It’s hard to beat the spectacular Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival

One of my favorite birding festivals is set for Nov. 7-11, in Harlingen, Texas, about as far south as you can go in our fair state and stay out of Mexico.

I speak of the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival, a delightful event in an area where 325 bird species have been spotted, including five of my favorite Valley specialties – green jay, Altamira oriole, great kiskadee, plain chachalaca and white-tailed duck.

This will be the 25th annual festival, so they must be doing something right.

Harlingen is 30 miles west from the Gulf of Mexico and 15 miles north of the Rio Grande River, an area rich in songbirds, shorebirds, raptors – and loads of butterflies. In fact, a butterfly festival is held annually in nearby Mission, but that is another story.

In addition to field trips, the festival features seminars, “rousing socials”, noted speakers and 60 vendors at the aptly-named Birders Bazarr.

In the past, my favorite birding tours at the festival have included a visit to the iconic King Ranch, a pontoon ride down the Rio Grande and a bay cruise at South Padre Island. All are available again this year.

Keynote speaker at the festival will be Rosemary Mosco, who will discuss “the funny side of birds, from vomiting vultures to awkward sage grouses, to cavorting birds-of-paradise.”

For the adventuresome birder, a 5-day bus trip will be offered at conclusion of the festival. This tour will be to the El Cielo Biosphere Reserve in Mexico, a scenic place with loads of rare birds.

For more information on the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival, call 956 423-5565.

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