Birdwatching in the Rio Grande Valley is like birdwatching nowhere else in the world. With nearly 500 species of birds in the area and a unique climate that attracts birds found nowhere else in the United States, birding enthusiasts can enjoy spectacular birdwatching opportunities throughout the region. A premier birding destination, the area is dotted with World Birding Center Sites, Wildlife Refuges, Nature Centers and Sanctuaries, making it easy for birdwatchers of any age and ability level to spot a variety of feathered flyers.
Whether you’re a seasoned birdwatcher or a beginner, keep the following 10 tips in mind to make your experience birdwatching in the Rio Grande Valley as successful as possible
1. Bring A Good Set of Binoculars
High quality binoculars make a huge difference when it comes to birdwatching. Though they’re a bit more expensive, they’ll help you to see the colors and details of birds clearly, making them much easier to identify. High quality binoculars make birdwatching much more enjoyable!
2. Bring A Field Guide
A field guide is a book with pictures and descriptions of birds and tips for identifying them. Having a field guide specific to the area where you are birdwatching can be very helpful and can make birdwatching more fun. It will help you to be able to identify the birds that you are seeing and, if you want, to keep track of the different species you have observed.
3. Download Birding Apps
There are many great apps out there that are very helpful for birdwatchers. Because you can download an app onto your phone or mobile device, they are easy to take with you into the field. Some apps help you to identify birds based on what you see and hear. Other apps provide you with additional information about the species of birds that you have seen. These apps can serve as valuable, easily accessible references that are great for supplementing the information you find in a guide book.
4. Bring a Notebook or Notepad
It’s always a good idea to bring a notebook or notepad with you when heading out on a birdwatching adventure. Often, it’s helpful to take notes so you can do some research about what you saw when you return from your birding trip. Specific, detailed notes about what you see, including bird markings, colors and traits, movements and flight patterns, can help you to identify a bird or confirm its species. The notes you make can also be used for reference when birdwatching in the future.
5. Research the Best Places to See Birds
In the Rio Grande Valley, this isn’t hard to do as great birdwatching venues are around every corner! However, if there are specific birds you’d like to see or specific birdwatching opportunities you’d like to take advantage of, be sure to do some research to make sure you end up birdwatching in the right place. Some refuges and World Birding Center sites have unique features and birdwatching areas, and some specific bird species are seen more frequently in some areas than others.
6. Join a Birding Trip or Tour
Birdwatching alone can be a very peaceful, calming experience but sometimes joining a birding trip or tour can be a great experience as well. You can pick up some tips and suggestions from more experienced birders and trip guides willing to share their knowledge. You might also get the inside scoop on where to go to see exotic or rare birds, or find out about some of the lesser-known birdwatching places in the area.
7. Study Up Ahead of Time
Before you head out birdwatching, try to study up on the types of birds you are likely to see. Every time you see or hear a bird, you don’t want to have to flip open your guide to try to figure out what type of bird it is. Instead, try to study and remember some of the key characteristics of various common birds in the area. It will make your birdwatching experience much more relaxing.
8. Keep Your Eyes on the Birds
Many beginning birdwatchers are tempted to flip open their guide book or search their birding apps immediately upon spotting a bird. Experienced birdwatchers know that keeping your eyes on a bird for as long as possible is incredibly constructive. By observing carefully and making mental notes of the characteristics and traits you notice, you’ll be much better able to identify the bird and figure out what species it belongs to. Don’t let your guide distract you. Spend as much time as you can observing the birds you came to watch!
9. Listen Carefully
While the focus of birdwatching is obviously on watching, listening is also incredibly important. Chances are, if you’re listening carefully you’re probably being very quiet – which is important so you don’t scare away the birds you are trying to watch. Listening to the bird songs and calls around you while birdwatching can also help you to identify the birds you are seeing.
10. Keep Track of the Birds You See
Some birdwatchers enjoy keeping close track of the birds they’ve seen. Trying to see as many bird species as possible can add a bit of challenge and excitement to birdwatching. If you choose to keep a list of the birds you’ve sighted, keep notes about the date, time and location where you saw each bird. You can also keep track of your bird sightings on your computer, updating your list with photos and details after each birdwatching outing, or by marking them in your field guide.
Ready to do some spectacular birdwatching in the Rio Grande Valley?
If you’re ready to put these 10 tips into action and pursue some of the Rio Grande Valley’s world class birding opportunities, we’ve got you covered. With convenient locations throughout the Rio Grande Valley, Encore’s luxury, age-qualified RV resorts are close to many of the area’s prime birdwatching locations, nature centers, wildlife refuges and World Birding Center sites.
Our resorts are the perfect place for birdwatchers to stay. Contact us today at 888-481-6407 to make a reservation!