A Publication of the Houston Outdoor Nature Club
Over 410 species of
birds—from hawks to hummingbirds, shorebirds to waterfowl, and many colorful
songbirds such as warblers,
tanagers, thrushes, flycatchers,
vireos, and many others—either live year around, or migrate through, the Lower Rio
Grande Valley/Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge Complex
(LRGVC). There are few places
on the North American continent that see so many different
species of birds.
Why the large number
of bird species come to this
area? Location, Location, Location. Similar to Cape May National Wildlife Refuge in New
Jersey, and Kiktopeake Point in
Virginia, the LRGVC is located
at the bottom of the tip of a
land-funnel in south Texas.
Locate the refuge on the
map and you can see that birds
from the eastern and mid-western regions of the continent
funnel into this area.
The LRGVC is located at
the convergence of two major
flyways, the Mississippi and the
Central flyways. The Atlantic,
Mississippi, Central, and Pacific flyways are general routes
which birds tend to migrate
along. Because birds are fun-
neling into the Lower Rio
Grande Valley from both the
Mississippi and the Central flyways, a great number of different species stop down at the
refuge and surrounding areas.
In late August, birds start
drifting southward across the
continent. They move through
the area from mid-September.
Fall migration takes place at a
more leisurely pace than spring
migration when birds race to
get to their breeding grounds.
Many of birds that migrate through the LRGVC Neotropical migratory birds, birds
which nest in the United States
or Canada, and spend the winter months in Mexico, Central
or South America, or the Caribbean. Some 346 species of birds
in the Western Hemisphere are
A whopping 196 of these
stop down to rest and refuel at
the LRGVC. Tens of thousands
of bird watchers come to the
refuge complex each year to
spot Neotropical songbirds,
hawks, shorebirds, and waterfowl as well as the resident
From the LRGVC, the
Neotropical migratory birds will
move on to Mexico and points
south. Depending on the
weather in any given year, some
species will migrate down the
coast of the Gulf of Mexico
while others will take off over
the Gulf. Because the refuge
complex is right on the Mexican border, it is a crossroads of
migration and hundreds of thousands of birds continuously fly
back and forth between the
United States and Mexico.
Some biologists worry
that populations of some Neotropical migratory birds are declining. The Neotropical migratory songbirds seem to be at
greater risk than resident songbirds.
Why? Because Neotropical migratory songbirds travel
over such long distances, they
are vulnerable to loss of forest,
grassland, wetland, and coastal
habitats in their breeding
grounds, wintering grounds,
and a huge number of stopover
points along the way.
When breeding, and
stopover habitats are lost to
development in the United
States and Canada, or the tropical and semitropical forests are
cut for agriculture and cattle
ranching in wintering grounds,
populations of some Neotropical migratory songbird species
The LRGVC is located in
the river delta at the extreme
southern end of the Lower Rio
Grande Valley, which stretches
cont'd last page
Sat., Jan. 10 @ 8:30 a.m.
Go West!. Sparrows and
Raptors will be the focus today.
We could see 10 kinds of sparrows, plus Bald Eagle, White-
tailed Hawk, Crested Caracara,
and Sprague's Pipit. There will
be lots of Waterfowl around
and this has been a very good
place for Least Grebes for the
last several years.
Contact: David Sarkozi
Wed, Jan. 21 @ 8 a.m.
Meet Howard at the sign-in
Contact: Howard Patton