Hidalgo Birding Pages

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Birding Hidalgo County

Site Index*

Symbols used on these pages:

   = Site can be birded primarily from the car ("Easy Birder Route")

   = Site must be birded on foot

A note about the species charts:  The species tables on each site page reflect only my personal records when I've visited these sites; they are NOT comprehensive!  There are many places (particularly in the more heavily birded areas like Santa Ana NWR and Bentsen State Park) that have official checklists that should be referenced for a complete species list. 

Data-collecting Strategy:  For all sites, I employed a "point count" system of data-gathering, making note also of unique species encountered between "points".  For the driving routes, I recorded all birds heard and/or seen at half-mile stops, and for the hiking trails I recorded all birds heard/seen at "resting points" approximately ten minutes' walking distance apart.  Exceptions to these rules were made at sites that were small enough to require more frequent stops, and care was taken not to "double-count".  Normally I would begin birding at sunrise, unless park hours precluded that.  The "Approximate Birding Time" included in each site page reflects the average time it took me to complete my survey, but it is, of course, possible to spend much more or much less time at any of these sites!

A note about the "Easy Birder" Driving Routes (EBRs):  These routes are especially for those birders who can't (or don't necessarily want to ☺) get out and walk easily.  Most of these routes include an optional hiking trail for those who do want to get at least a little walking in.  Keep in mind that the birds are much more easily heard than seen along these roads.  All these routes are passable for a standard passenger vehicle under normal conditions, but even the best caliche roads can become an impassable mess in spots during or after wet weather, when a 4WD vehicle will more likely get you through unscathed!  There are some terrific back roads described in the ABA Guide to the Rio Grande Valley that I have chosen not to survey, mainly because these roads can be overgrown and soft and are best tackled with a high clearance vehicle.  Some of the routes involve birding along a levee, and while these roads are not designated public roads, I have been told by various Border Patrol agents that I've encountered that birding from the levees is permissible.

A note about traffic:  I've found traffic along the routes to be either "light" or "moderate" (the only exception is the first few miles of the Sparrow Road Route along FM 2221, where the traffic has become increasingly constant over the years).  I define "light" as encountering either no vehicles at all along the route, or simply the occasional local.  I define "moderate" as encountering a passing vehicle at most every stop.

Safety Issues:  It would be foolish indeed to pretend that there are no risks birding in an area where there is a high occurrence of drug and human trafficking.  However, there are certain areas where tourist traffic is high and you are unlikely to encounter "bad guys".  Being a lone female birder, I have chosen only sites where I personally feel comfortable birding by myself.  That said, there is no absolute guarantee that you may not encounter a criminal element; the best defense is to simply be aware of your surroundings, avoid suspicious activity when you see it, and if you feel at all uncomfortable in an area, by no means should you stay there.  There are some areas with a high Border Patrol presence, and I for one am glad to see them there when I arrive at a popular birding spot before dawn! 

Directions to every site is from the intersection of US 281/I-69C and US 83/I-2.

Anzalduas County Park (EBR)

Bentsen Rio Grande State Park

Edinburg Scenic Wetlands

Estero Llano Grande State Park

Frontera Audubon Thicket

Lower Rio Grande Valley NWR - La Sal Tracts (EBR)

Old Hidalgo Pumphouse

Old Military Highway/NABA Park (EBR in part)

Quinta Mazatlan

Santa Ana NWR

Sparrow Road Route (EBR)

Valley Nature Center

Wallace/Bryan/Lake Edinburg Loop (formerly the Lower Rio Grande Valley NWR - Monte Cristo Tract) (EBR)

*Do keep in mind that this is a work in progress:  I'm still in the process of exploring new areas in the county and gathering data to share!

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