The Beginner Track at Birding the Border is a unique opportunity for 10 beginner birders to learn from professional guide Bill Sain and our amazing birding buddy Connie Hoke in a pre-planned schedule to bird in all 3 ecoregions and see a wide variety of birds at the special price of $400 (Birding the Border Registration Pass included)!
Friday, April 30 – Zuberbueler Ranch (Departure time: 6:15 AM)
Saturday, May 1 – Behind the Scenes at the Duck Pond (Departure time: 6:30 AM)
Sunday, May 2 – Dobbs Run Ranch (Departure time: 6:00 AM)
The Zuberbueler Family has graciously partnered with Birding with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and increased their bird management practices on their historic ranch in Val Verde County while allowing birders the opportunity to experience birding in the Chihuahua Desert Eco-Region!
The Zuberbueler family raises Rambouillet sheep and Angora Goats producing some very fine and high-quality fleeces for our area! During our Birding the Border program participants can bird on the Zuberbueler ranch and not only learn about the birds of this dry desert habitat but also enjoy spending the afternoon eating lunch in the shearing barn hosted by the Zuberbueler Family!
Bryan’s Birdy Bulletin
While most of the other trips during Birding the Border tip-toe around the arid desert-scrub that dominates Val Verde County, the trip to the Zuberbueler Ranch dives right into it! Because of this, this trip will surely be your best chance to see many species particularly adapted to this harsh environment, like black-tailed gnatcatchers, pyrrhuloxias, and more! This, in addition to the supplemental water and food provided specifically for the birds by the Zuberbuelers, should make for a very different mix of birds than any other trip during the festival. We choose to include the Zuberbueler Ranch in the beginner track because, as the westernmost birding trip, participants will have the opportunity to see birds that enjoy the brushy habitat unique to the Chihuahuan Desert ecoregion.
Behind the Scenes at the Duck Pond:
From the road, you can bird through the fence and see wonderful birds at what locals call “The Duck Pond,” but we are excited to show you Behind the Scenes at the Duck Pond thanks to the Lopez Family! What many people do not know is that the property spans 280 acres of lush vegetation fed by Ciénegas Creek, which runs the length of the ranch and creates 5 stock tanks. The largest of these tanks is over 8 acres.
Bryan’s Birdy Bulletin
The habitats maintained by the Lopez family at this property are bursting with diversity and the potential to find rare and interesting birds. A series of vegetated ponds are surrounded by pockets of dense, wet understory beneath towering hackberries, mulberries, and other large trees favored by many birds. Ciénegas Creek, which connects each pond, is also flanked by dense riparian tracts. This watery oasis provides for a very different set of birds than what you can expect to find in the Tamaulipan thornscrub that dominates the Del Rio area and surrounding Val Verde County. This classic Del Rio experience will give beginners good looks at plenty of interesting species!
Dobbs Run Ranch:
Go for the GOLD and spend your morning looking for the golden-cheeked warblers and black-capped vireos at this private ranch located on the West Nueces River! Participants will enjoy seeing the ranch and birds as you head out on ATVs and hunting vehicles to stop and walk short distances at various birding hot spots on the ranch. Three endangered species can be found at Dobbs Run Ranch – golden-cheeked warblers, Tobusch fishhook cactus, and Texas snowbells. The Smith family has purposefully managed for wonderful golden-cheeked warbler and black-capped vireo habitat on the ranch which has allowed Birding the Border participants the past 2 years to enjoy seeing both species! Even if you choose this trip for the golden-cheeked warbler, the diversity on this ranch will allow participants the opportunity to see a variety of different species of birds.
Bryan’s Birdy Bulletin
The owners of Dobbs Run are among of the most impressive private landowners I have met. They actively manage their land for birds, and Mrs. Smith stays on top of where you are most likely to find all the different species. Just as beautiful as the birds (like the golden-cheeked warbler and Scott’s oriole here) are the tall bluffs and sweeping vistas of quintessential Texas hill country. This is one of my favorite local places to visit! We hope that all our beginners birders can see a golden-cheeked warbler and black-capped vireo on this trip.