Experience some of North America's top birding destinations during spring migration on this 11-day Venture to Texas! Not only will we visit the famed Lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas for its myriad 'Valley Specialties,' stops will also be made in the Hill Country for the federally endangered targets Black-capped Vireo and Golden-cheeked Warbler, before heading to the iconic desertscapes and craggy, Chisos Mountains of Big Bend National Park, the only spot in the US to see Colima Warblers.
The first portion of our tour sees us birding the excellent Lower Rio Grande Valley, visiting many of the area's hotspots, including Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Santa Ana NWR, Estero Llano Grande State Park, Salineño Wildlife Preserve, and many others. South Padre Island should be rife with migratory songbirds and shorebirds, and at this time of year, there's always the chance of a migratory fallout, depending on the weather. We move east to west across the Valley, searching for all the target specialties including Great Kiskadee, Altamira & Audubon's Orioles, Plain Chachalaca, Tropical Parula, Long-billed Thrasher, and the beautiful Green Jay, among many others. There's always the chance of a Mexican vagrant straying north of the border, and we will make time to chase any goodies that might be around.
Turning north from Zapata, we trade the Lower Rio Grande Valley for a brief stay in the Texas Hill Country, a rugged area of limestone hills and juniper-oak woodlands. Here we will look for the aforementioned vireo and warbler, the best area in the country to find them. We should also find Cave Swallow, Bell’s Vireo, Lark Sparrow, and Bewick’s Wren, and we’ll also witness the spectacle of millions of Mexican Free-tailed Bats leaving their daily roost in the evening, an event which often attracts raptors hoping for an easy meal!
We finish our tour with 3 days in the fantastic Big Bend National Park, truly one of the most bird-rich parks in the US. Located in the Chihuahuan Desert of West Texas, there is more than just desert here - there are spectacular limestone canyons, carved by the mighty Rio Grande, and cool highlands, summer home to the Colima Warbler, one of our main targets of the trip. Aside from the warbler, we very well could add an additional 50 species to our trip list in a few days here, including Lucifer Hummingbird, Acorn Woodpecker, Mexican Jay, Phainopepla, Painted Redstart, and Scott’s Oriole – just to name a few! Big Bend is home to lots of other wildlife as well, from mountain lion and collared peccary (javelina) to desert bighorn sheep, jackrabbits, rattlesnakes, and more, and by cruising the roads in the evening we will have a chance to see some of them.
This Venture is easy to moderate in pace throughout, with the only steep climb being the hike to see the Colima Warbler, a hike that will take all day!
Birds we hope to see:
Black-bellied & Fulvous Whistling-Ducks, Muscovy, Mexican, & Mottled Ducks; Plain Chachalaca, Scaled & Gambel's Quails, Least Grebe, Red-billed & Band-tailed Pigeons, Groove-billed Ani, Greater Roadrunner, Lesser Nighthawk, Common Pauraque, Common Poorwill, Mexican Whippoorwill, Lucifer, Black-chinned, Broad-tailed, and Buff-bellied Hummingbirds, Blue-throated Mountain-Gem, Neotropic Cormorant, Harris's, White-tailed, Gray, Swainson's & Zone-tailed Hawks, Elf Owl, Ringed & Green Kingfishers, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Aplomado Falcon, Red-crowned Parrot, Green Parakeet, Northern Beardless Tyrannulet, Black Phoebe, Vermilion Flycatcher, Great Kiskadee, Tropical, Couch's & Western Kingbirds, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Black-capped & Bell's Vireos, Brown & Green Jays, Cave & Violet-green Swallows, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Cactus, Rock, & Canyon Wrens, Long-billed & Curve-billed Thrashers, Clay-colored Thrush, Black-throated & Olive Sparrows, Green-tailed Towhee, Hooded, Altamira, & Audubon's Orioles, Tropical Parula, Painted Redstart, Golden-cheeked & Colima Warblers, Western & Hepatic Tanagers, Pyrrhuloxia, Lazuli, Varied & Painted Buntings, Morelet's Seedeater, plus a whole host of migratory shorebirds, warblers, and more.