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Rio Grande Valley Women’s Birding Tour

April 15 @ 7:00 pm - April 22 @ 10:00 pm EDT

Spring birding in South Texas- a birding hotspot for specialties!

Join Indiana Audubon for a special trip for an amazing collection of specialty US species and the peak of spring migration along the Texas southern border in April 2023. The lower Rio Grande Valley is home to amazing diversity and landscapes, and spring is an excellent time to explore this birding hotspot.

As part of Indiana Audubon’s commitment to conservation in areas we visit, a portion of the trip fees will be donated towards The Valley Land Fund‘s conservation work in south Texas in protecting land and water conservation for both parklands and private landowners.

  • Trip Leaders: The 2023 Texas birding tour is led by IAS members and experienced guides, Amy Kearns and Sam Warren. Both have experience birding south Texas and will facilitate Indiana Audubon’s first all-women’s birding tour. The specific trip dates are April 15-22, 2023.

IAS Trip Ratings for Rio Grande 2023

Birding Pace: Extended Tour. Multiple days with early starts before sunrise, and long days birding with only small breaks. This trip will involve higher intensity levels than typical IAS out of state field trips, because there are so many special birds to see. We will pack lunches into the field so we can make the most of our birding time, although our dinners will be at local restaurants each night. Expect breakfasts at the hotel and/or on the road. One or two after dinner trips for nocturnal birds will be optional. We do stay at some hotels multiple nights, so staying back is always an option.

Physical Requirements: Moderate. Participants can expect up to six miles of trail hiking per day at a birding pace. While it is mostly flat terrain, the South Texas heat adds to this rating. Birding pace will vary depending on conditions and birds sought. It will usually be possible to take occasional short breaks on park benches or on a packable 3-legged hiking stool. Bathroom breaks are sometimes infrequent (4-5 hours in between breaks), and some destinations do not have bathroom facilities available (“all natural” “in the bush” option is available).

Birding Skill Level: Mid-Level. This trip will have new opportunities for the experienced birder, with support for newer birders, too. Guides will share spotting scopes, although participants are invited to bring their own scope along if they want to (we will have plenty of room for your gear). New birders should be able to use their binoculars without help from the guides, and will get more out of the trip if they study their field guide before the trip.

The trip would embark from Harlingen, Texas and involve 6 days of birding, with overnight stays in Harlingen, and McAllen. A list of target species includes:

  • Fulvous Whistling-Duck
  • Muscovy Duck
  • Mottled Duck
  • Plain Chachalaca
  • Scaled Quail
  • Least Grebe
  • Tricolored Heron
  • Reddish Egret
  • Roseate Spoonbill
  • Hook-billed Kite
  • White-tailed Kite
  • Harris’s Hawk
  • Gray Hawk
  • White-tailed Hawk
  • Crested Caracara
  • Aplomado Falcon
  • Clapper Rail
  • Snowy Plover
  • Wilson’s Plover
  • Long-billed Curlew
  • Gull-billed Tern
  • Sandwich Tern
  • Black Skimmer
  • Red-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Inca Dove
  • Common Ground-Dove
  • Green Parakeet
  • Red-crowned Parrot
  • Greater Roadrunner
  • Groove-billed Ani
  • Elf Owl
  • Lesser Nighthawk
  • Common Pauraque
  • Buff-bellied Hummingbird
  • Ringed Kingfisher
  • Green Kingfisher
  • Golden-fronted Woodpecker
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker
  • Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet
  • Black Phoebe
  • Brown-crested Flycatcher
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Tropical Kingbird
  • Couch’s Kingbird
  • Green Jay
  • Chihuahuan Raven
  • Black-crested Titmouse
  • Verdin
  • Clay-colored Thrush
  • Long-billed Thrasher
  • Curve-billed Thrasher
  • Morelet’s Seedeater
  • Olive Sparrow
  • Black-throated Sparrow
  • Pyrrhuloxia
  • Painted Bunting
  • Bronzed Cowbird
  • Hooded Oriole
  • Altamira Oriole
  • Audubon’s Oriole
  • Lesser Goldfinch

Lodging for the first and last night of the trip will be at Holiday Inn Express in Harlingen. A general itinerary is below.

Day 1, Sat: Arrive in Harlingen, Hugh Ramsey Park (night at Holiday Inn Express Harlingen)

Day 2, Sun: Laguna Atascosa NWR, South Padre Island (night at Holiday Inn Express Harlingen)

Day 3, Mon: Old Port Isabel Rd, Sabal Palm Grove Sanctuary, Brownsville dump, TX 48 wetlands, Boca Chica beach, Oliveira Park, (night at La Quinta Inn & Suites Mission)

Day 4, Tue: Bentsen-Rio Grande SP, Quinta Mazatlan, nocturnal birds (night at La Quinta Inn & Suites Mission)

Day 5, Wed: Estero Llano Grande SP, Edinburgh scenic wetlands, Anzalduas County Park (night at La Quinta Inn & Suites Mission)

Day 6, Thurs: Salineno Wildlife Preserve, Falcon County Park, Falcon State Park, Roma Bluffs, nocturnal birds (night at La Quinta Inn & Suites Mission)

Day 7, Fri: Santa Ana NWR (night at Holiday Inn Express Harlingen)

Day 8, Sat: Birding as time permits, depart from Harlingen

— You can see the detailed itinerary here. Please note that this is subject to change, based on weather, birds, etc.

Included with the Tour:

  • Tour logistics and guiding by Amy Kearns and Sam Warren.
  • Transportation with fuel included throughout the trip.
  • All lodging for 8 days, 7 nights.
  • All meals starting with dinner on day 1 and finishing with breakfast on day 8.
  • All entrance fees to reserves and parks.
  • Standard lunch and dinner tips for restaurant wait staff.

Not included with the Tour:

  • flights to and from the Rio Grande Valley.
  • Tips for hotel staff, bird guides and driver, are not included.
  • Medical expenses, prescription drugs and other items of personal use.
  • Additional services offered in hotels (Spa, massage, etc.)
  • Alcoholic beverages and anything else not listed on the menus of restaurants.
  • Health and/or trip insurance
  • Laundry service
  • Souvenirs
  • Any other expense or extra tour not listed as included above

Trip is limited to 10 participants. Participants are responsible for all travel to Harlingen before and after the trip. Southwest airlines offers several options to Harlingen from both Indianapolis and Chicago (Midway). All interested participants must register with a $200 deposit due at registration and must return the signed field trip terms and conditions. Full payment balance due 90 days before trip departure.

$1,895 per person IAS Member. $1,995 per person non-IAS Member.

Single Supplement: $435

A $200 deposit is required to reserve your spot, paid via credit card on Eventbrite.

$50 surcharge for credit card payments on remainder of trip cost.

Cover Photo: Green Jay by Andy Morffew, Creative Commons


April 15 @ 7:00 pm EDT
April 22 @ 10:00 pm EDT
Event Category:


Indiana Audubon Society
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