World Birding Center

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The World Birding Center is the official title given to a combined nine parks and nature preserves in the Rio Grande Valley region of Texas managed by a partnership of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the local communities in which the parks reside. The stated mission of the World Birding Center is to “protect native habitat while increasing the understanding and appreciation of the birds and wildlife,”[1] with an additional emphasis on promoting local economic development through ecotourism.


Encompassing over 10,000-acres of preserved land (15-square miles) extending along a 120-mile river corridor between the small town of Roma, Texas, and the outer barrier island of South Padre Island, the park system hosts a large amount of native biodiversity with over 500 recorded species of birds, and serves as potential habitat for locally endangered wild cat species such as the ocelot[2] and jaguarundi,[3] as well as sanctuary for much of the other flora and fauna of the last remaining native Tamaulipan brushland.

Constituent parks and preserves[edit]

The park system currently includes the following nine entities (alphabetical order):

Individual parks and preserves[edit]

Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park[edit]

The park is known for impressive bird viewing opportunities with 358 species documented within the park boundaries. The 760 acre park was acquired in 1944 for the price of $1 U.S. from the Bentsen family with the stipulation that it be used “solely for Public Park purposes.” It was initially preserved from agricultural use by the family due to the presence of beautiful native Ebony trees.[4][5]

The World Birding Center has its headquarters at this site, and the structures were designed by the Lake Flato architectural firm, known for their attention to sustainable architecture. The resulting buildings and grounds were named one of the top ten green designs for 2006 by the American Institute of Architects Committee on the Environment (AIA/COTE).[6]

External Links for Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park:

Edinburg Scenic Wetlands World Birding Center[edit]

A 40-acre site situated within a municipal park in the city of Edinburg, Texas. Notable in that it was developed through re-vegetation of agricultural lands and exists entirely in an urban setting.[7]

External Links for Edinburg Scenic Wetlands World Birding Center:

Estero Llano Grande State Park[edit]

A recently expanded 230-acre park built partially on reclaimed agricultural land. Known best for its wetlands including “Alligator Lake” (a restored oxbow of the Arroyo Colorado), which is named for both the presence alligators, as well as its shape.[8][9] The review of park alligator safety tips is recommended.[10]

External Links for Estero Llano Grande State Park:

Harlingen Arroyo Colorado World Birding Center[edit]

An urban center consisting of multiple close by parks which follow the Arroyo Colorado waterway, with Harlingen Thicket Park bordering the west side, and the Hugh Ramsey Nature Park on the east, and McKelvey park situated in between. There are numerous paved and unpaved hike and bike trails within the parks, but they do not completely interconnect the site.[11]

External Links for Harlingen Arroyo Colorado World Birding Center:

Old Hidalgo Pumphouse Museum and World Birding Center[edit]

Historic museum and birding center featuring five-mile hike and bike trail, as well as historic steam-powered irrigation pump house. Visitors can still view the antique boilers and infrastructure used to irrigate the farmland around the city of Hidalgo during the early 20th century.[12][13]

External Links for Old Hidalgo Pumphouse Museum and World Birding Center:

Quinta Mazatlan Historical Mansion and World Birding Center[edit]

An urban 20-acre estate preserve centered around a Spanish Revival Style mansion with a mission focused on education and environmental stewardship. The site participates in the education of 10,000 students annually. Also features “Native Plant Walks” and programs on natural history of the Rio Grande Valley for the general public.[14][15]

External Links for Quinta Mazatlan Historical Mansion and World Birding Center:

Resaca de la Palma State Park[edit]

Site of the historical Battle of Resaca de la Palma early in the Mexican–American War, the park features 1,200 acres of native semi-tropical brushland. There are many opportunities for guided wildlife viewing, including an interpretive “Nature Tram Tour”, as well as hiking and biking trails.[16]

External Links for Resaca de la Palma State Park:

Roma Bluffs World Birding Center[edit]

Located in the historic city of Roma, Texas, which was once the furthest port upstream for steamboats on the Rio Grande.[17] The center is located on scenic bluffs situated 120 feet above the river, which allows good viewing including across the International Bridge to Ciudad Miguel Alemán, in Mexico and the surrounding area. A small site, it is also the westernmost point of the World Birding Center.[18][19]

External Links for Roma Bluffs World Birding Center:

South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center[edit]

A 50-acre bayside preserve which features a five-story viewing tower facing the Laguna Madre Bay, more than half a mile of boardwalk, and a man-made wetland using fresh water from the island's adjacent water treatment plant, which serves to attract numerous species of local and migrant birds.[20]

Boardwalk of South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center at Sunset
External Links for South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center:

Educational outreach[edit]

The World Birding Center does provide numerous forms of educational outreach including “Nature Camp” for children, a website photo gallery and sound library of commonly encountered birds for the region, and individually tailored bird “checklists” for each of their sites.

External Links for Education:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "World Birding Center | About Us". Retrieved 2017-07-09.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park History — Texas Parks & Wildlife Department". Retrieved 2017-07-09.
  5. ^ Leffler, John J. (August 2013). Refuge on the Rio Grande: A Regional History of Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park. Austin: State Parks Division, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
  6. ^ Daniel E. Williams, Sustainable Design: Ecology, Architecture, and Planning, Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley, 2007, ISBN 9780471709534, p. 253.
  7. ^ "Our Story". Retrieved 2017-07-09.
  8. ^ "Estero Llano Grande State Park — Texas Parks & Wildlife Department". Retrieved 2017-07-09.
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Alligator Safety — Texas Parks & Wildlife Department". Retrieved 2017-07-09.
  11. ^ "World Birding Center | Harlingen Arroyo Colorado". Retrieved 2017-07-09.
  12. ^ "World Birding Center | Old Hidalgo Pumphouse". Retrieved 2017-07-09.
  13. ^ "City of Hidalgo | Old Hidalgo Pumphouse". Retrieved 2017-07-09.
  14. ^ "Our Mission - About Us - Quinta Mazatlan". Retrieved 2017-07-09.
  15. ^ "World Birding Center | Quinta Mazatlan". Retrieved 2017-07-09.
  16. ^ "Resaca de la Palma State Park — Texas Parks & Wildlife Department". Retrieved 2017-07-09.
  17. ^ Glusac, Elaine (2010-04-06). "9 Sites Near the Texas Border: the World Birding Center". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-07-09.
  18. ^ "Roma Bluffs World Birding Center - Lower Rio Grande Valley - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service". Retrieved 2017-07-09.
  19. ^ "World Birding Center | Roma Bluffs". Retrieved 2017-07-09.
  20. ^ "South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center". South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. Retrieved 2017-07-09.

External links[edit]