O
 

 




Visit Art.com