Laredo, Brownsville, and Points In Between

My husband and I have headed down south, to Laredo and Brownsville. We have lived in San Antonio for about twenty years, and have never headed down this way.

We have no great plans. We will be looking at a few apartment complexes, since our daughter will be moving down here next year. Other than that, we’ll see what happens. It’s one of those lazy “vacations” with no place in particular to go to, but lots of possibilities.

We have never been “birders” but are thinking about possibly joining a birding expedition one of the days. Neither of us knew that this part of Texas is apparently a huge birding enthusiast’s dream!

I told my husband that I would be interested in visiting some of the birding places in this area, and there are quite a few of them. The Edinburg World Birding Center, the Sabal Palm Audubon Center and Sanctuary, several parks, and even a battlefield that all feature good bird watching possibilities and/or activities. Who knew? (Certainly not us… but we aren’t birders!)

I have to admit that I am pretty tired of only seeing doves and house finches in San Antonio. I used to get Blue Jays in the yard, but had to discontinue feeding them peanuts, since the squirrels made off with them more often than the Jays. And I haven’t seen a Cardinal in months. So, I wouldn’t mind seeing a colorful bird of some sort this weekend.

It’s odd >>> I never was interested in birds before. It seems that since Sprite has been gone (our 16 1/2 year old puppy) I have become more interested in other animals, perhaps thinking that it would make me get over Sprite. My husband and I have talked about another pet, but we’re just not sure we are ready for a big commitment like that again. As much joy as Sprite gave all of us, her last few years were very difficult for her – and for us. A lot of worrying…

I’ll let you all know about our attempt at “birding” for the first time. Neither my husband nor I would have EVER guessed we would look forward to trying this new adventure. Who knew?


  1. BB says

    Have you tried putting up suet feeders? There are different types of suet to attract birds, too. Sometimes I get it for my parents because they love to watch the birds (and squirrels). I usually buy the high-energy type which is gone in no time, but recently got the nutty one and it is not nearly so popular. The cardinals really like the high-energy kind. Another item that is very popular with the feather/fur crowd is cornbread! Until not long ago when she got ill, Mother would bake the critters a pone almost everyday. Talk about spoiled!

    Danna, I can truly relate about your hesitation to get another pet (family member) after losing Sprite. Wait until you and your husband are absolutely sure your hearts are ready. When you are, the right one will find you.

    Have a wonderful trip and rest well. You may need the energy for when you return. *hint hint*

    • Danna - cozy mystery list says

      BB, I’m pretty sure that if we put out suet feeders, the squirrels would get to them. We have had a few problems with squirrels, so we try to discourage them as much as we can. One got in our attic and damaged some things trying to get out and another went down our fireplace. Not fun!

  2. Margaret says

    Hi Danna, first of all have a fun, safe trip.
    I, too, never considerd myself a “Birder” but alway enjoyed feeding them and watching them casually in my yard. I have always loved animals and nature. Here in the Capital Region of NYS we do have a wide assortment of birds, even “urbanized” Red Tail Hawks. Along the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers, here in town, we see Loons, Herons, Swallows and Eagles. Last year after Hurricane Irene we had a couple of Snow White Egrets who came up with the storm.
    (Yes they made it back to warmer climates safely)
    But several years ago, while in Atlantic City we went to the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wild Life Refuge and wow what a place. We then started going to refuges on every trip. New Jersey has several wonderful ones all up and down the shore. We have a couple right here in the Capital Region too, Five Rivers Environment Education Center and the Pine Bush. All around New England there are wonderful places to see nature in and out of cities.
    Even if you are not a “Birder” the refuges can be so peaceful and I love them just for that. Have fun and enjoy the birds!

    • Danna - cozy mystery list says

      We had a great time, Margaret, exploring Laredo and seeing some birds we don’t have here in San Antonio.

      You have a beautiful array of birds up there, Margaret. I thought we saw a Snow White Egret, but it turn out to be a Great Egret. Actually, there were quite a few of them at a park we went to.

      I still don’t consider us “birders”>>> But, since we try to walk 10,000 steps a day (a little less than five miles, and not at all at an aerobic pace!) it was fun taking our Birds of Texas books and identifying the birds.

    • Laura says

      I would recommend this movie, also. I thought it was going to be another dumb movie because of the lead actors, but turned out to be a very interesting movie about hardcore “birders”. By the end, it became clear that it was really about what the important things in life should be.

    • Danna - cozy mystery list says

      No, Ann, we haven’t seen The Big Year. I’m glad you mentioned it, though, since I saw it advertised and it looked like something we might enjoy.

  3. says

    I don’t know much about birds, but I was just in Brownsville in August and other than the heat, it was quite lovely. If your interest extends to turtles, there’s a neat turtle rescue in South Padre. Enjoy your trip! Hope you find some mysteries set in that region!

    • Danna - cozy mystery list says

      Susie, just think of what Brownsville’s heat would be without the Gulf! Welcome to southern Texas!

  4. linda c says

    Danna, I am not a so called bird watcher either, although I do like to watch the birds! Confusing , huh? I like to watch the birds in the area that I live in. I love it when I can sit outside and watch the birds. These critters can be mean to each other, too. I am surprised that your Blue Jays let the squirrels have their peanuts. Blue Jays can be mean, at least they are to other birds when the other birds are after the Blue Jays food supply!
    I think I said before that where we lived before this place, there were plenty of different species of birds, including buzzards. But since we moved farther away from the river we only get crows, sparrows and doves and pigeons, sometimes Canadian geese.
    I think I also have said that where my sister lives, about 30 miles north of our town, on a lake, there are several varieties of birds. She is sponsoring her annual family Thanksgiving dinner today. So I will be able to watch quite a few of these birds, as my brother-in-law has all sorts of feeders outside. My sister and brother-in-law have several offspring between them. So they have one massive Thanksgiving celebration the Saturday before the main, official Thanksgiving day. There will be tons of food. This way though, their offspring can go to the “other sides” Thanksgiving on that day. I am taking baked sweet potatoes and rice krispie treats.
    Have a great time. Those places where you are going to visit are places that I have heard so much about over the years, especially in old Westerns and other old movies. I love living in Ohio, don’t want to live anywhere else but you are so lucky to be living in a state that has so much history! Enjoy yourself!!

    • Danna - cozy mystery list says

      Linda C, I remember you telling us about your sister having the Thanksgiving celebration the weekend before Thanksgiving. You are so lucky to live in the same area as a lot of your family. That’s one thing I miss. >>> I’m sorry my children didn’t grow up with extended family in the area. The only time we saw our relatives is when one of us had to make the effort of travelling. Extended families are great!

  5. Regina V says

    Danna, It seemed so appropo that your blog today should mention birding. I was reading an article this AM in “the Boston Globe”. It appears that the densely populated areas around Boston are being invaded with wild turkeys. They are creating a health hazard, but because of the population they cannot be hunted. We in CT are having major problems with Canada geese. They are every where and are protected also. Birds are beautiful, but some birds are just too much.

    • Danna - cozy mystery list says

      Oh, gosh, Regina! Wild turkeys in Boston?!? My daughter lived in Cambridge the last three years, so I guess it’s good she is back in Texas!

      I’m sorry to hear you’re being inundated with Canada Geese!

  6. says

    My uncle came to San Antonio for the birds! We joined him at one park there. It’s fun. Get yourself a color bird book and you’ll have a ball! Some people (my uncle) join groups where you can exchange cards (sort of like baseball cards) for the birds you need to see and the birds you have seen!

    • Danna - cozy mystery list says

      Maria, I didn’t even know we had “birding” here in San Antonio! I doubt I’ll be exchanging bird cards any time soon. (Notice I’m being careful to not say “never”!)

  7. alfred says

    Danna the only birds I really like to watch are the Hummingbirds since we have 4 feeders up. They are great fun. Where I live we have crows, sparrows and morning doves that are in the area. Sometimes we see an oriole as well as mockingbirds and Scrub Jays they are the mean ones. We have the west nile virus out here from the mosquitoes and alot of birds have become infected with it so don’t get to see much.

    • BB says

      Ahh…yes, hummingbirds are a joy to watch. In the summer, they come sporadically to partake of my mother’s four o’clocks. This year one of my parents’ sitters put up a hummingbird feeder she found (she loves them, too) and kept them fed. There were at least three that would come and feed.

      One day while I was there, a wasp was sucking up the nectar and wouldn’t let the hummingbirds feed. Everytime one would start to light on the edge, the wasp would go around and bully it off.

      • Danna - cozy mystery list says

        BB, we had a problem with bees at our Hummingbird feeder one time. We moved it five feet away, and the bees never found the feeder. (We looked up the information on the internet, and I was sure that moving the feeder five feet would not help. But, it did!)

        • BB says

          I would have never thought only five FEET would make a difference! If we run into a wasp problem next year, will keep that in mind. Glad it solved your problem.

          • Danna - cozy mystery list says

            BB, we were totally shocked that the bees couldn’t find the Hummingbird feeder. I am not sure, however, if wasps will react the same way as our bees.

    • Danna - cozy mystery list says

      Alfred, aren’t those Hummingbirds a treat to watch? Ours are only here from late March to late September. But they are fun to watch. You are so lucky to see Orioles. Last year, Maria posted some pictures of Orioles at her house (which isn’t too far from where we live.) I put out an Oriole feeder, but the only birds it attracted was Hummingbirds!

  8. says

    Move to NC if you want to see birds! We always have redbirds, blue jays, yellow finches, woodpeckers, mockingbirds, starlings, robins in summer, turtle doves, a few hawks, an occasional eagle, and a whole lot of others I don’t know. There was even a huge buzzard in our yard a few weeks ago who showed up about four every afternoon and stared at our house for awhile, and then disappeared until the next day. I named him (her?) Poe, after Edgar Allen. :-) He (she?) finally wandered off, my nephew tells me it was probably guarding a nest, as buzzards usually travel in flocks!

    Thank you for this site, Danna, it has been a bright spot in my life this year. My Dad is under Hospice care now (at home) and I’m helping Mom take care of him. There is very little time for anything else but when I get a minute I go online and check this site. So many wonderful posts and such friendly people give me some sunshine when I really need it. Oh, the books are great too! :-) Just wanted to tell you thanks, in case I don’t get online again until after Thanksgiving.

    • linda c says

      Take care Donna, When my first husband was dying I used the services of Hospice. What a wonderful organization this is. I will be thinking of you often.

    • Danna - cozy mystery list says

      Donna, your birds sound phenomenal! When my husband and I drove up to pick up our daughter in Massachusetts, we stopped and walked at a lot of the rest areas. I had no idea I actually “missed” seeing robins! I saw a few, and was reminded of how wonderful they are to see.

      Donna, my father was in a hospice years ago, and I don’t know what we would have done without it. I’m glad you find “some sunshine” in all of our comments. You are in my thoughts.

  9. says

    Have a safe and fun trip!
    and a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    Im not really a bird watcher, but I have often thought of putting out a bird bath, its fun to see different kinds of birds.

    • Laura says

      Melissa, I highly recommend bird baths over bird feeders. We have attracted many more different kinds of birds with bird baths. We had problems with squirrels and rodents with feeders. It encourages birds to forage for insects in your yard and costs less than buying seed.

      • Danna - cozy mystery list says

        Laura, we have squirrels hanging around the feeder, but luckily, no other rodents. (We live on rock, so there are no burrowing rodents around – luckily!) Those squirrels are a determined bunch. I have cut down to only one feeder because of the squirrels. And I am only putting sunflower seeds in the feeder, which means there is less seed that falls on the ground. When we used the mixtures of seed, the squirrels loved it. All of the little seeds fell to the ground, since the sparrows seem to not like the little seeds.

    • Danna - cozy mystery list says

      Melissa, we started with a bird bath. It’s a slippery slope!

      Once we had our birdbath, I then moved to one bird feeder, followed by another. And then came the Hummingbird feeders…

  10. Ksenija says

    Hi Danna, hope you’re having fun on your trip! I did not know where to post my question, but I know you’re reading all the comments anyway and that you’ll see this. I was wondering is there a series with musicians as sleuths? I cannot find them under “Mystery by Theme”. I looked around, but eventually got a bit lost in all the titles and authors, so I didn’t find any.

  11. Colleen says

    I’m a little late in seeing your message but wanted to tell you that I know EXACTLY where you’re headed (or should be there by now) because my DH and I were “Winter Texans” for many years in Brownsville and then we bought a home in Victoria.

    There’s lots to see and do down there :) Hope you’re having a great time.

    • Danna - cozy mystery list says

      Thank you, Colleen. We had a really nice time, and met some very nice people. We were very lucky to meet a young forester at the Lake Casa Blanca State Park who clued us in to the different birds we saw there.

      The driving in Laredo was pretty crazy, though. We saw four different cars take left turns on red lights, and I’m not talking about “running a yellow light”>>> I’m talking about completely stopped cars that decided to go upon the drivers’ discretion. Yow!

  12. linda c says

    Danna, Sometimes I wonder about feeding birds!! When I lived on the other side of the river that runs through our town, I often popped popcorn for the birds. When I did this very soon I would have many, many birds in my backyard. I popped popcorn the other day for the birds in this area and it is still there! Now I’ll have to go clean this up before my neighbors think I am starting a corn field in my backyard. Darn birds!! See if I through pop corn to your guys again!!!

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