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Weather is a relative thing, but 25 mph winds make birding difficult, regardless of temp.  We waited out the strongest winds, then put on every layer we have and went to Quinta Mazatlan, the City of McAllen site for the World Birding Center.  McAllen bought this property in an action similar to Columbia's purchase of Stephens Lake.  QM has an adobe mansion and Tamaulipas thornscrub habitat.  Seen there (not yesterday) have been Tropical Parula, Clay-colored Thrush [robin in old field guides], and the typical marvelous array of RGV birds.

We birded the grounds of QM and found Green Jays, Plain Chachalacas, a Hermit Thrush, many Orange-crowned Warblers, a Yellow-throated Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Curve-billed Thrasher.

QM is a good place to go if you have a non-birder or easily tired birder with you.  The house is a fascinating place to wander in and many benches on the paths.

It's been suggested by a Mobirder that I discuss the topic of security here in the Rio Grande Valley, so here goes:

I first came to RGV in 1995 with Betty Overall on an Elderhostel (a great way to learn a new area, by the way) held by Southmost Community College, here at Ft. Brown, Brownsville, TX.

In 15 years of annual trips (sometimes two or more, one 15 month period 7 trips, as very rare birds kept showing here one at a time). A couple of these were for the Harlingen Festival, several were with family and friends, and several have been as a lone birder.

So, I can't speak for every birder's experience, but I've spoken with many while birding the different venues as we walked along or sat watching feeders.  In all that time, I've never encountered a birder who felt threatened or fearful for being there.

Yes, illicit activities involving river crossings occur.  We've even witnessed a couple (that's two or three in 15 years).  Birders in the presence of these events turn backs, watch the trees for birds and move on.

Birders are as safe or safer here than at any of our regular birding haunts in Missouri.  Birders are all up and down the valley by the hundreds and thousands every year. We are a recognized part of the valley people. We see more birders than non-birders at most sites.  Often it is difficult to get out of sight of other birders.  Information about birds and birding conditions are passed from birder to birder routinely.

In the 15 year span, we've seen 83 and 77 built to 4 lanes, watched the World Birding Centers being developed, seen increasing numbers of birders enjoying this unique area.  Other than the changes wrought at Bentsen Rio Grande SP (a personal opinion), all the changes have been good for birding/birders.

There is no reason for trepidation here.  We take no more precautions here than we do at home.  We lock the car doors when we park, then we go look for birds.

Edge Wade
Brownsville, TX
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