|Green Jay- My favorite Texas Bird|
We stayed in McAllen, the heart of the Rio Grande Valley, which is considered the most popular and productive birding destination in the United States. The area has more bird species than most entire states, and 39 species that are only found here. Depending upon who you ask, there are about 925 species of birds in the USA & Canada.
People from around the world flock to the Rio Grande Valley to see birds they couldn’t catch a glimpse of anywhere else. Rare species sightings are common here which is why this is among the best places for bird watching anywhere on earth.
The Valley is really a rich alluvial flood plain, which was historically flooded by the cresting Rio Grande. The river no longer floods its banks and the old floodplain forest is mostly gone, except for some remaining and protected tracts of precious native habitat.
Among the places we visited were Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park ( 760 acres of subtropical vegetation and Resaca woodlands), Edinburg Scenic Wetlands (a favorite as it was small with many places for the birds to hide), Estero Llano Grande State Park (230 acres with wetlands), Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge (too big for me, with over 2000 acres, it has over 400 species of birds but few we did not see elsewhere), and Falcon Dam State Park, where we had our lunch as we got a bird's eye view of many birds fed by the locals.
Since that time, Benito has dedicated himself to restoring the health of the brush and educating others regarding the importance of preserving this often overlooked but integral part of the local heritage and culture. As a result of landscaping with native plants near the main house, Benito has created a haven for Audubon's orioles, green jays, verdins, black-throated sparrows, blue-headed vireo and many other species associated with the thorny brush.
In the evenings we sought Green parakeets and Monk parakeets, which are frequently seen and heard throughout McAllen. Debate ensues over whether the birds are escapees or have been pushed to the northern reaches of their habitat. Whatever the reason, they are thriving in McAllen. I found almost 40 new species of birds in Texas to add to my life list, giving me over 1300 world wide (600 of these USA).