Amistad National Recreation Area (Below the Dam, Afternoon Trips) |
Below the Dam – Participants will enjoy the opportunity to walk (1.5 miles) a dirt road above the Rio Grand River looking at birds on both the American and Mexico side of the border. This location is closed to the public and participants will have the unique opportunity to see this portion of the Amistad National Recreation Area.
Afternoon Trips – Participants will be walking (about 1 mile) on trails, paved roads, and uneven terrain to check out these various Amistad National Recreation Area birding hotspots.
“Amistad” is Spanish for friendship, and the International Amistad Reservoir spans the U.S./Mexico border. When the reservoir was filled in 1969, some pictographs and archeological artifacts were flooded, but others still survive and can be viewed today.
Over 200 species of birds have been documented at Amistad. Due to its proximity to Mexico, Amistad is popular with birders who want a chance to see species whose ranges rarely cross into the U.S.
Target species: Ring-billed gull, white-throated swift, neotropic cormorant, common loon, cliff swallows
Baker’s Crossing |
This free location will take you up into the northwestern side of Val Verde County where the Devils River crosses Texas Highway 163. Different habitat from the rest of the county, including large trees, make it a great spot for catching some different species.
Target species: Black phoebe, Bewick’s wren, black-creasted titmouse, summer tanager, orange-crowned warbler, yellow-throated warbler
Bynam Ranch |
Enjoy coffee as the sun comes up and the Rio Grande wild turkeys come off their roost on the Bynum Ranch just outside of Del Rio. The Bynum Ranch sits at the headwaters of San Felipe Creek. The ranch is a working cattle, sheep, and goat operation. The ranch is a home to an abundant array of wildlife including while-tailed deer, wild turkeys, bobwhite and scaled quail, doves, and a host of songbirds, winged predators, and water birds. Exotic axis deer are also present. In the spring, the ranch sometimes serves as a stopover area for sandhill cranes during their migration, and dozens of purple martins live on the ranch from February through July. Due to the abundance of water, the ranch was inhabited 5,000 years ago by Native Americans, and artifacts of their residence can be found everywhere on the ranch.
Target species: Rio Grande wild turkeys, all species of kingfishers, purple martins, scaled quail, northern bobwhite
Devils River State Natural Area and Dolan Falls |
The Devils River is one of the most pristine rivers in Texas. Located far from any cities, the state natural area is also an International Dark Sky Sanctuary. Devils River SNA has two separate units: the Del Norte, about 19,000 acres in size, was acquired by Texas Parks and Wildlife in 1988, and the Dan A. Hughes, about 18,000 acres, was acquired in 2010.
Three ecoregions meet in the SNA, providing a rich assemblage of biodiversity. The Devils River is home to several federally and state-listed threatened and endangered species, including the Devils River minnow and Conchos pupfish. In addition to wildlife and plants, the SNA protects cultural resources such as pictographs.
Target species: Tropical parula, all three species of kingfishers, rufous-capped warbler, black phoebe
Dobbs Run |
Participants will enjoy seeing the ranch and birds as you head out on ATVs and hunting vehicles. Throughout the ranch participants will unload and walk short distances (1/2 mile or less) on uneven terrain to various birding hot spots on the ranch.
Three endangered species can be found at Dobbs Run Ranch, which is owned by Ernest and Paula Smith and their son Carter. The ranch spans approximately 5,000 acres, bisected by the West Nueces River. Unique features of the ranch include papershell piñon pine, several springs, and prehistoric Native American middens.
Golden-cheeked warblers (endangered) and black-capped vireos (recently delisted) both breed at Dobbs Run, and the Smiths have opened their gates to university graduate students who research these and other species. The ranch is also home to the endangered Tobusch fishhook cactus and Texas snowbell.
As part of their management of white-tailed deer, the Smiths host an annual youth hunt. In addition to the opportunity to hunt native and exotic game, participants enjoy camping, a presentation by a local game warden, and a guided plant walk.
Target species: Golden-cheeked warbler, black-capped vireo, canyon wren, white-tailed kite, Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay
Dos Palmas Ranch |
John & Diane Brenan bought this 64-acre property in 2002 to build a home for retirement and create a family retreat. Diane has special ties to this particular property as her mother grew up on a ranch that borders the property and it has 2 palm trees to remind her of her home in Corpus Christi—thus she named it Dos Palmas. When Ft. Clark was active, it was the Gilder Farm that provided fresh produce for the fort. You can see Gilder history via remnants of the old Gilder homestead near the creek, an original thatched roof cabin and refurbished bunk house and barn from the late 1800.
The beautiful Las Moras Creek runs through this property. The Brenans cleared non-native trees/shrubs to provide great habitat for wildlife. Several water troughs provide a watering source for wildlife in addition to the creek and to help during droughts. Over a mile of paths were created throughout the property to provide easy access to view all forms of wildlife.
Target species: Golden-fronted woodpecker, summer tanager, ash-throated flycatcher, hooded oriole, yellow-breasted chat
The Duck Pond (Lopez Ranch) |
Located in the southern part of Del Rio and directly adjacent to residential areas, the Duck Pond is an environment unlike anything else in the surrounding area. The property spans 280 acres and owes its lush vegetation to Cienegas Creek, which runs the length of the ranch and creates 5 stock tanks. The largest of these tanks is over 8 acres. While locals know this pond for its domestic ducks, numerous species of waterfowl and waterbirds use the big pond.
Mr. and Mrs. Lopez have owned the Duck Pond property since 2014. Their current land management practices prioritize preservation of the existing natural resources. The landowners seek to enhance plant and animal diversity to improve habitat for the benefit of deer, wild turkeys, waterfowl, shorebirds, and songbirds.
Target species: Black-bellied whistling ducks, neotropic cormorant, common gallinule, pied-billed grebe, green heron
Fort Clark Springs |
Fort Clark was established June 20, 1852 at Las Moras Springs by two companies of the First Infantry under the command of Major Joseph H. LaMotte along with an advance and rear guard of U.S. Mounted Rifles. For centuries before, Las Moras (Spanish for “the mulberries”) was a favorite camp area for Comanche, Mescalero, and Lipan Native American tribes. During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, the big spring was a stopping place on the eastern branch of the Comanche War Trail into Mexico. With the onset of the Civil War and the secession of Texas, Federal soldiers left the fort in March 1961 and it served as a supply depot and hospital for Confederate troops. U.S. troops returned to Fort Clark in December 1866 and remained until the fort closed in 1944.
In 1946, the fort was officially deactivated and sold. Today, it is a residential community for Winter Texans and year-round residents alike. Its 2,700 acres are home to native white-tailed deer, exotic axis deer, and numerous species of birds. The healthy riparian habitat that winds through the fort attracts wildlife year-round and the maintained trails provide great access for enjoying this abundance.
Target species: Black phoebe, green jay, great kiskadee, all three species of kingfishers
Kickapoo Cavern State Park |
Formerly the Seargeant Ranch, Kickapoo Cavern SP consists of about 6,300 acres spanning Kinney and Edwards counties. The land was purchased by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department from Tommy Seargeant in December 1986. The park opened with limited access in 1991, and full access in 2010.
There are 20 known caves in the park, one of which hosts approximately 1 million Brazilian (Mexican) free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) from March to October each year. Birds are also an important feature of this remote park, which hosts around 240 species each year.
Special Event on Thursday, April 16th: Join us at Kickapoo Caverns State Park on Thursday evening to enjoy a special benefit dinner with the Birds, Bats & Owls! Participants will get a behind the scenes look as the bats leave the cave for their night flight as well as an opportunity to search for several species of owls that call Kickapoo Caverns State Park home. The benefit dinner will go to support Kickapoo Caverns’ continued investment in birding blinds and song bird management strategies as well as support youth Birding with Extension Programs. Cost: $125 per a person (Limit 14 people, depart Civic Center at 5 p.m.)
Target species: Golden-cheeked warbler, black-capped vireo, yellow-billed cuckoo, zone-tailed hawk, elf owl
McKenna Ranch |
Participants will enjoy walking down tributaries and paths along the Dry Devils River that provides an underground water source for many of the ranches in the area. Participants will also enjoy a hayride to various birding hot spots on the ranch.
In 1880, Patrick McKenna of New Haven, Connecticut purchased 10 sections of land in far west Texas for just 19 cents an acre. His son, Eugene, and daughter-in-law, Lavinia, homesteaded in 1906 and ran their sheep and goat operation on the property. Their “Yellow House” built along the Dry River was washed away during a flood, but the original Ernest Quigg 1910 home still stands and has been restored for use by guests. Another house and 8 cabins are also available.
Each summer, the ranch hosts Youth Camp as a ministry outreach to young adults. Elders and members of Northside Baptist Church provide teaching and instruction to campers, with the goal of helping them “be still” and experience the wonders of God’s creation. Campers are trained in natural horsemanship techniques and enjoy riding the many trails and canyons on the ranch. They also get to swim in the cool, fresh waters of the stock tank in Upper Steer Canyon and experience the challenge of numerous outdoor activities.
Target species: Cactus wren, Bewick’s wren, canyon towhee, pyrrhuloxia, white-eyed vireo
Pecos River – kayak birding |
Participants will be guided by Camp Eagle Kayak Guides as well as a Birding the Border Guide. Participants should make prepare for an all-day adventure – Lunch and Dinner will be provided on the trip. Participants are encouraged to make lodging arrangements for Saturday night due to the length of trip (expected return to Del Rio is 8:30 PM).
The Pecos River is known for its great fishing, remote canyons and springs, and pristine habitat. This special kayaking trip will consist of a guided trip along a 7-mile section of large rapids, towering boulders, and deep emerald pools. Along with plentiful birds, you can expect to experience some of the best section of river in Texas matched with some of the best scenery the state has to offer! The trip won’t be easy but there will be more than enough reward for your hard work.
*Participants on this trip must have previous kayak experience.* Paddlers should be able to paddle for a mile at a time with intermittent breaks. Paddlers should have the physical strength and coordination to carry gear and boats over uneven and rugged terrain through rapids and on river banks. Paddlers should be able to perceive, understand, and respond to audible commands given by a boating partner or communicate such commands to a boating partner (such as in a double kayak) to maneuver a boat to maintain proper direction or avoid obstacles.
Target species: American avocet, osprey, black phoebe, northern rough-winged swallow, cliff swallow
San Felipe Creek (Afternoon Trips) |
San Felipe Springs Golf Course – Participants will have the opportunity to walk or rent a golf cart (depending on availability) to travel the pathway along the creek.
Big Sit! at Moore Park on San Felipe Creek – Bring your lawn chair (picnic tables also available) and enjoy the large shady trees along the creek as you participate in a Big Sit!
San Felipe Creek Tardy Dam – Participants will enjoy walking the paved pathways along San Felipe Creek.
Northeast of Del Rio, the San Felipe Springs feed into San Felipe Creek. Historically, these springs provided water to Spanish explorers, cavalry, and stagecoaches. Today, they provide water to the city of Del Rio and Laughlin Air Force Base.
The creek is popular for swimming and fishing in the summer. Paved walking trails and nearby parks allow access to several parts of the creek for birdwatching.
Target species: All three species of kingfisher, great kiskadee, green heron, yellow-crowned night heron, zone-tailed hawk
Tularosa Road |
This free location will take you birding on the border between two ecoregions: Edwards Plateau to the north and South Texas Plains to the south. Tularosa Road winds through hills with a fantastic diversity of birds.
Target species: Golden-cheeked warbler, black-capped vireo, bushtit, Bell’s vireo, gray vireo
Vega Verde Road (Afternoon Seedeater Seeking) |
Outside of Mexico, there are just a few places along the Rio Grande where birders can hope to see Morelet’s seedeaters. Vega Verde Road is one of those places! This trip will take you to a couple spots along the road where we’ll look careful for seedeaters among the river cane.
Target species: Morelet’s seedeater
Zuberbueler Ranch |