Okay, I have about all the wonderful info anyone could ever wish for a Birding Trip to Texas.  Thank you all so much.  Our plans are falling fast into place.  

I just need one more thing - a recommendation for Field Guides for birding in Texas.  Here's the little that I have discovered about that subject.

1. The new 5th edition of Peterson's has a special section on Texas rarities but it's not very comprehensive.  I don't see many of the birds included in Edge's list there.

2. The Peterson's Guide to Birds of Texas is old and not very good.  

3. The Arnold 2007 Guide to Birds of Texas isn't very comprehensive - as far as Edge's lists are concerned.

4. There are Bird Guides to Mexico that the ABA sells - four, actually.  Perhaps what my family and I need to do is supplement the 5th edition of Peterson's with one of these - and we're covered?  What does anyone recommend?  And which Bird Guide to Mexico do folks recommend, if you recommend one?  Here's a link to the ones I looked at: 

Ber Van Perlo's art isn't all that great but recommended for portability.  Howell & Webb's is supposed to be the best but hefty.  Edwards is supposed to be good since it covers more North American species than any other but the format isn't very helpful in the field since all the plates are shoved together in the middle.  Peterson's...well.   But I have no experience with any of them.

I'd love to hear from all the folks who responded so generously with info on taking a birding trip to Texas. What did you use to study the birds before you went and while you were there?  Studying the birds and plates beforehand is essential, as you all know.

Christina McClarren
St. Louis South City
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---- Edge <[log in to unmask]> wrote: 
> Chris, et al:
> I've just returned from a too-short--3-day--visit to the RGV (short- 
> hand for Rio Grande Valley).
> For the past decade Jerry and I have spent the last week of December/ 
> first week of January in the RGV.  I've made additional quick trips  
> down to see several "ABA firsts"--amazing first-time visitors from  
> Mexico.
> Note:  We love southeast Arizona, San Diego Co. California, south  
> Florida and many other places, but the RGV is #1, especially for  
> birders fairly new to the obsession (uh, I mean, avocation).
> We've been to various parts of Texas on many occasions--Hill Country  
> (Black-capped Vireo/Golden-cheeked Warbler), High Island (hoping for  
> a fall-out, but pleased with what we found), Galveston/Bolivar Flats  
> (shorebirds & a Kelp Gull), Big Bend and vicinity (Montezuma Quail,  
> Colima Warbler, Fan-tailed Warbler), Lake Balmorhea (Clark's Grebe,  
> etc.), San Bernard NWR, Christmas Bay, Quintana jetty (Seaside  
> Sparrows, Horned Grebe, Purple Sandpiper etc.),  Hagerman NWR (Buff- 
> breasted Sandpipers, geese, ducks, Harris's Sparrow), Baffin Bay  
> (Groove-billed Anis, Sandhill Cranes, etc.).
> Obviously, we have a long-standing love affair with Texas birding,  
> developed en route to a Texas species list of more than 400 as those  
> special birds were sought for their beauty and novelty in the ABA area.
> All that said, there is no place in the US for birders like the Rio  
> Grande Valley:  Working west from South Padre Island (SPI), to the  
> mouth of the Rio Grande at Boca Chica, Laguna Atascosa NWR, Sabal  
> Palm Grove, UT Brownsville campus, Frontera Nature Center, Santa Ana  
> NWR, Quinta Matzatlan, Anzalduas County Park, Bentsen-Rio Grande  
> State Park, Roma, Salineno, Falcon State Park and Falcon County Park   
> (and several other sites along the way).
> This is BIRD CANDYLAND.  One of the greatest pleasures I get in  
> birding is watching birders on their first visit to the RGV!
> When to go:  November through March.
> What you'll see:  Minimum 30 lifers--probably 50 plus.
> Species unique for the US in RGV or at least not typically found in  
> MO (incomplete list):  Least Grebe, Northern Gannet, Anhinga,  
> Magnificant Frigatebird, Reddish Egret, White Ibis, Roseate  
> Spoonbill, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Fulvous Whistling-Duck,  
> Cinnamon Teal, Mottled Duck, Masked Duck, Hook-billed Kite, White- 
> tailed Kite, Gray Hawk, Common Black-hawk, Harris's Hawk, White- 
> tailed Hawk, Zone-tailed Hawk, Crested Caracara, Plain Chachalaca,  
> Clapper Rail, Royal Tern, Sandwich Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Red-billed  
> Pigeon, White-winged Dove, Inca Dove, Common Ground Dove, White- 
> tipped Dove, Green Parakeet, Red-crowned Parrot, Groove-billed Ani,  
> Ferruginous Pygmy-owl, Common Pauraque, Buff-bellied Hummingbird,  
> Ringed Kingfisher, Green Kingfisher, Golden-fronted Woodpecker,  
> Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Northern Beardless-Trannulet, Black Phoebe,  
> Vermilion Flycatcher, Great Kiskadee, Couch's Kingbird, Tropical  
> Kingbird, Chihuahuan Raven, Green Jay, Cave Swallow, Black-crested  
> Titmouse, Cactus Wren, Rock Wren, Bewick's Wren,  Clay-colored Thrush  
> (formerly Clay-colored Robin), Long-billed Thrasher, Curve-billed  
> Thrasher, Sprague's Pipit, Phainopepla, Tropical Parula, White- 
> collared Seedeater, Olive Sparrow, Cassin's Sparrow, Botteri's  
> Sparrow, Brewer's Sparrow, Black-throated Sparrow, Lark Bunting,   
> Blue Bunting, Hooded Oriole, Altamira Oriole, Audubon's Oriole,  
> Lesser Goldfinch.
> Drooling?  Well, any trip might luck into one of these rarities:
> Northern Jacana, Roadside Hawk, Green Mango, Elegant Trogon, Social  
> Flycatcher, Rose-throated Becard, Brown Jay, Tamaulipas Crow, Black- 
> headed Nightengale-Thrush, Blue Mockingbird, Gray-crowned  
> Yellowthroat, Golden-crowned Warbler, Crimson-collared Grosbeak
> Of course, not all of even the "regularly occurring" species will be  
> seen on any one trip (that's one reason RGV birding becomes addictive).
> I have a lengthy site description/directions/comments list for most  
> of the RGV sites, and suggestions for eateries and accommodations.   
> I'll email it to anyone on request.
> Edge Wade
> Columbia, MO
> [log in to unmask]

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