Fly to this tropical bird lover’s paradise.
Bird enthusiasts have reason to rejoice in McAllen, Texas.
DEEP IN THE SOUTHERN tip of the
Lone Star State, along the twisting Rio Grande, there lies a 120-mile ribbon of lush, semi-tropical habitat that is home to a delightfully diverse number of birds and butterflies. Situated right in the heart of this natural paradise is McAllen, the region’s largest city and the perfect base for a visit to the Rio Grande Valley.
Chief among McAllen attractions is the urban sanctuary of Quinta Mazatlan, a historic, Spanish Revival-style adobe hacienda with 20 acres of butterfly and bird habitat. Stroll under the shade of native plants as you admire buff-bellied hummingbirds, great kiskadees, green jays and Altamira orioles.
If you have a checklist of species to spot, stop at the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, the Edinburg Scenic Wetlands and World Birding Center, and the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park. And be sure to add Estero Llano Grande State Park to your itinerary. Congregating there in the shallow waters are hundreds of wading and shorebirds, such as spoonbills and ibis.
One of the region’s biggest events is the five-day Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival, held every November. With some 500 documented bird species in the four-county area, this is a bird lover’s bonanza.
In addition to birding, this Texas town, which began as a farming community, is esteemed for its museums, dining and shopping. You’re sure to find something for everyone among McAllen’s many art galleries, or in the restaurants and shops of Main Street.
Visitors to Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge cross a suspension bridge to glimpse McAllen’s official bird, the green jay (below).