The Sabal Palm Sanctuary is the last, but no way the least, of my favorite birding hotspots in the So Texas Rio Grande Valley that I am featuring here. It is not only a birding hotspot where you can see many of the Rio Grande Valley specialty and rare Mexican visitors like the Crimson-collared Grosbeak I saw there earlier this month, but also cool butterflies, mammals and reptiles plus the “last vestige of Sabal Palm forest in the U.S.”
Located next to the Rio Grande River on the edge of Brownsville, TX, the Sabal Palm Sanctuary has a small visitor center with a restroom. There is an extensive trail system around it’s more than 500 acres, much of it level but with some downhill and uphill grades. Most of the trails are dirt but some sections have boardwalks over the resaca (an oxbow lake of the Rio Grande River) and other low areas. There are benches around the Sanctuary grounds plus photo blinds, also with benches, overlooking the resaca.
There is a nice feeder station that is adjacent to the Visitor Center and observation deck with nice opportunities to observe and photograph a number of birds close-up. Since they have multiple feeders with water, seeds, fruit, suet and sugar water, a wide range of birds are attracted including Valley specialties like Buff-bellied Hummingbird, White-tipped Dove, Olive Sparrow, Great Kiskadee as well as Green Jay. And they now have a feeder cam so everyone can see these birds live on the internet!
The observation deck is wheelchair accessible and has benches to sit on–that is where I sat to take this close-up photo of the Green Jay (I just love their neon bright colors). There is butterfly garden behind the Visitor Center that has many hummer-attracting plants. You can walk back to an overlook over the Rio Grande River.
As I noted, they have cool mammmals–I took this bobcat photo early this month when I visited. They are seen there not infrequently.My favorite part of Sabal Palm Sanctuary are the trails that go through the Sabal Palm forest. It is so tropical and exotic looking plus I really enjoy seeing birds (and bobcats) in this their natural environment.
There are a number of additional birding hotspots across the So. Texas Rio Grande Valley, which is less than 150 miles across deep So Texas! So. Padre Island hosts the well known Convention Center gardens and boardwalk over mudflats,a freshwater marsh and the Laguna Madre plus the Valley Land Fund Migratory Bird Sanctuary. The well known Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park is located in Mission, Tx while the newer Resaca de la Palm State Park is located on opposite edge of Brownsville from Sabal Palm Sanctuary. Other birding hotspots include The Old Hildago Pumphouse, and Anzalduas County Park.