We all know the scene; you are crossing a desert mesa where everything seems to have thorns, poison or both. As the sun beats down on this forbidding land a lizard scuttles by, you hear the dry buzz of a rattlesnake, a vulture circles above. Suddenly everything changes! The bushes are verdant, a trim little covey of scaled quail scampers by and a bunny hops out of their way. Further, back in the bushes, you see the larger silhouettes of deer and javelinas; in the distance, you hear the lonesome howl of a coyote. At last, you come to a marvelous lake where there is abundant fish and fresh water. It all seems like a dream, but it is not - - - It is Falcon State Park in Texas.
Falcon State Park and Reservoir is an international favorite because of its unparallel combination of largemouth bass fishing and bird watching. Birders will find immediate thrills when, just after signing in at the clay roofed Ranger Station they spot their first green jays, bobwhite quail and perhaps even the occasional pyrrhuloxia among a flock of cardinals. The park is at the south end of Falcon Reservoir between Laredo and McAllen. A visit to Falcon is well worth the travel up or down the Rio Grande valley. A short distance down the tree-lined road is the Butterfly Garden with native plants to attract the many species of butterflies that live in or visit the valley. There is a bird blind and feeding stations in that area as well. Across the parking lot is the Guest Recreation Center. In the Rec Center, you can catch up on events, activities and fish tales while enjoying a cup of coffee, tea or iced tea with the volunteer staff. While there, please look at the observation lists of rare or endangered species, and the sign in sheets for sightings.
Falcon hosts thousands of visitors every year who come to enjoy the birding, butterflies and fishing. However, that is just the beginning of nature for study at Falcon State Park. Falcon is home to amphibians, mammals and reptiles. There are fossils, petrified wood, and living plants. Indigo snakes live there, which is great since they eat rattlesnakes. People see bobcats, coyotes, javelinas, even a lonely little Mexican bear regularly. The Berlander’s tortoise makes a rare appearance in the park. People may get glimpses of ocelots and Jaguarundi; everyone is trying to get a photo of them.
You can go for a day, but a camping trip there is a special treat. The campsites range from primitive to full hookups. Air-conditioned shelters with bunks and picnic tables are also available. Just before sunrise, the breeze picks up, the sun erupts and dawn streaks the sky. In the blossoming sunshine, the birds exchange melodic greetings with each other, campers, and volunteers; so starts another beautiful day in the Rio Grande Valley. Towards evening, the light grows softer and warmer, then the birds go still for the moment while the sun balances just above the distant mountains. Night does not fall; it crashes down, waking up a chorus of Coyotes, Poorwills, Chuck Will’s Widows, and Pauraques.