The Rio Grande Valley is recognized as an international birding destination and is one of the most critical areas for migrating birds in North America. Visitors can expect to see a wide variety of birds (over 500 recorded in the Valley), and enjoy the specialty birds like Green Jay, Great Kiskadee, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Altamira Oriole and Tropical Kingbird.
Harlingen is home to the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival, one of the longest running bird festivals in the country. The RGVBF is celebrating its 24th year in 2017, and would love to have you join in the field trips, workshops & presentations, socials, and camaraderie. The Festival is scheduled for November 8-12, 2017. For more information, please see their website at http://www.rgvbf.org.
The Arroyo Colorado, one of the few freshwater sources in this stretch of the migratory path, runs through the middle of Harlingen. Along its banks rests the two properties known as the Harlingen Arroyo Colorado World Birding Center. Hugh Ramsey Nature Park and the Harlingen Thicket both offer a network of paths, overlooks, and terrific birds within the city limits.
Visit the World Birding Center website for more information on this unique concept in birding habitats in the Rio Grande Valley. Download the Harlingen Bird Checklist from this site as well.
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Arroyo Colorado Hike & Bike Trail
Along the banks of the Arroyo Colorado and covered in native S Texas habitat. Paved parking, covered picnic tables, water fountain, playground, handicapped accessible parking and walking trails.
Directions: From US77 in Harlingen exit FM 1479 (“F” Street) from teh N or New Hampshire Street from the S. Stay on the frontage road 1 mile to Taft Ave. Turn E on Taft to 1st Street, turn S on 1st St. to Wilson, then W on Wilson to Park.
Bird Species: Great-blue Heron, Black-bellied Whisling-Duck, White-tailed Kite, Red-tailed Hawk, Green Jay, Orange-crowned Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Nornern Cardinal, Indigo Bunting, Green Kingfisher, Neotropic Cormorant, Couch’s Kingbird, Long-billed and Curve-billed Thrashers, Olive Sparrow, Plain Chachalaca.
410 '76 Drive , Harlingen,
A walking/jogging trail loops around the lake for a view from all sides of across the street the dense native trees create a canopy that can be quite productive during migration. No facilities.
Bird Species: Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Great Blue Heron, Tri-colored Heron, American White Pelican, Neotropic Cormorant, Green Jay, Couch’s Kingbird, Great Kiskadee, Orange-crowned Warbler, Red-crowned Parrot.
Harlingen Thicket Nature Park
East Taft Avenue, Harlingen,
40-acre tract with hiking trails; a remnant of Tamaulipan native brush with an impressive plant variety in urban Harlingen. Foot access only. No facilities.
Bird Species: Harris’s Hawk, White-tailed Kite, Long-billed Thrasher, Mourning Dove, Verdin, Altamira Oriole, Bewick’s Wren, Groove-billed Ani, Olive Sparrow, Plain Chachalaca.
1001 S. Loop 499, Harlingen,
Restrooms, partially paved parking area, photo blinds, nature trails, walking trails. Area covered in Honey mesquite, Texas ebony, huisache, brasil, retama and granjeno. Open 6am-9pm. Good migrant trap in spring.
Directions: From US 77 in Harlingen exit Loop 499 (Ed Carey Drive) in Harlingen. Proceed N on Ed Carey Dr. thru the intersection at Business 77 Sunshine Strip. Park is 1 mile past this intersection on the E. side just past the Arroyo Colorado bridge.
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 Curved-billed Thrasher, Olive Sparrow, Plain Chachalaca.
Butterfly Species: Great Southern White, Large Orange Sulphur, Lyside Sulphur, Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, Western Pygmy-Blue, Blue 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.
Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge
22817 Ocelot Road, Los Fresnos,
Established in 1946, the 97,007 acre refuge is home to more documented species of birds than any other National Wildlife Refuge in the United States. The refuge is open for wildlife watching, education and interpretation, hunting, fishing and nature photography. Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge is home to a diversity of wildlife including the endangered ocelot, white-tailed deer, aplomado falcon and redhead duck. Due to the location across the mainland, over the Laguna Madre and onto South Padre Island, the Laguna Atascosa NWR provides an important habitat for nesting sea turtles, clapper rails, blue crab, and many other species. Visitors can take advantage of foot trails, and auto, tram and kayaking tours. The Visitor Center is open seven days a week (except Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day) from 8 AM to 4 PM.
N. "L" Street, Harlingen,
Covered in native trees with butterfly and hummingbird gardens. Restrooms, picnic tables, and playgrounds.
Bird Species: Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Curved-billed Thrasher, Mourning Dove, Black-crested Titmouse,
Butterfly Species: Florida White, Giant White, Orange-barred Sulphur, Mexican Yellow, Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, Dusky-blue Groundstreak, Fatal Metalmark, Red-bordered Metalmark, Blue Metalmark, Red-bordered Pixie, Queen, Soldier, White Peacock, Long-tailed Skipper, Dorantes Longtail, Teleus Longtail, Brown Longtail, Sickle-winged Skipper, White-patched Skipper, Tropical Checkered-Skipper, Julia’s Skipper, Olive-clouded Skipper, Ocola Skipper.
Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge
3325 Green Jay Rd, Alamo,
The Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge is a 2,088 acre wildlife refuge that was established in 1943 to protect migratory birds. It brings together the subtropical climate, gulf coast, great plains and Chihuahuan desert to create this “jewel” of a habitat. It is home to nearly 400 bird species, over 300 butterfly species and a variety of wildlife including the indigo snake, bobcat, coyote and endangered ocelot. The refuge offers visitors over 12 miles of foot trails, a 7 mile wildlife drive, and an 1.5 hour tram tour. The Visitor Center is open seven days a week (except Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day) from 8 AM to 4 PM.
South Padre Island Nature Center
6801 Padre Boulevard, South Padre Island,
World Birding Center
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