By Kelly Francis-Love and Melissa Peña
For some, the call of birds in the morning is just background noise. For others, it means the start of a new adventure. For birders, the call of a bird in the Rio Grande Valley could mean a new addition to their life list.
The Rio Grande Valley is considered a hot spot for birding. There are more than 500 bird species found in the area. The Valley falls within the northernmost range for many tropical species, so there are many birds found here that cannot be found anywhere else in the U. S. The World Birding Center has nine locations located across the Rio Grande Valley. Harlingen hosts a birding festival in the falls. There are companies that specialize in RGV birding tours. An estimated 4 million people come to the Valley each year in search of these elusive species, bringing in $300 million in commerce from ecotourism.
Birding can be a casual hobby or a full-time activity. Many birders keep a diary or life list of the birds that they have seen. The Margaret H. McAllen Memorial Archives contains two of these diaries. One of them belonged to Harold Crandall from McAllen. He kept a more formal diary, in a notebook specifically meant for the purpose. The diary contains a list of birds he saw between 1967-1990. Many were from the Rio Grande Valley, although it appears he traveled around the U. S. looking for more species to add to his list. The other list is more casual, handwritten lists on sheets of paper belonging to Fanny Heacock, who was a member of the Audubon Society. Her lists date from the early 1900s.
So next time you hear a bird call, take a look around. You may catch a glimpse of something truly special.