The Rio Grande Valley in South Texas is one of my all-time favorite birding destinations. The habitat is excellent, the locals are wonderful, and the food is amazing in this part of the country. I haven't even mentioned the birds yet.
Clay-colored Robin (pictured above)
This list is just a fraction of the species that can only be found in the US within this small section of riparian habitat barely north of the Texas/Mexico border.
There are two reasons why I'm featuring this birding haven in this blog post. The most pressing of the two is that 2008 may be your last time to see some of these tropical birds in the US. As most of you know, the government has decided it would be a good idea to construct a giant wall to separate us from our neighbors to the south. This wall will end up passing through, and either cut off access to or destroy most of, the prime bird habitat in the Rio Grande Valley. One's odds of seeing a Brown Jay, Red-billed Pigeon, or Muscovy Duck in the United States are going to be sharply reduced once this wall is up. The whole ecological and human tragedy of this is too big to get into much detail here. Those who are looking for more information can check out websites such as www.notexasborderwall.com. David Sibley also posted his thoughts at his blog. If you've been procrastinating on getting down to the Valley to go birding, this would be a good year to make that trip.
While you're at it, why not hit all those birding hot-spots while attending field trips hosted by the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival? This is such a worthwhile event to attend. I get to travel to many different birding events on an annual basis, and this is always one of my absolute favorites. The trip leaders are some of the best in the business, while the other activities and seminars invariably prove to be both fun and interesting. I've gone to this festival for the last 8 years and will very reluctantly have to miss this year's. Hopefully when I get back in 2009, I will be able to chase down that Muscovy Duck life bird. I'm not crossing my fingers, though.