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Birding in the Rio Grande Valley

McAllen, Texas is the geographic center of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, one of the most productive bird watching regions in the United States and Canada. It’s the perfect location for trips east or west to see the birds of the area, and also offers the best selection of hotels, restaurants and shopping in South Texas.

A whopping 512 bird species have been recorded in the Lower Rio Grande Valley - an area just 120 miles wide and 60 miles deep. Only 6 entire states have recorded more bird species.

In addition to richness of bird species, the region is also renowned for its South Texas Specialty Birds. Mostly tropical in distribution, these species occur little to nowhere else in the United States. They include: Green Jay, Altamira Oriole, Common Pauraque, Plain Chachalaca, Clay-colored Thrush, Green Kingfisher, Green Parakeet, and Red-crowned Parrot, among others.

You can view the Lower Rio Grande bird species list here. For a downloadable checklist for the Lower Rio Grande Valley and McAllen, see the resources section below.

Bird watching Sites

As the gateway to the Valley, Quinta Mazatlan World Birding Center can be your first stop for birding and information. Quinta Mazatlan is located just minutes from the McAllen International Airport. Many of the South Texas Specialty birds can be viewed at the urban sanctuary. Bird Tours, History Tours, Nature Speaker Series, Nature Workshops, Gift Store and more is offered for all to enjoy. Onsite staff can help direct you to many of the other great birding sites in the region.Visit Quinta Mazatlan for more information.

Check out the following links for more information on places to watch birds:

World Birding Center (9 sites in the region):The World Birding Center

eBird Hotspots

  • Hidalgo County
  • Cameron County
  • Starr County
  • Willacy County

Helping Birds

There are many ways you can help support birds in the places you live, work, and play. The best way to do so is to landscape with plants found naturally in your area. By choosing a diversity of these native plants, you can provide the food, shelter, and place for birds to nest. Visit Quinta Mazatlan’s website for tips on designing a bird-friendly yard, or Plants for Birds by the National Audubon Society.

We also encourage everyone to be a responsible pet owner. Keeping your cats indoors is healthier both for your cat and for birds. Visit American Bird Conservancy's Cats Indoors program for more information.

Make your Birdwatching Count!

There are many exciting ways that your bird sightings can help us better understand and conserve birds - simply share your sightings with any of the following programs!

eBird: A real-time, online checklist program, eBird has revolutionized the way that the birding community reports and accesses information about birds.

The Great Backyard Bird Count: Bird watchers of all ages count birds to create a real-time snapshot of where birds are.

Texas Nature Trackers: These projects are critical to understanding the distribution and seasonality of plants and animals in Texas, and how both are changing over time. Join the Birds of Texas and Red-crowned Parrot iNaturalist projects to share your sightings!

For a checklist of Rio Grande Valley birds, see below.
For a list of local guides, see below.
For other useful sites, see below.
For a list of hotels, click here. For a list of nature and birding organizations in the McAllen area see below.

Visit McAllen has free birding information to help you plan your trip. Contact us for a free map listing area birding sites with directions and info on which species to find at each one, or for more information. We’re happy to help!

Check out these websites for more info on the McAllen area:








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