Falcon Lake State Park
The reservoir that created Falcon Lake was created by damming the Rio Grande in 1953. The official proclaimed purpose of the dam was flood control and hydroelectric generation, but a great benefit to wildlife, and consequent ecotourism is also a result—especially birding tourists who visit what Texas now actively promotes as a World Birding Center along the Texas Tropical Trail.
A single day's sightings no more that 20 steps from a Falcon State Park campsite include half a dozen first life-time birds. A tiny Verdin, not much bigger than a hummingbird I was told is a species unique to the south west. Several Orange Crowned Warblers danced from twig to twig in a tree above the feeders in the bird viewing area set up and maintained by volunteers. Campers set out feeders too, and hang oranges and marshmallows from the trees near their campsites. The Verdin was attracted to a marshmallow topped with a slice of lime.
Perhaps the most striking “first bird” I saw today was the Pyrrhuloxia. A a handsome relative of the Northern Cardinal, gray with a rose colored breast ,and short, thick yellow beak. Northern Mockingbirds were plentiful as were Red-winged Blackbirds whose red patches on its wings were partially concealed making the yellow strip more prominent. They seemed to me to be larger than the same birds so commonly seen on the North Coast.
On the drive south from Laredo on Rt. 83 just outside Zapata I saw a Roadrunner, still, in a pose, unlike the scampering, fast-action figure I remember from .cartoons. Crossing one of several bridges over inlets and backwaters of the dammed Rio Grande forming Falcon Lake, I spotted a small flock, maybe 8 or 10, White Pelicans just soaring in the thermals. Their ,wide black-tipped wings making for an easy identification. Turkey Vultures flew over head as I talked to a fellow camper who told about the excitement yesterday over the sighting of a pair of Screech Owls near the feeding station which drew birders from all over the park..