Bird-watching in Big Bend National Park
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Situated on north-south migratory pathways, Big Bend is home to approximately 450 species of birds—more than any other national park. In fact, the birds that flit, waddle, soar, and swim in the park represent more than half the bird species found in North America, including the Colima warbler, found nowhere else in the United States. To glimpse darting hummingbirds, turkey vultures, golden eagles, and the famous Colima, look to the Chisos Mountains. To spy woodpeckers and scaled quail (distinctive for dangling crests), look to the desert scrub. And for cuckoos, cardinals, and screech owls, you must prowl along the river. Rangers lead birding talks.
Chisos Basin. You'll have to hike trails of higher elevations (5,400 feet or higher) and canyons to spy the Colima warbler and Lucifer hummingbird, but don't go in June or July, when bird activity is at a minimum. Chisos Basin Rd., 9 mi southwest of Panther Junction, Big Bend National Park, TX, 79834.
Rio Grande Village. Considered the best birding habitat in Big Bend, this river wetland has summer tanagers and vermilion flycatchers among many other species. The trail's a good one for kids, and a portion is wheelchair accessible. 22 mi southeast of Panther Junction, Big Bend National Park, TX, 79834.
Outfitters and Expeditions
Mark Smith Nature Tours. The nine-day April trip, which includes the Texas Hill Country as well as Big Bend, runs $2,285. The trip begins in El Paso and concludes in San Antonio or goes in reverse. P.O. Box 3831, Portland, OR, 97208. 800/821-0401 or 503/224-0180. www.marksmithnaturetours.com/destinations/bigbend.html.
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