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STATE PARK ADVENTURES

Birds! Birds! Birds!


A plain chachalaca strolls the grounds while a green jay stops for a drink and an Altamira oriole takes a bite of an orange at the feeding station. Three different species of hummingbirds zoom in and out.

At the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park wildlife-viewing blind, the action is nonstop. This is one of the best places in the country for bird-watching.

“People come here for the birds,” says lead park interpreter Roy Rodriguez.

Bentsen’s wetland, scrub brush, riparian and woodland habitats make it a world-class destination to observe birds and wildlife commonly found in the subtropics of northern Mexico.

Only scattered fragments of the original Rio Grande Valley habitat remain, and those fragments have some of the highest biodiversity in the U.S.

“This is one of the biological crossroads of North America,” Rodriguez says. “We’re not quite tropical, not quite temperate. We have two migratory flyways that come through here.”

The result is one of the most spectacular convergences of birds on Earth, with more than 530 species documented in the Rio Grande Valley (including about 20 species found nowhere else in the U.S.) and 365 species at Bentsen itself.

Bentsen’s bird-feeding stations are stocked in the colder months, making wintertime one of the best and easiest times to view a wide variety of birds. Trails, bird blinds and the Hawk Observation Tower offer viewing options.

Flocking Together

Bentsen’s a lovely getaway, with many options for fun and … you know … birds.

Camping

Take a tram

The park is closed to cars, so visitors can explore by foot, bike or tram. Trams run every hour, offering park information and giving visitors a chance to hop on and hop off.

Paddling

Stay the night

Check in at headquarters if you want to tent-camp in one of the handful of park campsites. Shuttles are available. 

Hiking

See more birds

Bentsen is part of the World Birding Center, consisting of nine sites. Visit several of them to see the Valley’s full diversity of habitats.

Bentsen - Rio Grande Valley State Park

  2800 S Bentsen Palm Dr
Mission, TX 78572

  Park Admission $5 Daily;
Kids 12 and under: Free

  tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/bentsen-rio-grande-valley

  (956) 584-9156

Reservations are recommended for day use or overnight stays.

 Russell Roe   Katy Baldock (top); | TPWDx2; Lee Hoy (sidebar)

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