It's not just the proverbial snowbirds from the Northeast who are beginning to make their way south for the colder months; many actual birds have already begun their migrations, too. And one of the best places to see them (the real birds, that is!) is at the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge in Alamo, Texas.
This place is a mecca for bird-watchers; over 400 species have been spotted here, and some you won’t find in too many other places in the United States. I enjoy being surrounded by wildlife, but to tell you the truth, I wouldn't know a Hook-Billed Kite from a Great Kiskadee! That's why I took a tour. My guide was able to point out several species for me and told me that occasionally they’ll get some rare birds from Mexico showing up at the refuge — always a thrill for the die-hard birders!
If you are thinking about visiting (and you should!), now would be a great time to go because at this time of year, thousands of birds pass through the refuge on their way to Central and South America. This is one of the reasons that Santa Ana is one of the top birding destinations in the world!
But besides being a must-see for birders, anyone who loves nature will absolutely adore this place! There are 2,088 acres of diverse habitats to explore: woods (where you’ll see many trees beautifully decorated with Spanish moss), lush fields, ponds and the Rio Grande River. And you don’t have to go it alone because the guides lead nature walks, and canoe trips on the river.
Don’t forget to bring along your camera, even if you’re not a birder, because there are many other types of wildlife to shoot besides our feathered friends. I didn't get to see any of the park's endangered and elusive ocelots, but I did spot a bobcat! And if you love butterflies like I do, you’re in luck because many different types call the refuge home. (Plus, there’s a really nice butterfly garden right next to the visitors’ center.)
I’m sure that once you visit this natural wonder, you’ll know why the birds come back year after year!