Texas Volume Four: Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park

Bentsen Rio-Grande is a park we were super excited about visiting while in Texas, made even more desirable when we read that a pair of Elf Owls had returned to a known nesting site there.  We decided to all head there the first evening everyone was in town.

Nate is mysteriously absent from this photo.

On the road into the park we were distracted by a pile of Scissor-tailed Flycatchers perching and fly-catching in the lovely evening sun.

So distracting.  We finally all met up at the park entrance where a ton of hawks were flying over along with some vultures.  

We had a little time before sunset so we walked out to Kingfisher Overlook and got looks at a flyby Ringed Kingfisher.  The sunset itself was quite nice too.

 Great Egret

We walked back to the telephone pole nest site and joined a small group of old nerds in staring at the pole.

A little after 8:00 the Elf Owls appeared, though not from the nest hole as anticipated.  One perched on the telephone line for a bit.  It was dark.  Here's a bad photo:

Yay!  A couple days later we returned to the park to bird it in the early morning and we caught one of the owls perched on the telephone line again.  It was also dark.  We walked out to the Kingfisher Overlook where this time a bobcat was waiting!  My first time getting a (bad) photo of one. 

Birds were singing in the trees nearby and Max found this Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet:

A big flock of Anhingas flew over:

Though we failed to take Roadrunner Crossing we still found a Greater Roadrunner.  This one was perched way up in a tree singing a song that someone (Eric?) described as an extra sad Mourning Dove.

In the beginning of that video you can see the roadrunner has its feathers all puffed out.  Cornell taught me this is a sun-bathing technique that allows the bird's black skin to be exposed to absorb the heat. 

Texas is filled with cool spiders, in case you had not heard.

 We eventually made our way to the hawk watch tower to see what was migrating through the area.

Mostly Broad-winged Hawks and Turkey Vultures.

Back down on the main loop trail there were more birds to be found. 

Green Jay. 

Ladder-backed Woodpecker
The insects and lizards were really distracting here.

Empress Leilia

Wasp eating a caterpillar

At the entrance to the park are some feeder stations complete with swinging chairs where you can sit and watch chachalacas run around.

Ruffled feather chach.

This area was also good for Altamira Orioles.

We had seen our first one in our Airbnb yard, but these were even better views.  One last bird from Bentsen, this random White-tipped Dove:

Our eBird checklists from this spot can be found here and here.  Good times!!!


  1. I liked the wasp and lizards the best...weird. That wasp picture is gnarly in fact. Of course, you are the queen of documenting the dead and dying, so I am not surprised.

    1. I knew I was the queen of something, good to know. The wasp was really going to town on that 'pillar.

  2. Yuk. Chachalaca... What is that thing on your neck?

    1. I was wondering if it was from a chach fight.

  3. The blue spiny lizard herd was my favorite non-avian encounter at Bentsen!

    1. I haven't seen a lot of lizard herds in my time, it was so cool!

  4. More great finds! ELF OWL!! So very cool. Y'all really racked up some good birds. I have Bentsen on my list, and in that area, Scenic Wetlands of Edinburg, did y'all hear anything about that spot?

    1. I haven't heard anything about that spot. I don't think you can go wrong down there- if you have time check out everything!

  5. I loved everything about this post!!!

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