We had one of the BEST birding days today at the Audubon Sabal Palm Sanctuary. I saw at least four new birds for my list, maybe five. I still have to record them and make sure. We enjoyed touring the beautiful plantation too, don’t miss this one if you are near Brownville, Texas. We had to cross one area that was actually in Mexico, they didn’t ask for passports or anything, we did have to drive past the wall and then reached the plantation on the other side.
The Sabal Palm Sanctuary is a 557-acre nature reserve and bird sanctuary located in the delta of the Rio Grande Valley in Cameron County near Brownsville, Texas. It is noted for being one of the last locations in the Rio Grande Valley with a profuse grove of sabal palms, an edible-heart-bearing palm much prized by pre-Hispanic inhabitants and noted by early explorers. As a relatively habitat-rich remnant of this Valley, it is a prized birdwatching and butterfly watching location for persons interested in the ecology of the Valley and adjacent states of northern Mexico.
The Sabal Palm Sanctuary closely approaches the southernmost point in the state of Texas and is the southernmost point accessible to the public. The Sanctuary occupies a parcel of the former Rabb Plantation, a 19th-century sugar cane plantation on the bank of the Rio Grande - at that time, a river deep enough to float light steamboats.
The plantation's produce was shipped directly from the riverbank; the successful plantation's Queen Anne mansion, built by Frank and Lillian Rabb in 1891-1892, was adaptively remodeled in 2013 to serve as the Sanctuary's visitor center.
With modern transportation, much of the Valley's land was replanted for industrial citrus farming. In 1971, the Sanctuary parcel became the property of the National Audubon Society, which continued to own it as of 2015. In 2010, the Gorgas Science Foundation, a Valley-based nonprofit organization, leased the Sanctuary from the Society to operate and interpret it for the public.
The Sanctuary currently operates approximately 5 miles of signed nature trails through the palm grove and adjacent habitats, including an old oxbow lake that is currently evolving into a wetland resaca. Other trails visit a butterfly garden and the shore of the Rio Grande.
This is one of our favorite birding spots in Texas. You only have to walk about half a mile and then just sit and enjoy all the birds. Check back later for more from Texas.