My Favorite Birding Season
by Keith Hackland (firstname.lastname@example.org)
photo credit: Steve Sinclair
published October 2015
When is the best time to bird the Valley?
This is a common question from birders outside
the Valley. It is also one of the most difficult
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. Best of
all, there are lots of birds in fun flocks. Done
with breeding (spring and summer) and molting
(late summer), they are wearing their sharp
duds, looking good, and just wanna have fun.
Birds just wanna have fun in fall and early
winter because this is when they have no particular
responsibilities. They are visible everywhere
in the Valley. They hang out at feeders.
They perch out in the open and call. They perform
antics, hopping, jumping and flapping.
They fly high then dive, and zoom from tree to
tree. If there is water around they may take a
very splashy and flashy bath.
Today is a typical early fall day. Just this afternoon
I watched a Great Kiskadee in the front
yard. It sat on the top of a yard light, calling.
Then it flew onto a stair rail.
Two Yellow-fronted Woodpeckers sat on upstairs
railings and stared down at it, their heads
poked forward and eyes bulging, challenging
it. A red squirrel on the roof peered down at the
scene to watch the confrontation. Watch how
birds play in your yard.
Fall is a great time to get out there, and visit
some of the great birding hot spots around the
In McAllen there is Quinta Mazatlan and
McAllen Botanic Gardens.
Mission offers Bentsen RGV State Park, Mission
Nature Park, Anzalduas County Park and
the National Butterfly Center.
Edinburg Wetlands is exciting.
Close to Alamo is Santa Ana NWR, and in
Alamo on Business 83 at 8th Street is the Main
Street Central Park area where I live, and where
we have a list of over 180 species.
Weslaco offers Estero Llano Grande State
Park, Frontera Audubon Thicket and Valley
Harlingen has Hugh Ramsey Park on the
Arroyo Colorado, and Brownsville has Sabal
Sanctuary and Las Palmas State Park. South
Padre Island has Laguna Atascosa NWR close
by, and on the island the Birding and Nature
Center, Convention Center, and Sheepshead
One of the secrets of finding good birds in the
Valley is to visit any woodland or wetland area.
So, for example, most city and county parks are
excellent. Most cemeteries are excellent and
every city, town, and village has a cemetery.
Water processing lagoons are great, and there is
an excellent one at La Feria Nature Park.
Fall is a great time to start a feeding program
in your yard. It is easy to set out a flat surface 3
to 4 feet above the ground and drop a little seed
onto it each morning. Or purchase and hang a
bird feeder. The birds will find it.
Provide only enough so that they will eat it all
in a few hours and finish it before dark (so there
is none left for rats or possums). Soon the birds
will know that is your treat spot, and they will
start waiting for you to come out and load it.
We have birds that fly to our window and
look inside to see if we are there when the food
runs out. If they see us inside they wait for us to
bring the food to them.
Especially easy to do in the fall, people can
get to know their yard birds, just as the birds
know who lives there. Resident birds recognize
you as one of the people from your house.
Birds that live around your house immediately
know when a stranger comes by. They trust
residents who are kind to them, but they do not
Water, in a hot dry climate, as we typically
have, is more important to birds than food. Take
a trash can lid and set it off the ground 3 to 4
feet up on a stand or table. Place a few bricks
or stones under it to balance it well. This makes
an instant bird bath. One can also purchase bird
baths. What is important is to wash it out every
two days, and to keep it filled with 1 to 2 inches
of water, not too deep. A bird bath becomes a
bird magnet. All species of yard birds will visit,
drink a little, and splash a lot.
Birds eat and drink in the morning and evening.
So that is also a great time to watch for
them. On cool days they can be active throughout
the day. On hot days they believe in siesta
The Fall is ahead.
Enjoy our rich Valley birds.
Share some seed and water with the birds.