Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail

By Mary-Love Bigony
The Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail (GTCBT), the first of its kind in the United States, is divided into three sections: the upper coast, from East Texas to Freeport; the central coast, from Freeport to Baffin Bay; and the lower coast, from Baffin Bay to the Rio Grande. In addition, each section contains several loops. "Each loop represents a trip of short duration, perhaps a long weekend, to allow local travelers to take advantage of the trail," said Eubanks.

A unique feature of the GTCBT are several birding sites in Texas's largest city. "These sites offer people who are in Houston on business an opportunity to get out into the outdoors in an urban environment and see things they probably haven't seen before," said Eubanks. "I also think it offers a great opportunity for people who live in the city." He quoted a recent study that said the average American teenager can identify some 1,000 corporate logos, but cannot name even ten plants and animals native to the area in which they live. "That's precisely the issue," said Eubanks. "I want young people to get into the outdoors, and we have to make it easy for them. And I think in some ways we have done so by creating these downtown loops."

"The trail appeals to a diversity of people, those who are very casual birders as well as those who are avid, because they can find the good sites," said Linda Campbell. The $1.4 million project is jointly sponsored by TPW and the Texas Department of Transportation. "This is a public-private partnership that has worked very well," said Linda of the partnership with Fermata, Inc. and with the many communities and businesses that support the trail. Maps are available for each of the trail's three sections. Each map contains driving directions from one site to the next, information about birds likely to be seen at each spot, and the best season to visit.

To obtain a map, call 1-888-TXBIRDS. Press 4, then 1, and leave your name and address. A request for a $3 donation will be included with each map.

You can order maps online and get more information on the trail at the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The World Birding Center
Communities in the Lower Rio Grande Valley are working with Texas Parks and Wildlife to build an interpretive complex that will underscore the remarkable biological resources of the region. This complex, to be known as the World Birding Center, will offer programs and facilities designed to engage avid wildlife watchers as well as those just developing an interest in the outdoors. Madge Lindsay, who was instrumental in the conception of the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, now is project leader of the World Birding Center.

The main visitor center and headquarters for the WBC will be associated with Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park near Mission. Two additional major interpretive centers will be in Brownsville and Weslaco. Interpretive facilities are being planned for South Padre Island, Rio Hondo, Harlingen, Edinburg, McAllen, Hidalgo, and Roma.

GORP thanks Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine for permission to use this article.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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