Posts Tagged ‘altamira orioles’

Green Jays at a feeder in Bentsen State Park in the Rio Grande Valley. -- Photo by Pat Bean

 “Hear! Hear!: screamed the jay from a neighboring tree, where I had heard a tittering for some time, “winter has a concentrated and nutty kernel, if you know where to look for it.” — Henry David Thoreau, 28 November 1858 journal entry.

 Travels With Maggie

 I was sitting here in my RV, currently parked in my oldest son’s Central Texas driveway, pondering what to write about on my travel blog this morning. The answer came to me when my daughter-in-law, Cindi, brought me an article about colorful birds that she had clipped from the Killeen Daily Herald.

 She had been awed by the photo of a green jay that accompanied the story, and knew that this avid birder would probably be awed as well. It was a bird she had never seen, and had no idea that it was quite common in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, where South American birds hang out in the winter. 

An Altamira oriole lights up a tree branch in the Rio Grande Valley. -- Photo by Pat Bean

 If you want to see colorful birds and escape from cold weather as well, this is the place to go. Thousands of RV dwellers spend entire winters here, cozily hooked up in towns like Harlingen, Welasco, Padre Island and Brownsville.

I’ve spent a few winter weeks there myself, always coming away with new birds for my life list. This southern tip of Texas is home to Laguna Atacosa National Wildlife Refuge, where I saw my first aplomado falcons; Estero Llano Grande State Park, where last year I got my first tropical kingbird and pauraque; Santa Ana State Park where my first great kiskadee called to me from an overhead branch; and the World Birding Center at Bentsen State Park in Mission, where green jays abound at bird feeders scattered about the park and flame-colored Altamira orioles decorate the trees like Christmas lights.

 While you might not take notice of all those plain little brown birds in your backyard, the colorful ones you’ll see in the Rio Grande Valley just might amaze you.

My favorite hangout when visiting the area is the 1015 RV Park in Welasco. It’s not fancy and the sites are small, but it’s inexpensive and within easy walking distance of Estereo Llano Grande State Park, where I spent most of my time anyway.

 It’s one of those numerous Rio Grande Valley places where the birds hang out.

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