Birding
  • Right place to sight the rarest of our feathered friends.

    People from around the world flock to the Rio Grande Valley to see birds they couldn’t catch a glimpse of anywhere else. Rare species sightings are common here. That’s why this is among the best places for bird watching anywhere on earth.

    100,000 acres of birds, butterflies and wildlife.

    The World Birding Center, is a collaboration of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and nine RGV communities. About 100,000 acres in nine sites stretch 120 miles from Roma through McAllen to South Padre Island on the Gulf of Mexico. Many of these sites represent the northern edge of the range of neotropical birds. Occasionally, birds that are generally only found farther south wander across the border, offering birders the chance at a life-list species.

    These special places for learning and discovery include viewing stations, watch towers, trails, gift shops, art interpretive exhibits and programs.

    McAllen Humming Birds:

    Quinta Mazatlan:

    Best birding & wildlife sites in the Valley

    Anzalduas Park & Dam
    FM 1016, one mile west of Hwy 494, Mission
    Website

    Anzalduas is a diversion dam built in the 50’s to divert water from the Rio Grande to a large irrigation canal on the Mexican side. This county park has many large shade trees, picnic tables, boating facilities, and a pavilion overlooking the Rio Grande. Clay-colored Robin, Vermilion Flycatcher, Couch’s Kingbird, Ladder-backed and Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Altamira Oriole, Green Jay, Gray Hawk, Tropical Parula and Rose-throated Becard are species that can be found at the park. Directions: Take Expressway 83 west, turn left onto FM 1016, and again left at FM494. Watch for signs.

    Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park
    2800 S. Bentsen Palm Drive (FM 2062), Mission
    Website
    956-584-9156

    With over 550 acres of original sub-tropical thorn forest, Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park is a birder’s gem. As an added bonus, campers in the park keep feeders and fruit stations active all winter for excellent views of Plain Chachalaca, Green Jay and Golden-fronted  Woodpecker. Chief attraction at Bentsen-Rio is the night birds: Common Pauraque, Common Night-hawk, Eastern Screech Owl,  Great Horned Owl and Elf Owl. Similar species to Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. Directions: Take Expressway 83 through Mission and FM2062 south. This road dead ends at the State Park.

    Edinburg Scenic Wetlands
    714 S. Raul Longoria, Edinburg
    Website
    956-381-9922

    An oasis for water-loving birds, butterflies and other creatures, Edinburg Scenic Wetlands is one of the most popular spots in the Rio Grande Valley for observing nature. With six acres of butterfly gardens, it will be a destination for butterfly watchers as well as birders. There’s even a small pond dedicated to dragonflies. Directions: Go north on Trenton Road. Turn left at S. 25th Ave. Turn right at E. Freddy Gonzalez Dr., then left at S. Raul Longoria.

    Estero Llano Grande State Park
    3301 S. International Blvd. (FM 1015), Weslaco
    Website
    956-565-3919

    Nearly 200 acres of can’t-miss birding in the network’s largest wetlands environment. Even beginning birders and nature lovers will enjoy exploring this 176-acre refuge, which is convenient to all the Rio Grande Valley has to offer.  Directions: Take East Expressway 83 to FM 1015. Travel South on FM 1015 crossing Business 83 and Mile 6 North. Look for the World Birding Center entrance on the east side of FM 1015 before reaching Mile 5 North.

    Jardin Escondido
    7600 N. Bentsen Road, McAllen
    Contact: Cecilia Mumford - 956-686-6648

    For an enjoyable afternoon/evening, make reservations for your group to attend “The Birds -  Happy Hour Buffet” and partake of a Birders Live Show.  Admission includes Happy Hour refreshments. Prior to the sit down show, you can walk the trails and enjoy other parts of Jardin Escondido’s gardens and wildscapes. View local birds such as Chachalacas, Green Jays, Kiskadees, Buff Bellied Hummingbirds and several waterfowl. The best time for viewings is 6 – 8 p.m., since all the wildlifeat are fed at this time and they start to mingle and eat at this time. Directions: To get to this home, get on Trenton it will become 5 mile line and Bentsen, take a left on Bentsen (south) at 5 mile. 5 houses, on east side, 7600 N Bentsen Road with a black top private drive, iron gate.

    Quinta Mazatlan – McAllen Wing of the World Birding Center
    600 Sunset Avenue, McAllen
    Website
    956-681-3370

    Quinta Mazatlan is minutes from the airport and the mall.  An historic adobe hacienda is the centerpiece of this 15 acre urban sanctuary.  The half-mile of nature trails has 5 water features, bird feeding stations and native gardens representing a remnant of the Tamaulipan Thorn Scrub country.  Great site to view the valley specialty birds like the Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Great Kiskadee, Couch’s Kingbird, Green Jay, Clay-colored Robin, Long-billed and Curve-billed Thrashers, Olive Sparrow, Chachalacas and many more.  Plus it is a great place to view over wintering warblers!  You’ll enjoy the Green Parakeets and Red-crowned Parrots nesting in the palm trees. Open Tuesday to Saturday. Directions: Take Expressway 83 to 10th Street Exit.Travel South on 10th, pass La Plaza Mall. Turn East on Sunset Drive (Hotel on corner).

    Red-Crowned Parrots and Green Parakeets
    Around McAllen

    Flocks of Red-Crowned Parrots and Green Parakeets are frequently seen and heard throughout McAllen. Debate ensues over whether the birds are escapees or have been pushed to the northern reaches of their habitat. Beyond debate is that they are thriving in McAllen. Best time to find them is at dusk. Best viewing sites: Red-crowned Parrot – check Dallas St. between 2nd St. and McColl in McAllen.  Green Parakeet – try Violet St. between 10th & 6th in McAllen. (Parrots and parakeets can also be spotted in Harlingen, Brownsville, and other RGV towns.)

    Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge
    Route 2, Alamo, Texas
    Website
    956-784-7500

    Santa Ana’s riparian thorn forest is famous for the number of species that calls it home. Over 2,000 acres of excellent birding habitats include resacas and Spanish Moss-laden woods. A visitor’s center features hands-on exhibits and a bookstore. Tram rides around the refuge’s 7 mile loop are available as are hiking trails. Common sightings include: Plain Chachalaca, Green Jay, Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Altamira Oriole, Olive Sparrow, Orange-crowned Warbler, Long-billed Thrasher, Vermilion Flycatcher, Green-ringed,  and Belted Kingfisher, Great Kiskadee, Buff-bellied Hummingbird and Hook-billed Kite. Directions: Take Expressway 83 east to Alamo Rd./FM 907 Exit. Go south until it ends at the Old Military Highway. Turn left, go 1/2 mile and turn right into refuge lot.

    Other Nearby World Birding Center Sites

    Harlingen Arroyo Colorado

    Old Hidalgo Pumphouse

    Resaca de la Palma State Park

    Roma Bluffs

    South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center

    Nature sites in and around McAllen

    For a complete look at area wildlife centers and activities, visit Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

    Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge
    Rio Hondo, TX
    Website
    956-748-3607

    This 45,187 acre is home to 406 species of birds, the American alligator, and the endangered ocelot and Aplomado falcon. More than six miles of walking trails are available and the 15-mile bay side driving loop is a must for bird watchers and nature enthusiasts.

    Valley Nature Center
    301 South Border Avenue, Weslaco
    Website
    956-969-2475

    The Valley Nature Center is the oldest nature center in the Rio Grande Valley, dedicated to environmental education. Features large butterfly gardens, cactus gardens, diverse native plants, walking trails and ponds.

    Valley’s Rare Bird Alert
    956-584-2731