Texas: Rio Grande Valley
March 7-15, 2020
Leader: Mark Korducki
$2495 from Harlingen
The lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas is a biogeographical extension of northeastern Mexico, and its unique flora and fauna is found nowhere else in the United States. For U.S. birders, this means a trip to “The Valley” is a must if they wish to maximize the number of birds on their life list. Mid to late winter trips to South Texas are always likely to produce an excellent mix of wintering waterfowl and shorebirds, the area’s unique resident species as well as unexpected Mexican vagrants that turn up every year in the region. In 2019, some of the rarities The Valley has hosted include Crimson-collared Gros- beak, Golden-crowned Warbler, Hook-billed Kite and Tropical Parula. However winter in the valley is different and one can never know what might turn up in a given year. Past years have brought sightings of Masked Duck, Masked Tityra, Northern Jacana, Blue Mockingbird, Stygian Owl, Collared Forest-Falcon, Blue Bunting, Roadside Hawk and on and on. Many species new to the ABA area have been recorded in south Texas, so the possibilities of finding something special make this an enticing winter birding destination.
In addition to the possible vagrants and rarities available, the list of South Texas specialty birds is impressive and includes resident species such as Least Grebe, Neotropic Cormorant, White-tailed Kite, White-tailed and Harris's hawks, Crested Caracara, Plain Chachalaca, Ringed and Green kingfishers, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Green Parakeet, Red-crowned Parrot, North- ern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Green Jay, Clay-colored Thrush, Long-billed Thrasher, Tropical Parula, Olive Sparrow, Morelet’s Seedeater, and Altamira and Audubon's orioles. In terms of pace and difficulty, this is a relatively easy tour as we base for 5 nights at a single hotel in Harlingen and make day forays to some of the surrounding bird-rich areas. Most of the destinations are within an hour of the hotel. On one day we will drive north about 2 hours to the famous King Ranch, where we will have access to a part of the ranch that hosts resident Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl and Tropical Parula. We will also spend two nights in Zapata, about 2 hours to the west of Harlingen to access habitats for Morelet’s Seedeater and areas near Falcon Dam.