Best Birding Hotspots in South Texas

With the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival going on, I'm highlighting some of the best birding hotspots in South Texas that you should visit.

South Texas has long been one of the best birding hotspots in the US and right now many birders have traveled there for the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) Birding Festival. Although I can’t be there this year, these locations are some of my favorite places to bird when I’m in South Texas.

1. Estero Llano Grande State Park

This is my favorite place to go birding in South Texas. There are a variety of habitats from wetlands to woods and you really never know what might be found here. In addition to the regular RGV specialties such as Green Jay and Common Paraque, many rare birds have been found here like Rose-throated Becard, White-throated Thrush, and Tropical Parula. For a full list of all species reported here on eBird, click here.

Best Birding Hotspots in South Texas©Rob Ripma
©Rob Ripma Estero Llano Grande is a great place to see Common Paraques on day roosts.

2. Bentson-Rio Grande Valley State Park

No visit to the RGV is complete without a stop at Bentson-Rio Grande Valley State Park. This large park is easy to get around since they have a tram with set pick up and dropp off points. For a full list of all species reported here on eBird, click here.

3. Santa Ana NWR

Santa Ana is a great place to see many of the typical RGV specialty species and has attracted many rarities over the years as well. This park does require a lot of walking to really bird the whole refuge. For a full list of all species reported here on eBird, click here.

Best Birding Hotspots in South Texas©Rob Ripma
©Rob Ripma Green Jays might be common in the RGV but that doesn’t stop them from being one of the most sought after species by birders.

4. Laguna Atascosa NWR

Laguna Atascosa is huge and a great refuge for birds. Much of the area can be birded by car and look to join one of the official tours that visits the old auto tour route that is now closed to protect the rare Ocelot. For a full list of all species reported here on eBird, click here.

Best Birding Hotspots in South Texas©Rob Ripma
©Rob Ripma I’ve always had great luck finding Greater Roadrunners at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge.

5. South Padre Island

Although most people think of South Padre Island as a spring break destination, it actually offers some great birding opportunities. It attracts a large number of migrant songbirds as well as many herons, egret, shorebirds, and more! For a full list of all species reported here on eBird, click here.

Rob Ripma
Rob Ripma, a lifelong Indiana resident, has traveled and birded extensively throughout the Americas.