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Rio Grande Valley: The Tropical Birds of Texas

Come visit one of the best places to go birding in North America. The Rio Grande Valley is an ecologically rich area where Chihuahuan desert, subtropical Tamaulipan thorn forest, riparian woodlands, resacas (former channels or oxbows of a river), coastal marshes and prairies all come together here to make this an oasis for birds.

There are many parks that protect rare habitat and these parks are an oasis for many species of wildlife.  We will visit many of these parks such as the Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park where we will walk through riparian woodlands and thorn forest to visit some feeding stations where we will look for Plain Chachalaca, Altamira Oriole, Long-billed Thrasher, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, and White-tipped Dove.  Sometimes Tropical Parula and Northern Beardless Tyrannulet are found here as well. 

At the National Butterfly Center we will enjoy a variety of habitats and birds, as well as their famed assortment of butterflies, while learning about the challenges the center has faced with the border wall planning. 

 Along the coastal plain we will visit Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. In this habitat, we could find White-tailed Hawk, Harris’s Hawk, and Crested Caracara. It is here that the rare Aplomado Falcon was reintroduced.  The birds are doing well, and with a little luck, we’ll see them. Along the coast numerous species of waterfowl spend the winter. One of the largest concentrations of wintering Redhead in the world are found along this coast.

 We will visit the Frontera Audubon Sanctuary where numerous restoration projects, including a Sabal Palm grove, have turned this abandoned woodlot into an attractive woodland for a nice variety of birds. Small flocks of warblers wander through here, and adjacent ponds sometimes attract Green Kingfisher. We will also visit Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge where we will look for marsh birds such as Least Grebes, Mottled Duck, and Anhingas.  The riparian woodlands here may host Gray Hawk and with a little luck Clay-colored Thrush.

No birding trip is complete without a visit to a water treatment facility. The Edinburgh Wetlands World Birding Center has an impressive interpretive center and the adjacent settling ponds is an excellent location to spot Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Green Kingfisher, Little Grebe as well as numerous heron and egrets. In the dry scrub, we should find Curve-billed Thrasher and Verdin.

 Late fall is an excellent time to visit this region when the weather is perfect and the birds are numerous. There are often sightings of birds typically found more commonly south of the border and if any of these are within reach of our itinerary we may make an effort to look for it.   

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Trip Details

Trip Leaders: Brodie Cass Talbott and Dan van den Broek
When: November 16, 8:00 a.m. – November 21, 5:00 p.m.
Fee: $1,795 member / $2,395 non-member*
Single supplement: $250
Group size: Limited to 14 participants

*Fee Includes: Five nights lodging at the Alamo Inn birding lodge; breakfast and lunch; park entrance fees; ground transportation (vans), and the services of your experienced Portland Audubon leaders.
What is NOT included: Airfare to and from McAllen, Texas; dinners; alcoholic beverages.

Notes on travel and lodging: We will be traveling together as a group by van, with the requirement that all participants and leaders be fully vaccinated. Vans will be limited to 8 people per van including driver. 

Notes on accessibility: This trip features very easy walking. All trails are mostly flat, and are wide. Many will have gravel surfaces. However, we will have some longer days, and most days will have a fair amount of sun exposure, with temperatures into the 80s.


November 16
November 21
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Erin Law