CAMERON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Birders who flocked to a state park in the Rio Grande Valley recently enjoyed an incredibly unusual sighting that excited a Texas agency enough to declare a “rare bird alert” to its followers on social media.
The Texas State Parks account posted on X, the site formerly known as Twitter, that someone photographed a gray-collared becard at Resaca de la Palma State Park in Brownsville, which marks the first time anyone’s ever seen the bird in Texas. State leaders further noted it’s only the third sighting in the U.S.
“The gray-collared becard just had its FIRST EVER SIGHTING in Texas at Resaca de la Palma State Park!” the social media post read. “This species’s first US sighting was in 2009; the second was just six months ago, in May of 2023!”
Brandon Nooner, who works as a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, snapped the photo of the bird perched on a tree branch.
Texas State Parks shared other pictures of a group of people at the park carrying cameras and binoculars to observe birds in that area. “The Valley really is an amazing place to spot some once-in-a-lifetime wildlife!” the X post further read.
A group of birders visited Resaca de la Palma State Park in Brownsville, Texas, according to a social media post on Nov. 27, 2023. (Courtesy: Texas State Parks) A group of birders visited Resaca de la Palma State Park in Brownsville, Texas, according to a social media post on Nov. 27, 2023. (Courtesy: Texas State Parks)
According to a report published by the American Birding Association, the gray-collared becard is normally found living in northwestern Mexico, specifically in the eastern Sonora area, as well as El Salvador and Nicaragua. The bird’s appearance includes a “combination of brown cap and mantle, broad white collar (gray in adults), black wings with broad white feather edgings, and very pale underparts,” the report detailed.
The place where people saw the gray-collared becard happened at one of the least-visited state parks in Texas. A recent look at the data showed Resaca de la Palma State Park welcomed 14,427 visitors in FY 2023. While that’s a 29% increase over the previous fiscal year, KXAN’s findings showed it placed #6 on the Top 10 least-visited Texas state parks.
Referred to as a “Rio Grande treasure,” the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department further described the Resaca de la Palma State Park as a “semi-tropical paradise,” offering a peaceful refuge for people and wildlife.