Your Online Guide to the South Texas Nature, Birds, Butterflies and the Outdoor Experience!
 

Nature Hot Spots

Rio Grande Valley Texas Birding and Butterfly Watching Hot Spots The Rio Grande Valley nature scene is filled with many nature hot spots. The more hot spots you visit in South Texas, the more species you will find. There are hundreds of good bird and butterfly spots, nature trails and more in the Rio Grande […]

Rio Grande Valley Texas Birding and Butterfly Watching Hot Spots

The Rio Grande Valley nature scene is filled with many nature hot spots. The more hot spots you visit in South Texas, the more species you will find. There are hundreds of good bird and butterfly spots, nature trails and more in the Rio Grande Valley.

Cost

Most places charge a modest admission fee of about $2.50 per person to $5 per person. The National Wildlife Refuges charges $3 per car. Other Texas parks and wildlife places offer free admission.

 

Hours

Opening times change so it is best to check with websites for the latest information. Some private sanctuaries are closed Monday and Sunday mornings.

 

How to find a South Texas Hot Spot

Check with any member Chamber of Commerce to obtain a Birding and Butterfly Map of the Valley which shows every hot spot listed here and on the reverse carries written directions.

If you encounter difficulty obtaining maps or information contact

Keith Hackland

956-782-9912

Some of the South Texas wildlife parks have neither a website nor phone number listed. For information on how to find parks with no website or phone number, please visit our Members Page and contact the Chamber of Commerce of the area you wish to visit.

 

Texas Parks and Wildlife

There are hundreds of good spots for Texas birding and butterfly watching in South Texas. These are just a few of them.

 

Adolph Thomae County Park

Arroyo City, Texas

956-748-2044

This brush area and wetland is a perfect Texas fishing spot. The area has many fishing piers to catch anything from catfish, to speckle trout and more. The area is also a popular birding spot.

 

Anzalduas County Park

Photo by Keith Hackland

Photo by Keith-Hackland

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mission, Texas

This Texas recreational park has many native trees set on a Resaca adjoining the Rio Grande River. It is a great spot for birding; seeing such birds as warblers, Gray Hawk, Green Kingfisher and Ringed Kingfisher along the river bank. Check with the Mission Chamber of Commerce for contact information and directions.

 

Bentsen – Rio Grande Valley State Park

Photo by Keith Hackland

Photo by Keith Hackland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mission, Texas

956-585-1107

Texas wildlife is in full-force at this Texas park. Brush land and some riparian forest trees sit between a Resaca and the Rio Grande River. The cost of entrance is $5 per person. Access to the park is restricted – no cars are allowed, but bike rentals are available, or you can wait up to 1 ½ hours to board a bus and be dropped off in the park. Outdoor lovers wanting to enjoy the Rio Grande Valley weather can also choose to hike several miles. Bird feeding has largely been eliminated, but the area is still good for bird watching. A new hawk watch platform, which is handicap accessible, is accessible off the Rio Grande trail. Three feeding sites can be viewed at Bentsen from behind blinds, which is great for photographers.

 

Boca Chica Beach

Photo by Keith Hackland

Photo by Keith Hackland

 

 

 

 

 

 

Near Brownsville, Texas

Boca Chica Beach offers a variety of outdoor recreational activities, including fishing, swimming, surfing and more. It’s also a great area for Texas birding. It’s a good area to spot some specialty birds. Check with the Brownsville Chamber of Commerce for more information.

 

Brownsville Sanitary Landfill

Outside Brownsville, Texas

The Brownsville Sanitary Landfill is a well-known birding spot which is known for an assorted collection of gulls, vultures, some raptors, and waterfowl and waders after good rain. The area is usually only open Monday-Friday during regular business hours. For more information, check with the Brownsville Chamber of Commerce or Sable Palm Audubon Sanctuary.

 

Chapeno

Photo by Reid Allen

Photo by Reid Allen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Falcon Heights, Texas

The old RV park is a good spot for Texas birding in South Texas. You can find a variety of Rio Grande Valley specialty birds such as the Brown Jay, Audubon’s Oriole, Red-billed Pigeon, Muscov and more. There are bird feeders on private land and an admission fee is required. There is also public access to the river on a dirt road, however it is a steep, rough road so drive very carefully. It is open 7 days a week. For more information, contact the Roma Chamber of Commerce.

 

Delta Lake

Photo by Reid Allen

Photo by Reid Allen

 

 

 

 

 

 

North of Weslaco, Highway 88

This area is a good habitat for Texas birding. Fresh water, grassland, and brush birds can all be seen here. Crested Caracara, White-tailed Hawk, White-tailed Kite, and many other raptors may be seen on surrounding farm land. Contact the Weslaco Chamber of Commerce for more information.

Edinburg Wetlands World Birding Center

Photo by Reid Allen

Photo by Reid Allen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edinburg, Texas

956-381-9922

This South Texas center is a great spot for birding – as it has an aquatic and brush habitat that attracts resident Texas birds and migrants. There are six acres of plentiful butterfly habitat perfect for butterfly watching.

 

Estero Llano Grande State Park World Birding Center

Weslaco, Texas

956-565-3919

Texas wildlife is spread across 176 acres of wetlands, grasslands, and thorn brush. This is a great location for waterfowl, waders, migrants, and busy hummingbird feeders adjoining red blooming Turks Cap. It has the most imaginative visitor center in the Valley with its deck extending over the edge of a wetland. Birders can sit and bird watch from the covered deck. This new center is one of the favorite Rio Grande Valley hot spots.

 

Falcon State Park and Falcon County Park

Photo by Reid Allen

Photo by Reid Allen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Falcon Heights, Texas

956-848-5327

One of the finest Texas parks and wildlife centers is located in South Texas and offers camping, swimming, excellent Texas fishing, a hiking trail and more. The state park is 572 acres of land perfect for spotting dry land birds such as Scaled Quail, Black-throated Sparrow. It’s also an excellent area for the Greater Roadrunner. Another 30 acres is good for sparrows and smaller species. Both parks are good for camping and RVs. The area is open 7 days a week.

 

Frontera Audubon Sanctuary

Photo by Keith Hackland

Photo by Keith Hackland

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weslaco, Texas

956-968-3275

Perfect for Texas birding along its hiking trails, this Texas Park is 15 acres of tall trees and wetlands that attracts many specialty and rare birds. There are good feeders and plenty of benches along the hiking trails.

 

Harlingen Arroyo Colorado World Birding Center

Photo by Journal Communications Inc

Photo by Journal Communications Inc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harlingen, Texas

956-427-8873

Also known as Hugh Ramsey Park, this Texas Park is 50 acres on the Arroyo Colorado that is home to native trees and shrubs, and offers good Texas birding and butterfly watching. The park is open 7 days a week.

 

El Sal del Rey

Photo by Keith Hackland

Photo by Keith Hackland

 

 

 

 

 

 

North of Alamo,Texas – West of Raymondville, Texas

This is one of over 100 tracts comprising the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge. It is accessed on foot from several entry points and hiking trails and is good for dry land Texas birding. For more information, contact the Alamo Chamber of Commerce.

 

Inn at El Canelo

Photo by El Canelo Ranch

Photo by El Canelo Ranch

 

 

 

 

 

 

near Raymondville, Texas

956-689-5042

Texas birding takes a new direction at Inn at El Canelo with the spotting of the Feruginous Pygmy Owl. The owl family lives next to the ranch headquarters and it is the only place in South Texas where a birder can count on seeing this unique owl. This is a private ranch and bird watching is by reservation only. A significant admission fee is also charged.

 

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge

Photo by Reid Allen

Photo by Reid Allen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rio Hondo, Texas

956-748-3607

This wildlife refuge offers nature enthusiast a variety of outdoor events and sights to see through numerous hiking and nature trails. The refuge has plentiful plant life and water ways that attract numerous butterflies to the area. Butterfly watchers are sure to see plenty of fluttering.

 

Llano Grande Lake

Weslaco, Texas

956-565-3919

The Llano Grande Lake is a great Rio Grande Valley aquatic area for bird watching. Species such as the White Pelican and wading birds can be seen here. The species count varies with water level and is best in the winter. The bridge is a good spot for spotting cave swallows. Estero Llano Grande State Park will be opening this summer and will provide the only public access to Llano Grande Lake.

Photo by Reid Allen

Photo by Reid Allen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Estero Llano Grande State Park will be opening this summer and will provide the only public access to Llano Grande Lake. You can find out more
information about the park at http://www.worldbirdingcenter.org/sites/weslaco/index.phtml.

 

Los Ebanos Preserve

Photo by Reid Allen

Photo by Reid Allen

 

 

 

 

 

 

San Benito, Texas

956-399-9097

Butterfly watchers and lovers can enjoy butterfly watching at its best at the beautiful 82-acre private nature park. There are many self-guided nature trails to see the Rio Grande Valley’s nature and wildlife in comfort and ease – on park benches or even under a pavilion. Butterflies sighted at the preserve include Giant Swallowtail, White Peacock, Zebra and more.

 

National Butterfly Center

nationalbutterflycenter

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mission, Texas

956-583-5400

The nation’s premier site for wild butterflies is located in Mission, Texas. This 100-acre nature center offers butterfly watchers the chance to see some of the most beautiful native and migratory butterflies species in great volume and variety. The National Butterfly center is dedicated to environmental education and conservation aimed at protecting wild butterflies.

 

Old Hidalgo Pumphouse World Birding Center

Photo by Reid Allen

Photo by Reid Allen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hidalgo, Texas

956-843-8686

Offering 600 acres of rich river lands adjacent to the historic restored irrigation pump house, this recently opened site is a good bird stop for excellent bird watching in South Texas. It offers miles of bicycle and hiking trails through the native brush land. It’s a good spot for spotting Texas birds native to the Rio Grande Valley and migrants. It also offers the chance to explore the Rio Grande Valley’s history of taming the Rio Grande River and to see the massive irrigation pumps used to lift water from the river onto the land. The park is open 7 days a week.

 

Quinta Mazatlan World Birding Center

Quinta-Mazatlan-WBC-Northern-Beardless-Tyrannulet-photo-Reid-Allen

 

 

 

 

 

 

McAllen, Texas

956-688-3373

This quiet 25-acre site in McAllen is a 10 minute walk, or three minute drive from the International Airport. It offers great birding in South Texas for many Rio Grande Valley specialties in a striking park with hiking trails through native thorn brush on its periphery. The park surrounds a historic adobe brick showpiece home and impressive visitor center. Quinta Mazatlan offers the scents and sights of Tropical Texas in a beautiful package. This is definitely a Texas Park not to be missed.

Resaca de la Palma State Park World Birding Center

Brownsville, Texas

956-350-2920

The latest area to jump onboard as one of the Rio Grande Valley’s premier Texas parks and wildlife locations is slated to open in Spring or Summer 2008. The area will be a perfect spot for birders alike to gather for one of the best Texas birding experiences in South Texas.

 

Roma Bluffs World Birding Center

Photo by Keith Hackland

Photo by Keith Hackland

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roma, Texas

956-849-4930

An exciting dual birding and historic site now open with many improvements in progress. The Roma Bluffs offers the best view of the Rio Grande in the Rio Grande Valley – from a deck on top of the Roma Bluffs, which is the focal point of this center. It is in the process of being restored, and in a building already restored is a visitor center with excellent displays and a nature bookshop. In due course a trail will be opened to lead visitors to a tract of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge on the river. Deck is open 7 days a week.

 

Sabal Palm Grove Sanctuary

Photo by Keith Hackland

Photo by Keith Hackland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brownsville, Texas

956-541-8034

Since 2003, this wildlife center has been working on restoring 150 acres of fallow agricultural field which now has dense shrubs and 20-foot trees. The butterfly garden center sees a variety of butterfly species. With more than 3 miles of nature trails and wildlife viewing areas, butterfly watchers are bound to see some interesting butterflies.

 

Salineño

Photo by Keith Hackland

Photo by Keith Hackland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salineño, Texas

This site offers excellent winter birding. Late November to late March feeders are maintained by volunteers there, providing a great viewing bird watching spot. Good for Brown Jay, Audubon’s Oriole, Red-billed Pigeon, Muscovy (on the river), and other Rio Grande Valley bird specialties. There are limited hours of operation, usually from 7:30am to 4:00pm; 7 days a week. Donations are encouraged and recommended to pay for volunteer’s bird feed, since volunteer’s pay for feed out of their own pocket.

 

San Ygnacio Bird Sanctuary

Photo by Reid Allen

Photo by Reid Allen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

San Ygnacio, Texas

This private bird sanctuary is the best place for viewing White-collared Seedeaters, and good for other Rio Grande Valley specialty birds and great for butterfly watching.

 

Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge

Photo by Keith Hackland

Photo by Keith Hackland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alamo, Texas

956-784-7500

Described as the jewel of the U.S. National Wildlife system, this 2,088-acre sanctuary along the winding Rio Grande, with its extensive hiking trail system, is the top bird watching spot in South Texas. It attracts 150,000 to 200,000 visitors a year but is never crowded. The refuge also has a productive butterfly garden perfect for butterfly watching. There are also great feeders pointed that attracts Green Jays, Inca Doves, Buff-bellied Hummingbirds, and many other Texas birds. Santa Ana is also known for many sightings of rarities. In addition to South Texas mesquite brush and resacas, Santa Ana offers the best example of riparian forest remaining along the Rio Grande.

 

South Padre Island Board Walk

Photo by Ray Bieber

Photo by Ray Bieber

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

South Padre Island, Texas

The board walk is great area for birding watching shore and wetland birds. The shrubby areas are also very popular with migrants in season. It is a very productive area for such a small region.

 

Valley Nature Center

Weslaco, Texas

956-969-2475

The center is one of the oldest Texas wildlife centers in the Rio Grande Valley. This 6- acre park offers the greatest diversity of flora in the Rio Grande Valley, and therefore also the greatest diversity of butterflies – perfect for butterfly watching. It’s also very good for bird watching, and some interesting odonates. The center is excellent in native plant nursery. Membership is available and keeps you in touch with what is happening in the Rio Grande Valley and Texas wildlife.

 

Weslaco Water Treatment Plant

The plant is productive for waterfowl, particularly in the winter. Open 8 am to 5 pm Monday thru Friday. Contact the Weslaco EDC for more information.