South Texas Birds and Butterflies: Nov 11—16, 2007

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Price: $1,645
Departs: Harlingen, TX
Tour Limit: 14
Download Itinerary: PDF (81.2 KB)

Tour Leaders

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Louise Zemaitis

Louise Zemaitis is an artist and naturalist living in Cape May, New Jersey where she is a po...


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Michael O'Brien

Michael O'Brien is a freelance artist, author, and environmental consultant living in Cape M...


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Register for this Tour

Register for this tour by phone (800/328-VENT or 512/328-5221), or by downloading a tour registration form. Signed and completed forms can be faxed, mailed, or scanned and emailed to the VENT office.

White-striped Longtail

White-striped Longtail — Photo: Michael O'Brien

A short sampling of some of the finest birding and butterflying in the United States; many Mexican border specialties along with the exciting chance for rarities.

In the United States there is no better area for butterfly-watching than the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. As with birds, many Mexican species of butterflies cross into the United States only in South Texas. More species have been recorded here than in any other region of the United States—of the approximately 722+ butterfly species recorded in the United States and Canada, 300+ have been found in the four southernmost counties of Texas. Increased interest in butterflies has resulted in an explosion in "butterfly gardens" throughout the Valley. This short tour will spend four nights in Weslaco and from there explore various habitats around the Valley seeking both the birds and butterflies that make this region so popular. Depending on which areas are "hot," we will probably head east on one day to the coast, and on another day we'll head up-river to the western Valley (around Falcon Dam), where desert habitats support different species.

Especially interesting South Texas butterflies that we hope to see include Pipevine and Giant swallowtails, Tailed Orange, Mimosa Yellow, Silver-banded and Xami hairstreaks, Clytie Ministreak, Blue and Red-bordered metalmarks, Red-bordered Pixie, Julia, Zebra Heliconian, Theona Checkerspot, Bordered Patch, Malachite, Mexican Bluewing, Tropical Leafwing, White-striped Longtail, Two-barred Flasher, Mazans Scallopwing, Sickle-winged Skipper, Turk's-cap White-Skipper, Julia's and Fawn-spotted skippers, and Celia's Roadside-Skipper. Our greatest challenge will be sorting out the dizzying array of skipper species, many of which are subtly marked. The showier of possible rarities includes Polydamas and Ruby-spotted swallowtails, Banded Peacock, Red Rim, Band-celled Sister, Blue-eyed Sailor, Silver Emperor, and Guava Skipper, among many others.

Buff-bellied Hummingbird

Buff-bellied Hummingbird— Photo: Michael O'Brien

Of course, the Rio Grande Valley is also famous for birds, with many specialties occurring here and nowhere else in the United States. Some avian highlights may include Muscovy Duck, Least Grebe, Hook-billed Kite, White-tailed Hawk, Plain Chachalaca, White-tipped Dove, Red-billed Pigeon, Green Parakeet, Red-crowned Parrot, Common Pauraque, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Ringed and Green kingfishers, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Tropical and Couch's kingbirds, Great Kiskadee, Green and Brown jays, Black-crested Titmouse, Clay-colored Robin, Long-billed Thrasher, Tropical Parula, Olive Sparrow, and Altamira and Audubon's orioles. Due to time limitations we may not attempt to find such difficult species as Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl and White-collared Seedeater, though we will gladly take time to enjoy them should we happen across them. These species are regularly encountered on VENT's other Rio Grande Valley tours. If a particularly rare bird appears in the area, and meets with our schedule, we will certainly plan to search for it.

Good accommodations and easy terrain; some light hiking.