Hidalgo County Birding Pages

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Edinburg Scenic Wetlands 

See also the photo essay for Edinburg Wetlands on David and Jan Dauphin's site.

Approximate Length:  The path around the south pond is about .75 mile in length.  A walk around the perimeter of the northern section is about a half mile loop, but there are many winding paths in amongst the butterfly garden, and a spur trail takes you closer to the spillway.

Approximate Birding Time:  1.5-2 hours

Facilities:  There is a restroom inside the Visitor's Center.

Fee Area; north garden area closed on Sundays.

Directions:  Take US 281 north to the Freddy Gonzales exit.  Follow the frontage road past the intersection for Freddy Gonzales (which is the first light you come to), and turn right on Sprague Street, which is the next light.  Follow this road directly into Edinburg Municipal Park; parking for Edinburg Scenic Wetlands will be on your left.  If the lot is gated off, that means the visitor's center and north gardens are closed, but you can still bird the south pond; keep going and find a parking spot near the multi-use part of the park.

This little spot can be a birding gold mine, to say nothing of butterflies and dragonflies!  I normally take the loop trail around the south pond first; this can be productive, as there's plenty of cactus/mesquite habitat that can house Pyrrhuloxias and Curve-billed Thrashers, and on rare occasions Bewick's Wren.  A couple of small decks (one along the west side and one along the south side) are good places to look for Green Kingfishers.  There are many places to peek into the pond before you get to the east-side deck (the overlook which is currently closed for repairs), where I almost always find Neotropic Cormorants, as well as a variety of herons and shorebirds.  In summer Least Terns like to hang around this area; other larids include Caspian, Forster's, and Gull-billed Terns, as well as Laughing Gulls.  Although I've missed them, on rare occasions they've had Black Skimmers in there as well!  Post breeding wanderers such as Roseate Spoonbill and Wood Stork show up regularly, and a variety of ducks claim the lake in the winter (they once had a Canvasback and Cinnamon Teal, but I don't know how regular they are).  Black-bellied Whistling Ducks can be here by the droves, along with lesser numbers of Fulvous Whistling Ducks.  Sometimes an Osprey will be fishing in the lake, and you can find American Pipit and Savannah Sparrows in the playing fields to the east of the pond.  The trees can be good migrant traps, and for several years there was a wintering Yellow Warbler hanging out here as well as near the parking lot!  On the north side of the trail and around the multi-use areas, keep an eye out for more open-area birds such as Couch's and Tropical Kingbirds.  There's also a 1.5 mile paved walking trail to the east, in the multi-use area, where in winter a pair or two of Vermilion Flycatchers like to hang out along the southern fenceline in winter.

Trail heading to the south pond overlook

Approaching the south pond's east side deck from the north

Partial view of the south pond from the deck

Back at the parking lot, you can take the paved pathway straight to the Visitor's Center, but I generally take the first dirt path to my right and bird the perimeter of the butterfly gardens, eventually taking the enclosed "jungle trail" to the north pond (although somewhat rare here, sometimes Plain Chachalacas lurk in the "woods" along this path).  If anyone has to see a Buff-bellied Hummingbird or they're gonna die, I'd send them here for sure; between the feeders and the Turk's Caps, they have plenty of food and plenty of rivals, particularly when the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds start coming through (Black-chinned and Rufous also show up)!  Common Valley birds such as Long-billed and Curve-billed Thrashers, Inca and Common Ground Doves, Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, White-eyed Vireo, and Lesser Goldfinch can be expected year-round, while Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, House Wrens, American Goldfinch, and Orange-crowned and Yellow-rumped Warblers (both Myrtle and the occasional Audubon's) join the crowd in winter, along with the occasional over-wintering Yellow and Wilson's Warblers.  The common wintering sparrow here is Lincoln's Sparrow, but the odd White-crowned or Grasshopper might also show up.  Brown-crested Flycatcher shows up in summer, and I've even managed to flush Pauraque!  This can be a great place for migrants, and the occasional "oddball" shows up such as a Spotted Towhee that hung around for many months, a wintering Groove-billed Ani, and a hide-and-seek Roadrunner!  Unfortunately I kept missing the Audubon's Oriole that showed up the spring of 2008, but Hooded, Baltimore, and Orchard (the latter two in migration) are relatively easy to find.  For butterfly enthusiasts, rare and uncommon butterflies that have been found along the Jungle Trail include Gray Cracker, Two-barred Flasher, and Fawn-spotted Skipper.

Entrance to the north portion

One of the many meandering paths in the butterfly garden!

A peek at the Visitor's Center from the eastern gardens

The "Jungle Trail"

Once out of the "jungle", you'll see the north pond directly in front of you, the eastern border of which is almost always lined with Neotropic Cormorants (joined by Double-crested in winter), Snowy Egrets, and other herons.  On rare occasions a Wood Duck might show up, and one winter they hosted a Northern Flicker!  Although not rare in the Valley per se, a Greater White-fronted Goose (rather unusual in an urban setting) showed up one winter!  Sometimes Black-bellied Whistling Ducks will be practically at your feet, but if not, they'll surely be across the way, along with Blue-winged Teal, Common Gallinules, Coots, and other waterfowl.  This is a reliable place for Least Grebe, and night herons are usually hiding in the trees on the north side--mostly Black-crowned, but the occasional Yellow-crowned shows up as well.  It's also a good idea to scan the trees across the way for Ringed Kingfisher, and the wires for urban birds such as Eurasian Collared Doves (on one occasion we had a flock of Green Parakeets, but they aren't regular).  White Pelicans start showing up in late fall, and when the water level is low, various shorebirds show up here as well, including Stilt Sandpipers and Long-billed Dowitchers for good comparisons.  The open water is also a good place to look for swallows year round.  There's a convenient deck from which to check things out, after which I usually continue west to the next overlook near the spillway, checking the resaca on the left on the way, which often hides cormorants, night herons, and Green Kingfishers.  At the overlook, the roiling water seems to be a magnet for waterbirds (Blue-winged Teal especially like to hang here), and the mesquites at this end are attractive to Verdin and Black-crested Titmice.  On more than one occasion I've found an Audubon's Warbler back here, along with the occasional apparent hybrid!

The north pond, looking eastward from the central overlook

Looking west towards the spillway

Trail heading towards the spillway overlook

After checking the overlook, I usually backtrack to the trail that heads south on the east side of the resaca (on the west side there's a little overlook here you can check).  This trail takes you back into the butterfly gardens where you can weave around checking for leps; some of the more interesting species I've found here include Orange-barred Sulphur, Polydamus Swallowtail, Horace's Duskywing, and East Mexican White Skipper.  Besides the normal passerines, the little Dragonfly Pond on the east side of the Visitor's Center often has a family of Kiskadees fishing from the dead snags, or sometimes a Green Kingfisher doing the same.  The edges may have a Solitary Sandpiper or Northern Waterthrush during migration.  As the name implies, this is a great place to observe dragonflies; some of the more common species include Common Green Darner, Red Saddlebags, Roseate Skimmer, Thornbush and Blue Dashers, and Eastern and Pin-tailed Pondhawks.  On the west side of the Visitor's Center is another small pond that also often has dragonflies.

View of the resaca from the east

Another butterfly path on the west side of the butterfly garden

Boardwalk to the Dragonfly Pond

West side pond

Personal Checklist  ●=small numbers  █ = large numbers (10+) 

Please keep in mind that these lists are NOT comprehensive, and that some months may have had poor overall coverage.  Names in red indicate species that occur in the county but are extremely rare, or that normally do not occur in the county and are irruptive or true vagrants, and should not be expected.

  J F M A M J J A S O N D
Black-bellied Whistling Duck
Fulvous Whistling Duck        
Greater White-fronted Goose                      
American Wigeon                    
Mottled Duck      
Blue-winged Teal      
Cinnamon Teal              
Northern Shoveler      
Northern Pintail                    
Green-winged Teal          
Lesser Scaup          
Ring-necked Duck                
Ruddy Duck      
Plain Chachalaca    
Northern Bobwhite                    
Least Grebe
Pied-billed Grebe    
Eared Grebe                      
Rock Pigeon
Eurasian Collared Dove          
  J F M A M J J A S O N D
White-tipped Dove              
Inca Dove  
White-winged Dove          
Mourning Dove
Common Ground Dove  
Yellow-billed Cuckoo                    
Greater Roadrunner                    
Groove-billed Ani              
Chimney Swift          
Ruby-throated Hummingbird                    
Black-chinned Hummingbird                
Archilochus Hummingbird              
Rufous Hummingbird                
Buff-bellied Hummingbird
Common Gallinule
American Coot
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet                    
Spotted Sandpiper    
Solitary Sandpiper                    
Greater Yellowlegs                    
Lesser Yellowlegs                
Upland Sandpiper                      
Long-billed Curlew                    
Stilt Sandpiper        
Least Sandpiper  
Western Sandpiper                      
Long-billed Dowitcher      
Wilson's Phalarope                      
Laughing Gull          
Least Tern                
Gull-billed Tern                
Caspian Tern                  
Black Tern                    
Forster's Tern                    
Wood Stork                      
Neotropic Cormorant
Double-crested Cormorant            
American White Pelican        
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron        
Tricolored Heron  
Cattle Egret      
Green Heron    
Black-crowned Night Heron  
Yellow-crowned Night Heron    
  J F M A M J J A S O N D
White Ibis                      
White-faced Ibis                      
Roseate Spoonbill            
Turkey Vulture  
Cooper's Hawk                    
Harris' Hawk                    
Red-shouldered Hawk                      
Swainson's Hawk                    
Ringed Kingfisher            
Belted Kingfisher          
Green Kingfisher
Golden-fronted Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker                      
Ladder-backed Woodpecker   ● 
American Kestrel                      
Green Parakeet                      
Northern Beardless Tyrannulet                      
Olive-sided Flycatcher                      
Eastern Wood Pewee                    
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher                      
Willow Flycatcher                      
Least Flycatcher                
Eastern Phoebe                
Vermilion Flycatcher                
Great Crested Flycatcher                      
Brown-crested Flycatcher                
Great Kiskadee
Tropical Kingbird  
  J F M A M J J A S O N D
Couch's Kingbird  
Western Kingbird                
Eastern Kingbird
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher          
Loggerhead Shrike              
White-eyed Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo                    
Warbling Vireo                    
Philadelphia Vireo                      
Red-eyed Vireo                      
Green Jay              
Purple Martin              
Tree Swallow                    
Northern Rough-winged Swallow                  
Bank Swallow                
Cliff Swallow                  
Cave Swallow            
Barn Swallow        
Black-crested Titmouse      
House Wren        
Winter Wren                
Marsh Wren                      
Bewick's Wren      
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher      
Ruby-crowned Kinglet            
Hermit Thrush                    
Clay-colored Thrush                  
Gray Catbird                
Curve-billed Thrasher
Long-billed Thrasher
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling          
American Pipit                
Olive Sparrow          
Spotted Towhee                      
Grasshopper Sparrow                      
Clay-colored Sparrow                    
Savannah Sparrow                      
Lincoln's Sparrow          
White-crowned Sparrow                      
Orchard Oriole                
Hooded Oriole                  
Altamira Oriole                      
Baltimore Oriole                
Red-winged Blackbird    
Bronzed Cowbird            
Brown-headed Cowbird                  
Great-tailed Grackle
Northern Waterthrush                  
Blue-winged Warbler                      
Black-and-white Warbler          
Tennessee Warbler                    
Orange-crowned Warbler          
Nashville Warbler              
Mourning Warbler                      
Common Yellowthroat        
American Redstart                  
Northern Parula                    
Tropical Parula                      
Magnolia Warbler                      
Yellow Warbler        
Chestnut-sided Warbler                      
Pine Warbler                      
"Myrtle" Warbler          
"Audubon's" Warbler                
  J F M A M J J A S O N D
Black-throated Green Warbler                      
Yellow-throated Warbler                      
Canada Warbler                    
Wilson's Warbler      
Yellow-breasted Chat                    
Summer Tanager                    
Scarlet Tanager                      
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak                      
Blue Grosbeak                      
Lazuli Bunting                      
Indigo Bunting              
Painted Bunting                
Lesser Goldfinch  
American Goldfinch                
House Sparrow  

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