World Birding Center at Estero Llano Grande State Park.
This 176-acre refuge attracts a spectacular array of birds, butterflies, dragonflies, and South Texas wildlife with its varied landscapes of shallow ponds, woodlands and thorn forest. The Rio Grande Valley has long been recognized as a world-class birding destination. And with the creation of the World Birding Center, Texas Parks & Wildlife, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services, and 9 valley communities, plan to expand awareness about this ecological treasure along the state’s southern border. Map showing migration of birds through North and South AmericaThe WBC is a network of nine sites dotted along 120 miles of river road from South Padre Island west to Roma, with habitats ranging from dry chaparral brush and verdant riverside thickets to freshwater marshes and coastal wetlands.
Over 10,000 acres opened up for viewing. The mission of the WBC is to protect native habitat while increasing the understanding and appreciation of the birds and wildlife. It is a global model for conservation and ecotourism development. With its headquarters located in Mission, the WBC is centered at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park. Birders can look for Green Jays, Altamira and Audubon’s Orioles, Hook-billed Kites, and flocks of Broad-winged Hawks in migration.
The World Birding Center invites novice as well as advance birders/naturalists to the sites by offering viewing stations, watching towers, interpretive centers and programs. Bird watching is a booming national pastime, and for the Lower Rio Grande Valley, it’s also big business. Local people benefit from tourism revenue and birds/wildlife benefit from protected lands. Tourists are spending millions of dollars each year for the chance to see famous birds.
The WBC network offers visitors a dazzling array of birding adventures, from wilderness walks and float trips to hands-on, state-of-the-art educational exhibits. Not one place, but nine unique locations: Each with its own attractions for the first-time visitor or expert birder. Not one season, but all seasons, as more than 500 different bird species make this a not-to-be-missed nature destination.
- Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park (Headquarters)
- World Birding Center Headquarters, alongside 762 acres of wilderness known as the Valley’s premier birding destination.
- Edinburg Scenic Wetlands
- An oasis for water-loving birds, butterflies and other creatures, in a lively urban setting.
- Estero Llano Grande State Park
- Nearly 200 acres of can’t-miss birding in the network’s largest wetlands environment.
- Harlingen Arroyo Colorado
- Gateway to birding the Lower Rio Grande Valley, only a short hop from Valley International Airport.
- Old Hidalgo Pumphouse
- History and hummingbirds at a restored river museum that also showcases birding’s tiny jewels.
- Quinta Mazatlan
- A 1930’s adobe mansion and conference center, nestled in an 8-acre downtown birding sanctuary.
- Resaca de la Palma State Park
- More than 1,200 acres of newly opened wilderness; a quiet escape only minutes from Brownsville and the border.
- Roma Bluffs
- A vintage river landing and town site, blending culture, historic architecture and birding adventure.
- South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center
- Sun, surf, sand – and BIRDS! – in a scenic island resort blessed by nature and packed with plenty to see and do.
Estero Llano Grande State Park
- Hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Daily
- Admission: Adults $4.00, Children 12 and under Free
- Guided Bird Walks – 8:30-10:30 a.m., every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Fee: Program is free with park entrance.
- Butterfly Walks – 1:30 p.m. every Friday. Join a park naturalist and observe the vast amounts of colorful butterflies that are attracted to the gardens in the park.
- Fee: Program is free with park entrance.