Harlingen CVB
311 E. Tyler St.
Harlingen, TX 78550
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956-423-5440
800-531-7346

Birding

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 (C.B. Wood Park)

400 W. Harding Avenue, Harlingen, TX

This 9-acre pocket park is nestled along the banks of the Arroyo Colorado in urban Harlingen and is covered in native South Texas ebony. Amenities include paved parking, covered picnic tables, restrooms, playground, handicapped accessible parking and paved walking/biking trails.  This park is site LTC027 of the Great Texas Birding Trail system.

Directions: From US77/I-69E northbound in Harlingen, exit New Hampshire Street; stay on the frontage road one mile to Taft Avenue. Turn right on Taft to 1st Street, turn right on 1st St. to Wilson, then right on Wilson to CB Wood Park.  From US77/I-69E southbound in Harlingen, exit F Street, continue on frontage road to Rangerville Road, turn left under the freeway, then left again onto northbound frontage road to Taft.  Follow above. 

Bird Species in season: Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Groove-billed Ani, Green Jay, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Great Kiskadee, Northern Cardinal, Indigo Bunting, Green Kingfisher, Neotropic Cormorant, Couch’s and Tropical Kingbird, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Long-billed and Curve-billed Thrasher, Olive Sparrow, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Black-crested Titmouse.

Harlingen City Lake

410 '76 Drive , Harlingen, TX
(Across from Harlingen Public Library)

A paved sidewalk circles three-quarters of the lake for a view of the ducks, gulls and herons visiting the reservoir.   Check the dense native trees along the north neighborhoods and pocket park to the east of ’76 Drive for migrants and rowdy parrots and parakeets that feed in the area.   No facilities, parking on street.  This park is site LTC025 of the Great Texas Birding Trail system.

Bird Species in season: Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Laughing Gull, Great Blue Heron, Tri-colored Heron, Great and Snowy Egret, American White Pelican, Neotropic Cormorant, Couch’s and Tropical Kingbird, Great Kiskadee, Purple Martin, Chimney Swift, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Red-crowned Parrot and Green Parakeet.

Harlingen Thicket Nature Park (part of Harlingen’s Arroyo Colorado World Birding Center)

770 East Taft Avenue, Harlingen, TX

This 40-acre tract of Tamaulipan native brush and impressive plant variety is located in urban Harlingen. Hiking trails navigate the park from the parking area down to the Arroyo Colorado into its riparian habitat.  Facilities include restrooms, a covered picnic table, and paved parking lot.  Open sunrise to sunset.  This park is site LTC028 of the Great Texas Birding Trail system.

Bird Species in season: Harris’s Hawk, White-tailed Kite, Long-billed, Curve-billed and Sage Thrasher, Inca Dove, Verdin, Great Kiskadee, Altamira Oriole, Bewick’s Wren, Groove-billed Ani, Olive Sparrow, Plain Chachalaca.

Hugh Ramsey Nature Park

1001 South Loop 499, Harlingen, TX
(Part of Harlingen’s Arroyo Colorado World Birding Center)

This 55-acre tract of reclaimed land is covered in Texas ebony, mixed in with mesquite, huisache, brasil, retama and granjeno.  This park is constantly being worked on to restore its quality of habitat for the benefit of wildlife by volunteers from Audubon and Texas Master Naturalist.  While excellent birding in the winter months, it is a good migrant trap in spring.  A newly-created hummingbird garden attracts the native Buff-bellied Hummingbird year round.  Facilities include restrooms, a large pavilion with picnic tables, paved parking area, photo blinds and a network of nature trails.  This park is site LTC026 of the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail system.

Directions: From US77/I-69E in Harlingen, exit Loop 499 (Ed Carey Drive). Proceed north on Ed Carey Drive through the intersection at Business 77 Sunshine Strip. The park is one mile beyond this intersection on the right-hand side just past the bridge over the Arroyo Colorado.

Bird Species in season: Least Grebe, Green Jay, Altamira Oriole, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Black-crested Titmouse, Great Kiskadee, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Orange-crowned Warbler, Common Pauraque, Northern Cardinal, Indigo Bunting, Ringed and Green Kingfisher, Neotropic Cormorant, Couch’s Kingbird, Long-billed and Curved-billed Thrasher, Olive Sparrow, Plain Chachalaca, White-tipped Dove.

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, TX
Phone: 956-748-3607

Established in 1946, the 97,007-acre refuge has 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 and is about one hour’s drive east of Harlingen. Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge is the summer and/or winter home to a diversity of wildlife including the endangered Ocelot. Due to its location on the mainland, adjacent to the hyper-saline Laguna Madre Bay and onto the barrier islands and beaches of South Padre Island, the Laguna Atascosa NWR provides an important habitat for nesting sea turtles, blue crab, herons and egrets and many other species.  Over 130 species of butterflies have been documented on the refuge.  Visitors can take advantage of foot trails, and auto, tram and kayaking tours. The Visitor Center, paved parking lot and restrooms are at the entrance to the refuge (call for seasonal hours). 

Bird Species in season:  Sandhill Crane, Green Jay, Aplomado Falcon, Clapper Rail, Redhead, Greater Roadrunner, Painted Bunting, Plain Chachalaca, Altamira Oriole, Groove-billed Ani, Common Pauraque, White-tailed Kite, Long-billed Thrasher, Olive Sparrow, Botteri’s Sparrow, Cassin’s Sparrow, White-tipped Dove

Lon C. Hill Park (Fair Park)

Fair Park Blvd. at North L Street, Harlingen, TX

Across the street from the Harlingen Municipal Auditorium, this neighborhood park consists of a grassy lawn shaded by native trees, with a created butterfly and hummingbird garden to spice up the birding.  Stroll the grounds, keeping an eye on the tall palm trees for raucous parrots. Restrooms, picnic tables, and constructed play area are offered, with street parking or large paved parking lot at the Auditorium.  This park is site LTC029 of the Great Texas Birding Trail system, and is home to the annual Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival (November).

Bird Species in season: Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Curved-billed Thrasher, Mourning and White-winged Dove, Black-crested Titmouse, Tropical and Couch’s Kingbird, Northern Mockingbird, Red-crowned Parrot.

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.

Mont Meta Cemetery

26170 State Highway 345, San Benito, TX

As the Texas Ebony is a Tamaulipan Brushland specialty, this cemetery contains some of the largest remaining ebony trees in the Valley.  And the songbirds of migration seem to know this!  This is an excellent place to check in spring, but please be respectful of this final resting place to others.  A walk along the weaving roads can be very productive, and even calming to the soul.  This cemetery is site LTC020 of the Great Texas Birding Trail system, and is about six miles from downtown Harlingen.

Bird Species in season:  Black-throated Green Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Philadelphia and Blue-headed Vireo, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Summer Tanager, Baltimore and Orchard Oriole, Harris’s Hawk, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Bronzed Cowbird, Black-crested Titmouse, Golden-fronted Woodpecker.

Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge

3325 Green Jay Rd, Alamo, TX
(Seven miles south of Alamo, Texas, on FM 907 about 1/4 mile east on U.S. Highway 281)
Phone: 956-784-7500

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 and an 1.5-hour tram tour (Nov-Apr). The Visitor Center is open seven days a week (except Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day) from 8 AM to 4 PM.

Bird Species in season:  Sandhill Crane, Green Jay, Plain Chachalaca, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Altamira Oriole, Long-billed Thrasher, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Olive Sparrow, Least Grebe, Green and Ringed  Kingfisher, White-tailed Kite, Vermilion Flycatcher, Hook-billed Kite, Gray Hawk.

South Padre Island Nature Center

6801 Padre Boulevard, South Padre Island, TX
Phone: 1-956-243-8179

World Birding Center

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Visitor’s Guide

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Harlingen CVB
311 E. Tyler Street
Harlingen, TX 78550
800-531-7346
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