Home True Tales of a Valley Birder Back to Story List
Alamo Inn B&B, Gear & Tours
801 Main St.
Alamo, TX 78516
956-782-9912
Website

True Tales of a Valley Birder is a column about bird watching in the Valley, about the birds, places, and birding people that make this the top birding hot spot in Texas and in the United States, and one of the top thirty birding spots on earth. This is our Valley heritage. Birders represent 25% of Valley tourism, and spend over $463 million here annually, including $67 million in local taxes, sustaining 6,600 good jobs in the Valley. Our wild birds are a valuable asset. Look for more Bird Tales in this series written by Keith Hackland, proprietor of Alamo Inn B&B, Gear & Tours

Read these True Tales of a Valley Birder

The Lower Rio Grande Valley is famous for its spring migration: during the peak times of mid-April to mid-May ... Fall birding isn't quite as predictable but it can still be exciting!
Read Entire Story

Amazing to us living in North America, a large continent, is the extensive information the small island of Great Britain has about its birds. We use rough estimates, but in Britain they have much more detailed information, and so the population of each bird species is known.
Read Entire Story

Does a wall keep migrants and smugglers out of the US, or does it keep farmers and nature tourists inside the wall and away from legitimately accessing lands along the Rio Grande? Everyone has an opinion. If you want to stir up an argument, just ask anyone for opinions on the border wall.
Read Entire Story

Birders visit the Valley from mid-October to mid-May. They seem to avoid summer months. My theory is that they prefer to bird in the cold northern latitudes when the big thaw is in place while it is fun to be in the woods and on the water without snow and ice. Some folks do visit the Valley to bird the summer months, but only a few smart people.
Read Entire Story

Because May is such a prime migration month in northern states, most folks think that "the show is over" in the Valley by the end of April. Not so! In fact, if you check John Arvin's excellent Birds of the South Texas Brushlands, you'll see that the peak times for most of the warblers is mid-April through mid-May, and the flycatchers come through primarily during the entire month of May!
Read Entire Story

I was going about the yard routine with our chickens, goose, and vegetable garden on a warm spring morning, when I felt as if I was being watched, causing me to look up. There, about ten yards from me was a pair of Black-bellied Whistling-ducks.
Read Entire Story

Some birds have a great affinity for water. They forage for aquatic life, they wade in it, and they live around it. A friend, Neil Gunnar Berg, recently took some great photos of water birds, and wrote about his experience in his blog "1410 Oakwood". With his permission we share his work here.
Read Entire Story

The Lower Rio Grande Valley boasts many specialty birds, and we are blessed with many birders who come from all over the world to see our special birds! But among the larger group of "general" birders, there are those who will make a special effort to come all the way down to see a "mega-rarity" - an avian visitor from Mexico that they desire to add to their North American (aka "ABA") list!
Read Entire Story

Not a bird, but a wild cat, larger than a house cat, but generally smaller than a Bobcat. Ocelots have long tails and rounded (Mickey Mouse) ears. They play a valuable role in our South Texas wild lands.
Read Entire Story

What rare birds are around? Where can we find them? Generally that is the first question we hear from birders visiting the Valley. After that subject has been exhausted the next subject is "Any good restaurants in the area?"
Read Entire Story

November is a big month in the Valley for birders because it offers really great birding, and that is why the 22 year old Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival is held in early November annually.
Read Entire Story

It started at 9 am yesterday. Charlie, my daughter's pseudonym, photographed a kettle of hawks moving south east over Alamo. We counted 200 hawks in that kettle.
Read Entire Story

The Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV) isn't just a hotbed of unique birds for the United States, but for butterflies (and other critters) as well! Just as birders flock to the Valley in hopes of seeing lifers and rarities, the same holds true for butterfly watchers who come in search of Mexican butterflies that reach the northern limits of their range here in south Texas, but also in hopes of that rare stray that may wander across the border!
Read Entire Story

Some folks work in the fields, on roofs, in construction and garden in the summer here in the Valley. Other folks drive or fly in to bird watch. I respect everyone who has to work outdoors in the sun in three digit heat because they have to do that to earn a living. Birders do it for fun.
Read Entire Story

There's great birding in the Lower Rio Grande Valley any time of year, but there's no denying that "summer vacation time" is slow, primarily due to the oppressive heat and humidity!
Read Entire Story

The lure of birding the Lower Rio Grande Valley is strong. It amazes us, but really should not, that birders from so many countries hear about the Valley and make their way here, binoculars and cameras in hand.
Read Entire Story

After a great start to the tour, birding very full days, we were up early next morning, following back roads from Refugio to Rockport, stopping at wetlands to see Mottled Duck, Black-necked Stilt and Teal. We stopped on a busy road where the group wandered along peering through binoculars and scopes, bird watching.
Read Entire Story

It may have occurred before today, but if it did, I don't know about it ... a birding tour of South Texas by a tour group from Germany. We have the privilege of hosting this tour for a remarkable group of birders who all speak German.
Read Entire Story

How would I describe a typical bird-guiding day in the Lower Rio Grande Valley? Fabulous! Client birders ... everyone is different, and everyone has a unique list of target birds, whether it's their first time to the Valley and everything is new, or it's a seasoned hard-core birder who hops a plane to see that one bird that will put them over 700 species for North America ABA list area!
Read Entire Story

Texas leads the United States and Canada in birding. Our state has some 640 species on record. That count is governed by the Texas Bird Records Committee, a group of experts who are very careful before recognizing a new species to add to the state list.
Read Entire Story

No doubt many Valley residents already have heard of the top Valley birding hot spots, twenty to thirty of them. At the head of the list is Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, with 2,088 acres, just south of Alamo, along several miles of the winding Rio Grande encircling two sides of the refuge. It was the first National Wildlife Refuge in the Valley, having been purchased in 1943.
Read Entire Story

Mary Beth Stowe works for Alamo Inn B&B, Gear & Tours as a birding guide. She gets out birding regularly, and last weekend she and a birder friend visited these special areas at Delta Lake, Hargill, and Brushline Road.
Read Entire Story

The 22nd annual birding festival (2015) will be held in Harlingen, at the Harlingen Municipal Complex at Fair Park, with events from Thursday, November 5 through Sunday, November 8.
Read Entire Story

My own favorite time is November and December. For one thing it is cool and I feel the call to go hiking. Better than that, the fall migrants are moving through, and winter birds are showing up for their stay in the Valley.
Read Entire Story

The Valley has great native trees, which I call money trees, that attract 540 species of wonderful wild birds which in turn attract Birders from across the U.S. and around the world.
Read Entire Story

So where can we find money trees and the fantastic Valley birds they attract? Almost anywhere in the Valley, including in our yards. In addition, the Valley has a network of great birding destinations, woodland parks, sanctuaries, and refuges, that include wetlands and grasslands, and are set up for the comfort of birds. They also attract birders. We call these great places "birding hot spots".
Read Entire Story

If I had a money tree, unfurling green dollars on each branch, would I nurture it, and help it grow to produce more and more green dollars? You bet I would. Most folks would be thrilled to have a green money tree growing in their yard.
Read Entire Story

Imagine digging clay out of the sticky Valley earth and fashioning it into large bricks, laying these in the sun to dry, and then building your dream home with them. Certainly the cost of materials would be low, but what would it look like, and would it last? Could clay mud like this withstand Valley wind, rain, and drought?
Read Entire Story

Creeping up behind a reclining bright green spring mesquite, I raised binoculars and stared into the brown, scaly face of Big Mama, a huge alligator, reclined at the edge of the pond.
Read Entire Story

Who could have predicted that the Valley would have developed the way it has done today? Probably only Francisco Yturria, the patriarch of the Valley
Read Entire Story





The Valley Spotlight gratefully acknowledges the support that Keith Hackland has shown through advertising and as a contributing writer since our beginnings in 2014. Thank You Keith!