RIO GRANDE VALLEY SITES 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43.
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E S TOP SEVEN NATURE FESTIVALS
Rio Grande Valley Coastal Expo Hosted by: Edinburg Scenic Wetlands in mid-February. See and touch crabs, sea stars, and other coastal animals; view a glass-bottom stream; solve a mysterious fish kill; learn what washes up on the Texas coast; and so much more. Call: 956-381-9922 for more information or visit: www.edinburgwbc.org Ocelot Conservation Festival Hosted by: Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge in early March. Fewer than 50 of these native wild cats are estimated to be left in the U.S., all of which are found in deep South Texas. Experience their beauty at Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville. Call 956-748-3607 for more information or visit: www.friendsofsouthtexasrefuges.org Vida Verde & Run Wild 5K Hosted by: Quinta Mazatlan, McAllen. Annual Earth Day Festival in late April, features live animal adventures, magicians, music, over 70 vendors & artists, farmer’s market, organic cooking classes for adults & youth and a children’s discovery zone. Call 956-681-3370 for more information or visit: www.quintamazatlan.com Spooky Science Fest A night of nature and science exploration - investigates the world of "Cold-blooded" creatures in Weslaco. Typically held in mid-October. Call 956-565-3919 for more information or visit: www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/estero-llano-grande Wild in Willacy Nature and Heritage Festival Hosted by Raymondville Chamber of Commerce, Wild in Willacy Boot Fest is held in late October and offers its guests an opportunity to "go beyond the gates" of some otherwise inaccessible ranches. Call 956-689-1864 for more information or visit: www.wildinwillacy.com Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival Harlingen has been recognized by the American Birding Association, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas Parks & Wildlife, and birding experts throughout the nation as a leader in the field of ecotourism. RGV Birding Festival takes place in early November. General Information call 1-209-22R-GVBF or visit: www.rgvbf.org Texas Butterfly Festival Hosted by: The National Butterfly Center in Mission during early November. Spend 3 days exploring renowned public lands and private properties with world-class trip leaders and expert guides during prime butterfly season. For more information, call 956.583.5400 or visit: www.texasbutterflyfestival.com
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Adolph Thomae County Park - Rio Hondo Alamo Central Park / Alamo Inn B&B Gardens - Alamo Anacua Unit (Las Palomas Wildlife Management Area) - Harlingen Anzalduas County Park - Mission Arroyo Colorado Unit (Las Palomas WMA) “Wildlife Restoration” – Rio Hondo Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park - Mission Bill Schupp Park - McAllen Birds Nest B&B Gardens – McAllen Boca Chica Tract (Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge) Coastal Brownsville Boy’s and Girl’s Club of Alamo Park – Alamo Brownsville Sanitary Landfill - Brownsville C.B. Wood Park/McKelvey Park/Arroyo Colorado Hike & Bike Trail – Harlingen Camp Lula Sams Teaching Camp & Wildlife Refuge - Brownsville Camp Perry – Rio Hondo Casa Santa Ana Sanctuary & B&B - Alamo Chapeno – Roma Chihuahua Woods Preserve – Mission Dean Porter Park/Gladys Porter Zoo – Brownsville Delta Lake County Park – Weslaco Ebony Unit (Las Palomas Wildlife Management Area) – Harlingen Edinburg Scenic Wetland Trails – Edinburg El Canelo Ranch & Inn – Raymondville El Rocio Retreat & B&B Gardens -Mission Estero Llano Grande State Park - Weslaco FM 1421 Driving Tour (Resaca Rd.) - Brownsville FM 2221 Driving Tour (Sparrow Road) - La Joya Falcon (Starr) County Park – Roma Falcon Ranch – Roma Falcon State Park – Roma Fort Brown Resaca - Brownsville Fort Ringgold/The Chachalaca Nature Trail – Rio Grande City Fred Stone County Park – Port Mansfield/Raymondville Frontera Audubon Society Weslaco Thicket – Weslaco Fronton – Roma Harlingen Arroyo Colorado, Hugh Ramsey Park - Harlingen Harlingen City Lake – Harlingen Hilltop Botanical Gardens & Inn – Lyford Indian Ridge Gardens & B&B –Mission La Casa Laguna Resaca, Gardens & B&B – Progreso Lakes/Weslaco La Feria Nature Center (Park) - La Feria Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge – Rio Hondo La Lomita Chapel – Mission La Puerta Tract (Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge) Rio Grande City La Sal del Rey Tract (Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge Raymondville La Sal Vieja – E Lake Tract (Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge) Raymondville La Sal Vieja – Teniente Tract (Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge) Raymondville Las Majadas Pond – Raymondville Llano Grande Lake – Weslaco Lon C. Hill Park – Harlingen Longoria Unit (Las Polomas Wildlife Management Area)La Feria Los Ebanos Preserve – Los Fresnos Martin Refuge – Edinburg Methodist Camp Thicket/Estero Llano Grande State Park – Weslaco Mission Nature Park – Mission National Butterfly Center – Mission Old Hidalgo Pumphouse - Hidalgo Old Port Isabel Road – Coastal Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park -Brownsville Port Mansfield Nature Trail – Port Mansfield Quinta Mazatlan – McAllen Rancho Lomitas – Rio Grande City Resaca de la Palma State Park - Brownsville Rio Rico Road and Bluffs – Mercedes Roma Bluffs - Roma Sabal Palm Audubon Center and Sanctuary – Brownsville Sacahuista Flats-Port Mansfield Salineno Tract (Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge) & DeWind’s Reserve – Roma San Augustin Park Reserve – Rio Grande City San Miguelito Ranch – Raymondville San Ygnacio Seedeater Preserve – Roma Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge – Alamo Santa Margarita Ranch – Roma Santa Monica Driving Loop – Raymondville Seedeater Inn Garden & B&B - Zapata South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center – Coastal South Padre Island – Coastal TX 48 (Brownsville to Port Isabel Driving Tour) – Coastal TX 100 (US 77 to Port Isabel Driving Tour) – Coastal Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Coastal Fisheries Field Station Brownsville Tiocano Lake (Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge) Harlingen Valley Nature Center – Weslaco Vieh’s Ranch and B&B – San Benito Weslaco Water Treatment Settling Basins – Weslaco Williams Wildscapes & Water Features – Pharr Yturria Tract (Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge) – La Joya Zapata City Park/Birding Trail – Roma
Visit www.SouthTexasNature.com for a downloadable South Texas Nature Guide
Hot Spots of the Rio Grande Valley Welcome to One of the World’s Finest Birding & Butterfly Destinations
Texas’ Lower Rio Grande Valley is an attractive subtropical area of Riparian and Tamaulipan Woodland with an abundance of water, creating a diverse year-round birding and butterfly haven. The Valley is nestled into the tip of South Texas, with the Rio Grande River running along its southern border and serving as a divide between the United States and Mexico. It’s at the convergence of two major flyways – Central and Mississippi. This ideal location offers more than 535 bird species and 330 butterfly species – some of which are seen only in the Valley. In addition to these hot spots, every Valley city has wonderful wooded cemeteries that are open from sunrise to sunset attracting specialty, migrant, and vagrant birds. These memorial parks are generally welcoming to birders. The following listing covers a number of significant birding and butterfly destinations with information verified by local birder, Keith Hackland.
1 Adolph Thomae County Park - Rio Hondo
The lighted fishing piers, picnic areas, observation tower and nature trail will engage you. Open 7 days/week, May-Aug, 6 a.m.-10 p.m., Sept-Apr, 6 a.m.-8 p.m. $4/car, 30-Day Pass $18.00 each Annual Pass (windshield sticker) $53.00 each Contact Information: 956748-2044 Address: 37844 Marshall Hutts Rd. Directions: From US 77 in Harlingen, exit Loop 499 (Ed Carey Dr.), and travel N on Ed Carey Dr. 2.4 miles to FM 106. Turn E onto FM 106, go 10.5 miles thru the City of Rio Hondo to FM 2925, turn N onto FM 2925, go 14.6 miles to park. Bird Species Include: Altamira Oriole, Green Jay, Osprey, Skimmer, Willet, Black-crested Titmouse, Harris’s Hawk, Long-billed Thrasher, Common Pauraque, Reddish Egret, Ringed Kingfisher, and more!
2 Alamo Central Park / Alamo Inn B&B Gardens - Alamo
Central Park and the gardens at the Inn located on the town square are productive for birds and butterflies. Address: 801 Main St. Contact: 956-782-9912. Bird Species Include: Bronzed Cowbird, Lesser and Common Nighthawk, Hooded Oriole, Green Parakeet, owls, migrants, raptors, wintering songbirds. The Inn has annually nesting Lesser Nighthawk, and a good butterfly garden that produces U.S. rarities in butterflies and moths.
3 Anacua Unit (Las Palomas Wildlife Management Area) - Harlingen The Anacua Unit has “two” separate land sections comprising 222 acres in Cameron County, the most southern county of Texas. The Anacua Unit is part of the Las Palomas Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The unit was originally farm fields, but now consists primarily of reforested white-winged dove breeding habitat. There are designated hunting areas for doves in both the north and south sections of the unit. The closest complete commercial facilities are available in Harlingen. The area is covered in native habitat, no water or facilities. Open year round, except closed for Special Permit hunts. Contact Information: 956-565-1223 (call prior to visit) Directions: 10 miles SW of Harlingen. Bird Species Include: White-tipped, Common, Ground, Inca and White-winged Dove, Green Jay, Olive Sparrow, Long-billed Thrasher, etc. 4 Anzalduas County Park - Mission
On-site features include: Restrooms, picnic area, boat ramp and fishing pier among Mesquite, Huisache, Ebony, Wild Olive, cacti and native grasses. Hours: The gate is open 8 a.m.-7 p.m. and 8 a.m.-6 p.m. during daylight savings. The office is open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission: $4/car weekends, there is no charge Mon-Fri. Contact Information: 956-585-5311 Address: 6400 Anzalduas Dam Road. Directions: From US 83, W of McAllen, take FM 494 S thru Granjeno. Go past the cemetery and turn S at park sign. Bird Species Include: Gray Hawk, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Ringed and Green Kingfisher, Brown-crested Flycatcher (summer), and Altamira Oriole. Good for butterflying!
5 Arroyo Colorado Unit (Las Palomas WMA) “Wildlife
Restoration” – Rio Hondo The Arroyo Colorado Unit consists of 761 acres, most of which have reverted from farm and ranch land to native brush. The unit is located by traveling 3 miles E of Rio Hondo on Hwy 106, then 5.5 miles N on Hwy 2925 in Cameron County. Primitive camping is allowed for permitted hunters selected for the drawn youth deer hunts. There are no restroom facilities or potable water available. The closest complete commercial facilities are available in Harlingen. Call Las Palomas Wildlife Management Area (WMA) headquarters for more information: 956-501-4793 (prior to visit) Bird Species Include: Ground, Mourning and White-winged Dove, LongBilled Thrasher, Green Kingfisher, Forster’s Tern, and other wildlife.
6 Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park - Mission
Featuring an exhibit hall, coffee bar, gift shop, picnic areas, bathrooms, a two-story observation tower, bird blinds, nature trails, and a nature center. Most are wheelchair accessible. This 762-acre park has subtropical Riparian and Tamaulipan Woodlands with over 300 species of birds and over 200 species of butterflies. Contact Information: 956-585-1107 Address: 2800 S. Bentsen Palm Drive (FM 2062) Directions: Take US 83 W of Mission, exit S onto Bentsen Palm Rd. and continue about 3 miles to park. Hours: Open seven days/week, year round. Gates open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. and the Visitor Center is open 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Admission: $5/person/day (children under 12 free and TX senior discounts are available). Pay at gift shop or honor box at gate. Bird Species Include: Least Grebe, Hook-billed Kite, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Olive Sparrow, Altamira Oriole, and Clay-colored Thrush. It is a natural habitat magnet for butterflies.
7 Bill Schupp Park - McAllen
This green space gem was named after long time City Manager Bill Schupp, who served McAllen from 1946-1974. The park features 19 acres within the city limits and has wheel chair accessible restrooms, paved parking, walking trails, a playground and picnic areas. Contact Information: 956-681-3333 Address: 1300 Zinnia Ave. Directions: From US 281 in Pharr, exit W onto Nolana. Go to 10th St. in McAllen, turn N. Travel to the third street, Zinnia Ave., and turn W. Proceed into the park. Bird Species Include: Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed Woodpecker, and other Valley specialties.
8 Birds Nest B&B Gardens – McAllen
This Bed & Breakfast offers an attractive garden with native trees on a full acre in McAllen. Address: 1400 North 6th St. Contact: 956 -330-1045. Bird Species Include: Good for urban Valley specialties, Red-crowned Parrot, Green Parakeet, Great Horned Owl, and migrants.
9 Boca Chica Tract (Lower Rio Grande Valley National
Wildlife Refuge) – Coastal Brownsville This tract includes 22 miles of a variety of habitats such as thorn scrub, forest edge, wetlands, coastal prairie, bay-near shore tide flats and sandy beach. No facilities. Do not enter thru gated areas even if gate is open. Immigration check point - ID REQUIRED – Passports for Visitors to U.S.A. Contact Information: 956-784-7500. Hours: Open daily sunrise to sunset. Directions: From US 77 in Brownsville, exit TX 48 (Boca Chica), go E on TX 48 to TX 4 and clear trip odometer. Proceed E on TX 4 11.5 miles to entrance of Tract, which is designated by cement walls and the Battle of Palmito
Rancho Historical marker. Continue to 12.9 miles. At this point you can take either of the fishing access roads to the N or S, or continue E on TX 4 and look for the Public Information Map located on your right at 17.8 miles. To the S is another fishing access road or continue E on TX 4 to the Gulf of Mexico. Bird Species Include: Magnificent Frigatebird (summer), Roseate Spoonbill, Piping Plover, Botteri’s Sparrow, Reddish Egret, and Valley coastal specialties.
five and under. Directions: From US 281, exit TX 107 (University Dr.) in Edinburg. Go E to Raul Longoria Rd., turn S. At Sprague & Raul Longoria, turn E into Municipal Park and into the first parking lot on the N side of the road. Bird Species Include: Ringed and Green Kingfisher, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Least Bittern, Least Grebe, American White Pelican (winter), etc. Usually offers a great show of butterflies.
10 Boy’s and Girl’s Club of Alamo Park – Alamo This park includes a trail thru thicket with benches and paved parking. Directions: Take US 83 to Alamo, exit FM 907. Go S on FM 907 to the first street, Duranta Ave., turn W. The Club is located on the NW corner of 13th St. & Duranta Ave. (at 501 N. 13th St.). Bird Species Include: Doves, migrants, and urban birds.
22 El Canelo Ranch & Inn – Raymondville The Inn at El Canelo specializes in “ranch-chic” overnight accommodations (elegant gourmet meals and wine included) for birders seeking exclusive access to this “birdy” 1,500-acre private property. While there is not always a pair of “yardbird” Ferruginous Pygmy Owls on the two-acre grounds surrounding the Inn, many pairs are resident on the ranch. Reservations are strictly required. Call: 956689-5042 or email email@example.com (BEFORE traveling to the site).
11 Brownsville Sanitary Landfill - Brownsville No facilities. Hours: The Brownsville Sanitary Landfill is open 7 a.m.3:45 p.m.; closed Sunday and holidays. Directions: From US 77 in Brownsville, exit FM 802 (Ruben Torres Blvd). Travel E, seven miles, thru the intersection at FM 511, to the landfill. Pull up on the L side of the office. Show binoculars to landfill staff and they will let you drive in. Bird Species Include: Aplomado Falcon, Chihuahuan Raven, Horned Lark, Sharp-shinned, White-tailed, Red-tailed and Cooper’s Hawks, Peregrine Falcons, Black-tailed and Slaty-backed Gull (spring), Lesser Black-backed, California, and Thayer’s Gull. 12 C.B. Wood Park/McKelvey Park/Arroyo Colorado Hike and Bike Trail – Harlingen The Park is along the banks of the Arroyo Colorado and is covered in native habitat. Asphalt parking, covered picnic tables, water fountain, playground, with wheelchair accessible parking and walking trails. Directions: From US 77 in Harlingen, exit FM 1479 (“F” Street). From the N, continue to Rangerville Rd., cross under the overpass and turn N on frontage. From the S, stay on the frontage road one mile to Taft Ave.; turn E on Taft to 1st St., turn S on 1st St. to Wilson, then W on Wilson to park. Bird Species Include: Whitetailed Kite, Green Jay, Orange-crowned Warbler, Green Kingfisher, Neotropic Cormorant, Couch’s Kingbird, Long-billed and Curvebilled Thrasher, Olive Sparrow, Valley specialties, and migrants. 13 Camp Lula Sams Teaching Camp & Wildlife Refuge -
Brownsville This 87-acre private refuge with five-acre Resaca is surrounded by thornscrub, woodland forest, salt prairie and grassland. Overnight accommodations are available by appointment only. Call 956-3509093 for directions and leave your name and phone number. Bird Species Include: Least Grebe, White-faced Ibis, Ringed Kingfisher, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Anhinga (winter), Least Bittern (summer), Couch’s and Tropical Kingbird, Groove-billed Ani, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Great Kiskadee, Green Jay, Curve-billed and Long-billed Thrasher.
14 Camp Perry – Rio Hondo Native brush and nature trails along the Arroyo Colorado. Owned and operated by the Rio Grande Council, Boy Scouts of America. For permission and directions, call 956-423-0250. Bird Species Include: Valley specialties and migrants. 15 Casa Santa Ana Sanctuary & B&B - Alamo
Extensive native gardens and woodlands adjacent to Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge with bird feeding station and photography blind, a short wildlife trail and several very productive butterfly gardens. Address: 3239 South Tower Rd. Contact: 956-783-5540. Birds Species Include: Song birds, migrants, plus outings to see owls, Common Pauraque, and other creatures of the night.
16 Chapeno – Roma Chapeno includes a picnic area. No restrooms. Admission: $3.00 Directions: From US 83 W of Roma, travel 10 miles, turn W onto FM 2098; as you enter Falcon Heights look for Chapeno Rd. opposite the Catholic Church. Turn S on Chapeno Rd. and go 2.7 miles. As you pass a bend in the road, a sign for El Rio RV Park points to the S. - Enter to Manager’s house and park next to office. Bird Species Include: Muscovy Duck, Hook-billed Kite, Gray Hawk, Redbilled Pigeon, Brown Jay, and Audubon Oriole. 17 Chihuahua Woods Preserve – Mission
Access to 349-acre wildlife preserve is walk-in. No facilities. A marked trail is approx. one mile long. Visiting parties are limited to six adults, not suitable for children or pets. Paths are not regularly maintained. Contact Information: 956-222-0483. Hours: Daylight hours only, may be closed during periods of extreme fire danger. Directions: Take US 83 W of Mission exit Goodwin Rd. /FM 492 (at HEB). Take FM 492 S 0.8 miles to Bus. 83. Turn right on Bus. 83 and go 0.7 miles to where Bus. 83 then curves to the NW. At the curve, go straight onto the blacktop road that parallels RR track for 0.1 mile. The preserve entrance is on L where the blacktop road crosses the RR track. Bird Species Include: Valley specialties and migrants. Good for butterflying.
18 Dean Porter Park/Gladys Porter Zoo – Brownsville Both sites covered in Mesquite, Ebony, Palms and Huisache. A Resaca runs on the E and N sides of the park and meanders throughout the Zoo. Restrooms, picnic tables, phones and playground are available at park. Contact: 956-546-7178 for admission prices to zoo. Directions: From US 77 in Brownsville, exit 6th St. After stop sign, veer R off frontage road to SW, follow 6th St to Ringgold St, turn NW on Ringgold. Gladys Porter Zoo is on SW and the Park is on NE. Bird Species Include: Excellent viewing of colonial nesting birds such as Snowy Egret, Tri-colored, Green and Black-crowned Night Heron each spring on the Zoo grounds; Red-crowned Parrot, and other specialties. 19 Delta Lake County Park – Weslaco
The park features a man-made, fresh-water lake. Restrooms, pavilion, BBQ facilities and picnic tables. No swimming is allowed. Hours: Open daily 8 a.m.-sunset. Directions: From US 83 in Weslaco, take FM 88 N 16 miles. Park entrance is on the E side of FM 88. Entry Fee: $2 per vehicle. Bird Species Include: White Pelican, Roseate Spoonbill, Opsrey, Ringed Kingfisher, Rails, Tree Swallow, shorebirds, and migrants.
20 Ebony Unit (Las Palomas Wildlife Management Area) Harlingen Covered in native habitat with a large pond and viewing platform on the water. No facilities. Directions: Two miles SE of Harlingen. Take FM 1479 Rangerville Rd., turn onto De Los Santos Rd. Bird Species Include: Ringed Kingfisher, Roseate Spoonbill, Least Grebe, Tricolored Heron, Couch’s Kingbird, and other Valley specialties. 21 Edinburg Scenic Wetland Trails – Edinburg The Edinburg Scenic Wetlands is a 40-acre nature site that includes a 3.5-acre butterfly garden, 2.5 miles of trails, observation decks, multiple water features and an Interpretive Center. The Interpretive Center boasts an extensive gift shop, restrooms, water fountains, vending machine and exhibits - adjacent to the Municipal Park. Visitor Center hours Mon-Sat, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., 9 a.m.-6 p.m. summers, closed Sundays. Grounds open daily, 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon-Sat. Contact Information: 956-381-9922 Address: 714 Raul Longoria Road. Admission: $3/adults; $2/students and seniors, 55+; free/children
23 El Rocio Retreat & B&B Gardens -Mission Peaceful extended gardens that are excellent for Valley specialties, adjacent to a golf course and the Veteran’s Cemetery makes it a birdy spot. Address: 2519 South Inspiration Rd. Contact: 956-5847432. Bird Species Include: Valley specialties and migrants. 24 Estero Llano Grande State Park - Weslaco
Estero Llano Grande offers wetlands and other diverse habitats. Bird and butterfly enthusiasts alike will enjoy exploring 230 plus¬acres and five miles of easy walking trails. Sit under the park's large covered deck overlooking the wetlands. There are five butterfly gardens, ponds of varying size and depths, two observation decks, with levee access overlooking the Llano Grande channel. There is a store, meeting space/classroom, multi-purpose recreation hall, and Camp Thicket Retreat and Training Center. Contact Information: 956-565-3919 Address: 3301 S. International Blvd. (FM 1015) Directions: From the intersection of US 83 and FM 1015 (International Blvd), head South on FM 1015 approximately two miles to Estero Llano Grande State Park on the left hand side. Bird Species Include: All three Kingfishers, Ringed, Belted and Green, Least Grebe, Groove-billed Ani, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Common Pauraque, Altamira Oriole, Northern-beardless Tyrannulet, and Red Crowned Parrot, etc. Great home for butterflies!
25 FM 1421 Driving Tour (Resaca Rd.) - Brownsville Directions: From US 77, S of San Benito, exit on TX 100/FM 1421 turn W after crossing the RR tracks and clear the trip odometer. FM 1421 makes an immediate L turn and heads S along and across a Resaca at 0.5 miles. Continue 0.7 miles to cross another Resaca. You may want to turn W onto the dirt road to stop and view this area. Continue S on the Mesquite-lined FM 1421 thru a low area of reeds that, depending on the last rain, may or may not have water. Continue 3.1 miles to Brownsville ISD Encampment. Continue past La Paloma Grove Ranch to 3.9 miles where you will find another Resaca. Depending on the recent rains you may want to turn E onto the dirt road for good viewing around the curve. Upon returning to FM 1421, turn N and travel the 3.9 miles to the original turn to cross the RR tracks. You can, at this point, turn W onto Rice Tract Rd. and continue 1.2 miles as asphalt ends, until you see a fenced water district building on your R. Stop and walk up the N side to see a reservoir, spillway, and Resaca. Bird Species Include: Valley Specialties. 26 FM 2221 Driving Tour (Sparrow Road) - La Joya
This fairly busy paved road, turns into a Caliche (dirt) road with grassy fence lines. The road can be birded successfully with care and is well-known for wintering sparrows. Directions: From US 83 just W of La Joya, turn N on FM 2221. Bird wooded and brush sections by pulling over onto shoulders. Proceed N when paved FM 2221 turns E and the road N (dirt) is now called Jara Chinas Rd. Bird fence lines. Bird Species Include: Known for good views of wintering sparrow and other western dryland species such as Cassin’s, Grasshopper, Lark, Savannah, Lincoln, Clay-colored Sparrow, Sage Thrasher, and Pyrrhuloxia.
27 Falcon (Starr) County Park – Roma Falcon (Starr) County Park has picnic tables, restrooms (rather rough) and camping sites. There is a day fee for camping. Directions: On US 83 W of Roma, 10 miles, turn W on FM 2098. Immediately turn R into park. Bird Species Include: Upland birds, Raptors, Great Horned Owl, Western Meadowlark, several species of wintering sparrows, migrants, and Red-billed Pigeon (spring). 28 Falcon Ranch – Roma No trespassing allowed. This is a private game refuge, but viewing is permissible from the road. Directions: On US 83 W of Roma, 10 miles, turn W on FM 2098. Proceed thru Falcon Heights. Turn NE and continue on FM 2098 1.4 miles to a great overlook of a pond on the NW side of the highway. Pull off close to the fence for the best view, if it has not been raining. Bird Species Include: Valley specialties. 29 Falcon State Park – Roma Falcon State Park features 572 acres of gentle rolling hills covered with patches of thorny brushland, consisting mostly of Mesquite, Huisache, Mexican Olive, Texas Ebony, cacti and native grasses. Camping, water and electricity, a screened shelter, air-conditioned cabins, restrooms, showers, trailer dump-station is available. Hours: Open 6am-10pm daily. Admission: $5/person (12 yrs. and under free) At admission office, ask for “bird list”. Contact Information: 956-848-5327. Directions: On US 83 W of Roma, 10 miles, turn W on FM 2098. Proceed thru Falcon Heights and take Park Rd. 46 to Park. Bird Species Include: Common Ground-Dove, Greater Roadrunner, Cactus and Bewick’s Wren, Curve-billed Thrasher, Northern Cardinal, Pyrrhuloxia, and Black Throated Sparrow. Good for butterflies. 30 Fort Brown Resaca - Brownsville The Resaca runs through the campus of the University of Texas Brownsville/Texas Southmost College behind the Village at Ft. Brown. The best viewing is late in the evening in the Village parking lot. Directions: From US 77 in Brownsville, exit Hwy 4 (International Blvd). Turn S on International and continue to Elizabeth St. (do not cross the International Bridge). Turn E on Elizabeth and continue across Resaca to Village. Bird Species Include: Red-crowned Parrot and Green Parakeet. 31 Fort Ringgold/The Chachalaca Nature Trail – Rio Grande City
The trail is located at the SW corner of a small park inside the fence of Fort Ringgold, adjacent to the fire station. It is covered in native Ebony, Mesquite and Hackberry trees, offers covered picnic tables and runs approximately two miles, with a variety of habitats as trail drops toward river. Directions: From US 83 in Rio Grande City, at the curve around Fort Ringgold, turn S on Ringgold Ave., pass the old Guard House, take immediate W turn on Lee Circle. Go one block and turn back N on Cavalry St. The park is in front of you. Bird Species Include: Clay-colored Thrush, Black Phoebe, Tropical and Couch’s Kingbird, and Valley specialties.
32 Fred Stone County Park – Port Mansfield/Raymondville Park features include restrooms, a fishing pier and picnic tables, no RV hook-ups. The nature trail starts at the NW corner of the N parking lot. Approximate distance is a ½-mile to ¾-mile thru native Texas brush. Contact Information: 956-944-2354. Directions: From US 77 in Raymondville, turn E on TX 186 and go 24 miles to Port Mansfield. At FM 606 turn N and go one mile to the park. Bird Species Include: Brown Pelican, Roseate Spoonbill, Black Skimmer, American Oystercatcher, and Marbled Godwit. Note: The algal flats south of the Mansfield Cut host the world’s largest wintering population of Piping Plover. 33 Frontera Audubon Society Weslaco Thicket – Weslaco This is a non-profit organization with a 15-acre nature preserve featuring mature native woodlands, trails, wetlands, and butterfly gardens. Contact Information: 1101 South Texas Blvd. (FM 88) Weslaco, 956.968-3275. The Visitor’s Center is open Wed-Sat 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Sun Noon-4 p.m. Admission: Adults $5, Seniors $4, Children under 12 free. Bird Species Include: Altamira Oriole, Green Kingfisher, White-tipped Dove, Groove-billed Ani, Long-billed Thrasher, and Olive Sparrow. Good butterflying. 34 Fronton – Roma
This stretch of the Rio Grande River provides some of the best remaining Riparian Woodland. Directions: On US 83 N of Roma, turn W on FM 650. Go 4.8 miles to Fronton. Turn S on River Rd., which becomes Caliche. Continue S to Rio Grande River. Bird Species Include: Sora, Common Gallinule, Belted, Green and Ringed Kingfisher, Groove-billed Ani, Altamira and Audubon’s Oriole, Red-billed Pigeon, Clay-colored Thrush, Muscovy Duck, and other local specialties.
35 Harlingen Arroyo Colorado, Hugh Ramsey Park - Harlingen
Features include: Restrooms, a partially-paved parking area, photo blinds, and nature and walking trails. Contact Information: 956-4278873 Address: 1001 S. Loop 499, the area is covered in Honey Mesquite, Texas Ebony, Huisache, Brasil, Retama and Granjeno. Good migrant trap in spring. Oct-Apr, Wednesday morning nature walks are led by members of the Arroyo Colorado Audubon Society, at 7:30 a.m. Hours: Open 6 a.m. – 9 p.m. Bird Species Include: Green Jay, Orange-crowned Warbler (winter), Green Kingfisher, Couch’s Kingbird, Long-billed and Curve-billed Thrasher, Olive Sparrow, etc. Good for butterfly viewing.
36 Harlingen City Lake – Harlingen
A walking/jogging trail loops around the lake for a view from all sides. Across the street, the dense native trees create a canopy that can be quite productive during migration. No facilities. Directions: From US 77 in Harlingen, exit Loop 499 (Ed Carey Dr.). Turn NE on Ed Carey for one mile. Turn NW on 77 Sunshine Strip and continue past Arroyo Colorado Bridge. Be in the L lane to take L fork onto Commerce St. Continue on Commerce, turn N on 6th St. and proceed 11 blocks. Cross the RR tracks. The lake is on your L and Liberty Garden is on your R, just past the library. Bird Species Include: Valley specialties and migrants.
37 Hilltop Botanical Gardens & Inn – Lyford This 500 acre farm was first planted with Aloe Vera in 1938, and was recently master planned with four gardens. The farm received organic certification and certification for Global G.A.P. (Good Agricultural Practice). Open to the public Tues – Sat 9 a.m-4:30 p.m. Admission: Adults $3, Children 5-12 $1, Under 5 years Free. Contact Information: 956-262-2176. Directions: 6.5 miles North of La Villa on FM 491, 100 Lee Lane, Lyford. Bird Species Include: Crested Caracara, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Altamira Oriole, Claycolored Thrush, Long billed Thrasher, Couch’s & Tropical Kingbird, Pyrrhuloxia, Hook-billed Kite, Roseate Spoonbill, Black crested Titmouse, Barn Owl, and other local birds. Gardens attract butterflies. 38 Indian Ridge Gardens & B&B –Mission Garden and adjacent canal is attractive to wildlife. Address: 209 W Orange Grove Rd. Contact: 956-519-3305. Bird Species Include: Valley specialties, migrants, frequently have nesting Barn Owl. Good for butterflies. 39 La Casa Laguna Resaca, Gardens & B&B Progreso Lakes/Weslaco La Casa Laguna is located on the shore of a Resaca at Progreso Lakes. Address: 1560 Lion Lake Dr. North Contact: 956 787-0323. Bird Species Include: Water birds and Valley specialties. 40 La Feria Nature Center (Park) - La Feria The City Park and wetland adjacent to La Feria Reservoir include a covered observation pier, paved parking, and restrooms. Hours: Sunrise to sunset. Directions: From US 83, exit at La Feria; travel 0.25 miles S to Business 83 (at the RR tracks); turn R and head west 0.75 miles to Rabb Rd.; turn L and travel S to the end of Rabb Rd. to enter park. Address: 1800 South Rabb Rd. Contact: City Hall 956-797-2261. Bird Species Include: King Rail, Virginia Rail, waterfowl, shorebirds, waders, Roseate Spoonbill, Wren, Valley specialties, and nesting Loggerhead Shrike. Also, a productive spot for viewing butterflies. 41 Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge – Rio Hondo
Three separate units totaling approximately 90,000 acres, Laguna Atascosa NWR is the largest protected area of habitat in the Rio Grande Valley, with 415 bird species recorded. Contact: 956-7483607. Hours: The 15-mile Scenic Bayside Drive at Laguna Atascosa is open sunrise to sunset. The Visitor Center is open 8 a.m.-4 p.m. every day except all major holidays. Wheelchair accessible restrooms are available at the Visitor Center. Admission: Daily pass $3/vehicle. Directions: From US 77 in Harlingen, exit Tyler Ave. Proceed thru Harlingen on Tyler Ave., which becomes FM 106, for 18 miles, going thru Rio Hondo to the “T” in the road. Turn L 2.5 miles to the Visitors Center. Bird Species Include: Greater Roadrunner, Sandhill Crane, Redhead Duck, Piping Plover, Long-billed Curlew, Willet, American Golden Plover, Upland Sandpiper, Green Jay, Common Pauraque, Long-billed Thrasher, Olive Sparrow, Groovebilled Ani, Botteri’s Sparrow, White-tailed Hawk, Crested Caracara, and Aplomado Falcon. Good for butterflies.
42 La Lomita Chapel – Mission Site features include picnic tables, restrooms and a parking area covered in Mesquite and Ebony trees. Church Hours: Open 8 a.m.8 p.m. Information: Site open daily sunrise to sunset. Directions: From US 83 in Mission, exit S on FM 1016. As the road curves to the E, look for JCT 494 and a sign for La Lomita Mission. Turn S on JCT 494 and turn S again on the first road. Go across the RR tracks and turn E on S Levee bank. Good for Valley specialties and butterflies. 43 La Puerta Tract (Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife
Refuge) – Rio Grande City There is a parking area; foot access only. Do not enter gated areas even if gate is open, and do not go off the trails. No facilities. Contact: 956-784-7500. Hours: Open daily, sunrise to sunset. Directions: The tract sites are on the N side of US 83, W of Sullivan City. The tract begins 2.5 miles W of FM 1430, which goes to Garciasville. Good for viewing Valley specialties and migrants.
44 La Sal del Rey Tract (Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge) – Raymondville Foot access only; stay on trails and enter only thru marked entry points. No facilities. Observe posted signs with regard to nesting sites and restrictions. Contact: 956-784-7500. Hours: Open daily, sunrise to sunset. Directions: From US 77 in Raymondville, take TX 186 W 18 miles to Brushline Rd. Turn N on Brushline Rd. There are three marked entry points to this road. 2.3 miles further along TX 186, after Brushline Rd., there is a public Information map with parking and entrance. Bird Species Include: (winter) Sandhill Crane, Snow Goose, Long-billed Curlew, Say’s Phoebe, (summer) Snowy Plover, Wilson’s Phalarope, White-tailed Hawk, and Crested Caracara.
56 Old Hidalgo Pumphouse - Hidalgo An original Historic Pumping Station; for the Valley’s vast irrigation system and the only one that remains in the Rio Grande Valley today. New hike and bike trails are available thru the adjacent federal refuge and new hummingbird and butterfly gardens surround the museum. Contact Information: 956-843-8686 Address: 900 S 2nd St., Hours: Mon-Fri, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun, 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Directions: S from McAllen on 10th St. (SH336), curve into US 281 (Coma St). Continue thru town to first traffic light at Bridge St. Follow Pumphouse signs, L on Bridge, L on Flora and S onto 2nd St to Pumphouse. Bird Species Include: Ringed and Green Kingfisher, Green Jay, Clay-colored Thrush, Altamira Oriole, Monk Parakeet, etc. The Pumphouse gardens attract birds and butterflies galore!
45 La Sal Vieja – E Lake Tract (Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge) – Raymondville Accessible by foot only; enter only thru those points designated on the public information map and do not go off trails. Do not enter gated areas, even if gate is open. Contact: 956-784-7500. Hours: Open daily sunrise to sunset. Directions: From US 77 in Raymondville, exit W on TX 186 and travel 4.8 miles to FM 1761. Turn N on FM 1761 and proceed 2.6 miles until the asphalt turns E. Continue straight onto the caliche road, which will take you across the bridge. Go to the first road and turn to the W and proceed to the fence with signage for U.S. Fish and Wildlife. Good for local birds, migrants, and butterflies.
57 Old Port Isabel Road – Coastal Driving Tour: From US 77 S of Rancho Viejo, exit E on FM 511. Travel 6.7 miles on FM 511. Turn N on Old Port Isabel Rd. (street sign on S side of road). Clear your trip odometer and go 0.5 miles. Cross RR tracks and check the Loma Alta Lake on your R. Continue to 1.9 miles, check pond on your L, then continue 2.6 miles and check pond on your L. Continue thru native brush and Yuccas 5.7 miles and check canal as you cross over to TX 100. Bird Species: Aplomado Falcon, Cassin’s and Botteri’s Sparrow, Cactus Wren, Long-billed Curlew, and other coastal species.
46 La Sal Vieja – Teniente Tract (Lower Rio Grande Valley
National Wildlife Refuge) – Raymondville Accessible by foot only; enter only thru those points designated on the public information map and do not go off the trails. Do not enter gated areas even if the gate is open. Contact: 956-784-7500. Hours: Open daily sunrise to sunset. Directions: From US 77 in Raymondville, exit W on TX 186. Go W on TX 186 11 miles to the first unpaved road 0.5 miles past FM 88. Turn N on the unpaved road and go to the first of five public entry points on this road into the tract. 3.6 miles down this road you will reach the N boundary. Turn W, pass a pond on your R and continue one mile and turn S back to TX 186. Turn W on TX 186 and go to the next county road (Country Road 10 - Rio Beef Feedyard). Turn N to the first of two public entry points on this road. Three miles down is the public information map. Good for Valley specialties and migrants.
47 Las Majadas Pond – Raymondville A parking area is available for viewing as is an observation deck with a wheelchair accessible ramp. No facilities. Directions: From US 77 in Raymondville, exit E on TX 186 1.2 miles to pond. Look for signage: “Wildlife Viewing Area & Windmill”. Good for local specialty birds and migrants. 48 Llano Grande Lake – Weslaco Llano Grande Lake is characterized as a floodway surrounded by native habitat. Directions: From US 83 E of Weslaco, turn S on FM 1015. Just south of Estero Llano Grande State Park, immediately after the bridge, look for a gate on your L. This is a private farm, but if the gate is open, you may drive along the floodway (dirt road). Bird Species Include: Least Grebe, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Black-necked Stilt, Greater and Lessor Yellowlegs, Solitary, Western, Least, White-rumped, Baird’s, Pectoral and Stilt Sandpiper, Wilson’s Phalarope, and American White Pelican. 49 Lon C. Hill Park – Harlingen This park is covered in native trees located across the street from Municipal Auditorium/Casa de Amistad; restrooms, picnic tables and playground. Directions: From US 83 E in Harlingen, exit Tyler Ave. Pass Texas Tourist Information Center (on left) and turn N on frontage road. Cross RR tracks and proceed on frontage road to Fairpark Blvd. Turn E on Fairpark Blvd. and proceed to Lon C. Hill Park. Good for local birds and butterflies. 50 Longoria Unit (Las Polomas Wildlife Management Area) La Feria This WMA is 373 acres of remnant high quality woodland, with no facilities. Contact Information: 956-565-1223. Hours: Open daily sunrise to sunset. Directions: From US 83 in La Feria, exit FM 506, turn N and go 10.4 miles. This unit is on both sides of the road. Bird Species Include: Valley specialties and migrants. Good for butterflies. 51 Los Ebanos Preserve – Los Fresnos Los Ebanos Preserve is an 82-acre private nature park for bird and butterfly watching with gardens of native and tropical plants and trails, butterfly gardens, open-air pavilion with tables and chairs and restrooms. Open only by appointment. Call: 956.399.9097. Directions: From US 77 S of San Benito, exit E on State Highway 100 and go 100 yards to the entrance on the left. Bird Species Include: Valley specialties and migrants. Good for butterflies. 52 Martin Refuge – Edinburg This is a private wildlife refuge located NW of Mission, offering wildlife and nature photography opportunities. Professionally designed photo blinds on water features bring critters close in. Visitors can view and photograph Valley bird specialties, as well as mammals, and reptiles. By appointment only. Contact Information: 956381-1264 53 Methodist Camp Thicket/Estero Llano Grande State Park
Weslaco Now part of Estero Llano Grande Park; the Methodist Camp Thicket area is covered with Ash, Mesquite, Cedar and Black Willow. Call: 956-565-3919 for access. Directions: One mile S of Weslaco on FM 1015. Good for Valley specialties and migrants.
54 Mission Nature Park – Mission
Mission Nature Park has five miles of biking trails. No facilities. Directions: From US 83 in Mission, exit FM 1016 (Conway Ave.). Turn S and proceed 0.6 miles to park. There is a sign at the entrance on the W side of the road before you cross the floodway. Good for Valley specialties and migrants.
55 National Butterfly Center – Mission The center offers world-class outdoor butterfly garden and bird habitat with a new Visitors’ Pavilion. It is located on the Rio Grande River one mile E of Bentsen State Park. Admission: $10. Contact: 956583-9009 Directions: W of Mission on US 83, exit S on Inspiration Rd. Turn W on Bus. 83 go under the expressway to the third light. Turn S on Schuerbach Rd. and travel 2.6 miles. Schuerbach Rd. becomes Butterfly Park Dr. Bird Species: 239 species in past five years. Butterfly Species: 190 species recorded in the past 5 years, including ALL of the usual suspects, such as Red-bordered Pixie, Malachite, Mexican Bluewing, and Two-barred Flasher. In addition, true rarities seen include Broad-banded Swallowtail, Cross-barred White (First US record), Common Melwhite, Strophius Hairstreak, Cyna Blue (currently the only place in the US where you can expect to see this species), Erato Heliconian, Chestnut Crescent, Fourspotted Sailor (First US record), One-spotted Prepona (First US record), Blomfield’s Beauty, Angled Leafwing, Guatemalan Leafwing (2nd US record), Broad-tipped Clearwing (First US record), Whitetipped and Turquoise Longtail (First US record).
58 Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park -Brownsville This Historical Park offers a 3,400-acre expanse of coastal prairie. Several handicap-accessible paved walking trails are available, restrooms at the Visitors Center. Contact Information: 956-541-2785 Address: 7200 Paredes Line Road. Hours: Trails are open daily 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. The Visitors Center is actually open daily, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Directions: From US 77 S of Rancho Viejo, exit FM 511. Turn E on FM 511 and go 3.5 miles to FM 1847 (Paredes Line Rd.). Turn R into the parking lot. Bird Species Include: Harris’ Hawk, Aplomado Falcon, Groove-billed Ani, Common Pauraque, Chihuahuan Raven, Long-billed Thrasher. Good for butterflies. 59 PORT MANSFIELD NATURE TRAIL – Port Mansfield
The nature trail is 1.5 miles and crosses several habitat types including about 15 acres of ephemeral freshwater marsh supporting brackish marsh plants (due to soil salinity). No facilities, hours, or fee. Fred Stone County Park, about 1 mile away, has restrooms. On the way to Port Mansfield, TX 186 crosses the Coastal Sand Sheet and numerous potholes and swales with fresh and inland brackish marshes (all private property). Owner: Willacy County Navigation District. Contact Information: 956-944-2325. Directions: From US 77 in Raymondville, go E about 24 mi. on TX 186 to Port Mansfield. Nature trail is across from TPWD public boat ramp. Bird Species: Wildlife viewing and hiking, good for waders, shore birds, and water fowl, and could support some interesting butterflies.
60 Quinta Mazatlan – McAllen Quinta Mazatlan is a Historical 1935 Spanish Revival Style Adobe mansion located on the grounds of McAllen’s urban nature & birding sanctuary. The Historic landmark offers an art gallery, store, exhibits and 20-acres of Tamaulipan Thorn Forest birding trails. Contact Information: 956-681-3370 Address: 600 Sunset Drive; Open TuesSat 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Thurs until dark. Directions: Take US 83 to 10th St. Exit and turn S onto 10th St., turn E on Sunset. Bird Species Include: Green Jay, Great Kiskadee, Common Pauraque, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Plain Chachalaca, Altamira Oriole, Clay-colored Thrush, Olive Sparrow, Curve-billed and Long-Billed Thrasher, and migrants. 61 Rancho Lomitas – Rio Grande City Rancho Lomitas consists of 177 acres of native Tamaulipan Brushland and includes an RV park with full hook-ups, camping facilities, restrooms, showers and a native plant nursery. Contact Information and directions: Call Benito Trevino at 956-486-2576. Admission: $5.00/person, per day, to bird on your own or tours available. Bird Species Include: Audobon’s Oriole, Verdin, Black-throated Sparrow, Scaled Quail, Olive Sparrow, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Lesser Nighthawk, Common Pauraque, Bewick’s Wren, and Crested Caracara. Good for butterflying. 62 Resaca de la Palma State Park - Brownsville Open year-round seven days/week from 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Visitor Center open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., $5 for adults/senior discounts/children under 12 free, Texas State Park store offers bicycle and binocular rentals available, paved parking, picnic tables, tram tours, bathrooms, nature trails, wheelchair accessible trails, three-mile paved loop, and four scenic observation decks. This 1,200-acre park protects a 4 mile Resaca flanked by a globally threatened plant community, the Ebony-Anacua thorn forest. Wildlife can be found year-round in the old growth forest, savannah and wetland habitats. Contact Information: 956-350-2920 Address: 1000 New Carmen Ave. Directions: From US 77/83 N of Brownsville, exit and turn W onto FM1732; go 2.4 miles to New Carmen. Turn S 1.5 miles. The park’s entrance is located on E. Bird Species Include: Common Pauraque, Yellow-Green Vireo, Least Grebe, Green Kingfisher, White-tailed Kite, Altamira Oriole, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Green Jay, Groove-billed Ani, Grey Hawk, Crested Caracara, and more. Good for butterflies. 63 Rio Rico Road and Bluffs – Mercedes This is a Rio Grande River road with Riparian Woodlands along bluffs and open area at Willacy County Pump Station. Directions: Take US 83 to Mercedes and exit S on FM 491. Travel 5.6 miles. At Hwy 281, turn E and go 0.4 miles to Rio Rico Rd. Turn S and go 1.2 miles. Turn E on paved road and follow the river to the pump station. Bird Species: Green and Ringed Kingfisher, Least and American Bittern, Sora, Osprey, Mottled Duck along river, and Tropical Kingbird. 64 Roma Bluffs - Roma An overlook deck on sandstone bluffs offers views into scenic Miguel Aleman, Mexico. The Visitors Center sits in the middle of a 9-square block area designated as a National Historic Landmark District that contains over 30 structures built before 1900 – it has a courtyard/garden area for viewing birds. Contact Information: 956849-4930 Hours: Open Mon-Fri, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.; winter months open daily. Address: 610 N. Portscheller St. in the Historic Plaza. Directions: From US 83 in Roma, take the Lincoln street exit (L lane) just after the International Bridge exit. Go straight through the light and turn L after the second stop sign onto Portscheller St. It will be on the L-hand side next to the small fountain and directly across the side street from City Hall. Bird Species Include: Muscovy Duck, Red-billed Pigeon, Clay-colored Thrush, Audubon’s Oriole, Lesser Goldfinch, Belted, Green and Ringed Kingfisher. All four sides of the Plaza have been planted for butterflies! 65 Sabal Palm Audubon Center and Sanctuary – Brownsville This 557-acre sanctuary has the largest remaining stand of Sabal Palms in the Valley. The Riparian Woodlands and wetlands offer good views of birds and butterflies. Hours: Open daily/seven days a week from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission: Adults $5, Children $3. Contact: 956-541-8043. Directions: From US 77 N of Brownsville, exit E on FM 511. Proceed to end (FM 1419). Turn W on FM 1419; entrance is on L, less than 1 mile. Follow entrance road to Visitors Center. Bird Species: Least Grebe, Ringed, Belted and Green Kingfisher, Groove-billed Ani, Gray-crowned Yellowthroat (spring), Yellow-green Vireo (summer), Long-billed Thrasher, Olive Sparrow, Altamira and Hooded Oriole, and Lesser Goldfinch. Good for butterflies.
66 Sacahuista Flats-Port Mansfield The grassland in this area is the preferred habitat for Botteri’s Sparrow. The old Mesquite that borders the road between The Flats and Port Mansfield is also an excellent habitat for many Valley specialties. No facilities. Directions: From US 77 in Raymondville, turn E on TX 186 and go 13.5 miles. From this point to Port Mansfield is called The Flats. Bird Species Include: Botteri’s Sparrow, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Couch’s Kingbird, and Aplomado Falcon. 67 Salineno Tract (Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge) & DeWind’s Reserve – Roma This is a riverfront tract and Valley Land Fund DeWind’s Reserve. No facilities. The area is surrounded by a chain link fence. Roll gate back to a closed position after entering, but do not enter if a “No Trespassing” sign is on the gate. Hours: Open 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m. daily by volunteers Nov-Mar. Contact: 956-784-7500. Directions: From US 83 W of Roma, turn L at sign for Salineno. At the fork go R and continue thru town past the Catholic Church, to the Rio Grande River 60 yards back from river’s edge, is the DeWind’s Reserve. Bird Species Include: Spotted, Western and Least Sandpiper, Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Brown and Green Jay, Bewick’s Wren, Black-crested Titmouse, Muscovy Duck, Olive Sparrow, Red-billed Pigeon, Altamira, Audubon’s and Hooded Oriole. 68 San Augustin Park Reserve – Rio Grande City Several miles of dirt driving trails are around the perimeter and interior of the park. A Riparian habitat of heavy second growth with rugged terrain and winding trails along the Rio Grande River. The park covers over 100 acres on the S side of US 83. No facilities. Hours: Open daily. Directions: 2.3 miles W of Rio Grande City on US 83. Look for Zarsky Lumber on your R. Go 0.2 miles past Zarsky Lumber and turn L at the curve into the reserve thru the opening in the fence. No signage. Good for Valley specialties and butterflies. 69 San Miguelito Ranch – Raymondville This is a privately-owned ranch in Willacy County. A large portion of the ranch is thorn brush and features several ponds. Contact Information: Call Letty Tijerina 956-369-3118 for daily fee and an appointment. Directions: 15 miles N of Raymondville on US 77. Bird Species: Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl often nests at the ranch house, White-tailed Kite, White-tailed Hawk, Green Jay, Black-throated Sparrow, Olive Sparrow, Altramira and Hooded Oriole, Least Grebe, and Crested Caracara. 70 San Ygnacio Seedeater Preserve – Roma
This is a low-lying preserve in the cane along the Rio Grande River. No restrooms. A small RV park is located nearby. Admission: Donation box at end of Washington St. Directions: Continue W thru Zapata on US 83 to the small historic village of San Ygnacio. Turn S on Uribe St. and then W on Aqua St. Park at the small “park.” Proceed walking along Trevino St. to Washington St. Here you will find the entrance to the sanctuary by proceeding down a steep slope to a small narrow trail cut into the cane to the L. The area to the R is now off-limits due to the presence of Homeland Security – sensing devices are installed and will send Border Patrol! Bird Species Include: White-collared Seedeater, Altamira, Hooded, Bullock’s and Audubon’s Oriole, Muscovy Duck, Red-billed Pigeon, Clay-colored Thrush, Zone-tailed Hawk, Green and Ringed Kingfisher.
71 Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge – Alamo The refuge consists of 2,088 acres of undisturbed Riparian and Tamaulipan Woodland and Resacas, the largest block of such habitat on the Rio Grande between Falcon Dam and Boca Chica. Over 400 species of birds and 300 species of butterflies have been recorded. 40 foot viewing tower. Guided tours are available. Visitors center, exhibits, gift shop, snacks, restrooms and picnic area at site. Contact: 956-784-7500. Hours: The visitor center is open 8 a.m.-4 p.m., seven days/week, year-round, tram runs daily from Nov-Apr and weekly throughout the rest of the year, calling ahead of time is recommended. Hiking is allowed on trails year- round, sunrise to sunset. Bicycles are not allowed. Directions: Take US 83 to Alamo and turn S on FM 907 for 7.5 miles. At Hwy 281, turn E and go approx., 0.25 mile. The refuge is on S side of Hwy. Look for signage. Bird Species Include: Least Grebe, Hook-billed Kite, Groove-billed Ani, Common Pauraque, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Couch’s Kingbird, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Long-billed Thrasher, Olive Sparrow, Altamira Oriole, and Clay-colored Thrush. 72 Santa Margarita Ranch – Roma No facilities. Do not get out of the car at the houses due to guard dogs. Residents of the ranch are not responsible for injuries sustained while on their property. Residents will show you where to park and walk to river. Admission: $2/person. Directions: From US 83 W of Roma 5.7 miles, turn S on old US 83 Rd. Turn S onto the first unmarked dirt road after crossing the bridge. Continue 0.7 miles and take the W (R) fork. Continue 0.3 miles and take the S (L) fork. At the top of the hill where you can see the ranches houses, proceed one mile. Go to the first house and honk your horn. If no one comes out, go to the second house and park at the gate. Continue on foot to the river. Bird Species Include: Muscovy Duck (spring and summer), Red-billed Pigeon, Common Pauraque, Belted, Ringed and Green Kingfisher, Cactus Wren, Long-billed Thrasher, Olive Sparrow, Pyrrhuloxia, Altamira and Audubon’s Oriole, Blackthroated Sparrow, Scaled Quail, Verdin, Brown Jay, and Elf Owl. 73 Santa Monica Driving Loop – Raymondville Driving Tour: From US 77 in Raymondville, exit TX 186 E and go to 9.2 miles to FM 1420. Go S on FM 1420 for four miles. As you go around the curve you will see a Caliche road that goes straight to the E (look for a Citation Willamar Field sign). Follow this Caliche road and observe the brushy habitat along the roadside. Follow this road for 4.2 miles to the intersection. Turn L at the intersection. As this road curves back to the S it will connect with the Old Paso Real Stage Line on the Old Alice Trail. There is a historical marker at 1.4 miles. Follow this road for 2.3 miles (you will see a levee immediately ahead; travel is acceptable on the levee). Go R on the road immediately before the levee. At 2.4 miles you will come to FM 1420. Turn N on FM 1420 for 1.7 miles to the sign before the curve. Pull to the side of the road to observe the large ponds on the R. Bird Species Include: Various migratory waterfowl and shorebirds. 74 Seedeater Inn Garden & B&B - Zapata
Seedeater Inn is located in a mature section of the old town of Zapata. Address: 1403 Kennedy St. Contact: 956-373-1080. Bird Species Include: Good for urban Valley specialties, and close to Zapata Library a White-collared Seedeater hot spot.
75 South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center – Coastal Features an exhibit hall, 4,800 linear feet of wheelchair accessible boardwalks on the Laguna Madre, seven bird blinds, auditorium, conference room, five story-observation tower with elevator, guided tours, nature gift store, three waterfalls and saltwater and freshwater marshes. Contact Information: 956243-8179 Address: 6801 Padre Blvd. Hours: The center is open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The boardwalks are open sunrise to sunset. Admission: Adults, $5; Seniors/Students, $4; children (ages 4-12) $2. Directions: From US Highway 77 exit turn E on TX Highway 100 and proceed through Los Fresnos and Port Isabel over the causeway to the Island. Turn N on Padre Blvd and the Birding Nature Center is located 3 miles on the L, next to the Convention Centre. Bird Species Include: Roseate Spoonbill,
Tricolored Heron, Reddish Egret, White Ibis, Black-necked Stilt, Willet, Least Bittern, Clapper Rail, Royal Tern, Caspian Tern, Black Skimmer, and American Oystercatcher. Butterfly viewing among the natural wildlife of coastal South Texas.
76 South Padre Island – Coastal There are several spots to bird. At the black mangrove tidal flat on the R as you come off the causeway, look for American Oystercatcher and Black Skimmer. On the Bay side L of Padre Blvd., check vacant wooded lots on Atol, Sheepshead, Retama, Campeche, Mesquite and Lantana Streets for migrants. The Convention Centre is 4 miles N of the causeway on Padre Blvd. This area has several different habitats. Clapper, King and Virginia Rail year round, Sora, Black and Yellow Rail; spring, winter a Peregrine Falcon sits on water tower. View migrating warblers, tanagers, orioles, buntings and other birds. Behind Convention Centre is a tidal mud flat that produces Reddish Egret, Snowy, Wilson’s Semipalmated and Piping Plover, Pectoral Sandpiper, Dunlin and Stilt Sandpiper, and Red-Breasted Merganser. During winter look for Ring-billed, Laughing, Herring and Bonaparte’s Gull. In spring look for Black-bellied Plover, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Red Knot, and Caspian, Sandwich, Royal, Least and Forster’s Terns. The jetties on the S end at Isla Blanca Park (Admission: $4/car) is best for Common Loon and Northern Gannet offshore in winter, and Magnificent Frigatebird in summer. Coastal birds may also be seen during bay trips. Keep your eyes open for butterflies. Contact Information: 956-243-8179. Directions: From US 77, turn E on TX 100. Proceed thru Los Fresnos, Port Isabel, and continue across causeway to the Island. 77 TX 48 (Brownsville to Port Isabel Driving Tour) – Coastal Driving tour: This entire hwy. is covered in seasonal wetlands and features the largest wetlands restoration project in the nation, Bahia Grande. From US 77 in Brownsville, exit TX 48 (Boca Chica) going E. Turn L at International Blvd. (TX48). Clear your trip odometer as you cross FM 511 and continue 15 miles to Port Isabel. E is a fleet of shrimp boats at five miles and a center barrier starts at six miles, a boat ramp at 7.9 miles. On the N side a yellow gate is the entrance to the most improved nature trails, restoration inflow channel that feeds Bahia Grande at 9.6 miles attracts shorebirds birds. On N side, observation parking is provided at 9.8 miles. You can loop around the center barrier at 11 miles and enter the red gate or continue. Check ponds behind HEB Grocery Store for Wood Storks (spring and fall), and White-tailed Hawks in the Yuccas. 78 TX 100 (US 77 to Port Isabel Driving Tour) – Coastal Driving Tour: From US 77 S of San Benito, exit E on TX 100; check the Resacas in the first 1.2 miles. Travel thru the city of Los Fresnos (observe speed limit). Ten miles E of Los Fresnos, seasonal wetlands begin to continue into Laguna Vista. The S side of the road is the new wetlands of the Bahia Grande. Also, check the mud flats near the water treatment plant on the W side of Laguna Vista and power lines N side for raptors. Continue E on TX 100 thru Laguna Heights. On the far E side of Laguna Heights check the mud flats across the highway from Port Isabel High School. Bird Species Include: Aplomado Falcon, Gull-billed Tern, Harris’s Hawk, White– tailed Kite, and Chihuahuan Raven. 79 Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Coastal Fisheries Field Station – Brownsville This site has several ponds surrounded by trees and native habitat and a birding observation deck that overlooks one of the ponds. No facilities. Directions: From US 77 N of Brownsville, exit Stillman Rd. Stay on the service road and turn W on Fish Hatchery Rd. Proceed one mile to Field Stations. 80 Tiocano Lake (Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge) – Harlingen Tiocano Lake is an ephemeral lake extending from FM 733 E to Pomelo Rd., from time to time. During wet seasons, the lake fills a considerable distance, attracting waterfowl and shorebirds. In dry seasons it contains very little water. Contact: 956.784-7500. Directions: From US 83 W of Harlingen, Exit FM 733 (Kansas City Rd.), travel N on FM 733 approximately three miles to lake.
81 Valley Nature Center – Weslaco This six-acre private nature park has one mile of interpreted trails thru native Tamaulipan Woodland and a 0.50-acre wetland and boardwalk. Also on-site is an impressive brand new nature exhibit hall, meeting room, restrooms and a book/gift shop. The Center is located at 301 S Border St., in back of Gibson City Park. Contact: 956-969-2475. Hours: Open year-round; Tues-Fri, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun, 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Directions: From US 83 in Weslaco, turn S on FM 88 (Texas Blvd.). Go to Bus. 83 and turn W. Proceed to Border Ave. and turn S. to Center on L. Bird Species Include: Red-crowned Parrot, Green Parakeet, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Lesser Goldfinch, and White-tipped Dove. Good for butterflies and native plant nursery. 82 Vieh’s Ranch and B&B – San Benito This 15-acre ranch located three miles from Mexico and features a 10-acre lake across back of property. Facilities are available. Over 100 species recorded at this site. Contact Information: Call 956425-4651 for permission to bird and/or for reservations. Directions: 18413 Landrum Park Road Highway 675. Good for butterflies and Valley specialties. 83 Weslaco Water Treatment Settling Basins – Weslaco The diversity of birds depends on the amount of water in outlying ponds. No facilities. Directions: From US 83, exit Airport Dr. in Weslaco and follow Airport Dr. N past Police Dept. and Fire Station. Turn left, 0.2 miles, immediately past the canal on your L. Go to the City of Weslaco N Wastewater Plant office. Hours: Mon-Fri, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Let the office know that you want to look at the birds and they will direct you to the parking area. Before and after hours follow Airport Dr. to the gate at the hangars, park and walk to the levee on your L. Good for local specialties. 84 Williams Wildscapes & Water Features – Pharr This is a 2.5- acre birding oasis located on a private residence with Live Oaks and native trees and brush, with several water features. Professional photographers are welcome! Please call ahead: 956460-9864. Address: 750 W Sam Houston Boulevard. Admission: $10. Good for migrants and Valley specialties. 85 Yturria Tract (Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge) – La Joya A public information map is located at the one entrance to this tract and accessible by foot only. Enter only thru those points designated on the public information map and do not go off the trails. Do not enter thru the gates, even if gate is open. Parking is available. No facilities. Contact: 956-784-7500. Hours: Open daily, sunrise to sunset. Directions: From US 83 W of Mission, proceed W thru La Joya. Look for the public information map on US 83, 3.1 miles W of FM 2221 in La Joya. Good for butterflies, local birds and migrants. 86 Zapata City Park/Birding Trail – Roma The area is partially wooded and has a pond. This is often a good location in the Lower Rio Grande Valley to find White-collared Seedeater. No facilities. Directions: On US 83 from Roma, go W 40 miles to Zapata. Turn W on 9th St. (stoplight) and proceed two blocks to the park. Parking is at Zapata County Library. Bird Species: White-collared Seedeater, Cave Swallow, Say’s Phoebe (winter), and Cassin’s Sparrow.
Cameron County Sheriff’s Dept. 956-544-0860 • Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Dept. 956-383-8114 • Starr County Sheriff’s Dept. 956-487-5571 • Willacy County Sheriff’s Dept. 956-689-5576 • Zapata County Sheriff’s Dept. 956-765-9960