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I have now returned to Central Illinois where I have been unhappily reunited with cold and snow.  Fortunately, we made the long drive safely through the record breaking snow without any major issues.  After updating all my bird lists into my birding software the final Texas list sits at 174 birds.  Although we didn’t reach 200, both my dad and I thought that the timing of migration was such that we missed a wide variety of birds that we otherwise would have seen.  Estimating a total of roughly 60 hours spent birding, both my father and I feel very good about the quantity and quality of the birds we saw.

One final note about the future of birds and birding in the area; after attending a bird walk at Bentsen-Rio I was able to maintain contact with their naturalist and ask her follow-up questions regarding the future of the bird watching industry.  She voiced concern about habitat loss due to development in the Rio Grande Valley area.  My own personal research found that population in the Rio Grande Valley has increased roughly 23% over the last decade.  Therefore, it is easy to see why habitat loss is a concern, because the Rio Grande Valley is being heavily industrialized.  Additionally, the parks and refuges don’t have discretionary income to buy more land, meaning that industrialization could become more widespread.  Ultimately, there are many reasons for concern regarding the future of birding in the Rio Grande Valley.  However, this area has an unmatched diversity of birds and is incredibly unique and special for birders internationally.  Especially after taking this trip, it will be incredibly interesting to see how policy makers use the value of birds in the area to shape decisions impacting birds overall well-being.  I certainly hope to return to the area one day and am excited to see how things have changed if at all.

Finally, I must thank several people for making this trip so successful and enjoyable.  First, thanks to Richter for making this trip financially possible.  Also, I would like to thank Professor Adelsberger and Professor Mountjoy for giving me great advice and helping me to plan and make this trip logistically possible.  Furthermore, I want to thank all the people I met along the way for being incredibly hospitable and helpful with any questions I had.  Finally, I must thank my dad for joining me on this adventure.  It was an absolute pleasure to have a travel and birding companion and I couldn’t have asked for anyone better to go with to South Texas.  I do apologize for those that I have left out, but please know that I greatly appreciate everyone who contributed to making this trip possible and so enjoyable.  Thanks again and happy birding.  James

Laughing Gulls at Boca Chica Beach

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