World Birding Center Sites in South Texas
Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park
Features include 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 vegetation and resaca woodlands. Over 300 species of birds and over 200 species of butterflies documented. Contact Information: 956-585-1107. Hours: This World Birding Center site is open seven days/week, year-round. Gates are 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 the gate. Directions: Take US 83 W of Mission, exit S on Bentsen Palm Rd. and continue about three miles to park. Bird Species: Least Grebe, Hook-billed Kite, Plain Chachalaca, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Great Kiskadee, Green Jay, Long-billed Thrasher, Olive Sparrow, Altamira Oriole, Clay-colored Thrush. Butterfly Species: Tailed Orange, Mimosa Yellow, Fatal Metalmark, Rounded Metalmark, Red-bordered Metalmark, Mexican Silverspot, Julia Heliconian, Zembra Heliconian, Mexican Fritillary, Cuban Crescent, Mexican Bluewing, Florida Purplewing, Tropical Leafwing, Empress Leilia, Sickle-winged Skipper, White-patched Skipper, Erichson’s White-Skippet, Laviana White-Skipper, Ocala Skipper.
Edinburg Scenic Wetlands and World Birding Center
The Edinburg Scenic Wetlands and World Birding Center 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, a drink machine and exhibits. Adjacent Municipal Park has bathrooms, a playground, picnic area, fishing ponds, pavilions, BBQ grills and drink machines. Visitor Center Hours: Mon-Thurs, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; Fri, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sat, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. during the school year and 9 a.m.-6 p.m. during summer; closed Sundays. Grounds open daily, sunrise to sunset. Admission: $3/adults; $2/students and seniors, 55+; free/children five and under. Directions: From US 281, exit TX 107 (University Dr.) in Edinburg. Go E to Raul Longoria Rd. and turn S to Sprague. At Sprague & Raul Longoria, turn E into Municipal Park and into the first parking lot on the N side of the road. Bird Species: Great Kiskadee, Ringed and Green Kingfisher, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Least Bittern, Least Grebe, American White Pelican (winter), Great Blue Heron, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Neotropic Cormorant. Butterfly Species: Mexican Blue-wing, Red Bordered Pixie, Gulf Fritillary.
Estero Llano Grande State Park (Weslaco Wing of the World Birding Center)
Estero Llano Grande offers something special with the largest wetlands environment and some of the most diverse habitats in a valley park. Estero Llano Grande attracts a spectacular array of South Texas wildlife with its varied landscape of shallow lake, ponds, woodlands, thorn forest and grasslands. Bird and butterfly enthusiasts alike will enjoy exploring this 230-plus-acre park and its more than five miles of easy walking trails. From the parking lot all the way to the Visitor Center, enjoy the walk thru amazing butterfly gardens. Sit under the park’s large covered deck overlooking the wetlands and enjoy numerous bird species with a South Texas breeze. Five butterfly gardens, ponds of varying size and depths, two observation decks, levee access overlooking the Llano Grande channel, the Humedales Alegres-Park Store, a meeting room/classroom, a multipurpose recreation hall and Camp Thicket-Retreat and Training Center are now accessible for the public to enjoy. Contact Information: Physical Address: 3301 S International Blvd. (FM 1015), Weslaco. Mailing Address: 154A Lakeview Dr., Weslaco. 956-565-3919. Directions: From the intersection of US 281 and FM 1015 (International Blvd.), head S on FM 1015 approximately two miles to Estero Llano Grande State Park on the R-hand side. Bird Species: All three Kingfishers—Ringed, Belted and Green—can be seen in this one location, as can some great Valley specialties such as: Least Grebe, Groove-billed Ani, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Common Pauraque, Altamira Oriole, Northern-beardless Tyrannulet, Red-crowned Parrots, etc. Butterfly Species: The butterflies can be just as amazing as the birds, with a few of the park highlights being Mexican Bluewing, Mazan’s Scallopwing, Potrillo Skipper, Silver-banded Hairstreak, Malachite, etc.
Harlingen Arroyo Colorado
Features at Harlingen Arroyo Colorado include restrooms, a partially-paved parking area, photo blinds and nature and walking trails. 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, beginning at 7:30 a.m. Hours: Open 6 a.m.-9 p.m. Bird Species: Great Blue Heron, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, White-tailed Kite, Red-Tailed Hawk, Green Jay, Orange-crowned Warbler (winter), Common Yellowthroat, Northern Cardinal, Indigo Bunting, Green Kingfisher, Neotropic Cormorant, Couch’s Kingbird, Long-billed and Curve-billed Thrasher, Olive Sparrow, Plain Chachalaca. Butterfly Species: Great Southern White, Large Orange Sulphur, Lyside Sulphur, Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, Western Pygmy-Blue, Blue Metalmark, Fatal Metalmark, Bordered Patch, Vesta Crescent, Phaon Crescent, Tropical Buckeye, White Peacock, Queen, Soldier, White-striped Longtail, Long-tailed Skipper, Dorantes Longtail, Mazans Scallopwing, Sickle-winged Skipper.
Old Hidalgo Pumphouse
One of the original pumping stations for the Valley’s vast irrigation system (and the only remaining one in the Rio Grande Valley), the Old Hidalgo Pumphouse converted desert land into one of the most productive agricultural areas in the nation. New hike and bike trails are available thru the adjacent federal refuge and new hummingbird and butterfly gardens encompass the museum. 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 the first traffic light at Bridge St. Follow Pumphouse signs L on Bridge St. Turn L on Flora and S on 2nd St. to Pumphouse. Bird Species: Ringed and Green Kingfisher, Great Kiskadee, Green Jay, Clay-colored Robin, Altamira Oriole.
Resaca de la Palma
World Birding Center opens year-round seven days/week from 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Visitor Center open from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., $4 for adults/senior discounts/children under 12 free, Texas State Park store offers bicycle and binocular rentals, field books, children’s books, site specific souvenirs and merchandise. Paved parking area, 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 four-mile resaca flanked by a globally threatened plant community, the Ebony-Anacua thorn forest. Wildlife can be found year-round in this old growth forest, as well as the savannah and wetland habitats contained in this unique park. Directions: From US 77/83 N of Brownsville, exit and turn W on FM1732 2.4 miles to New Carmen. Turn S 1.5 miles. Park entrance on E. Bird Species: Common Paraque, Yellow-Green Vireo, Least Grebe, Green Kingfisher, Great Kiskadee, Plain Chachalaca, White-tailed Kite, Altamira Oriole, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Green Jay, Groove-billed Ani, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Brownsville Common Yelllow-throat, Grey Hawk, Crested Caracara. Butterfly Species: Blue Metalmark, Mexican Blue-wing, Zebra Long-wing, Queen, Soldier, Bordered Patch.
An overlook area along sandstone bluffs offers views into scenic Miquel Aleman, Mexico. The visitors center is located in the historic square and has a small courtyard/garden area that is excellent for viewing birds. Visitors Center Contact Information: 610 N Port Scheller St. in the Historic Plaza. 956-849-4930. Visitor Center Hours: Open Mon-Fri, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.; winter months open daily. Directions: From US 83 in Roma, take the Lincoln St. exit (L lane) just after the International Bridge exit. Go straight thru 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 street from city hall. Bird Species: Muscovy Duck, Red-billed Pigeon, Clay-colored Thrush, Audubon’s Oriole, Lesser Goldfinch, Belted, Green, Ringed Kingfishers. Butterfly Species: Polydamas Swallowtail, Orange-barred Sulphur, Statira Sulphur, Mexican Yellow, Tailed Orange, Mimosa Yellow, Marine Blue, Fatal Metalmark, Red-bordered Metalmark, Mexican Silverspot, Zebra, Mexican Fritillary, Banded Peacock, Band-celled Sister, Mexican Bluewing, Common Mestra, Red Rim, Tropical Leafwing, Two-barred Flasher, Sickle-winged Skipper, Hermit Skipper, Nysa Roadside-Skipper.
South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center
The South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center features an exhibit hall, 4,800 linear feet of wheelchair accessible boardwalks on the Laguna Madre, seven bird blinds, an auditorium, a conference room, a five-story observation tower with elevator, guided tours, a nature gift store, three waterfalls and saltwater and freshwater marshes. Contact Information: 6801 Padre Blvd. 956-243-8179. www.spibirding.com. 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. Annual Passes are available. Directions: From the US Hwy 77 exit turn E on TX Hwy 100 and proceed thru Los Fresnos and Port Isabel over the causeway to the Island. Turn N on Padre Blvd. The Birding Nature Center is located three miles on the L, next to the Convention Centre. Bird Species: Roseate Spoonbill, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Tricolored Heron, Reddish Egret, Snow Egret, White Ibis, Black-necked Stilt, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Willet, Least Bittern, Killdeer, Common Moorhen, Clapper Rail, Royal Tern, Caspian Tern, Laughing Gull, Black Skimmer, American Oystercatcher, Osprey. Butterfly Species: Florida White, Great Southern White, Orange-barred Sulphur, Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, Western Pygmy Blue, Cassius Blue, Julia, Mexican Fritillary, Long-tailed Skipper, Dusky-blue Groundstreak, Rounded Metalmark, Phaon Crescent, Mangrove Buckeye, Tropical Buckeye, Queen, Soldier, Eufala Skipper, Monarch Common Buckeye, White Peacock.