Sunday, March 18, 2018

World Birding Centers and Other Birding Hotspots

We are on the road again but before we left South Texas we hit most of the birding hotspots in this area.

Frontera Audubon is a 15-acre nature preserve in Weslaco.

Frontera Audubon houses a Visitors’ Center and the Texas Historic Landmark, the Skaggs House, a Spanish Mediterranean style house built in 1927. Florence Skaggs donated the property to Frontera Audubon in 1992 for conservation and preservation.

There is a very nice water feature right outside the back deck.

There are lots of trails and boardwalks on the property.

There are several feeding stations but we did not see a lot of birds.

We did see a Golden-fronted Woodpecker pretending to be a hummingbird.

Water-filled "ant moats" are used on the hummingbird feeders to keep ants out. Some Plain Chachalacas seem to think that they are tiny little bird bathes and like to drink from them.

Birds seen at Frontera Audubon: Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Green Jay, Mottled Duck, Snowy Egret, White-tipped Dove, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Lesser Goldfinch, Killdeer, Red-crowned Parrot, Mourning Dove, Great-tailed Grackle, Plain Chachalaca, Great Kiskadee, Black-crested Titmouse, Orange-crowned Warbler, Inca Dove, Black Vulture, Carolina Wren, White-eyed Vireo.

Valley Nature Center is a 6 acre park in Weslaco.  It is the oldest nature center in the Rio Grande Valley, and the only non-profit center fully dedicated to environmental education south of San Antonio and east of Eagle Pass.  

Their aim is for protection of local plant species diversity as well as to make diverse food and habitat available for resident and migratory wildlife.  They claim “Our park is a wonderful natural oasis in the middle of the city.”

We saw plenty of turtles in their pond.

Their new state of the art green facility was completed in October 2014. 

Birds seen at Valley Nature Center:  Plain Chachalaca, Couch’s Kingbird, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Great-tailed Grackle, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Northern Cardinal, Northern Mockingbird, Inca Dove, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, White-winged Dove, Black-crested Titmouse, House Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird.

Quinta Mazatlan (the name means “country estate” in Spanish) is one of the 9 World Birding Centers in Texas.  It is a 1930’s country estate in McAllen.  Besides a birding center it is also a conference and events center.  Trails wind through more than 15 acres of birding habitat.

Formal tropical gardens surround the 10,000 square-foot mansion.  There are also lots of water and bird feeding stations with native plants of Tamaulipan thorn forest. A well-camouflaged Common Paraque was a nice find. 

Common Paraque

There are 38 of these bronze sculptures throughout the grounds. 

Plain Chachalaca Sculpture

 Turtle Sculpture

Birds seen at Quinta Mazatlan:  Common Pauraque, Northern Mockingbird, Plain Chachalaca, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, Olive Sparrow (H), Inca Dove, White-winged Dove, Great Kiskadee, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Green Jay, House Sparrow, Curve-billed thrasher.

The 55 acre Hugh Ramsey Nature Park is part of the Harlingen Arroyo Colorado World Birding Center.   

The active little Verdin is tough to get a picture of. Their round nest with side entrance is distinctive.


Verdin Nest

Curve-billed Thrashers are described as having a "striking orange iris". This pair seemed to have both orange and yellow eyes.

Curve-billed Thrasher pair

This one seemed to have a malformed bill, with the upper extending well beyond to lower. A little extra curve in the old bill...

There are lots of trails and native plants.

Birds seen: House Sparrow, Mourning Dove, Northern Mockingbird, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Verdin, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Olive Sparrow (H),  Black-crested Titmouse, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Great Kiskadee, White-winged Dove, White-eyed Vireo, Brown-headed Cowbird, Great-tailed Grackle, Curve-billed Thrasher, Orange-crowned Warbler, Long-billed Thrasher, White-tipped Dove, Couch’s Kingbird, Green Jay.

We made another trip through Estero Llano Grande State Park and found many of the same species as the first time. We did get nice looks at flying White-faced Ibis. They won't get their "White Face" until they get a bit farther into breeding season.

White-faced Ibis

Birds seen: Northern Mockingbird, Northern Cardinal, White-tipped Dove, Killdeer, Green-winged Teal, blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, American Coot, Red-winged Blackbird, Black-necked Stilt, Cinnamon Teal, Least Sandpiper, Eastern Phoebe, Great-tailed Grackle, Snowy Egret, Great Kiskadee, Mottled Duck, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Couch’s Kingbird, Great Blue Heron, Gadwall, White-faced Ibis, Vermilion Flycatcher, Neotropic Cormorant, Spotted Sandpiper, Lincoln Sparrow, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Mourning Dove, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Curve-billed Thrasher, Plain Chachalaca, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Great Egret, Fulvous Whistling Duck, Orange-crowned Warbler, Black-crested Titmouse, Black-and-White Warbler, Great Kiskadee.

We'll have more of our Panama Journal coming soon.


  1. Wow you guys are busy. I love the Golden-Fronted Woodpecker photo. Actually, I liked all the photos.

  2. Thank you!
    We did seem to get to a lot of places this trip.