Winter Rio Grande Valley: Feb 11—17, 2018

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Departs: McAllen
Tour Limit: 7
Operations Manager: Margaret Anderson
Download Itinerary: PDF (102.5 KB)

Route Map


Tour Leaders


Erik Bruhnke

Erik Bruhnke has loved birds since he was a child looking at chickadees. In 2008 he graduate...

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Altamira Oriole

Altamira Oriole— Photo: Barry Zimmer

In addition to all of the regular Rio Grande Valley specialties, which are absent elsewhere in the U.S., the potential for strays from Mexico, the possibilities too numerous to mention, is probably greatest at this time of year.

The Rio Grande Valley—from the barrier beaches of South Padre Island through the subtropical forested corridor along the river, to the more arid uplands around the Falcon Dam and Reservoir—is one of the best birding areas in the United States, home to a long list of birds which are absent or rare in this country outside of South Texas. Not only is this a “must do” area for birders, but the weather here is generally pleasant at this season, making for a great escape from winter weather elsewhere.

Among these famed “Valley specialties,” we can expect to see Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Plain Chachalaca, Least Grebe, Neotropic Cormorant, Gray and White-tailed hawks, White-tipped Dove, Green Parakeet, Red-crowned Parrot, Common Pauraque, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Ringed and Green kingfishers, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Great Kiskadee, Clay-colored Thrush, Tropical and Couch’s kingbirds, Green Jay, Black-crested Titmouse, Long-billed Thrasher, Olive Sparrow, and Altamira and Audubon’s orioles, among other unique birds. In addition to these specialties we will also have the chance to study a diverse mixture of wintering waterbirds, raptors, and songbirds.

With luck, there is a chance of seeing some of the more difficult Mexican species that are recorded most winters, the possibilities including Muscovy Duck, Hook-billed Kite, Red-billed Pigeon, Groove-billed Ani, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Tropical Parula, and White-collared Seedeater. The potential for very rare strays is greatest at this time of year, and with luck we could also encounter a real rarity on the order of a Masked Duck, Roadside Hawk, Northern Jacana, Rose-throated Becard, White-throated Thrush, Blue Mockingbird, Golden-crowned Warbler, Gray-crowned Yellowthroat, Crimson-collared Grosbeak, Blue Bunting, or Black-vented Oriole—all of which have been seen at least once on previous tours.

Only two hotel changes; an ideal escape from cold winter weather, with average highs in the 70s (though cool and windy days also possible); mostly short to moderate walks on level terrain.